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-The distinctive humanist contribution to rhetorical education was the use of dialectic

and rhetoric together to read classical texts.


2
The precepts of rhetoric and dialectic
would inform the readers observation of the practice of Cicero and Virgil; reading
Cicero and Virgil would in turn enrich ones understanding of how to use both words
and arguments. The classical authors would also provide a rich store of material for
use in new compositions. !ac"# $eter. %umanist &hetoric and 'ialectic.( )n The
Cambridge Companion to &enaissance %umanism# edited b* +ill ,ra*e# -2-...
Cambridge; /ew 0or"1 Cambridge 2niversit* $ress# 3..4# -25
Central features of humanism also contributed to humanist rhetoric. /ew manuscripts
were found# notabl* the complete texts of 6uintilians Institutio oratoria 37345 and
Ciceros De oratore 37235# together with texts of several previousl* un"nown
orations of Cicero ten of them discovered b* $oggio 8racciolini in 3739 and 373:5.
8ut although fifteenth- and sixteenth-centur* writers made considerable use of
6uintilian# the basic text for teaching rhetoric remained the Rhetorica ad Herennium#
even after its traditional ascription to Cicero was disproved in 37.3. The development
of ;ree" studies led to new translations of <ristotles Rhetroic and to adaptations of
the second-centur* <' ;ree" rhetorician %ermogenes b* the 8*=antine >migr>
;eorge of Trebi=ond Trape=untius5 and b* +ean ?turm# who reformed education at
?trasbourg. 8ut neither had much effect on the manuals which were the mainsta* of
rhetoric teaching. 8* contrast# the @atin adaptation of the Progymnasmata#
composition exercises of the third-centur* <' ;ree" rhetorician Aphthonius# became
one of the most successful schoolboo"s of the sixteenth centur*. There were no
significant textual discoveries in dialectic# and the publication of the ;ree"
commentaries on <ristotles Organon had more effect on sixteenth-centur* )talian
<ristotelian philosophers than on the teaching of dialectic. The humanist
preoccupation with improving @atin st*le resulted in the composition of dialectic
manuals in classical @atin and the abandonment in some Auarters of the more
technical aspects of medieval logic. Ver* few humanists applied the idea of a Breturn
to the sources to the ;ree" text of <ristotles dialectic. Chat distinguishes humanist
from medieval approaches to rhetoric and dialectic is that the two subDects were
made to wor" together in the stud* of classical texts.( !ac"# $eter. %umanist
&hetoric and 'ialectic.( )n The Cambridge Companion to &enaissance %umanism#
edited b* +ill ,ra*e# -2-... Cambridge; /ew 0or"1 Cambridge 2niversit* $ress# 3..4#
-2--E5
-&hetoric and dialectic# li"e other curriculum subDects# have undergone man*
changes since their emergence in the fifth and fourth centur* 8C respectivel*. 8oth
subDects aim to teach people how to persuade others# 'ialectic concentrates on
argument# which for <ristotelians is exemplified in the s*llogism.
E
&hetoric teaches a
variet* of means of persuasion# including self-presentation# manipulation of the
audience# emotional appeals and the use of figures of speech# as well as arguments.
'ialectic originated from the disputation a debate conducted b* Auestion and
answer# as in $latos dialogues5# rhetoric from the political or courtroom oration; but
both came to be applied to other t*pes of writing. Fver their long histor*# rhetoric and
dialectic have collaborated and competed# with both la*ing claim to certain areas of
teaching# notabl* the discover* and formulation of arguments.
7
!ac"# $eter.
%umanist &hetoric and 'ialectic.( )n The Cambridge Companion to &enaissance
%umanism# edited b* +ill ,ra*e# -2-... Cambridge; /ew 0or"1 Cambridge 2niversit*
$ress# 3..4# -E5
)n the later !iddle <ges dialectic was the most important subDect in the universit* arts
course because it regulated the chief methods of teaching and examination1 the
lecture# the commentar*# the quaestio and the disputation. 'ialectic also became a
speciali=ed research subDect in its own right# exploring difficult areas of the text of
<ristotles Organon# such as the nature of universals Categories5# the relationship
between words# concepts and things De interpretatione5 and the ambiguities arising
from the use of particular words of sentences Sophistical Refutations5. <lthough
scholars continued to compose logical and linguistic commentaries on rhetoric
textboo"s# much of medieval rhetoric teaching focused on the practical art of letter-
writing ars dictaminis5. Teachers of dictamen were among were among the earliest
humanists# and letter-writing remained an important aspect of rhetoric. /ew letter-
writing manuals were composed throughout the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries in
the attempt to spread the idea of Ciceronian @atinit*.
9
!ac"# $eter. %umanist
&hetoric and 'ialectic.( )n The Cambridge Companion to &enaissance %umanism#
edited b* +ill ,ra*e# -2-... Cambridge; /ew 0or"1 Cambridge 2niversit* $ress# 3..4#
-75
?everal hundred authors contributed more or less voluminousl* to the range of
subDects denoted b* rhetoric and dialectic in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. The
present state of our "nowledge does not permit us to organi=e them all into schools
and periods. )nstead# ) shall summari=e the contributions of seven influential authors
as a sample of the humanist approach to these fields.( !ac"# $eter. %umanist
&hetoric and 'ialectic.( )n The Cambridge Companion to &enaissance %umanism#
edited b* +ill ,ra*e# -2-... Cambridge; /ew 0or"1 Cambridge 2niversit* $ress# 3..4#
-E--75
-<gricola matches the arts of the trivium grammar# dialectic and rhetoric5 to the
defining characteristics of language. %e assigns the "e* role of discovering and
organi=ing subDect-matter to dialectic. @ater he suggests that dialectical invention is
prior both to Dudgement the part of dialectic concerned with he forms of
argumentation5 and to rhetoric# which he treats as s*non*mous with st*le.
34
'ialectic
teaches the thin"ing part of language use. 8ut this is not a straightforward exaltation
of dialectic# for <gricolas version of dialectic is an original s*nthesis of material from
both dialectic and rhetoric. <lthough the boo" is centred on the topics and includes
discussion of the proposition and the forms of argumentation# these elements from
traditional dialectic are balanced b* parts of the rhetoric s*llabus such as status
theor*# exposition# the handling of emotions and disposition. !ac"# $eter. %umanist
&hetoric and 'ialectic.( )n The Cambridge Companion to &enaissance %umanism#
edited b* +ill ,ra*e# -2-... Cambridge; /ew 0or"1 Cambridge 2niversit* $ress# 3..4#
-4--:5
Chile Valla had recogni=ed the importance of the topics but had borrowed
6uintilians version of them# <gricola begins with a new and extensive treatment of
the topics. %e explains wh* the topics are effective# how the* can be used b* a
spea"er and how the list of topics is constructed.
3:
Cithin each topic he provides
explanations# subdivisions and examples# which help the reader explore the nature
and the argumentative usefulness of the relation involved in each topic. !ac"# $eter.
%umanist &hetoric and 'ialectic.( )n The Cambridge Companion to &enaissance
%umanism# edited b* +ill ,ra*e# -2-... Cambridge; /ew 0or"1 Cambridge 2niversit*
$ress# 3..4# -:5
!uch of the rest of the wor" is devoted to the use of the topics. )n 8oo" )) <gricola
explains how a writer must anal*se the initial brief in order to discover what "ind of a
Auestion it is which provides clues about the t*pe of answer reAuired5# what
subsidiar* Auestions are implied within it and which of these will determine the
outcome.
3-
Fnce the decisive Auestion had been uncovered# topical invention must
be applied to each of its elements in order to generate arguments for the composition
in hand. The method of topical invention is set out carefull*# with wor"ed examples.
3.
<gricola distinguishes two basic t*pes of discourse1 exposition# in which matters or
events are set out# as if to an audience which follows willingl*; and argumentation# in
which each point is argued for and the audience is compelled to assent.
2G
%e
describes the methods emplo*ed in each# how the two t*pes are related and how
one ma* be converted into the other. )n this section <gricola also investigated with
examples from Virgil and Cicero5 different methods of achieving persuasion and a
variet* of wa*s of using arguments. !ac"# $eter. %umanist &hetoric and 'ialectic.(
)n The Cambridge Companion to &enaissance %umanism# edited b* +ill ,ra*e# -2-
... Cambridge; /ew 0or"1 Cambridge 2niversit* $ress# 3..4# -:5
)n 8oo" ))) he provides an account of emotional persuasion# drawing on <ristotles
Rhetoric and showing how the topics can be used to generate affective material.
23
<gricolas account of emotion is noticeabl* more thorough and s*stematic than those
found in the rhetoric manuals# which generall* treat the subDect onl* briefl* in
discussing the peroration and some of the figures. %is account of disposition also
improves on the rhetoric textboo"s because# instead of ta"ing the structure of the
four-part oration as given# he shows that man* different arrangements are possible. <
writer must determine the organi=ation of a wor" in the light of his subDect and aim# as
well as the li"el* response of his audience.
22
!ac"# $eter. %umanist &hetoric and
'ialectic.( )n The Cambridge Companion to &enaissance %umanism# edited b* +ill
,ra*e# -2-... Cambridge; /ew 0or"1 Cambridge 2niversit* $ress# 3..4# -:5
<gricola often uses literar* examples to show how argumentative effects are
achieved# how different t*pes of writing are organi=ed and even how comparisons
wor". %e also proposes a techniAue of dialectical reading which uncovers the
argumentative structures that underpin an oration or a poem. %e gives an example of
such a reading in his dialectical and rhetorical commentar* on Ciceros oration Pro
lege Manilia.
2E
!ac"# $eter. %umanist &hetoric and 'ialectic.( )n The Cambridge
Companion to &enaissance %umanism# edited b* +ill ,ra*e# -2-... Cambridge; /ew
0or"1 Cambridge 2niversit* $ress# 3..4# -:5
De invention dialectica is an original and instructive wor" which creates a new
s*nthesis of elements from the trivium. )t was printed fort*-four times in the sixteenth
centur* with a further thirt*-two editions of epitomes5;
27
but it ma"es considerable
demands on the reader# and it does not fit easil* into the traditional division of the
s*llabus. ?ome of <gricolas ideas were embodied in the educational reforms and the
textboo"s of Hrasmus# $hilipp !elanchthon and $eter &amus. !ac"# $eter.
%umanist &hetoric and 'ialectic.( )n The Cambridge Companion to &enaissance
%umanism# edited b* +ill ,ra*e# -2-... Cambridge; /ew 0or"1 Cambridge 2niversit*
$ress# 3..4# --5
'esiderius Hrasmus was the most famous humanist of he earl* sixteenth centur*# the
friend of princes and bishops# the author of textboo"s and teachers manuals# the
editor of ?t +erome and the /ew Testament.
29
)n De ratione studii BFn the !ethod of
?tud*# 39335 he suggests reading material and stud* methods for grammar schools.
%e describes a procedure for appl*ing rhetorical anal*sis to other t*pes of literar*
text# pa*ing attention to genre# characters# place and action.
24
?ome of Hrasmuss
textboo"s aim at improving st*le. )n the Adagia B<dages# 39GG# with man* additions
in later editions5 he comments on the use of classical proverbs; in the Paraolae
$arallels# 39375 he collects together similes ta"en from ;ree" and @atin authors.
2:
Hrasmus also contributed to the humanist production of practical rhetorics# with De
conscriendis epistolis BFn the Criting of @etters# 37.- and 39225# the most
successful of man* sixteenth-centur* letter-writing manuals#
2-
and his half-finished
preaching manual# Hcclesiastes BThe $reacher# 39E95. 8ut his most influential
textboo" was De duplici copia verorum ac rerum BIoundations of the <bundant
?t*le# 39325# which went through at least 39G editions in the sixteenth centur*. De
copia explains that an abundant and varied st*le can be achieved b* two methods1
thic"ening the verbal texture and adding to the subDect-matter. 8oo" ) focuses on
wa*s of var*ing vocabular* and introducing st*listic embellishments. 8oo" )) loo"s to
argumentative strategies and to the topics of person and thing to provide additional
material.
2.
)n one wa*# then# as ;abriel %arve* suggested# De copia contributed to
the bringing together of rhetoric and dialectic. 8ut De copia provided st*listic
supercharging after the main outline of a wor" had been devised# so it would be truer
to sa* that it added the methods of dialectic to the resources of st*le. The idea of
exchanges between st*listic and argumentative devices is also found in <gricola and
!elanchthon.5 <part from his praise of <gricola# Hrasmus tended to be hostile to
dialectic# regarding grammar and rhetoric as the subDects which humanism ought to
promote. !ac"# $eter. %umanist &hetoric and 'ialectic.( )n The Cambridge
Companion to &enaissance %umanism# edited b* +ill ,ra*e# -2-... Cambridge; /ew
0or"1 Cambridge 2niversit* $ress# 3..4# --5
$hilipp !elanchthon# famous as the Bteacher of ;erman*# was one of @uthers closet
associates# the author of the <ugsburg Confession 39EG5 and of numerous
$rotestant-humanist educational reforms. %e became professor of ;ree" at
Cittenberg in 393-. %is first lecture course on rhetoric# published as De rhetorica liri
tres BThree 8oo"s on &hetoric# 393.5 contains so much dialectic# and insists so
emphaticall* on its importance that the next *ear he felt compelled to produce a
separate dialectic boo"# Compendiaria dialectics ratio B< ?hort Course in 'ialectic#
392G5# followed b* a companion rhetoric# Institutiones rhetoricae B&hetorical
)nstruction# 39235. Irom then on !elanchthons accounts of both subDects develop
together# for as he said1 Brhetoric and dialectic have a common purposeJ the
discourse of dialectic is suited to teaching# the language of rhetoric to moving an
audience.
EG
%is manuals tend to be Auite conservative in content# emphasi=ing the
topics in the humanist manner# but including a good deal of scholastic logic as well.
!elanchthon himself taught rhetoric and dialectic alongside classical and biblical
texts# showing that the precepts of the arts of language were observed in practice in
the texts. %is published biblical commentaries appl* the methods of rhetoric and
dialectic to the elucidation of the ?criptures. !ac"# $eter. %umanist &hetoric and
'ialectic.( )n The Cambridge Companion to &enaissance %umanism# edited b* +ill
,ra*e# -2-... Cambridge; /ew 0or"1 Cambridge 2niversit* $ress# 3..4# ----.5
$eter &amus built his academic career on scandalous attac"s on the academic gods
of his time1 <ristotle# Cicero and 6uintilian. @i"e !elanchthon# he understood that
new textboo"s could not ma"e an impression without academic politics and
educational reform. %e too composed paired textboo"s of rhetoric and dialectic#
revising them in tandem.
E3
%e ac"nowledged that ?turms teaching of De invention
dialectica in $aris around 39EG and <gricolas emphasis on the relationship between
dialectic and good literature were the springboards for his own reforms.
E2
Ior &amus#
invention the topics5 and method the proposition# the s*llogism and overall
disposition5 belonged to dialectic; st*le and deliver* to rhetoric. This reflects
<gricolas view# but &amuss treatment of the material is simpler and more formal.
%is treatises operate b* definition and division and hence can be represented in the
famous tree-diagrams5.
EE
%e includes onl* what is undoubtedl* true and what
belongs to the subDect# moving graduall* from the most general element the
definition of the subDect5 to the most particular examples of particular topics or
figures of speech5. &amuss simplification made possible rapid understanding of the
structure of a subDect# but it could seem reductive. %e taught literar* texts alongside
his manuals and published anal*ses of man* classical wor"s K though these too
could seem insensitive since he had to wrench all texts into the onl* two structures
he recogni=ed1 the method from general to particular5 and the prudent approach
from particular to general5. &amuss manuals were immensel* influential# particularl*
in $rotestant countries after his murder in he ?t 8artholomews 'a* !assacre
39:25. !ac"# $eter. %umanist &hetoric and 'ialectic.( )n The Cambridge
Companion to &enaissance %umanism# edited b* +ill ,ra*e# -2-... Cambridge; /ew
0or"1 Cambridge 2niversit* $ress# 3..4# -.5
'ifferent as the* are# these seven authors share certain preoccupations. <lthough the
nature and relative importance of the two subDects was open to debate# most
humanist authors conceived of rhetoric and dialectic together# seeing them as an
education in the use of language; and most of them used the principles of rhetoric
and dialectic to anal*se classical texts. 'ialectic remained primaril* <ristotelian.
/orthern humanists produced new textboo"s covering the entire subDect# written to
classical standards of @atinit* and reDecting scholastic additions to the discipline.
The* emphasi=ed dialectical invention of arguments through the topics. The two
strongest critics of <ristotle# Valla and &amus# differed considerabl* in the doctrines
the* attac"ed. )n rhetoric# humanists generall* retained the classical textboo"s#
especiall* the Rhetorica ad Herennium and 6uintilians Institutio oratoria# though
C*prian ?oare=s De arte rhetorica liri tres BThree 8oo"s on the <rt of &hetoric#
399:5 became ver* influential as the standard rhetoric manual of the +esuits. /ew
manuals written b* /orthern humanists dealt mainl* with subDects on the fringes of
rhetoric1 amplification# proverbs and imitation# for example. &elativel* little attention
was paid in such manuals to emotional persuasion. !ac"# $eter. %umanist &hetoric
and 'ialectic.( )n The Cambridge Companion to &enaissance %umanism# edited b*
+ill ,ra*e# -2-... Cambridge; /ew 0or"1 Cambridge 2niversit* $ress# 3..4# .G5
Turning now from the textboo"s# man* of them aimed at universit* students# to a
consideration of classroom practice# we can see how the humanist approach to
dialectic in particular affected attitudes to reading and writing. !ac"# $eter.
%umanist &hetoric and 'ialectic.( )n The Cambridge Companion to &enaissance
%umanism# edited b* +ill ,ra*e# -2-... Cambridge; /ew 0or"1 Cambridge 2niversit*
$ress# 3..4# .G5
Commonplace boo"s were widel* used in sixteenth- and seventeenth-centur*
classrooms. The main purpose of the commonplace boo" was to enable students to
store awa* phrases or ideas from their reading for re-use in their own compositions.
?tudents would enter a series of headings# such as Dustice# virtue and courage# at the
top of the pages of an exercise boo". Chen the* came across a memorable passage
in a boo"# the* would enter it under the appropriate heading. )n due course the boo"
became a personal# subDect-organi=ed dictionar* of Auotations. 8ut the effect of this
training ma* also have influenced habits of reading# because the compiler of a
commonplace boo" had alwa*s to be as"ing1 under what heading might ) enter this
phrase and to which subDect is this sentence logicall* relatedL )t is possible that his
habit of mental filing actuall* enabled a &enaissance reader to attend to a romance
or a pla* on two levels simultaneousl*1 following the stor* and also noting the
development of a debate between the points of view expressed b* the various
characters on fortune# valour or wealth.
E7
!ac"# $eter. %umanist &hetoric and
'ialectic.( )n The Cambridge Companion to &enaissance %umanism# edited b* +ill
,ra*e# -2-... Cambridge; /ew 0or"1 Cambridge 2niversit* $ress# 3..4# .G5
The Progymnasmata usuall* studied in the &enaissance classroom in the @atin
adaptation b* <gricola and &einhard @orich of <phthonius ;ree" text of the third
centur* <'5 are fourteen short exercises in composition# including the fable# tale#
proverb# characteri=ation and description. )n each case <phthonius provides an
explanation of the function and t*pes of each form# and one or more examples. Ior
instance# a chreia consists of a piece of advice attributed to an author; praise of the
author; paraphrase of the advice; elaboration of the advice from the topics of cause#
contrar* and analog*; an example illustrating the advice; a testimon* of its
importance ta"en from another author; and an epilogue. <ncient orators saw the
progymnasmata as exercises leading up to the composition of an oration.
&enaissance students ma* have found them useful in themselves. )t is eas* to see
how descriptions# characteri=ations and arguments could be inserted into reports#
romances and poems.
E9
!ac"# $eter. %umanist &hetoric and 'ialectic.( )n The
Cambridge Companion to &enaissance %umanism# edited b* +ill ,ra*e# -2-...
Cambridge; /ew 0or"1 Cambridge 2niversit* $ress# 3..4# .G-.35
/ot all &enaissance grammar schools included in their s*llabus a complete textboo"
of rhetoric# but the* all used letter-writing manuals# handboo"s of tropes and figures#
and dictionaries of proverbs and comparisons. )t is hard for us to imagine schoolbo*s
wor"ing through the long lists of tropes# but something of the "ind must have
happened. @earning the figures of speech and their manes ma* have encouraged
students to overuse them; but it ma* also have made them more sensitive to the
manner of their use# since labeling ma"es identification# discussion and comparison
much easier. )n the same wa*# stud*ing handboo"s of proverbs and that doubtful lore
about animals and plants which a modern critic has called Bunnatural natural histor*
ma* have enabled students to compare and critici=e the uses to which such st*listic
devices were put.
E4
!ac"# $eter. %umanist &hetoric and 'ialectic.( )n The
Cambridge Companion to &enaissance %umanism# edited b* +ill ,ra*e# -2-...
Cambridge; /ew 0or"1 Cambridge 2niversit* $ress# 3..4# .35
&eading the examples of 2GG wa*s of sa*ing B*our letter pleased me greatl* from
Hrasmuss De copia ma* well have encouraged a tendenc* towards dense and
repetitive writing.
E:
8ut it ma* also have helped students understand that in using an*
given expression the* were choosing among alternatives# since there were 3.. other
inflections that could be given to the same material. )t must also have encouraged
students to rewrite their sentences and paragraphs# and shown them how rewriting
could bring out different aims and emphases. !ac"# $eter. %umanist &hetoric and
'ialectic.( )n The Cambridge Companion to &enaissance %umanism# edited b* +ill
,ra*e# -2-... Cambridge; /ew 0or"1 Cambridge 2niversit* $ress# 3..4# .35
?ome &enaissance schoolboo"s embraced the fashioned for imitation. <gricola
outlined a method for var*ing each aspect of an admired text in turn until eventuall*
one attempts to reproduce the manner of the original while discussing an entirel*
different subDect.
E-
+ohn 8rinsle* set his students to wor" on Ciceros letters# first
summari=ing them# but later attempting to repl* to Cicero in his own st*le. 8rinsle*
also set out a step b* step method for producing Ciceronian word order.
E.
<t its best#
particularl* where more than one model was involved# such imitation ma* have
elucidated the man* aspects which combine to produce an authors manner and ma*
have challenged students to improve their command of @atin. <t worst# it ma* have
encouraged the restrictions on vocabular* and expression which are moc"ed in
Hrasmuss Ciceronianus BThe Ciceronian# 392-5.
7G
( !ac"# $eter. %umanist
&hetoric and 'ialectic.( )n The Cambridge Companion to &enaissance %umanism#
edited b* +ill ,ra*e# -2-... Cambridge; /ew 0or"1 Cambridge 2niversit* $ress# 3..4#
.35