Introduction: the rhetoric of law
Published online by Cambridge University Press: 07 September 2010
What if the law, without being itself transfixed by literature, shared the conditions of its possibility with the literary object?Derrida 1992b: 191
The study of law is a very specialized form of literary pursuit.Goodrich 1986: 91
This book charts a legal cosmogony. It studies the creation of a juridical cosmos in the courtroom speeches of classical Athens. This cosmos, as its Greek etymology implies, is both orderly and ornamented. On the one hand, it is a legal order: not just an arrangement of laws or an organization of behavior into categories of legality and illegality, but a discursive order that is shaped by, even as it gives shape to, the concept of “law.” It describes a legal world and a legal world-view: a specifically juridical way of thinking, speaking, and being. On the other hand, this cosmos is an aesthetic order, the product of the creative arrangements and expressive strategies of forensic rhetoric. In Athens' juridical cosmos, legal and aesthetic order are inseparable. What the texts say about the law is a function of how they say it. The tropes of forensic oratory themselves constitute a mode of jurisprudential thought.
This book traces the outlines of this juridical cosmos in the texts of the Attic orators. It examines the strategies by which forensic oratory authorizes this world; the metaphysics of causality and probability that govern it; where it draws the boundaries of legality and how it secures them.
- Law's CosmosJuridical Discourse in Athenian Forensic Oratory, pp. 1 - 18Publisher: Cambridge University PressPrint publication year: 2010