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The Rhetoric of Transparency: Telling Knowledge in Ancient Medical and Forensic Texts

Published version
Peer-reviewed

Repository DOI


Type

Article

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Authors

Maltagliati, Giulia 

Abstract

<jats:p xml:lang="en"> Abstract: This paper investigates the role of rhetoric within ancient medicine by setting medical writings in dialogue with contemporary forensic texts. Reading across these two genres allows us to capture the shared ways in which early medical and forensic discourse mobilise rhetoric in response to the epistemological limits of medical and forensic practice. Both medical and forensic discourse frame factual and practical knowledge as the remedy to the slippages of words, but at the same time they need words to formulate and validate their tentative knowledge of those very facts. Select readings from the Epidemics illustrate the importance of a rhetorically structured narrative in response to uncertain scenarios. Much like the narrative of forensic texts, I argue, the case-histories of the Epidemics try to shape elusive realities through a rhetorical gesture that confers a precise meaning upon them. Rhetoric, the paper concludes, is not merely an embellishment nor a skill. It is, instead, a medium for the communication of knowledge and the negotiation of its limits, even in texts that at first glance seem, or claim, to be devoid of any rhetorical features.</jats:p>

Description

Keywords

3602 Creative and Professional Writing, 36 Creative Arts and Writing

Journal Title

Rhetorica

Conference Name

Journal ISSN

0734-8584
1533-8541

Volume Title

41

Publisher

Project MUSE