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date: 15 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Thomas Wilson's Art of Rhetoric (1553), a comprehensive humanist attempt to make English readers acquainted with rhetoric in the tradition of Cicero and George Puttenham's Art of English Poesy (1589), a rhetorical poetics and conduct book designed for the English courtier in his role as a poet, are both concerned with eloquence or persuasive speech as an essential element of social and cultural life. These two pioneering works, which self-confidently extol the function of eloquence in different social milieux, have to be seen in the context of the rise of English vernacular as a medium of public and literary expression. This article briefly characterizes this context followed by a discussion of the two texts.

Keywords: rhetoric, Cicero, poetics, conduct, English courtier, persuasive speech, social life

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