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the art of swaying an audience by eloquent speech. In ancient Greece and Rome oratory was included under the term rhetoric, which meant the art of composing as well as delivering a speech. Oratory first appeared in the law courts of Athens and soon became important in all areas of life. It was taught by the Sophists. The Ten Attic Orators (listed by Alexandrine critics) were Antiphon, Andocides, Lysias, Isocrates, Isaeus, Aeschines, Demosthenes, Lycurgus, Hyperides, and Dinarchus. Classic Rome's great orators were Cato the Elder, Mark Antony, and Cicero.

The theory of rhetoric was discussed by Aristotle and Quintilian; and three main classes of oratory were later designated by classical rhetoricians: (a) deliberative—to persuade an audience (such as a legislature) to approve or disapprove a matter of public policy; (b) forensic—to achieve (as in a trial) condemnation or approval for a person's actions; (c) epideictic—"display rhetoric" used on ceremonial occasions. Rhetoric was included in the medieval liberal arts curriculum. In subsequent centuries oratory was utilized in three main areas of public life—politics, religion, and law. During the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and the Reformation, oratory was generally confined to the church, which produced such soul-searing orators as Savanorola, Martin Luther, John Calvin, and John Knox.

With the development of parliaments in the 18th cent., great political orators appeared—Charles James Fox, Edmund Burke, Henry Gratten, and Daniel O'Connell in England and Ireland; Patrick Henry and James Otis in the United States; and Danton and Mirabeau in France. Because these politicians usually spoke to men of their own class and education, their orations were often complex and erudite, abounding in classical allusions. In the 19th cent., the rise of Methodism and evangelical religions produced great preachers like John Wesley and George Whitefield who addressed a wide audience of diverse classes of people. Their sermons, replete with biblical allusions and appeals to the emotions, profoundly influenced the oratorical style of many politicians. Famous 19th cent. orators included Disraeli and John Bright in England, Charles Stewart Parnell in Ireland, Lamartine in France, Ferdinand Lasalle in Germany, Louis Kossuth in Hungary, and Joseph Mazzini in Italy. Great American orators included Abraham Lincoln, Henry Clay, John C. Calhoun, Daniel Webster, Stephen Douglas, and Henry Ward Beecher.

In the 20th cent., orators made frequent use of the "catch phrase" (e.g., William Jennings Bryan's "cross of gold" speech). Noted orators in the first half of the 20th cent. were Bryan, Eugene Debs, Susan B. Anthony, and Woodrow Wilson in the United States, Lenin and Trotsky in Russia, and David Lloyd George and Winston Churchill in England. The bombastic oratorical style of Hitler and Mussolini, inevitably associated with their discredited political ideologies, brought grandiloquent oratory into disrepute. The advent of radio forced oratory to become more intimate and conversational, as in the "fireside chats" of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Television forced additional demands on the orator (usually now called the public speaker), who not only had to sound good but also had to look good. Still, most politicians, notably Adlai E. Stevenson and John F. Kennedy, succeeded in utilizing the ubiquitous television camera to heighten the impact of their speeches. The particular effectiveness of great oratory was movingly demonstrated in 1963 when the civil-rights leader Martin Luther King delivered his "I have a dream" speech to an audience of 200,000 people in Washington, D.C., and to millions more listening to him on radio and watching him on television.



a type of monologue used in a situation when the speaker is addressing himself to a large audience for the purpose of persuasion or suggestion.

Oratory is characterized by traditional features of composition and style (and, in general, by the use of language techniques), and also by coordination of linguistic and paralinguistic means of communication. The traditions of modern oratory go back to the rhetorical art of ancient Greece and Rome (Demosthenes and Cicero). The characteristics of oratory were formerly studied in rhetoric. A distinction is made among academic (scholarly), political, juridical, ecclesiastical (especially church sermons), and other forms of eloquent speech.


Apresian, G. Z. Oratorskoe iskusstvo, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1972.
Ob oratorskom iskusstve, 4th ed. Moscow, 1973.
Nozhin, E. A. Osnovy sovetskogo oratorskogo iskusstva. Moscow, 1973.



An ancient oratory in Ireland
A small private chapel furnished with an altar and a crucifix.


a small room or secluded place, set apart for private prayer
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On this day, a seminar on the topic of ' Use of Technology and Innovations in promoting Good Governance' and a competition on Oratory ( Bhaashan Shailee ) are to be organised in all the central universities and colleges under the purview.
He said: "Some of them this morning, when I met them, I couldn't let them into the oratory but when I told them the damage that was done they were crying.
After this display of virtuosity, vibrant colour and dynamic energy the concert concluded with four pieces reflecting the choir's work at the Oratory over the last 30 years and I was greatly moved by the piercing dissonances and reflective melancholy of Lotti's Crucifixus a 8.
PLACE: The Oratory Center for Spirituality, Rock Hill, SC.
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From September, Antonio Clegg will attend a Catholic school in west London, the London Oratory.
In 1854 the Oratory moved to South Kensington, where Faber spent the last nine years of his life.
analyzes the oratory of the Lost Cause speakers of the first decades following the US Civil War, arguing that the victory of Lost Cause rhetoric in the South has helped lay the groundwork for much of Southern political and social culture up until the present day.
THE former director of music at Birmingham's Oratory has won a battle over unfair dismissal after losing his job in a money-saving 'restructuring' scheme.
Sierra McClain, an 18-year-old home-schooled senior from Camp Creek, won the state oratory competition at the 2012 Oregon Right to Life Conference held April 21 in Portland.
THE ORATORY is a Grade I-listed classical building now overshadowed by the magnificent splendour of Liverpool's Anglican Cathedral rising up beside it.