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The Chreia in Ancient Rhetoric, Volume I: The Progymnasmata
Ronald F. Hock, Edward N. O'neil,
Publication Date
January 1997


Reading, writing an inflected language, and composing an argument were among the skills taught in Greco-Roman schools. At all three curricular levels students developed these skills by learning how to use a literary form known as the chreia, or anecdote. Beginners at the primary level learned to read and write by copying different examples of the chreia. Students at the secondary level used it to learn how to decline nouns and conjugate verbs and form them into grammatically correct sentences. Advanced students learned how to elaborate a simple chreia into an eight-paragraph essay that argued for the truth of whatever saying or action was celebrated in the chreia. This volume includes the main texts of the Progymnasmata, rhetorical works dealing with the chreia. Each is presented with the Greek or Latin text, an English translation, introductory notes, and commentary. A general introduction to the chreia, a catalog of ancient chreiai, an index nominum, and a bibliography are also included in this important work for scholars of ancient literature, rhetoric, history of philosophy, and education.

This is the first volume of a planned three-volume set designed to make available all the educational texts known as the chreia. The second volume, also edited by Hock and O’Neil, is The Chreia and Ancient Rhetoric: Classroom Exercises.

Ronald F. Hock is Professor of Religion at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. The late Edward N. O’Neil was Professor of Classics Emeritus at the University of Southern California.