American Journal of Educational Research
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American Journal of Educational Research. 2014, 2(10), 955-962
DOI: 10.12691/education-2-10-16
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Rhetorical Texts of the 4th Century A.D. about Wealth and Its Loss

N. Tsitsanoudis-Mallidis1, and Ch. Stergioulis2,

1Assistant Professor of Linguistics and Greek Language, Department of Preschool Education, University of Ioannina

2Doctor of Byzantine Literature, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki

Pub. Date: October 27, 2014

Cite this paper:
N. Tsitsanoudis-Mallidis and Ch. Stergioulis. Rhetorical Texts of the 4th Century A.D. about Wealth and Its Loss. American Journal of Educational Research. 2014; 2(10):955-962. doi: 10.12691/education-2-10-16


With this announcement we will try to present to the most possible extent, how wealth and its loss is dealt with by Basil of Caesarea and John Chrysostom, but also the way in which man is forced to deal with problems arising from both acquisition and possession and also loss-always according to the eternal word of the Gospel and of the orthodox viewpoint. Both texts belong to the homilitikon genre. The oration of Basil of Caesarea «Πρς τος πλουτοντας» belongs to the Homilitikon category of his work and the content is practical and moral. It begins with a very short prologue (exordium). From the first lines of oration he makes sure he illustrates a portrait of the rich young man. The largest part of his speech is covered by the “πίστις” (probatio). Basil begins the main part of his oration justifying the formulation of his view in the preamble of the rich young man. Getting to the main point of the Cappadocian bishop, he brings forward the following reasonable question to the rich young man and indirectly to his audience: "If you have guarded from your youth the command of love and attributed to the poor as much as you have offered to yourself, then how have you accumulated this very large fortune?" In the following section of his oration he makes sure to go to a new question: "But how are you going to exploit wealth?" Man should manage his wealth in the way that the Lord commands. Then wealth remains to the ownership of the person who possesses it, though when man tries to save it, its lost. Basil even castigates the habit of the avaricious wealthy to bury and save their precious possessions in vaults, bringing up the excuse that the future is uncertain. In the next section of his oration Basil the Great goes over to the question: «And how will we live without precious possessions?" The confrontation of wealth is a trial of whether we want a true life or a temporary enjoyment. Special emphasis is given to how to deal with the situation, when the woman is involved. If the woman too loves wealth, the disease is even greater, this would motivate a man to a number of pleasures. The ecclesiastical man also castigates with harshness the greediness of the rich. The desire to acquire more and more possessions creates a dependency relation of them. And indeed man feels poverty, since he constantly has the need of acquiring more. The following section of the “Πρς πλουτοντας” oration refers to punishment suffered by the rich who live in contrary to God's will by the fair Judge. An issue that also employs Basil of Caesarea is the "nature of wealth". Wealth should not be a gallows for souls nor a hook of death. Basil the Great even catches up before any objections are made, that the acquisition of wealth is necessary for the future of children. Finally, before passing in to the epilogue of his oration refutes to the arguments of those who are childless and plead the excuse that they do not offer part of their wealth to the poor, "because of their needs." The epilogue small in length is designed to motivate the listener to abandon the futile attempt to acquire wealth and help him to prepare as best as possible for the kingdom of Heaven. In the same direction with the archbishop of Caesarea concerning the proper management of wealth John Chrysostom also moves in his oration “Περ πλούτου κα πενίας” as in “Περί πλουτοντας” of Basil of Caesarea the preamble (exordium) is short. In the occasion of the comparison of the rich man and Lazarus Chrysostom criticizes those who resent God, because they themselves are not wealthy and do not imitate the poor Lazarus. Chrysostom passes over to the main part of his oration through a rhetorical question: "Why do you think being wealthy is so important?" And the reasons why man hunts wealth are: pleasure, flattery, fear and vengeance.

christian rhetoric discourse analysis metaphor talkative type

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