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Rhetorica ad Herennium

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The Rhetorica ad Herrenium was traditionally attributed to Cicero (106 43 BCE), and reflects, as does Cicero s De Inventione, Hellenistic rhetorical teaching. But most recent editors attribute it to an unknown author.

The Greek art of rhetoric was first naturalized at Rome in the time of the younger Scipio, and Latin treatises on the subject were in circulation from the time of the Gracchi. But the books by Cato, Antonius, and the other Roman writers have not come down to us, and it is from the second decade of the first century B.C. that we have, in the treatise addressed to Gaius Herennius, the oldest Latin Art preserved entire. Like Cicero's incomplete De Inventione, which belongs close to it in time, this work reflects Hellenistic rhetorical teaching. Our author, however, gives us a Greek art in Latin dress, combining a Roman spirit with Greek doctrine. It is a technical manual, systematic and formal in arrangement; its exposition is bald, but in greatest part clear and precise. Indeed the writer's specific aims are to achieve clarity and conciseness, and to complete the exposition of his subject with reasonable speed. He seeks clarity through the use of Roman terms, and of specially selected examples; he seeks conciseness by keeping practical needs always in view, by scrupulously avoiding irrelevant matter, and by presenting methods and principles, not a host of particular illustrations of a given point.

496 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 51

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About the author

Marcus Tullius Cicero

7,288 books1,720 followers
Marcus Tullius Cicero was a Roman philosopher, statesman, lawyer, political theorist, and Roman constitutionalist. Cicero is widely considered one of Rome's greatest orators and prose stylists.

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Note: All editions should have Marcus Tullius Cicero as primary author. Editions with another name on the cover should have that name added as secondary author.

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5 stars
195 (38%)
4 stars
163 (32%)
3 stars
107 (21%)
2 stars
33 (6%)
1 star
9 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 37 reviews
71 reviews3 followers
May 21, 2012
I came to this book after reading Moonwalking with Einstein and taking an interest in the Art of Memory. I also read this after having read about half of Frances Yates "The Art of Memory" The version I read was a free version distributed by the University of Toronto http://archive.org/details/adcherenni...

For those looking to practice the Art of Memory, I think the Yates summary is superior in the sense that Yates's book gives more versions for how the Art evolved over time and thus gives options to work with.

Overall though, this is a great work on the art of Rhetoric itself as well as Memory and for anyone interested in public speaking and persuasion. It has a historical bent on how the court system worked in Ancient Rome but the principles apply in general today. As an attorney and one who did debate in school, I wish someone had handed this to me back when I was 14.
90 reviews1 follower
May 27, 2013
An interesting piece. The last paragraph will provide summary:

"Indeed I have shown how in every type of cause one ought to find ideas. I have told how it is proper to arrange these. I have disclosed the method of delivery. I have taught how we can have a good memory. I have explained the means by which to secure a finished style. If we follow these principles, our Invention will be keen and prompt, our Arrangement clear and orderly, our Delivery impressive and graceful, our Memory sure and lasting, our Style brilliant and charming. In the art of rhetoric, then, there is no more. All these faculties we shall attain if we supplement the precepts of theory with diligent practice." page 411
Profile Image for Saga Adela.
25 reviews14 followers
January 30, 2023
det är inte cicero som skrivit!! Goodreads förleder folket
Profile Image for Pablo Padilla.
Author 34 books139 followers
November 9, 2018
The passage of memory.

It has no indeed or toc. However if you are interested in reading about memory in this book jump to location 891 - 988.

Can definitely improve in terms of the content organization to allow readers to use the text as reference.
Profile Image for George Sr..
Author 12 books4 followers
April 18, 2012
Although (1) Cicero didn't really write it, (2) it says nothing truly original, and (3) it was written over 2,000 years ago, this is an excellent trial advocacy manual.
12 reviews
April 26, 2021
Une immense surprise, et une bonne. Certes, certains passages sont longs, surtout les descriptions des différentes figures de style, mais j'ai dévoré ce livre en quelques jours.
La Rhétorique à Herennius a fait partie du trivium médiéval (avec le De l'Invention de Cicéron et l'Institution oratoire de Quintilien); son influence historique ne peut donc pas être sous-estimée. J'y ai retrouvé tous les conseils donnés aux élèves et étudiants qui pratiquent la dissertation (par exemple au livre 1: qu'éviter dans les exordes). Tout le plan d'une dissertation contemporaine est là, en germe.
Même si le livre est principalement destiné aux plaideurs, on trouvera au livre 2 une liste passionnante des défauts de l'argumentations, de la généralisation abusive aux pétitions de principe. Ces conseils de méthode n'ont pas pris une ride: il est fascinant de les voir exposés aussi clairement dans un texte aussi ancien.
Le livre 3 est un peu plus ardu, mais on y trouve tout de même des conseils salutaires sur la disposition des arguments ou sur le débit. Se trouve là aussi les paragraphes célébrissimes sur la mémoire naturelle et la mémoire artificielle, ainsi que sur les emplacements (loci) et les images. Tout ce qui va fonder l'art médiéval de la mémoire est exposé ici, dans un style clair et technique. A lire absolument en parallèle de L'art de la mémoire, de F. A. Yates, pour avoir une idée de la pérennité de ces passages.
Le livre 4 développe les genres d'élocution, leurs qualités, ainsi que les figures de mots et les figures de pensée. D'accord, c'est de loin le plus ennuyeux: mais ce n'est pas pour autant inutile.
Enfin, la conclusion montre que les enseignants recommandent la pratique depuis l'Antiquité: "fécondons les préceptes de l'art par un exercice assidu".
Profile Image for Brent Pinkall.
243 reviews13 followers
April 8, 2022
Can't believe I only gave this four stars when I first read it seven years ago. I've taught this text for more than five years now and my love for it continues to grow. It surpasses all other rhetorical handbooks from antiquity in terms of accessibility. Aristotle's Rhetoric is written for philosophers--insightful for the inquiring mind but not especially practical. Cicero's De Inventione is much more practical but underdeveloped and a bit disorganized--he only covers one of the five canons and presents some problematic views that he later renounced. Quintilian offers far richer exposition, but his book is many volumes, making it a bit unwieldy. The Ad Herennium is one volume and covers all five canons of rhetoric. Moreover, it is organized well and is written in clear and concise prose. The section on memory is particularly famous and was the main impetus for getting me interested in mnemonics. My only complaint is that it does not present as robust a topical system as Cicero's De Inventione or Topica and that it does not categorize stases in the traditional way, opting for "Conjectural," "Juridical," "Legal" instead of "Conjectural," "Definitional," "Qualitative," and "Translative." Oh, and Cicero was not the author. Goodreads is lying to you.
Profile Image for Joshua Lister.
134 reviews9 followers
July 23, 2018
Difficult at first but once I got the terms and the structure down it became easier to navigate. The book is thorough and the organization is superb. It is the most interesting text book I have ever read. As a reference book, it is indispensable and I will likely refer to it many more times in my life.
Profile Image for Javier Perez.
3 reviews
May 3, 2020
This is was not an easy read, more than 2k years ago it was written in Latin with lots of content translated from Greek, then it was translated again to English, my second language. It was a challenge but that is not to say that I didn't enjoy it. I will definitely use it as a manual to plan out speeches and presentations. Oh I also came to this book from "Moonwalking with Einstein".
Profile Image for Joel Husted.
4 reviews
May 6, 2023
He has some good points and strategies for speaking which can be used probably very effectively. His approach, however, is not one I would find myself relating to, as he often relies on ad Hominum type devices to make his opponents look bad, or to make himself appear more credible. Still, in other areas, it's quite helpful, and not morally corrupt.
Profile Image for Ward Hammond.
295 reviews6 followers
June 4, 2017
Something are timeless just the words change. Cicero calls a memory palace a background. The rest of what he says is only obscure when he references people never heard of in the 21st century. Vivid images and places in the series is the key to memorizing anything.
12 reviews2 followers
March 5, 2022
“I do not write poems, because I cannot write the sort I wish, and the sort that I can, I do not wish to write.”

"He who lives honorably lives safely–whereas he who lives shamefully cannot be secure forever"
Profile Image for Jehanzeb.
6 reviews
April 19, 2019
Difficult read but very interesting. The origins of law stem from this book. Was a sequel to moonwalking with einstein for me given the references to it in the book
17 reviews
October 22, 2020
Really interesting to learn about rhetoric and apply it to the ramblings of the current government. Cicero probably didn't write this, though.
Profile Image for Stace Lee.
8 reviews1 follower
February 9, 2017
Interesting look at classical techniques for developing argument, classifying and presenting information and for all elements associated with dialogue. Surprisingly well presented and easy to use.
Profile Image for Max Ohnesorge.
5 reviews1 follower
November 16, 2020
Not actually Cicero, but whoever psuedo-Cicero was puts together a comprehensive work on the ins and outs of Classical rhetoric.
Profile Image for Rebecca.
211 reviews7 followers
June 26, 2021
As a guide to the acquisition of the fine art of public speaking and an outline of the constituent parts to employ to achieve various effects through language and delivery, Cicero's book, written ostensibly for his friend Herennius, is still the standard text.

I undertook reading this book for Cicero's treatment of memory as an oratorical necessity. Ad Herennium was mentioned several times in Foer's Moonwalking with Einstein, which I recently read, but Cicero's commentary on how to develop and how to use a well-trained memory is only a very short middle section in this book. I might have just combed through it for the bit on memory but I confess I would have missed much clever, entertaining and instructive writing and still be left without a serviceable idea of what this celebrated book is about, so I'm quite content to have read through it all.
Profile Image for Chiggins1066.
19 reviews2 followers
August 20, 2008
The "Rhetoric for Herrenius" was probably not written by Cicero, although he most certainly used the text as a "handbook." Nevertheless, it is a brilliant, comprehensive study of rhetoric and oratory that contains advice and principles that are valuable to the modern writer.
Profile Image for Rick Sam.
400 reviews95 followers
February 18, 2016
I came across this book from Douglas Wilson. I would recommend his book, "The Rhetoric Companion" unless you want in depth details. This book nails everything on Rhetoric. I loved the section about Memory.
Profile Image for Brian.
Author 13 books108 followers
April 24, 2011
Concise, clear, and possibly not even Roman.
Profile Image for Joshua.
100 reviews
June 9, 2012
Rigorously didactic, well organized, with lots of easy to follow examples. Perhaps the best textbook-style treatise on Rhetoric in the classical period.
Profile Image for Sarah.
154 reviews5 followers
August 25, 2012
Cicero is helpful for use in my rhetoric class, particularly with adding the polish to the language and practicals of public speaking.
Profile Image for Brian.
82 reviews
August 13, 2016
Excellent; shows just how constant the rules of communication have been over the years; what held true then holds true now.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 37 reviews

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