Grad School: Rhetoric from Gorgias to Scudery

Hello and welcome to Mrs. Lady Renaissance. Last quarter I took a classical rhetoric course that worked its way from Gorgias through Scudery. My university works through the quarter system not the semester system, therefore giving students a very limited 3 months to learn everything necessary in a short condensed time. My professor decided to select certain rhetoricians she felt were crucial, although she did wish she could add a few others like Quintilian. I made it through the quarter, although difficult, with a lot of notes. I am uploading these very light weight, super compact lists of notes for each rhetorician. They may not only help you if you want a very superficial understanding of certain rhetoricians, but they help me as I will be gathering my information to prepare for the comp exam to, fingers crossed, graduate in the Spring.

Please note that these notes are not intended to replace your own studying nor are they a representation of understanding everything there is to know about these rhetoricians, but much rather a way to briefly introduce the rhetorician on a very superficial level.

Gorgias– Sophist, “Encomium of Helen,” was the most influential of his time
1) Contextual Truth
2) Oration through confidence, “we achieve confidence in our own wisdom only through deception, not knowing that we do not know” and “without this confidence we cannot act” (43).
3) Language is power, “Power of language to magic and drugs.”
Dissoi Logoi
1) Can be both good and bad depending on perspective
2) There is no “weak” simply a different perspective, “I am not saying what the good is, I am trying rather to point out that it is not the same thing which is bad and good, but that each is different from the other.”
3) A two-sided discussion or “two fold arguments” or “different words” depending on translation.
1) Believed in virtue and ethics
2) Not formulae (not a science, but an art)
3) Natural aptitude “education could improve natural talents to all”
4) Hellenistic-“to train talented men to become ethical and effective political leaders” (25).
5) Sophist, although despised the money and promises the Sophist were known for.
6) Educator- never claimed to impart wisdom.
7) Like Augustine, believed in emulation–“prolonged contact with the nobel would inspire eh pupil.”
1) Absolute Truth, transcendent Truth
2) Natural Aptitude
3) Text is seductive, as it doesn’t have closure
4) Truth (The Phaedrus) “Philosopher and public free themselves from conventional beliefs to obtain absolute truth.” and False (The Gorgias), “speaks of consequences of Sophist” rhetoric. “Truth and False rhetoric must be distinguished.”
5) Believed: 2 uses of Rhetoric: A) Convey truth already available to the speaker to an ignorant audience. B) Use of rhetoric is more methodological 1) was seen as manipulative 2) a process, collaborative
6) Speech is like the soul
8) Education= relationship, “education must be based in a relationship between essentially distinct individuals–not two who cleave together as one flesh–who come together to transform history.”
1) Systematic Rhetoric, Rhetoric is an active process
2) Dialectic
3) Unites pathos, logos and ethos
4) Didn’t worry about “good and bad” about rhetoric.
5) Human knowledge is in a “systematic order.”
6) Speech into three categories:
  1.  A) Deliberative or political oratory (intended to recommend a future course of action)
  2.  B) Epideictic or ceremonial oratory (intended to praise or blame on the state of affairs)
  3.  C) Forensic or Legal Oratory (intended to provoke judgment concerning past actions)
7) Consider audience “in cultural predilection and their individual emotions conditioned by age and social class.”
8) Mastered psychology of the individual and of the group.
9) Book III- places speech into “effective order” and it assists in delivering a speech via gestures, dress and non-verbal means.
10) 5 canons
11) Absolute truth through scientific demonstration.
1) Aptitude is necessary.
2) Tribute to the past.
3) Emotion, gestures and public speaker.
4) Well rounded person (liberal arts).
1) Know all parts of scriptures
2) Subdued, moderate and grand (love hate relationship with grand style).
3) Learn by example
4) To prove, to please to persuade (339).
5) Eloquence and wisdom (458).
di Pizan
1) Intermediary for rhetoric persuasion.
2) There was a shift in writing with Pizan.
3) Rhetoric branches into 2 parts:
  1. a) Preaching (Augustine)
  2. b) Letter writing (upper class women, clerks).
4) Highly Christian (medieval times).
5) Not necessary to know classical rhetoric to write well. (Nature of persuasion was changing)
6) Separated speech from composition.
7) Begins soft then comes back strong.
8) A woman’s virtue and education are not mutually exclusive.
9) Still, women did not speak in public.
10) The first known feminist although she did not fight for equality, she did fight for ALL women to be treated well. She fought for the right to a woman’s education and even wrote about the working class woman and her worth.
11) Spoke about the virtuous women, when, originally, the “virtue” was a word created for a man.
1) Richness-assembling, explaining and amplifying of arguments by those of examples, comparisons, similarities, dissimilarities, and opposites.
2) Talks about repetition and identical repetition.
3) Theory of memory, connected line of thought in a number of ways.
4) Imitate
5) 2 styles: 1) Richness of expression, 2) Richness of subject matter.
6) He talks about how necessary it is to exercise expressing oneself in different ways. (Use Synonyms)
7) Extract the best words from each author.
  1. a) Vulgar words—words from low trades.
  2. b) Archaic words—add charm in small quantities.
  3. c) Unusual—on occasion
8) Method consists of amplification, compare the whole situation with another, amplification uses thee rhetorical figure.
9) Proofs and arguments- 2 classes a) invented or artificial proofs and given proofs.
  1. b) Previous legal judgments.
9) Cicero influenced his work.
1) Rhetoric is not something that can lead you to virtue or morality.
2) There is truth through Art & Science.
3) Less ornamentation in speaking and simply speaking by a “speaker’s own language” (567).
4) He separates dialectic and rhetoric and goes against Quintilian by stating they are not counterparts.
5) In Arguments in Rhetoric against Quintilian, Ramus targets three important rhetoricians: Aristotle, Cicero and Quintilian.
  1. A) Aristotle- Ramus still liked but not his scholastic views.
  2. B) Cicero- Ramus felt he was still eloquent.
  3. C) Quintilian- Ramus completely disliked him.
1) Began her work by using her brother’s name.
2) Became more successful than her brother.
3) Never married because she felt it would restrict her agency to write.
4) To be noble is to talk well and read well.
5) Exercised her writings and work in the French Salon.
6) Print oriented rhetoric.
7) Felt women could be educated, but did believe in hierarchy.
8) She had several letters and manuscripts.
9) Felt it was important to learn the art of conversation.
10) Women did not speak in public.


Works Cited:

The Rhetorical Tradition: Readings from Classical Times to the Present by Bissell and Herzberg.


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