Thursday, March 11, 2010

Institutio oratorio, Part 1

Quintilian was a Roman rhetorician, a contemporary of Paul (ca. A.D. 35-100), and supposedly a teacher of Pliny and Juvenal. I just started reading his The Orator's Education volume 1 in the Loeb Classical Library because I have some interest in rhetorical-criticism as well as Hellenistic influences on the New Testament. Also, I might do a research paper sometime this semester on Paul and rhetoric so here I am. Anyway, so far it's been a very fascinating and quick read, so I thought I'd just post some quotes from it as well as my thoughts:

"There is one point which I must emphasize at the start: without the help of nature, precepts and techniques are powerless. This work (i.e., his books), therefore, must not be thought of as written for persons without talent, any more than treatises on agriculture are meant for barren soils. And there are other aids also, with which individuals have to be born: voice, strong lungs, good health, stamina, good looks. A modest supply of these can be furthered developed by methodical training; but sometimes they are so completely lacking as to destroy any advantages of talent and study, just as these themselves are of no profit without a skilled teacher, persistence in study, and much continuous practice in writing, reading, and speaking."
-- Quintilian, Institutio oratoria, 1.26-27


This must be the type of perspective that pervaded Roman Corinth in the first century as the Corinthians were apparently unimpressed by Paul's rhetorical skills:

"For they say, "His letters are weighty and strong, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible.""
-- 2 Cor. 10:10

More quotes from Quintilian to come.

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