Sextus Roscius (death in 81 av. J. - C.) was a rich person Roman landowner.
The little which one knows about Sextus Roscius is learned to us by Cicéron, the lawyer of its son: “Sextus Roscius, the father of my customer, was citizen of the Municipe of Ameria. From its birth, its row, its financial means it was easily, not only in its city but even in all the region, the first character”. ( Sextus Roscius, Lord's Prayer huiusce, municeps Amerinus flees, generates and nobilitate etpecunia not modo sui municipi verum etiam eius vicinitatis easy primus ).
An odious murder
The Calendes of June of the year 671 (81 av. J. - C.) had been fixed by Sylla, which had just seized the capacity with Rome - with leaving the Civil war - as the term of the proscriptions and the confiscations. About the middle of September of the same year, Sextus Roscius, a rich person landowner, citizen of Ameria, is found assassinated, of night, in the district of the Subure, one of the most sordid hollows of Rome and one of most famous of all the Antiquité.
The suspect of this crime is not other than Sextus Roscius, the proper son of the victim, an young man, stripped of instruction, alive in the fields, foreigner with the businesses, unknown in Rome, which is shown of Parricide, particularly serious crime in the criminal Law Roman. The charge is extremely serious. Indeed, if Roscius junior is recognized guilty, it risks an atrocious death. In Rome, to kill his/her father was worst crimes. Condemned then one was whipped locked up it in a bag with a famished dog, a monkey, a cock and a snake. Lastly, the bag was thrown in the the Tiber.
Roscius was a very rich man, whose grounds caused strong covetousnesses. Its fortune was assembled to six million Sesterce S. Admis in the intimacy of several famous families, like the Caecilii Metelli, the Scipions, the Servilius, it had constantly been favorable to the cause of noble and had always supported the party of Sylla.
In fact, Sextus Roscius wire was victim of a machination woven in the shade by his/her own Capiton cousin, jealous, who worked as foreman for his uncle. This one thus made assassinate, by its accomplice Magnus, his uncle and owner Sextus Roscius senior whereas this last, outgoing of a drunk and carefree banquet, returned peacefully at his place. With others, the aforementioned Magnus, which lived not far from the place of the ambush, “discovered” the lifeless body of the rich person landowner. It made at once warn its Capiton silent partner while forwarding to him the sword of the murder.
Both scélérats hastened to inform of it Chrysogonus, freed and favorite from Sylla. They had conceived the project to seize the fortune of their relative. They proposed with this freed, whose capacity was immense, to join this odious project. It was necessary to obtain from the dictator whom the name of Roscius was placed on the tables of proscription, and whom his goods were confiscated and sold. Chrysogonus obtained it all the more easily as it is him which was charged to draw up these famous lists. Thus the goods of the “outlaw” fell in the escarcelle one from the State: the thirteen farms of Sextus Roscius senior were put at the biddings. A purchaser who proposed six million sesterces of them was tiny room to silence by threatening the presence of henchmen, and the farms were allocated to Chrysogonus for only… two thousand sesterces!
Chrysogonus preserved for him ten of these farms, of which he entrusted management to Magnus, and he made gifts of the three others in Capiton.
An exemplary lawsuit
The lawsuit proceeds during full the meetings open on the Forum, and bring many people attracted by the relents of scandal which weigh on this dark business.
The charge is carried by the famous prosecutor Erucius, chosen by Chrysogonus, a freed Greek, former slave and right-hand man of Sylla itself, to carry out this battle, which already gained many lawsuits. Erucius tries to prove in front of the assembled judges that Sextus Roscius wire would have killed his/her father to be avenged to be disinherited.
The defense of the young person Sextus Roscius is ensured by a young lawyer of twenty-seven years, still unknown - which had pled the previous year for Quintius, under the consulate of Lucius Cornelius Sulla and Quintus Caecilius Metellus Pius - whose name will become famous in the Letters and the history: Cicéron ( Marcus Tullius Cicero ).
Erucius produces witnesses who try to accredit the idea that Sextus wished to be avenged for a father who did not like it. Cicéron is placed in a more moral position since he does not hesitate to prove that this business is in bond with the policy and the mode of terror founded by Sylla and its proscriptions.
Cicéron, clerk of office by the powerful family Caecilii Metelli - whose defendant Sextus junior was the customer - raises during its pleading its famous question, throbbing in this lawsuit, and who will make date in the judiciary record: “Cui bono? ” (in other words: “Has which profits the crime? ”). “Sextus junior, suddenly dispossessed of all has? Or with these “witnesses” Magnus and Capiton, suddenly nouveau riches since the death of the Roscius father? ” Cicéron manages to prove that its customer could not have the will nor the means of carrying out the execrable crime which one shows it, and doubting nothing, the young person and ambitious lawyer dare - in spite of the pressures - to name the Greek corrupted, freed Chrysogonus, which is not even Romain.
The speaker tackles the illegality of the sale of the goods of Sextus Roscius father, founded on what this sale had place four months after the expiry of the law. He goes even until suspecting that it did not take place. He exhales his indignation against the luxury and the insolence of this freed: “What! even here does Chrysogonus believe some capacity? here even he wants to be dominating? O leaves disastrous and deplorable! I do not apprehend that it succeeds; but it tried, it was flattered to obtain you to it judgment of an innocent man: here what excites my complaints; here what I then to see without quivering of indignation”.
This cause was pled the year of Rome 673 (79 av. J. - C.). The pleading of Cicéron carries the conviction of the jury which discharges Sextus the young person, for lack of evidence… but for as much, this one never recovered its confiscated goods! Was it guilty or innocent? Of its lawsuit, we know only the version of its Cicéron defender.
After the lawsuit one will not hear any more of Chrysogonus, which fell into the oubliettes from the History. In any case, the Erucius prosecutor escaped the defamatory mark from the slanderers and continued a brilliant lawyer career. As for Cicéron, it will exceed its Masters of the bar and will become a glory of the Latin Littérature.
The history of this famous murder was the book object - directly inspired of the speech of Cicéron - of the American writer Steven Saylor “ Of the blood on Rome ”, published in 1991, and of a film of television of docu-fiction carried out in England in 2005, coproduit by BBC and Discovery Channel: “ Murder in Rome ”, of David Stewart.
Blood on Rome
Among the modern authors who took again the history of Sextus Roscius, Steven Saylor writes a work reporting this history. The novel “Of Blood on Rome” belongs to the collection Roma Sub Rosa. This famous collection tells the history of the famous sleuthhound of Rome Gordien (fictitious character). In the first volume, Gordien is plunged in the mysteries of Rome by making investigation into the patricide of Sextus Roscius, the whole based on the text of Cicéron with which Gordien collaborated throughout the novel. The faithful drafting of Steven Saylor learns some also much on the life from Rome to the readers. Steven Saylor, graduate in history, almost never let fit through its words some anachronisms that it is.
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