Monday, December 20, 2004

Old Made New 

I have been wandering through classical rhetoric texts I haven't considered in decades. Some parts of Greek and Roman rhetoric I never did study closely, and I should have. Putting students through rigorous training along classical lines went out with the beginning of the 20th Century. But there is a wonderful site that summarizes rhetoric and its parts.

If you study the site, it is clear the ancients were practical psychologists and master persuaders. What they learned over hundreds of years, we relearn every generation -- even those of us working in media that didn't exist when Greeks and Romans declaimed in the fora.

Studying is one thing but doing is another. I gave myself a task of writing a speech along classical lines and then parsing it for readers as a way of encouraging them to look again at the subject. This is the result. I've had a couple of colleagues read it: Both encouraged me to place it online. It is interesting that one colleague told me he hated the speech the first time he read it. I had tried "hokey" effects that didn't work. Overall, however, it appears that imitating ancient styles has merit. When you have nothing better to do, give it a try. You should find it an instructive writing exercise at least.


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