Handbook of Classical Rhetoric in the Hellenistic Period : 330 B.C.-A.D. 400

By Stanley E. Porter | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 10
POETRY AND RHETORIC

Ruth Webb

Princeton University, New Jersey, USA


I. INTRODUCTION

This chapter will consider the relationship between rhetoric and various genres of verse writing in Greek and Latin. The interaction between rhetoric and poetry is complex and varies gready between genres and over time. In general, however, during the period covered by this volume, poetry shows the increasing influence of rhetorical genres and rhetorical expression, culminating in the verse panegyrics of the later Roman empire.' Several factors contributed to this development, including the nature and aims of the educational curriculum and the rise of epideictic oratory under the Roman empire. The influence was not simply one exerted by rhetoric upon poetry; the developments in epideictic oratory brought rhetoric increasingly close to poetry in its themes and verbal resources.2


II. POETICS AND RHETORIC: ANCIENT AND MODERN DEFINITIONS

The romantic rejection of rhetoric has been highly influential in modern discussions of the relationship between rhetoric and poetry. In post-romantic criticism rhetoric and poetry have tended to be seen as diametrically opposed: poetry belongs to the domain of emotion, of expression of the personal, whereas rhetoric is directed towards

1 See below on Claudian and, for the period after that covered by this survey,
Corippus, Laudes Justiniani (ed. A. Cameron; Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1976).

2 See T. C. Burgess, Epideictic Literature (Studies in Classical Philology, 3; Chicago:
University of Chicago Press, 1902), pp. 166–95, M. Roberts, The Jeweled Style: Poetry
and Poetics in Late Antiquity
(Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1989), pp. 38–65 and
the remarks of E. L. Bowie, “Greek Sophists and Greek Poetry in the Second
Sophistic”, ANRW II.33:1 (1989), pp. 210–14.

-339-

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