“A Good Person Speaking Well” reviews the role of Eloquentia Perfecta in Jesuit Universities. Eloquentia Perfecta effects many aspects of our Jesuit education and the established curriculum, Ratio Studiorum, focusses on practical utility of rhetoric and the cultural enrichment of students. As a class, we discussed the ways in which we use rhetoric every day in our education and lives as well as the cultural background we have acquired in this course. The article defines rhetoric and describes the three different types of rhetoric as Human, Divine, and Heroic.
As a class, we dove into the definition of Eloquentia Perfecta and what it meant to us at Loyola. The class discussed how we studied Eloquentia Perfecta in order to speak with grace, respect, and direction. Mailloux defined Jesuit Eloquentia Perfecta as “an influential form of Christian rhetoric, a pedagogical elaboration of the classical ideal of the good person writing and speaking skillfully for the common good”. I hope that the class walked away from this question, reflecting on how Eloquentia Perfecta applied to their whole life and their whole education.
The role of virtue in Eloquentia Perfecta becomes a prominent part of its definition as the article continued. Coppens, the author of two prestigious books, declared that “it is the chief duty of education to make men virtuous” and that “far more important that any physical power in the orator, are the virtues”. The class discussion following these statements brought up the question of whether virtue is required or recommended in Eloquentia Perfecta. Many believed that one can still speak well without necessarily speaking the truth. However, we came to the realization that the question isn’t whether rhetoric must be virtuous or not, but what virtue is to every individual. We accepted that Eloquentia Perfecta can be interpreted differently to every student and educator and that in attempts to achieve perfect eloquence we must apply our own interpretation of virtue.
My hope is that, as the class continues their education, they consider their interpretation of virtue. I hope that students question the way in which they speak and write and that they choose to speak and write eloquently.