Cicero - Political Career, 75 B.C. - 58 B.C.

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Political Career


75 B.C.Cicero's quaestorship, in Western Sicily. He is based in Lilybaeum.
74 - 63 B.C.Third Mithridatic War.
70 B.C.First consulship for Pompey and Crassus.
70 B.C.Against Verres.
69 B.C.Cicero serves as aedile.
67 B.C.Lex Gabinia gives Pompey extraordinary command against the pirates in the Mediterranean.
66 B.C.Cicero is praetor, and president of the extortion court.
66 B.C.Lex Manilia gives Pompey extraordinary command against Mithridates, taking over from Lucullus.
65 B.C.Cicero's son, Marcus is born.
64 B.C.Cicero is elected consul for the next year, primarily because the optimates fear Catiline and what he would do as consul.
63 B.C.Cicero's consulship. The Catiline conspiracy, given the senatus consultum ultimum. Sentences conspirators to death without trial.
63 B.C.Pompey defeats Mithridates.
63 B.C.Caesar becomes pontifex maximus.
62 B.C.Pompey returns to Italy and disbands his army.
62 B.C.The Bona Dea scandal.
61 B.C.Cicero's ideas about concordia ordinum begin developing.
60 B.C.Formation of the First Triumvirate.
59 B.C.Caesar's consulship. Lex Campania. Tax rebate to equestrian tax farmers. Agrarian bill. Eastern settlements ratified.
59 B.C.Pompey marries Julia, Caesar's daughter.
59 B.C.Caesar assists Clodius in his adoption as a plebeian. Clodius does not follow normal adoption procedure, but instead merely changes his name from "Publius Claudius Pulcher" to "Publius Clodius Pulcher". This shows he cares little about plebeian status, and did this only so he can stand for tribune.
59 B.C.Cicero refuses Caesar's offer to join his Gallic staff, or to go on an official mission.
58 B.C.Caesar begins Gallic campaigns.
58 B.C.The tribunate of Clodius. Collegia legalised. Bill to banish magistrates who have killed Roman citizens without trial.

Laws passed by Pompey and Crassus


Restoration of the powers of the tribune
Revival of censorship
The courts were made to be comprised of equal amounts of Senators, equites and tribuni aerarii (the lex Aurelia)

In Verrem


(full details here: Cicero - Against Verres)


Gaius Verres was on trial for extortion during his propraetorship in Sicily. He seized art for personal use, extorted bribes, inflicted unauthorised punishments, mismanaged the navy and imposed illegal taxes on farmers.


Cicero was selected to be the prosecutor the Verres case, and there was a 110 day adjournment. Cicero collected evidence for the case during this time. Verres and his associates attempted to delay the trial until the following year, when one of their associated would be the praetor urbanus (praetor presiding over the extortion courts).


Verres attempted to bribe Cicero, and the Achaian case was decided. Cicero presents his opening speech for the Sicilian. He immediately calls his witnesses, departing from usual practice.


Verres considered his situation hopeless, and went into voluntary exile. He is found guilty and fried in absentia.


The trial was upon the whole Senate, as corruption was so common at the time. A bad result of the case would reflect badly on the entire Senate. Cicero highlighted this to the jury on his first speech.

Lex Gabinia


Piracy had been a problem in the Eastern Mediterrannean, and all previous attempts to fix this had failed. This seriously threatened the Roman corn supply, so A. Gabinius, a tribune, proposed an extraordinary command (obviously intended for Pompey).


He proposed a man of consular rank be given a three year imperium in all of Rome.


Many were in favour of this, though only Caesar expressed this in the Senate. Catulus opposed it, but the bill was passed.


Pompey dealt with the pirates in 3 months and then resettled them in Cilicia and Achaea.

Lex Manilia


During the Third Mithridatic War, L. Lucullus was in charge. He was successful until his men mutinied. Mithridates recovered much of his kingdom, and the Senate called for Lucullus' replacement. Pompey seemed the obvious choice. So when tribune G. Manilius proposed another extraordinary command for Pompey, against Mithridates, only Catulus + Hortensius


Pompey was given the command, and in 63 B.C. Mithridates died. Pompey was awarded a triumph, which lasted two days. However, the Senate refused to ratify his Eastern settlements en masse.

Effects of the extraordinary commands


Some (especially Catulus) were opposed to Pompey's extraordinary commands. Catulus argues that they are illegal, and give too much power to one man. He also states that there is no reason to assign offices for which there were existing offices.


Cicero countered this, stating that Pompey is known to be trusted, and innovation has always been essential to Rome in times of war.


Cicero was initially opposed to these commands, as he felt they gave one man too much power, and violated the constitution. Accordingly, he did not support the lex Gabinia. However, he realised allying himself with Pompey would be advantageous, and he was in desperate need of votes, and so supported the lex Manilia.

In Rullum


A speech made by Cicero during his consulship against the distribution of free land in Campania and elsewhere to the urban poor.

de rege Alexandrino


A speech made by Cicero during his consulship against the annexation of Egypt to Italy.

The Catilinarian Conspiracy


The candidates to become consul for 63 were: Cicero, Lucius Sergius Catilina (Catiline) and Gaius Antonius Hybrida. The optimates and conservatives supported Cicero as they were worried by Catiline's intentions. Cicero was elected with Hybrida being his colleague.
Catiline had talent, charm, energy and leadership qualities however he was reckless and ambitious which meant that he was in serious debt. In his election campaign in 63, Catiline made promises that if elected he would cancel all debts. As a result, he won a large following from all those who were disadvantaged e.g. urban poor. He also attracted the criminal element.
Cicero, in an attempt to warn the people against Catiline, conducted the elections wearing a breastplace udner his toga with bodyguards of supporters around him. Catiline failed to be elected (this was the second time) but now, he abandoned constitutional methods to satisfy his political ambitions.
Catiline sent his agent Manlius north to organise troops and keep them ready to march on Rome. Catiline himself remained in the city with the other conspirators. When Cicero received news that the army was going to march on Rome and carry out a masssacre, he told the senate and the senatus consultum ultimum (SCU) was passed. This gave Cicero the right to make military preparations but Catiline- against whom there was no real prof at this stage- continued to take his seat in the senate.
The conspirators hired assassins to kill Cicero but he was warned and well protected. He then made a number of stirring speeches in the senate the assembly against Catiline and saying that what he was planning was far worse than all other acts of violence between 88 and 77. Catiline denied everything in the senate but was shhouted down and shortly afterwards, he left to join Manlius and the army leaving Lentulus, a leading conspirator, in charge in Rome.
The senate outlawed Catiline and when evidence was brought to Cicero in the form of letters written by the conspirators to Catiline urging him to hurry his advance in Rome, the others ere arrested and admitted their part in the conspiracy. For 2 days, there was a debate in the senate concerning the punishment to be imposed on the self-confessed traitors. The majority of the senators who spoke, spoke in favour of the death penalty but Caesar was courageous ennough to point out that they were al Roman citizens and execution without trial was illegal. Romans threatened with execution were entitled to appeal and so Caesar suggested that they should be imprisoned for life in various Italian towns. Cato went against Caesar and turned the decision in favour of the death pentalty.
When news reached Catiline's camp of the death of Lentulus and the others, many of his followers deserted but Catiline with some associates, made a courageous and determined stand against the government forces led by Antonius. The were all killed.
This was the peak of Cicero's political power and popularity. He was honoured with the title 'pater patriae' for having saved the country from ruin with his oratory and swift action.

The Eastern Settlements


Pompey created an almost continuous ring of provinces around the coastline
He united the Roman area by promoting the growth of Hellenestic (Greek) cities
This gave them much autonomy and simplified administration
He organised many city states which held some loyalty to Rome, to ensure protection from Parthia
The Parthian King was angered, as Pompey did not allocate all of western Mesopotamia to him
The Senate refused to give land to Pompey's veterans (which he had promised them) or to ratify these settlements

The Bona Dea Scandal


Clodius attended the gathering of the Bona Dea cult by dressing in women's clothes.
It is likely he wished to know what the secret rituals of the meeting contained.
This was sacrilege.
Clodius was brought to trial, and Cicero reluctantly gave evidence against him.
Clodius was acquitted, however, as Crassus had bribed the jurors.


The outcomes of this trial were various:
increased hostility between equites and optimates
Cicero gaining Clodius' hatred
Caesar divorced his wife, Pomponia, stating "The wife of Caesar must be above suspiscion"

The Formation of the First Triumvirate


Pompey wanted land for his veterans and his eastern settlements to be ratified en bloc.
Cato, Lucullus and Metellus Celer staunchly opposed these.
Crassus wanted a rebate for the equestrian tax farmers he represented.
Cato + co. refused.
Cicero thought a rebate would be immoral, but supported the rebate because he believed it would preserve the balance he naively thought existed between the equites and optimates.
Caesar wanted the consulship for 59 B.C. and a good provincial command for his proconsulship.
Caesar was awaiting a triumph, but also wanted to stand for consulship. He asked to stand in absentia, but this was refused. Instead, he forewent his triumph and stood for consul.
Cato + co. backed Bibulus for the consulship. Caesar needed support, and had previously supported Pompey + Crassus. The triumvirate was formed out of this, and Caesar was elected consul.

Laws Passed in 59 B.C.


Caesar won the consulship for 59 B.C, and secured Cisalpine Gaul for his proconsulship. Caesar then passed a variety of laws in 59:


Pompey had his eastern settlements ratified en bloc, and had land allocated to his veterans, paid for by money from his eastern command.
Crassus secured a tax rebate of one-third for the tax farmers.
The lex Campania - a compulsory purchase of the last remaining state land in Campania for the plebs.
Reform of governorships
Ptolemy confirmed as ruler of Egypt
German chief, Ariovistus, recognised as a 'friend of Rome'

How did Caesar achieve this?


Through compromise
The threat of violence
The inactivity of his co-consul, Bibulus

Why did Clodius become a tribune?


After becoming a plebeian, Clodius stood for the tribunate. He did this for a variety of reasons:
he felt disillusioned with the Senate,
he felt that any moves along the cursus honorum would be hard to achieve due to the Bona Dea scandal,
he felt an affinity with the plebs,
to assist Crassus (as tribune),
for the power of veto,
and to take revenge against Cicero.

Measures passed by Clodius


Implentation of corn dole
Abolition of omens being used to stop public business
Legalisation of collegia
Exile to anyone who executed a Roman citizen without trial
Prevented Cicero from being within 400 miles of Italy (official exile)
Gave Cato an extraordinary command in Cyprus
Freed Tigranes of Armenia, who Pompey had captured

Significance of measures passed by Clodius


Won over urban masses
Played to Caesar, blocked future attempts to obstruct a consul's decision
Made it possible to create gangs - led to gang warfare
Exiled Cicero - revenge taken
Forced Cicero into retirement
Undermines Cato - has to be an advocate of extraordinary commands/Clodius
Removes Cato from politics - benefits Caesar
Undermines Pompey