Roman Eloquence: Rhetoric in Society and Literature

By William J. Dominik | Go to book overview

Preface

Rhetoric is one of civilization's oldest and most persistent art forms. Introduced in the early part of the second century BCE into Rome, one of the foundational cultures of the modern world, it eventually established itself as the cornerstone of Roman education, literature and oratory. The present volume not only examines the origins, development and theory of Roman rhetoric but also its practice, role and influence in antiquity. A few important studies on Roman rhetoric as a cultural phenomenon have appeared in recent years, but the majority of books in the field are outdated. There is to date no single text on Roman rhetoric that examines its role in society and its relationship to various literary genres; hence this collection of essays, which attempts to address a clear gap in the existing scholarship on the subject. In fact, some of the topics and genres discussed have received little detailed critical attention, while the background material presented in some of the chapters is given for the sake of providing the context for the innovative work that follows. This volume forms a companion to Persuasion: Greek Rhetoric in Action, published by Routledge in 1994, which deals with the influence and exploitation of Greek rhetoric in ancient times and modern reactions to it.

Roman Eloquence has fourteen chapters, each focusing on particular aspects concerned with the function and exploitation of rhetoric. The introductory chapter deals with the development of Roman rhetoric from the beginning and outlines the contributions of each of the essays, while the subsequent chapters explore the function of rhetoric in Roman society, the transitions and tensions between various movements of rhetoric, between the adherents of different styles, and the relationship between rhetoric and various literary genres. Other chapters on a variety of topics could have been

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