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Abstract–The Control of Emotion: Rhetorical Education and Civic Oratory in the Greco-Roman East

This paper focuses on the early stages of ancient rhetorical education, as a foundation for exploring the emotions involved in the composition and reception of ancient speeches in the Greek East of the Roman Empire in the early centuries AD. It concentrates on the progymnasmata, preliminary exercises in rhetorical composition, as evidenced by manuals, sample ‘fair copies’ of such exercises and school exercises on papyrus from Egypt. These sources are read as fragments of what was once a living, interpersonal process of oral education. The paper reflects on the many ways in which these sources imply that ancient rhetorical education oscillated between the opposing poles of emotional intensity and emotional control.

About Liz Potter

Liz Potter (PhD London University) is a postdoctoral research scholar and lecturer in Ancient Greek at the University of Oxford. Her research interests lie broadly in the Hellenic tradition. Her first book is a study of British Hellenism from the mid-eighteenth century to the early twentieth: it explores the inspiration and the warning perceived to be offered by classical Athens to modern Britain as it moved towards democracy. At the CHS, she will develop her second major research project, a study of rhetoric, performance and emotion in the Greco-Roman world (c.1st-5th centuries). This stage of the project will concentrate on the rhetorical education of young men across the Greek East of the Roman Empire. This extends the research she has conducted as part of the Oxford-based project ‘The Social and Cultural Construction of Emotions: The Greek Paradigm’, when she focused on the emotions that attach to the cultural memory of classical Athens in the texts of the second sophistic.

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