Truth-construction and -mediation are theorized both by Thucydides xyngrapheus and by the internal rhetores in his History, with tensions between these perspectives highlighting rhetorically significant moments of political communication. The historian posits the (negative) configuration “contest – pleasure – hearing – untruth – useless” as contrastive foil to his own model of “rigorous enquiry – pleasure disavowed – seeing – truth – useful.” Cleon the demagogue, in a process of rhetorical “contaminatio” or creative fusion, artfully (mis)appropriates and instrumentalizes this model in his critique of Athenian assembly culture, embedding the signature Thucydidean categories in a spirited anti-Thucydidean argument. His distinctive approach, conflating Thucydidean categories and noteworthy Periclean echoes, marks him as both anti-Pericles and anti-Thucydides, and signals a counter-model to the historian's own schema of truth-construction. As such, Cleon's tirade fits into the History's wider concern with the corruption of political discourse over the course of the war.
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Research Article| February 01 2017
Demagogic Style and Historical Method: Locating Cleon's Mytilenean Rhetoric (Thucydides 3.37–40)
Rhetorica (2017) 35 (1): 1–23.
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Gottfried Mader; Demagogic Style and Historical Method: Locating Cleon's Mytilenean Rhetoric (Thucydides 3.37–40). Rhetorica 1 February 2017; 35 (1): 1–23. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/rh.2017.35.1.1
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