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

See all articles by Doug Coulson

Doug Coulson

Carnegie Mellon University - Department of English

Date Written: March 9, 2016

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.

Keywords: Devil's advocate, legal oratory, devil’s rights, mock trial, legal education, Processus Sathanae, Marcionism, Virgin Mary, Mariolatry, Bartolus, law, equity, casuistry, jurisprudence

Suggested Citation

Coulson, Doug, The Devil's Advocate and Legal Oratory in the Processus Sathanae (March 9, 2016). Rhetorica: A Journal of the History of Rhetoric 33.4 (2015): 409-30, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2745281

Doug Coulson (Contact Author)

Carnegie Mellon University - Department of English ( email )

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HOME PAGE: http://www.dougcoulson.info

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