Summer 2003, pages 55-78The Rhetoric of Oracles
Abstract: The pronouncements of the Delphic oracle, when employed in the Athenian boulos as guidelines for political policy, broke down traditional distinctions between myth and reason, Self and Other, and fate and agency. An examination of the public life of the Delphic oracle as recorded by rhetoricians such as Gorgias, Plato, Arisotle, and Isocrates suggests that Ancient Greek rhetoric, in praxis, resisted logical dichotomization and fostered holistic self-fashioning via civic action. This study of the Pythia's pronouncements serves as a cautionary tale for attempts to discipline rhetoric in the modern academy. It also recuperates crucial historical texts authored by women into the Greek rhetorical canon.
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