Friday, March 18, 2016

Coulson on a 14th-Century Mock Trial

Doug Coulson, Carnegie Mellon University, has posted The Devil's Advocate and Legal Oratory in the Processus Sathanae, which appeared in Rhetorica: A Journal of the History of Rhetoric 33.4 (2015): 409-30:
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.