Renaissance Debates on Rhetoric

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Wayne A. Rebhorn
Cornell University Press, 2000 - 322 pages
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Throughout the European Renaissance, authors famous and obscure debated the nature, goals, and value of rhetoric. In a host of treatises, handbooks, letters, and orations, written in both Latin and the vernacular, they attempted to assess the central role that rhetoric clearly played in their culture. Was rhetoric a valuable tool of legitimation for rulers or a dangerous instrument of resistance to political and religious authority? Would its employment maintain the social hierarchy or foster social mobility? Was rhetoric merely the art of lies or was it a means to arrive at the only form of truth available to human beings? In this fascinating volume, Wayne A. Rebhorn enables modern-day readers to follow Renaissance thinkers as they struggle with these and other crucial questions about rhetoric.

Arranged chronologically, the twenty-five selections in this anthology, most of which have never before appeared in English, include key texts by Petrarch, Valla, Erasmus, Vives, Melanchthon, Ramus, Wilson, Amyot, and Bacon. All the selections have been fully annotated and have headnotes providing essential background information. In addition, the volume features a biographical glossary of frequently mentioned historical and mythological figures, a comprehensive index, and a detailed bibliography.

 

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Contents

Francis Petrarch
1
Letter to Tommaso da Messina Concerning the Study of Eloquence
15
Coluccio Salutati
18
On Petrarchs Eloquence
19
George of Trebizond Trapezuntius
30
From Five Books on Rhetoric From An Oration in Praise of Eloquence
31
Lorenzo Valla
35
From The Refinements of the Latin Language
36
Sperone Speroni
111
Jacques Amyot
128
28
139
Anton Maria de Conti
140
Peter Ramus
152
John Jewel
161
Thomas Wilson
173
35
179

Rudolph Agricola
42
From Three Books Concerning Dialectical Invention
43
Giovanni Pico della Mirandola
57
Letter to Ermolao Barbaro
59
Desiderius Erasmus
68
From Ciceronianus
69
Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa
76
From On the Uncertainty and Vanity of the Arts and Sciences
77
vii
78
Juan Luis Vives
82
1
83
14
88
15
89
19
93
27
97
43
180
Francesco Patrizi
183
George Puttenham
203
58
209
76
210
Michel de Montaigne
218
Juan de Guzman
233
Guillaume du Vair
244
Francis Bacon
261
Nicholas Caussin
273
JeanFran├žois Le Grand
284
Biographical Glossary
295
Bibliography
309
Index
315
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About the author (2000)

Wayne A. Rebhorn is Celanese Centennial Professor of English at the University of Texas at Austin. He is the author of several books, including The Emperor of Men's Minds: Literature and the Renaissance Discourse of Rhetoric, also from Cornell.

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