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Fall 2006, 36:4, pages 399-424

The "Special Topics" in the Rhetoric: A Reconsideration

Abstract: This article attempts to demonstrate that the so-called Special Topics in Aristotle's Rhetoric are neitheridia/eidē, endoxa, the traditional logos nor pisteis as these terms are typically understood within the Aristoltelian texts.  After an analysis of these important technical terms, I conclude that the material in  Rhetoric 1.4-15 is neither of these.  Then, analyzing 1.4 as an example section, I argue that the bulk of the material in 1.4-15 is to be understood as previously independent texts, much of which was written for a non-rhetorical context, that were then inserted into a text that has become our Rhetoric by an editor who also added his own (awkward) transitions in order to try to seam these previously independent texts into a more coherent whole.  This conclusion suggest that there may not have been a systematic or coherent conception of rhetoric within the Peripatetic school even as late as the first-century BCE when Andronicus edited Aristotle's texts- including the Rhetoric- into form that has since been transmitted to us.