In the late Roman Republic, acts of wrongdoing against individuals were prosecuted in private courts, while the iudicia publica (literally "public courts") tried cases that involved harm to the community as a whole. In this book, Andrew M. Riggsby thoroughly investigates the types of cases heard by the public courts to offer a provocative new understanding of what has been described as "crime" in the Roman Republic and to illuminate the inherently political nature of the Roman public courts.
Through the lens of Cicero's forensic oratory, Riggsby examines the four major public offenses: ambitus (bribery of the electorate), de sicariis et veneficiis (murder), vis (riot), and repetundae (extortion by provincial administrators). He persuasively argues that each of these offenses involves a violation of the proper relations between the state and the people, as interpreted by orators and juries. He concludes that in the late Roman Republic the only crimes were political crimes.
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