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  • Print publication year: 2013
  • Online publication date: April 2013

8 - The defense team

from Introduction


Caelius spoke in his own defense and gave, according to C., a good account of his oratorical talent (§45). Writing from a perspective two years after Caelius’ death, however, C. finds his defenses less impressive than his other oratory: defensiones, etsi illa erant in eo meliora quae dixi [sc. contiones, accusationes], non contemnendae tamen saneque tolerabiles (Brut. 273). The speech was quoted for examples of his caustic wit, as when, without mentioning his name, he called Plotius Gallus, the author of Atratinus’ speech, a “gingerbread rhetorician” (hordearium…rhetorem: orat. p. 485 no. 24) and Atratinus himself a “Pelias with curled hair” (Pelia cincinnatus: ibid. p. 488 no. 37). He also characterized Clodia as a quadrantariam Clytaemestram (ibid. p. 486, no. 26; cf. §62n [quadrantaria illa permutatione]) and said of her in triclinio coam, in cubiculo nolam (orat. p. 486 no. 27). He seems to have commented on Asicius’ recent acquittal on charges relating to the plot against Dio: he said he regarded Asicius’ case as strong but unrelated to his own (C. quotes him to this effect at §24). Perhaps in the peroration he asked the jurors to overlook anything offensive in his aspect and personal style and described himself as utilis multis and therefore worthy of being saved (ibid. pp. 485–6 nos. 25 and 28; C. offers a similar argument at §80).