• If you are citizen of an European Union member nation, you may not use this service unless you are at least 16 years old.

  • You already know Dokkio is an AI-powered assistant to organize & manage your digital files & messages. Very soon, Dokkio will support Outlook as well as One Drive. Check it out today!


Timeline of Roman Rhetoric

Page history last edited by Kelly Elmore 13 years, 4 months ago



Names Place Contribution Works
110 - 40 B.C.
Athens, Rome, Herculaneum
Epicurian philosopher who wrote about a wide variety of topics, including a work on rhetoric.  In the 1750s, the excavation of a house in Herculaneum (destroyed, like Pompeii, by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius) uncovered many very damaged texts by Philodemus, which are still being reconstructed and translated. Philodemus was the teacher of Virgil and influenced the poet Horace.[1]  [2]

On Rhetoric

106 - 43 B.C.
Marcus Tullius Cicero
Arpinum, Rome, Athens
Roman statesman and orator, most known for putting down the Catiline conspiracy during his consulship in 63 B.C. and his very influential (to the modern day) writings about oratory and politics and philosophy. He was widely read and very influential during the Renaissance and was studied by the Founding Fathers during the ordering of the American republic. [3]

Against Catiline

De Oratore

De Re Publica

De Legibus

90s B.C.  (dates of manuscript)
unknown author of Rhetorica Ad Herennium
  This work, by an unknown writer, was long attributed to Cicero, which is perhaps one reason it was so influential and why so many copies have been found.  The work is an example of the handbook tradition and is the oldest surviving Latin work on rhetoric.[4]

Rhetorica Ad Herennium

60 B.C. - after 7 B.C. Dionysius of Halicarnasus Halicarnassus (modern day Turkey), Rome
While studying the Latin language in preparation to write his history, Roman Antiquities, he taught rhetoric in Rome and wrote several works on rhetoric.  One of his main goals was to use his history to reconcile the Greeks to Roman rule.[5]

Roman Antiquities

The Art of Rhetoric

The Arrangement of Words

Commentaries on the Attic Orators

On Imitation

54 B.C. - 39 A.D.
Seneca the Elder
Cordoba, Spain (then under Roman rule); Rome
Orator and advocate.  In his old age, he compiled (from memory, it is said) a collection of declamations (controversiae) that he heard in his life. Admired Cicero and the orators like him who did not use such florid language. [6]

Controversiae (Declamations)


35 - 100 A.D.
Quintilian (Marcus Fabius Quintilianus)
Spain (then under Roman rule), Rome
Quintilian was an advocate in the courts in his native Spain and in Rome, and he opened the first real public school in Rome, where he taught Pliny the Younger and maybe Tacitus. His only extant work is about the education of an orator, which he says should be more focused and less general than Cicero advised. Also focuses on education being pleasurable for the child and on moral education. [7]
Institutio Oratoria
56 - 117 A.D.
Tacitus was an orator and historian, probably born in one of the provinces but educated in Rome.  He retired from public service after the death of Domitian (whom Tacitus viewed as a tyrant) and spent almost the rest of his life writing. His writing is full of comments on the balance of power between the Senate and the emperors and corruption of imperial Rome.[8]



Germany, Agricola, and Dialogue on Oratory

 90 - 144 A.D.
Marcus Antonius Polemo
Laodicea, Smyrna
Statesman and rhetor of the Second Sophistic with connections to the emperors Hadrian, Trajan, and Antoninus.  His only surviving work, Logoi Epitaphioi, contains the funeral orations of two generals killed at Marathon. His style was supposed to be stately, but not pleasant. Philostratus writes about his life in The Lives of the Sophists. [9]
Logoi Epitaphioi
1st century A.D. or 3rd century A.D (disputed) Longinus (also called pseudo-Longinus because scholars do not really know his name)
On the Sublime is a treatise on style, and its contents are unusual for the time.  Instead of focusing on technical rules, Longinus looks at the tropes and the passages in which they appear as a whole. He thinks that good writing touches the sublime, and the sublime is reached by elevated writing coming from writers of great spirit. [10]
On the Sublime
100 - 170 A.D. Marcus Cornelius Fronto Numidia, Alexandria, Rome
Fronto was an orator and advocate, who was considered by his peers to be second only to Cicero in eloquence. He was also the tutor of Marcus Aurelius, who disappointed him by turning from oratory to philosophy, which Fronto disliked. [11]
Correspondence Vol. 1 and Vol. 2
125 - 180 A.D. Lucian Samosata (modern day Turkey, then a part of the Roman Empire)
Wrote novels and satirical dialogues. Traveled the Roman world giving speeches, primarily intended for amusement.  His "Rhetorician's Vade Mecum" was a scathing portrait of the decline of oratory. [12]

The True History

Dialogues of the Dead

Dialogues of the Gods

Rhetorician's Vade Mecum

Many, many others

314 - 394 A.D. Libanius Antioch, Athens, Constantinople, Nicomedia
Greek speaking rhetorician, who refused both Latin literature and Christianity. He ran an influential school of rhetoric, whose students included John Chrysostome. [13]
Numerous orations, declamations, introductions to Demosthenes's orations, progymnasmata, and letters
354 -430 A.D. Augustine of Hippo Carthage, Rome, Milan
Augustine was trained as a rhetorician in Carthage and Rome, and he taught there (and in Milan) in public schools, with which he was severely disappointed.  Though raised as a Christian, he spent his youth as a pagan, only converting to Christianity in his 30s.  At that time, he gave up rhetoric and devoted himself to the priesthood. His book, On Christian Doctrine, explained a new Christian rhetoric, which emphasized clarity over style and eliminated with Augustine saw as the deceit and vanity of Roman oratory. [14]

On Christian Doctrine

The City of God


CIcero: On Rhetoric

second half of 4th century Aphthonius Antioch
Nothing is known about his life, but we have a text, Progymnasmata, for teaching the young before they enter more advanced rhetorical training.  The text was thought to prepare youths for studying the Techne by Hermogenes of Tarsus. [15]


Also, see the page "A Brief Timeline of Classical Rhetoric," which focuses primarily on Greek orators, but includes Cicero and Quintilian.


  1. http://www.humnet.ucla.edu/humnet/classics/Philodemus/phil.art.html
  2. http://www.utexas.edu/depts/classics/documents/Philodemus.html
  3. http://classics.mit.edu/Plutarch/cicero.html
  4. http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Rhetorica_ad_Herennium/Introduction*.html
  5. http://www.worldlingo.com/ma/enwiki/en/Dionysius_of_Halicarnassus
  6. http://www.enotes.com/seneca-elder-salem/seneca-elder
  7. http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Quintilian/Institutio_Oratoria/Introduction*.html
  8. http://www.humanitiesweb.org/human.php?s=i&p=c&a=b&ID=37
  9. http://www.ancientlibrary.com/smith-bio/2768.html
  10. http://www.brysons.net/academic/longinus.html
  11. http://www.archive.org/stream/correspondencem00auregoog#page/n30/mode/2up
  12. http://www.tertullian.org/rpearse/lucian/lucian_intro.htm
  13. http://www.1911encyclopedia.org/Libanius
  14. http://www9.georgetown.edu/faculty/jod/augustine/
  15. http://www.mlahanas.de/Greeks/Bios/AphthoniusOfAntioch.html

Comments (0)

You don't have permission to comment on this page.