More Than Just Rhetoric Analysis

1191 Words 5 Pages
Lauren Miller
Prof. Porter
Rhetoric 103A
12 Dec. 2017
More Than “Just Rhetoric”: Today, the term “rhetoric” often carries the connotations of bombast and deceitfulness, but rhetoric, as theorized by many ancient orators, offered a challenge, calling he who practiced the art to higher ethical, moral, and civic responsibilities. Having the freedom and ability to speak was not a license to bend the rules and constructs of society but rather a power to advocate within them. Though a rhetorician can convince his audience of anything he desires, he would not act to do so, for unlike the manipulative sophist, he stands for the benefit of things greater than himself alone. He stands for freedom of speech as the hallmark of democratic society, that
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Those who died “proved worthy of their city” through its physical defense when they gave their lives in battle. Others, however, were patrons of the city by celebrating the “political institutions and national character which took [it] on to greatness” through the public practice of rhetoric. Rhetoricians had the “ability to do some good to the city” in their speech, using the constitution of democracy to “govern the interests of the majority, not just the few,” honoring those who had died to give them this right. They were not at all removed from the habits of daily life, but ultimately “in all public matters [they abided] by the law” and were “obedient to the authorities of the day and to the laws,” which by exercising they upheld. As self-serving or self-absorbed as the individual may have been in the day to day, his final loyalty was to the state and her tenants, the greatest of which was the function of free speech and the practice of rhetoric in the administration of …show more content…
Aristophanes’s Clouds comically denounces the discipline. The Worse Argument, which represents a departure from the traditional physicality of oratory to one of philosophy, promises Strepsiades that after a short while at Socrates’s school, the Thinkery, he would “receive [Pheidippides, his son] back a skilled sophist.” Strepsiades goal in the play is to become a skilled orator so that he may appear in court and con his way out of his debts. Therefore, he is enamored with the power of oratory, not for the good that can be negotiated by its use, but with selfish and “evil things,” having embarked on a path of “villainy.” Ultimately, Strepsiades is unable to learn the art for himself, for he was not receptive to the training or teachings of Socrates, who ultimately barks at him to “get the hell out of [the Thinkery].” Strepsiades did not want the responsibility which comes with training in the art of rhetoric, saying, “No proposing important motions for me, please! That’s not what I desire: only to be able to twist justice for my own benefit and give my creditors the slip.” When his own training failed, he forced Pheidippides to enroll at the Thinkery, where he had to decide between learning the ways of the Better Argument or the Worse Argument. In trying to sway Pheidippides, the Better Argument jabs at his

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