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Rhetoric

Ancient and MedievalGraeco-roman Origins, Aristotle And His Successors, Roman Imperial Rhetoric, Medieval Transitions, Late Medieval Transformation

Despite some recent controversy, rhetoric may be seen, from its ancient Greek-language origin, to be the systematic preceptive training that orators or public speakers have sought or received, from the fourth century B.C.E. onward. Signifying less a set of "ideas" than a preceptive practice, the Greek word rhetoric, later adopted into Latin (despite the equivalence of the phrase [ artificiosa] eloquentia), always refers to the Graeco-Roman preceptive tradition, which remained foundational from the time of Aristotle (384–22 B.C.E.) to that of Hobbes (1588–1679), Vico (1668–1744) and even Nietszche (1844–1900). It is only in recent times that the term has come to serve in a pejorative sense as a substitute for "truth."

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