This chronology enables Peitho's devotees to see at a glance the interaction of rhetoric with ancient cultures in Greece, Rome, and the Near East. Ends with the beginnings of Christian rhetoric.
Prior to 8th c. BCEEdit
Ca. 1780 BCE Hammurabi's law, the first known written law code.
Invention of alphabet by Canaanites, proto-Phoenicians/Israelites, inhabiting Sinai and Palestine
Israelites occupy hill country of Palestine
Greek speaking Ionians colonize coast of Asia Minor (present-day Albania, Turkey, Syria)
Israelites divide into two kingdoms, Israel and Judah. Possible date of the Book of J, the oldest Israelite history, partially preserved in Genesis-Kings.
8th C. BCE - 450 BCEEdit
First Olympic Games
Traditional date for founding of Rome
Greek alphabet developed from Phoenician-Hebrew prototype
Kingdom of Israel destroyed by Shalmaneser V of Assyria and his successor Sargon II. 8th c. prophets Isaiah, Amos, Hosea, Micah.
Homeric Epics, Iliad, Odyssey
Reign of Josiah king of Judah. Book of Deuteronomy and Deuteronomistic History.
Milesian Presocratic philosophers (Thales, Anaximander, Anaximenes) Beginnings of Athenian Democracy
Solon archon of Athens; law code of Solon
Kingdom of Judah destroyed by Nebuchadrezzar of Babylon. Prophet Jeremiah.
Reign of Pisistratos in Athens, first tyrant
Cyrus of Persia conquers Babylon: beginning of Persian empire. Prophet Second Isaiah.
Cleisthenes archon of Athens; Cambyses of Persia conquers Egypt
Cleisthenes introduces democratic reforms in Athens
Rise of Roman republic
Late 6th c.Edit
Presocratics: Theognis of Megara, Xenophanes, Pythagoras
Ionian revolt against the Persians
Roman office of tribune established, wielding the veto to protect the interests of the plebeians against the patrician magistrates
Athenian archons chosen by lot
Delian league of Greek city states against Persia, Athenian leadership. Origins of Athenian empire.
Thrasybulus, tyrant of Syracuse, overthrown. Corax and Tisias. The first techne.
Great tragedians Aeschylus and Sophocles begin their careers
Athenians defeat Persians
Delian league breaks up when Spartans refuse Athenian assistance
Pericles begins public career in Athens. Beginning of Athenian Golden Age
Athenians institute radical democracy; First Peloponnesian War.
Recording of Twelve Tables of Roman law, perhaps as a result of Greek influence. Traditional date for the invention of rhetoric in Syracuse.
450 - 336 BCEEdit
Periclean citizenship law; truce with Sparta; Early sophists Protagoras of Abdera; Empedocles; Zeno of Elea (the "Eleatic stranger")
Pericles general of Athenian forces
Herodotus active, writes History of the Persian War
Ionian island of Samos revolts against Athens
Euripides, tragedian, begins career
Protagoras, Prodicus, Hippias of Elea, sophists
Second Peloponnesian War begins; Thucydides begins his History. See guide to Thucydides. Phase One: Archidamian War
Pericles' Funeral Oration
Death of Pericles; Cleon leads Athens
Revolt of Lesbos; Athenian expedition to Sicily
Gorgias of Leontini, sophist, arrives with embassy to Athens.
Birth of Plato
Aristophanes, comedian, begins career; Death of Herodotus
Boiotians defeat Athenians at Battle of Delion; Thucydides exiled
Nicias leads Athens
Peace of Nicias with Sparta ends Archidamian War (Peloponnesian War Phase One)
Alcibiades, student of Socrates, becomes general
Aristophanes writes The Clouds, a play lampooning sophists, including Socrates
Athenian expedition to Melos (The Melian dialogue)
Expedition to Sicily. Peloponnesian War, Phase Two. Alcibiades discredited over mutilation of Hermae at Athens.
War resumes with Sparta; Spartans deal with Persians; Theodorus of Byzantium, sophist
Oligarchic coup at Athens
Democracy restored, Alcibiades recalled
Athenian laws revised
Plato joins the circle of Socrates
Athens falls to Sparta
Oligarchic coup of Thirty Tyrants, led by Critias, a student of Socrates
Democracy restored; Lysias xii, Against Eratosthenes (Attic orator c.407-c.380, enemy of Thirty Tyrants, appears as author of first speech in Phaedrus)
Combined Greek forces under Cyrus mount new expedition against Persia
Other rhetoricians flourishing about this time: Evenus of Paros, Callippus, Pamphilus, Lycophron, Polus, Licymnius, author of Dissoi Logoi.
Trial and death of Socrates; Andocides i, On the Mysteries (Attic orator before 415-392/1).
Isocrates xvi (Isocrates active 390s-338).
War with Corinth
Persians defeat Spartan fleet at Cnidus
Isocrates opens his school at Athens
Isocrates xiii, Against the Sophists
Lysias, Funeral Oration (commemorates Athenian casualties in Corinth)ian war)
Truce with Persia; Plato founds his Academy
Births of Demosthenes and Aristotle
Isocrates iv, Panegyricus; Plato, Gorgias
Second Athenian League
War between Thebes and Sparta; Sparta defeated
Aristotle joins Plato's Academy; First plebeian consul elected to assembly at Rome; plebeians become eligible to serve as magistrates and thus eventually to enter the Senate.
Plato, Phaedrus. Introduction of the Roman praetorship, a civil and juridical office that freed the consuls for military affairs.
Philip II king of Macedon
Social War between Athens and its allies; war with Philip II over Amphipolis; Demosthenes, First Philippic
Athens defeated in Social War
Isocrates iv, Antidosis
Demosthenes, Second Olynthiac
Death of Plato
Peace of Philocrates between Philip and Athens. Isocrates, Address to Philip
Trial and acquittal of Aeschines: Demosthenes xix and Aeschines ii (On the Embassy); Aristotle leaves the Academy to become tutor of Alexander, son of Philip of Macedon
Demosthenes, Third Philippic
Letter of Philip to Athens
Isocrates xii, Panathenaicus
Philip defeats Athenians and Thebans at Chaeronea. Conventional end of Greek "liberty." Death of Isocrates
Philip's Corinthian League declares war with Persia; Lycurgus controls Athenian finances
Philip assassinated, Alexander becomes emperor
Alexander destroys Thebes. Aristotle settles at Athens, founds Peripatetic School near Lyceum. Produces Rhetoric Bks. I-II. Preceded by the Organon: Categories, On Interpretation, Topics, Prior Analytics, Posterior Analytics. Followed by On Sophistical Refutations, Nichomachean Ethics, Politics, Poetics, and Rhetoric Bk. III. Lost works: Synagoge technon; Rhetoric to Theodectes; Gryllus
Alexander begins expedition to Persia
Alexandria founded in Egypt
Demosthenes xviii, On the Crown; Aeschines iii, Against Ctesiphon; Lycurgus i, Against Leocrates Anaximenes, Rhetorica ad Alexandrum.
Death of Lycurgus; Demosthenes exiled
Death of Alexander sets off Lamian War; Athens defeated by Macedonians. Enkyklios paideia establishes Greek rhetorical education as center of Panhellenic culture from Sicily to India.
Athenian constitution altered; oligarchy imposed, enforced by Macedonian garrison. Death of Aristotle (384-322), Demosthenes (384-322). Hyperides, Funeral Oration for Athenian dead in last battle against Macedon.
Theophrastus; On Characters.
First Punic War with Carthage, a Phoenician colony in Tunisia that developed a trans-Mediterranean empire
Demetrius, On Style. Translation of Hebrew Bible into Greek (Septuagint) in progress or complete? in Alexandria, Egypt.
Titus Coruncanius, first plebeian chief priest, begins teaching jurisprudence to lay students, initiating tradition of Roman jurists. The jurists did not practice law but were teachers and advisers to those who did. By recording, enlarging and interpreting traditional statutes they developed Roman legal precedent.
Second Punic War
Hermagoras of Temnos. Credited with introduction of stasis system of invention. Treatise does not survive.
Third Punic War results in destruction of Carthage. Roman aristocrats benefit while plebeians suffer cost of war. Prisoners of war increased the slave population.
Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus, elected consuls, attempted agrarian reforms to grant land to citizens uprooted by war and to give equal citizenship to Italics (Italians not born in Rome). Reform fails.
Birth of Cicero
Caius Marius professionalizes army, defeats Germans in France and northern Italy.
Setting of Cicero's dialogue De Oratore: Crassus' villa in Tusculum.
Civil War breaks out between Sulla and Marius. Sulla occupies Rome; Marius recruits indigent citizens as mercenaries, irreversibly altering the relationship between civil and military power. Catilina participates in murder of Cicero's cousin and Marius' nephew, Praetor Marcus Marius Gratidianus (Everitt 89).
Cicero, De inventione.
Dictatorship of Sulla
Cicero leaves for tour of eastern Mediterranean: begins rhetorical studies at Rhodes.
Slave revolt of Spartacus
Consulship of Pompey and Crassus
Consulship of Cicero. Catilinarian conspiracy.
First triumvirate of Pompey, Crassus and Julius Caesar.
Consulship of Caesar
Cicero, De oratore
Death of Crassus
Cicero, Brutus, Orator
Cicero, De partitiones oratoriae
Dictatorship and assassination of J. Caesar. Cicero, Topica.
Second triumvirate of Antony, Octavian, and Lepidus. Assassination of Cicero.
Dionysius of Halicarnassus teaches in Rome. Critical Essays.
Octavian becomes Augustus Caesar. End of the Roman Republic.
27 BCE- 410 CEEdit
Emperor Tiberius. Traditional beginning of "second sophistic."
ca. 50 CEEdit
Longinus, On the Sublime.
Destruction of Second Jerusalem Temple by Romans. Gospel of Mark.
Gospel of Luke-Acts
Quintilian appointed head of state school of oratory in Rome.
Gospel of Matthew
Quintilian, Institutio oratoria. Tacitus, Dialogue on Oratory.
Council of Jamnia fixes Jewish canon of Hebrew Bible, separating Christians from Judaism. Gospel of John.
Hermogenes of Tarsus, Techne, including On Staseis and On Qualities of Style.
Founding of Constantinople.
Jerome begins Latin Vulgate translation of the Bible, effectively fixing the Latin canon.
Gregory of Nazianzus, Orations (d. 390)
Division of Roman Empire into East (Constantinople = Byzantium) and West (Rome)
Augustine bishop of Hippo
John Chrysostom, Orations (d. 407)
Fall of Rome to Vandals.