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Exploring Roman Oratory with Classical Soc

Exploring Roman Oratory with Classical Soc

Last month the Classical Society was privileged to welcome Dr Henriette van der Blom of Birmingham University who explained the nature of classical rhetoric. In her whistle-stop tour of classical rhetoric's constituent parts and practical usage, she illuminated the parallels visible, and audible, between classical rhetoric and modern-day oratory.

Using examples as diverse as Greta Thunberg and Cicero, Dr van der Blom detailed the ‘ideal’ makeup of a public speech and highlighted the difficultly in achieving it; even the ‘greats’ such as Cicero often had a hard time winning over the crowd. To achieve an  ‘ideal’ classical speech five key elements were necessary: an ‘ethos’ (a refined message), a ‘logos’ (an effective arrangement), a ‘pathos’ (an emotional link), a ‘memoriae’ (delivery from memory), and an ‘actus’ (a performance).

Yet practice was similarly essential, indeed Cicero wasn’t a natural orator but instead developed through refining his speech-making in courts for years before approaching the Senate.

Dr van der Blom concluded by explaining her research into classical speeches, which found that above all a public persona was key to a reputation as a successful orator, using both Caesar and Nigel Farage as examples.

Alexander Finlayson-Brown JRBS

DATE POSTED: 09 December 2019

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