Aristotle’s Rhetoric, the Rhetorica and <i>Alexandrum</i>, and the Speeches in Herodotus and Thucydides*

Christopher Pelling

in Thucydides and Herodotus

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780199593262
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191752261 | DOI:
Aristotle’s Rhetoric, the Rhetorica and Alexandrum, and the Speeches in Herodotus and Thucydides*

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Rhetoric and historiography are cousins. Like orators, historians wrote to persuade; orators included narratives; historians included speeches. It would be odd if the study of rhetoric — even though it is on the whole inevitably fourth-century rhetoric — failed to illuminate Herodotus and Thucydides. This chapter has a narrower focus, concentrating less on the speeches themselves and more on the works of rhetorical theory, the Rhetorica ad Alexandrum and Aristotle's Rhetoric. Exploiting these texts poses particular problems of method, and the first section of this chapter addresses these. The second and third sections are particular case studies; these suggest that Aristotle's Rhetoric, despite its idiosyncrasies and the time lag, can still provoke lines of inquiry which can be helpful for the criticism of the historians of several generations before.

Keywords: Thucydides; Herodotus; rhetoric; historiography; Aristotle; Greek historians

Chapter.  15229 words. 

Subjects: Classical History

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