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Chapter Nineteen Classifying, Describing, Interpreting Speeches

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Chapter Summary

Conceived right from the origin as a productive art which offers instruction as to how to compose speeches, during the Hellenistic and Imperial Ages ancient rhetoric developed a second vocation, i. e. as critical theory which studies, interprets, comments on, and evaluates past works of oratory and also, with a certain frequency, works which were not strictly oratorical often in order to provide models for imitation. In terms of rhetorical criticism, the notion of genre and the division into genres are of great importance. To be able to proceed to the description and evaluation of works of oratory it is indispensable to classify them: the three Aristotelian genres are the tool used for classifying the logoi. The indication of genre is frequently found in a commentary on a specific speech, together with observations on content, the characters, the historical events and authenticity.

Keywords: ancient rhetoric; Aristotelian genres; epideictic speech; Hellenistic Age; Imperial Ages



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