I. Greek. Among the Greeks ῥητορική (sc. τέχνη) comprised the practical as well as the theoretical art of speaking, and rhetor denoted an orator no less than a teacher of oratory. Among the Romans it denoted only the latter, the actual speaker being called orator. The first men who reduced oratory to a system capable of being taught appeared among the Sicilian Greeks, who, according to the testimony of the ancients, were distinguished for the keenness of their understanding and their love of disputation ( Cic. Brut.46). The Syracusan Corax (circ. B.C. 500) is said to have been the first who elaborated systematic rules for forensic speeches, and laid them down in writing in a manual on the art of rhetoric (τέχνη). His pupil Tisias (born circ. 480), and after him the Leontine Gorgias, further cultivated the art, and from about 427 carried it to Greeee itself, and in particular to Athens, whither he went to ask for an alliance against Syracuse. So far as existing evidence shows, his rhetorical rules were of a highly artificial character, involving the use of studied antitheses and a multitude of tropes. He may, in fact, be regarded as the founder of the so-called Asiatic style of eloquence. In the judicial proceedings and the assemblies of the people the practice of oratory had long been familiar at Athens, though it had not been reduced to technical rules, and oratory had had a conspicuous representative in Pericles. At Athens the theory of oratory was further cultivated by the Sophists (σοφισταί, men who professed knowledge or wisdom). Their instruction in style and rhetoric was enjoyed by numerous Athenians, who desired, by the aid of study and practice, to attain to expertness in speaking. See Sophistae.
The first Athenian who, besides imparting instruction in the new art, applied it practically to speaking in the assemblies of the people and before courts, and who published speeches as patterns for study, was Antiphon (died B.C. 411), the earliest of the so-called Ten Attic Orators. In his extant speeches the oratorical art is shown still in its beginnings. These, with the speeches interwoven in the historical work of his great pupil Thucydides, give an idea of the crude and harsh style of the technical oratory of the time; while the speeches of Andocides (who died about 399), the second of the Ten Orators, display a style that is still uninfluenced by the rhetorical teaching of the age. The first really classical orator is Lysias (died about 360), who, while in possession of all the technical rules of the time, handles with perfect mastery the common language of every-day life. Isocrates (436-338) is reckoned as the father of artistic oratory properly so called; he is a master in the careful choice of words, in the rounding off and rhythmical formation of periods, in the apt employment of figures of speech, and in everything which lends charm to language. By his mastery of style he has exercised the most far-reaching influence upon the oratorical diction of all succeeding time. Of the three kinds of speeches which were distinguished by the ancients political (or deliberative), forensic, and show-speeches (or declamations)he specially cultivated the last. Among his numerous pupils [p. 1373]
is Isaeus (about 400-350), who, in his general method of oratory, closely follows Lysias, though he shows a more matured skill in the controversial use of oratorical resources. The highest point was attained by his pupil Demosthenes (q.v.), the greatest orator of antiquity (384-322); next to him comes his political opponent Aeschines (389- 314). The number of the Ten Orators is completed by their contemporaries Hyperides, Lycurgus, and Dinarchus. In the last of these the beginning of the decline of oratorical art is already clearly apparent.
To the time of Demosthenes belongs the oldest manual of rhetoric which has been preserved to usthat of Anaximenes of Lampsacus. This is founded on the practice of oratory, and, being intended for immediate practical use, shows no trace of any philosophical groundwork or philosophical research. It is edited by Spengel (Zrich, 1844). Greek rhetoric owes to Aristotle its proper reduction into a scientific system. In contrast to Isocrates, who aims at perfection of form and style, Aristotle, in his Rhetoric, lays special stress on subject-matter, and mainly devotes himself to setting forth the means of producing conviction. In fact, Aristotle regards rhetoric as the counterpart of logic and closely allied with it. See the fine introduction and analysis by Cope in Cope and Sandys' edition of the treatise (3 vols. 1877). When Athens had lost her liberty, practical oratory was more and more reduced to silence; the productions of the last orators, such as Demetrius of Phalerum, were only a feeble echo of the past. Demetrius is said to have been the first to give to oratorical expression a tendency towards an elegant luxuriance. He was also the first to introduce the custom of making speeches upon imaginary subjects by way of practice for deliberative and forensic speaking.
In later times the home of oratory was transferred to the free Hellenic or hellenized communities of the coasts and islands of Asia Minor, especially Rhodes. On the soil of Asia a new style was developed, called the Asiatic. Its Asiatic originator is said to have been Hegesias of Magnesia near Mount Sipylus. He flourished in the latter half of the third century. In avowed opposition to the method of Demosthenes, who spoke in artistically formed periods, Hegesias not only went back to the simpler constructions of Lysias, but even endeavoured to outvie the latter in simplicity, breaking up all that he had to say into short sentences, and carefully avoiding periods of any length ( Cic. Orat.226). On the other hand, he sought to give a certain vividness to his speeches by an elaborately arranged order of words and by a far-fetched and often turgid phraseology. This was the prevailing fashion until the middle of the first century B.C. Even in Rome it had numerous followers, especially Hortensius, until by the influence of Cicero it was so utterly crushed out that Hegesias was soon forgotten, even among the Greeks. A peculiar kind of oratory (the so-called Rhodian) prevailed in Rhodes, where a closer approach was again made to the Attic models, and particularly to the representatives of the simple style, such as Hyperides. Conspicuous orators of this school were Apollonius and Molon, both of Alabanda in Caria, in the first half of the first century B.C. These two orators are expressly distinguished from one another by Strabo, p. 655; but they are confounded even by Quintilian, who erroneously speaks of Apollonius Molon (iii. 1, 16; xii. 6, 7).
The theory of oratory remained until about the end of the second century B.C. exclusively in the hands of the philosophers, and was little regarded by the Asiatic orators. After that time the orators and practical teachers of the art again applied themselves with eagerness to theoretical studies; the theorists adopted an eclectical method, seeking to combine the philosophical and more scientific proceeding of Aristotle with that of Isocrates, which addressed itself rather to the turns of phrase and the outward forms of oratory. The most noteworthy system was introduced by Hermagoras of Temnos (about B.C. 120), whose writings, which are no longer extant, supplied the chief foundation for the theoretical studies of the Romans at the beginning of the first century B.C. The system of rhetoric elaborated by him was afterwards further worked out and improved in detail. In the time of the Empire the rhetorical schools in general flourished, and we possess an extensive rhetorical literature of that age reaching as far as the fifth century A.D. It includes the works of authors who mainly treated of the literary and aesthetic side of rhetoric, especially those of Dionysius of Halicarnassus, the champion of Atticism and of refined taste, and the unknown author of the able treatise, Περὶ Ὕψους (see Longinus); also those of technical writers, such as Hermogenes, the most noteworthy representative of the scholastic rhetoric of the age, Apsines, Menander, Theon , Aphthonius, and others. On the revival of Greek oratory after the end of the first century, and particularly in the second century, see Sophistae, and the works mentioned at the end of this article.
II. Roman. As among the Athenians, so also among the Romans, the institutions of the State early gave occasion for the practice of political and forensic oratory. Until the end of the third century B.C. this oratory was wholly spontaneous. The speech of the aged Appius Claudius Caecus, delivered in 280 against the peace with Pyrrhus, and afterwards published, was long preserved as the earliest written monument of Roman oratory. Numerous political speeches were published by the well-known Marcus Porcius Cato, the most noteworthy orator during the first half of the second century. After the Second Punic War, in spite of all the opposition of Cato and of those who thought with him, Greek culture forced its way irresistibly into Rome, and the Romans became eager to conform to the Greek theory of oratory also. Servius Sulpicius Galba (circ. B.C. 144) is spoken of as the first man who composed his speeches in accordance with the rules of Greek art, and not long afterwards the younger Gracchus, who died in 121, proved himself a consummate orator through the combination of natural gifts and art. Even at this time the publication of orations after delivery was a general custom, and men were already to be met with who actually wrote speeches for others. At the beginning of the first century B.C. the most noteworthy orators were Marcus Antonius and Lucius Licinius Crassus.
Rhetorical instruction was originally imparted by Greeks. In the first decade of the first century the freedman Plotius Gallus came forward as a teacher of rhetoric, and other Latin teachers followed him. These found a large number of hearers, [p. 1374] but the censors interfered to stop the practice, as an innovation on the custom of their forefathers. It is true that this attempt to oppose the current, which had already set in, was in vain. Still it was only by freedmen that rhetorical instruction in Latin was given until the time of Augustus, when the Roman knight Blandus was the first free-born man who came forward as a public teacher of rhetoric. Even the Latin rhetoricians derived their theory exclusively from Greek sources, especially from Hermagoras, to whose influence the two earliest extant rhetorical writings of the Roman school are to be referred; these are the work of the pseudo-Cornificius, and the production of Cicero, De Inventione. Cicero (q.v.), the greatest orator of Rome and the only orator of the Republic of whom any complete speeches are extant, composed in his later years several other valuable writings upon rhetorical subjects, founded on his practice as an orator viz. the De Oratore, the Brutus, and the Orator. Besides Cicero, the last age of the Republic possessed a series of other conspicuous orators, such as Hortensius (q.v.), Caelius, Brutus, and, above all, Caesar. A few more representatives of the oratory of the Republic survived to the time of Augustus. The most important of these is Asinius Pollio. But, with the old constitution, the occasions and materials for oratory also disappeared under the Monarchy, and the hindrances and limitations to its public exercise increased in the same proportion. Practice was gradually superseded by theory, orators by rhetoricians, speeches by declamations. The exercises of the rhetorical schools, which now became one of the chief centres of intellectual life, paid almost exclusive attention to the form, and dealt with imaginary subjects of political and forensic oratory, called suasoriae and controversiae, which were as far as possible removed from the practice of life. A vivid picture of these exercises is preserved in the reminiscences of the rhetorician Seneca, the father of the well-known philosopher. The manner of speaking contracted in the schools was adopted on the few occasions on which practical oratory could still be exercised, and these occasions were accordingly turned into exhibitions of theatrical declamation. It was in vain that men like Quintilian, in his work on the training of an orator (Institutio Oratoria), and Tacitus, in his Dialogus, pointed to the true classical patterns, and combated the fashion of their time, from which even they were not entirely free. Like these, the younger Pliny belongs to the end of the first century a.d.; his Panegyricus, addressed to Trajan, the only monument of Roman oratory after Cicero preserved in a complete form, became the model for the later panegyrists. In the second century A.D. Fronto, and the school named after him, sought to revive the old Roman spirit by a tasteless imitation of archaic expressions and forms of speech. The same style is practised, though with more ability, by the African Apuleius. After the end of the third century the oratorical art had its chief seat in the towns of Gaul, especially in Trves (Treviri) and Bordeaux (Burdigala). Here a style of oratory was matured which possessed a certain smoothness and copiousness in words, but showed great lack of ideas. Upon the representatives of this style, the Panegyrists, see Panegyricus.
Bibliography.See Ballu, Histoire Critique de l'loquence chez les Grecs (1813); Gros, tude sur la Rhtorique chez les Grecs (1835); Girard, tudes sur l'loquence Attique (1874); Perrot, Les Precurseurs de Dmosthne (1873); Blass, Die Attische Beredsamkeit (1877); the introduction to Cope and Sandys' edition of the Rhetoric of Aristotle (1877); the translation of the same treatise by Welldon (1886); Volkmann, Die Rhetorik der Griechen und Rmern (1874); Berger and Cucheval, Histoire de l'loquence Latine, 2 vols. (1872); Westermann, Geschichte der rm. Beredsamkeit (1835); Demarteau, L'loquence Rpublicaine de Rome (1870); Tivier, De Arte Declamandi apud Romanos (1868); Poiret, L'loquence Judiciaire Rome (1887); Ritter, Die Quintilianische Declamationen (1881); and Sears, The History of Oratory (Chicago, 1896). The Greek rhetorical writers are edited by Spengel (Stuttgart, 1828); and the minor Latin writers by Halm (Leipzig, 1863).