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Chapter Eighteen The Theory of Genres in the Rhetorical System

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Chapter Summary

In Aristotle's Rhetoric, far from fulfilling a purely classificatory function, the tripartition in genres was profoundly rooted in the conceptual structure of the art of rhetoric, relating to the system's three basic components, invention, arrangement, and style: each genre uses argumentative forms of its own and requires a particular organization of the parts and a specific style. The only two texts to show a certain interest in the epideictic genre are Quintilian's Education of the Orator and Pseudo-Aelius Aristides' Rhetoric. Continuing in the path indicated by Aristotle, the rhetoricians of the Hellenistic and Imperial Ages provide precepts for the composition of deliberative, judicial and epideictic speeches on the three levels of inventio, dispositio and elocutio. The most elaborate theory of the epideictic exordium is given in the Rhetoric to Herennius, where four sources are indicated: the orator himself, the person being praised, the hearers, and the subject of the speech.

Keywords: Aristotle's Rhetoric; deliberative genre; dispositio; elocutio; epideictic genre; Hellenistic Ages; invention; judicial genre; stasis theory



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