This volume presents the original text and the first English translation of the largest surviving ancient collection of “preliminary exercises” used to teach young men how to compose their own prose, a crucial step toward public speaking and a career worthy of the educated elite. Graded in difficulty, the exercises range from simple fables and narratives to discussions of wise sayings, speeches of praise and blame, impersonations of figures from myth, descriptions of statues and paintings, and essays on general propositions (e.g., “should one marry?”). It provides a unique glimpse into the schoolrooms of the ancient Mediterranean from the Hellenistic period to the Byzantine Empire, vividly illustrating how ancient educators used myth, history, and popular ethics to shape their students’ characters as they sharpened their ability to think, write, and speak.
Craig A. Gibson Ph.D. (1995) in Classical Studies, Duke University, is Associate Professor of Classics at The University of Iowa. He is the author of Interpreting a Classic: Demosthenes and his Ancient Commentators (University of California Press).
“This volume is a fine tool for the study of rhetoric, and is valuable for all those whose work is touched by the influence of late hellenistic paideia.” — Jane Heath, The Expository Times
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