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What Does The 'trial Of Verres' Reveal About Provincial Malpractice And Corruption In The Roman Courts.

1209 words - 5 pages

Cicero's opening speech in the 'Trial of Verres' is focused on the failings of Gaius Verres as he rose up in the Roman political system to the level of governor, and his subsequent attempts to corrupt the court system in order to be acquitted and avoid a legitimate trial. Cicero doesn't attempt to portray Verres' situation as unique, and states that these acts of corruption and provincial malpractice are rampant throughout the Roman political system. Cicero systematically goes through Verres' misdoings in each of his positions, from abandoning his governor as a Quaestor, through to plundering households and cities as a provincial legate in Asia, then stealing from temples and public buildings during his Praetorship in Rome, and finally his great atrocities as a Governor of Sicily, leaving the province in a ruinous state. Following his outline of Verres' crimes, he moves on to how he has tried to avoid prosecution through corruption of the judges, and attempts to hinder court proceedings.In the position of Quaestor, the Trial of Verres reveals how provincial malpractice can occur so far down on the political system, as Cicero relates Verres crimes of firstly stealing public funds, and then secondly of his disloyalty to his governor and betrayal by switching sides and leaving his governor, Gnaeus Papirius Carbo deserted and defenceless. The trial shows how easy it was for a financial administrator to steal and redirect public funds for himself, and that there were no implications for him.When Verres became a provincial legate, he had more power than when he was a Quaestor, and thus he increasingly abused his power and plundered the cities of the Asian province, leaving it in ruins while accumulating great amounts of money for himself. Verres continued to be disloyal toward his superiors and abandons his new governor, Gnaeus Cornelius Dolabella, and then subjects him to abuse. The fact that Verres was promoted from Quaestor to Legate exposes that the Roman system condones malpractice, and certainly doesn't discourage it.Verres is promoted again to a Praetor in Rome, and he again steals from temples and public buildings. As a Praetor, he began to take a role in legal cases, and awarded cases against past precedent. Cicero exposes the great flaws in the Roman legal system that allow cases to be decided in such an unfair and biased manner, and the fact that it goes unchecked by any higher authority.Finally, Verres is elevated to Governor of Sicily, and Verres leaves the province in such a bad state that according to Cicero, 'a succession of honest governors, over a period of many years, could scarcely achieve even a partial rehabilitation.' Verres removed the Sicilians rights and tortured and put them to death as if they were slaves. He robbed farmers, and cancelled inheritances, redirecting funds to himself. He treated his allies like enemies and let his ports go to ruin. Cicero lists all of his great atrocities, and exposes the fact that during his...

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