Keywords: J. Enoch Powell; Political Oratory; Classical Tradition; Conservative Party; English Nationalism.
This paper offers a discussion of the political oratory of J. Enoch Powell (1912-1998) by focusing on four major speeches: an intervention in the House of Commons debate on the Hola Camp affair (July 1959), a lecture given at Trinity College Dublin (November 1964), an address to the Royal Society of St George in London (April 1964), and the so-called 'Rivers of Blood speech' (Birmingham, April 1968). Powell was a widely sought after speaker, and published ample selections of his speeches in volumes that played a significant role in establishing his standing as one of the most prominent and divisive politicians of his generation. His speeches were not just powerful tools of persuasion and consensus-building: they afforded opportunities to articulate weighty ideological propositions and were facets of a complex self-representation strategy. Before entering politics Powell had been a distinguished Hellenist. This study assesses the extent of the classical legacy in his speeches, both in formal and ideological terms.