Cicero brings us today's risible delight.
Caelius and rich widow Clodia had been an item. It then all broke up. After the break up, Caelius ended up on trial for public violence and attempted murder. And there were other charges. One of which was the theft of gold from Clodia (to fund his attempted murder) and (following on from that one) a plot to poison Clodia.
One of Cicero's tactics in defending Caelius was to use references and situation parallels to Roman comedy to ridicule the scenarios painted by the prosecution and make them appear implausible.
Perhaps the funniest example is the 'Baths Episode' and it is pure 'Carry On' material. Clodia, in a bid to rumble Caelius' attempt to procure poison from a gent named Licinius, after finding out about the plot to poison her from her slaves. Clodia arranged for certain male friends to conceal themselves in the baths and leap out just as Licinius was about to hand over the poison. However, it all went wrong. Licinius was not intercepted it seems and neither was the poison. Cicero turns it into a comedy of errors and his sarcastic interjections to his imagined prosecutor show how silly the whole scenario was.
'They hid in the baths'. (imagine men in togas hiding in the Roman baths)
'Noble witnesses indeed!'
'But then they jumped out hastily!'
'What self-restraint these men showed!'
The Licinius legged it!
In a Carry On film, the cast would be as follows:
Licinius - a quivering, bottom lip trembling Kenneth Connor hands twitching as he nearly drops the box of poison.
The Hidden Gents - led by Kenneth Williams with exaggerated 'ooh, be careful gestures', and Charlie Hawtrey getting over-excited and nearly giving the game away.
Cicero - Sid James with a twinkle in his eye.
Clodia - a furious Joan Sims.
If only they really had made that film!
ps. If you haven't already seen Carry on, Cleo, here's a bit of prep!