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Revival of Atticism and of rhetorical theory

At the time when Asianism of the sententious
Atticism prepared by Hermagoras
kind was prevalent, the first step towards the revival of Atticism was taken by Hermagoras of Temnos.
Revival of a Theory
The art of Rhetoric, which now for a century and a half had exercised little influence on oratory, had passed at Athens through two phases.
Phases of Rhetoric -- the Practical:
First, the Practical Rhetoric founded in Sicily by Korax had been perfected by Anaximenes and Isokrates. This could not exist without a practical object; it perished before Athens had become what Athens was in the days of Polybios. 'The sea is there and the headlands and the everlasting hills; Athênê still stands spear in hand, as the guardian of her chosen city; Dêmos still sits in Pnyx; he still choose Archons by the lot and Generals by the uplifted hand; but the fierce democracy has sunk into the lifelessness of a cheerless and dishounored old age; its decrees consist of fulsome adulation of foreign kings; its demagogues and orators are sunk into beggars who wander from court to court to gather a few talents of alms for the People which once received tribute from a thousand cities.'1 But, just as the Practical Rhetoric was about to perish because its occupation was gone, Aristotle claimed Rhetoric for philosophy.
The Philosophical:
The Philosophical Rhetoric necessarily aimed, of course, at forming practical orators; but, unlike its predecessor, it had a reason for existing independently of results. In the schools of the philosophers accordingly, and chiefly in the Peripatetic school, it had lived on. Hermagoras now worked up the treatises both of the Practical and of the Philosophical Rhetoric into a new system. His object was practical; but he followed the philosophers in giving his chief care to the province of Invention. Erring on the side of too much subtlety, he founded a Rhetoric which, as distinguished from the Practical and the Philosophical, may be called the Scholastic2. For Greek oratory this could do little directly. But
The Scholastic
for Roman oratory Hermagoras and his followers did
Its uses to Greece and to Rome
very much what the school of Isokrates had done for Athens. And both to Greece and to Rome they did good service by reviving the conception of oratory not as a knack but as an art, and so preparing men once more to discern between the true artists and the false. It is not a mere coincidence, it is one
Revival of Sculpture contemporary with Atticism.
illustration more of the close bond between oratory and the other arts that, just about the time when the Atticist revival was beginning, there are traces of a renascence in Greek sculpture. From about 300
Reaction from and School of Lysippos.
to 150 B.C. the school of Lysippos had prevailed—a school which substituted the real for the ideal, selecting the basest subjects if in these a frigid technical skill could be shown forth. In sculpture, as in oratory, ingenuity or pretension had marred simplicity, dignity and beauty; and the generation that began to revolt from Hegesias began also to revolt from Lysippos.

It may have been Cicero who paid a compliment

So-called Rhodian School: a mere compromise in favour of Atticism.
to his teacher Molon by setting the fashion of distinguishing a Rhodian School from the Attic and the Asiatic. Such a school is unknown to Dionysios, Caecilius or Strabo. It is, in fact, confusing to treat it as separate. The Rhodian orators, so far as they had a common stamp, were eclectics, borrowing from the epigrammatic Asianism, but, on the whole, inclined to Atticism of the type represented by Hypereides. Under the Successors of Alexander,
Rhodes under the Diadochi.
Rhodes had become important, first, politically, and then, as a result of this, in a literary and scientific sense. The oratorical school does not seem to have been famous before 100 B.C. Apollonios and Molon
Fame for oratory— from circ. 100 B C.
were both Karians of Alabanda, who, like many other men whose names illustrated Rhodes, migrated thither for a career. Cicero is no impartial
Estimate of the Rhodian merits.
panegyrist of a school to which he probably owed many faults; and, in the judgment of Dionysios, the Atticism of the Rhodians was perverse. Yet, in its degree, it must have done good service at a time when florid declamation was almost universally popular; and, through Cicero, it brought the better of two rival influences into the mighty stream of Roman life.

1 Freeman, History of Federal Government, vol. 1, p. 221.

2 For the system of Hermagoras, see Volkmann, Die Rhetorik der Griechen und Romer: esp §§ 3— 4, pp. 20—30.

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