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date: 20 September 2020

Abstract and Keywords

In a direct democracy such as that of classical Athens, even the most important political decisions were made as a result of debates conducted in mass meetings attended by ordinary citizens. The ability to speak coherently, engagingly, and persuasively was an important key to political influence. This article examines a related problem by asking how much people really know about ancient rhetoric. It discusses the relationship between the public speeches delivered in classical Athens and the textual remains available today, many of which survived because they were considered, in some respects at least, model speeches. The question here is how much the practice of oratory differed from its theory, and to what extent today's texts display the concerns and abilities of a narrow elite.

Keywords: mass meetings, ancient rhetoric, public speeches, classical Athens, political influence

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