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    What are the theoretical underpinnings of classical rhetoric?

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    Classical Rhetoric Theory

    1. Rooted in Greek culture. In fact, the eloquence that Nestor, Odysseus, and Achilles display in the Iliad by the Greek poet Homer led many Greeks to look upon Homer as the father of oratory. The establishment of democratic institutions in Athens in 510 bc imposed on all citizens the necessity of public service, making skill in oratory essential.

    2. Rhetoric as study of language. Hence a group of teachers arose known as Sophists, who endeavored to make men better speakers by rules of art. Protagoras, the first of the Sophists, made a study of language and taught his pupils how to make the weaker cause in a speech or discussion appear the stronger argument.

    3. Rhetoric as a Science. The actual founder of rhetoric as a science is said to be Corax of Syracuse, who in the 5th century bc defined rhetoric as the "artificer of persuasion" and composed the first handbook on the art of rhetoric.

    4. Masters of Rhetoric. Other masters of rhetoric during this period included Corax's pupil Tisias, also of Syracuse; Gorgias of Leontini, who went to Athens in 427 bc; and Thrasymachus of Chalcedon, who also taught at Athens. Antiphon, the first of the so-called Ten Attic Orators, was also the first to combine the theory and practice of rhetoric. With Isocrates, the great teacher of oratory in the 4th century bc, the art of rhetoric was broadened to become a cultural study, a philosophy with a practical purpose.

    5. Rhetoric as Persuasion. The Greek philosopher Plato satirized the more technical approach to rhetoric, with its emphasis on persuasion rather than truth, in his work Gorgias, and in the Phaedrus he discussed the principles constituting the essence of the rhetorical art.

    6. Rhetoric as a "means" to persuasion. The Greek philosopher Aristotle, in his work Rhetoric, defined the function of rhetoric as being, not that of persuasion, but rather that of "discovering all the available means of persuasion," thereby emphasizing the winning of an argument by persuasive marshaling of truth, rather than the swaying of an audience by an appeal to their emotions. He regarded rhetoric as the counterpart, or sister art, of logic.

    7. Rhetoric as Eloquence. The instructors in formal rhetoric in Rome were at first Greek, and the great masters of theoretical and practical rhetoric, Cicero and Quintilian, were both influenced by Greek models. Cicero wrote several treatises on the theory and practice of rhetoric, the most important being On the Orator (55 bc); Quintilian's famous Institutio Oratoria (ad95?; The Training of an Orator,1921-1922) still retains its value as a thorough treatment of the principles of rhetoric and the nature of ideal eloquence.

    8. Rhetorician Seneca. School exercises, called declamations, of the early empire are found in the existing suasoriae and controversiae of the rhetorician Seneca, the former term referring to exercises in deliberative rhetoric, the latter term referring to exercises dealing with legal issues and presenting forensic rhetoric.

    During the first four centuries of the Roman Empire, rhetoric continued to be taught by teachers who were called Sophists, the term by this time used as an academic title. (Source: http://encarta.msn.com/text_761574514___2/Rhetoric.html)

    See glossary of rhetorical terms at http://www.uky.edu/AS/Classics/rhetoric.html.

    I hope this is helpful.

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