Cicero’s Use of Judicial Theater
of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor, 2015, 201 pp.
In Cicero’s Use of Judicial
Theater, Jon Hall examines Cicero’s use of showmanship in the Roman courts,
looking in particular at the nonverbal devices that he employs during his
speeches as he attempts to manipulate opinion. Cicero’s speeches in the
law-courts often incorporate theatrical devices including the use of family
relatives as props during emotional appeals, exploitation of tears and
supplication, and the wearing of specially dirtied attire by defendants during
a trial, all of which contrast strikingly with the practices of the modem
advocate. Hall investigates how Cicero successfully deployed these techniques
and why they played such a prominent part in the Roman courts. These
«judicial theatrics» are rarely discussed by the ancient rhetorical
handbooks, and Cicero’s Use of Judicial Theater argues that their
successful use by Roman orators derives largely from the inherent theatricality
of aristocratic life in ancient Rome—most of the devices deployed in the courts
appear elsewhere in the social and political activities of the elite.
While Cicero’s Use of Judicial
Theater will be of interest primarily to professional scholars and students
studying the speeches of Cicero, its wider analyses, both of Roman cultural
customs and the idiosyncratic practices of the courts, will prove relevant also
to social historians, as well as historians of legal procedure.
Notes on Texts and Translations
Chapter 1: Judicial Theater in Ancient Rome: Some basic Considerations.
Chapter 2: A Sordid Business: the Use of “Mourning Clothes” in the Courts.
Chapter 3: Too Proud to Beg: Appeals and Supplications in the Courts.
Chapter 4: Shedding Tears in Court: When Crying is Good.
Chapter 5: Judicial Theatrics beyond Cicero.
Jon Hall is Associate Professor in the Department of Classics,
University of Otago, New Zealand.
Marcus Tulius Cícero, 106-43 a C.