Romani Aquilae, De figuris, introduzione, testo critico e commento a cura di Martina Elice, Hildesheim, 2007.
The De figuris by Aquila Romanus, although regarded as a catalogue raisonné of figurae sententiarum et elocutionis organized by lemmas and accompanied by examples, is indeed a special case in the rhetorical tradition of Late Antiquity. As a matter of fact, the structure of this work is far more articulate compared to similar texts, which generally include a series of definitions illustrated with examples. The technical part is embedded in a sort of frame that, building on the overtly stated pedagogical function of the work, is open to theoretical considerations on the necessity of the study of rhetorical figures and the expressive and stylistic effects they generate in speech. In a rather large preface, by claiming the importance of the theory of figures, Aquila gets involved in the controversy on the specificities of the areas of grammar and rhetoric which Quintilian had already committed to in the past. Aquila maintains that figures are the main weapon of the orator, being the most effective means to persuade and move audiences and judges. This statement, continues the author, can be easily demonstrated: try to rephrase a passage from great speakers depriving it of its rhetorical ornatus and it will immediately lose its expressive strength. The preface is followed by a systematic classification and discussion of the figures of speech, which is the natural core of the work. In the epilogue Aquila returns to general considerations on the importance of figurative speech and renews the invitation to regular exercise and imitation of great models, especially Demosthenes and Cicero. [A. Borgna; trad. M. Formentelli]