Origins of Public Speaking: Objectives and Outline

Chapter 2: Origins of Public Speaking

By: Peter A. DeCaro, Ph.D.

University of Alaska, Fairbanks, AK



After reading this chapter, you should be able to:

  • Identify the historical events that led up to democracy and recognize persuasion and public speaking as art forms in Athens, Greece.
  • Describe the nature of public speaking in Athens during the 5th century B.C. and the role it played in a democratic society.
  • Apply Plato's approach to dialectics and logic.
  • Explain Aristotle's descriptions of rhetoric and public speaking.
  • Describe the Roman Republic's adoption of rhetoric to public speaking.
  • Elucidate Cicero's influence on the Roman Republic and public speaking.
  • Describe the relevance of Quintillion's influence on the Roman Empire, rhetoric, and public speaking.
  • Recognize the impact that St. Augustine, Christianity, and the Middle Ages had on rhetoric and public speaking.
  • Clarify the roles that the Renaissance, Rationalism, and the Humanists had on the rebirth of rhetoric and public speaking.
  • Explain the role that Classical rhetoric and the advent of psychology in the 18th and 19th centuries, known as the Modern Period, had on public speaking.
  • Describe the influence of the Elocutionary Movement on public speaking.
  • Describe the restoration of public speaking in the United States.


  • Introduction
  • Ancient Greece

    • The Rise of Democracy
    • The Nature of Rhetoric
    • Dialectics and Logic
    • The Rhetorical Approach

  • The Roman Republic's Adoption of Rhetoric

    • Cicero's Influence
    • Quintillion's Influence

  • The Middle Ages

    • St. Augustine
    • Christianity

  • The Renaissance

    • The Humanists
    • The Rationalists

  • The Modern Period

    • The Epistemological Tradition
    • The Belles Lettres Movement
    • The Elocutionary Movement

  • Conclusion
  • Review Questions and Activities
  • Glossary
  • References

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