The Rhetoric of Western Thought

8 Jun

Training Exercises for Students

Advanced rhetorical education involved a rich variety of skills, perhaps the most distinctive of which was declamation. The instructor would present a case similar to those debated in the Roman Forum and the students would argue its merits as closely as possible to reality. If we were to walk into a Roman classroom where rhetoric was being taught we might hear a debate on the following typical theme

The law forbids the sacrifice of a bull calf to Diana. Some sailors caught by a storm on the high seas vowed if they reached a harbour which was in sight they would sacrifice a bull calf to the diety of the place. It so happened that at the harbour there was a temple of Diana, the very goddess to whom a bull calf might not be sacrificed. Ignorant of the law, they made their sacrifice on reaching shore and were brought to trial . . . .*

Cited in Clarke, Rhetoric on Rome p. 18

Eds: J.L. Golden, G.F. Berquist, W.E. Coleman J. M. Sproule; The Rhetoric of Western Thought From the Mediterranean World to the Global Setting Eighth Ed. (Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company Dubuque Iowa ©1976- 2004) p. 84

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