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The Case for the Prosecution in the Ciceronian Era

Michael C. Alexander

Publication Year: 2002

Much of the modern world's knowledge of criminal court trials in the Late Roman Republic derives from the orations of Cicero. His eleven court trial speeches have provided information about the trials and the practices of the time period. Records of the prosecution's case are lost; these speeches, our only transcripts of the time, were delivered by the defense. The Case for the Prosecution in the Ciceronian Era attempts to restore the judicial balance by depicting the lost side of the trial. Guided by Cicero's argument, Michael C. Alexander recreates the prosecution's case against the defendants in the trials. Organized into eleven chapters, each detailing one trial, the core of the work discusses the different dimensions of each trial, the circumstances surrounding the cases, those involved, the legal charges and allegations made by the prosecution, the ways in which the prosecution might have countered Cicero's rebuttal and the outcome. There is also a discussion concerning particular problems the prosecution may have faced in preparing for the trial. This book reveals strong points in favor of the prosecution; justifies the hope of the prosecutor, a private citizen who had volunteered to undertake the case; and asks why the prosecutors believed they would come out victorious, and why they eventually failed. The Case for the Prosecution in the Ciceronian Era draws on ancient rhetorical theory and on Roman law to shed light on these events. It will interest historians and classicists interested in Ciceronian oratory and those intrigued by legal history. Michael C. Alexander is Associate Professor of History, University of Illinois, Chicago.

Published by: University of Michigan Press

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pp. vii

... and Sciences for the spring semester of 1994; and to finish the ‹rst draft, a sabbatical leave granted by the Department of History and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences for the fall semester of 1998. In addition, in 1998 the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research awarded me an Arts, Architecture, and Humanities Equipment Award to purchase a laptop computer. ...


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pp. ix-x


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pp. xi-xii

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Chapter One: Introduction

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pp. 1-54

... despite weaknesses in his brief. Of the eleven trials analyzed in this volume, none definitely resulted in condemnation, eight definitely ended with acquittal, and two—or possibly three, if we opt for extreme caution in saying that we do not know the outcome of the trial of Roscius of Ameria (see chap. 8)—have uncertain outcomes. The failure of most or perhaps all of ...

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Part One - Extortion

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pp. 55-58

... something material, usually money. Such complaints, since they generally originated with those living under the power of Roman governors, were naturally brought to the Senate. The lex Calpurnia established a permanent committee of the Senate to adjudicate these complaints. The law of 149 provided for the return of simple damages to aggrieved parties who won their ...

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Chapter Two: In M. Fonteium

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pp. 59-77

Fonteio Marcus Tullius exsequitur, quod eius causa non sit eadem quae Verris” [ . . . as in his speech for Fonteius Cicero develops the argument that his case is not the same as that of Verres].1 Since Cicero had just prosecuted Verres and was now defending Fonteius, it is quite natural that he would want his audience to think that the two cases were entirely different. The ...

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Chapter Three: In L. Valerium Flaccum

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pp. 78-97

... defended him. He was one of Cicero’s most distinguished clients; not only was he a patrician, but with the exception of his grandfather, C. Valerius Flaccus, he came from a direct, six-generation line of consulars going back to his namesake, the consul of 261.1 Yet Cicero’s brief was a dif‹cult one, and while he was able to secure an acquittal for Flaccus (according to ...

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Chapter Four: In M. Aemilium Scaurum

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pp. 98-109

... are two reasons for the gaps in our knowledge: ‹rst, we have only part of Cicero’s speech, contained in two large fragments from palimpsests and in fragments from Asconius and a few other authors; second, Cicero defended only “part” of Scaurus’s case (“. . . cum ego partem eius ornatissime defendissem” [ . . . part of him being defended by me in my best style] ...

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Chapter Five: In C. Rabirium Postumum

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pp. 110-118

... small addition to a case that has already been decided and in which a guilty verdict has been rendered] (Rab. Post. 8). This legal procedure took much less time than a regular trial; in fact, Ramsey argues that it was of a type that could conceivably be completed from start to finish within one day.1 The causa, which had already been iudicata (adjudicated) by the time this case ...

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Part Two - Electoral Malpractice

... of candidates eligible for higher office,2 and this competition must have been particularly intense for the consulate, which was still held by only two people each year. Cloud suggests that the breakdown of traditional clientela (clientship) relationships and an increased role for money may have created a need for this kind of legislation.3 That view might seem to reflect ...

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Chapter Six: In L. Licinium Murenam

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pp. 121-127

A disappointed candidate put together a coalition to prosecute one of the victors, who responded by collecting a team of highly competent and politically in›uential orators. They were able to fend off the attack, and Murena went on to serve as consul in 62. That Ser. Sulpicius Rufus (praetor in 65) prosecuted calls for little comment, as it was probably quite usual for a defeated candidate to participate ...

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Chapter Seven: In Cn. Plancium

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pp. 128-144

... farmers and fair to the provincials], 63). In 59, rather than put himself in a position where he would have to swear to uphold Caesar’s two agrarian laws, he withdrew his candidacy for the tribunate of 58 and was thought to have acted honorably in so doing (“Laterensis existimatur laute fecisse quod tribunatum pl. petere destitit ne iuraret” [Laterensis . . . is thought to ...

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Part Three - Homicide and Violence

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pp. 145-148

... were directly harmed by these crimes, the threat to public law and order provided the rationale for these statutes.1 Such crimes were different from extortion and electoral malpractice—as well as from the crimes of maiestas and peculatus (treason and embezzlement), neither of which gave rise to a trial that produced an extant speech of Cicero—in that they did not relate ...

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Chapter Eight: In Sex. Roscium Amerinum

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pp. 149-172

... finds himself accused of arranging the murder of his father. Two kinsmen, who had been engaged in an intrafamilial quarrel with the murder victim, ally themselves with an upstart freedman potentate in the camp of a victorious general, Sulla, and arrange to have all the family property stripped from Roscius and given to themselves. To guarantee their undisturbed ...

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Chapter Nine: In A. Cluentium Habitum

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pp. 173-188

.. own name (iudicium Iunianum), one which reverberated through at least seven other cases in the next few years (TLRR nos. 153–54, 159–61, 170, 172, possibly 162). Yet the individuals involved came from the lower end of the social strata visible to us today, the domi nobiles from municipia across the Apennines from Rome, who as individuals were politically dominant only ...

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Chapter Ten: In P. Cornelium Sullam

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pp. 189-205

... criminal courts of the period, lost his opportunity to hold Rome’s highest annual office because of a successful ambitus prosecution in 66, as did his fellow consul-designate P. Autronius Paetus. As a result, under the provisions of the lex Calpurnia de ambitu, besides losing the consulate, he was expelled from the Roman Senate, could never again hold public office, and ...

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Chapter Eleven: In P. Sestium

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pp. 206-217

... speech. Second, given that one of the main voids we face is the lack of extant “inartificial proofs,” such as testimony and documents, we might expect that we would gain a particularly close view of that aspect of this case from a speech by Cicero, the In Vatinium, that is supposed to be a response to the testimony of one of the witnesses, Vatinius; yet Cicero’s attack on ...

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Chapter Twelve: In M. Caelium Rufum

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pp. 218-243

... popular poet today, Catullus, wrote obsessively about the person whom Cicero would like us to believe is the central, though hidden, character in the trial. But the sources’ literary acclaim does not guarantee their historical importance. On the one hand, this trial can be viewed as a minor episode in the use of trials for nonjudicial purposes, when a young ...

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Chapter Thirteen: Conclusion

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pp. 244-248

... the two sides presented may not have always determined the outcome. The jurors may have been swayed by the personal prestige of the defendant or lack thereof or by the prestige or rhetorical skills of the prosecutors and advocates in comparison with each other. They may have been swayed by political factors, especially as an air of crisis came to pervade the Roman ...


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pp. 249-262


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pp. 263-326

Works Cited

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pp. 327-342

Index of Ancient Sources

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pp. 343-358

Index of Names

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pp. 359-366

Index of Topics

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pp. 367-370

E-ISBN-13: 9780472025848
E-ISBN-10: 0472025848
Print-ISBN-13: 9780472112616
Print-ISBN-10: 0472112619

Page Count: 384
Publication Year: 2002