Bizzell, P., and Herzberg, B.: Classical Rhetoric: Introduction. The rhetorical tradition : readings from classical times to the present

Bizzell, Patricia, and Bruce Herzberg, eds. Classical Rhetoric: Introduction. The rhetorical tradition : readings from classical times to the present. 2nd ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin''s, 2001. 19-41. Print.

Classical period in rhetoric: Sophistic movement (5thC BCE)- Augustine (d. 430 CE). Text argues that historical development (tribes > city-states > trade > democracy) necessitated rhetoric to maintain public order. Havelock argues that alphabetic literacy moves Greece from orality to more sophisticated forms of expression and thinking: "hypotaxis, the subordination of one idea to another in logical hierarchies; generalizations that appeal to reason and text-assisted memory for validation; a questioning relationship to authority and custom, encouraging the disinterested criticism of ideas; and over all, a greater ability to think abstractly" (20). Havelock argues cause for development of philosophy. Athens adopted cultures; trade/ cultural exchanges/ philosophy flowering ca 480-450 BCE. Athenian struggle from 430-340 BCE, time of Isocrates, Plato, Aristotle. 6th-4thC BCE interest in study of rhetoric. Beginning credit to Empedocles (d ca 444 BCE). First "rhetoricians" used rhet/ schematized rhet for practical purposes: Sicilians Corax and Tisias (C deliberative speaker? C forensic and T logographer?). Gorgias (ca 480-ca 380 BCE), ceremonial oratory. Text hints at the type of empowerment that skillful rhetoric enabled in Greek society.


The Sophistic Movement: Wandering philosophers. Few extant texts. Believed that "human knowledge relies on sense perception and is therefore necessarily flawed" (22). Absolute truth not available to humans, only probable knowledge by examining opposing viewpoints. Controversial at time (can undermine traditional systems through questioning, also  liberating [open to anyone who will think]). Best known Sophists: Protagoras encouraged studying precise meaning of words, also developed "dissoi logoi"-- technique of exploring probable truth via opposing arguments" (23). Gorgias promoted Sophist stance that language is value-laden (emo, cultural), and therefore cannot be objective. Audience should know that and be aware of way language is being used on it. Plato condemned Sophists b/c he felt more concerned with manipulating audience than conveying truth. Defending Sophists, text argues they buck tradition in search of best techniques, not mere traditional form = kairos-- "the idea that the elements of a situation, its cultural and political contexts, rather than transcendent unchanging laws, will produce both the best solutions to problems and the best verbal means of presenting them persuasively" (24). Still, not necessarily anarchists. Protagoras argues for a type of social contract, agreeing to follow laws for expediency. Consider that opposing viewpoints encouraged tolerance: "[the Sophists] saw the possibility of communities uniting, not on grounds of a common (Greek) culture, but on grounds of a common recognition that humanity could express itself in many ways and was not subject to an absolute standard that could mark some ways for annihilation" (25).


Isocrates and Education in Rhetoric: Isocrates and Plato both reacted to Sophists. Plato searched for absolute truth. Isocrates more "active"-- philosophy was "applied intellectualism" (25). More practical approach that transcendend unattainable, so be as informed and intelligent (which all have capacity for) as possible. Keys to rhetorical and philosophical success (=valuable citizen): natural talent, practice, and instruction.


Aspasia and Opportunities for Women: Fewer in public sphere, lesser social/real power. No texts by Greek/Roman women have survived but some mention made. Aspasia mentioned in Plato; some theorized taught "Socratic method" to Socrates. One strand of Sophism argued for greater (?) equality for women. Plato even reflects this in Republic.




Isocrates ↔ political

Plato ↔ philosophical

Aristotle ↔ psychological


Plato: True and False Rhetoric: Plato (ca. 428-347 BCE) usually considered philosopher in modern sense of term. Distinguishes false rhetoric (Sophistic; relies on kairos. P blames Athenian political chaos on Sophistry) from true ("the method whereby the philsopher and his pupil free themselves from conventional beliefs and all worldly encumbrances in the pursuit and eventual attainment of transcendent absolute truth" [29]). Two uses of rhetoric to reach truth: one is, essentially, to teach the ignorant (virtuously, of course); the second is "methodological" (29), collaborative (think Socratic dialogues). Stresses oral questioning (written text can deceive, e.g., irony).


Aristotle: Systematic Rhetoric: Aristotle (384-322 BCE) is an organizer/classifier. Defines rhetoric as "the art of discovering the means of persuasion available for any occasion" (30). Classifies speech into three categories, determined by situation: deliberative or political (recommend a future course of action); epideictic or ceremonial (praise or blame a current state of affairs); forensic or legal (to provoke judgment concerning a past action). Rhetoric deals with speech composition. First two books focus on organization and structure. Invention can be guided by formal procedures called heuristics (such as topoi); text likens these to modern structural devices. Concern with audience (age, social class). Moves to arrangement and delivery. Doesn''t directly address memorization as such, but offers memory guides. Text notes "the arguments that one discovers or ''invents'' should appeal to reason (logos), emotion about the subject under discussion (pathos) and trust in the speaker''s character (ethos). Though reason most important, treats pathos and ethos with understanding of need for persuasion. Interesting: "Even rational appeals are not devoid of ethical and pathetic elements, for they rely upon either the enthymeme, a syllogism that takes its major premise from received wisdom, which the audience has been conditioned to respect, or the example, an illustration that must be recognizable and meaningful to audience members as part of their own cultural history" (31).



The Rise of Rome and the Rhetoric of Cicero: Rhet continued to develop, but the occasional despot did not always allow deliberative rhetoric. Stoics (300BCE/Zeno). Hermagoras (2nd C BCE): stasis theory. "Guides forensic orators in defining the key questions in any case" (32). Built from Aristotle''s four key questions: Did something happen? If so, was harm done? If so, was it great harm? If so, was the great harm justified?


Hermagoras''s questions: Conjecture (What are the signs that X committed an act?); Definition (If X committed an act, was it criminal?); Quality (If X committed a crime, were there extenuating circumstances?); Objection (If X does deserve to be tried for committing this act, is the trial being conducted properly?).


Cicero (106-43 BCE; assassinated): De Inventione summarizes categories for rhetorical study (Aristotelian-- 3 types of discourse, 5 part process for composing a speech). Known for oratory (forensic) and deliberative (attacking Antony). Disliked Asianists; against Neo-Atticists (he believed that the people should set linguistic standards, even if language changes over time). Argued skillful rhetorician should vary style depending on desired effect (plain for exposition, middle for engagement, high for arousing emotion) (35). "New vision of rhetoric for public service" (35). Cicero argued that rhetorician must be broadly learned in order to "elevate" audience and make it take the moral high road. "The best orator is one who can fulifll three offices: teaching, pleasing, and moving" (36).


Imperial Rome and the Rhetoric of Quintilian: 96-180 CE-- "Five Good Emperors"-- stability and flourish. Plotinus > Neoplatonism (250CE). Tacitus-- dialogue on oratory (ca 100CE) imitating Cicero; laments decline of art in his time. Politically deliberative rhetoric curbed (don''t diss the imperials). Co-ed education in rhetoric. Women appear to have greater right to public oratory and discourse, but no extant women''s rhetoric. Characteristic oratory of period: declamation (highly stylized ceremonial speech; embellishment wins points). Declamation stems from Asianists. From Quintilian''s time to 476 CE = the "Second Sophistic" (SS). Coined by Philostratus (3rd C CE); interest in etymologies, grammar, stylistic variety + Graecophiles. Rhetoric with "more literary than political implications" (38). Notable Second Sophists: Hermogenes (attempted to characterize one ideal style); Pseudo-Longinus (On the Sublime). Quintilian (ca 35-96 CE) not an SS; responded to it. Did not attempt reform, but demonstrated resistance. Made students'' subjects more relevant. Promoted clearer rhetorical style of Cicero. Aimed for "good man speaking well" (39)-- virtue + public service.  Institutes maps cradle to grave order of study for rhetoric. Text notes Quintilian''s developmental understanding of learning (complex, lengthy process) and sense that rhetoric will save the world. Bridging Classical and Medieval will be Augustine: "The medieval transformation of rhetoric, following Augustine, to the service of Christian preaching restored a meaningful content to an art enervated by political oppression" (39).