As professor of Greek and theology at the University of Wittenberg, Philip Melanchthon (1497–1560) authored three of the most important rhetorical textbooks of his era. Melanchthon’s addition of a new genre of rhetoric, the didactic, to the classical genres of demonstrative, judicial, and deliberative oratory illuminates his view of rhetoric as an instrument for the renaissance and reformation of traditions and institutions. Cultivating faculties of judgment and understanding was Melanchthon’s prescription for survival amid theological and political chaos—a prescription that continues to hold value for rhetors in the current historical moment.

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