Glossary of Grammatical and Rhetorical Terms

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106 BC-43 BC), Roman statesman, philosopher, and rhetorician.


(1) A master or teacher of rhetoric. See also:

(2) An eloquent speaker or writer. See also: orator.

Valerie R. Renegar and Jennifer A. Malkowski note that rhetorician is one of a number of key terms that stem from the word rhetoric: "Rhetor is the word used to refer to the creator of the rhetoric, while a rhetorician is a person who studies rhetoric, and rhetorical criticism is the process of making evaluations of rhetoric based on a systematic analysis of a rhetorical artifact" ("Rhetorical and Textual Approaches to Communication" in 21st Century Communication: A Reference Handbook, 2009).

Examples and Observations:

  • "It is so regularly the method of Plato to follow a subtle analysis with a striking myth that it is not unreasonable to call him the master rhetorician."
    (Richard M. Weaver, The Ethics of Rhetoric, 1953)
  • Isocrates
    "[In 'Antidosis,' a fictional legal defense composed by Isocrates], the charges brought against the rhetorician are the same ones with which Socrates was charged in 399, and the rhetorician explicitly reworks portions of Plato's Apology. Like Socrates, Isocrates is an individual who engages in 'philosophy.' By 'philosophy,' however, the rhetorician means the use of language to maintain order where an individual's home, the city state, and Athens' larger political interests are concerned. . . . For him, the philosopher is the true 'sophist' (sophistes), who is not to be understood as the contemporary teacher motivated by greed and fame but as the true political wise man (sophos) . . .."

    "For [Isocrates], rhetoric is philosophy, that is, the ability to speak, to reason, and to act. It is not an abstract and impractical activity such as Isocrates judges the verbal quibbling of the Presocratic thinkers to be."
    (Introduction to "Antidosis" in Isocrates I, translated by David C. Mirhady and Yun Lee Too, University of Texas Press, 2000)
  • The True Rhetorician
    "Within true rhetoric [according to Aristotle], the true rhetorician is almost always someone who does not give and does not purport to teach others how to give persuasive speeches. Inside true rhetoric, the rhetorician knows how to dispute the essence and the ontology of rhetoric."
    (Jasper P. Neel, Aristotle's Voice: Rhetoric, Theory & Writing in America, SIU Press, 1994)
  • Cicero as Rhetorician
    - "Cicero, to be sure, viewed himself primarily as a statesman and as a speaker, not as a rhetorician. And therein lies at least one of the secrets of the effectiveness of his rhetorical writings; they were composed from the point of view of one of the most successful and skillful practitioners of the art of oratory in the history of the world.

    "In a broader, perhaps more modern sense, however, Cicero might rightly be described as a rhetorician. If rhetoric itself can be defined as the art of verbal persuasion; and if a rhetorician is someone who contemplates persuasion in all of its available means, under any given circumstance, then Cicero would surely seem to fit this description."
    (James M. May, "Cicero as Rhetorician." A Companion to Roman Rhetoric, ed. by William Dominik and Jon Hall. Wiley-Blackwell, 2010)

    - "Perhaps the most famous orator of the Roman republic, Cicero (106-43 BCE) reconciled the concept of the ideal orator with that of the eloquent philosopher, no doubt building on his own thorough training in Greek rhetoric and playing upon the allurement of Greek culture. . . . From his early training, Cicero came to believe that the province of oratory, the education of the rhetorician, must include knowledge of all things, for 'no man has ever succeeded in achieving splendour and excellence in oratory, I will not say merely without training in speaking, but without taking all knowledge for his province as well' (De Oratore 2.I.4-5)."
    (Cheryl Glenn, Rhetoric Retold: Regendering the Tradition From Antiquity Through the Renaissance. Southern Illinous University Press, 1997)


    Pronunciation: re-ti-RI-shen