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WALZER, Arthur

Summer 2006, pages 263 - 280

Moral Philosophy and Rhetoric in the Institutes: Quintilian on Honor and Expediency

This article argues that the Institutio Oratoria is Quintilian's attempt to provide an education in moral philosophy through the teaching of rhetoric as a technê. In contrast to the way Quintilian is typically portrayed, this paper presents him as a political opportunist who hoped to benefit from the Flavian emperors' distrust of philosophy by presenting a curriculum that would tame moral philosophy by teaching it in the context of rhetoric. As a demonstration of how Quintilian envisioned rhetoric's transformation of moral philosophy, the article analyzes the treatment of the relationship between the moral and the expedient in the Institutes, contrasting Quintilian's rhetorical treatment to that in philosophy, particularly in Cicero'sDe Officiis. This analysis of the Institutes has implication for our understanding of how Quintilian's appropriation of philosophy enabled rhetoric, a practical, skills-oriented discipline, to become also the means for character formation within Roman schools and beyond.

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