Synopsis of the Art of Rhetoric


Synopsis technēs rhētorikēs (Synopsis of the art of rhetoric) by Alexandros Mavrokordatos (1636−1709) is a rhetorical “catechism" consisting of three books. The first book, Ti esti rhētorikē (What is rhetoric), is devoted to general questions relating to rhetoric. The second book, Peri diatheseōs (About arrangement), considers questions concerning the arrangement of texts. The third book, Peri euphradias (About grace in speech), is devoted to tropes and figures and is composed mostly as a glossary. Several pages in the manuscript have no relation to the main work. They include passages from a commentary on a religious text (folios 2 verso and 126 verso); a text devoted to grammatical matters (folio 8 verso); and fragments of a glossary (folio 125 verso). As indicated on folio 9, the manuscript was produced in 1753. It is written in middle Greek and is the work of a single scribe, except for the first leaf, which is in a different hand. The manuscript is decorated with several headpieces and an initial in color. The binding is cardboard with a leather spine. The book is well preserved and has a stamp "У.Х.," i.e., University of Kharkov. Alexandros Mavrokordatos was a member of a distinguished Phanariot family. (The Phanariots were Greeks who continued to reside in Constantinople after the fall of the city to the Turks in 1453 and who in many cases served the Ottoman sultan as administrators and officials.) He studied medicine and philosophy in Italy and served as dragoman (interpreter) to Sultan Mehmed IV. He wrote numerous works on medicine and philosophy, some of which remain unpublished.

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Title in Original Language

Σύνοψις τέχνης Ρητορικῆς

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127 folios ; 210 х 165 millimeters


  1. George Patrick Henderson, The Revival of Greek Thought, 1620-1830 (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1970).

Last updated: May 7, 2015