Law, Fact and Narratives in Ancient Rhetoric: The Case of the causa Curiana
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- Könczöl, M. Int J Semiot Law (2008) 21: 21. doi:10.1007/s11196-007-9054-0
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The present article examines the role of narratives in rhetoric and jurisprudence, trying to understand the ancient system of ‘issues’ (staseis), an essential part of the rhetorical curriculum in antiquity, with the help of some basic notions of legal semiotics. After a brief reconstruction of the doctrine, I argue that narratives are essential to classical rhetoric, that the basic types of issues correspond to particular stories in and of the trial, and finally that the system of ancient rhetorical theory is capable of giving an account of the narrativisation of the pragmatics of the trial. Then I turn to a cause célèbre of Roman law, the causa Curiana, trying to show that not only the trial itself but also subsequent (ancient and modern) debates concerning the case were shaped by some grand narratives, and that stories about the trial are likely to return to the court, where they may become part of the story of the trial.