This study identifies specific features in the legal procedure and social perception of homicide in Athens in the time of the orators and examines how these features affected and were represented and utilised in forensic rhetoric.
The socially transgressive nature of the crime in Athens resulted in homicide receiving a distinctive treatment in Athenian law, where it was ‘set apart’ from other crimes in a number of ways, including the courts in which it was tried, the procedures involved, and the fact that uniquely these laws were attributed to Drakon as mytho-historical lawgiver. Plastow explores how four distinctive features of homicide procedure and law at Athens played out in rhetoric: ideology, pollution, relevance, and the connected issues of motive and intent. Through exploration of these rhetorical themes, the volume also provides insight into the popular perceptions of homicide amongst the Athenians, since the orators’ speeches make extensive use of persuasive techniques that tap into the deeply held beliefs and ideologies of the jury members. A secondary aim is to explore the effects of the physical context of delivery on the rhetoric of homicide: the courtroom spaces themselves, whether homicide courts or popular courts, with the variable ideologies that their locations and physical attributes provoked, as well as the aspects of ritual that would have been performed physically during a homicide trial.
Homicide in the Attic Orators offers insight into this complex subject, and is of interest to anyone with an interest in Athenian law, rhetoric, and society.
Table of Contents
- Introduction: The Landscape of Athenian Homicide
- The Ideology of Homicide: Shape and Usage
- Religion, Ritual, and the Rhetoric of Pollution
- Rhetoric and Relevance
- Hows and Whys: Rhetorics of Intent, Motive, and Motivation
Christine Plastow is a lecturer in classical studies at the Open University, where she teaches Greek and Latin language and literature and the cultural history of the ancient world to undergraduates and postgraduates via distance learning. Her research focuses on Athenian oratory and law, and particularly the value that forensic rhetoric has as a source for social history. She also works on classical reception and public engagement through theatrical projects with By Jove Theatre Company.
"[Plastow's] book is interesting and thought-provoking, and will certainly be a useful tool for scholars of Athenian society, oratory and law."
- Linda Rocchi, University of Edinburgh, UK, The Classical Review 2020