a period of oratorical excess in which the subject matter became less important than the interest in safer matters like the externals of speech, especially style and delivery. To make the speaker effective, rather than making the truth effective. Rome's politics determined that free speech, especially those opposed to the order of things, should be silenced. Rhetoric took to more trivial matters: exercises in the schools, and ceremonial speaking at various "events." The 4th century found the Church gaining legal status and working hard to solidify its place in society. The church had to, not only, fight off significant and numerous "heresies," it also found itself "defining the intellectual base for a culture which would permit the Church to perform its duty of leading men to salvation." Preachers, teachers, "soldiers" had to be trained. How much of "pagan" culture should the church adopt/adapt? The Word of God vs. the word of man. The conflict between Christianity and ancient culture was serious. Early church leaders were trained in rhetoric; they knew the scriptures were stylistically flawed; they knew about the power of secular speech; they were fighting it all the way. There developed a period of strong antipathy to the Greco-Roman tradition. Converted Christians railed against the "pagans" such that learning was made the culprit. The old myths featured pagan ideals; those who opposed the Church always used the rhetoric of the ancients; study of "worldly" knowledge distracted from time which could be spent praising God and studying His word. Further, the abuses of the second sophistic made rhetoric look even the more gaudy. The call: another set of voices for "pure speech" rather than rhetorical activities (sound reminiscent and prophetic? Plato and Korzybski. A worse problem: to this point, the Bible was not very literate, having been composed (primarily) in a heathen tongue without much artiface. (this led Churchmen throughout history to prefer the plain style to the grand--at least until numerous translations elevated Biblical style). ("It is better to have a just unlearnedness than an evil wisdom" Jerome)
Written around 200. Stressed the poetic ability to "transport" through sublime style (grasp the real conception, inject passion, handle tropes and figures of thought and speech, phrase properly, compose with dignity).
directed toward the nonbelievers to persuade them
directed toward the heretics
directed toward true believers
Classically trained and liberally experienced. Educated as a rhetorician; taught Rhetoric professionally. Not originally raised of means, acquired a weathy benefactor in his college years and spent a number of years as a active materialist. His Confessions details his full participation in the life of the world, as well as his conversion to Christianity. His mother was a radically enthusiastic Christian. Augustine spent some time as a leading proponent of the Manichean sect-- an approach to Christianity that was eventually condemned by the Roman church. Augustine was a powerful debater and philosophical writer.
Once converted, leading churchmen recognized his brilliance and convinced him to serve as a cleric and bishop. He turned his attention to ways to adapt the pagan rhetoric to the service of God, primarily motivated by the need to teach others how to argue against Christian factions deemed heretical. Further, Augustine sought ways to recast the abuses of the second sophistic to recover a meaningful rhetoric.
On Christian Doctrine presented the key to his "converted" use of rhetoric in the Christian cause: a new way to "read/hear" a text: the "real meaning" of the text (that which is behind it) is more important than its surface representation (hearkens back to the Platonic distinction between essence and appearance). What is the spiritual meaning and inner truth? Also presented new ideas as to speaking. Rhetoric is good whenever in the service of truth (proclamation of Christian message). If in the service of purely secular aims, it is bad. Christian messages may be put so that they amuse and arrest the attention of the audience.
1) One no longer need be wise and good in order to be saved. Having the true Christian message is more important. One can use eloquence, but "culture" is not essentially of eloquence.
2) style must still have qualities, but less importance is put on precise grammar.
3) The classics are NOT more beautiful than the Bible. The latter makes up for its lack of false beauty with real truth.
4) Words to not fully transmit the truth; insight does that; words may aid. (again, Platonic elements).
5) Self-reflection for the perversion of the soul by the truth: away from rhetorical monologue and dialectical dialogue; toward intrapersonal communication with God. Prayer.
Augustine returns, primarily, to Cicero. Written to teach preacher/teachers how to (1) discover those things which are to be understood and to (2) express these to others. The search for a Christian rhetoric. The art can be made to serve truth or falsity: the church must use it well. Do not give over this tool to the enemy! He elevates the Scriptures as they provide examples (so that "heathen" examples are not used). He argues that knowledge is not enough: those possessed with the truth cannot "transfer" it to others--one must persuade and teach.
Invention as it relates to hermenuetics. Contains theories of signs, interpretation, translation (essentially, the first theory of language since Plato: perhaps the father of modern linguistics) A key aspect to remember about Augustine's invention, and that which it inspired about invention in the Christian conception of rhetoric: That which was to be known--that which was important to know--that which was to be used in approved speaking (Christian teaching) was that TRUTH which was found in the properly interpreted Scriptures. Invention then, became inextricably tied to hermenuetics (biblical and theological interpretation) AND authority. (Somewhat Platonic is it not?) Augustine's linguistic theory differentiates between, first, signs as natural (makes us aware of something beyond themselves, without intention) or conventional signs (makes us so aware in order to convey something--intensional), and between literal (designating that for which they have been invented) and figurative (applying literal signs to something else than that for which they were intended).
a theory of expression, esp. the duties of the Christian orator in preaching and teaching (teach, delight, persuade, the kinds of style, and ethos. Start of Book 4 repeats Aristotle's call that Rhetoric is to be sought because it can be used as a tool for truth, against evil. In this case, with Christian implications.