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Rhetoric, Pre-Socratic

Richard Leo Enos


Subject Linguistics
Communication Studies » Rhetorical Studies

People Pre-Socratics

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405131995.2008.x


Extract

Pre-Socratic rhetoric is an overarching concept that captures not only the traits of Hellenic rhetoric that were demonstrated by the sophists who immediately preceded Socrates, but also the antecedent forces that shaped sophistic views on thought and its relationship to expression. The dialogues of Plato and the development of the Socratic movement have often been considered the seminal events in recognizing rhetoric as a formal discipline or technê (→  Rhetoric, Greek ). Yet, the dramatic date of these dialogues – particularly such dialogues as Plato's Gorgias and his later Phaedrus – reveal that sophists were already established and teaching rhetoric within and throughout Hellenic culture well before Plato (apparently) abstracted and coined “rhetoric” as a discipline worthy of scrutiny. Gorgias, a sophist who was clearly older than Plato's mentor and primary dialogue-character, Socrates, professed to be an established teacher of rhetoric, claiming a pedagogical ancestry dating back to his fellow Sicilians Corax and Tisias. Of course, the debates over the “founding” of rhetoric, whether abstracted as a discipline or long practiced as a craft, continue even today. Yet, what is clear is that several forces were at work prior to the sophists and Plato, which contributed greatly to rhetoric's evolution into a discipline, regardless of when historians of rhetoric wish to select ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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