Sometimes called "forensic" oratory, judical oratory
originally had exclusively to do with the law courts and was oriented around
the purposes of defending or accusing. The judicial orator made arguments
about past events, and did so with respect to the special
topics of invention described by Aristotle appropriate for this branch
of oratory, the just and the injust (or the right and the wrong).
Sample rhetorical analysis in terms of JUDICIAL
In his famous speeches against Catiline,
Cicero blatantly and forcefully accused Catiline of forming a conspiracy
that would undermine republican Rome. Although speaking to the senate,
he might as well have been speaking in a legal court, for he employed the
methods and topics of judicial oratory, as though he were the prosecutor
and Catiline the hapless defendant. Although Cicero lacked the solid evidence
we would expect in today's courtroom, his dynamic summoning of witnesses
(including the personified Rome herself!) secured popular sentiment against
Catiline, and the conspirator fled the city
Sometimes called "legislative" oratory, deliberative
oratory originally had exclusively to do with that sort of speaking typical
of political legislatures. This oratory was oriented towards policy and
thus considered future and whether given laws would benefit or harm society.
Aristotle considered four special
topics of invention to pertain to deliberative oratory: the good, the
unworthy, the advantageous, and the disadvantageous. Deliberative oratory
has come to encompass any communication for or against given future action.
Sample rhetorical analysis in terms of DELIBERATIVE
When Sir Thomas More was faced with the
dilemma of deciding whether to sign the oath of loyalty to Henry VIII or
to abstain and be charged with treason, he must have considered deeply
the effects of either choice. Should he sign, he would save his life and
his influential position as Lord Chancellor, thus saving himself to further
influence his sovereign and his nation for good. Should he refuse to sign,
he would probably die, but his death would serve the purpose of inspiring
fidelity to the Church. His martyrdom would have the advantage of increasing
piety. More must have so argued within himself, deliberating as though
his mind were the parliament house, divided as to the best policy for his
country. In the end he persuaded himself to allow himself to be martyred,
and we are left to judge whether this did indeed prove to be an advantage
or not. His example of moral backbone is generally regarded as his having
succeeded in making the right choice. Still, we cannot know what More could
have done should he have remained in the king's service longer.
The Greek epideictic means "fit for display."
Thus, this branch of oratory is sometimes called "ceremonial" or "demonstrative"
oratory. Epideictic oratory was oriented to public occasions calling for
speech or writing in the here and now. Funeral orations are a typical example
of epideictic oratory. The ends of epideictic included praise or blame,
and thus the long history of encomia and invectives, in their various manifestations,
can be understood in the tradition of epideictic oratory. Aristotle assigned
"virtue (the noble)" and "vice (the base)" as those special
topics of invention that pertained to epideictic oratory.
Epideictic oratory was trained for in rhetorical
pedagogy by way of progymnasmata
exercises including the
encomium and the
Sample rhetorical analysis in terms of EPIDEICTIC
We can understand the dedicatory prefaces
to early books and manuscripts as a species of epideictic oratory. Given
the system of patronage that for so long made publication possible, one
can understand the sometimes long-winded flattery of dedicatory epistles
and prefaces. To praise a patron was to effect the possibility of obtaining
sponsorship. One Renaissance entrepreneur inserted some 30 different dedicatory
epistles into the front of different copies of his work, attempting to
hedge his chances that this epideictic oratory would move at least one
of his potential patrons, to whom he presented the copy.