The Origins of Rhetoric in Ancient Greece

The Origins of Rhetoric in Ancient Greece

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Is it fair to judge early Greek rhetoric by the standards of Plato and Aristotle? This text argues that it is not, and yet this is the path taken by current scholarship on the subject. Arguing against this view, this work sees early Greek rhetoric as largely unsystematic efforts to explore, more by means than by precept, all aspects of discourse. Replacing these early text by such treatises as the "Rhetoric" of Aristotle, Cole explains, can only be understood as part of a gradual process, as artistic prose came to be disseminated in written texts and so available in a form that, for the first time, be analyzed, evaluated and closely imitated.

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Product details

  • Paperback | 212 pages
  • 140 x 214.9 x 13mm | 258.55g
  • JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY PRESS
  • Baltimore, MD, United States
  • English
  • Revised ed.
  • black & white illustrations
  • 0801851181
  • 9780801851186

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Review quote

[An] important and challenging book... Cole's re-seeing of the evidence is compelling and provocative. Certainly it willbe of great interest to serious students of rhetoric, Greek prose, indeed, of ancient literature. Classical World One of the most intelligent and illuminating books on early prose literature. Journal of Hellenic Studies Cole's book is a welcome addition to the field of classical rhetorical studies... It is a good example of erudite scholarship. Quarterly Journal of Speech Provocative... The evidence Cole assembles is as interesting as his thesis. Philosophy and Rhetoric

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Back cover copy

Cole sees early Greek rhetoric as largely unsystematic efforts to explore, more by example than by precept, all aspects of discourse. (One might as well term these efforts philosophy as rhetoric, since neither term was current at the time.)

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About Thomas Cole

Thomas Cole is professor of Greek and Latin at Yale University.

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