oa Fundamina : A Journal of Legal History - Bemerkunge zur beweisführung in ciceros cluentiana

Volume 21, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1021-545X
  • E-ISSN: 2411-7870



The speech for the defence in the criminal action () of Aulus Cluentius Habitus, Cicero's longest surviving speech, dates back to the year 66 when Cicero was praetor. In certain respects, it is the jewel in Cicero's ars oratoria, since its narrative is vivid and full of twists and turns like a crime story. Events, scenes and time sequences follow one another in a dramatic, sometimes seemingly illogical fashion, but in view of the effect the orator seeks to attain, in an exactly premeditated sequence. One charge against Cluentius was that he had poisoned his stepfather, Statius Albius Oppianicus. Another charge was based on the criminal proceedings that had been instituted eight years previously, when Cluentius had charged Oppianicus with attempting to poison him, which resulted in Oppianicus being forced into exile. In the current lawsuit, however, the prosecution alleged that the court in the previous case had declared Oppianicus guilty purely because Cluentius had bribed the judges. The lex Cornelia de sicariis et veneficiis of 81 was applicable with regard to charges of poisoning. However, that law prohibited bribing only those judges who belonged to the order of senators, and Cluentius belonged to the order of knights. First, I outline the historical background of the oration, that is to say, the facts of the case; then, I turn my attention to the possibility of applying the lex Cornelia de sicariis et veneficiis to the case. Finally, I examine Cicero's oratorical strategy of addressing, modifying or distorting the charges and their chronology in order to back up his argument, which lawyers, too, will regard as brilliant.

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