In De inventione Cicero defends rhetoric by presenting a myth of the progress of the human species from asocial brutes to rational and social creatures. However, as Cicero explains the corruption of rhetoric by cunning individuals moved only by private interest, his myth reveals the present situation to be every bit as divided and contentious as the mythic state of nature. His myth discovers that rhetoric cannot escape corruption. Stasis theory, however, offers the possibility of an ethical rhetorical practice. By formalizing the agonistic clash of interests as a method of invention, stasis theory transforms a source of social instability into a resource for on-going social reinvention.
- © International Society for History of Rhetoric