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date: 18 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

All three of the great poets of ancient Greek tragedy wrote for an audience that enjoyed displays of rhetoric. Many scenes turn on attempts at persuasion, which may be couched in set speeches or in stichomythia (line-on-line dialogue). Frequently, set speeches are paired in a formal agōn (contest) and use arguments from eikos (what is likely). Set speeches often begin with artful attempts to deny that the speaker knows the art of persuasive speaking. In addition to displaying the use of rhetoric, tragic plots often reflect on the power of rhetoric for deception. The type of the deceptive orator in tragic plays is usually represented by Odysseus, who plays the role of deceiver most prominently in Sophocles’s Neoptolemus.

Keywords: rhetoric, ancient Greek tragedy, art, persuasion, stichomythia, deception, agōn (contest), eikos (likely), Odysseus

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