Ancient history

The Sextus Affair

Sextus was the son of a wealthy Roman of the same name residing in Rome. One night his father was found dead with a dagger in his back. His son was soon accused of despising his fortune and of having precipitated the inheritance.
In Rome, when one was the assassin of his father, the punishment was severe:one was locked in a sack with a starving dog, a rooster, a monkey and a snake after being whipped, then thrown into the Tiber. Cicero was charged with the defense of Sextus. The trial lasted three days.

The trials took place in the forum, before the Roman people. The lawyers exercised rhetoric in order to be appreciated by this public of all social ranks, but especially by the judges who voted at the end of the trial whether the accused was found guilty or innocent.
Lawyers favored irony and puns, also innuendo, to create an entertaining spectacle while defending their client effectively

During the trial, two witnesses are called to speak against Sextus:Capito and Magnus. The first was his cousin while the second was his accomplice. According to Cicero, the two thugs would have murdered Sextus Roscius the father when he was drunk on leaving a drunken banquet. Magnus would have pretended to discover the body and the two accomplices would have immediately put Chrysogonus, freedman and favorite of Sylla, informed of the murder by involving him in their project. It was in 82 BC that Sulla began his proscriptions, and his allies had great power. Capito and Magnus' goal was to add Sextus' name to the list so that the victim's property would not revert to his heirs, but to the state.
At the auction, the thirteen farms of Sextus went to Chrysogonus, always very powerful, who paid them only two thousand sesterces. He offered three to Capito.

To be convincing, Cicero must be convinced. He quickly understands the project set up by the rogues and sees Sextus Roscius alone against all. Only Cecilia Metella, from a wealthy patrician family, supported Sextus and Cicero.
Our lawyer began to persuade the judges, especially during the auction of the thirteen farms. We understand that Capito was looking for the inheritance of Sextus and that he succeeded with the help of Chrysogonus. This is where Cicero takes risks:he accuses Sulla's powerful favorite and may find himself on the list in turn. But now that the case is clarified and the culprits unmasked, the Romans admire Cicero and in a way, he is protected from Sulla. Despite this, he left for Greece to perfect his eloquence but also to escape reprisals.

The accusation against Sextus Roscius allowed Chrysogonus to keep the farms and of course, for Capito and Magnus not to have been in the place of the accused. Sextus was therefore found innocent by the judges, and it was a victory for Cicero, who now shone in the eyes of the Roman people.

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