The Rhetoric of Unity

Daniel S. Richter

in Cosmopolis

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780199772681
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199895083 | DOI:
The Rhetoric of Unity

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Post classical rhetoricians applied and adapted philosophical and scientific ideas about the nature of the human soul and the human community to describe the world as they saw it and wanted it to be. This chapter explores the tension between the desire to order experience into tidy dyads and the need to confront the multiplicity and variability of an ever-expanding and diversifying world. In doing so, this chapter turns from philosophy to rhetoric. While the Hellenistic and Roman Stoa turned away, for the most part, from the dyadic classification of the world into Greek and barbarian, post-classical public speech tended to preserve classical notions of “us” and “them.” The question is, what happens to mutually exclusive and all-encompassing divisions of the human community in the increasingly plural and fluid Mediterranean? It is true that peoples had been criss-crossing the Mediterranean for millennia prior to the fifth-century BCE and that cultural exchange had long defined Mediterranean as well as Near Eastern and North African history. What is of interest here is a moment at which certain intellectuals in Athens came to rethink the meaning of these movements in an effort to define lines between insiders and outsiders.

Keywords: rhetoric; Panhellenism; Greek/barbarian antithesis; funeral orations; Demosthenes; Isocrates; Aelius Aristides; Dio Chrysostom

Chapter.  25779 words. 

Subjects: Classical Philosophy

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