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Dilemmas Of Pietas In Roman Declamation

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Chapter Summary

This chapter deals with problems of pietas in that 'bombastic matter and loud empty phrases, the flatulent and formless flow of words' - in other words, declamation. It first gives a brief introduction to this much-maligned genre and then outlines the concept of pietas in general and its significance in rhetoric in particular. Finally it brings the two together and discuss the ways in which pietas was used in declamation to formulate and come to terms with moral dilemmas, and to test and challenge ethical norms - sometimes to their limits. Roman Declamation consisted of two stages: pupils were trained in the art of composing and delivering suasoriae - political speeches in genus deliberativum - before they proceeded to what was considered the crowning achievement of an education in rhetoric: controversia or mock-forensic speech in the genus iudiciale. For this purpose, pupils were provided with an assignment containing fictitous case against the background of one or more laws.

Keywords: controversia; dilemmas; genus deliberativum; genus iudiciale; pietas; political speeches; rhetoric; Roman declamation; suasoriae



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