This essay argues that Edmund Spenser's legal poem, the Two Cantos of Mutabilitie, considers how civil conflicts implicitly generate a basis for their own evaluation and resolution. To illustrate this idea, Spenser draws from a tradition of rhetorical argumentation stretching from Aristotle and Cicero to Rudolph Agricola and Philip Sidney. This tradition emphasizes how fictions establish the shared questions that can create a deliberative context for equitable judgment when general law and particular case come into conflict. Dramatizing this rational process through an allegorical legal trial, Spenser illuminates how divergent judgments and actions become ethically legible to one another as parts of the same deliberative whole.
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