ABOUT THIS BOOK
First published in 1986, this book offers the Latin text and English translation of a pivotal work by one of the most influential and controversial writers of early modern times. Pierre de la Ramée, better known as Peter Ramus, was a college instructor in Paris who published a number of books attacking and attempting to refute foundational texts in philosophy and rhetoric. He began in the early 1540s with books on Aristotle—which were later banned and burned—and Cicero, and later, in 1549, he published Rhetoricae Distinctiones in Quintilianum. The purpose of Ramus’s book is announced in the opening paragraph of its dedication to Charles of Lorraine: “I have a single argument, a single subject matter, that the arts of dialectic and rhetoric have been confused by Aristotle, Cicero, and Quintilian. I have previously argued against Aristotle and Cicero. What objection then is there against calling Quintilian to the same account?”
Carole Newlands’s excellent translation—the first in modern English—remains the standard English version. This volume also provides the original Latin text for comparative purposes. In addition, James J. Murphy’s insightful introduction places the text in historical perspective by discussing Ramus’s life and career, the development of his ideas, and the milieu in which his writings were produced. This edition includes an updated bibliography of works concerning Ramus, rhetoric, and related topics.