Elocutio in Quintilian's Institutio Oratoria, Book Eight


  • Stanisław Śnieżewski Jagiellonian University, Kraków, Poland




elocutio, deterioration of speech, clarity of speech, rhetorical ornaments, neologisms, erroneous use of language, sententia, tropes


Elocutio in Quintilian's Institutio Oratoria, Book Eight

The rhetorical art is the skill of speaking well, it is useful, it is an art, and it has virtus. The Greek concept of fra;sivj is rendered by Roman authors as elocutio, i.e. style. Quintilian believes clarity of speech is the basic element of good style. Words should be apt, order – direct, conclusion – not too distant, and everything should have adequate proportions. Words should be selected depending on the context. The words used in a metaphorical sense gain appreciation only in a specific context. Ability to present facts clearly and vividly is a great asset. Even the natural and unsophisticated simplicity, which the Greeks call afeleia, contains some decorativeness, while punctilious scrupulosity in adhering to grammatical correctness gives the impression of sophistication and subtlety. The real power of the speaker lies in his ability to strengthen or weaken the power of words. The last, sixth chapter of book eight contains Quintilian’s thoughts on the rhetorical tropes. A trope (tro;povj) is an artistic (cum virtute) change of a word or an expression from the original and proper one to another.


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How to Cite

Śnieżewski, S. “Elocutio in Quintilian’s Institutio Oratoria, Book Eight”. Classica Cracoviensia, vol. 17, Dec. 2014, pp. 203-30, doi:10.12797/CC.17.2014.17.12.