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Institute of Classical Studies


Corruption in office, pervasive, subversive and perennial, requires the state to examine itself, its ethical values and its ways of working. The prosecution for corruption of Gaius Verres, governor of Sicily, has long been recognized for its exposure of ruthless depredation, of personal debauchery and abuse of office, and for the skilled presentation of the case by Cicero in his speech to the court as prosecutor. Longest of Cicero’s surviving orations and his only prosecution speech, the Verrines are an immensely rich source of evidence for Roman provincial government, for Roman law and above all for the rhetoric of prosecution. Deriving from a colloquium held at the Institute of Classical Studies in 2004, these papers confront directly the challenge which such rhetoric poses for our use of the historical material contained within the speech. The contributions to the volume explore the rhetorical strategy employed by Cicero for a repetundae prosecution, his use of witnesses and of devices learned from Attic oratory and his rhetorical manipulation of the complex legal and taxation systems at work in the province of Sicily. Several contributors reveal the extent of Cicero’s skill in presentation – but also the perils which that skill presents for the historian. Many of the papers focus specifically on the de frumento at the heart of the Verrines, exploring its rhetorical devices relating it to the archaeology of Republican Sicily and examining the foundations of its modern study, Jérôme Carcopino’s La loi de Hiéron et les Romains. This volume sets the study of the Verrines on a new footing. It is essential reading for all who work on Cicero provincial government and Sicily, shedding new light in particular on the much-maligned de frumento.