Monday, September 19, 2011


The Rhetorical Tradition on Boethius begins by giving a brief description of Boethius life; making sure to highlight on his interest in Aristotle and Cicero’s work. The description mentions the Boethius was aware of the danger of losing Greco-Roman culture and tried to preserve what he could. Unfortunately, Boethius was unable to fully translate the work of Plato and Aristotle into Latin before his death. Knowing that Boethius was particularly interested in Aristotle’s work I couldn’t help but notice how he repeated some of Aristotle’s main ideas on rhetoric. For instance, in his An Overview of the Structure of Rhetoric, Boethius states that rhetoric can be three types of argument: judicial, demonstrative, and deliberative. Similarly Aristotle said there were three types of speech: forensic, deliberative, and ceremonial. Another idea that Boethius mentioned of Aristotle’s was that rhetoric had five parts: invention, disposition, style, memory and delivery. It cannot be said that Boethius was trying to pass Aristotle’s ideas as his own or if in his effort to preserve ancient rhetoric he simply found it necessary to have these ideas in his work.
Later however, Boethius steers slightly away from Aristotle’s ideas and begins to explain his own. Boethius writes about the “oration” referring to it as a civil nature. He explains that the oration has six parts: the introduction, the argument, the participation, the proof, the refutation, and the peroration. Boethius six parts of rhetoric is similar to ancient rhetoric’s ideas but because the information was new to him and many others at his time it is possible that he found the six parts of rhetoric theory to be a revelation and something new to contribute. Boethius concludes An Overview of the Structures of Rhetoric by stating that it is the goal of the orator (the rhetor) to teach and move, to speak well, and to ultimately persuade the audience.

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