Fall 2012

Ancient and Modern Rhetoric


Luca Grillo (Section 01)


This course explores the theory and practice of Greek and Roman oratory in comparison with contemporary speeches, with particular regard to those that will be delivered during the presidential campaign. Are there rules for crafting a successful speech? What does a speech reveal about the assumptions and mentality of its audience? How much do Greek and Roman oratory affect the way we construct and evaluate a speech today? Oratory will be considered both as a discipline with its own laws and practices and as a window into the values and debates that animate the public life of a people. We will do close readings of key passages and orations and analyze their rhetorical structure and argument. Assignments will include not only essays on major themes in classical rhetoric and on their reception in modern discourse, but also close readings of key passages and orations, and analysis of their rhetorical structure and argument.

Discussion-based classes will focus on readings taken not only from Homer, Plato, Aristotle, Demosthenes and Cicero but also from past history and from the modern era (e.g., George Washington, Dr. King, Hitler, Churchill and the 2012 presidential candidates). Students will work closely with the instructor to craft a speech, which they will deliver to the rest of the class at the end of the course.

Fall semester. Professor Grillo.


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2012