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Murder Trials

4.02  ·  Rating Details ·  154 Ratings  ·  10 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 June 26th 1975 by Penguin Classics
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David Sarkies
May 29, 2016 David Sarkies rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
A Glimpse Into the Roman Criminal Justice System
29 May 2016

Having spent four years of my life studying a law degree (and having an interest in the criminal side of things) when I discovered this book years ago my interest was immediately piqued – it was a collection of ancient speeches that focused around murders. Anyway, who doesn't like a good murder trail (though most murder trials these days usually arise from domestic disputes), particularly if they happen to be politically motivated. It i
Sep 04, 2010 Jesse rated it really liked it
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
Nov 21, 2011 Benjamin Plume rated it really liked it
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
Jul 05, 2012 Ryan Holiday rated it really liked it
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
May 13, 2012 Krysty rated it it was amazing
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."
Apr 12, 2010 John rated it it was ok
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
Aug 05, 2012 Christoph Knerr rated it it was ok

You should have a general knowledge of the Roman government, Roman history, and the ancient world to enjoy this work in translation.
Nov 24, 2008 Gavin rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
What I learned from this book were a few tricks of the trade from a master of it.
Jul 30, 2009 Jeffry rated it it was amazing
Given how little we have how do I rate the ancient sources other than "must read?"
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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.
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