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Classic Works on the Art of Oration


Cicero (-106 to -43)

Having received excellent training in rhetoric and law, through his skills and determination, he rose to the highest rank of the Roman judiciary. Cicero was a remarkable orator. He wrote famous rhetorical works including:

  • De Inventione - Treatise on Rhetorical Invention
  • De Oratore - On the Orator
  • De Partitionibus Oratoriis - Concerning Oratorical Partitions

Quintilian ( circa 35-100)

Marcus Fabius Quintilianus, better known as Quintilian, was a master of rhetoric and a teacher. He studied in Rome where his father was a lawyer. He received a general education, specialising in literature and eloquence. Afterwards, for twenty years, he practiced law in Rome.

When Emperor Vespasian (9-79) came to power in the year 69, he decided to officially promote education. He chose Quintilian as principal teacher. Quintilian then opened a school of rhetoric that quickly became the most-attended school in Rome.

Quintilian is the author of a major textbook on rhetoric, Institutio Oratoria (Institutes of Oratory - On the training of the speaker), which he wrote at the very end of his life.

This book was the main influence on the art of oration for many centuries.

Acting techniques- Austin, 1806 Plate 4

Gilbert Austin (1753-1837)

Chironomia or a Treatise on Rhetorical Delivery, London, Mary Margaret Robb and Lester Thonssen, Carbondale, 1806.

Gilbert Austin was a teacher and Irish author. He is known mainly for his book Chironomia, a treatise on rhetoric inspired by Greek and Latin works on oration. In this work, Austin discusses the importance of voice and gestures in speech.

This book will interest both rhetoric enthusiasts and theater actors.

In the West, Chironomia remained the best-selling work in its class until the early twentieth century.

Alfred Siemon Golding

Classicistic Acting, Two Centuries of a Performance Tradition at the Amsterdam Schouwburg, Boston, University Press of America, 1984.

This book is concerned with the techniques of classical acting. Golding takes care to describe the training necessary to the actor, as well as the acting conventions of the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries.

It is an essential work for understanding the many affinities between the principles of oration and of acting.


Essential Works on Elocution and Theatre

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