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3 Characterization in Ancient Rhetorical Theory

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Chapter Summary

Characterization in speeches can be developed in a number of ways. First, speeches often employ the use of encomiastic topics by which to conceive personality. Second, speeches often utilize the technique of amplification and minimization in characterizing a person. Third, speeches frequently make use of a variety of rhetorical devices to develop characterization. This chapter explores each one in turn. The ancient rhetorical handbooks compiled lists of topics, or conceptual categories, for the development of characterization. The chapter first surveys encomiastic topic lists in epideictic rhetoric before turning to topic lists of the person in other rhetorical genres. It considers each work in roughly chronological order beginning from the earliest Greek handbooks, moving next to the Latin handbooks, and then finally to the postclassical handbooks of the progymnasmatists, Menander, and Pseudo-Dionysius.

Keywords: ancient rhetorical handbooks; earliest Greek handbooks; encomiastic topics; epideictic rhetoric; Latin handbooks; Menander; postclassical handbooks; progymnasmatists; Pseudo-Dionysius; rhetorical characterization



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