Rhetoric from Cicero to Augustine

Required texts

We will read them in this order:

  1. Anonymous: Rhetorica ad Herennium (pdf). The Loeb edition is available in the book store if you prefer paper.
  2. Cicero, (106 - 43 BCE) On the Ideal Orator.
  3. Seneca The Elder, (ca. 55 BCE ca. 39 CE)The Elder Seneca, The Preface, Chapter 1 and Chapter 2
  4. Quintilian, (c. 35 - c.100 CE) Institutes of Oratory: Or, Education of an Orator .
  5. Tacitus, (56 - 117 CE) A Dialogue Concerning Oratory
  6. Lucian, (c. 120 - 200 CE)The Rhetorician's Vade Mecum.
  7. Augustine (November 13, 354 August 28, 430 CE) On Christian Doctrine

Other texts

  • Apthonius: Progymnasmata
  • Augustine: On Christian Doctrine
  • Cicero: Brutus
  • Dionysius of Halicarnassus On literary composition
  • Hermogenes "On Stasis"
  • Julian, Emperor "Two Orations"
  • Libanius, Autobiography
  • Lucian: The Parasite
  • Lucian: Rhetor Vade Mecum
  • Quintilian: The Institutes of Oratory
  • Trollope, Life of Cicero, Audio file

    Historical Backgrounds

  • Brown, Peter, Power and Persuasion in Late Antiquity
  • Peter Green, The Hellenistic Age
  • Simon Baker, Ancient Rome: The Rise and Fall. This book is related to a BBC production. You can watch bits of it on Youtube


    For (fictional) context. Maybe I should explain that. The exemplar of classical historians is Thucydides who wrote about the Peloponesian War as though he were Ares: omniscient narration. The line between history and historical fiction wasn't observed in the ancient world, where present rhetorical needs and the desire to create a compelling story and a lack of evidence in general outweighed the need for historical accuracy. Below I've listed a couple of novels that I've read recently that seem to me to capture something of what life might have been like in the Mediterranean during the times of the rhetorics we are studying.

  • Anthony Everitt, Cicero: Life and Times of Greece's Greatest Politician
  • Robert Harris, Emperium
  • Stacy Schiff, Cleopatra: A Life
  • Stephen Saylor, Roma
  • Stephen Saylor, Roman Blood