This introductory chapter provides a historical and political background of the trial of Caius Verres. It begins by tracing the development of the extortion court. The chapter then details the career of Caius Verres. Verres had fared well in the overcrowded and highly competitive world of post-Sullan politics. His advancement to the praetorship was a considerable achievement for a man of his obscure lineage, in a period when only two out of every five new senators could achieve that office. He had also succeeded in gaining the friendship of a number of leading nobles. However, Verres' government of Sicily from 73-71 was marked by unusual cruelty and rapacity even by the standards of his time, and long before the end of his term complaints about the excesses of his administration were being made in Rome by prominent Sicilians. A concerted effort to bring him to justice followed quickly on his departure from office. Ultimately, the case of Verres provided Cicero with a particularly good opportunity to exploit the political benefits of such a prosecution at a critical point in his career. The chapter then looks at the political implications of Verres' extortion trial and the transmission of the text of Cicero's speech which was given in the second part of the trial.
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