Rhetorice According to the Second Book of Quintillian's Intitutio oratoria


  • Stanisław Śnieżewski Jagiellonian University, Kraków, Poland




vis persuadendi, rhetoricen esse bene dicendi scientiam, inventio, elocutio, ars, artifex, opus, deceat, expediat, telov


Rhetorice According to the Second Book of Quintillian's Intitutio oratoria

In the second book of Institutio oratoria Quintilian contemplates the definition and nature of rhetoric. The lecture on rhetoric can be divided into three parts: on art (ars), master (artifex), work (opus). The most common definition of rhetoric can be summed up as the power of persuasion (vis persuadendi). Every element of rhetoric changes with the content of the cases, the times, the circumstances, the needs. No law proposals, no resolutions passed by the people constituted the noble rules of rhetoric; they were formed by practice. If utility will advise us to do something different, we should follow such advice and not be constrained by the authority of the former masters. The important virtue (virtus) of the teacher is to take into consideration the different talents of every student and to discover their natural predispositions. In Quintilian’s definition the speaker and his art are not dependent on the effect. Though a speaker aims for victory, then even if he lost the case he still
achieved the goal of his art, provided that he spoke honestly.


Adamietz J., 1986, ‘Quintilian’s Institutio Oratoria’, Aufstieg und Niedergang der römischen Welt, II 32/4, pp. 2226-2271.

Ahl F., 1984, ‘The art of safe criticism in Greece and Rome’, The American Journal of Philology 105, pp. 174-208.

Brinton A., 1983, ‘Quintilian, Plato, and the Vir Bonus’, Philosophy and Rhetoric 16, pp. 167-184.

Dominik W., Hall J. (eds.), 2010, A companion to Roman rhetoric, Malden.

Cousin J., 1967, Études sur Quintilien, vol. 1-2, Amsterdam.

Cranz F. E., 1995, ‘Quintilian as ancient thinker’, Rhetorica: A Journal of the History of Rhetoric 13, pp. 219-230.

Culpepper Stroup S., 2010, ‘Greek rhetoric meets Rome: Expansion, resistance, and acculturation, [in:] W. Dominik, J. Hall (eds.), A companion to Roman rhetoric, Malden, pp. 23-37.

Dominik W. (ed.), 1997, Roman eloquence: Rhetoric in society and literature, London–New York.

Dugan J., 2010, ‘Modern critical approaches to Roman rhetoric’, [in:] W. Dominik, J. Hall (eds.), A companion to Roman rhetoric, Malden, pp. 9-22.

Fantham E., 1978, ‘Imitation and decline: Rhetorical theory and practice in the first century after Christ’, Classical Philology 73, pp. 102-116.

Fantham E., 1995, ‘The concept of nature and human nature in Quintilian’s psychology and theory of instruction’, Rhetorica: A Journal of the History of Rhetoric 13, pp. 125-136.

Fuhrmann M., 1984, Die Antike Rhetorik. Eine Einführung, München.

Granatelli R., 1995, ‘M. Fabio Quintiliano Institutio oratoria II 1-10: Struttura e problemi interpretativi’, Rhetorica: A Journal of the History of Rhetoric 13, pp. 137-160.

Habinek T. N., 2004, Ancient rhetoric and oratory, Malden.

Kennedy G. A., 1962, ‘An estimate of Quintilian’, The American Journal of Philology 83, pp. 130-146.

Kennedy G. A., 1969, Quintilian, New York.

Logie J., 2003, ‘“I have no predecessor to guide my steps”: Quintilian and Roman authorship’, Rhetorical Review 22, pp. 353-373.

Odgers M. M., 1933, ‘Quintilian’s use of earlier literature’, Classical Philology 28, pp. 182-188.

Odgers M. M., 1935, ‘Quintilian’s rhetorical predecessors’, Transactions of the American Philological Association 66, pp. 25-36.

Quandahl E., 1986, ‘Aristotle’s Rhetoric: Reinterpreting invention’, Rhetoric Review 4, pp. 128-137.

Querzoli S., 2003, ‘Materia and officia of rhetorical teaching in book II of the Institutio Oratoria’, [in:] O. Tellegen-Couperus (ed.), Quintilian and the law: The art of persuasion in law and politics, Leuven, pp. 37-50.

Russell D. A., 1967, ‘Rhetoric and criticism’, Greece & Rome, 14 (Second Series), pp. 130-144.

Russell D. A. (ed.), 2001, Quintilian. The Orator’s Education. Books 1-2, Cambridge (Loeb Classical Library 124).

Solmsen F., 1941, ‘The Aristotelian tradition in ancient rhetoric’, American Journal of Philology 62, pp. 35-50, 169-190.

Walzer A. E., 2003, ‘Quintilian’s “vir bonus” and the Stoic wise man’, Rhetoric Society Quarterly 33, pp. 25-41.

Williams G., 1980, Figures of thought in Roman poetry, New Haven.

Winterbottom M., 1964, ‘Quintilian and the “vir bonus”’, The Journal of Roman Studies 54, pp. 90-97.

Winterbottom M., 1982, ‘Literary criticism’, [in:] E. J. Kenney, W. V. Clausen (eds.), The Cambridge history of classical literature, vol. 2, Cambridge, pp. 33-52.

Woodman A. J., Powell J. G. F. (eds.), 1992, Author and audience in Latin literature, Cambridge–New York.




How to Cite

Śnieżewski, S. “Rhetorice According to the Second Book of Quintillian’s Intitutio Oratoria”. Classica Cracoviensia, vol. 18, Sept. 2015, pp. 437-58, doi:10.12797/CC.18.2015.18.25.