Friday is for Rhetoric! As we continue to walk through Quintilian, we ask ourselves how to learn together in class. Quintilian’s answer is that we must read aloud together, stopping to analyze the messages we hear. It’s interesting to think about the intersection of an oral and a literary culture in the 1st century.
Quintilian, and J.S. Watson. Institutes of Oratory. Edited by Lee Honeycutt, 2010. Kindle Electronic Edition. Book II, Chapter 5.
Quintilian notes that grammar teachers normally require an explanation of poets. Rhetoric teachers should require students to analyze history and speeches as well (Quintilian II.5.1). “To point out the beauties of authors, and, if occasion ever present itself, their faults, is eminently consistent with that profession and engagement by which he offers himself to the public as a master of eloquence” (Quintilian II.5.5). He recommends the class practice of having a student read to the class with the teacher highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of the speech. This discourse has great benefits in overall student understanding of the world. Quintilian illustrates several situations. He then asks what reading matter is best. The best authors should be studied, with Livy and Cicero as examples, rather than Sallust (Quintilian II.5.19). It is best not to use very archaic or modern authors (Quintilian II.5.21).
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