Date of Award

Spring 4-27-2011

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

George Pullman

Second Advisor

Lynee Lewis Gaillet

Third Advisor

Gerard Pendrick


Modern rhetoric takes many influences from the classical era, but aural components of rhetoric are not often included in rhetorical education. This paper examines the techniques used by Dionysius of Halicarnassus in his essay On Literary Composition, where he explored the components of arrangement of words in clauses for greatest impact when read and spoken aloud. Dionysius utilized meter and aesthetic placement of words to create work that was technically skilled and appealing to the listener or reader.

Dionysius built on ideas from rhetoricians of 4th and 5th century BCE Athens for his definition of style. His writing on style is compared with the work of Demosthenes and Aristotle among others.

While many of his techniques and examples are specifically focused on Attic Greek, we can still use the concepts to improve modern written and especially spoken rhetoric. Spoken rhetoric on television and the internet in particular provides a venue to exercise the lessons of precisely planned wording and control of sounds through word placement.