Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Greek, Latin, and Classical Studies
Roman legal advocacy and legal expertise have long been viewed as two different fields of occupation with different intellectual aims and have therefore been assumed to have had little interaction with one another. More recent scholarship, however, has questioned this dichotomy between orators and jurists. In my dissertation, I build on this work to explore the precise nature of the relationship between Roman rhetoric and Roman legal thought during the classical period of Roman law. I will study oratory, in particular Quintilian’s Minor Declamations, side by side with Roman legal texts in order to ascertain connections between rhetorical training and juristic writing. Specifically, I will focus on Roman family law, as many of Quintilian’s declamations are devoted to this topic and there is also a large body of juridical evidence that is roughly contemporary. In addition, I will draw on non-literary sources such as papyri and inscriptions. My overarching goal is to shed light on the intersections between rhetorical education, juristic reasoning, and social norms, as well as to elucidate the role that declamation played in the expansion and professionalization of Roman legal practice. At the same time, I hope to deepen the understanding of Roman family dynamics as well as the relationships and power structures between individual members by investigating how they played out in the courtroom, both imagined and real. In so doing, I intend to contribute to the ongoing exploration of declamation as an important venue for constructing Roman identity and propagating key social norms and values.
Ta, T. 2023. "Jurists and Orators: Rhetorical and Legal Perspectives on the Roman Family." PhD Diss., Bryn Mawr College.
Available for download on Thursday, May 01, 2025