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date: 29 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter offers an overview of the manifold qualities of the Greco-Roman rhetorical exercise known as declamation and provides answers to basic questions about the genre. Declamation’s productive side is emphasized. The genre does not merely train orators for practice but also enables thought experiments and literary play. The rhetorical imagination is unleashed and applied to hypothetical objects. One finds in declamation ironic and absurd, yet nevertheless telling, treatments of a variety of key familial, social, and political relationships. Declamation fuses the ludic and the earnest within a set of performances that are both preparatory for something else and consequential in their own right.

Keywords: declamation, rhetorical exercise, orators, rhetorical imagination, literary, ludic, political relationships, performances

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