Two Rhetorical Handbooks

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In the following chart, the organization of two ancient rhetorical handbooks is compared in parallel. The Greek Rhetorica ad Alexandrum (RA), attributed to Aristotle but perhaps written by Anaximenes, is contemporary with Aristotle's Rhetoric but continues an older tradition (Kennedy, New History 50). The Latin Rhetorica ad Herennium (RH), attributed to Cicero but written by an unknown author ca. 85–80 BCE (New History 122), shows remarkably little substantive change between Greek and early Latin models. The differences exposed by this comparison of their arrangement, however, are instructive. First, at least two, perhaps three traditional patterns of arrangement conflict, demonstrating the strength of tradition even where it leads to awkwardness. In RA, the body is organized according to the kinds of oratory. This means that invention is divided between topics and proofs, topics being considered distinct to different kinds of speech, while proofs are general in nature. The first and most comprehensive treatment of topics is given to deliberative rhetoric, perhaps reflecting the influence of the school of Isocrates.

In RH, the body is mainly organized according to the parts of the speech, a still more ancient tradition. Yet the kinds of oratory are accommodated as well, with judicial speech given pride of place. This allows proofs and topics (largely displaced in judicial rhetoric by stases) to be addressed together at the place in the speech where they would ordinarily occur, a more natural treatment, while brief treatments of deliberative and epideictic are appended as an afterthought. This organization leaves no place for a separate discussion of arrangement. Nevertheless, a perfunctory nod to arrangement appears a second time as one of the canons of rhetoric. In RA, the parts of the speech are discussed entirely under arrangement.

Finally, note that style is considered as belonging to invention in RA, which has only invention and arrangement as formal canons. On the other hand, style is discussed as the last of five canons in RH, offering early evidence for this distinctively Latin innovation, usually attributed to Cicero.

Rhetorica ad Alexandrum


Rhetorica ad Herennium










I. Kinds of oratory


I. General Headings


A. Kinds
B. Species


A. Causes of Oratory
B. Canons ("faculties")
C. Competencies
D. Parts of Speech


II. Invention


II. Invention


A. Topics
1. Parliamentary (=Deliberative)
a. Lines of Argument
(Justice, Legality, Expedience, Honor etc.)
b. Subjects
(Ritual, legislation, constitution, treaties, war, peace, finance)

2. Ceremonial (=Epideictic)
3. Forensic (=Judicial)
4. Investigational (exetasis)
5. Summation


A. Parts of Judicial Speech
1. Definition of Parts of Speech
2. Introduction
3. Narration
4. Division


B. Proofs
1. Direct (words/actions/persons)
a. Probability
b. Example
c. Token
d. Consideration (enthymeme)
e. Maxim
f. Sign
g. Refutation
h. Differences between forms of proof
2. Supplementary
a. Opinion of the speaker
b. Evidence (voluntary)
c. Evidence under torture
d. Oath


5. Proof and Refutation
a. Issues (=Topics/Stases)
b. Arguments (=Proofs)
6. Conclusion




B. The Deliberative Speech




C. The Epideictic Speech


C. Other Expedients (=Style)
1. Anticipation
2. Postulates
3. Recapitulation
4. Irony
5. Agreeable style, length
6. Diction (putting words together)
7. Twofold statements
8. Clarity
9. Parallelisms
a. Antithesis
b. Parisosis
c. Paromoeosis




III. Arrangement


III. Arrangement


A. Arrangement of parliamentary speeches
1. [Exhortation]
a. Introduction
b. Exposition (=narration)
c. Confirmation (=proof)
d. Anticipation (=refutation)
e. Recapitulation (and peroration)
5. Dissuasion
B. Of ceremonial (epideictic) speeches
C. Of forensic speeches
D. Of "investigational" speeches






IV. Delivery




V. Memory




VI. Style


IV. Closing Remarks (on character)




Addendum on Politics