EN 1006 Lecture Notes - Progymnasmata, Aphthonius Of Antioch, Protogenes
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Lecture 8 Notes
[video – in response to the paradoxical encomium assignments]
“Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely”
1.Medieval Education and Rhetoric – Continuation
--Medieval Rhetoric: Increasing emphasis on Style: Cicero and Quinitillian;
-- more advanced progymnasmata
--Quintillian and his contribution (born in 35 A.D. in Calahorra, Spain)
-- His Progymnasmata: 12 exercises
1. a course of study through writing exercises
2. handbooks of exercises that rhetoricians used to teach young students the
techniques of composition
--its roots come from the first rhetorical handbooks of the fathers of rhetoric
(5th c BC); We know from Cicero’s Brutus that Gorgias and Protagorus used
exercises as part of their teaching methods.
3. "preliminary exercises organized from the easiest and shortest to the
more complex; designed to teach students in the art of persuasive
speaking and in the fundamentals of literary composition.
Significance of Progymnasmata: an influential teaching
method/system that had the potential to transform the Greek students
into educated men of culture who were armed with highly stylized
means of self-expression and sound argumentation.
The rhetorical studies of the medieval West adopted the Greek
progymnasmata; the Roman rhetoricians translated the Greek models into
Latin and they became the basis for rhetorical training up through the
Most famous texts and rhetoricians:
--from 1st and 2nd AD, Aelius Theon and Hermogenes of Tarsus
--Aphthonius of Antioch (around 4th c AD0
--There are two surviving prefaces: by Theon and Nicolaus that
discuss the purposes of the preliminary exercises.
--Theon (lived in Alexandria, Egypt in the 1st AD) – the earliest exercises;
designed to train future historians, poets, and orators; information about
authors in the classical Greece read by his students: Homer, Euripides,
Demosthenes, Aristotle, Apelles, Protogenes, and Antiphilus, etc.
--Nicolaus (taught in Constantinople in the 5th c AD) –the latest of all four
texts; A theoretical preface
Features of the preliminary exercises:
--involve material taken from literature and history
--the length of the exercises – short, varying from sentence or two to 500
--each exercise can be used independently (fables, encomia, or chreia were
studied as independent tasks)
--many of these exercises could be used as sections of orations
--scholars like George Kennedy asserts that they formed the basis of Greek
and Roman literature during the Christian era
What kinds of progymnasmata did students practice?
Aphonius listed 14 ranked by the degree of complexity, cognitive demands
and requirements of cultural knowledge
1.Fable [muthos] – retelling of a folk tale;
Aphthonius calls it “a false statement giving the semblance of truth”
and “a means of advice given by public speakers”, by which he means a
fictional tale that resemblance a true story that offers advice or moral
He divides them into: