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

Quarter: Winter
Day(s): Mondays
Course Format: On-campus
Duration: 8 weeks
Date(s): Jan 22—Mar 19
Time: 7:00—8:50 pm
Drop Deadline: Feb 4
Unit: 1
Tuition: $400
Instructor(s): Christopher Krebs
Status: Open
Please Note: No class on February 19
7:00—8:50 pm
Jan 22—Mar 19
8 weeks
Drop By
Feb 4
1 Unit
Christopher Krebs
Please Note: No class on February 19
"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 employs 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 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 or 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.

Christopher Krebs, Associate Professor of Classics, Stanford

Christopher Krebs studied Classics and philosophy in Berlin, Kiel, and 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, which received the 2012 Christian Gauss Award. Krebs has also written for The Wall Street Journal and The Times Literary Supplement.

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) Marcus Tullius Cicero (Author),‎ Michael Grant (Translator) , Cicero: Selected Political Speeches (The Penguin Classics, 1969) (ISBN 9780140442144)
(Required) Anthony Everitt, Cicero: The Life and Times of Rome’s Greatest Politician (New York 2002) (ISBN 9780375758959)
(Required) Laurent Pernot (Author), W. E. Higgins (Translator) , Rhetoric in Antiquity (2005) (ISBN 9780813214078)
(Required) Plato (Author), Aristotle (Author), Joe Sachs (Editor) , Gorgias and Rhetoric (Focus 2008) (ISBN 9781585102990)