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Rhetoric in Antiquity

Laurent Pernot

Publication Year: 2012

Originally published as La Rhétorique dans l'Antiquité (2000), this new English edition provides students with a valuable introduction to understanding the classical art of rhetoric and its place in ancient society and politics

Published by: The Catholic University of America Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. v-vi

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Translator’s Note

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pp. vii-viii

All ancient sources have been rendered into English based on the translations found in the Loeb Classical Library, when available, and on others, identified as they occur, when there is no Loeb volume. The initials WEH indicate those I have done myself. I have also noted where I have modified existing translations, Loeb or others, in order to...

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pp. ix-xiv

The word “rhetoric” comes from the ancient Greek rhētorikē, which means “art of the spoken word.” Right off, etymology indicates the role the ancients played in the subject of the present work. If Greco-Roman antiquity by itself did not invent the art of speaking—other, more ancient civilizations could lay claim to this honor—it did develop...

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1. Rhetoric before “Rhetoric”

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pp. 1-9

From the time of the Homeric poems, which are the first literary Greek texts, the spoken word and persuasion occupy an important place. I. J. F. de Jong has calculated that in the Iliad, speeches in direct discourse, by number of verses, represent 45 percent of the entire length of the poem. The epic, therefore, joins narrative and speech in...

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2. The Sophistic Revolution

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pp. 10-23

Antiquity typically had recourse to the idea of “first inventor” (prōtos heuretēs) to describe the birth of different activities, arts, and techniques, in order to rationalize in some way their emergence, by attributing them to one individual’s decisive action, whether a mortal’s, a god’s, or a hero’s. Thus the invention of rhetoric was attributed either...

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3. The Athenian Moment

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pp. 24-56

For the fourth century B.C., between those convenient reference points, the end of the Peloponnesian War (404) and the death of Alexander the Great (323), it is essential to focus on Athens. The sources are incomparably richer for this city than for the rest of the Greek world, and this is not a chance occurrence but results from...

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4. The Hellenistic Globalization

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pp. 57-82

The period from the death of Alexander the Great until the emperor Augustus’s consolidation of power (323–27 B.C.) radically differs from what preceded. After the relatively brief period of Classical Greece, an expanse of three centuries unfolds, rife with sudden shifts and witness to the creation of the great Hellenistic monarchies and to Rome’s...

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5. The Roman Way and Romanization

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pp. 83-127

These sentences have been famous since antiquity, and they abide in the memory of all who have studied Latin even today. What is the source of their power? First, it derives from the power of those speaking: Cato the censor, Cicero the consul, Caesar the dictator, statesmen holding the highest magistracies. Next, it comes from the circumstances...

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6. The Empire: Innovation in the Tradition

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pp. 128-201

Coming after a long period of civil war, the Empire meant the establishing of a strong and stable power under the authority of the princeps or “prince.” This regime dominated the entire Mediterranean basin, both Latin-speaking provinces in the west and Greek-speaking provinces in the east. An immense and centralized structure, the Empire...

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Conclusion: The Heritage of Greco-Roman Rhetoric

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pp. 202-213

At the end of a survey covering more than a millenium, from Archaic Greece to the Late Roman Empire, ancient rhetoric appears simultaneously various and unified. It is various because it functioned in very diverse circumstances—in a Hellenic and in a Roman milieu, in Greek and in Latin, in democracies, aristocracies, and monarchies...

Thesaurus: The System of Rhetoric

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pp. 215-232

Chronological Table

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pp. 233-235


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pp. 237-251

Index of Proper Names

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pp. 253-257

Index of Subjects

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pp. 258-263

Index of Greek Words

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pp. 264-266

Index of Latin Words

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pp. 267-269

E-ISBN-13: 9780813216386
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813214078

Page Count: 286
Publication Year: 2012

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Rhetoric, Ancient.
  • Speeches, addresses, etc., Greek -- History and criticism.
  • Speeches, addresses, etc., Latin -- History and criticism.
  • Oratory, Ancient.
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