Renaissance Debates on Rhetoric

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Wayne A. Rebhorn
Cornell University Press, 2000 - History - 322 pages

Throughout the European Renaissance, authors famous and obscure debated the nature, goals, and value of rhetoric. In a host of treatises, handbooks, letters, and orations, written in both Latin and the vernacular, they attempted to assess the central role that rhetoric clearly played in their culture. Was rhetoric a valuable tool of legitimation for rulers or a dangerous instrument of resistance to political and religious authority? Would its employment maintain the social hierarchy or foster social mobility? Was rhetoric merely the art of lies or was it a means to arrive at the only form of truth available to human beings? In this fascinating volume, Wayne A. Rebhorn enables modern-day readers to follow Renaissance thinkers as they struggle with these and other crucial questions about rhetoric.

Arranged chronologically, the twenty-five selections in this anthology, most of which have never before appeared in English, include key texts by Petrarch, Valla, Erasmus, Vives, Melanchthon, Ramus, Wilson, Amyot, and Bacon. All the selections have been fully annotated and have headnotes providing essential background information. In addition, the volume features a biographical glossary of frequently mentioned historical and mythological figures, a comprehensive index, and a detailed bibliography.

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Contents

Francis Petrarch
14
George of Trebizond Trapezuntius
27
Rudolph Agricola
42
Giovanni Pico della Mirandola
57
Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa
76
Philip Melanchthon
97
Sperone Speroni
111
Jacques Amyot
128
Thomas Wilson
173
George Puttenham
203
Michel de Montaigne
218
Juan de Guzman
233
Francis Bacon
261
JeanFrançois Le Grand
284
Bibliography
309
Copyright

Peter Ramus
152

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About the author (2000)

Wayne A. Rebhorn is Celanese Centennial Professor of English at the University of Texas at Austin. He is the author of several books, including The Emperor of Men's Minds: Literature and the Renaissance Discourse of Rhetoric, also from Cornell.

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