Synoptic History of Classical Rhetoric
The purpose of history is to help people understand the present by providing a sense of continuity to their lives. The history of western ... Show synopsis The purpose of history is to help people understand the present by providing a sense of continuity to their lives. The history of western civilization begins in Ancient Greece. So much of what we observe around us -- art, architecture, poetry, drama, and political systems -- is derived from the Greeks. Even religious beliefs and beliefs about the solar system emanate from the writings of Greek and Roman philosophers. Writing itself is a phenomenon of Greek civilization. Students seeking to understand the social impact of technologies such as writing, print, and television, must begin their study with figures such as Socrates, who was one of the first to be concerned with the changes in social interaction and consciousness wrought by the emergence of writing on portable material. For students of language, an awareness of the classical world is particularly important. The study of human discourse is an entirely western phenomenon. As far as one can judge from surviving evidence, the Greeks were the only people of the ancient world who endeavored to analyze the ways in which human beings communicate with each other. Greece is, therefore, the birthplace of the art of discourse, which includes not only rhetoric, but also logic and grammar. Although many other ancient civilizations produced literature, only the Greeks produced analytic, expository treatises that attempted to discover the actual bases of human communication. Written treatises and school "systems" which allowed rhetorical discoveries to be transmitted to others enabled the Greeks and later the Romans to amass a considerable body of precepts to guide speakers and writers. This body of precepts forms the basis for the study of "rhetoric" -- the art of human discourse. This book provides a clear understanding of the classical roots of rhetoric. While no single volume can account for every idea developed by the ancients on the art of rhetoric, this book seeks to present the concepts that will most effectively provide today's student with a basis for understanding human communication. The text contains essays about the period, original treatises by ancient writers with modern analyses that elaborate on their rhetorical precepts, and representative speeches given by celebrated orators of the ancient world. In addition, a bibliography of readings is presented for those who want to study this period more deeply.