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date: 23 September 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines the creative fusion between Roman oratory and historiography. Each genre is enhanced and enriched by the other, with practitioners often operating in both spheres. Yet if historians used rhetoric for “expansion of the past,” fleshing out skeletal events through inventio by adding speeches and set pieces (e.g., battle descriptions), what are the consequences about the reliability of historical narratives? The first section elucidates how rhetoric adds impact to the building blocks of historiography, such as in choices of vocabulary and interlinked metaphor and wordplay; these are enhanced by recitatio, the practice of reading literary works to an invited audience. Historians used their rhetorical training to enhance an audience’s enjoyment of the narrative, which in turn served the historian’s moralizing agenda. The second section extends the analysis to consider broader overlapping techniques between both spheres in the use of counterfactual arguments to reconstruct what must have happened.

Keywords: rhetoric, historiography, inventio, historical narratives, metaphor, wordplay, recitatio, enjoyment, moralizing

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