Exposition and Rhetorical Tactics in Cicero’s Pro Milone


  • Tamás Nótári Sapientia Hungarian University of Transylvania, Department of Law


Cicero, Pro Milone,, Clodius Pulcher, classical rhetoric, Roman criminal law


In the year 52 BC in Bovillae two emblematic figures of optimates and populares, Milo and Clodius clashed, and members of Milo’s entourage killed Clodius. Milo’s defence was undertaken by Cicero, perhaps the weakest performance in Cicero’s career: both Clodiana multitudo and Pompeius’s soldiers heckled him, clamour and shouting stopped him short, made him irresolute, what is more, intimidated him. His delivered speech was taken down in shorthand as usual. Therefore, an indisputable fact that Pro Milone published later—as a matter of fact, apart from certain overlapping thoughts—is not identical with the oratio uttered in April 52 BC. First, we outline the historical situation that provides the backdrop of the trial; then, after clarifying the events around the killing of Clodius, we attempt to reconstruct the course of the trial; later, we outline the structure and legal background of the argument. After that, we make an attempt at presenting the reasons, in more detail, for publishing the revised version of Pro Milone, i.e., a speech delivered in an undoubtedly lost case. Finally, we sum up the elements of philosophy of state that appear in Pro Milone, and place them in the entirety of Cicero’s state concept, paying special regard to the fact that Pro Milone is the first Ciceronian work in which the putting down of the tyrant, which afterwards returns as a fully developed thought in De re publica and De officiis, appears as a right and obligation a responsibly thinking Roman citizen is entitled to and bound by. In the course of that, we point out the parallels drawn by Cicero between Catilina and Clodius.