Download Ancient Rhetoric and Oratory (Blackwell Introductions to the by Thomas Habinek PDF

By Thomas Habinek

This booklet introduces readers to the traditional rhetorical culture by way of investigating key questions on the origins, nature and significance of rhetoric. Explores the function of the orator, specially the 2 maximum figures of the culture, Demosthenes and Cicero Investigates where of rhetoric on the middle of historical schooling Considers the position of rhetoric because the finish of antiquity. contains a thesaurus of right names and technical phrases; a chronological desk of political occasions, authors, orators, and rhetorical works; and recommendations for extra analyzing.

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Example text

Indeed, Plutarch’s story of Alcibiades’ first appearance before the assembly anticipates the pattern of his relationship to his audience. As Plutarch has it, Alcibiades just happened to be in the vicinity when he heard the assembly making a hubbub; when he discovered that the uproar was in gratitude for another wealthy citizen’s financial contribution to the polis, Alcibiades entered the assembly and made a sizeable contribution, too. So enthralled was he by the subsequent applause that he accidentally let slip a quail he just happened to be carrying under his robe.

And it was a radical rupture in another respect as well. One of the oldest traditions of the Roman aristocracy had been for a young member of the clan to make his public debut by delivering the eulogy for a recently deceased member of the family. Even in Tacitus’ day, it would seem, the tradition had been at most revised, not abandoned, as young men made their entry into public life through recitation of some text they had composed. In the case of Nero, the abandonment of aristocratic and dynastic traditions of self-presentation through language is a harbinger of more severe changes to come.

He goes so far as to suggest that the very fact of the prosecution removes the plaintiff from the category of those who are “simple” (Greek euêthês) in nature – an expression that is something of a codeword for aristocratic self-presentation. In contrast, he reminds his audience, he himself has “performed many liturgies” for Athens, and comes from a longestablished family that had done no harm to the fatherland: exactly the sort of emotional and, we might add, political appeal recommended by the handbooks as appropriate for the summary, or peroration (Greek epilogos, Latin peroratio) of the case.

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