In ancient Athenian courts of law, litigants presented their cases before juries of several hundred citizens. Their speeches effectively constituted performances that used the speakers’ appearances, gestures, tones of voice, and emotional appeals as much as their words to persuade the jury. Today, all that remains of Attic forensic speeches from the fifth and fourth centuries BCE are written texts, but, as Peter A. O’Connell convincingly demonstrates in this innovative book, a careful study of the speeches’ rhetoric of seeing can bring their performative aspect to life.
Offering new interpretations of a wide range of Athenian forensic speeches, including detailed discussions of Demosthenes’ On the False Embassy, Aeschines’ Against Ktesiphon, and Lysias’ Against Andocides, O’Connell shows how litigants turned the jurors’ scrutiny to their advantage by manipulating their sense of sight. He analyzes how the litigants’ words work together with their movements and physical appearance, how they exploit the Athenian preference for visual evidence through the language of seeing and showing, and how they plant images in their jurors’ minds. These findings, which draw on ancient rhetorical theories about performance, seeing, and knowledge as well as modern legal discourse analysis, deepen our understanding of Athenian notions of visuality. They also uncover parallels among forensic, medical, sophistic, and historiographic discourses that reflect a shared concern with how listeners come to know what they have not seen.
Peter A. O’Connell is an assistant professor of classics and communication studies at the University of Georgia.
An excellent contribution to the study of Athenian rhetoric that should be welcomed by specialists in both Classics and the study of rhetoric. The aspect of Athenian rhetoric under scrutiny has not yet been adequately studied nor even properly described.
~Harvey Yunis, Rice University, editor of Written Texts and the Rise of Literate Culture in Ancient Greece and author of Taming Democracy: Models of Political Rhetoric in Classical Athens
… this book should be welcomed as an articulate, thought-provoking exploration of a fascinating and rich topic not hitherto treated in the synoptic compass that O’Connell offers us here. It will be of interest to a wide readership.
~Bryn Mawr Classical Review
O'Connell's monograph offers refreshing new insights that will help enhance our appreciation of the art of persuasion in Classical Athens. It deserves to be read by a wide audience of specialists and non-specialists.
Abbreviations of Ancient Authors
Abbreviations of Modern Editions
Note on Translations and the Spelling of Greek Names
Introduction. Vision and Performance in the Courts of Classical Athens
Part One: Physical Sight
Chapter 1. Visual Rhetoric and Visual Evidence
Chapter 2. The Meanings of Movement
Part Two: The Language of Demonstration and Visibility
Chapter 3. Showing and Seeing: The Procedural Terminology of Witnessing
Chapter 4. Saying as Showing, Hearing as Seeing
Part Three: Imaginary Sight
Chapter 5. Visualizing Civic Suffering
Chapter 6. Shared Spectatorship: Bridging the Gap Between Past and Present and Here and There
Stay connected for our latest books and special offers.
We live in an information-rich world. As a publisher of international scope, the University of Texas Press serves the University of Texas at Austin community, the people of Texas, and knowledge seekers around the globe by identifying the most valuable and relevant information and publishing it in books, journals, and digital media that educate students; advance scholarship in the humanities and social sciences; and deepen humanity’s understanding of history, current events, contemporary culture, and the natural environment.