Cicero's Portrayal of the Burning of the Senate House John McBride, JOHN NAPOLITANO, piero salas-allende, chriS Mancini, Kevin manning

During the court case, rather than mention an event which could hurt the defense of his client, Cicero diverts the attention of the court to Clodius and his slaves. Cicero suggests that Clodius had previously planned an ambush on Milo’s farm. This effectively diverts attention in the court from the guilt of Milo and his supporters, and it is especially effective in avoiding the incident involving the burning of the Senate House.

An example of the bias in Cicero's account: Cicero tells us that Clodius was supposedly returning to Rome. He also writes that Milo was waiting for his wife to get prepared so they could leave to Rome. Cicero writes that when Clodius and Milo met in the road, Clodius was lightly armed without a carriage or baggage.
As a defense lawyer, it was Cicero's responsibility to portray Milo in the best light possible.

Asconius creates his account from the viewpoint of being an advocate for the objective truth, while Cicero wrote as an advocate for Milo. This is evident in the fact that Asconius mentions in detail the burning of the Senate House. While Clodius was being cremated, the Senate House burned along with Clodius’ body. Cicero does not mention the burning of the Senate House, but goes into greater detail about other aspects of the case. This shows that Cicero cared more about the defense of Milo, and Asconius placed a greater importance on the truth.

Asconius’ account is more historically accurate because he tells the events of the murder in an objective way. He tells the events as they happened, regardless of whom they affect. The burning of the Senate House is a good example of his objectivity; he included these events even though they were harmful to Milo’s image.

Shown here is Clodius being dragged out of the inn by Milo's men. Asconius explains the events in full, while Cicero instead gave excuses for why the slaves did this.

Cicero’s account is more biased than that of Asconius. He only mentions the events which may help his client. In addition, Cicero uses language which makes Milo and his wife seem innocent. He describes Milo’s wife in the company of “dainty young people.” He also says that Milo was outnumbered in defending himself, and that his slaves were only doing what anyone would have wanted their slaves to do.

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