Classical and New Rhetoric: Importance and Relevance

Essay by GloriamaUniversity, Bachelor'sA-, June 2007

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Rhetoric has many meanings to many people. In Webster's Dictionary it is defined as "the art of speaking or writing effectively." The techniques and tools used to do this while getting the message across to the audience or reader is dictated by the persona of the writer. This use of words like 'techniques," "persona," and "tools" are all part of a grander scale to learn and understand what has been borrowed from the past and incorporated into the present. Rhetoric is divided into two parts: Classical Rhetoric and New Rhetoric. Both incorporate language to persuade reader or audience to the speaker's understanding of thought. Classical Rhetoric approaches rhetoric in a primarily oral way. Its foundations began long before the printing press, so this was the only way to offer it to the masses. New Rhetoric approaches rhetoric with the old techniques, but combines it with technology. The approach may differ but the goal remains the same: the persuasion of the audience.

Classical Rhetoric is usually defined as the art of persuasion. Another definition of one who practiced rhetoric would be, "one skilled in public speaking." (Crowley 22) The use of the word "classical" is meant as a reference to time. In the fifth century BCE, around the Mediterranean area, especially in Greece, Rome, and Italy, the classical era of rhetoric came to be. Classical Rhetoric began out of the need for people to expresses themselves verbally in court or in the Assembly. This eminent need grew because there were no lawyers in the court houses and very few educated people in the Assembly, namely Athens, at the time. A Sicilian named Corax is said to have founded the first courses for Rhetoric. These courses concentrated on litigation. Classical Rhetoric is very important because it establishes the basic theories of...