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Although there are various definitions of the word rhetoric we can say that it is the art of persuasion This includes written as well as spoken persuasion and would include propaganda advertising etc Originally however it referred to spoken persuasion By classical it is meant the time from the fifth century BC in the Mediterranean area particularly Greece and Italy Classical rhetoric is important because it established the basic theories of persuasion that were taught until this century These theories still hold true today and we can become better more persuasive communicators if we adhere to the best of them If you stop and think about it for a minute you will note that the most influential and powerful people in our society are good communicators Politicians who make our laws are generally excellent speakers People whom you admire are often good communicators Hitler was a good speaker who was able to control a large military by virtue of his power to persuade Christ was a person who was able to persuade with sermons Malcolm X and Martin Luther King were adept speakers In short communication is power The teachers who established rhetoric as an art knew this well and were able to observe and establish those things that make for effective persuasion Rhetoric grew out of the need for people to express themselves in court There were no lawyers in Athens Greece in 500 BC The story goes that a man by the name of Corax started the first courses in rhetoric in Sicily in response to an increase in litigation over land We dont know if this is true but we do know that wandering teachers called sophists sophos wise began teaching rhetoric in Athens in the 5th century The Sophists were not an organized school of philosophy Instead they were wandering teachers some of whom taught in Athens and competed with each other for clients Their main competitor
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