Modern scholarship on deliberative rhetoric in medieval England often examines traditions of counsel that emerged out of classical democratic norms. However, John Gower’s definition of rhetoric in book 7 of the Confessio amantis describes a deliberative rhetorical practice specifically adapted for use by an authoritative monarch. Drawing on his inherited Aristotelian tradition, Gower depicts an embodied theory of deliberative rhetoric that depends on a sovereign’s reasoned capacity for deliberation and dissemination of truth in plain language. He illustrates the political possibilities that accompany this rhetorical practice through his extended discussion of the Lucrece myth. By examining his English-language Fürstenspiegel, we can better understand the close relationship between symbolic interpretation, rhetorical practice, and virtue.

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