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Murder Trials: 'In Defence of Sextus Roscius of America', 'In Defence of Aulus Cluentius Habitu', etc (Penguin Classics) Paperback – 26 Jun 1975

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Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; Reissue edition (26 Jun. 1975)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 014044288X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140442885
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 2.1 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 802,750 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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About the Author

An accomplished poet, philosopher, rhetorician, and humorist, Marcus Tullius Cicero (106 BC-43 BC) was also the greatest forensic orator Rome ever produced. But to Cicero, service to the res publica (literally, "the public affair") was a Roman citizen's highest duty. At age 26 (in 80 BC), he successfully defended a man prosecuted unjustly by a crony of the bloodthirsty dictator Sulla. In 69 BC, he brought to order the corrupt Sicilian governor Verres. As consul in 63 BC, he put down the Catilinarian conspiracy; later, he was sent into exile for refusing to join the First Triumvirate. Late in life, he led the Senate's gallant but unsuccessful battle against Antony, for which he paid with his life on 7 December 43 BC.

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SEXTUS ROSCIUS THE ELDER was a well-known and prosperous citizen of the hill-town of Ameria in southern Umbria, fifty miles north of Rome. Read the first page
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jon Chambers VINE VOICE on 24 May 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
For anyone wanting a picture of Roman life during the chaotic upheavals of the late Republic, this collection of Cicero's forensic (ie law-court) speeches provides a close-up view. Cicero gives us oratory that was literally a matter of life and death, together with a vivid impression of law (and lawlessness) during Sulla's 'proscription' era - essentially, the nightmarish period in which political opponents were ruthlessly executed.

The most brilliant and dramatic defence speech is undoubtedly the first of the four contained in this somewhat uneven volume: 'In defence of Sextus Roscius of Ameria'. It is impossible not to admire the courage and skill of the young Cicero - a raw 26 year-old in 80 BC when this celebrated trial took place. As he explains at the outset, only he offered to undertake the defence of Roscius, the alleged parricide, since no-one else dared to incur the wrath of the criminal gang who had powerful backing - via Chrysogonus, Sulla's favourite - stretching up to the dictator himself. Cicero is understandably respectful of Sulla, but, as Michael Grant points out in his excellent and concise introduction, Sulla had many individuals murdered anyway just to gratify the whims of his supporters. These were dangerous times, with cut-throat assassins aplenty. All the more audacious, then, is Cicero at points in the speech like this, where he has fun at the expense of the prosecutor, Erucius: 'I began my speech. But at the same time I was able to watch how he [ie Erucius] went on joking and made no attempt to concentrate - until I suddenly let drop the name of Chrysogonus. As soon as I uttered that name, Erucius immediately started to attend and seemed overcome with amazement.' As did many others in the courtroom, probably.
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By Nicholas on 30 Dec. 2007
Format: Paperback
It should be noted straight up that this is a compilation of 4 of Ciceros speeches, specifically during murder trials. There are other penguin volumes provided for his other surviving speeches.

These speeches do provide an interesting view on the conduct of criminal justice in the Roman republic. It is a lot different to what we would describe as law and justice in our more enlightened age. The words and arguments are delivered in an engaging fashion. A weakness is that the details which must be dealt with can be overwhelming, particularly the fractured family tree of Cluentius.

Having said this, if you are seriously interested in Roman history, then this is worth the time reading.
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Format: Paperback
Very enlightening. Such a legal orator and lawyer of his time. Could still have argued against today's prosecutors. A book for the thinking reader.
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By OLUFEMI ODIAKOSA on 1 July 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Excellent. Eloquent. Must read if you love this sort of thing.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4 reviews
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Definitely worth reading 8 Nov. 2009
By Ryan C. Holiday - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
What makes Cicero's courtroom strategies so impressive is the fact that he never bothers to dispute the evidence against his clients. In both the defenses of Roscius and Cluentius, he doesn't even use a single witness. He doesn't offer contradictory evidence or waste much time with alibis. Instead, he focuses his entire arguments on the most critical part of the case - motive. In both trials he successfully creates such compelling versions of the events that all remaining details became irrelevant to a jury who believes there was no motive. His speeches are fantastic illustrations of a whole swath of Robert Greene's strategies in The 33 Strategies of War: Control the Dynamic, Weave a Seamless Blend of Fact and Fiction, Take the Line of Least Expectation and so on. Cicero's work is filled with so many applicable examples and fables and syllogisms and his name still carries such weight that I really leave each of his books with a ton of material I use for other things. This is one of those books. You should read it.
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
The real deal 10 Nov. 2006
By Dennis Bianchi - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I purchased this in order to follow Cicero's career as it has been documented in somewhat recent fiction. It is always a very good idea to go to original sources and in this case the idea holds true. Since I don't read or understand Latin I was, of course, at the mercy of the translator, but the works seemed quite alive and will help someone who wants to see if the current fiction works about Cicero are accurate (see Robert Harris, for one). I'm sure my Roman History teacher re-reads these frequently.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
print is small but the subject is interesting. Our ... 19 Aug. 2014
By Mair Kelly - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
print is small but the subject is interesting. Our law has elements of Roman and it is noteworthy that so much of law as practiced in Rome carried show business elements to extract sympathy for the client. NOT a search for truth
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Amazing stuff 3 May 2015
By Kristjan Pall - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If I had done something wrong and found myself in court I'd want this Cicero guy defending me. I wish I had his contact information.
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