Concordia in pro Cluentio, 143 - 160

Marco J. Zangari (University of Puget Sound)

The pro Cluentio affords a reader Cicero’s earliest thinking on the subject of concordia ordinum within a forensic context. The case itself proves congenial since its current iteration in 66 and its former incarnation in 74 straddle the important year of 70. It was in 70 that the equestrian order was allowed to participate in the courts. I argue that in response to such a change in the jury pool itself, the rules of engagement for an orator would have been altered. Cicero, therefore, within the pro Cluentio has an opportunity to play with the idea of concordia much earlier than in 63 since the jurors, both senatorial and equestrian, would have to find harmony and agreement to render any decision. Therefore, his construction of concordia, which is primarily viewed as a consular conceit (Mitchell 1979: 198 – 204; Fuhrmann 1992: 74), can be better understood by the reader as a rhetorical and legal response to the changed legal landscape after 70.

The majority of Cicero’s defense in the pro Cluentio is predicated on rumors about the families of the Aurii, Cluentii, and Oppianici from Larinum. Allegations of murder, bribery, poisoning, and collusion arise and stem from the invidia engendered in the first case in 74. As a consequence, Cicero spends one hundred thirty-three (§§9 - 142) chapters explaining the history behind the current charges while the charges against Aulus Cluentius Habitus, his actual client, span only fifty-one (§§ 143 - 194). Cicero, in the main, refutes the claims of bias and innuendo more fully than he does the legal issues surrounding the case at hand.

Yet, within the few chapters on the legal aspects of the case, Cicero carves out a still smaller section (§§143 – 160) focused upon the legal rights of both senators and members of the equester ordo as the jurors in the courts. Not surprisingly, elements of invidia undermine the very basis of the courts and the individuals acting within them. In contrast, concordia provides legal and class boundaries so as to stave the court, its participants, and, by extension, the res publica from not only invidia but also the excessive desires for power of unnamed senatorial forces (pro Clu. 152). Cicero’s notion of concordia ordinum finds its beginnings not in his consular experiences but in the practice of his forensic arts in defense of a client whose case for all practical measures spans two separate legal realities.

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