This Course not currently offered.

Classical Rhetoric

This course surveys the history and basic principles of classical rhetoric along with studying the skill of determining the structure of spoken communication (speeches, debates, arguments) and of written works of various kinds. But unlike other rhetoric courses, this one is based on reading and discussing the primary sources rather than modern textbooks.

Because it is taught online, this course focuses on discussion of theory and its application rather than practice. For that, local speech and debate clubs are highly recommended. But a solid grounding in theory is necessary, and that is what this course aims at.

The class is primarily a read, listen, and discuss format with no quizzes or tests. However there are two kinds of written assignments: first, weekly short (one-paragraph) informal responses are required that are read by the teacher though not graded - these give the teacher further feedback about the student's level of engagement and focus. Though the weekly response is not graded, the number of responses turned in will be taken into consideration if evaluations are requested at the end of the course by the student and/or parents. Second, there will also be one graded paper assigned at the end of the course which is intended to show the student's grasp of the year's material and incorporation of it into his or her own thought. This will make up another element of the final evaluation. The student's participation in class is the third part of the final evaluation.

Fall 2020 Registration for this Course Opens on February 27.


Prerequisites: Some familiarity with Greek and Roman history
Instructor: Wes Callihan, B.A.   email
Grade Level: 9th and above
Minimum Enrollment Required:
Maximum Class Size: 15
Tuition per Semester: $360.00; Early Registration Discount (before June 1): $300.00

Click here for Class Time and Start Date

(If you would like to enroll in this class but cannot attend at the posted time, please contact us.  We may be able to open an additional section.)

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Wes Callihan, B.A.

Wes Callihan grew up on a farm in Idaho and graduated in History from the University of Idaho in 1983. He has taught for thirty-five years–at two private schools, a college which he helped found, the University of Idaho, and his own online classes for the past twenty-two years. His online Great Books lectures have been filmed and produced by Roman Roads Media as a video curriculum for homeschoolers called Old Western Culture. He has spoken frequently on education and church history at Classical education conferences for home educators and private schools, and has taught summer intensive Latin and other summer courses. He has written columns and short fiction for journals and contributed to publications on classical Education and home schooling. He runs live residence programs at Hill Abbey (summer courses on the Early Church Fathers and a year-long “gap year” program), geared toward high school graduates.
Wes and his wife Dani have six married children and fourteen grandchildren. Wes and Dani live in the beautiful countryside of northern Idaho near Wes’s parents and most of the kids and grandkids, where six generations of the family have lived on the same family farm. They use the cold winters as an excuse to read, and the hot summers as another excuse to read. Wes also likes hiking and hunting, barbecuing, listening to the blues, gardening, movies, and travel (he has organized many tours for his students and their families to Greece and Turkey). But like the Venerable Bede he loves teaching, reading, and writing best of all.

Textbooks and Materials

The Art of Memory


The Memory Book


Amusing Ourselves to Death


The Shallows


How to Read a Book


The following required texts are available free online, from a variety of sources:

• Rhetoric, Aristotle

•  Rhetorica ad Herennium, Cicero

•  De Oratore, Cicero

•  Institutes of Oratory, Quintilian

•  On the Sublime, Longinus

•  Dialogues of Plato:

  • Apology
  • Crito
  • Phaedo
  • Phaedrus
  • Symposium
  • The Republic