Abstract: Like the Church Fathers before him, Petrarch was forced to defend secular learning against its detractors, and his defenses draw on many of the same arguments that Augustine and Jerome had used. In these defenses he blends classical rhetoric and Christian values, and his procedures also follow the traditions of classical rhetoric, relying on the epistolary form and utilizing the Ciceronian manner of debating all topics from opposite standpoints. Perhaps, however, because his indecisiveness complemented the classical rhetorical premise that many issues present many possible resolutions, Petrarch also rejects secular learning in some of his writings. His arguments are therefore conclusive only within their unique rhetorical situations.
- Copyright 1993, The International Society for the History of Rhetoric