Verres Trial 70BC

Notes on the Verres Trial


- C.Verres- was a praetor in Sicily from 74BC for three years and was a nobiles NOT AN OPTIMATES.

-On return to Rome in 70BC, Sicilian embassies arrived requesting his prosecution.

-2 Sicilian patrons:
  -Scipiones:optimates who was pro-Verres and therefore the Sicilians couldn't trust
-Claudii Metellis: urged Sicilians to approach Cicero on back of his popularity as quaestor of Lilybaeum in 76-75BC.

1 of 7


-Extortion of 40 million sesterces

2 of 7

Problems encountered by Cicero

- Application to extortion court to act as prosecutor: Quintus Caescilius Niger also applied, quaestor under Verres in Sicily so would collude with Verres, Cicero said that the Sicilians must choose their defence and they chose Cicero

-Attemptes by Verres to bribe Cicero.

-Court blocked by a fake case against a corrupt governor af Achaea.

-Cicero requested 110 days to research the case.

-Achean case requested 108 days.

-A period of public holiday beginning in August post-elections (May/June period least interrupted by public holidays but now impossible- if took longer then Verres could destroy evidence against him.

- The trial thus will take place after elections for offices in 69BC.

3 of 7

Problems encountered by Cicero

- Hortensius= consul elect.

- Metellus Creticus= consul elect.

-Lucius Metellus= governor of Sicily.

-Marcus Metellus= praetor in charge of extortion court.

-Cicero needed to prosecute before they leave office because they are on Cicero's side.

-L.Metellus- intimidated Sicilian senate, interferring with copying of records and preventing some witnesses from going to Rome.

- Hortensius and Metellus- summoned witnesses to Rome and intimidated them.

-Optimates of majority of jury so naturally aligned with Verres.

4 of 7


- Began 5th August- 11 days before public holidays were due to start.

-Cicero- went against the norm and did a short summary of the case instead of a long introduction, then the presentation of evidence and questioning of witnesses.

-Verres' condemnation virtually certain by the end of the 3rd day so took himself to exile.

-Trial officially concluded on 13th August- trial took 8 days.

5 of 7

Success for Cicero

-Novus homo- manipulation of senatorial corruption in juries, giving senators no choice but to err on the side of caution and corrupt a blatantly guilty man in order to preserve reputation.

-Ability not to entirely isolate optimates by positioning himself as 'one of them'- Verres was not an optimates and therefore Cicero was not offending them by prosecuting one of their own, instead he prosecuted one of their 'minions' who they were less anxious about sacrificing.

-Demonstrated Cicero's oratorical skill.

6 of 7

Successes for Cicero

-Victory over Hortensius- status as greatest orator at Rome.

-Victory against corruption- positioned himself as just, fair and moral.

-Seniority rights in senatorial debate- could speak along with ex-praetors (Verres' status).

-Also procured aedileship for the following year.

7 of 7


No comments have yet been made

Similar Classical Civilization resources:

See all Classical Civilization resources »