Captatio benevolentiae

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Captatio benevolentiae (Latin for "winning of goodwill") is a rhetorical technique aimed to capture the goodwill of the audience at the beginning of a speech or appeal. It was practiced by Roman orators, with Cicero considering it one of the pillars of oratory.[1]

During the Middle Ages it was used in court cases to gain the judge's favor, with lavish praise of the judge's wisdom considered most effective by Guillaume Durand.[2] In parallel, the techniques of the captatio benevolentiae began to be used in the prologues of chivalric romance novels, addressing the readers and trying to have them view the work favourably.[3]


  1. Calboli Montefusco, Lucia (2006). "Captatio benevolentiae". In Cancik, Hubert; Schneider, Helmuth. Brill’s New Pauly. Antiquity volumes. Brill Online. Retrieved 20 April 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Brundage, James A. (2008). The Medieval Origins of the Legal Profession. 1. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 9780226077598.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Schomanek, Florian (2011). Captatio Benevolentiae. GRIN. ISBN 9783640843480.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>