Scholars have largely ignored Walter Benjamin's assertion that his work was a continuation of initiatives begun by Giambattista Vico and Carl Gustav Jochmann. But Benjamin's assertion is important. It situates his work in a tradition of rhetorical inquiry. In turn, rhetorical
inquiry ought to be understood as a form of political thought. This article traces the intrication and development of Benjamin's rhetorical and political interests from his early work on Trauerspiel through a sequence of texts written before and after the fall of the Weimar Republic in
1933, up to and including the various redactions of the 'Kunstwerk' essay.