Rhetoric has played a significant role in not only public and religious oratory, but has also had a great effect on such diverse fields as literature, philosophy, and political theory.
The importance of rhetoric in early modern Europe is generally recognized; however, it is often difficult for modern scholars to locate reliable texts of the key rhetorical works from the Renaissance period.
Renaissance Rhetoric contains over 10,000 pages of key texts written by 52 pre-eminent scholars. These texts were selected from the holdings of the Bodleian Library, by Professor James J. Murphy, Department of Rhetoric, University of California, Davis.
Renaissance Rhetoric represents the major rhetorical trends from the earliest days of printing up to the beginning of the 17th century. The overwhelming influence of Cicero is apparent in many of the texts; Aristotle and Quintilian appear not only in commentaries but in many citations across the whole range of texts.
The diversity of occupations represented among the authors of these texts gives the collection a broad voice and makes it beneficial to both historians and rhetoric scholars. The authors of these works include poets, diplomats, lawyers, philologists, courtiers, businessmen, senators, town clerks, printers, scholars, and schoolmasters.
The university professors are well-versed in disparate fields such as law, theology, logic, or Greek and Latin. As to the religious texts, the authors represent Lutheran, Jesuit, Franciscan, and Puritan denominations.
Students of Renaissance thought will value this unique literary resource. A printed guide has been prepared by Professor James Murphy and includes complete title listings, a short biography of each author, and a select bibliography for further research.
Professor Murphy compiled this collection for use by all students of rhetoric. He states in The Guide to Renaissance Rhetoric: "We have barely begun to expand our understanding of rhetoric in the Renaissance. As Paul O. Kristeller has written recently, 'Renaissance rhetoric is a large area that is still insufficiently explored by modern scholarship and badly in need of further investigation.' This Collection is offered as one step toward that further investigation."