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What is oratory?

Oratory is the art of formal public speaking, particularly in an evocative and persuasive manner.


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Last Updated May 26, 2023.

Oratory refers to public speaking or delivering a formal speech. It often involves persuasive techniques, powerful rhetoric, and skillful language to captivate an audience. 

Oratory derives from the Latin word orare, meaning "to pray, to speak."

Mark Antony delivers a famous speech at Caesar's funeral, employing oratory techniques to sway the crowd's opinion:

Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears; 

I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.

- William Shakespeare, "Julius Caesar" (Act 3, Scene 2)

By beginning with the attention-grabbing line, "Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears," Antony captures the audience's attention and establishes a rapport. The quote showcases the power of oratory as Antony skillfully uses persuasive language to subtly turn the mourners against the conspirators and create sympathy for Caesar. Through this speech, Shakespeare highlights the impact and influence of skillful oratory in shaping public opinion and manipulating emotions.

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