(RE)constructing arguments: Classical rhetoric and Roman engineering reflected in Vitruvius' de architectura

Bernadette Longo

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle

2 Scopus citations


Augustus is often described as the emperor who transformed Rome from a city of brick to a city of marble. When he returned victorious to Rome in BCE 29, Augustus embarked on a project to rebuild Rome with the splendor its new imperial status demanded. Despite the tranquility and prosperity enjoyed by most Romans during the Early Empire, many also felt a sense of loss. Much had changed in their social order at the end of the Republic. The nobility and the lower classes began to share more interests and Roman society took on a more egalitarian and commercial nature. Under Emperor Augustus, the function of rhetoric was stripped from legislative arenas and confined mainly to legal courts and ceremonial competitions. In the spirit of renewed patriotism and pragmatism, principles of rhetoric were also applied to writing about technical subjects, such as engineering and architecture. Both Vitruvius and Cicero used his writing to persuade Roman citizens to reclaim their heritage: of building arts in Vitruvius' case; of philosophy and meaningful public oratory in Cicero's case.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Number of pages7
Specialist publicationJournal of Technical Writing and Communication
StatePublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Communication
  • Education


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