Rhetoric in Antiquity
Publication Year: 2012
Published by: The Catholic University of America Press
Title Page, Copyright
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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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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...
1. Rhetoric before “Rhetoric”
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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...
2. The Sophistic Revolution
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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...
3. The Athenian Moment
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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...
4. The Hellenistic Globalization
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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...
5. The Roman Way and Romanization
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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...
6. The Empire: Innovation in the Tradition
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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...
Conclusion: The Heritage of Greco-Roman Rhetoric
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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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Index of Proper Names
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Index of Subjects
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Index of Greek Words
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Index of Latin Words
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Page Count: 286
Publication Year: 2012