Lecture 5 Notes
Rhetorical Strategies Part I – Aristotle’s Theories of Argument
1. Lysias, his Attic style, and the Athenian Law
“On the Murder of Eratosthenes” – an invaluable sources of information about the
internal life of Athens, its customs and legal practices during the 4 c. B.C., the
treatment of women and slaves, about issues of right and wrong, etc.
--about civil status – the metics -- immigrants permitted to live in Athens without
--treatment of slaves --simply a property that belonged to a citizen or a metic; could be
freed by his owner and be given the status of a metic.
--the status of women – possession of their husbands and fathers, under the care and
control of male relatives; in case of a divorce, the husband returns his wife to her father
--about inheritance – an illegitimate child does not become a heir; If a man dies, his
legitimate sons inherit the property; his daughter becomes a kind of “heiress” (epicleros),
who does not own the property; her husband controls the property
--About cases of seduction, rape, and adultery in Athenian law
the rapist was charged with double damages as a punishment, while the adulterer
– with death
the law allowed a husband who catches his wife in the act of adultery to kill the
----About offenses against persons and property
In the case of homicide: If someone was killed, the family of the killed person had
the responsibility to take legal action against the offender and to keep their
community pure of such corrupted souls
Distinction between intentional and unintentional homicide -- of significant importance in
the development of law; one of the earliest attempts to take account of motives
--About Public Offense – the most serious one was considered to be treason; whoever
tries to overthrow and control the democratic state becomes an enemy of Athens
--About the hearth and sanctuary – the hearth is considered a sacred place; if the accused
of adultery touches the hearth, he can’t be killed
--the most significant contribution of Athenian law – to procedure; it established a system of trial by jury (consisting of ordinary citizens, not legal experts).
--An Attic orator and practicing logographer; born in 445 BC; died in 380 BC.
--His father knew Pericles and later became friends with Socrates
--As a wealthy metic, Lysias got acquainted with the Athenian court procedures and
practiced his rhetorical skills as a logographer for almost twenty years
-- About his style: a model for the Attic orators. His language lacked figures of speech
and poetic vocabulary; he used simple and everyday language, yet according to
Dionysius of Halicarnassus, his style was vivid and persuasive
--About his works: extremely prolific as a writer; mostly forensic speeches composed for
the court; His innovation in literary oratory -- he shaped his Introductions
according to the individual demands of each case; his narrative –persuasively
effective; notable for his dramatic compositions and moral characterizations
2. Aristotle and His Contribution to Rhetoric
Who is Aristotle? Known as the Philosopher
-- Only 40 of the 360 works mentioned by Diogenes Laertius survived; What we have
today is a collection of notes from his lectures
Aristotle was born in the 4 century BC (384 BC – 322 BC)
--Born in Stagira, a Macedonian community in Northern Greece.
--His father, Nicomachus, was a court physician to King Amyntas of Macedonia.
--He was 18 when he became a student of Plato and studied at the Platonic academy until
347 (when Plato died); Aristotle was not just a student of Plato; he was his most
famous, most talented student, to the extent that Plato humorously commented
that “his academy consisted of two parts: the body of his students and the brain of
Aristotle” (Douglas Soccio);
--He was known as the Naturalist of ancient philosophy who focused on the natural world
and our place in it.
-- wrote about self-realization in his work Nicomachean Ethics addressed to his son.
-- believed that the soul is mortal
-- knowledge (about human affairs and human nature) can be attained through rhetorical
argument. --he insisted on happiness as the goal of life
--the Lyceum –the first research institution of Greek education
In 334 Aristotle opened his own school, known as the Lyceum, named after god
Apollo Lyceus and built in the heart of Athens, surrounded by the groves where
once Socrates used to walk for reflection. His students and followers became
known as “peripatetic” (from the Greek term peripatein, “to walk about”) We can
think of them as the Researchers/Scientists of rhetoric.
His curriculum included technical and popular lectures;
he founded the first important library in the West.
the Lyceum was not only for the children of the wealthy but for middle class
people. He insisted that his students should do a thorough research on subjects
like anthropology and history, anatomy and biology, metaphysics, logic, morality,