The Introduction frames medieval friendship as a rhetorical, discursive phenomenon in contrast to historical studies of friendship that dominate the field of medieval studies. While rhetoric to many minds connotes stylized language, more specifically, medieval authors inherited from the classical era (especially Cicero) the performative nature of rhetoric; one of the five canons of classical rhetoric was actio—the stage delivery of an oration. The Introduction assesses how rhetoric has been understood in such broad ways by many other medievalists and demonstrates why it is an appropriate lens through which we might view medieval friendship. The Introduction argues against a popular conception of rhetoric in which it is viewed as insincerity. The cultural milieu of the twelfth century is explored, since the bulk of the book is devoted to friendship’s growth in this period, and the importance of affect and sympathy are addressed.