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Rhetoric, Roman

Jon Hall

Subject Linguistics
Communication Studies » Rhetorical Studies

People Cicero

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405131995.2008.x


Roman rhetoric aims to present practical and theoretical guidelines for effective verbal →  persuasion. In ancient Rome such precepts found an application most regularly in speeches made in the criminal and civil courts, but they were relevant also to debates on political policy in the senate and at popular assemblies. All of these oratorical activities were traditionally restricted in ancient Rome to men of the elite classes. The main principles of Roman rhetoric derive largely from earlier Greek rhetorical theory, which achieved impressive levels of sophistication during the fourth century bce , and which formed the major focus of formal education in the Hellenistic world (→  Rhetoric, Greek ). As these Greek-speaking communities were gradually incorporated into the Roman Empire from the second century bce onwards, the value of rhetorical training came to be appreciated by members of the ruling elite, although the process of acceptance and integration took considerable time. The first teachers of rhetoric in Rome essentially reproduced the existing Greek system; it is not until 92 bce that we hear of Latin being used as a language of rhetorical instruction in the city. Over the next 50 years or so, formal training in rhetoric finally became established as a central feature of upper-class Roman education. The three most influential works of Roman rhetoric are Rhetorica ad ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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