In the First Action of the Verrines Cicero highlights the issue of judicial corruption, which appears to be leading to the passage of legislation ending the senatorial monopoly on composition of the juries in the quaestio de repetundis. The work might theoretically, therefore, furnish an important study of how Cicero publicly positioned himself on a key political issue at a crucial point in his career. Historians, however, often dismiss the political impact of the work, arguing that jury reform was essentially a fait accompli before the trial began. Rhetoricians likewise tend to understate its political importance, both because of its status as a substitute for a longer and fully elaborated oration and because of a pronounced tendency in recent scholarship to subordinate political comment in the judicial speeches to the immediate practical goals of legal advocacy. Cicero's prosecution of Verres, however, involved an unprecedented move in the orator's career. Through the trial he injected himself forcefully, and for the first time, into a contemporary political debate and thereby created for himself a new space from which to operate within the political landscape.
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