Persuasion: Greek Rhetoric in Action

By Ian Worthington | Go to book overview

8

Epic and rhetoric

Peter Toohey

The topic, in a sense, is a bogus one—speech-making and persuasion in Homer and Apollonius. There are speakers and speeches enough in Greek epic, but, at least in Homer and Apollonius, there is little recognisable rhetorical elaboration of the classical kind. This, of course, is understandable in the case of Homer: he was writing before rhetoric was invented. Yet, in the case of the Alexandrian writer of epic, Apollonius of Rhodes (composing after Aristotle and the major orators), the absence of speech-making, thus the absence of ‘primary’ rhetoric, is striking. 1 In this chapter I intend to look, selectively, at several of the speeches in Homer and in Apollonius. 2 My concern, above all, is to isolate some of the major contrasts between the speech-making habits of Homer and of Apollonius. We will see, I hope, how ‘rhetorical’ Homer can be. We will also see—and this is perhaps the crux of my chapter—why Apollonius may have shown so little taste for primary rhetoric.


HOMER

Homer’s speeches were not shaped from any clear-cut template. How could they have been when rhetoric had not yet been invented? Even so, there seem to be sufficient traces of later rhetorical habits in Homer to justify, however tentatively, our importing aspects of this anachronistic template. 3 Such a procedure, I hope to show, can be useful in some expected, and in at least one unexpected, way. On the simplest level rhetorical analysis of Homeric speech-making may demonstrate that these speeches are not formless, but quite deliberately shaped. 4 It may also demonstrate that there is a continuity between Homer’s and later

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Persuasion: Greek Rhetoric in Action
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface viii
  • Abbreviations xi
  • Part I - Communicating 1
  • 1 - From Orality to Rhetoric: an Intellectual Transformation 3
  • 2 - Rhetorical Means of Persuasion 26
  • 3 - Probability and Persuasion: Plato and Early Greek Rhetoric 46
  • 4 - Classical Rhetoric and Modern Theories of Discourse 69
  • Part II - Applications 83
  • 5 - Power and Oratory in Democratic Athens: Demosthenes 21, against Meidias 85
  • 6 - History and Oratorical Exploitation 109
  • 7 - Law and Oratory 130
  • Part III - Contexts 151
  • 8 - Epic and Rhetoric 153
  • 9 - Tragedy and Rhetoric 176
  • 10 - Comedy and Rhetoric 196
  • 11 - Philosophy and Rhetoric 222
  • Notes 242
  • 12 - The Canon of the Ten Attic Orators 244
  • Bibliography 264
  • Index 274
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