Thursday, 28 February 2013

Ancient rhetoric

The Greeks got there first. We think we know how to write a piece of propaganda, or how to plan a speech. But the Ancient Greeks had a clearly set-out sequence for how to arrange such a piece. A speech comprises six stages:

  1. exordium
  2. narratio
  3. divisio
  4. confirmatio
  5. confutatio
  6. peroratio
What do these stages mean? Any educated Hellenic Greek could have told you. I have no idea. 

A literary composition would have five sections:
  1. inventio
  2. disposition
  3. elocutio
  4. memoria
  5. pronuntiatio or actio

All this is according to Brian Vickers, in the TLS of 5 October 2007. But he doesn't tell us where he got these terms from.