Hermogenes of Tarsus
His precocious ability secured him a public appointment as teacher of his art while he was only a boy, attracting the note of the emperor himself; but at the age of twenty-five his faculties gave way, and he spent the remainder of his long life in a state of intellectual impotence. According to legend, he probably fell victim to a disease which resulted in meningitis, such as measles or yersinia. Philostratus of Lemnos notes he continued in this pitiable state until dying at an advanced age. The Suda records a rumor that after his death his heart was found to be enormous and covered in hair.
During his early years, however, he had composed a series of rhetorical treatises, which became popular text-books, and the subject of subsequent commentaries. We still possess some sections:
- on legal issues (staseis)
- on the invention of arguments
- on various kinds of style
- on the method of speaking effectively
- on rhetorical exercises (progymnasmata).
There seems to have been yet another Hermogenes of Tarsus, remembered for being put to death by Emperor Domitian because of some allusions in his History.
Editions and translations
In the Renaissance the famous publisher, book- and type designer Aldus Manutius introduced the Hermogenean rhetorical corpus to the Western European reader. The works of Hermogenes appeared in the Aldine series. The 19th century Hugo Rabe edition of the Opera Hermogenis, with Latin introduction, is based upon various editions, a.o. the Aldine edition.
Michel Patillon has translated the entire Hermogenic corpus into French, with copious annotations. Malcolm Heath has translated On Issues (Greek Περὶ στάσεων) into English, and Cecil W. Wooten has translated On Types of Style (Greek Περὶ ἰδεῶν into English. A Dutch translation of Peri Ideon appeared in late 2006.
Work on Hermogenes' influence
Annabel Patterson wrote a book about Hermogenean style, rhetorical categories, and its influence on Renaissance writers, such as Shakespeare. Hugh Blair also mentions Hermogenes in his work on rhetoric.
- Suda s.v. Ἑρμογένης, Adler number: epsilon, 3046
- Suetonius, The Lives of the Twelve Caesars, Loeb Classical Library 1914, 10
- M. Patillon, Hermogène. L'art rhétorique. Paris: L'Age d'Homme, 1997.
- M. Heath, Hermogenes On issues: strategies of argument in later Greek rhetoric. Oxford University Press, 1995.
- C.W. Wooten, Hermogenes' on types of style. University of North Carolina Press, 1987.
- M. Johansson, Libanius' Declamations 9 and 10 (Studia Graeca et Latina Gothoburgensia LXVII). Göteborg: Acta Universitatis Gothoburgensis, 2006.