Friday is for Rhetoric! Rhetorical studies have long been seen as a deeply moral discipline. Through our use of verbal skills we can sway emotions and attitudes in a very serious way. What responsibility does the rhetorician have to society? We continue to survey Quintilian to grasp an ancient opinion.
Quintilian, and J.S. Watson. Institutes of Oratory.Edited by Lee Honeycutt, 2010. Kindle Electronic Edition. Book II, Chapter 2
Quintilian has argued that a boy should move from grammar into rhetoric as early as he is able. Now he discusses the relation of a student to a teacher. Because rhetoric is a strongly moral discipline and the teacher is to take on a young student the morality of the teacher bears careful investigation (Quintilian II.2.2.). The teacher should also exercise severe discipline, being at least as strict as a good parent (Quintilian II.2.4). “Let his austerity not be stern, nor his affability too easy, lest dislike arise from the one or contempt from the other” (Quintilian II.2.5). Quintilian goes on to caution against standing ovations, as young students are not adequately prepared to make such accolades. Rather, students should observe the teacher to learn appropriate judgment (Quintilian II.2.11). Quintilian cautions against mixing the young students with the “young men” so as to guard against vice or accusations of ill behavior (Quintilian II.2.14).