Thomas Hobbes is a severe critic of rhetoric but he is also a careful student and skillful practitioner of the art of persuasion. Many critics have therefore argued that Hobbes's views of rhetoric are both conflicted and inconsistent. In contrast, I argue that Hobbes's conception of rhetoric displays remarkable consistency. While he rejects the abuses of rhetoric abundant in political oratory he nevertheless embraces the power of eloquence. In Leviathan Hobbes reconciles his appreciation of eloquence with his distrust of oratory by refashioning rhetoric into a private, rather than public art, which fulfills many of the traditional duties of rhetoric.
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