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Cicero's Partitiones Oratoriae and Topica: Rhetorical Philosophy and Philosophical Rhetoric

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Chapter Summary

Cicero's Partitiones oratoriae and Topica are frequently characterized as minor works in his rhetorical corpus. There are obvious reasons for this. Both are pedagogical works, and both locate the authority for their contents in some measure apart from Cicero. The author does not believe it is difficult to show that Cicero had serious theoretical intentions for the two treatises. He demonstrates such intentions fit neatly within Cicero's intellectual program on rhetoric. In developing this argument, he features a matter of particular concern to Cicero, namely the relationship between rhetoric and philosophy. Originally, Cicero did not conceive philosophy as especially germane to rhetoric. In his view, this revision represents Cicero's realization that philosophy could contribute to rhetorical theory in at least two ways: directly, through philosophical inquiry into the nature of rhetoric, and indirectly, through the application to rhetoric of doctrines drawn from strictly philosophical fields.

Keywords: Cicero's intellectual program; Partitiones Oratoriae; rhetorical philosophy; Topica



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