The Rhetoric of Character in the Roman Courts

Author: Riggsby, Andrew M.
Title: The Rhetoric of Character in the Roman Courts
Review/Collection: in: Cicero the Advocate, Powell & Paterson, 2004
Place edition: Oxford
Editor: Oxford University Press
Year edition: 2004
Pages: 165-186
Keywords: Droit - Diritto - Law, Rhétorique - Retorica - Rhetorics
Description: This chapter considers three problems in Roman (primarily Ciceronian) oratory and rhetoric surrounding the notion of character during a prosecution. The first is the question of how forensic oratory was constrained by external notions of character; this is inextricably tied to a debate of long standing whether antiquity understood a person's character to be ‘fixed’. The chapter argues that the evidence is best accounted for if oratorical practice is seen as being informed by such a view. The second section shows that awareness of this view of character can also aid our understanding of the overall function of the criminal courts in ancient Rome; the differing roles of personality in those courts and our own do not indicate fundamentally different roles for the two institutions. Finally, and more tentatively, the chapter suggests that oratorical practice, shaped by this view of character, in turn affected the reception of theory of ethos proposed by Aristotle.[Author]  [Powell & Paterson 2004]
Author initials: Riggsby, 2004