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On Rhetoric: A Theory of Civic Discourse
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On Rhetoric: A Theory of Civic Discourse

3.86  ·  Rating Details ·  3,010 Ratings  ·  123 Reviews
This new edition of George A. Kennedy's highly acclaimed translation and commentary offers the most faithful English version ever published of On Rhetoric. Based on careful study of the Greek text and informed by the best modern scholarship, the second edition has been fully revised and updated. As in the first edition, Kennedy makes the work readily accessible to modern s ...more
Paperback, 337 pages
Published July 1st 2006 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published -322)
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Jul 19, 2010 Matt rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Aristotle defines. Unmercifully. And The Art of Rhetoric is no exception. Aristotle disdained the sophist tradition of ancient Greece as much as Plato, but he also understood that rhetoric was a popular study of the day and it became another discipline he sought to master. With a scientific eye and a mind toward philosophical value, Aristotle studied rhetoric as “the power to observe the persuasiveness of which any particular matter admits” (pg. 74; Ch. 1.2). Rhetoric, when used appropriately, b ...more
Not Aristotle's clearest or best organized work, but still part of the core curriculum of a liberal education.

Why read Aristotle today? Because he is one of the greatest minds in Western history, and such a person's well-considered thoughts are inherently worth reading, if anything is.

In addition, this book was deliberately aimed at those seeking to play an active role in a democratic society, to help them fulfill their function as citizens of a free society. We in the West imagine ourselves (mo
Paul Haspel
You may never have read anything by Aristotle; but if you've ever taken a college writing course, you've had him as your teacher. The Art of Rhetoric did so much to define how subsequent generations, and civilizations, regarded the task of crafting persuasive language that it can truly be regarded as a founding text. Methodically, Aristotle sets forth his sense of how the writer's handling of character and emotion contributes to success in rhetorical terms. His insights regarding style and compo ...more
Alp Turgut
Aristoteles'in Platon'un "Gorgias"da bahsettiği Retorik kavramını bir üst seviyeye taşıdığı eseri "The Art of Rhetoric / Retorik", insani tutumlara dair mükemmele yakın tanımlamarıyla adeta bir hayat sözlüğü niteliğinde. Kıskançlık, kibir, gurur, hırs, yaşlılık, gençlik gibi bir sürü kavramın açıklamalarını okuma şansı bulduğumuz eserde özellikle ilk iki kitabı okurken ünlü filozofun zekasına ve gözlemlerine hayran kalıyorsunuz. Öte yandan, eğretileme ve konuşma tekniklerinden bahsettiği daha ço ...more
Feb 03, 2012 Eric rated it really liked it
The first book of Aristotle’s highly taxonomical Rhetoric opens with a parsing of dialectic and rhetoric. He sets up the latter as an art of persuasion related to but nevertheless distinguishable from the former. After exploring the usefulness of syllogisms and enthymemes for both arts, Aristotle sets out his three basic categories of rhetorical discourse: deliberative, judicial (or forensic), and epideictic. He spends the rest of the first book exploring topics (related to the Greek topos, for ...more
Feb 26, 2010 Scott rated it really liked it
This book is obviously a classic to the field of rhetoric. It also contains what is essentially the first treatise on human psychology, in addition to systematically analyzing the art of persuasion.

I have never read any other editions of this book, but I would recommend this edition to everyone who wants to read it. George Kennedy's translation and his commentary are incredibly helpful, even amusing at times. His sheer knowledge of Aristotle and this work (he must have spent decades on it) is st
Gwen Burrow
Jun 13, 2009 Gwen Burrow rated it liked it
Read this when I barely knew what "rhetoric" meant. So I should sift through it again.
Daniel Gonçalves
Apr 22, 2015 Daniel Gonçalves rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lido para a disciplina de retórica, obviamente. Um marco na história da civilização.
Jesse Broussard
Apr 19, 2008 Jesse Broussard rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mediocre
I'm sure it's excellent, necessary, brilliantly designed, etc. But so is a sewer system, and you don't want to spend too much time there either.
Sep 09, 2008 Carmen rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: education
I need an Idiot's Guide type book to help me with this one because this is just not sinking in. Perhaps I need to reread it. ehh. I'm not really a fan of rhetoric to begin with but this is certainly the book for orators, politicians, and lawyers to be. Proof, proof, proof, make sure you can back up what you say, but when you don't have proof, at least say it with style and panache, that's half the battle. An interesting read during election season.

One of the most interesting moments in this boo
Daniel Gargallo
Mar 27, 2017 Daniel Gargallo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
A translation is mainly an analogue to another text. This edition presents a direct analogue that, to the layman, doesn’t arouse any suspicions of misrepresentation in the text, and sustaining that particular suspension of disbelief is the measure of any translator's work.

I was totally content with this specific publication, but my interests were to read it once and be done with it. This is an unglamorous edition and I wouldn’t give it to your daughter’s boyfriend for Christmas.

As a speechwrit
Feb 09, 2013 James rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While this is a book about rhetoric the broad definition that is used by Aristotle allows for excursions into philosophy, government, history, ethics, and literature. Thus when discussing the proper organization of a speech Aristotle draws on literary examples from Homer and Herodotus to Sophocles. No one can deny the strength of Antigone's argument when she says, "But when mother and father have gone to Hades there is no brother who can be born again".(p 271)
The work is difficult for Aristotle
Eric McLean
There is a lot of good stuff here (obviously-it's Aristotle, man!) and it almost feels wrong not giving this 5 stars, but alas...I just didn't find all of it very interesting. I struggled to finish this, mostly because there were some great points on rhetoric surrounded by mountains of definitions that don't really seem to define rhetoric as it is today. I'm sure there are some more modern texts that get at the same ideas in a more modern context-but we all owe a lot of that to Aristotle.

Brittany Petruzzi
I cleared my one-star rating for being a purely subjective impression as a college freshman. Never have I read a more unpersuasive and engaging treatment of the art of persuasion. Perhaps I would have found it more so with a better translation? Someday I may pick up a Sachs translation and give it another go.
Mar 15, 2016 Will rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Don't throw things at me.

When I trudged through the dull translation of a section that proclaimed no value to a type of oration that I had just that evening used to great effect in a public political speech to a small audience, perhaps the years have been unkind, but I knew this wasn't going to be of great use to me. Times change, and sophistry is a fact. Wishing it away changes nothing.
Apr 21, 2011 Rhonda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am glad to be reminded of this wonderful book, although I read it some time ago. It is effectively practical advice in nature which perhaps I did not completely appreciate at the time. Perhaps it is time to read it again.
Jul 21, 2011 Yann rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Je me suis régalé avec Aristote.
Michael de Percy
Jul 02, 2017 Michael de Percy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-reviewed
Some of this book reads like a manual for living with what seem to be the simplest instructions imaginable. Wake up, lift the cover, put your feet on the floor, stand up, go to the bathroom, etc. Yet when one thinks about this being some of the earliest writings in recorded history, this instruction manual in how to be persuasive in speech and in writing states exactly what we teach our university students today. And therein lies the simplicity that belies its brilliance. This is my first cover- ...more
J. Alfred
Aristotle is one of those guys that you know is a seminal influence on the whole of civilization, and yet seems to have gotten there by saying all the obvious things. (Somebody had to do it!) The man is clearly brilliant, but not quite congenial to modern taste, if I'm any judge. Case in point: a treatise on rhetoric-- that is, the art of speaking well-- should not, I submit, be impossibly labored, irritatingly imprecise in terminology, and totally unmemorable, and yet this seems to be.
Ahem: "e
Zachary Rudolph
“Sweet-natured through their not having yet observed much wickedness, and credulous through their not yet having been many times deceived, and optimistic ... because they have not frequently met with failure. And for the most part they live in hope; for hope is of the future and remembrance of the past, and for the young the future is long and the past short; for on one’s first day one can remember nothing but hope for everything. And they are easily deceived for the reason given (that they easi ...more
May 08, 2017 Emily rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Emily by: Herder
Shelves: classics, informative
Aristotle's work is very difficult to understand but this work is very important in explaining how people should represent themselves through their words. I found this book to be beneficial during my class but I feel reading this book without any external guidance is difficult and it is hard to grasp the entire meaning of the text.
Jun 23, 2017 Jim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Such a pity that my ability to easily understand Aristotle has come to me late in life. Such a blessing that now that I'm old, I finally am able to easily understand Aristotle. This book on Rhetoric is on the money, and I strongly recommend it, especially for any who do public speaking.
Carrie Pagels
Dec 14, 2016 Carrie Pagels rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Good for all of you that like arguments, this book gives great advice, and it give a good examination of the mind.
May 27, 2017 Brian rated it it was amazing
Very well done.
Samuel Chen
Mar 19, 2017 Samuel Chen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
talk that talk man
Kien Pham
Mar 04, 2017 Kien Pham rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Despite, eh, questionable views regarding certain issues (women, slavery, torture), Aristotle gives a comprehensive guide on how to compose the perfect speech in this book, with many of his advice still remaining relevant to this day.
Michael Jose
Mar 03, 2017 Michael Jose rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent formatting book with excellently editing. Genuine must read this book.
Feb 16, 2014 Aaron rated it really liked it
Throughout the book Kennedy places On Rhetoric into its important historical context. Starting with the Prooemion and through the introduction, Kennedy shows how clearly Aristotle's theories deviated from Isocrates, Plato and Socrates. For example, Aristotle’s “instinctive feeling for philosophy came to be far more pragmatic than Platonic idealism” (2). But, Kennedy also shows how Aristotle combined the important overlapping aspects of philosophy and rhetoric, mainly from Plato and Isocrates.

The Thousander Club
Adam C. Zern offers a few thoughts . . .

"Reading Aristotle's Rhetoric was a good idea that ended up being far more painful that I would have liked. It is common for me to read the recommended or referenced books of intellectuals that I admire. Although I don't quite remember where I heard or read Rhetoric referenced, it did find it's way on my Amazon Wish List. I can now say I've read it, but I wouldn't say much more than that about it. (Word of warning: Rhetoric is extremely referential to Ari
Elliott Bignell
To read Aristotle on rhetoric is to be present at the birth of a new science, as this was the footing upon which the Philosopher sought to place the idiom. While this concept of "science" is a far cry from Popper's conjecture and refutation and the modern synthesis of scientific thinking, it is closer than one might think. Aristotle seeks to provide a theoretical framework based in the minds of listeners, to classify and taxonomise species of argument and to back it all up with concrete, quasi-e ...more
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  • Rhetorica ad Herennium
  • Phaedrus
  • Classical Rhetoric for the Modern Student
  • Lives of Eminent Philosophers, Vol 1, Books 1-5
  • A Rhetoric of Motives
  • Plato I: Euthyphro. Apology. Crito. Phaedo. Phaedrus. (Loeb Classical Library, #36)
  • History of the Peloponnesian War: Bk. 1-2
  • The Rhetorical Tradition: Readings from Classical Times to the Present
  • A Handlist of Rhetorical Terms
  • Outlines of Scepticism
  • Menander: The Plays and Fragments
  • Ancient Rhetorics for Contemporary Students
  • Discourses, Books 1-2
  • The New Rhetoric: A Treatise on Argumentation
(Greece: Αριστοτέλης)
(Arabic: أرسطوطاليس)
(Bulgarian: Аристотел)
(Russian: Аристотель)
(Alternate European spelling: Aristoteles)

Aristotle (384–322 B.C.E.) numbers among the greatest philosophers of all time. Judged solely in terms of his philosophical influence, only Plato is his peer: Aristotle's works shaped centuries of philosophy from Late Antiquity through the Renaissance, and even today contin
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“What makes a man a 'sophist' is not his faculty, but his moral purpose. (1355b 17)” 8 likes
“If there are two definitive features of ancient Greek civilization, they are loquacity and competition.” 2 likes
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