The Verrine Orations


Category: Philosophy and Politics

By Cicero

Published ca. 1476

Reference #0755

Illuminated Manuscript on Parchment, in Latin. Written in the humanist style in Padua, Italy circa 1476, this volume contains Marcus Tullius Cicero’s “Verrine Orations,” a series of speeches Cicero made in 70 B.C. The speeches were made during the trial of Gaius Verres, the former governor of Sicily, who was on trial for corruption and extortion. Only Cicero spoke during the trial, despite other planned orators. Verres’ lawyer, Hortensius, advised him to plead no contest and go into voluntary exile after hearing Cicero’s speeches. By the end of 70 B.C., Verres was living in exile, while Cicero was thrust into public view and considered to be the greatest orator in Rome.

The trial also placed Cicero’s political career on the fast track and was elected to the Aedile in 69 B.C., an office of the Roman Republic that regulated public festivals, maintenance of public buildings, and had powers to enforce public order. Considered to be the master of Latin prose, Cicero is credited with transforming Latin into a versatile literary medium and influencing several philosophers including Desiderius Erasmus, Martin Luther, and John Locke.