rhetoric(redirected from rhetor)
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the art of swaying an audience by eloquent speech. In ancient Greece and Rome oratory was included under the term rhetoric, which meant the art of composing as well as delivering a speech.
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the study of oratory and prose in general. Rhetoric as an art originated in Greece in the fifth century B.C. and was reduced to a system in the third and second centuries B.C. Roman oratory dates from the first century B.C. The greatest theoreticians of ancient rhetoric were Aristotle, Cicero, and Quintilian.
Classic rhetoric was divided into five parts: invention, arrangement, verbal expression, memorization, and delivery. Invention is the systematization of the contents and proofs of a speech. Arrangement is the division of a speech into the introduction exposition, elaboration—proofs to support one’s own point of view and refutations of the arguments of one’s opponent—and conclusion. Verbal expression is the choice and combination of words, figures of speech, and rhetorical devices and—depending on the use of these elements—the choice of the simple, middle, or high style of speech.
Classical rhetoric, which was oriented primarily toward legal and ceremonial speeches, was studied in the Middle Ages mainly for the purpose of writing letters and sermons. During the Renaissance and the period of classicism, classical rhetoric was brought to bear on all types of prose. In Russia, the classical treatment of this “pervasive” rhetoric was given by M. V. Lomonosov in A Short Handbook on Eloquence (1748). Rhetoric was part of an education in the humanities until the 19th century, when its main component—verbal expression—merged with stylistics as part of the theory of literature and the remaining components lost their practical significance. The word “rhetoric” itself has taken on the offensive connotation of pompous and empty speech.
REFERENCESCicero. Tri traktata ob oratorskom iskusstve. Moscow, 1972.
Antichnye teorii iazyka i stilia. Edited by O. Freidenberg. Moscow-Leningrad, 1936.
Lausberg, H. Handbuch der literarischen Rhetorik, vols. 1-2. Munich, 1960.
Martin, J. Antike Rhetorik. Munich, 1974.
M. L. GASPAROV