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The Oxford History of Classical Reception in English LiteratureVolume 1: 800–1558$
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Rita Copeland

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780199587230

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199587230.001.0001

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John of Salisbury, Academic Scepticism, and Ciceronian Rhetoric

John of Salisbury, Academic Scepticism, and Ciceronian Rhetoric

(p.377) Chapter 18 John of Salisbury, Academic Scepticism, and Ciceronian Rhetoric
The Oxford History of Classical Reception in English Literature

Dallas G. Denery II

Oxford University Press

For twelfth-century intellectuals, the ancient tradition of philosophy was not a dead, inert body of knowledge to be acquired as a badge of education. As John of Salisbury’s extensive writings affirm, ancient philosophy provided its adherents with the necessary tools to survive in the complex and capricious world of Europe’s secular and religious courts. In both the Metalogicon and the Policraticus, as well as in his verse treatise, The Entheticus, John berates and castigates all his many colleagues who scoff at past learning as if it no longer has anything to offer. The world, John contends, is a dangerous and deceptive place, leaving the philosophically unenlightened forever in danger of falling for its false façades. Only by forming our conduct and habits around the traditions of Academic scepticism and Ciceronian rhetoric, John argues, can we hope to live secure, morally upright, and useful lives.

Keywords:   John of Salisbury, Cicero, rhetoric, scepticism, Policraticus, Metalogicon

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