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Trust and deception: the role of rhetoric in the public sphere (starting from the ancient Greeks)

Mauro Serra


According to an interpretation still predominant, rhetoric, identified with the use of deceptive discourse to which trust cannot be granted, constitutes a threat to communication in the public sphere. Starting from two emblematic texts of the ancient Greek world related to the experience of Athenian democracy in the 5th century B.C., our paper tries to show that this interpretation is misleading. On the contrary, it is precisely rhetoric that offers conceptual resources to deal with the intertwining of trust and deception, which inevitably characterizes the public sphere.


trust; deception; rhetoric; Sophocles; Thucydides

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