School of History, Classics & Archaeology

Conference: 'Keeping to the Point: Law, Rhetoric and Character in Athenian Forensic Oratory'

The nature of Athenian trial has been one of the most disputed aspects of Athenian Law. Some recent works see little connection between law and rhetoric. According to this view, once the case was in court, litigants used various rhetorical strategies such as appeals to pity, boasting about public service and character assassination to win a verdict and paid little attention to the letter of the law. These views downplay the importance of institutions and legal procedures in shaping judicial rhetoric and are out of step with more recent studies on the procedural features of the trial.

The aim of this conference is to show the importance of legal procedures and institutions in shaping rhetorical arguments in court, and to foster new methodological reflection that has relevance for students of ancient history and rhetoric, and legal and political institutions. The cost for attending this conference is £10.00.

Conference Programme

12 September 

9.00- 9.45: Registration

9.45: Introduction

Chair: Edward Harris

10.15 - Alberto Esu (Universität Mannheim)

Keeping to the point in Graphai Paranomon: Civic Honours and Character Evidence in Demosthenes’ Against Androtion and Against Aristocrates. 

11.00 - Mirko Canevaro (University of Edinburgh)

Relevance and the scope of arguments from lawfulness in graphe nomon me epitedeion theinai speeches.

11.45: Coffee-break

12.00 - Guy Westwood (University of Oxford)

 The Rhetoric of the Graphe Paranomon in Demosthenes’ On the Crown.


12.45-14.00: Lunch


Chair: Mirko Canevaro

14.00 - Annabella Oranges (Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore Milano)

 Keeping to the Athenian law on Bribery beyond Rhetoric and Persuasion: some Reflections.

14.45 - Matteo Barbato (University of Birmingham)

 Gossip, morals, and poetry: legal relevance in Aeschines’ Against Timarchus.


15.30-16.00: Coffee Break


16.00 - Jakub Filonik (Jagiellonian University in Krakow)

 How does Lycurgus keep to his point?

Chair: Douglas Cairns

16.45 - Edward Harris (University of Edinburgh/University of Durham):

The Nature of the Probole and the Legal Charge in Against Meidias: The Challenges of Proving a Charge of Hybris

17.30 - Linda Rocchi (University of Edinburgh)

 Did Ariston keep to the Point? Dike aikeias and Graphe Hybreos in Demosthenes’ Against Conon.


18.15: Drinks Reception

19.30: Conference Dinner


13 September

Chair: Alberto Esu

9.30 - James Sickinger (Florida State University)

 Lysias 13 and the Case against Agoratus.

10.15 - Ben Clapperton (University of Durham)

Standards of Relevance and Rhetorical Strategies in the Areopagus and in the Popular Courts: Was there a Difference?


11.00-11.30: Coffee break


11.30 - Rebecca Van Hove (Université de Liège/Collège de France)

 Trial and error: the suppliant’s bough and Andocides’ impiety.

Chair: David Lewis

12.15 - Brenda Griffith-Williams (University College London)

 Character Evidence in Four Athenian Inheritance Disputes (Isaios 4,7, 8, and 10).


13.00-14.00: Lunch


14.00 - Giacinto Falco (Scuola Normale Superiore Pisa)

 Against Timotheus or Morality at the service of Law.

14.45 - Stefano Ferrucci (Università di Siena)

 Rhetoric and the Rule of Law: The Case of Apollodorus’ Against Neaera.

15.30: Concluding Remarks


Conference: 'Keeping to the Point: Law, Rhetoric and Character in Athenian Forensic Oratory'

This conference will explore the relationship between Law and judicial rhetoric by providing a thorough analysis of several forensic speeches from Classical Athens.

Room G.16, School of History, Classics and Archaeology, Doorway 4, Old Medical School, Edinburgh EH8 9AG