History – Cicero

History – Cicero


In this article we will see: “Cicero”, history, the chronicle of human civilization, serves as a window to the past, illuminating the triumphs, struggles, and evolution of societies over millennia. Through the study of historical events, we unravel the complexities of our collective heritage and gain insight into the forces shaping our present and future.

Summary : History – Cicero

The following article delves into the tumultuous political and legal landscape of ancient Rome, focusing on the trial of Gaius Verres, a corrupt governor accused of egregious crimes in Sicily. Through the lens of Marcus Tullius Cicero, a young and impassioned orator, we witness a gripping tale of justice challenged by corruption and power.

As Cicero confronts the entrenched elite and fights for accountability, the narrative unfolds against the backdrop of a society struggling with the consequences of its imperial ambitions. This introduction sets the stage for a riveting exploration of power, justice, and morality in one of history’s most influential civilizations.

History – Cicero

Marcus Tullius Cicero, a young and talented politician and lawyer, stood before the judges in a Roman court. His eyes flashed with anger. For fifty days, he had traveled through Sicily, painstakingly gathering evidence of the crimes of Gaius Verres, the man being tried. Yet, the magistrates had just declared to Cicero that they did not have time to hear his testimony. Cicero had no doubt that the judges had been bought.

Verres was no ordinary criminal; he was an aristocrat and senator who had served as governor of Sicily for three years. The defender of Verres was Hortensius, the leader of the patricians. It seemed that all the wealthy and important figures in Rome were on Verres’s side. However, Cicero was determined that Verres would not escape the punishment he deserved.

He turned to Hortensius and offered to present Verres’s case in an extremely brief time, not exceeding one day. “Under these conditions,” he added ironically, “I hope the court will not refuse to hear me.” Hortensius appeared surprised but smiled and replied that Cicero could try to expedite the process. The judges agreed. A silence fell. Cicero realized that he had to abandon all the grand speeches he had prepared and get straight to the point. Calmly, he listed all of Verres’s crimes.

As governor of Sicily and commander of the Roman army stationed there, Verres had embezzled money meant for the troops. Responsible for order and justice in the province, he had accepted huge bribes from pirates whom he allowed to plunder the ports. Criminals had also paid him a large ransom to be released and even to have innocent people condemned in their place. For gold, Verres had tortured and killed Roman citizens; he deserved to be punished.

In addition to being a tax collector, Verres had taxed the grain of Sicilian farmers so heavily that they were reduced to starving. His horrible deeds did not end there; he had stripped cities of their monuments and stolen gold from their temples. Cicero asserted that Verres’s crimes were widely known, both in Rome and Sicily. Verres himself had boasted about them. The court fell silent. What Cicero said was true. Verres was not much different from other provincial governors; he was simply one of the most corrupt and despicable.

Cicero’s voice rose again, vibrant and warm. Was it true, he asked, that in Rome, a wealthy man, no matter how guilty, could be certain never to go to prison and to escape the just punishment for his crimes? If so, then it was not Verres’s trial that should be held but that of Roman justice! When Cicero sat down, he had won! Learning how things were turning out, Verres hastened to leave, not forgetting to take his gold and even some of the most beautiful statues he had stolen.

This famous trial took place in 70 BC, sixty years after Rome had established its hegemony in the Mediterranean. The Romans learned the lesson that the Athenians of the age of Pericles and the heirs of Alexander the Great had learned before them. Building a vast empire is not easy. But governing it wisely is even more difficult! The conquered provinces expected protection and good organization from Rome. However, Rome sent them governors who only came to line their pockets.

Meanwhile, the barbarians had a field day making incursions at the borders. Moreover, the Italian cities, the first allies of the Romans, were increasingly irritated by the fact that their sons served in the army but were still not granted the right to vote in public affairs. Yes, many things needed to be reformed in the empire! Unfortunately, the republic, that is, the senators and the representatives of the people, seemed hardly concerned about it!”

Last word about : History – Cicero

The trial of Gaius Verres serves as a microcosm of the larger societal tensions and political struggles that defined ancient Rome. Through the relentless pursuit of justice by figures like Cicero, we glimpse both the noble aspirations and inherent flaws of a civilization grappling with its own power dynamics.

As Verres flees the consequences of his actions, leaving behind a legacy of corruption and impunity, the trial underscores the enduring importance of accountability and ethical governance. Ultimately, the narrative reminds us that the quest for justice is timeless, echoing across the centuries as a beacon of hope in the face of systemic injustice.

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