- Quintilian and the Law: The Art of Persuasion in Law and Politics
Quintilian is often overlooked in the rhetorical tradition, as modern readers assume he has little to offer, or that he merely recites his predecessors. The collection of essays in Quintilian and the Law thus offers a refreshing approach to the Institutio oratoria, tracing the rhetorical tradition through Quintilian, while highlighting his contributions and commentary and making available Quintilian's original perspective and contributions. Rather than dismissing Quintilian's self-censorship in regard to the imperial house, the authors carefully examine how Quintilian advanced his own normative ideal of society, largely through his educational program but also through his selected legal references while constrained by his position as Imperial Chair of Rhetoric and his indebtedness to the Flavians.
Quintilian and the Law, an edited anthology dedicated to topics in Quintilian's Institutio oratoria, seeks to "reintroduce Quintilian's Institutio oratoria to modern readers, and to show that the topics discussed in it are still very much alive today" (12). The works in the volume focus on the areas of the ideal orator (Jorge Fernandez Lopez, Vincenzo Scarano Ussani, Willen Witteveen, Giovanni Rossi); the education of the orator (Serna Querzoli, Maria-Silvana Celentano, Sanne Taekema, James J. Murphy); rhetoric and communication (Tomas Albaladejo, Barend van Heusden, Francisco Chico-Rico, Peter Wulfing); argumentation (Belen Saiz Noeda, David Pujante, Maarrten Henket); Roman law (Olivia Robinson, Jan Willem Tellegen, Olga Tellegen-Couperus, Andrew Lewis, Esperanza Osaba); and emotions in the courtroom (Jeroen Bons and Robert Taylor Lane, Richard Katula, Jose-Domingo Rodriguez Martin, Ida Mastrorosa).
The introduction provides a survey of the rhetorical tradition that contextualizes Quintilian's place in history and his relationship to Domitian and the Flavian house, and it usefully overviews the changes made to the courts by Augustus, which had a great effect on jurists and orators. The close attention to the text by the essayists underscores Quintilian's position on rhetorical theory, but the close attention to historical context across many of the essays also clarifies Quintilian's rhetorical situation. As a result, Quintilian's subtle resistance [End Page 522] to imperial rule emerges in a detailed rhetorical analysis of the Institution oratoria across many of the essays in the book.
As far as rhetorical theory is concerned, the book contains much of what one would expect to find as well as a few original contributions. For example, Tomas Albaladejo explores the divisions of the epideictic, deliberative, and forensic speech, tracing Quintilian's preferences back to Aristotle. Among the unique topics, Peter Wulfing elaborates on Quintilian's description of gesturing by the orator, the only such description in classical manuscripts, a subject all but ignored by scholars. Among Wulfing's more interesting conclusions is that there was no "anti-gesture" in classical oratory such as folding ones hand together (273). Despite a number of chapters that offer little more than a description of the information covered by Quintilian and elaboration on his rhetorical antecedents, the critical strength of the work lies in those chapters that explore Quintilian as a source of Roman law, the continued importance of Quintilian's legal perspective, and the rhetorical situation that Quintilian himself faced.
For example, Olivia Robinson, in her essay "Quintilian (Book III) and His Use of Roman Law," urges caution in accepting Quintilian as a reliable source of law in his own time; however, both she and Jan Willem Tellegen ("The Reliability of Quintilian for Roman Law: On the 'Causa Curiana'") argue that Quintilian serves as an excellent supplement to laws from the first-century bce, especially to the cases discussed in the writings of Cicero. Serna Querzoli's essay, "'Materia' and 'Officia' of Rhetorical Teaching in Book II of the 'Institutio oratoria,'" offers an explanation of Quintilian's focus on the laws of the previous century, which places the Institutio oratoria in its larger ideological context. She argues that "Quintilian's pedagogics propagated ideological theories which were far from neutral" (50).
Querzoli argues that...