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date: 18 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Classical rhetoric depends on the assumption that speaking well is a teachable skill. Roman rhetorical instruction adapted technical material derived from Greek rhetoric to specific demands arising from Rome’s political system, in which oral communication was an unavoidable obligation on the political elite. The variety of Cicero’s works on rhetoric makes them excellent guides to the complexity of rhetoric at the end of the Roman Republic. They range from instructional manuals, such as De inventione and De partitione oratoria, to discussions of oratory and civil society (De oratore), a history of Roman oratory (Brutus), and analysis of oratory’s technical aspects (Orator). All, however, demonstrate a commitment to rhetorical pedagogy and a belief that oratory is essential to civil society and that rhetoric’s potential amorality can be averted by proper instruction. But they also reveal the stress of political transformation in Cicero’s move from orality to written record and from ideal orator to historical example.

Keywords: Roman rhetoric, Greek rhetoric, Cicero, pedagogy, Roman Republic, De inventione, De oratore, Brutus, Orator, orality

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