The Chreia and Ancient Rhetoric
Reading, writing an inflected language, and composing an argument were among the skills taught in Greco-Roman schools. At all three curricular levels students developed these skills by learning how to use a literary form known as the chreia, or anecdote. Beginners at the primary level learned to read and write by copying different examples of the chreia. Students at the secondary level used it to learn how to decline nouns and conjugate verbs and form them into grammatically correct sentences. Advanced students learned how to elaborate a simple chreia into an eight-paragraph essay that argued for the truth of whatever saying or action was celebrated in the chreia. This volume incorporates thirty-six texts, most translated for the first time, that illustrate the use of the chreia at all three levels, a use that can be documented from the first century on through late antiquity and the Byzantine world. It demonstrates that people with all levels of education were intimately familiar with this important literary form, which not only preserves the wit and wisdom of famous philosophers, orators, kings, and poets but also explains its pervasive and enduring use in ancient literature
Paperback edition is available from the Society of Biblical Literature (www.sbl-site.org).