The Greeks and Romans maintained an almost obsessive interest in rhetoric. From Aristotle to Cicero to Quintilian, authors repeatedly affirmed that mastering the art of persuasive speaking was necessary for any educated (male) citizen to be taken seriously in the public square. Building upon the study of grammar and logic, rhetoric, according to the ancients, was an essential part of a comprehensive education (enkyklios paideia). In medieval universities, these three fields constituted the trivium, or the first part of a liberal arts education. In the following article, Sam Leith considers the rhetorical legacy the ancient world has given to Western language patterns.