oa Fundamina : A Journal of Legal History - La corruzione elettorale nel Commentariolum petitionis
The so-called Commentariolum petitionis, probably written in 64 BC and ascribed to Quintus Tullius Cicero (the younger brother of Marcus), provides some knowledge and understanding of the problem of corruption in the electoral competitions in the late Roman republic.
In the Commentariolum - a private letter apparently sent to Marcus by Tullius â?? a number of useful suggestions for winning the petitio for the election of the consuls for the year 63 (in which Marcus was a candidate and gained victory) are found.
It is possible to draw some indications from the text about the phenomenon of financial corruption in the electoral competitions which was persecuted as crimen ambitus by two different comitial laws de ambitu, namely the lex Cornelia (81 BC) and the lex Calpurnia (67 BC).
The contents of these laws appears highly uncertain and contradictory since the fight against corruption had no ethical or legal purpose. It was simply one of several instruments used in the political fight with the aim to eliminate the financial power of the antagonists.
Marcus, as homo novus, could not rely on money and wealth, but his virtus and eloquentia allowed him to aim at success. The Cicero brothers therefore had an interest - as the Commentariolum reveals - in supporting anti-corruption legislation.
After having been elected as consul, Marcus continued his fight against corruption, always for his personal interest as homo novus. With this purpose, he proposed to the comitia (that approved it) a new lex Tullia de ambitu that greatly increased the prohibitions of the lex Calpurnia, forbidding the petitores to do many things that were previously allowed (offering ludi gladiatores and public banquets, paying adsectatores - people employed to follow and assist the candidate - or divisores - fellows charged to distribute money in the centuria and tribus - etc), and that were expressly suggested in the same Commentariolum as allowable instruments.
But Cicero's interests quickly changed, as appears from his oratio in defence of Lucius Licinius Murena, petitor for the year 62, who was accused - with very good arguments - by the jurist Servius Sulpicius Rufus (a personal friend of Marcus) for open violations of the same lex Tullia. Prosecuting Marcus' political career was evidently no longer worth continuing the fight against electoral corruption.
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