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

Andrew Lintott

in Cicero as Evidence

Published in print February 2008 | ISBN: 9780199216444
Published online May 2008 | e-ISBN: 9780191712180 | DOI:
The Defence of Good Men (2): Treason and Other Crimes against the Roman People

Show Summary Details


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

Chapter.  8173 words. 

Subjects: Classical History

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.