Translated with Introduction and Notes by D. H. Berry
"But I must stop now. I can no longer speak for tears - and my client has ordered that tears are not to be used in his defence."
Cicero (106-43 BC) was the greatest orator of the ancient world: he dominated the Roman courts, usually appearing for the defence. His speeches are masterpieces of persuasion: compellingly written, emotionally powerful, and sometimes hilariously funny.
This book presents five of his most famous defences: of Roscius, falsely accused of murdering his father; of the consul-elect Murena, accused of electoral bribery; of the poet Archias, on a citizenship charge; of Caelius, ex-lover of Clodia Metelli, on charges of violence; and of Milo, for murdering Cicero's hated enemy Clodius.
Cicero's clients were rarely whiter-than-white, but so seductive is his oratory that the reader cannot help taking his side. In these speeches we are plunged into some of the most exciting courtroom dramas of all time.
In this audio guide to Oxford Cicero's Defence Speeches, Dominic Berry, senior lecturer in the School of History, Classics and Archaeology at Edinburgh University and the translator of this volume, introduces Cicero and his world. To listen to the guide, click on the links below.
Oratory in Ancient Rome
Cicero: background and legal career
The Roman legal system
- Though in many ways similar to our criminal justice system, some Roman legal practices strike us as strange and even shocking today.
Dominic Berry explains [4:41]
Selecting the Speeches