4

THE TRIAL OF VERRES

The stage for which Cicero prepared his case was one in which the written word already appeared regularly as both backdrop and prop. There was, first of all, the Lex repetundarum itself, doubtless set up, in the form of a bronze inscription, somewhere near the tribunal. There was also the formulaic accusation along with the specific request for damages, with, below, the subscriptiones of the prosecutor and his assistants. 1 Finally, there were several written texts that regarded the composition of the court and the production of a verdict. The close link between these texts and the exposure of the court's workings to the public gaze is evident in A.N. Sherwin-White's close reading of the Gracchan-era extortion law:

A special feature of this law is its insistence on publicity for all its procedures, particularly for the selection of jurors, the management of the court, and the voting of the jury. When the praetor draws up his annual list of four hundred and fifty jurors, he must read it out in a loud voice at an assembly of the People, and publish it on a public notice-board throughout the year. Not only the plaintiffs and defendants but every citizen has the right to make copies of this list. The praetor must publish the lists of jurors chosen and advocates appointed for each case in the same way. Thus the administrative control of the jurors is regularly submitted to the eyes of the People. This attention to publicity is particularly significant at the voting of the jurors and at the counting of their votes. Every detail is regulated, the size of the voting tablets, the way the jurors must hold the tablets and put them in the urns, and just how they are to conceal with their fingers the letters A or C which signify acquittal or guilt. The People surrounding the court must be able to see that the jurors vote but must not see how each individual has voted. At the counting of the votes a selected foreman shows each tablet, taken from the urn at random, to the crowd around the tribunal and declares the verdict inscribed on it. The praetor as president of the court then declares the result of the total poll. The People is

-61-

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The Hand of Cicero
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments viii
  • Abbreviations ix
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - The Young Cicero, Reading 4
  • 2 - Cicero Takes a Bath 24
  • 3 - Multitudo Litterarum 35
  • 4 - The Trial of Verres 61
  • 5 - Litterae Manent 71
  • 6 - December 3, 63 Bce 85
  • 7 - The Hand of a Secretary 103
  • Notes 124
  • Selected Bibliography 152
  • Index Locorum 158
  • Index 161
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