Honors | Rhetoric and Democratic Public Culture in Ancient Greece
H204 | 6671 | John Lucaites


Athens is typically regarded as the birthplace of both “rhetoric”
(the art of persuasion) and “democracy” (government by the “demos”
or “people”).  In this course we will examine the relationship
between rhetoric and democratic public culture as it was theorized
and debated by Greek philosophers and teachers and as it was enacted
by the citizens and leaders of 4th and 5th century B.C.E.  Our goal
will to begin to identify the complexities of the relationship
between rhetoric and democracy in ancient or premodern Greece as a
prod or prelude to rethinking the problems and possibilities of
rhetoric and democracy in our own, late modern times.

Readings will include: Gorgias, “Encomium on Helen”; Plato, Gorgias
and Phaedrus; Aristotle, The Art of Rhetoric, The Athenian
Constitution, Politics (excerpts); Isocrates, To Nicocles, Against
the Sophists; Thucydides, History of the Pelopennesian Wars
(excerpts); Pericles, “Funeral Oration”; Demosthenes’s Phillipics.

The course will be conducted in a seminar-discussion format.
Students will be asked to keep a journal of their readings and will
write 4 essays (5-7 pp.) exploring the relationship between rhetoric
and democracy “then” and “now.”