Quintilian and the Law
The Art of Persuasion in Law and Politics
Edited by O. Tellegen-Couperus
The art of persuasion, as practised today in political debate as well as in the courts of law, has been developed in the rhetorical tradition, but its authors have disappeared from view. One of them was Quintilian, who wrote his Institutio oratoria at the end of the first century AD. This book is special because it contains one of the fullest surveys of rhetorical insights ever written and because it has come down to us in its entirety. Quintilian's rhetorical system has been used in teaching rhetoric at universities since the Middle Ages.
The purpose of 'Quintilian and the Law' is to reintroduce Quintilian's Institutio oratoria to modern readers, and to show that the topics discussed in it are still very much alive today. To that end, modern experts of law and rhetoric present their views on the Institutio oratoria, each dealing with one of the twelve books of which it consists. The authors were free to choose their own way of working, so that some books are described in their entirety, others are discussed from one particular point of view, and others still are treated only with regard to a particular section.
In Roman times, the shortest way to a political career was by working in the law courts. There, one could acquire a reputation for having a thorough knowledge of the law and for being able to speak well in public. In his Institutio oratoria, Quintilian not only formulated important insights in juridical argumentation, in the art of speech-writing, and in the performative aspects of advocacy, he also discussed the ethical problems involved. Because Quintilian larded his instructions with numerous examples from practice, his book takes us back into the Roman law courts and helps us experience their exciting atmosphere.
The essays in this book reflect the wide range of subjects discussed by Quintilian. They deal with (one of) six themes: (1) the ideal orator in a historical perspective, (2) his education, (3) rhetoric and communication, (4) argumentation, (5) Roman law in the Institutio oratoria, and (6) emotions in the courtroom. However, in honour of its author, they are arranged in the order of the Institutio oratoria.