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Logie, John. “‘I Have No Predecessor to Guide My Steps’: Quintilian and the Roman Construction of Authorship.” Rhetoric Review 22.4 (2003): 353-73. 20

Summary: Logie argues that Quintilian – despite being pretty derivative in his works – stakes out a claim to authorial originality in Book XII of Institutio Oratoria; in doing so, Q.s claim to authorial authenticity and proprietarian ideology is voiced in surprising modern terms.  Logie claims that Q. honors his own call that that ideal rhetor move beyond the quotation and use of others work to stake a claim for the authentic author.

L. begins by noting that the term “author” didn’t circulate in Q.’s time as it did post-19th century when the Romantic notion of the author came into being.  L. briefly traces the development of the term via Woodsmansee and Janzi to demonstrate how the Romantic author came into existence (however, there is no discussion about the forces of capital in this equation. . . does Woodsmansee account for these at all?).  Next Logie demonstrates the Romans’ own intellectual genealogy highlighting how Greek intellect superseded (even in the Romans mind) their accomplishments and shows how many commentators have taken Quintilian as an extraordinarily capable synthesizer, not an original writer.

Logie argues that Quintilian progresses from the passive consumption of exemplary texts of the past to competent imitation, and finally the creation of original compositions (359).  Q. also mentioned pirates in the preface/book VII to the Institutio de Oratore noting that there are books with his name on them that he hasn’t written as well as a desire to have his work published (and an indictment of possible piracies).  These concerns with piracy demonstrate a proprietarian view of his own creations . . . a validation of his own conception of himself as an author or at least owner of his texts.  L. next traces how Q. describes the divine inspirations that moved all of the great Greek orators to speech while recognizing that in Cicero there was terrestrial genius – the first real claim to authorial agency from a non-divine source.  L. likens Q.s description of Ciceronian genius to the Romantic notion of the author by Edward Young in 1759.

L. locates Quintilian’s originality in the vir bonus section of book XII that argues for a good man speaking well; however, by relying on Murphy and Brinton, L. also recognizes that the civic imperative in rhetorical production might also have a far longer lineage extending all the way back to Gorgias.  L. concludes that Quintilian played a “significant role in the articulation of the standard by which he is now routinely judged a failure.  Fairness now obliges us to acknowledge Quintilian as the Roman whose work laid the foundation for the Romantic construction of authorship” (372

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