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Cicero's Pro Archia Notes

Classics Notes > Latin Literature of the 1st Century AD Notes

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How would you judge Cicero's line of defence in the Pro Archia?
Cicero wrote and delivered this speech in 62 BC in order to try and secure the roman citzenship of a Greek born poet named Archias; it is unclear whether he won or lost the case but what is known is that Cicero's hopes that this man would commemorate his consulship in verse were in vain. In many ways this is a very unusual speech and is unlike the rest of his corpus of forensic oratory; his argument is weak on legal evidence and instead he relies on an elegant and decoratve treatse on the virtues of poetry and poets. He structures the speech around two key arguments, frstly that his client satsfes the legal requirements of Roman citzenship and secondly that even if he did not he should be made a citzen, so great is his genius and the advantages he would bring to Rome because of his talents in poetry. "I shall demonstrate that not only should Aulus Licinius (note he uses his Roman names rather than his Greek here) not be struck from the number of citzens, since he is one, but that even if he were not, he ought to have been added to it" (4). In the very last secton of the speech Cicero confdently states that although he has spoken only very briefy and simply on the technicalites of the case, as he puts it, he is sure that he has proven them. The brevity with which he dispatches these legal arguments (they are dealt with by chapter twelve and never returned to again) despite the fact that they are surely the crux of his defence could imply that they are very weak, requiring Cicero to skate over them quickly and use his elegance to persuade the jury rather than prove his case with facts. Cicero's legal defence of Archias centres around the citzenship that he was awarded in the city of Heraclea and because this town enjoyed full treaty rights this also made the poet a Roman citzen. He then goes as far as to cite the actual law that makes this legal, "the citzenship is given, under the law of Silvanus and Carbo, to those who have been awarded citzenship in federate states, who are domiciled in Italy at the tme of this law's being passed and have announced themselves to a praetor within sixty days" (7). He then shows that Archias has followed this law to the leter by reportng to the praetor Quintus Metellus, by being domiciled in Rome for the required amount of tme and by presentng himself whenever he required. Although there is no documentary proof of his enrolment, since the public records of Heraclea were burned in the Italian War, he says that he has sworn testmony from the Heraclean ambassadors and Marcus Lucullus, a very honourable man, who took part in the grantng of citzenship to Archias. Cicero then challenges the prosecutor directly and asks him what other legal requirements Archias must satsfy and what other evidence could possibly be provided to further prove his right to the citzenship. Even though these legal issues are dealt with briefy the argument is very succinct and Cicero certainly makes it seem that the requirements are easily met; the fact he cites the relevant law and then provides strong evidence to show that it has been adhered to certainly makes it seem like it is an open and shut case with regard to legality. Whether there are any laws which would confict with the partcular one he cites with regard to resident aliens on which the prosecuton would later rely is unknown but if Cicero is not being misleading on this point, something which seems unlikely given his brevity, then it is the legal case of the

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