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date: 15 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The human qualities, types of arguments, and the varieties of evidence that brought victory in a Roman courtroom are the subject of long controversy. The argument offered here is that evidence was subordinated to argument in Roman legal practice and the common thread tying arguments in various types of cases together was personal prestige of a particularly Roman sort—auctoritas, dignitas, gravitas—ideally possessed by litigants, advocates, witnesses, and supporting onlookers. But inert prestige was ineffectual: prestige carried with it expectations of behaviour, and its possessors were required to activate its power by appropriate behaviour in court, which confirmed the truthfulness of what they said, and at the same time strictly avoid inappropriate behaviour, which lessened or obliterated the power of their prestige.

Keywords: courts, status, Cicero, evidence, argumentation, Verres, Apuleius, witnessing, auctoritas, dignitas

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