By Peter Auski
A ancient survey of the origins, development and decline of the "plain style", a style of theoretical discourse that mirrored the mode of expression exemplified via Christ. Peter Auksi attracts on an array of classical, biblical, patristic, medieval and Renaissance basic resources to provide an explanation for this complicated excellent of spiritualized rhetoric. finding the roots of the obvious sort in secular and phiosophic classicism, Auksi examines theories on classical rhetoric from Demetrius and Dionysius of Halicarnassus to Cicero and Quintilian. he exhibits how biblicists intentionally reworked a heathen mode, and demonstrates that rhetoric served a practical functionality one of the church fathers. the writer additionally discusses the several responses of renaissance translators, rhetors, polemicists and humanists to the stylized medieval inheritance, paying specific attentin to the problem of sacred plainness in preaching.
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Extra info for Christian Plain Style: The Evolution of a Spiritual Ideal
The topos of affected modesty, for example - "affected" because the artist himself draws attention to this modesty - enabled the Christian writer to select a myriad testimonies to his humility, his weaknesses before God, and his artistic deficiencies or to choose "apologies for uncultivated language, for metrical errors, for simplicity and lack of art" (83), and so forth. The modesty formula is a standard constituent of the plain style in all periods. Submission is a second commonplace in Christian Latin writing.
The techne or ars capable of modestly and decorously framing a lower order of deliberately plain discourse was left to lesser craftsmen. Perhaps the first recorded classical voices attempting "to formulate a series of principles for the art of speech"7 were Tisias and Corax, teachers of a pragmatic oratory designed to meet the necessities of political life and the courts. Their art of forceful persuasion was passed on to a famous pupil, Gorgias, who arrived in Athens in 427 BC to teach the Greeks the art of sophistry.
A second group of stylistic metaphors is taken from geography or topography. Here too the simple mode of discourse lacks qualities, in this case, those /lores, or flowers of speech, which embellish and sensuously ornament the cultivated garden or sweeping landscape of the grand style. Planus implies a flat surface devoid of sublime rhetorical peaks, while both humilis and submissus connote positions on the ground, which the low style humbly, unpretentiously, or even abjectly scrapes. Now the stylist is a gardener, shaping the external features of a literary landscape.