Synopses & Reviews
In this provocative new book, Edward Schiappa argues that rhetorical theory did not originate with the Sophists in the fifth century B.C.E., but developed nearly a century later. Closely examining the terminology of early rhetorical history, Schiappa not only revises the way we understand that history but also contends we must alter the way we read both the Sophists and Aristotle and Plato.
In this provocative book, Edward Schiappa argues that rhetorical theory did not originate with the Sophists in the fifth century B.C.E, as is commonly believed, but came into being a century later. Schiappa examines closely the terminology of the Sophists -- such as Gorgias and Protagoras -- and of their reporters and opponents -- especially Plato and Aristotle -- and contends that what we think of as rhetorical theory had not yet formed in the era of the early Sophists. His revision of rhetoric's early history changes the way we read both the Sophists and Aristotle and Plato. Schiappa contends, for example, that Plato probably coined the Greek word for rhetoric; that Gorgias is a "prose rhapsode" whose style does not deserve the criticism it has received; and that our habit of pitting Isocrates versus Plato as "rhetoric versus philosophy" is problematic.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 207-225) and index.