François Pomey’s Candidatus rhetoricae and its Revisions as Documents of the History of Jesuit Rhetorical Education, by Manfred Kraus

François Pomey’s Candidatus rhetoricae and Its Revisions as Documents of the History of Jesuit Rhetorical Education


Manfred Kraus

Universität Tübingen


Originally published: March 1, 2021

DOI: 10.51238/ISJS.2019.05



Writing the history of Jesuit education is not an easy task. But it gets particularly difficult when it comes to elucidating what actually went on in real classrooms. Since much of the teaching was done orally and never written down, we mostly lack reliable documents on the down-to-earth implementation of the high-flying pedagogical ideas propounded by the order. Apart from some rare documents that have survived in manuscript form,[1] there are only two kinds of texts we can draw on: prescribed curricula and school regulations on the one hand, and printed textbooks on the other.

In this article, I will look at a number of such textbooks that used to be standard tools in Jesuit rhetorical education in a period that lasts from the middle of the seventeenth to the later eighteenth century.

With the Jesuits, everything begins with the Ratio studiorum.[2] According to the Ratio, education in rhetoric has two important elements: theory and practice; and practice means exercises. For rhetorical theory, it was Cypriano Soarez’s famous digest of the theories of Aristotle, Cicero, and Quintilian that was the unrivaled classic.[3] Soarez’s three books, as is well known, basically follow the first three canons of rhetoric: inventio (invention), dispositio (arrangement), and elocutio (style), memory and delivery only being added in the form of a kind of appendix. Since printed books were expensive and unaffordable for most students, Soarez’s manual was mostly communicated to them by way of “prelections” (praelectiones), the reading out of texts to students by the teacher.

As for exercises, on the other hand, the most elementary level of rhetorical training was based on the graded series of small exercises known as progymnasmata, essentially dating back to a sophisticated system developed in late antiquity, the most authoritative manual being the one written by Aphthonius in the late fourth century CE. Aphthonius’s most elaborate sequence consisted of fourteen exercises: fable, narration, chreia,[4] maxim, refutation, confirmation, commonplace, praise, vituperation, comparison, ethopoeia,[5] description, thesis, and proposal of a law. Out of a small number of progymnasmata manuals preserved from antiquity, it was Aphthonius’s that was adopted by humanist educators in the fifteenth century, mainly for two reasons: it offered the most comprehensive list of exercises and it presented instructive model examples for imitation. This series of exercises was deliberately devised in order to guide students step by step from lessons in grammar onward to the more demanding tasks of rhetoric. For this purpose, they followed a system of progressive difficulty and complexity, in which each exercise built on the preceding ones. They trained the students’ skills equally in style, arrangement, and argumentation.

But how and according to which textbooks were progymnasmatic exercises practiced in Jesuit colleges? Their natural place within the Ratio’s curriculum was mainly in the humanities class. In fact, the preliminary Institutiones (Instructions) of 1586 prescribe that at that level, on particular days, written exercises were to be assigned according to the progymnasmata by Aphthonius.[6] The final Ratio of 1599, however, does not mention the name of Aphthonius. For training oratorial style, it suggests Soarez and reading some of Cicero’s easier speeches for the humanities class,[7] and more of his speeches and his rhetorical treatises for the rhetoric class.[8] Out of the whole standard program of progymnasmatic exercises, only “chria aliqua aut progymnasma” (some chreia or preliminary exercise) and “chriae […], prooemia, narrationes et exornationes” (chreiae […], introductions, narratives, and embellishments) are explicitly mentioned for the humanities class,[9] and descriptions, translations, and prosifications of poems for the rhetoric class.[10] Otherwise, the Ratio only speaks rather vaguely of “written assignments” (scripta) to be corrected by the teacher of humanities[11] and mentions some of the traditional ways of treating progymnasmatic exercises.[12] A similar procedure is also prescribed for the rhetoric class and the highest grammar class.[13] But we can nonetheless be pretty sure that Aphthonius’s progymnasmata were practiced on a large scale in Jesuit colleges.[14] Since the fundamental structural principle of Jesuit education was that of progression by graded stages,[15] the graded series of progymnasmatic exercises was the perfect means for that method.

Yet there was a problem: for progymnasmatic exercises, the Jesuits did not have at their command any textbooks of their own production, so that they were forced to use manuals of Protestant provenience, especially so the most popular of all, the richly commented manual compiled and published in 1542 by Reinhard Lorich, then professor of rhetoric at the Protestant university of Marburg.[16] For his translation of the original Greek text of Aphthonius, Lorich adopted and amalgamated the two most popular earlier humanist translations: the one by the Frisian humanist Rudolph Agricola, produced most probably in the years between 1476 and 1478 but first printed only much later in Cologne in 1532 by arrangement of Alardus of Amsterdam; and the one by the Italian Ioannes Maria Catanaeus (Giovanni Maria Cattaneo), first printed in Bologna in 1507. But he also complemented each Aphthonian chapter by an ample section of detailed and learned scholia, and by a great number of additional examples, both ancient and contemporary. Lorich’s textbook (of which a slightly revised version appeared in 1546) was reprinted hundreds of times by presses all over Europe and was thus easily available almost everywhere. The embarrassing problem for the Jesuits, however, was that Lorich was a very determined Protestant (he had studied at Wittenberg in 1521 and had been personally acquainted with Martin Luther and Philipp Melanchthon) and had hence been figuring among the authors primae classis (of first category) proscribed by the Index ever since 1564.[17] Categorization as prima classis meant that all works by that author, including those of non-theological content, were prohibited.

It is certainly no coincidence that precisely from 1599 onward (the date of the Ratio, in which year Lorich again figures in an issue of the Index printed in Paris[18]) we also find printings of Lorich’s textbook executed in a number of Catholic and even Jesuit printing offices (in Turin, Brescia, Venice, Bergamo, Douai, Cologne, Pont-à-Mousson, and other places). Many of those explicitly and candidly admitted on their title pages that the original book was by a damnatus auctor (a condemned author, whose name is sometimes concealed), and that they had on demand of the Jesuit superiors been purged of any particularly offensive content. But at least in the first years Protestant printings were evidently used on a large scale without any qualms by the Jesuits, until the outbreak of the Thirty Years’ War (1618–48) required a more cautious procedure. In the libraries of Jesuit colleges, there can be found original printings of Lorich’s handbook in which the author’s name and some of the most offensive passages have simply been blackened by ink.

But on occasions, the Jesuits were more inventive than that: in the years 1620, 1624, and 1629, the Jesuit-friendly printer Konrad Bütgen (Butgenius) in Cologne provided a series of pirated editions of Lorich’s work under the witty title of Aphthonius reformatus (Aphthonius reformed), from which not only Lorich’s name had been removed but also any objectionable passages were either completely dropped or so cleverly copyedited as to appear harmless.[19] Thus, for instance, Lorich’s hymnic praise of the Protestant university of Marburg (one of his examples for the exercise of praise) became an “Encomium Academiae N.” (Praise of N. Academy).

But alternatives to Lorich’s apparently indispensable textbook were also looked for. An Instructio pro professoribus humaniorum literarum (Instruction for professors of the humanities) in the Rhineland province from 1622 suggests for exercises of style in the infima classis (the lowest grade) that after students have been trained in writing good classical Latin of Ciceronian style, they might then proceed to “other progymnasmata of eloquence,” for which Aphthonius is recommended by name, yet in the translation by Joachim Camerarius.[20] Camerarius’s translation (which is independent from Lorich’s and by its Latin style indeed the most Ciceronian of all humanist translations) was then in fact available in a fair number of printings executed between 1567 and 1614, but all of those had been issued by Protestant presses (Ernst Voegelin in Leipzig, Johann Creutziger in Neisse, Johannes Steinman in Leipzig, Joachim Rhete in Stettin). And Camerarius himself, of course, was equally a pretty fishy author from a Catholic point of view.

On the other hand, from 1621 onward, French Jesuit presses (especially that of Sébastien Cramoisy in Paris and Pont-à-Mousson) tried reprinting for the purposes of Jesuit colleges a different translation of Aphthonius executed by the Spaniard (or Catalan) Francesc de Escobar (Scobarius), which had originally been published in Barcelona, Spain (by Claudi Bornat and Gabriel Graells). Ironically, this version of Aphthonius had come to the Jesuits’ attention only via an edition printed in Calvinist Heidelberg in 1597 that also contained excerpts from Lorich’s scholia. A scanty section (two pages only!) of accessory scholia added by some anonymous “Societatis Jesu Reverendo Patre” (Reverend Father of the Society of Jesus) served as little more than a bashful fig leaf. Some of the later editions actually openly declare that they are “ad usum studiosae iuventutis” or even “ad usum collegii S.J. accommodata.” (adapted for use by the student youth, or: for use in the Jesuit college). But remarkably enough, this version of a progymnasmata manual never managed to outrival Lorich, not even in Jesuit schools.

It is only around the final phase of the Thirty Years’ War that genuinely Jesuit textbooks begin to make their appearance. The first Jesuit author to try to remedy this need was Charles Pajot, who in his Tyrocinium eloquentiae (Apprenticeship in eloquence), first printed in Blois in 1647[21] (for reasons of accessibility, I will, however, quote from the 1650 Chambéry edition[22]), advertises a new and easier rhetoric course (a Rhetorica nova et facilior [A new and simplified rhetoric]), combining Aphthonius’s progymnasmata with selected theoretical chapters from Soarez’s manual (Aphthonii Progymnasmata et Soarii Rhetori­cam amplectens, likewise comprising Aphthonius’s Progymnasmata and Soarez’s Rhetoric). Pajot, born in Paris in 1609, had joined the Society of Jesus in 1628 and was soon appointed prefect of the Collège Henri IV at La Flèche. He had made a name for himself as a classicist and as a lexicographer of Latin and French before he eventually published his textbook in rhetoric.

Pajot intended his book as reading for all levels of college: for students of the rhetoric class, the humanities class, and even the highest of grammar classes (Sic denique Rhetoribus utilis, ut humanistis commoda sit, & supremae scholae Grammatices Auditoribus non inutilis, [As useful for the rhetoricians as to be appropriate for the humanists, and not unprofitable for the hearers of the highest school of grammar] is what is announced on the title page). In his introduction (Usus Tyrocinii eloquentiae [How to use the Apprenticeship in Eloquence]), Pajot gives detailed advice to students of all three levels on how to use his book and which of its parts to focus on at individual steps within their education. Once they are capable of mastering grammatically correct Latin, students of the highest grammar class should first of all read book 4 on elocutio, learn by heart the instructions on sentence construction, and write down the more complex figures of style both in Latin and French so as to be well equipped in Latin style for the more advanced classes;[23] students of the humanities class, however, after a solid repetition of book 4 in their first semester, should turn to book 3 on disposition and practice amplificatory exercises following the method of Aphthonius, before studying the brief chapter 2 on imitation from book 1 and then the whole of book 2 on inventio in the second semester.[24] The rhetoricians, finally, in order to become true Tulliani (i.e., Ciceronians), must study the whole of books 1 to 4, apply them to the writing of speeches, and read as much as possible of Cicero all along.[25] What is striking in this curriculum is that elocutio is placed first, before dispositio and then inventio, which virtually inverts the classical sequence of canons. Certainly, if the program first starts with purely amplificatory and paraphrastic exercises, as was in fact the rule with the first few Aphthonian progymnasmata, what one will need first is proficiency in elocutio. It is only for the more advanced and more argumentative exercises that one will need to know more about the subtleties of dispositio and inventio. Pajot explicitly explains why he has not followed this didactic sequence in the arrangement of his own manual but has kept to the classical sequence of five canons, preceded by an introductory book on generalities; his excuse is that he wished to serve rhetoricians in the first place, who are used to that traditional arrangement.[26]

On the other hand, the Aphthonian exercises, which are treated as parts of dispositio in book 3, are divided up in Pajot’s textbook according to the three genres of speeches—demonstrative, deliberative, and judicial, in that order—and hence likewise are not presented in their traditional sequence observed by Lorich’s manual. Demonstrative exercises (praise, blame, ethopoeia, and comparison) make up book 3, part 2, chapter 3;[27] those attached to the deliberative genre (fable, narration, chreia, maxim, and thesis) follow in chapter 5,[28] and the judicial ones (confirmation, refutation, commonplace, and legislation) in chapter 7.[29] Some of the more demanding exercises, which will have involved a good deal of inventio and dispositio, are actually placed before the traditional starters of fable, narration, and chreia. But, just as with the arrangement of canons, we need not necessarily assume that they were supposed to be taught in that order. The sequence may instead reflect the graded importance of the three genres in a seventeenth-century context, in which panegyric was clearly paramount, whereas judicial speech was hardly more than a historical reminiscence.

It is hard to tell how widely Pajot’s textbook may have circulated within the world of Jesuit colleges. It was printed in more than twenty editions not only in France (Blois, Chambéry, Avignon, Paris) but also in German (Frankfurt, Duderstadt, Cologne), Italian (Bologna, Milan, Venice), and Austrian presses (Vienna) until the first decade of the eighteenth century (the latest traceable printing being a Venetian one from 1708). This and the remarkable number of copies still extant in libraries would point to a considerable level of popularity. But a powerful rival was soon to appear.

From its first publication in Lyon in 1659 (by Antoine Molin), François Pomey’s Candidatus rhetoricae (The aspirant to rhetoric) progressively began to replace Soarez’s De arte rhetorica (On the art of rhetoric) as the standard Jesuit textbook in rhetoric, which, notwithstanding, continued to be prescribed by the Ratio.[30] In this handbook, the French Jesuit likewise combined some basic elements of rhetorical theory adopted from Soarez with a deliberate selection of elementary exercises extracted from Aphthonius’s Progymnasmata.[31]

François Antoine Pomey (1618–73) is not an unknown name in the history of Jesuit pedagogy. His biography exhibits striking similarities to Pajot’s. Born in Pernes-les-Fontaines near Carpentras in Provence, he joined the Society of Jesus in 1636 and in 1644 became prefect of the Collège de la Trinité in Lyon. Like Pajot, he was a classicist, but also a lexicographer of Latin and his native French; his Dictionnaire royal des langues françoise et latine (Royal dictionary of French and Latin [Lyon, 1664]) was to become a classical reference work in France and beyond. He wrote a number of important works in classics, theology, and pedagogy, among which his Pantheum mythicum (Pantheon of mythology [Lyon, 1659]), his Catéchisme théologique (Theological catechism [Lyon, 1664]), and his Pomariolum floridioris latinitatis (Little orchard of bloomier Latinity [Lyon, 1664]) are only the most influential ones.[32]

Pomey unmistakably borrowed the text of his Latin version of the theoretical chapters of the original Aphthonius directly from Lorich. But, for purposes of methodical teaching, he recast it into catechism-like question-and-answer form (a few years later, he was also to write a religious catechism). By way of example, while the beginning of Lorich’s chapter on narration dryly reads “Narratio est expositio rei factae vel tanquam factae. Dividitur autem in poeticam, historicam et civilem. Poetica est, quae habet expositionem fictam. Etc.” (Narration is the exposition of an event that has happened, or as if it had happened. It is subdivided into poetic, historic, and political. Poetic narration has a fictional content. Etc.),[33] in Pomey this is reformulated as follows: “Quid est narratio?—R: Est expositio rei factae vel tanquam factae. […] Quotuplex est Narratio?—R: Triplex. Poetica, Historica, et Civilis. […]. Quid est Narratio Poetica?—R: Ea est, quae res exponit, fictas quidem, et nunquam factas, sed quae fieri potuerint; cuiusmodi sunt Argumenta Comoediarum. Etc.” (What is narration?—Answer: It is the exposition of an event that has happened, or as if it had happened. […] How many kinds of narration are there?—A: Three: poetic, historic, and political. […] What is poetic narration?—A: It is that which presents events, yet fictional ones and such as have never happened, but might have happened; of this kind are the plots of comedy. Etc.).[34]

In his preface addressed to the candidus lector (the gentle reader, a witty pun after his explanation of the meaning of the term candidatus in the preceding dedicatory letter[35]), Pomey defends his expansion of the traditional progymnasmata manuals to a more comprehensive curriculum of rhetoric by appealing to the students’ need of some basic knowledge about the construction of complex compound sentences (periodi), the panoply of oratorial embellishments (ornatus), and the methods and devices of amplification before they can dare approach the Aphthonian assignments.[36]

On the other hand, he purports to have, on long-standing requests, finally consented to modernizing the “rough, hirsute and filthy old-fashioned Aphthonius” by providing him with a more juvenile, graceful, and hilarious look.[37] What he means by that is made clear by a glance inside the book. For not only does Pomey abandon the severe Ciceronianism of the preceding humanist period in favor of a more variegated, wit-based baroque stylistic mannerism fashionable in his time but—not unlike his Protestant contemporaries—he also widely extends the range of model examples to include biblical and Christian topics and does not even eschew the quarrels of contemporary controversialist theology.

Yet, while in the original Aphthonius and hence also in all its complete Latin translations, as we pass through the sequence of exercises, chapters get progressively longer, what happens with Pomey is exactly the opposite. Only the first few exercises—fable, narration, and chreia above all—get his full attention (fable gets twenty pages, narration thirty, and chreia eighty-two), while from that point onward instructions become progressively shorter and scarcer (just seven pages for maxim, eleven for ethopoeia and thesis together, and no more than eight for the five of commonplace, refutation, confirmation, praise, and blame), until they completely peter out into the complete disappearance of once popular exercises such as comparison, description, and legislation.

The first three exercises more or less entirely focus on the elaboration, transformation, and amplification of brief, basically narrative texts. It is only with the chreia (and partly with maxim) that some original argumentative invention comes into play. Thus, in Pomey, too, both in the theoretical section and in the exercises, the emphasis very clearly is on elocution and amplification. Whether or not this reflects a contemporary tendency in actual Jesuit teaching, we are not really in a position to tell, but it may be assumed.

Only a few years later, however, in a thoroughly revised version of his book, called the Novus candidatus rhetoricae (The new aspirant to rhetoric) and first published in 1668 with the same printer Antoine Molin in Lyon, Pomey completely and deliberately inverted the sequence of chapters. While in the earlier Candidatus he had so strongly defended and justified the placement of theoretical chapters before the sequence of exercises, he now places Aphthonius’s progymnasmata first (as part 1), and thus before the praecepta (precepts) of rhetoric proper (part 2), as is already visible by the sequence of matters announced on the title page. His rationale for this major change is that in Jesuit colleges Aphthonius was usually taught in the first semester of the humanities class and the basic elements of rhetoric in the second semester of that class, but complex syntax, embellishments, and amplification only followed at the level of the rhetoric class.[38] This again appears to reflect some change in the actual implementation of the rhetorical curriculum, which we have no way of documenting other than Pomey’s own words. Nor do we know if this change solely affected France or if it was an international feature. Since Pomey’s Novus candidatus was frequently printed outside France, the latter would appear more likely.

But there are more changes: with respect to exercises, Pomey now proceeds even more selectively than in the earlier book—he now also completely drops praise, blame, and ethopoeia but compensates this by a lengthy Dissertatio de panegyrico (Treatise on panegyric) of more than a hundred pages that is now added as part 3 of the book, thus paying due tribute to the rising importance of the panegyrical genre in the period of absolutism.[39] It would be interesting to know whether this also reflected a stronger emphasis on panegyric in practical teaching.

With this rearrangement, the new overall outline of the Novus candidatus is as follows:

Pars I: Aphthonii Progymnasmata

Apparatus ad fabulam & narrationem (Preparations for fable and narration)

Prog. I: De fabula (On fable)

Prog. II: De narratione (On narration)

Prog. III: De chria (On chreia)

Prog. IV: De sententia (On maxim)

Prog. V: De thesi (On thesis)

Prog. VI: De loco communi, destructione, et confirmatione (On commonplace, refutation, and confirmation)

Pars II: Rhetoricae praecepta (Precepts of rhetoric)

Prog. I: De rhetoricae elementis (Basic elements of rhetoric)

Prog. II: De periodo (On period-building)

Prog. III: De figuris (On figures of speech)

Prog. IV: De amplificatione (On amplification)

Pars III: Dissertatio de panegyrico (Treatise on panegyric)


What is really amazing, however, is that, despite these substantial differences, both versions of the Candidatus appear to have been in use alongside each other for a long time. The original Candidatus was printed more than fifty times and in various places until at least 1735, while the Novus candidatus saw about eighty-five printings until 1763. Their places of printing were mainly situated in France and Italy but also included Germany, the Netherlands, Bohemia, and Spain.

A wonderful witness to this unbroken line of tradition is the Cologne printing office of Wilhelm Friessem, heir to Bütgen, and his son Johann Wilhelm Friessem, who printed another pirated and purged Lorich (titled Propylaeum eloquentiae [Gateway to eloquence] [1643]), an edition of Pajot’s Tyrocinium (1673), and Pomey’s Novus candidatus (1706) in sequence.[40]

A next move was made only after Father Pomey’s death, when Joseph de Jouvancy (1643–1719), himself a famous historian of the Jesuit order and teacher of rhetoric at several Jesuit colleges (Compiègne, Caen, La Flèche), among them the prestigious Collège Louis-le-Grand in Paris, wrote his pedagogical treatise De ratione discendi et docendi (The way to learn and the way to teach), of which an early “Parisian” version appeared anonymously in Lyon and Paris in 1692 (also without a publisher’s name) and a “Roman” one, approved by the General Congregation, in Florence in 1703.[41] In this book, which was partly to replace in substantial parts the old Ratio of 1599, Jouvancy presents the sum of his long-standing experience in active teaching. He also reports on the actual practice of the rhetorical curriculum in Jesuit colleges, which, according to him, was as follows: beginning in the uppermost grammar class, the most basic Aphthonian progymnasmata, such as fables, narrations, chreiae, and amplifications, were being practiced; subsequently, in the humanities class, study of elocutio was in the foreground, and in the final rhetoric class, inventio and dispositio were being taught.[42] This is pretty much in line with what we found in Pomey’s Novus candidatus. It also confirms that, as has been evident at least since Pajot, out of the five canons of rhetoric, elocutio was as a rule taught before inventio and dispositio. As François de Dainville and Françoise Douay-Soublin unanimously report, this was also the case in Jouvancy’s manuscript courses, the text of which he was wont to dictate to his students.[43] But Jouvancy harshly disapproved of Pomey’s stylistic extravaganzas and his modernizing experiments. Instead, he advocated a return to Cicero, who for him was the only author to be imitated (“Cicero unus est imitandus”).[44] So it was again Soarez and a selection of the best of Cicero’s speeches that were to be the benchmark.

As a consequence, around 1710 Jouvancy once more revised Pomey’s Candidatus (on the basis of the original 1659 ver­sion).[45] In this new and revised version, the progym­nasmata now form the fifth out of seven parts of a comprehensive rhetorical curriculum (after invention, arrangement, style, and amplification, and before an analysis of Ciceronian speeches and epistolographic instructions). In his preface, Jouvancy justifies this extension by the insight that modern students of the humanities class, before getting down to writing exercises, will need to be instructed in all three of the first canons of rhetoric, which Aphthonius may simply have taken for granted.[46] Ethopoeia, praise, and blame are also back again in the series of progymnasmatic exercises, as they still were in the 1659 Candidatus.[47] Not only does Jouvancy place more emphasis on a purely Ciceronian style[48] but in accordance with this he also severely cuts back Pomey’s exuberant “non-classical” biblical and modern examples.[49] In the theoretical parts, as Dainville has been able to demonstrate and Francis Goyet and Delphine Denis have confirmed, substantial passages have been directly copied from the 1703 Roman version of the De ratione discendi, especially from the chapters on imitation and rhetoric (which mainly enter into Jouvancy’s part 1, chapter 5, and part 2, chapter 5), and major parts have also been adopted from Gérard Pelletier’s Reginae palatium eloquentiae (Palace of Queen Eloquence [1641]) and Martin Du Cygne’s Analysis rhetorica omnium orationum M.T. Ciceronis (Rhetorical analysis of all speeches by M. T. Cicero, 1661), so that Jouvancy’s textbook is in fact an entirely new version that quite faithfully mirrors the state of the art of Jesuit teaching in rhetoric at the beginning of the eighteenth century.[50]

Dainville notes, with some astonishment, that, by contrast, copies of Pomey’s Candidatus contemporary or posterior to Jouvancy’s Ratio discendi (and, we might add, the same would be true of copies of the Novus candidatus) have nothing in common with any of the two versions of the Ratio discendi. This, however, should not surprise us at all, since both Candidati kept being reprinted practically without any alterations over a long period of time (the latest attested printing of the Candidatus is from 1735, and the latest datable one of the Novus candidatus from 1763), and a considerable period of time had elapsed between the composition of those books (1659 and 1668 respectively) and Jouvancy’s Ratio discendi, a period during which substantial changes in practical pedagogy may have happened.

Jouvancy’s revised version was first printed (still without Jouvancy’s name) in Rome in 1710, in Rome and Milan in 1711 and 1715, in Bologna in 1712, and in Parma in 1714. In 1711, the first French edition (thoroughly emended, presumably by the author himself, and first featuring Jouvancy’s name on the title page) was published in Paris by Jean Barbou, promptly followed by another one by the same printer in 1712 and several more by him and his family until 1742.[51]

Of Jouvancy’s revised version, about eighty printings can be traced, first predominantly issued from presses in Italy (Rome, Milan, Bologna, Venice, Turin, Parma, Modena, Cagliari, Mantua), France (Paris, Rouen, Nancy, Toulouse, Lyon, Blois, Orléans, Metz, Châlons-sur-Marne, Douai, Dijon), Germany (Cologne), and the Spanish Netherlands (Tournai, Antwerp, Liège, Luxembourg, Mons), but later on Eastern European Jesuit provinces such as Poland (Braniewo, Poznań, Lublin, Kalisz), Bohemia (Prague), and Hungary (Trnava/Nagyszombat, Košice/Kassa) also joined in. Interestingly, the latest attested printing dates from Paris in 1774, which almost exactly coincides with the year of the dissolution of the order by papal decree. Since the publisher of that edition is Jean-François Colas, active in Place de la Sorbonne, this very latest printing may have been associated with the Sorbonne, which had taken over the Collège Louis-le Grand from the Jesuits in 1763. But, on the other hand, this chronologically and geographically extended printing history also means that Jouvancy’s version of the Candidatus rhetoricae was present in Jesuit colleges for most of the eighteenth century. Yet neither must one forget that, for a substantial part of its printing history, it coexisted with Pomey’s two versions.

Strangely enough, both Dainville and Douay-Soublin purport that the inverted sequence of canons that one finds in De ratione discendi and in Jouvancy’s oral courses (elocutio being placed before inventio and dispositio) was likewise reflected in the arrangement of Jouvancy’s revised Candidatus.[52] Yet none of the many printings of that work that I have been able to inspect bears witness to this claim. In fact, the first three canons are invariably arranged in their traditional order; but of course, as we have learned earlier from Pajot, this need not necessarily mean that they were actually taught in that order.

In all accessible editions, the table of contents of Jouvancy’s revised Candidatus roughly runs as follows:

Pars prima: Elementa rhetoricae ad oratoriam inventionem spectantia (Elements of rhetoric regarding invention in oratory)

Pars secunda: De secunda parte eloquentiae, sive de dispositione oratoria (On the second canon of eloquence, or arrangement in oratory)

Pars tertia: De oratoria elocutione (On style in oratory)

Pars quarta: De amplificatione (On amplification)

Pars quinta: Aphthonii progymnasmata (Aphthonius’s progymnasmata)

Prog. 1: De fabula (On fable)

Prog. 2: De chria (On chreia)

Prog. 3: De sententia (On maxim)

Prog. 4: De ethopoeia (On ethopoeia)

Prog. 5: De thesi & loco communi (On thesis and commonplace)

Prog. 6: De destructione & confirmatione, laude & vituperatione (On refutation and confirmation, praise, and blame)

Pars sexta: Synopsis & partitio selectarum Ciceronis orationum (Synopsis and layout of selected letters by Cicero)

Pars septima: De modo scribendae epistulae (On how to write a letter)


But another classical rhetoric textbook of Jesuit provenience, that in several ways can be said to continue the tradition of the three consecutive Candidati, namely the De arte rhetorica libri quinque (The art of rhetoric, in five books) by Dominique de Colonia (1660–1741), the printing history of which begins as early as 1704 but lasts way into the late nineteenth century,[53] does in fact reproduce precisely this inverted sequence: book 1 is titled De elocutione, book 2 De inventione, and book 3 De dispositione (book 4 treats of the genres of speech, and book 5 of delivery). This may be taken as sufficient proof of the fact that this is the way in which rhetoric was actually taught to students in Jesuit colleges throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. But what is also evident is that it is the first three of the five canons that figure most prominently in all those textbooks, from Soarez to de Colonia, whereas memory and delivery are at best treated marginally. This might well be a reflection of a progressive turn of classroom rhetoric from speaking toward the composition (and analysis?) of written texts. In sum, it has turned out that all the textbooks that we have looked at—from Pajot’s Tyrocinium over Pomey’s two Candidati up to Jouvancy’s revised Candidatus and even to de Colonia’s De arte rhetorica—pretty well reflect the various shifts, turns, and controversies that affected Jesuit teaching of rhetoric during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

What can we learn from this? If anything, it may be that school textbooks do react to real-life developments in classrooms just as much as they do to pre-established normative regulations, but also that the practice of teaching rhetoric in Jesuit classrooms in the early modern period was a versatile and flexible one, far from the monolithic character it is often accused of. Hence, I cannot conclude in any better way than with a citation from Cristiano Casalini’s chapter from the most recent Oxford Handbook of the Jesuits:

As the philosophy of education that the Jesuits drew from the humanists was centered on the teaching of rhetoric and humane letters, one might expect that no changes were made to the content and teaching methods. On the contrary, the early modern period saw a restless period of amelioration, adaptation, and reshaping of pedagogy in these fields by the Jesuits […].[54]




[1] For an example, see note 43 below.

[2] On the Ratio studiorum and its predecessors, see, among others, Georg Mertz, Über Stellung und Betrieb der Rhetorik in den Schulen der Jesuiten (Heidelberg: Winter, 1898), 31–32; Allan Peter Farrell, S.J., The Jesuit Code of Liberal Education: Development and Scope of the Ratio studiorum (Milwaukee, WI: Bruce Publishing Company, 1938); Gian Paolo Brizzi, ed., La Ratio studiorum: Modelli culturali e pratiche educative dei gesuiti in Italia tra Cinque e Seicento (Rome: Bulzoni, 1981); Vincent J. Duminuco, S.J., ed., The Jesuit Ratio studiorum: 400th Anniversary Perspectives (New York: Fordham University Press, 2000); Manfred Hinz, Danilo Zardin, and Roberto Righi, eds., I gesuiti e la Ratio studiorum (Rome: Bulzoni, 2004). The most modern edition and English translation is Claude Pavur, S.J., The Ratio studiorum: The Official Plan for Jesuit Education; Translation and Commentary (Saint Louis, MO: Institute of Jesuit Sources, 2005). Earlier editions include Georg Michael Pachtler, ed., Ratio studiorum et institutiones scholasticae societatis Jesu per Germaniam olim vigentes, vol. 2 (Berlin: A. Hofmann, 1887), and Laszló Lukács, S.J., ed., Monumenta paedagogica Societatis Iesu, Nova editio ex integro refacta, vol. 5, Ratio atque Institutio studiorum Societatis Iesu (1586, 1591, 1599) (Rome: Institutum Historicum Societatis Iesu, 1986). An older English translation is Allan P. Farrell, S.J., The Jesuit Ratio studiorum of 1599: Translated into English, with an Introduction and Explanatory Notes (Washington, DC: Conference of Major Superiors of Jesuits, 1970).

[3] On Soarez, see Lawrence J. Flynn, S.J., “The De arte rhetorica of Cyprian Soarez, S.J.,” Quarterly Journal of Speech 42 (1956): 367–74.

[4] A chreia (or anecdote) is a discussion of some wise saying or meaningful gesture by a famous person, following a particular prescribed argumentative pattern.

[5] An ethopoeia (or speech-in-character) is a fictitious speech put into the mouth of some mythical or historical person or of an inanimate object.

[6] Pachtler, Ratio studiorum, 2:194: “Aliquando etiam pridie Festorum breve aliquod argumentum proponatur latine ad inventionem exercendam, quod proximo post festum die reddatur, idque iuxta rationem progymnasmatum Aphthonij” (Sometimes, the day before a religious holiday, a brief theme shall be assigned in Latin for the practice of invention, which shall be handed in the very next day following the holiday, and this shall be done according to the method of Aphthonius’s progymnasmata; my trans.).

[7] Pachtler, Ratio studiorum, 2:414; Pavur, Ratio studiorum, 166–67.

[8] Pachtler, Ratio studiorum, 2:398–99; Pavur, Ratio studiorum, 155.

[9] Pachtler, Ratio studiorum, 2:418, 420; Pavur, Ratio studiorum, 168, 171.

[10] Pachtler, Ratio studiorum, 2:404: “Descriptionem aliquam, ut hortorum, templorum, tempestatis et similium efficere […]” (Compose some description, for instance of gardens, of churches, of a storm, and similar things […]; trans. adapted from Pavur, Ratio studiorum, 158).

[11] Pachtler, Ratio studiorum, 2:416: “Scripta a decurionibus accepta Praeceptor corrigat” (The teacher should correct the written work that has been picked up by the decurions; trans. Pavur, Ratio Studiorum, 167).

[12] Pachtler, Ratio studiorum, 2:418: “Exercitationes, dum scripta corrigit, erunt exempli gratia ex praelectionibus phrases excerpere easque pluribus modis variare, Ciceronis periodum dissolutam componere, versus condere, carmen unius generis alio permutare, locum aliquem imitari, Graece scribere et alia generis eiusdem” (There will be exercises while he [the master] is correcting the written work, for example selecting phrases from the lessons, varying them in several ways, putting in order a scrambled sentence from Cicero, composing verses, transposing a poem from one genre into another, imitating some literary passage, writing Greek, and other things of the same kind; trans. Pavur, Ratio Studiorum, 169–70).

[13] Pachtler, Ratio studiorum, 2:400, 404 (rhetoric), 426, 430 (grammar); trans. Pavur, Ratio Studiorum, 156, 158–59 (rhetoric), 174, 176 (grammar).

[14] On oral and written composition exercises in the humanities class, see Miguel A. Bernad, S.J., “The Class of ‘Humanities’ in the Ratio studiorum,” Jesuit Educational Quarterly 15, no. 4 (March 1953): 197–205, here 201, 202, 205; see also Robert A. Lang, “The Teaching of Rhetoric in French Jesuit Colleges, 1556–1762,” Speech Monographs 19 (1952): 286–98, here 295.

[15] Bernad, “Class of ‘Humanities,’” 197.

[16] Reinhard Lorich, Aphthonii progymnasmata, partim à Rodolpho Agricola, partim à Ioanne Maria Catanaeo Latinitate quondam donata; Iam recens longè tersius edita, simul ac scholiis luculentis, novisq. complurib. exemplis illustrata (Marburg: Christian Egenolph, 1542).

[17] See Maria Violeta Pérez Custodio, “Un caso de expurgo en el índice de Zapata (1632): Los escolios de Reinhardus Lorichius a los ejercitos de Aftonio,” Calamus renascens 3 (2002): 157–92.

[18] See Pérez Custodio, “Un caso de expurgo,” 158n8.

[19] Aphthonius reformatus, seu fons eloquentiae rhetoricus: Ex Aphthonii sophistae progymnasmatibvs eiusq. commentatoribus desumptus […] (Cologne: Conradus Butgenius, 1620).

[20] Pachtler, Ratio studiorum (Berlin: A. Hofmann, 1894), 4:202: “Gradum faciet ad alia progymnasmata eloquentiae, de quibus Aphthonius sophista et Ioachimus Camerarius admodum utiliter disputarunt” (He shall advance to other preliminary exercises in eloquence, of which Aphthonius the sophist and Joachim Camerarius have quite usefully treated; my trans.).

[21] Charles Pajot, Tyrocinium eloquentiae, sive rhetorica nova et facilior […] (Blois: Frères de la Saugère, 1647).

[22] Charles Pajot, Tyrocinium eloquentiae, sive rhetorica nova et facilior […] (Chambéry: Fratres Du-Four, 1650).

[23] Pajot, Tyrocinium (1650), 8.

[24] Pajot, Tyrocinium (1650), 8–9.

[25] Pajot, Tyrocinium (1650), 9.

[26] Pajot, Tyrocinium (1650), 9.

[27] Pajot, Tyrocinium (1650), 302–7.

[28] Pajot, Tyrocinium (1650), 323–30.

[29] Pajot, Tyrocinium (1650), 345–49.

[30] See Mertz, Über Stellung und Betrieb der Rhetorik, 31–32.

[31] See François de Dainville, “L’évolution de l’enseignement de la rhétorique au dix-septième siècle,” XVIIe siècle 80–81 (1968): 19–43, here 29 = François de Dainville, L’éducation des jésuites (XVIe–XVIIe siècles), Textes réunis et présentés par Marie-Madeleine Compère (Paris: Éditions de Minuit, 1978), 194 (with some confusion, though, of the Candidatus and the Novus candidatus); Andrea Battistini, “I manuali di retorica dei gesuiti,” in La Ratio studiorum: Modelli culturali e pratiche educative dei gesuiti in Italia tra Cinque e Seicento, ed. Gian Paolo Brizzi (Rome: Bulzoni, 1981), 94–103.

[32] On Pomey’s rich oeuvre, see Carlos Sommervogel, ed., Bibliothèque de la Compagnie de Jésus, new ed. (Brussels: Schepens, 1895), 6:971–90.

[33] Lorich, Aphthonii progymnasmata, 15v.

[34] François Pomey, S.J., Candidatus rhetoricae seu Aphthonii progymnasmata, in meliorem formam usumque redacta (Lyon: Antonius Molin, 1659), 263–64.

[35] Pomey, Candidatus, a2r–v.

[36] Pomey, Candidatus, a4v–a5r.

[37] Pomey, Candidatus, a5r–v.

[38] François Pomey, S.J., Novus candidatus rhetoricae, altero se candidior, comptiórque, non Aphthonii solùm progymnasmata ornatiùs concinnata, sed Tullianae etiam rhetoricae praecepta clariùs explicata repraesentans, studiosis eloquentiae candidatis (Lyon: Antonius Molin, 1668), A2r–v: “Mos est in Collegiis nostris, Aphthonium in Humaniori schola, priore semestri; posteriore verò Elementa explicare Rhetoricae; indè proptereà exordiri hunc Librum placuit” (It is customary in our colleges to explain Aphthonius in the first semester of humanities class, yet in the second semester the basic elements of rhetoric; this is why I preferred to commence this book from there).

[39] Pomey, Novus candidatus, 313–427.

[40] For details on the Friessem printing office, which was greatly involved in the Counter-Reformatory movement, see Birgit Boge, Literatur für das “Catholische Teutschland”: Das Sortiment der Kölner Offizin Wilhelm Friessem im Zeitraum 1638–1668 (Tübingen: Niemeyer, 1993); “Wilhelm Friessem I in Köln und Georg Hänlin in Ingolstadt: Zwei Typographen der frühen Neuzeit im Dienst der Gegenreformation,” Wolfenbütteler Barocknachrichten 24 (1997): 85–101.

[41] On the two versions, see François de Dainville, “Le Ratio discendi et docendi de Jouvancy,” Archivum historicum Societatis Jesu 20 (1951): 3–58 = Dainville, L’éducation, 209–66. A modern edition with English translation, based on the 1703 Florentine edition, is now available in Joseph de Jouvancy, S.J., The Way to Learn and the Way to Teach, ed. Cristiano Casalini and Claude Pavur, S.J. (Chestnut Hill, MA: Institute of Jesuit Sources, 2020).

[42] Françoise Douay-Soublin, “Les jésuites et l’autorité de la Rhétorique d’Aristote,” in La Rhétorique d’Aristote: Traditions et comment­aires de l’antiquité au XVIIe siècle, ed. Gilbert Dahan and Irène Rosier-Catach (Paris: Vrin, 1998), 331–46, here 341: “L’ensemble suit désormais pas à pas la progression du cursus des collèges, d’ailleurs reprécisé dans la Ratio discendi et docendi: dès la classe de troisième, exercices préparatoires ou progymnasmata, inspires d’Aphthonios, avec fables, narrations, brefs dialogues ou chries, amplifications; en classe de seconde, pour la composition de vers latins, et pour des traductions de qualité dans les trois langues (latin, grec, vernaculaire), étude de l’élocution; en classe de première enfin, pour la composition en latin et en français des différents discours (parallèles, harangues, controversies, étude de l’invention et de la disposition” (From now on, the overall curriculum follows step by step the progression of the courses of the colleges, as detailed also in the Ratio discendi et docendi: beginning from third grade, preliminary exercises or progymnasmata, inspired by Aphthonius, with fables, narrations, short dialogues or chreiae, and amplifications; in second grade, for the purpose of composition of Latin verse, and for high-quality translations in all three languages [Latin, Greek, vernacular], exercises in style; finally, in first grade, for the purpose of composition in Latin and French, various types of speeches [comparisons, solemn addresses, judicial speeches, exercises in invention and arrangement]).

[43] [Joseph de Jouvancy, S.J.], Exercitationes rhetoricae datae a patre Jouvancy rhetorum professore in Regio Ludovici Magni Collegio, ed. Antonius Ludovicus Dupuis, 1693, Bibliothèque Mazarine MS 3819, 40r–62r; see Carlos Sommervogel, S.J., ed., Bibliothèque de la Compagnie de Jésus, new ed. (Brussels: Schepens, 1893), 4:859; François de Dainville, “L’évolution,” 29 = Dainville, L’éducation, 195; Douay-Soublin, “Les jésuites,” 341n4.

[44] [Joseph de Jouvancy, S.J.], Christianis litterarum magistris De ratione discendi ac docendi (Paris: n.p., 1692), 28; similarly: Jouvancy, Magistris scholarum inferiorum Societatis Jesu De ratione discendi et docendi ex decreto Congregat. Generalis XIV (Florence: Michael Nestenius, 1703), 26 = Jouvancy, The Way to Learn and the Way to Teach, 56–57.

[45] [Joseph de Jouvancy, S.J.], Candidatus rhetoricae, olim à Patre Francisco Pomey è Societate Jesu digestus: In hac editione novissima auctus, emendatus et perpolitus (Rome: Josephus Nicolaus de Martiis, 1710). A modern edition with French translation, based on the 1712 Paris edition (Jean Barbou), is now available in Joseph de Jouvancy, L’élève de rhétorique, édition dirigée par Francis Goyet et Delphine Denis, L’univers rhétorique 10 (Paris: Classiques Garnier, 2020).

[46] Jouvancy, L’élève de rhétorique, 54; see also Daniel Mornet, Histoire de la clarté française: Ses origines, son évolution, sa valeur (Paris: Payot, 1929), 44–45.

[47] Ethopoeia, which Pomey had grossly misrepresented as a simple character study and confounded with the figure of speech of prosopopoeia in his first Candidatus, and consequently relegated to the section on figures in the Novus candidatus (chapter II 3, 201–4), is now restored to its genuine role as an exercise, mainly based directly on Lorich’s commentary and its suggestions for appropriate examples (see L’élève de rhétorique, 360–73, 599n228, and 602n255), which is why this chapter lacks the usual question-and-answer style. Also, Pomey’s scant chapters on praise and blame are augmented by an extra chapter on kinds of demonstrative addresses inspired by Pomey’s Dissertatio de panegyrico.

[48] See Denis and Goyet in Jouvancy, L’élève de rhétorique, 17–19.

[49] See Denis and Goyet in Jouvancy, L’élève de rhétorique, 18: “Il débarrasse le Candidatus de 1659 de tout ce qui ne passe plus aux yeux du public de 1710” (He clears the 1659 Candidatus of everything that would not find favour with an audience of 1710).

[50] Dainville, “Le Ratio discendi,” 43–44 = Dainville, L’éducation, 251; see also Jouvancy, L’élève de rhétorique, 14–17; 643–44.

[51] On the earliest printing history, see Denis and Goyet in Jouvancy, L’élève de rhétorique, 29–34.

[52] Dainville, “L’évolution,” 29 = Dainville, L’éducation, 195: “Au lieu de partir de l’invention pour traiter ensuite de la disposition et enfin de l’élocution, il débute par l’élocution, sauf à poursuivre par l’invention et la disposition. Cet ordre, qu’il mantiendra dans l’édition refondue du Candidatus rhetoricae, qui remplacera Pomey en 1711, sera désormais adopté dans tous les traités dictés ou publiés” (Instead of beginning with invention and subsequently treating arrangement, and finally style, he begins with style, notwithstanding that he continues by invention and arrangement. This sequence, which he retains in the revised edition of the Candidatus rhetoricae that will replace Pomey in 1711, will from that point onward be adopted in all dictated and published treatises).  Douay-Soublin, “Les jésuites,” 341n4: “Ce changement apparaît d’abord dans les cours manuscrits du P. de Jouvancy […] et trouve sa forme definitive dans le Candidatus de 1712” (This rearrangement first appears in Father Jouvancy’s manuscript courses […] and assumes its definitive shape in the Candidatus of 1712).

[53] Dominique de Colonia, De arte rhetorica libri quinque. Lectissimis veterum auctorum aetatis aureae, perpetuisque exemplis illustrati (Lyon: Antoine Molin, 1704).

[54] Cristiano Casalini, “Rise, Character, and Development of Jesuit Education: Teaching the World,” in The Oxford Handbook of the Jesuits, ed. Ines G. Županov (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019), 153–76, here 161.