Aristotle, Art of Rhetoric

LCL 193: xx-xxi

Go To Section
Go To Section


were seen as a shining model (cf. Cic. Orat. 37–38), and speeches became declamations. The later terminology of forensic rhetoric was developed by Hermagoras of Temnos in the second century. Cicero, who was of course a politician, an orator, and also an advocate, knew that Aristotle had written on rhetoric, but he probably never read the book: it may have been unavailable or at least hard to get, since Aristotle’s school treatises had only just begun to be re-edited by Andronicus of Rhodes. In any case, Cicero mainly appealed to the authority of Aristotle for the claim that a good orator ought also to study philosophy or at least ethics. Eventually, rhetoric became a part of general education for young students who had finished their basic studies—reading, writing, arithmetic—with a grammarian.

It is therefore not much of a surprise that we have no Greek commentary on Aristotle’s Rhetoric from late antiquity—rhetoric had become a part of the literary rather than the philosophical tradition. In the traditional order of Aristotle’s works given in the edition of Immanuel Bekker (1831), which has been used for references to Aristotle’s text ever since, the Rhetoric appears at the very end, alongside the Poetics. And even though the Rhetoric was translated and also re-edited by the humanists of the Renaissance and later by philological scholars of the nineteenth century, its rediscovery as a work of serious interest to philosophers and political scientists came only in the twentieth century, when rhetoric was again seen as an important tool of public communication, and scholars of ancient philosophy recognized its connections with Aristotle’s logic and political theory.




A full bibliography of scholarly work on the Rhetoric would cover many pages. The following are suggestions for readers who wish to follow up on specific aspects of Aristotle’s book—history of rhetoric, logic, connections with ethics and psychology, etc. The books cited here all contain further bibliographies.

  • Aristote, Rhétorique. Edited by M. Dufour. 3 vols. Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 1960–1973.
  • Aristotelis Ars Rhetorica. Edited by R. Kassel. Berlin: De Gruyter, 1976.
  • Aristotelis Ars Rhetorica. Edited by W. D. Ross. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1959.
  • Bartlett, R. Aristotle’s “Art of Rhetoric.” With notes and interpretive essay. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2019.
  • Cooper, Lane. The Rhetoric of Aristotle. New York, 1932.
  • Kennedy, G. A. Aristotle, On Rhetoric. With introduction,