Cicero, Pro Plancio

LCL 158: 404-405

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Cicero

numbers to afford them security” (Holden). These associations might interfere with the purity of elections in two ways: they might still further simplify bribery, as the candidate needed only to approach the leader, who would presumably exercise control over the members; and they could exert violence and intimidation towards the unattached and unorganized voters.

Now, in his speech for the prosecution, Laterensis seems to have adduced no adequate proof that Plancius had resorted to these associations; but rather, while bringing his charge under the Lex Licinia, to have made ambitus pure and simple the substance of his accusation.a And he had had, Cicero urges, an ulterior motive in so doing. It was because, he says, this law bore with especial hardness upon defendants, owing to the peculiar constitution of the jury in cases where its infringement was in question. Ordinarily at this time juries were chosen by lot from all the tribes, representation being equally divided between senators, equites, and tribuni aerariib; and both prosecutor and defendant had equal rights of challenging them. But in cases brought under the Lex Licinia the prosecutor named four tribes, out of which the jury was to be selected; the defendant had the right to challenge one of these tribes, and the jury was taken from the other three, the defendant having no further power of challenge. Consequently the constitution of the jury lay entirely in the hands of the prosecutor. The Lex Licinia

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Cicero

took it for granted that the tribes the prosecutor would name would be those in which the offence had been committed; but Laterensis avoided naming these, and Cicero therefore charges him with having contravened the spirit, if not the letter, of the law.

The penalty enacted was exile; but we have no information as to whether this penalty was inflicted, or whether Cicero’s clever handling of the case, combined with his somewhat overstrained pathos in the peroration, succeeded in winning Plancius’ acquittal. Two lettersa which the orator addressed to him in 46 show us that he was living at Corcyra, but we can base no assertion upon this.

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DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.marcus_tullius_cicero-pro_plancio.1923