|branches of oratory|
In classical rhetoric, oratory was divided into three branches:
|branch of oratory||time||purposes||special topics
|judicial||past||accuse or defend||justice / injustice|
|deliberative||future||exhort or dissuade||good / unworthy
advantageous / disadvantageous
|epideictic||present||praise or blame||virtue / vice|
There is little doubt that these categories do not exhaust the kinds of discourse (or even oratory) possible. Yet they still prove useful in rhetorical analysis, partly because they focus on common social situations where persuasion is important, and on broad categories of intention (the purposes listed above).
The branches of oratory are
closely tied to the process of establishing the issue at question, or stasis.
In the third act of Shakespeare's Timon of Athens Alcibiades attempts to sway the Athenian senators from condemning a friend of his who killed someone in a bar fight. He thus employs judicial oratory, attempting to defend his friend. This is also apparent in his use of those special topics of invention Aristotle identified as appropriate for forensic oratory, "justice and injustice." In this case, Alcibiades tries to show that killing, while usually unjust, sometimes isn't wrong. In terms of stasis he does not dispute whether the killing took place (an sit?), or that it was a killing (quid sit?); rather, he argues on the basis of the nature of that act and its justification (quale sit?).Sources: Cic. Top. 23.91
Alcibiades combines judicial and epideictic oratory when he adds praises regarding his friend (an encomium), hoping that his long service record will get him off the hook. The senators see through these ploys, however, and Alcibiades is banished.
© 1996-2000, Gideon O. Burton, Brigham Young University. Please cite "Silva Rhetoricae" (http://humanities.byu.edu/rhetoric/silva.htm)