Communication and Rhetorical Studies
McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts
Ronald C. Arnett
Calvin L. Troup
Janie H. Fritz
Augustine, Rhetoric, Liberal Arts, Christian Culture, Sophistic Rhetoric, Ciceronian Rhetoric, Education
This study contributes to scholarship on the question of Augustine and rhetoric by considering Augustine’s use and understanding of rhetoric in De ordine, one of his early philosophical dialogues composed during his transition from a life in rhetoric to a life in philosophy. The author studies the text through consideration of Augustine’s rhetoric in relationship to three major rhetorical authorities of the time, particularly their cultural applications: sophistic rhetoric, Ciceronian rhetoric, and Christian rhetoric. Through study of these relationships, one perceives Augustine’s ingenuity at work as he integrates diverse authorities into his rhetoric of order (ordo) and its corresponding philosophical culture, an approach Augustine grounds on the first principle of the unity of all things. Augustine demonstrates the authority and reasonability of Christian teaching on this principle, namely that one God creates and orders all things. In response to this principle, Augustine seeks to cultivate a moral and intellectual means by which one may recognize the divine order in all of creation, and, through the dialogue, he seeks to persuade others to follow this order of teaching. Augustine’s rhetoric of order particularly invites reconsideration of the significance of the liberal arts in the discovery and expression of divine order. Consequently, Augustine reorders the art of rhetoric (rhetorica) to teach, delight and move one’s soul and the souls of one’s audience toward the goodness, truth and beauty of divine relationship.
Gigliotti, N. (2018). St. Augustine and the Rhetoric of De ordine (Doctoral dissertation, Duquesne University). Retrieved from https://dsc.duq.edu/etd/1489