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Rhetoric in Western Europe: Italy

Claudio Marazzini

Subject Linguistics
Communication Studies » Rhetorical Studies

Place Southern Europe » Italy

People Aristotle, Cicero

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405131995.2008.x


Rhetoric has been important for centuries in Italian literary culture. The first development of an Italian literary prose was thanks to a teacher of rhetoric in Bologna, Guido Faba: in the thirteenth century, he provided examples of elaborated prose in rhetorical models of letters and speeches. Other Italian works of the time represented a return to classical theory, with some limited innovation, such as Il fiore di Rettorica (before 1266), attributed to Guidotto da Bologna, or Brunetto Latini's Rettorica (c. 1260), a vernacular paraphrase and commentary on Cicero's De inventione (→  Rhetoric, Medieval ). The De vulgari eloquentia (c. 1306) of Dante Alighieri was in part a treatise on rhetoric, in which, next to matters of a historical-linguistic and metrical nature, four stylistic levels of a text are addressed: (1) insipidus , tasteless, grammatically correct, but qualitatively insignificant; (2) et pure sapidus , clear and tasteful, but scholastic, lacking in originality; (3) sapidus et venustus , tasteful and graceful, showing a good understanding of rhetoric; and (4) excelsus , the sublime style of the most illustrious writers, rich in the rhetorical ornaments necessary for perfection. In the fifteenth century rhetorical knowledge was enriched from recovery of complete texts for Quintilian's Institutio oratoria (1416) and Cicero's De oratore (1421; →  Rhetoric, ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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