Survey courses on the history of rhetoric, especially as taught in American universities, often concentrate on classical and modern rhetoric, neglecting the way in which rhetoric was understood during the Middle Ages. This essay offers the teacher of the history of rhetoric a pedagogical answer to the question of how to incorporate medieval rhetoric within courses on the history of rhetoric, by providing a close reading of three symmetrical cantos of Dante’s Commedia that are specifically concerned with the ethics of persuasive discourse.

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