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Week 5: Women and Rhetoric Detailed and extensive notes on Women and Rhetoric, given by a guest lecture. Notes are again both from class and from additional notes I made while studying for the exam, that were gleaned from the lecture recordings. Includes

Course Code
Melanie Racette- Campbell
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October 28, 2010
Women and Rhetoric
Our modern understanding of rhetoric is not quite the same as the ancients’ way of
understanding it.
What is Rhetoric?
To the ancients, it was the art of speaking persuasively; ORATORY
Oratory = public speaking
“The art of speaking or writing effectively”
Oratory: public speaking
Traditionally split into 3 categories
Legal speeches
Political speeches
“Show-off” speeches, funeral orations, etc.
Rhetoric/Oratory as a Source
This is difficult, because anyone that gets up to speak in front of a group of people has a
goal, and they words they chose to use are aiming towards that goal. And so what they
say, and the truth, aren’t necessarily the same thing. “Facts” from forensic/legal speeches
much be approached carefully.
-Portrays situations that would be difficult to find in other literary sources.
-Forensic oratory, and oratory in general, will bring up some topics
that you might not necessarily encounter anywhere else
-Must be believable to the audience; must ring true. (Must have some
semblance of truth or fact—that you may manipulate)
-Can’t just make up the facts
-Can give us a vivid impression of the ideals and values held by the
speaker and the audience.
-Things reflecting the ideals of a society ring true more…
-Self-serving; cannot be taken at face value all the time
-Everything that’s said is said for a purpose—think of WHY things
are mentioned…
-Almost exclusively androcentric
-Men talking about women, men ‘quoting’ women (which
probably wasn’t even said by a woman)…etc.

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BUT, since we know the obstacles in interpreting rhetoric, we can still learn a lot
from oratory
Greek Oratory
-Early origins
ie: Pnyx: in the open
air,and audience could be
very loud, speaker stood in
centre and audience sat on
an earth mound
-speakers had to be very
loud, clear, effective
-Oratory wasn’t something that was perfected until democracy because…
-Law (it was the citizen’s own duty to get up and speak for themselves, so
they had to be good orators. Just as in politics…)
Thought that in any debate, you could argue either side persuasively
``Travelling intellects”
Fancy term for speech-writers
-Cornerstone of Education
Because rhetoric was so important in democracy, it became the
cornerstone of education
Even after democracy ended, and the practical use for oratory waned,
people still did learn rhetoric
Greek Women in Athenian Oratory
-No presence in politics
-Woman couldn’t bring a suit against someone else
-Limited presence in law-courts
-Only in serious cases, like murder, could a woman be called as a witness,
and even then it wasn’t as a kind of witness we know today; given a
prepared statement, which was read out, and the speaker says ‘is this true’,
and the woman had to say yes or no—couldn’t change the statement
-Still major figures in oratory, though:
-Rhetorical representatives of the domestic sphere
-Women are useful rhetorical tools
-Their basis in the households makes them useful in forensic oratory

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-Ex: Lysias I…first half features interesting characterization of wife…
everything’s there for a reason .
Lysias I: On the killing of Eratosthenes
-Murder trial: Euphiletus is speaking, and is accused of murder because his wife
was having an affair with Eratosthenes, who seduced his wife; eventually
Euphiletus found out and killed on the spot
-Wife’s characterization
“She was a clever housewife, economical and exact in her management of
everything” –good wife
Later, says that Eratosthenes had to work at seducing wife—she wasn’t
just the type of woman to jump into any affair because she could.
Strange behaviour around (12), pretends to be amorous, and finally locks
him in the room…
As soon as narrative is over, she isn’t mentioned again
Wife portrayed as an ambiguous character—sometimes good, sometimes
Function of her characterization:
-her good behaviour before the affair prove their child is legitimate (a
-Because the wife was a good wife before the affair, and Eratosthenes
corrupted her, that makes his character even worse
Servants as kind of conspiratory
Husband is completely oblivious to wife’s behaviours
Eratosthenes sees wife at funeral of Euphiletus’ mother; wife attends festival with
Eratosthenes’ mother…2 times a women’s in public she’s corrupted
Demosthenes LIX: Against Neaira
Speaker is Apollodorus
Has a long-going enmity with Stephanus, who’s mistress is Neaira
Saying that Stephanus and Neaira gave their daughter to an Athenian
citizen in marriage, when the daughter was not their child—she was a
Neaira is everything a good Athenian citizen is not
Goes to men’s drinking parties…and drinks!
Very extravagant—spends lots of money
Living with a man at one point, and steals his gold and runs off—thief
Elaborate, and emphatic character assassination
By extension, Stephanus = not good person
Neaira’s daughter married a few men—when they found out she wasn’t a
citizen, they divorced her
At one point, married the King-Archon
Women’s therapeutic value in society (55-6)
Political, social (122)
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