Comparative Arts and Letters
First Faculty Advisor
First Faculty Reader
Forensic oratory, Arms and Letters, Don Quijote, Ciceronian Rhetoric, Sanity, Cervantine Irony
In chapters 37 and 38 of the Quijote, Don Quijote gives a discourse to his acquaintances at the inn on the superiority of arms to letters. After the speech, his audience at the inn are dumbfounded that someone so insane could give such a convincing speech, and many believed him to be sane for his presentation. This questioning of his insanity is due, in part, to his use of classical forensic structure and Ciceronian style in the speech. Cervantes certainly grants respect to Cicero within the Quijote and frames the arms and letters speech after Cicero’s forensic speeches. The speech’s structure fits the patterns put forth by Cicero in his rhetorical handbooks. The careful structure of the speech shows that it was not meant to be taken with the Cervantine irony that his novel tends to use, but that it is to be understood differently than Don Quijote’s other speeches. Cervantes’s framing of the speech, life experiences as a soldier, and references to Cicero and other classical figures suggest that the speech constitutes a serious stance by Cervantes on the Arms and Letters debate.
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Mathews, Trevor, "A Moment of Sanity: Ciceronian Rhetoric in Don Quijote's Arms and Letters Speech" (2021). Undergraduate Honors Theses. 208.