Diabolè: The Personal Attack in Ancient Greek Rhetoric

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Abstract

The topic of this article is the concept of diabole (personal attack) in ancient Greek rhetoric. I intend to show the ambivalent attitude of Greek oratory and rhet-oric toward this phenomenon; ambivalent because although diabole is depicted as a public danger, it is regularly adopted. My hypothesis is that this ambivalence de-pends on the intrinsic ambiguity of the concept of diabole itself. I believe that this ambiguity is strictly connected to the intrinsic competitiveness of public debate and that this competitiveness is a dynamic factor that cannot be eliminated. Therefore, despite its dangers, diabole still remains a risk that cannot be avoided. For this rea-son, a survey of this notion in ancient Greek rhetoric can provide useful insights into the general agonistic dimension of public life. Within this framework, first I will give a brief overview of the concept of diabole in ancient Greek literature. In the second part of the article I will focus on the explicit treatment of diabole in the Rhetoric to Alexandrum and in Aristotle's Rhetoric.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPapers on Rhetoric
Pages195-209
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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