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6. One of the most celebrated Greek rhetoricians. He was a son of Calippus and a native of Tarsus, and lived in the reign of the emperor M. Aurelius, A. D. 161-180. He bore the surname of ξυστήρ, that is, the scratcher or polisher, either with reference to his vehement temperament, or to the great polish which he strongly recommended as one of the principal requisites in a written composition. He was, according to all accounts, a man endowed with extraordinary talents; for at the age of fifteen he had already acquired so great a reputation as an orator. that the emperor M. Amelius desired to hear him, and admired and richly rewarded him for his wonderful talent. Shortly after this he was appointed public teacher of rhetoric, and at the age of seventeen he began his career as a writer, which unfortunately did not last long, for at the age of twenty-five he fell into a mental debility, which rendered him entirely unfit for further literary and intellectual occupation, and of which he never got rid, although he lived to an advanced age; so that he was a man in the time of his youth, and a child during his maturer years. After his death his heart is said to have been found covered with hair. (Philostr. Vit. Soph. 2.7; Suid. Hesych. s. v. Ἑρμογένης; Eudoc. p. 165; Schol. ad Hermog. περὶ στάσεων, in Olearius's note on Philostr. l.c.) If we may judge from what Hermogenes did at so early an age, there can be little doubt that he would have far excelled all other Greek rhetoricians, if he had remained in the full possession of his mental powers. His works, five in number, which are still extant, form together a complete system of rhetoric, and were for a long time used in all the rhetorical schools as manuals. Many distinguished rhetoricians and grammarians wrote commentaries upon them, some of which are still extant; many also made abridgments of the works of Hermogenes, for the use of schools, and the abridgment of Aphthonius at length supplanted the original in most schools.


The works of Hermogenes are:--

1. Τέχνη ῥητορικὴ περὶ τῶν στάσεων

Τέχνη ῥητορικὴ περὶ τῶν στάσεων, was composed by the author at the age of eighteen, and on the principles laid down by Hennagoras. The work treats of the points and questions which an orator, in civil cases, has to take into his consideration; it examines every one separately, and thence deduces the rules which a speaker has to observe. (See the whole reduced to a tabular view in Westermann's Gesch. der Griech. Beredtsamkeit, p. 325.) The work is a very useful guide to those who prepare themselves for speaking in the courts of Justice. We still possess the commentaries which were written upon it by Syrianus, Sosipater, and Marcellinus.


It is printed in the Rhetores of Aldus, vol. i. pp. 1-179, and has been edited separately at Paris (1530 and 1538, 4to. ex off. Wechelii), by J. Caselius (Rostock, 1583, 8vo.), E. Sturm (Argentorat. 1570, with a Latin transl. and scholia), G. Laurentius (Col. Allobrog. 1614, 8vo.), and M. Corales (Venice, 1799, 4to.).


The extant scholia are printed in Walz, Rhetor. Graec. vols. iv. vi. and vii.

2. Περὶ εὑρέσεως (

Περὶ εὑρέσεως (De Inventione), in four books, contains instructions about the proper composition of an oration, discussing first the introduction, then the plan of the whole, viz. the exposition of the subject, the argumentation, the refutation of objections that may be raised, and lastly, on the oratorical ornament and delivery. Every point which Hermogenes discusses is illustrated, as in the preceding work, by examples taken from the Attic orators, which greatly enhance the clearness and utility of the treatise. It is printed in Aldus's Rhetores, in the editions of G. Laurentius, Wechel, and Sturm, mentioned above, but best in Walz's Rhetor. Graec. vol. iii. We still possess scholia on the work by an anonymous commentator, printed in Aldus s Rhetores, vol. ii. p. 352, &c.

(3.) Περὶ ἰδεῶν (De Formis Oratorüs), in two books, treats of the forms of the oratorical style, of which Hermogenes distinguishes seven, viz. σαφήνεια, μέγεθος. κάλλος, γοργότης, ἦθος, ἀλήθεια, δεινότης, and their subdivisions; he examines them from eight different points of view, and shows how by a skilful application of them the orator is most sure of gaining his end. In this discussion, too, every point is illustrated by examples, chiefly from the orators, accompanied by some very ingenious remarks.


The work is printed in the editions of Aldus and Laurentius, and separately at Paris, 1531, 4to., and with a Lat. transl. and notes by Sturm, Argentorat, 1571, 8vo. The best edition is that in Walz, Rhet. Graeci, vol. iii., who has also published the Greek commentaries by Syrianus and Joh. Siceliota (vols. vi. and vii. Comp. Spengel, Συναγωγὴ τεχ. pp. 195, &c., 227, &c.)

4. Περὶ μεθόδου δεινότητος (

Περὶ μεθόδου δεινότητος (De apto et solerti genere dicendi Methodus), forms a sort of appendix to the preceding work, and contains suggestions for the proper application of the rules there laid down, together with other useful remarks.


It is printed in the editions of Aldus, Wechel, Laurentius, Sturm, and best in Walz's Rhet. Graec. vol. iii., who has also published the Greek commentaries by Gregorius Corinthius (vol. vii.). The work is said to have been left unfinished by the author, and to have been completed by two later rhetoricians, Minucianus and Apsines. (Matth. Camariota, Compend. Rhet. p. 12, ed. Hoeschel, Augsburg, 1594, 4to.)

5. Προγυμνάσματα

Προγυμνάσματα, that is, practical instructions in oratory according to given models. A very convenient abridgment of this work was made by Aphthonius, in consequence of which the original fell into oblivion. But its great reputation in antiquity is attested by the fact, that the learned grammarian, Priscian, made a Latin translation of it, with some additions of his own, under the title of Praeexercitamenta Rhetorica ex Hermogene. (Putschius, Gram. Lat. p. 1329, &c.; Fr. Pithoeus, Rhetor. Lat. p. 322, &c.)


This Latin version of Priscian was for a long time the only edition of the Progymnasmata, until the Greek original was found in a MS. at Turin, from which it was published by Heeren in the Biblioth. für alte Lit. und Kunst, parts viii. and ix. (Göttingen, 1791), and by Ward in the Classical Journal, parts v.--viii. A separate edition was published by G. Veesenmeyer, Nürnberg, 1812, 8vo. It is also contained in Krehl's edition of Priscian, vol. ii. p. 419, &c., but best in Walz's Rhetor. Graec. vol. i. p. 9, &c., who has collated six other MSS. besides the Turin one.

Lost Works

Some of the works of Hermogenes are lost, such as a commentary on Demosthenes (εἰς Δημοσθένην ὑπομνήματα, Syrian. ad Hermog. Proleg. ad Ideas, p. 195, ed. Spengel), of which a work on the Leptinea, to which Hermogenes himself alludes (De Method. 24), may have been only a part.

Another work, which is likewise lost, was entitled σύγγραμμα περὶ προοιμίου. (Schol. in Hermog. ap. Walz, vol. iv. p. 31, ap. Aldum, ii. p. 176.)

Suidas and Eudocia (p. 165) further mention a work of Hermogenes in two books, Περὶ κοίλης Συρίας, which is not noticed anywhere else, and of which no trace has come down to us.


All the extant works of Hermogenes bear strong marks of the youthful age of the author; for it is clear that his judgment and his opinions have not yet become settled; he has not the consciousness of a main of long experience, and his style is rather diffuse, but always clear and unaffected. He is moderate in his judgment and censure of other rhetoricians, has a correct appreciation of the merits of the earlier Greek orators, and every where shows symptoms of a most careful study of the ancients. These excellencies, which at once place him on a level with the most distinguished teachers of rhetoric, are reasons enough to make us regret that his brilliant career was cut off so early and so fatally.

Further Information

Comp. Westermann; Gesch. der Griech. Beredtsamkeit, § 95; Fabric. Bibl. Graec. vol. vi. p. 69, &c.

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