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The Noble Advocate: Law versus rhetoric in the courts of the late Republic

March 4, 2013

Anyone watching a real-life trial unfold is often struck by how boring it is compared with courtroom dramas on television. Our modern legal system privileges the application of law over the practice of oratory, and scholars since Antiquity have been quick to find fault with the law courts of the Roman Republic for their willingness to admit seemingly irrelevant arguments (including personal attacks) rather than strictly applying the law to the case at hand. The Causa Curiana, which involved a legal dispute over an inheritance, offers something of a case-in-point. In 92 B.C., Rome's leading legal expert faced off against its leading orator and lost. Writing some forty years later, Cicero had come to see the trial as a landmark in the history of rhetoric.

Dr. John Dugan, Associate Professor of Classics at the State University of New York - Buffalo, will address Cicero's view of the case in "Ambiguous Legacies: The Causa Curiana as mise en abyme in Cicero's Brutus," a public lecture hosted by the Department of Classics. Dr. Dugan is the author of Making a New Man: Ciceronian Self-Fashioning in the Rhetorical Works (Oxford Univ. Pr. 2005) and currently serves as co-editor of the journal Arethusa. A Latinist, he has published extensively on Cicero's orations and treatises as well as the cultural history of the Roman Republic.

The lecture will take place Tuesday, April 2, 2013, at 3:30 pm in Morrison 330.