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Politics of the Late Republic: Cicero the Orator

3. In Verrem 1

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In the module, we think about Cicero’s first speech against Verres (In Verrem 1), focusing in particular on: (i) the general background to the speech – the date, the charges, the figure of Gaius Verres, etc.; (ii) the laws that were aimed at regulating the behaviour of provincial governors, and the difficulty of proving the kinds of offences that Verres was alleged to have committed; (iii) the political climate in 70 BC and the reason Cicero decides to get involved in the case; (iv) the procedural context that means Cicero feels he has to get through his evidence particularly quickly; (v) the nature of Cicero’s oratory in this speech and in his other (undelivered) speeches against Verres; (vi) the influence of Cicero’s oratory; and (vii) the continued problems with provincial government in the decades following the case against Verres and the attempts by Julius Caesar, Pompey and Cato the Younger the fix the problem.


In this course, Professor Catherine Steel (University of Glasgow) explores Cicero as an orator in a set of lectures designed to be used alongside the OCR A Level Classical Civilization option, ‘Politics and the Late Republic’. In the first module, we think about the genre of oratory as a whole, its importance in the political culture of the late Republic, and the various different contexts in which oratory might be delivered/heard. After that, in the second module, we think about the importance of oratory to an elite Roman’s political career, before turning in the third and final module to look more closely at Cicero’s first speech against Verres (In Verrem 1).


Catherine Steel is Professor of Classics and Head of the Department of Classics at the University of Glasgow. Her research interests relate to the Roman Republic, the writings of Cicero and Roman oratory. Her recent publications include Reading Cicero: Genre and Performance in Late Republican Rome (2005), The End of the Roman Republic, 146-44 B.C.: Conquest and Crisis (2013) and (with Dr Henriette van der Blom) Community and Communication: Oratory and Politics in Republican Rome (2013).

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Steel, C. (2020, September 05). Politics of the Late Republic: Cicero the Orator - In Verrem 1 [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Steel, C. "Politics of the Late Republic: Cicero the Orator – In Verrem 1." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 05 Sep 2020,

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