Plan for the Day
- Isocrates’ Speeches from Last Class (if needed)
- Isocrates’ “Antidosis” (pp. 201-264)
- Mini-Rhetorical Analysis Fun
- I will ask you about your topics in class tonight and next week (2/22)
- These are due in two weeks: 3/01
- Special Valentine’s Day Messages
- “Marriage: It’s Only Going to Get Worse”—this is science talking…not me
- A 1A Valentine’s Day: Broken Hearts And Why Romance Novels Are More Timely Than Ever
- Rhetorical Analysis Examples (time permitting)
If we need to jump back to February 8th’s webpage, we can do that. Otherwise, let’s forge ahead. By now, you’re well aware of the requirement that wealthy Athenians pay liturgies to improve the community: temples, choruses, and even triremes. The translator tells readers that this fictional speech is based on an actual event “in 356, a wealthy citizen Megacleides was summoned to undertake the funding of a trireme….[but claimed] that the rhetorician Isocrates should be liable for the trierarchy since he was the wealthier of the two” (p. 201). Furthermore, this speech, written when Isocrates was 82, attempts to both characterize his virtue and the lasting effect he and promoting philosophy will have on Athens and all of Greece: educating future leaders. Keep in mind the translator’s observation of Isocrates’ major assumption:
- p. 203: “For [Isocrates], rhetoric is philosophy, that is, the ability to speak, to reason, and to act. It is not an abstract and impractical activity….Rhetoric/philosophy does not rely on a fixed body of knowledge (epistēmē) but on ability to guess and conjecture (doxa) at the right opportunities.”
- “These skills allow the orator or the politician to say and do what is necessary in any particular situation.”
- Compare to Aristotle:
“Let rhetoric be [defined as] an ability, in each [particular] case, to see the available means of persuasion” (1.2.1, Kennedy p. 37; Part 2, para. 1 Online; [1356a])
Let’s consider these other areas:
- p. 207: “ I considered…to write a speech that would be (as it were) an image (eikōn) of my thoughts and my life as a whole.”
- p. 208: “individuals who dare to blame others for the things they themselves are guilty of are the most wicked and deserve the harshest penalties.”
- What other text warns against hypocrisy?
- p. 210: “we accept whatever the accuser says, and we sometimes refuse to hear the voice of the defendant who tries to refute them.”
- Besides the obvious examples of someone being “judged in the court of public opinion,” what other examples are there of refusing to hear other accounts?
- p. 218: “all my speeches pertain to virtue justice.”
- p. 220—Here, Isocrates asks a series of three rhetorical questions about speeches (just before and after ). Then, he associates the ability to speak and persuade (the ability to use rhetoric) as the foundation for civilized society; therefore, his position as teacher is the most important in all of Greece.
- “If you were to be persuaded by my words, you would govern the whole of Greece well and justly and in the best interests of Athens.”
- “…we should value those who make it their business to write speeches of this kind more than those who legislate and inscribe laws…”
- p. 221: “I try to persuade the whole city to undertake activities which will lead to their own happiness and will free the rest of the Greeks from their present evils.”
- p. 238: “the condition of the city necessarily depends on how the young are educated. Thus sykophants cannot be in charge of such an important matter…”
- p. 241: “…courage that does not signify shamelessness but prepares the soul with moderation (sōphrosynē) so that it has as much confidence in addressing all the citizens as in deliberating with himself.”
- p. 243: “We acquire knowledge through hard work, and we each put into practice what we learn in our own way. From every school only two or three become competitors, while the rest go off to be private citizens.”
- I believe he means these “competitors” are the bad kind of sophists out to use rhetoric to enrich themselves. But he could also imply that only a few orators go on to be leaders.
- p. 248: “Not one of these men who had done such great things neglected speech (logoi); rather, they paid much more attention to it than to other things.”
- Here’s one list of the Seven Sages
Isocrates appears to go all out in promoting rhetoric, public speaking broadly, as the most important activity. Consider, though, as we’ve discussed in other contexts, that this pursuit is not expected of everyone. In fact, Isocrates points to a need for “native talent” (p. 240) to acquire these skills.
- p. 250: “ But toward those who apply themselves diligently and wish to acquire the things they themselves desire, they are irritated and jealous, they are upset, and they go through the same sort of experience as lovers.”
- p. 250: “ This is a sign not only of their confusion, but also of their disrespect for the gods.”
- pp. 250-251: “ Worst of all, although they assume the soul is more important than the body, despite knowing this, they welcome those who engage in gymnastics more than those who engage in philosophy. Surely it is irrational to praise those who engage in a lesser activity rather than a higher activity.”
- p. 251: “Speech (logos) is responsible for nearly all our inventions.  It legislated in matters of justice and injustice and beauty and baseness, and without these laws, we could not live with one another.”
- p. 252: “ With speech we fight over contentious matters, and we investigate the unknown…. If one must summarize the power of discourse, we will discover that nothing done prudently occurs without speech (logos), that speech is the leader of all thoughts and actions, and that the most intelligent people use it most of all.”
- p. 253: “When we are exercised and sharpened in these matters, we are able to receive and learn more important and significant material more quickly and easily.”
- p. 258: “that feature which makes human nature superior to that of other living creatures and the Greek race superior to the barbarians,  namely, a superior education in intellect and speech.”
Consider the effect of these statements in general:
- p. 222: “ But I think that even the most ignorant know…”
- p. 225: “ ” Who does not know about Corcyra lying in the most strategic and fairest spot among the cities near the Peloponnesus…”
- p. 228: “He surpassed all others in providing magnificent and worthy equipment—and none of the enemy would dare say otherwise.”
- p. 233: “ Reasonable and sensible people might perhaps admire you for this, but others who are less talented and who generally are more upset at the honest success of others than at their own misfortune, can only be annoyed and resentful.”
- He is quoting a fictional student above.
- p. 239: “No one would deny that of these two, the soul is superior and more valuable, for its task is to deliberate about matters private and public…”
- p. 241: “Doesn’t everyone know that even if such a person does not acquire a thorough education but only a general education that is common to all, he would be such an orator that in my view no Greek could equal him?”
- p. 243: “Sensible people should not have conflicting judgments about similar matters…”
- p. 259: “ It is up to the jurors who are sensible to destroy those who are responsible for such words, because they heap a great shame on Athens…”
- Pay attention to note 97 “Athenians as intellectuals.”
- p. 260: “We have many rivals in athletic competition, but in education, all would judge us winners.”
Rhetorical Analysis Examples
Let’s jump back to February 1st’s webpage and check out the educational links. If I haven’t already, I’ll ask you about your Mini-Rhetorical Analysis topics, which I know you all have.
On Canvas, I have a Facebook post we might review. Consider these questions:
- What assumptions seem to guide the author’s post, specifically her argument?
- How does the author appear to convey ethos, and what might that ethos be?
- Does her conclusion remind you of any similar types of appeals?
- Think the encomiums (partial and full) we’ve read.
Onward to On Christian Rhetoric
I swear to you the next work isn’t a trick to proselytize. We’re reading it in a secular context to consider how a dominant religion in Western Civilization uses rhetoric and its rhetorical tradition. Whether you like it or not, believers and non-believers in the West have been influenced/affected by Christianity. What do I mean by that?
Looking ahead, we’ll discuss Knoblauch’s Discursive Ideologies (Ch. 1 & 2, pp. 1-48) in two weeks. That book should contextualize our readings and fill in the gaps (or create new ones)—we can’t cover every single one in depth. It will also be helpful in locating scholarship on our figures and clarifying their (often) confusing arguments.