The Art of Rhetoric has a basic structure stretching back over two thousand year. Students master Rhetoric through the five responsibilities of the orator or “cannons.”. Those canons consist of Rhetoric: Invention, Arrangement, Style, Memory, and Delivery. The first three cannons encompass both the spoken and written word. Memory and Delivery are skill clusters dealing with the spoken word.
Invention teaches students how to “find” or create arguments. The skills of Invention include Common and Special Topics. These topics work just as the Heads of Purpose do in the Progymnasmata. Students have a particular idea (case) they are arguing. They find Topics (general rules) that apply to the case. Putting these together produces a result or enthymeme argument.
Arrangement teaches students how to put together the ideas of a communication. Communications about the past or judicial use a basic five or six parts. These parts include an introduction, exposition, refutation, confirmation, and conclusion. Longer papers or speeches also include a partito. Communication about the future (deliberative) use this same arrangement.
Communication about the present (epideictic) use a more complicated arrangement.
Style teaches students six basic style types. These six styles include fourteen sub categories. We turn once again to Hermogenes here using his classic text On Style.
In Rhetoric students continue to develop their language mastery or “copia.” This occurs through the ongoing study and use of figures of speech and figures of thought. Erasmus, De Copia, is our text in all three grades 10-12.