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The Case for the Prosecution in the Ciceronian Era

The Case for the Prosecution in the Ciceronian Era

Copyright Date: 2002
Pages: 384
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    The Case for the Prosecution in the Ciceronian Era
    Book Description:

    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 Eraattempts 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 Eradraws 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.

    eISBN: 978-0-472-02584-8
    Subjects: History, Law, Political Science
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Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Abbreviations
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. CHAPTER ONE Introduction
    (pp. 1-54)

    Historians generally study success: politicians who win, generals who conquer, and social groups that rise. However, the subject of this book is, in a sense, a study of failure: the failure of prosecutors—often presenting seemingly persuasive cases of criminal conduct—to overwhelm Rome’s greatest orator, 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...

    • [PART ONE Introduction]
      (pp. 55-58)

      The extortion¹ court dates back to 149 b.c., when a permanent investigatory committee of senators was established by alex Calpurnia de repetundisto handle accusations that Roman officials abused their powers to deprive complainants of 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. Thelex Calpurniaestablished 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 cases. It was logical for the jurors in...

    • CHAPTER TWO In M. Fonteium
      (pp. 59-77)

      In 69 b.c., on the heels of his successful prosecution of Verres for extortion, Cicero defended Fonteius, charged with the same crime. A later rhetorical writer reveals that Cicero tried to distinguish between the two cases: “… ut pro 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...

    • CHAPTER THREE In L. Valerium Flaccum
      (pp. 78-97)

      L. Valerius Flaccus was prosecuted in 59 b.c. for his activities as governor in Asia in 62. In the year before his governorship, as praetor in 63, he had aided Cicero in the suppression of the Catilinarian conspiracy, and Cicero now 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 difficult one, and while he was able to secure an...

    • CHAPTER FOUR In M. Aemilium Scaurum
      (pp. 98-109)

      Scaurus was prosecuted in mid-54 for his activities as propraetor in Sardinia in 55. Our understanding of the case against him is exiguous, because we do not have a full record of the defense that was made on his behalf. There are two reasons for the gaps in our knowledge: first, 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...

    • CHAPTER FIVE In C. Rabirium Postumum
      (pp. 110-118)

      The final case involving extortion for which we have an extant speech is the prosecution of Rabirius Postumus under thelex Iulia de repetundis(TLRRno. 305), probably at the end of 54 b.c. It is an atypical prosecution—in Cicero’s phrase, “quasi quaedam appendicula causae iudicatae atque damnatae” [a sort of 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...

    • [PART TWO Introduction]
      (pp. 119-120)

      The post-Sullan period saw a growth of legislation against various kinds of electoral malpractice.¹ The Sullan increase in the number of quaestorships from eight to twenty (Tac.Ann. 11.22) must have considerably increased the number 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 traditionalclientela(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 unwarranted nostalgia for the past, but...

    • CHAPTER SIX In L. Licinium Murenam
      (pp. 121-127)

      The prosecution of L. Licinius Murena in 63, when he was consul-elect, presents a straightforward case for electoral bribery, orambitus. A disappointed candidate put together a coalition to prosecute one of the victors, who responded by collecting a team of highly competent and politically influential 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 in the prosecution of a successful rival, as had P. Rutilius...

    • CHAPTER SEVEN In Cn. Plancium
      (pp. 128-144)

      M. Iuventius Laterensis was, as far as we can tell, a more than usually upright person. As quaestor and proquaestor in Cyrene (Cic.Planc. 13, 63), he balanced his obligations to Roman subjects and thepublicani(“Cyrenis liberalem in publicanos, iustum in socios fuisse” [At Cyrene he was generous to the tax 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...

    • [PART THREE Introduction]
      (pp. 145-148)

      Late republican criminal law had at least two statutes aimed at crimes against the physical safety of individuals, though the fact that these crimes were prosecuted in standing criminal courts may indicate that although individuals 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 ofmaiestasandpeculatus(treason and embezzlement), neither of which gave rise to a trial that produced an extant speech of Cicero—in that they did not relate to a public...

    • CHAPTER EIGHT In Sex. Roscium Amerinum
      (pp. 149-172)

      Cicero’s presentation of the case for Roscius conveys such a compelling picture—with the exception of one major structural problem—that it is hard not to be swept away by it: An unsophisticated young man of fine family, Roscius, 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 possession of their...

    • CHAPTER NINE In A. Cluentium Habitum
      (pp. 173-188)

      Cicero’s speech in defense of A. Cluentius Habitus is by far his longest forensic speech.¹ He delivered it at a trial (TLRRno. 198) in 66 b.c., launched in reaction to a trial eight years earlier (TLRRno. 149)—itself connected directly to two other cases (TLRR nos. 147–48)—that was so celebrated it even gained its own name (iudicium Iunianum), one which reverberated through at least seven other cases in the next few years (TLRRnos. 153–54, 159–61, 170, 172, possibly 162). Yet the individuals involved came from the lower end of the social strata visible...

    • CHAPTER TEN In P. Cornelium Sullam
      (pp. 189-205)

      In 62 b.c., someone who had been elected in 66 to be consul in 65—but who never held the consulate—appeared as a defendant in a vis trial. P. Cornelius Sulla, the nephew¹ of the dictator who had created or re-created most of the criminal courts of the period, lost his opportunity to hold Rome’s highest annual office because of a successfulambitusprosecution in 66, as did his fellow consul-designate P. Autronius Paetus. As a result, under the provisions of thelex Calpurnia de ambitu, besides losing the consulate, he was expelled from the Roman Senate, could never...

    • CHAPTER ELEVEN In P. Sestium
      (pp. 206-217)

      Cicero’sPro Sestiopresents at least two paradoxes. First, more than any other speech of his, it responds to the prosecutors’ speeches; yet it provides fewer details about what the prosecutors had actually said than does any other 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, theIn Vatinium, that is supposed to be a response to the testimony of one of the...

    • CHAPTER TWELVE In M. Caelium Rufum
      (pp. 218-243)

      The trial of M. Caelius Rufus has received eternal notoriety from what must certainly be Cicero’s most popular forensic speech, a seemingly lighthearted effort whose éclat has been enhanced by the fact that republican Rome’s most 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 prosecutor sought revenge on...

  9. CHAPTER THIRTEEN Conclusion
    (pp. 244-248)

    We cannot know for sure what factors did or did not move jurors in Roman trials. The answer may be different for each trial. The “inartificial proofs” (mainly testimony and documents) and the “artificial proofs” that the speakers on 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...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 263-326)
  12. Works Cited
    (pp. 327-342)
  13. Index of Ancient Sources
    (pp. 343-358)
  14. Index of Names
    (pp. 359-366)
  15. Index of Topics
    (pp. 367-370)