Rhetoric Criticism - Essay

Charles Sears Baldwin (essay date 1924)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: "The Rhetoric of Aristotle," in Ancient Rhetoric and Poetic, Peter Smith, 1959, pp. 6-21.

[In the following excerpt from a work originally published in 1924, Baldwin examines both the construction and content of Books I and 2 of Rhetoric. He maintains that in this work, which should be regarded as a philosophical survey rather than a manual, Aristotle demonstrates "the full reach of his intelligence."]

The only art of composition that concerns the mass of mankind, and is therefore universal in both educational practise and critical theory, is the art of effective communication by speaking and writing. This is what the ancients and most moderns...

(The entire section is 4578 words.)

Anton-Hermann Chroust (essay date 1973)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: "Aristotle's First Literary Effort: The Gryullus—A Work on the Nature of Rhetoric" in Aristotle: New Light on His Life and on Some of His Lost Works, Vol. II, University of Notre Dame Press, 1973, pp. 29-42.

[In the following essay, Chroust argues that, based on the extant fragments of and references to Aristotle's Gryllus, the work appears to be an attack on certain types of rhetoric, as well as a defense of "proper" rhetoric, and is similar in content to passages in Plato's Gorgias.]

In their respective 'catalogues' of Aristotle's writings, Diogenes Lacrtius,1 Hesychius of Smyrna (the author of the Vita Aristotelis...

(The entire section is 9392 words.)

Theresa M. Crem (essay date 1974)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: "The Definition of Rhetoric According to Aristotle," in Aristotle: The Classical Heritage of Rhetoric, edited by Keith V. Erickson, The Scarecrow Press, Inc., 1974, pp. 52-71.

[In the following essay, Crem examines the first chapter and the beginning of the second chapter of Book I of Aristotle's Rhetoric, arguing that he offers a scientific treatment of the subject in that he approaches rhetoric not as a rhetorician but as a logician.]


Aristotle's treatise on rhetoric is unique, in that it is a properly scientific consideration of the subject. This characteristic becomes manifest, when we compare it with...

(The entire section is 8371 words.)

William J. Jordan (essay date 1974)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: "Aristotle's Concept of Metaphor in Rhetoric," in Aristotle: The Classical Heritage of Rhetoric, edited by Keith V. Erickson, The Scarecrow Press, Inc., 1974, pp. 235-50.

[In the following essay, Jordan studies Aristotle's use of metaphor in Rhetoric, asserting that the context of Aristotle's statements about metaphor indicates that his conception of metaphor was psychological in nature. Aristotle, Jordan notes, identifies "semantic and structural characteristics which affect reader and listener behavior."]

Unlike much of Aristotle's rhetorical theory, his concept of metaphor has received relatively little attention from contemporary rhetorical...

(The entire section is 6237 words.)

Keith V. Erickson (essay date 1975)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: "A Brief History of Aristotle's Rhetoric," in Aristotle's "Rhetoric": Five Centuries of Philological Research, The Scarecrow Press, Inc., 1975, pp. 1-20.

[In the following essay, Erickson traces 2,300 years of the history of Rhetoric, from its probable composition date, the myths regarding the loss and recovery of the text, early translations and publications, and into the twentieth century.]

Tracing the history of Aristotle's Rhetoric logically begins with its "completion" or "publication" date. Although numerous scholars have attempted to date the Rhetoric there is little conclusive evidence to confirm a particular date. Edward M....

(The entire section is 5958 words.)

Larry Arnhart (essay date 1981)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: "The Rationality of Political Speech: An Interpretion of Aristotle's Rhetoric," in Interpretation: A Journal of Political Philosophy, Vol. 9, Nos. 2 & 3, September, 1981, pp. 141-54.

[In the following essay, Arnhart maintains that Aristotle uses the concept of enthymeme (a logical argument, or syllogism, in which one of two conclusion-supporting premises is unexpressed) to defend the legitimacy of rhetorical discourse and to distinguish rhetoric from both science and sophistry.]


Is rhetoric some form of rational discourse about the intelligible reality of politics? Or is it merely a means for verbally manipulating...

(The entire section is 6700 words.)

Alan Brinton (essay date 1990)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: "The Outmoded Psychology of Aristotle's Rhetoric," in Western Journal of Speech Communication, Vol. 54, No. 2, 1990, pp. 204-18.

[In the following essay, Brinton examines the canonical status of Rhetoric, defending it against those who would reject the text as dated due to the "emergence of the social-scientific study of communication in the twentieth century." Brinton argues that the psychological conceptions found in Rhetoric are, unlike some psychological theories, "not the kind which perish …" and that the text remains relevant to students of rhetorical theory.]

However rhetoric ought to be defined, the great rhetorics of the...

(The entire section is 7834 words.)

Mary Margaret McCabe (essay date 1990)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: "Arguments in Context: Aristotle's Defense of Rhetoric," in Aristotle's "Rhetoric," edited by David J. Fuley and Alexander Nehamas, Princeton University Press, 1990, pp. 129-66.

[In the following essay, McCabe defends the structure and the content of Rhetoric, arguing that both support Aristotle's view that rhetoric is indeed an art and that it can be practiced in a legitimate manner.]

Is the opening of Aristotle's Rhetoric a muddle, an agglomeration of two versions of the text, haphazardly assembled? Or is there a coherent strategy to be found here? It has been persuasively suggested that two different strands of argument within the...

(The entire section is 17761 words.)