March 14, 2016

Coulson on Legal Oratory in the Processus Sathanae

Doug Coulson, Department of English, Carnegie Mellon University, has published The Devil's Advocate and Legal Oratory in the Processus Sathanae at 33 Rhetorica: A Journal of the History of Rhetoric 409 (2015). Here is the abstract.

Modern readers have been baffled by the combination of legal, dramatic, and theological elements in the 14th century Processus Sathanae, a mock trial drama in which the devil’s advocate and the Virgin Mary employ various Roman law concepts in a courtroom debate regarding the devil’s claim that he was wrongfully dispossessed of humanity. This article examines the Processus Sathanae along with an early source of the drama in a Marcionite creation dialogue and argues that by foregrounding equitable and emotional appeals the drama taught late medieval law students important lessons regarding legal oratory during a crucial period in the development of European jurisprudence. 

Download the article from SSRN at the link.

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