LCL 539: viii-ix
This volume contains three third-century AD rhetorical treatises that provide instructions on how to compose occasional speeches. These writings form the bulk of epideictic theory and practice from antiquity.1 Two treatises areattributed to one Menander Rhetor of Laodicea, the other (incorrectly) to the early first-century AD historian and literary critic Dionysius of Halicarnassus, but which is actually much later. Its author is usually designated as Pseudo-Dionysius of Halicarnassus and abbreviated in this volume by [DH].
These treatises derive from the schools of rhetoric that flourished in the Roman Empire from the second through fourth centuries AD in the Greek East. They provide a window into the literary culture and social concerns of these Greeks under Roman rule, in both public and private life, and were of considerable influence on later pagan and Christian literature.2
- 1Some epideictic topics such as encomium are briefly treated in the progymnasmata. Burgess provides an excellent overview of epideictic rhetoric and its influence on Greek literature.
- 2Kennedy 2003, 295, sums up the importance of late rhetoric for our understanding of both Christian and pagan writings: “The numerous later Greek rhetorical treatises, dry reading as they may seem, sometimes even poorly written, have considerable significance for the intellectual history of the early centuries of the Christian era. They are a major source for our understanding of education, its materials, goals, and values, as experienced by most important thinkers of the times, pagan and Christian; the training they describe directly influenced the form and style of composition of much of the writing that has survived; they are evidence for cultural change and for the perception of Greek language and literature of the classical period more than five hundred years later; and they provide linguists and philologists with useful concepts and terminology to describe the workings of texts, pagan and Christian, ancient and modern.”