The five functions (erga in Greek, officia in Latin) or canons of classical rhetoric have, remarkably, maintained a long life in different guises, a life I have examined elsewhere as having exerted an enormous and largely unrecognized claim on the issues that drive the teaching of writing in North America and the positioning of Plato in current rhetoric and composition theory. 1 Invention, arrangement, style, memory, and delivery (the standard English translations of the erga) have recurred in different forms and with different emphases in varying historical eras. Their tendency toward completeness, interaction, and interdependence in both
Greek and Roman classical rhetoric provided one of the sources of rhetoric's power in those eras and cultures. Later, however, individual canons were more frequently incorporated, according to one particular ideology or another, into other canons and then seemed to disappear. In our own century, the canons' enormous and largely unacknowledged power has occurred in the reliance of writing pedagogy on textbooks that truncate the five canons from five to three, so that invention, arrangement (form), and style repeatedly colonize the last twomemory and delivery-and then eradicate them.