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Trials of CharacterThe Eloquence of Ciceronian Ethos$
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James M. May

Print publication date: 1988

Print ISBN-13: 9780807817599

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469616322.001.0001

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Ethos and Ciceronian Oratory

Ethos and Ciceronian Oratory

(p.1) I Ethos and Ciceronian Oratory
Trials of Character

James M. May

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter defines ethos or character as an essential element in verbal persuasion. Plato argued that the effective orator must be of good character, well-informed of his or her subject, adaptable to the audience, and a student of philosophy. This is because Plato believed that in oration, one should convince and persuade not only the listener but also to lead his “soul” with one's arguments. Accordingly, the three kinds of ethos were the moral character of the speaker, the character of the audience, and the dramatic, closely related to style. For Cicero, the art of persuasion could be carried out through the proof of one's allegations, by winning the hearts of the audience or listener, and by rousing their feelings and emotions. Ciceronian oratory skill was actually an account of the artistic ways that Cicero tackled the challenges he dealt with in facing the idiosyncrasies that were present in the Roman political, social, and judicial systems.

Keywords:   Ethos, moral character, Cicero, Plato, Roman political system

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