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Murder Trials

4.02 of 5 stars 4.02  ·  rating details  ·  128 ratings  ·  9 reviews
Cicero was still in his twenties when he got Sextus Roscius off a charge of murdering his father and nearly sixty when he defended King Deiotarus, accused of trying to murder Caesar. In between (with, among others, his speeches for Cluentius and Rabirius), he built a reputation as the greatest orator of his time.Cicero defended his practice partly on moral or compassionate ...more
Paperback, 368 pages
Published September 30th 1975 by Penguin Classics
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The lawyer's profession is more related, even in its origins, to sophistry than true philosophy, but Cicero was more committed to the latter, so much so that he rarely prosecuted, as he believed it better to be merciful than vindictive, and the selections here represent the defense of each case. A couple of these reveal the extreme cruelty and outlawry prevalent in Italian towns during the first century BCE, and are, therefore, of immense historic interest. The case regarding Cluentius is possib ...more
Benjamin Plume
Should be read by everyone with a brain at some point, I think.

Wow, saw this review because someone "liked" it and realized it comes off a bit elitist. I guess what I meant was that this is sort of THE book that teaches people how to think critically, and has been for over a thousand years. The implication is not that people who haven't read it can't think or are stupid.
Ryan Holiday
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 irreleva ...more
I recently read this as part of a Roman Law and Society class, and I loved it. We focused on the defense of Cluentius, and I thought the text for this oration was fantastic. The words are so compelling when read out loud that it was easy to forget what the actual laws were on the topics he was discussing, and even though some of the points he was making were incorrect it was easy to see how any jury could get wrapped up in his artful prose and declare his side the winner. A must-read if you are ...more
I overall liked it, but there is only so much Roman legal oratory that I can handle before my eyes start to cross. Also, a lot of Cicero's puns don't translate well into English. Also, "I will be brief and to the point" is Ciceronian for "I will be long winded and irrelevant."
I loved my roman history course in college. Hated this book. Kind of like Judge Judy except there's a smaller chance that the plaintiff and defendant are both inbred and will start a fight and pull each others' hair.
Christoph Knerr

You should have a general knowledge of the Roman government, Roman history, and the ancient world to enjoy this work in translation.
What I learned from this book were a few tricks of the trade from a master of it.
Given how little we have how do I rate the ancient sources other than "must read?"
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January 3, 106 BCE – December 7, 43 BCE

Marcus Tullius Cicero, Roman philosopher, statesman, lawyer, political theorist, and Roman constitutionalist. Cicero is widely considered one of Rome's greatest orators and prose stylists.
More about Marcus Tullius Cicero...
Selected Works On the Republic/On the Laws Selected Political Speeches On the Good Life On Duties (Cambridge Texts in the History of Political Thought)

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