fullscreen background
Skip to main content

Winter Quarter

Winter Courses Still Open
View Spring Courses Feb 6
shopping cart icon0


« Back to Liberal Arts & Sciences

CLA 63 — Eloquence: The Beauty and Persuasion of Ancient Rhetoric from Cicero to Today

Quarter: Winter
Day(s): Tuesdays
Course Format: Live Online (About Formats)
Duration: 10 weeks
Date(s): Jan 10—Mar 14
Time: 7:00—8:50 pm (PT)
Refund Deadline: Jan 12
Units: 2
Tuition: $520
Instructor(s): Christopher Krebs
Class Recording Available: Yes
Status: Closed
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
Live Online(About Formats)
7:00—8:50 pm (PT)
Jan 10—Mar 14
10 weeks
Refund Date
Jan 12
2 Units
Christopher Krebs
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
"America, I never said this journey would be easy, and I won’t promise that now.” In his campaigns, Barack Obama promised change; yet in formulating that promise, he relied on rhetorical rules and devices, which for more than 2,000 years have remained unchanged. His successor in office employed his own rhetoric, which can be analyzed with the help of ancient rhetoric just as well. Across the ages, another politician and orator, Marcus Tullius Cicero, who reigned supreme for decades in Rome, the city of rhetoric, will provide guidance in our understanding and appreciation of both ancient and modern rhetorical accomplishments. This course aims to introduce students to Cicero’s Rome and rhetoric, and to study and practice his art of speaking well. We will read a selection of Ciceronian and other outstanding Greek and Roman speeches, along with an ancient rhetorical treatise; we will then apply our understanding of rhetoric to “modern” speeches, as delivered by Shakespeare’s Antony and Michelle Obama. Students will be encouraged to prepare and deliver one speech on a topic of their choosing in the final class. By the end of the course, students will have gained a deeper understanding of the workings of rhetoric, to spot them as well as use them.

Gesue and Helen Spogli Professor of Italian Studies, Professor of Classics and, by courtesy, of German Studies and of Comparative Literature, Stanford

Christopher Krebs studied Classics and philosophy in Berlin and Kiel and at the University of Oxford and taught at Harvard before coming to Stanford. He is the author of A Most Dangerous Book: Tacitus’s Germania from the Roman Empire to the Third Reich and the co-editor of The Cambridge Companion to the Writings of Julius Caesar.

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) Marcus Tullius Cicero, Michael Grant, transl., Cicero: Selected Political Speeches (Penguin Classics) (ISBN 978-0140442144)
(Required) Anthony Everitt, Cicero: The Life and Times of Rome's Greatest Politician (ISBN 978-0375758959)
(Required) Laurent Pernot, Rhetoric in Antiquity (ISBN 978-0813214078)
(Required) Plato, Aristotle, Joe Sachs, ed., Gorgias and Rhetoric(Focus Philosophical Library) (ISBN 978-1585102990)