Persuasion and plausibility: history and rhetoric in the polis
This chapter focuses on a different form of evidence for the creation of the Athenian past, namely its public oratory. Through the public speeches of Demosthenes, Aeschines, and Isocrates, as well as of fragmentary texts, it examines the parameters of plausibility within which the orator was free to construct history, both buying into a commonly shared past and moulding that past for his audience. It considers whether orators favoured particular exemplary moments in history and, if so, whether these were the same as those which were dominant in local historiography. The orator, like the historian or the dramatist, played a vital role in helping the polis to formulate a past which was relevant to the present through its inclusion both of exemplary figures and events and of characteristics, which remained constant across time.
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