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

By Thomas Habinek

This e-book introduces readers to the traditional rhetorical culture via investigating key questions about the origins, nature and value of rhetoric. Explores the function of the orator, in particular the 2 maximum figures of the culture, Demosthenes and Cicero Investigates where of rhetoric on the heart of historical schooling Considers the position of rhetoric because the finish of antiquity. encompasses a word list of right names and technical phrases; a chronological desk of political occasions, authors, orators, and rhetorical works; and recommendations for additional interpreting.

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ARAC02 36 5/8/04, 5:59 PM 37 THE FIGURE OF THE ORATOR As I suggested earlier, the state needs to get control of its dead. By establishing a clear boundary between the dead and the living, it creates the possibility of history, that is, of the orderly transition from one generation to the next within a recognizably continuous social framework. To the extent that rhetoric is the discourse of the state, it is also a discourse of control over and access to the dead. We have seen this relationship exemplified in different ways by Pericles, Demosthenes, and most especially Cicero.

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. As is well known, Nero comes to seek glory outside the realm of eloquence. He races chariots, he enters singing competitions, he performs passages from epic poetry and tragedy. In other words, Nero acknowledges the performative dimensions of the old traditions, but disavows the elements of deliberation, analysis, and respectful presentation of the self for the scrutiny of others that also characterized those traditions at their best.

Through his speeches against Catiline he drives out the enemy of the gods in order to keep them secure in their Roman homes. Cicero thus invokes the role of the orator as communicator with the world beyond – a role especially appropriate during his year as consul, since the consul is in effect both a political and a religious figure. Indeed, in a speech delivered at a trial held between the first and second speeches against Catiline, Cicero blurs the boundary between his personal status as speaker for the defense and his politicoreligious status as consul right from the outset.

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