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Cicero as EvidenceA Historian's Companion$
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Andrew Lintott

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780199216444

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199216444.001.0001

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The Defence of Good Men (2): Treason and Other Crimes against the Roman People

The Defence of Good Men (2): Treason and Other Crimes against the Roman People

(p.111) IX The Defence of Good Men (2): Treason and Other Crimes against the Roman People
Cicero as Evidence

Andrew Lintott (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Cicero's method when defending in the repetundae court was to discount testimony rather than to examine evidence. He sought to portray his client as a good man defending Rome's empire against hostile foreigners. This chapter considers cases that required a different approach. The facts were often well known, at least in general terms, and the prosecution was supported by Roman witnesses whose character could not be casually denigrated. On the other hand, there was more scope for arguing about the interpretation of the law and of the defendants' actions in relation to the law. The difference between rhetorical strategies in different public courts has been well characterized. It was not just a question of variation in the quantity and quality of evidence for different charges: it depended on the nature of the offence. In cases where the political element was stronger, the definition of the offence had been left vague, even ambiguous, by the legislator — probably deliberately, because the judgement was expected to be political, rather than purely criminal. Here, there was more opportunity for defending counsel to argue, not merely that his client was a ‘good man’, but that the actions of his that were being prosecuted were justifiable.

Keywords:   defence speeches, Ciceronian speeches, law, repetundae, rhetorical strategies

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