The Devil's Advocate and Legal Oratory in the Processus Sathanae
Rhetorica: A Journal of the History of Rhetoric 33.4 (2015): 409-30
22 Pages Posted: 10 Mar 2016
Date Written: March 9, 2016
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.
Keywords: Devil's advocate, legal oratory, devil’s rights, mock trial, legal education, Processus Sathanae, Marcionism, Virgin Mary, Mariolatry, Bartolus, law, equity, casuistry, jurisprudence
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