The founder of Rhetoric as an Art was Korax of Syracuse. He had enjoyed some political consideration in the reign of Hieron (478—467 B.C.), and was probably several years older than Empedokles. The law-suits which followed the establishment of the democracy are said to have given him the idea of drawing up, and committing to writing, a system of rules for forensic speaking. This was his τέχνη
or Art of Rhetoric—the earliest theoretical Greek book, not merely on Rhetoric, but in any branch of art. There is no mention of speeches composed by him either for himself or for others. Nor, except the story of his law-suit with Tisias, is there any evidence that he taught Rhetoric for pay. In regard to the contents of his ‘Art’ two facts
Treatise of Korax on Rhetoric.
are known which are of interest. They are precisely those which, as has been shown, we should have expected to find. First, he gave rules for arrangement—dividing the speech into five parts—
proem, narrative, arguments (ἀγῶνες
), subsidiary remarks (παρέκβασις
) and peroration1
. Secondly, he
illustrated the topic of general probability, bringing out its two-edged application: e.g. if a physically weak man is accused of an assault, he is to ask, ‘Is it probable that I
should have attacked him?
’; if a strong man is accused, he is to ask, ‘Is it
probable that I should have committed an assault in a case where there was sure to be a presumption against me?’. Nothing could be more suggestive of the special circumstances in which the art of Rhetoric had its birth. The same topic of Probability holds its place in the Tetralogies of Antiphon2
. But its original prominence was, in truth, a Sicilian accident3