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Distributed for Institute of Classical Studies

Logos: Rational Argument in Classical Rhetoric (BICS Supplement 96)

In the ancient world Classical rhetoric and its practices raised major ethical doubts and questions which have continued to affect – even to prejudice – our judgment of orators and oratory today. One of the key components of practical oratory was rational argument. The six chapters in this volume examine different aspects of the role of rational argument in Classical oratory and rhetoric and its later tradition. Michael Gagarin discusses the role of argumentation in the works of Antiphon, the earliest Greek orator whose continuous texts survive. Christos Kremmydas analyses the argumentative strategies in a political speech of Demosthenes, the attack on the law of Leptines (Demosthenes 20). Two chapters then focus on Cicero: Jakob Wisse discusses Cicero’s self-conscious use of logical structure and the ancient theory of the classification of issues (so-called stasis theory) while Lynn Fotheringham examines Cicero’s habit of ‘having his cake and eating it’, i.e. running two incompatible lines of argument at the same time. Peter Mack surveys the interrelation of rhetoric and dialectic in the Renaissance, highlighting the importance of the latter and its influence on styles of composition in English as well as Latin. Finally Malcolm Heath describes a fascinating experiment in the teaching of ancient rhetorical techniques to modern students, showing that the study of ancient rhetoric can be not only an interesting aspect of cultural history but also an effective means of developing the ‘transferable skills’ valued by today’s employers.

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