Rhetoric and Poetics in Antiquity.
Oxford University Press, 2000. 416p. Hardback. Small, light stain to fore edge. Nice copy. 'I believe Walker's book will interest teachers of classics, even if they shy away from 'rhetoric' per se. They might find themselves forced to rethink what they mean by that term. To my mind, the historical narrative of the changing meaning of rhetoric is the most impressive and useful part of this book (others may find more for themselves in the readings of archaic lyric). I can, for instance, immediately see that Walker's thesis will affect the way I discuss ancient educational practice and such phenomena as declamation in my own courses on Greek and Roman literature. Where specifically Walker struck me as most compelling was in his contention that there is an important relationship between rhetoric and democracy or justice, but that it is not the received one. The standard histories of rhetoric would have it that rhetoric is a democratic phenomenon, or that it at least requires a political system open to contestation in the courts and assemblies. Thus under Hellenistic monarchies or the Roman empire rhetoric goes into decline. Walker's book, by contrast, approaches democracy as a 'rhetorical' phenomenon. For him lyric rhetoric (and here epideictic prose is analogous to lyric) in its 'maximal' form serves as a condition for or an embodiment of democracy, through modeling contestation, persuasion, and judgment, even where prevailing political conditions, as in archaic Greece or imperial Rome, cannot even imagine true democracy. In summary, with this book, which is thoroughly researched and relatively unmarred with production errors, Walker argues for an expanded, non-traditional conception of what 'rhetoric' meant and can still mean, and he marshals the ample support of ancient authorities from Hesiod to late antiquity and beyond to make his case.' (BRIAN W. BREED in Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2001.03.16).