Rhetoric at Rome (PG) CLASSIC5088

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Humanities
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 5 (SCQF level 11)
  • Typically Offered: Either Semester 1 or Semester 2 (Alternate Years)
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

This course offers the opportunity to study Roman rhetorical theory and its practical manifestation in a representative range of Roman speeches. It covers the history and development of rhetoric at Rome in dialogue with Greek models, the variety of theoretical approaches and their adaptation to the conditions of public speech at Rome, and the relationship between rhetoric, public speaking and the change from Republic to Empire. Cicero's speeches are the main focus for practical analysis, as the only surviving complete speeches from the Republican period, but the course also considers declamation, imperial speech-writing, and fragmentary evidence.


1x1hr lecture, 1x1hr seminar over 10 weeks in one semester.

Requirements of Entry

Standard entry to Masters at College level

Excluded Courses

Rhetoric at Rome (Honours)




Rhetorical analysis of a passage from a speech (2000 words) - 50%

Essay (3000 words)  - 50%

Main Assessment In: April/May

Course Aims

This course aims to:

Explore and analyse a range of Roman rhetorical theories

Study the role of rhetoric within Roman educational theory and practice;

Analyse examples of Roman oratory in its political, legal and social context

Study the relationship between rhetorical practice and oratorical performance at Rome

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to: 

Apply a detailed understanding of ancient rhetorical theory and its relevance to Roman education and culture

Apply rhetorical theory to the analysis of Roman speeches

Illustrate critical skills through close reading of passages of ancient rhetorical texts

Locate a representative range of Roman speeches in their political, legal and social contexts

Analyse passages from Roman oratory

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.