Back to previous page

Speaking for the Polis

Isocrates' Rhetorical Education

Takis Poulakos

Published: May 27 2008




Published: Mar 1 2022

OA Ebook
Published: Mar 1 2022


The inclusion of this book in the Open Carolina collection is made possible by the generous funding of

A revaluing of rhetoric in the educational model of the father of humanistic studies

Speaking for the Polis considers Isocrates' educational program from the perspective of rhetorical theory and explores its relation to sociopolitical practices. Illumining Isocrates' efforts to reformulate sophistic conceptions of rhetoric on the basis of the intellectual and political debates of his times, Takis Poulakos contends that the father of humanistic studies and rival educator of Plato crafted a version of rhetoric that gave the art an important new role in the ethical and political activities of Athens.

Poulakos demonstrates how Isocrates adopted, transformed, and put to new tasks Protagorean and Gorgianic notions of rhetoric and how he used rhetoric to resolve tensions between political equality and social inequality. Poulakos suggests that Isocrates' rhetorical endeavors gained stability through narratives of values and shared commitments, credence through seasoned arguments about plausible solutions to political discord, and weight through the convergence of the speaker's words and quality of character.

Takis Poulakos is an associate professor of rhetoric at the University of Iowa. His other books are Greek Classical Rhetorical Theory, Rethinking the History of Rhetoric, The Philosophy of Communication, and Isocrates and Civic Education.

"Speaking for the Polis fills a gap and, in the process, raises an interesting set of arguments concerning politics and education in Isocrates' times and in our own."—College Composition and Communication

"Poulakos' greatest achievement with Speaking for the Polis is his detailed analysis of Isocrates' theory of civic rhetoric. Compositionists and rhetoricians looking for the intellectual and pedagogical origins of collaboration and group work will find Poulakos' efforts pleasingly clear and useful."—Rhetoric Review

Books, News & Resources!

Sign up to receive updates on new books, promotions, and USC Press news.