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Cambridge University Press
Online publication date:
June 2023
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Book description

A Greek declamation was an 'imaginary speech': a fictitious speech composed for a rhetorical scenario set in Classical Greece. Although such speeches began as rhetorical exercises, under the high Roman empire they developed into a full-blown prestigious genre in their own right. This first monograph on Greek declamation for nearly forty years re-evaluates a genre that was central to Greek imperial literature and to ancient and modern notions of the 'Second Sophistic'. Rejecting traditional conceptions of the genre as 'nostalgic', this book considers the significance of Greek declamation's re-enactment of classical history for its own times, and integrates the genre into the wider history of the period. It shows through extended readings how the genre came to constitute a powerful and subtle instrument of identity formation and social interaction, and a site for free thinking on issues of major contemporary importance such as imperialism and inter-polis relations.

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