Attic vs. Asiatic
Attic style in Greek literature and art was replaced, for a time, by the more decorative and florid Asiatic style. Attic would resurface again, as the ideal, suggesting a more ascetic, brief, and witty concise style. Both styles influenced writers and speakers in Rome, and much later in Britain. Writers like Matthew Arnold made use of an Attic prose style, while the more florid Asiatic style had its proponents as well. In the Roman era, Cicero analyzed these styles and suggested there were several Attic styles and the simple style was not the only one. Cicero became embroiled in the Attic-Asiatic debate; he was said to be an Asiatic writer by those who wanted to discredit him.
Cicero wrote a treatise on rhetoric. Rhetoric is the art of meaning, speech, writing, and language. Roman rhetoricians, such as Cicero and Quintilian, used Aristotelian concepts in their writings, as would later commentators. Cicero's works served as a link between Aristotle and later generations, carrying ideas through the Hellenistic age which otherwise would be lost to us: "They furnish, accordingly, some notion, incomplete to be sure but nevertheless valuable, of the ideas about government which passed from Greece to Rome in the three centuries before the Christian era and produced such profound effects upon Roman law" (Cicero 40).
Cicero’s works influenced St. Augustine in the Middle Ages. Before converting to Christianity, Augustine taught rhetoric. Augustine revived interest in rhetoric--an important contribution, after the early Christians foreswore it as a pagan art. He embodied rhetorical concepts in his writings and teachings and argued that preachers needed to be able to teach, delight, and move--the same notions held by Cicero. Augustine said paying attention to the rules of effective expression was necessary to accomplish the aims of Christianity. And such rules were to be used only in service of the truth and so revitalized the philosophic...
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