Guide to Literary Terms

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Oratory

Oratory - the rendering of a formal speech delivered on a special occasion, characterized by elevated style and diction and by studied delivery. Sometimes the term simply means an eloquent address.

The term is from the Latin orare, meaning “to pray.”

An example of oratory is found in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, when Mark Antony speaks to his countrymen about his slain friend:

Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears
I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.
The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones;
So let it be with Caesar . . .
Act III, scene ii : lines 75 – 79