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Word as ActionRacine, Rhetoric, and Theatrical Language$
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Michael Hawcroft

Print publication date: 1992

Print ISBN-13: 9780198151852

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198151852.001.0001

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Formal Oratory: Trials, Embassies, and Councils

Formal Oratory: Trials, Embassies, and Councils

(p.61) 2 Formal Oratory: Trials, Embassies, and Councils
Word as Action

Michael Hawcroft

Oxford University Press

The obvious places to look for the application of the precepts of rhetoric are formal speeches in trials, in political assemblies, and in churches. The most obvious setting for persuasive activity is scenes of formal oratory: trial scenes, councils, and embassies. These are the kinds of oratory for which rhetoricians were principally offering advice. Formal oratory is not absent from Jean Racine's tragedy. Some of Racine's characters are, in fact, formal orators. This chapter looks at examples of formal oratory, examines the characters' use of inventio and dispositio, and comments on the theatrical qualities of such oratory. A discussion of Racine's use of formal oratory in the dramatic context should begin not with the tragedies, but with Les Plaideurs. The three ambassadors in Alexandre, Andromaque, and Athalie; the family embassy in Esther, and family oratory in Britannicus and Mithridate are all addressed in this chapter.

Keywords:   Jean Racine, formal oratory, embassies, trials, ambassadors, councils, inventio, dispositio, tragedy

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