Rhetorica ad Herennium (1st Cent. B.C.)
Rhetoric Timeline
Primary Source Synopses

The Rhetoric to Herennius is the earliest Roman systematic rhetoric, composed in the first century, BC. Long thought to have Cicero's, it shares a common approach with Cicero's De Inventione. Derivative of Greek rhetorical theory, this treatise was broadly influential in Roman antiquity, throughout the middle ages, and particularly in Renaissance rhetorical theory. Its fourth book, in particular, contained a detailed dictionary of rhetorical figures to which countless future authorities turned.

Book I Kinds of Oratory
The Five Canons of Rhetoric
Rhetorical Ability
Parts of an Oration
Judicial Oratory
Three Kinds of Stasis/Status (Kinds of Issues)
Book II Parts of a Judicial Oration
Topics for Judicial Oratory
Book III Deliberative Oratory
Epideictic Oratory
Book IV

Levels of Style
Qualities of Style
Figures of Diction
Figures of Thought


Book One
1.1 Introduction; Need for Practical Application of Rules

The Orator's Task; Kinds of Causes

  1. Epideictic
  2. Deliberative
  3. Judicial

An Orator Must be Capable in

  1. Invention
  2. Arrangement
  3. Style
  4. Memory
  5. Delivery

Rhetorical Ability is Via

  1. Theory
  2. Imitation
  3. Practice

Introduction to Parts of an Oration:

  1. Introduction
  2. Statement of Facts
  3. Division
  4. Proof
  5. Refutation
  6. Conclusion
1.5 Judicial Oratory: Introduction (Sections 5-11)
1.6 Direct or Subtle Approach
1.7 Rendering the Audience Attentive, Receptive, Well-Disposed
1.8 Rendering the Audience Well-Disposed (detail)
1.9-10 The Sublte Approach (detail)
1.11 Subtle vs. Direct Approach; Faulty Introductions
1.12-13 Judicial Oratory: Statement of Facts (Sections 12-16); Kinds of Statements of Facts
1.14-16 Qualities of Statement of Facts
1.17 Judicial Oratory: The Division

Types of Causes:

  1. Conjectural
  2. Legal
  3. Juridical


Book Two
2.1 Invention within Judicial Oratory
2.2 Judicial Oratory: Proof and Refutation

Proofs for a Conjectural Cause (Questions of Fact)

  1. Probabilty of Guilt
  2. Comparison to Others
  3. Signs of Guilt
  4. Presumptive Proof
  5. Subsequent Behavior
  6. Confirmatory Proof

Proofs for a Legal Cause (Question Concerns Textual Interpretation)

  1. Letter and Spirit
  2. Conflicting Statutes
  3. Ambiguity
  4. Definition
  5. Transference
  6. Reasoning From Analogy

Proofs for a Juridical Cause (Question Concerns Justice of the Act Committed) - an Absolute Cause

The Act Accords with

  1. The Law of Nature
  2. Statute Law
  3. Legal Custom
  4. Previous Judgements
  5. Equity
  6. Agreement

Proofs for a Juridical Cause (Question Concerns Justice of the Act Committed) - an Assumptive Cause

  1. Comparison with the Alternative
  2. Shifting of the Question of Guilt
  3. Acknowledgement of the Charge
  4. Rejection of Responsibility
2.27 Artistic Development of an Argument

Five Parts of a Complete Argument

  1. Proposition
  2. Reason
  3. Proof of the Reason
  4. Embellishment
  5. Resume
2.31-46 Defective Arguments

Judicial Oratory: Conclusion:

  1. Summing Up
  2. Amplification
  3. Appeal to Pity

Book Three
3.1 Deliberative and Epideictic Causes; Arrangement, Delivery, Memory
3.2 Deliberative Oratory: Choosing Courses of Action
3.3-7 The Aim of Deliberative Oratory: Advantage (topics)
3.7 Deliberative Oratory: The Introduction, Statement of Facts, Division
3.8-9 Deliberative Oratory: Proof, Refutation, The Conclusion

Epideictic Oratory (Praise and Blame):

  1. External Circumstances
    1. Descent
    2. Education
    3. Wealth
    4. Kinds of Power
    5. Titles to Fame
    6. Citizenship
    7. Friendships
  2. Physical Attributes
    1. Agility
    2. Strength
    3. Beauty
    4. Health
  3. Qualities of Character
    1. Wisdom
    2. Justice
    3. Courage
    4. Temperance
3.11-13 Epideictic Oratory: The Introduction
3.13 Epideictic Oratory: Statement of Facts, Division
3.13-15 Epideictic Oratory: Proof and Refutation
3.15 Epideictic Oratory: The Conclusion
3.16-18 Arrangement
3.19-23 Delivery
3.24-25 Delivery: Voice
3.26-27 Delivery: Gesture
3.28-29 Memory (Natural and Artificial)
3.30-40 Artificial Memory

Book Four
What follows is a broad outline of this important section. See also the detailed outline that lists all of the figures included.
4.1-10 Preface: Digression on Use of Examples in the Rhetoric

Levels of Style:

  1. Grand
  2. Middle
  3. Simple

Defective Styles:

  1. Swollen
  2. Slack or Drifting
  3. Meagre

Qualities of Style

  1. Taste (Latinity and Clarity)
  2. Artisitic Composition (Avoiding Hiatus, or Excessive Alliteration, Ttransplacement, Homoeoptoton, or Hyperbaton)
  3. Distinction (from Figures of Speech, following)
4.19-46 Style: Figures of Diction (See Detailed Outline)
4.47-69 Style: Figures of Thought (See Detailed Outline)

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Gideon O. Burton, Brigham Young University
Please cite "Silva Rhetoricae" (rhetoric.byu.edu)

Trees | SILVA RHETORICAE | Flowers