Translation and Commentary on the Lectures on Greek Rhetoric by Pedro Nunes (1502-1578)

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This two-volume book contains an introduction to the rhetorical theories put forward by the most important ancient Greek rhetoricians, followed by a modern English translation of the Latin version of their commentaries in Hermogenes’ seminal work on stasis-theory, the basis for writing any sort of speech for a law-court or for public use. Rhetoric today is extremely important in public life, as any politician’s speech-writer knows, and the work by Syrianus, Sopater and Marcellinus translated in this book remain the foundations on which all theories of public speaking are built. When Pedro Nunes translated the original texts, no doubt from the recently published Aldine text, he was lecturing to the brightest young law students in Lisbon in the 16th century. It is unique in that in Europe at that time all other works on rhetoric were based on Cicero and Quintilian. The modern English translation will be of great use for students, as it will give them access to the basic theories of speech-writing, well exemplified with plenty of apposite quotations from leading Greek orators, especially Demosthenes, and from major events in Greek history. This version contains the original Latin as well as the English translation.


“If any one should doubt the sophistication of the Renaissance absorption of the antique legacy, vis-à-vis medieval usages, they can do not better than consult the present scholarly translation of one of the second-century A.D. Greek rhetorician Hermogenes’ finest Renaissance commentators, the Portuguese Pedro Nunes….Modern students of the art of Graeco-Roman rhetoric owe a great debt to John Martyn, who has placed at their disposal a life-time devoted to the skilled acquisition of the interpretive expertise essential to properly understand the surviving corpus of Graeco-Roman writings. In the present work he has enriched enormously our knowledge not only of Hermogenes’ work (difficult at the best of times), but also of the pattern of gradual recovery in the West of that fundamental technical knowledge. The study of Renaissance rhetoric and rhetorical attitudes must now commence with this crucial volume.” – Professor John O. Ward, University of Sydney

“The publication and translation of Nunes’ lectures opens up a fascinating new perspective on the Renaissance engagement with the ancient world.” – Dr. Malcolm Heath, Professor of Greek, School of Classics, University of Leeds

“Most intriguingly Professor Martyn has discovered, from a hitherto unnoticed manuscript, that this fame spread also to the Iberian peninsula where the renowned Portuguese humanist Pedro Nunes wrote lectures in Latin to explicate the text and commentaries contained in the Aldine Hermogenes. This has fascinating implications for the knowledge of Greek in sixteenth-century Portugal and Spain. The text published here is made fully accessible through its English translation and offers many exciting possibilities for re-evaluating the Iberian humanist culture.” – Professor Elizabeth M. Jeffreys, Exeter College, Oxford

Table of Contents

Table of Contents:
Preface by Dr. Malcolm Heath
Section One: Latin Transcription – Introductio – De Statibus; De Coniectura; De Finitione; De Absoluta; De Generibus Assumptivae; De Statu Negotiali; De Transumptione; De Statu Legali; De Scripto et Voluntate; De Contrariis Legibus; De Syllogismo; De Amphibolia
Section Two: English Translation – Introduction – On Stasis Theory; On Conjecture; On Definition; On Quality; On General Antistatic Terms; On the Pragmatic Issue; On the Demurrer; On a Legal Issue; On Letter and Intent; On Conflicting Laws; On Inference; On Ambiguity
Index of Names

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