Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Roots of Marketing

All hail Cicero.

In How the Irish Saved Civilization, author Thomas Cahill outlines how the great literature was passed on to us by Irish monks who acted as scribes, but his discussion on Cicero caught my eye.

But we are made uncomfortable and bored by Cicero's elaborately coaching us in all the tricks of his trade--the many techniques for convincing others to act the way we want them to. For Cicero, "to speak from the heart" would be the rashest foolishness; one must always speak from calculation: What do I want to see happen here? What are the desire of my audience? How can I motivate them to do my will? How shall I disguise my weakest arguments? How [shall I] dazzle my listeners to they are no longer able to reason matters through independently?

Cahill continues,
The techniques of the successful politician, the methods of modern advertising--the whole panoply of persuasion is to be found in Cicero. The figure closest to him in our own age might be Dale Carnegie, who advised that every single word and gesture be calculated to "win" and "influence." However squeamish such advice may make us, to the ancients it made perfect sense.

What does this mean for writers?

More on Cahill tomorrow.

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