Invention and narrative
in Rhetoric and the writing of history, 400 –1500
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The contents of a speech or text were divided according to five aspects through which the presentation of its subject-matter should normally be considered: inventio; dispositio; elocution; memoria and pronuntiatio. According to Cicero and the Rhetorica ad Herennium, the discovery or 'invention' of arguments is the most important of the five aspects of rhetoric because, it is the most influential. Narrative is defined by both Cicero and the Rhetorica ad Herennium as 'the exposition of things which have been done or as if they have been done'. In order to provide a narrative with the requisite quality of probability or credibility, a speaker or writer needs to appeal to three basic categories, the natural, the usual and the anticipated. The three fundamental virtues of narrative: brevity, openness and plausibility, are not mutually exclusive.

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