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The Utilization of Rhetoric In Athenian Democracy Essay

Project id 1016163
Subject area Other
Document type Essay
Words 3287
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Rhetoric was a major element in the maturation and maintenance of the Athenian authorities and has been used by many so as to gain power and innovate in politics. The ascendance of the great demagogues at Athens during the time of the Peloponnesian war has been greatly influenced by their rhetoric and ability to efficiently direct the Athenian democracy. The democratic government was composed of 2 classes: "public speakers [], those who made proposals and openly argued for or against political endeavors, and demos, those who as a group determined about the proposals" (Yunis, 1991: 179). With this notion of democracy instilled in Athens, speakers have been given an opportunity to present their suggestions in a way they expected to be the most persuasive in service of their own argument. The objective of the public speakers would be to convince or instruct the demos to carry out the activity that the speaker had only argued, but victory depended heavily on the speaker's ability to control and guide the audience. Yunis (1991: 1) suggests that there were two types of political rhetoric, instructional rhetoric and rhetoric that disapproves of education, and that there is a distinct difference between the two. Pericles used instructional rhetoric to persuade the demos to react logically, rendering the demos "capable of autonomous, conscientious decision-making" (Yunis 1991:2). Cleon's rhetoric, however, was made to appeal to the majority of the demos who he presumed were already smart enough to see his reason, letting them make decisions which would not necessarily be accountable or in his favour. Thucydides' account of the two distinct types of political rhetoric emphasizes using rhetoric as essential in the Athenian dem...

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