Cicero’s De Oratore (bks 1 & 2)

Cicero De Oratore
Area: History of Rhetoric and Memory Studies
Notes on Cicero’s philosophy
Atticist: Purity of diction and simplicity of syntax; they found in the Greek eloquence of the 10 Attic Orators
Asiatic: epigrammatic terseness or florid emotionalism (Sophists)
•    Amplification: naming the same thing differently two or three times in succession
•    The rhetorician much master the branch of philosophy that deals with human life and conduct
•    Antonius: rhetoric defined as learning to use language agreeable to the ear and arguments suited to convince
•    The orator should feel the emotions he wishes to evoke
•    Socrates and Plato both separated philosophy and rhetoric—Cicero thinks they belong together
Book I
•    Excelling orators are few
•    Good orators require knowledge of very many matters
•    Complete history of the past and a store of precedents must be retained in the memory
•    204: “What too is so indispensable as to have always in your grasp weapons wherewith you can defend yourself or challenge the wicked man, or when provoked take your revenge?”
•    Our greatest advantage over animals is that we hold conversations and reproduce thought in word
•    Good speakers bring a style that’s harmonious, graceful, and marked by a certain artistry and polish
•    Complete and finished orator can speak on any matter with fullness and variety: know the facts of the topic on which one is speaking
•    209: Crassus paraphrasing Socrates: “that every man was eloquent enough upon a subject that he knew has in it some plausibility but no truth: it is nearer to the truth to say that neither can anyone be eloquent upon a subject that is unknown to him, not, if he knows it perfectly and yet does not know how to shape and polish his style, can he speak fluently even upon that which he does know.”
•    Philosophy is divided into three branches: mysteries of nature; subtleties of dialect; human life and conduct
•    Crassus: immense education is necessary
•    Scaevola: such education is almost impossible/limited
•    If art consists of a grasp of full knowledge (≠ some knowledge of a lot of things), then there is not an art of oratory
•    Oratory is an inborn capacity => combo of many skills from other professions
•    Better an orator, the more frightened his is by the difficulty of speaking: shameness
•    Rules of diction: speak in Latin, simple lucidity, with elegance and dignity
•    Memory is trained by learning Latin and foreigners
Book II
•    Show the student who and how to copy
•    3 Points for issue of speech: issue and verdict; recommendation of myself for clients; sway the feelings of the tribunal in the desired direction
•    2 objectives: what to say and how to say it
•    Compassion can be aroused if the audience can apply their own adversities


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