B1 Intermediate Other 351 Folder Collection
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So let’s start by briefly exploring the Classical World of the Greek and Romans.
We’ll begin in the fifth century before Christ, Ancient Greece.
Instead of one country we should first recognize that in these times
Greece was a collection of independent city- states,
some were at war with each other, and others were allied.
A growing number of city states was adopting democratic elements in their governments
such as people’s assemblies, elections, chosen government officials and such.
Even though many cities still had kings or a council of nobles,
the political power of citizens was growing,
and with it the need for a better understanding of the workings of mass communication.
It’s therefore not surprising that the science of communication thrived in Ancient Greece.
Important historical figures like Socrates, Plato and Aristotles
were involved in academic debate on the subject.
But besides being an academic science it was in this time foremost an applied science.
There were teachers and academies that taught the main principles of public speaking,
reasoning and persuasion.
Ambitious politicians were wise to learn the different ways of approaching an audience.
And not only politicians, but also lawyers and businessmen were schooled in these matters
and made extensive use of it in their field.
Military commanders like Xenophon and Alexander the Great
had also studied the subject at the feet of famous philosophers
and used what they learned to keep up moral of their troops.
So what did the media landscape look like at this time?
Well, first of all, we already established that public speaking was important.
Secondly, Greeks made extensive use of symbolic en figurative communication,
through their art, useable artifacts and architecture.
Also there was a huge diversity of genres in theater,
and finally there were many written media,
the alphabet had been rediscovered in the sixth century and books, scrolls, pamphlets
quickly found a place in the media infrastructure.
Many people, not only the rich and noble, could read and write
and most cities had one or several libraries.
The most famous library, that of Alexandria,
reputedly contained hundreds of thousands of handwritten scrolls.
After several centuries the power of the Greeks dwindled and was broken by the Romans
who themselves adopted many Greek ways.
It’s therefore not surprising that they too learned
and tried to perfect on Greek theories on communication.
Together Greek and Roman times span over a millennium of history
and even more if we include the Byzantine Empire in this
So it’s obviously a huge oversimplification to discuss all classical thought
on communication in a three minute MOOC section.
But we’ll try nonetheless,
because their ideas were the basis for scientific thought on communication
during the Middle Ages and Renaissance.
and therefore in many ways the foundation on which our modern discipline is built.
For a more in-depth and nuanced picture
I refer to the Little Box of Nuance in the online environment of this course
and the follow-up opportunities I give in other sections, like the platform, and the online community, on Facebook and LinkedIn
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2.2 Greek and Roman Rhetorica

351 Folder Collection
羅紹桀 published on March 18, 2016
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