A key part of Apuleius' defense is the appeal to a sense of Roman justice in the distinctly Roman setting of the Basilica at Sabratha. Nowhere is this more explicit than the passage late in the speech where Apuleius lambastes Sicinius Pudens for reading his mother's letters in court (ch. 85). Apuleius wonders aloud how Pudens could dare expose these personal documents not only in front of Claudius Maximus, but also in the presence of the statues of the emperor Pius (matris suae epistulas quas putat a matorias pro tribunali pronconsulari recitet apud virum sanctissimum Claudium Maximum, ante has imperatoris Pii statuas). This reference to the imperial statues is the only point in the entire speech where Apuleius invokes the living emperor Antoninus Pius. The statues themselves formed a crucial part of the courtroom's physical structure, and Apuleius' appropriation of his physical surroundings for his defense forms a crucial part of his overall strategy. This fleeting episode is worth considering in some detail. The functions of imperial statuary in a Roman court of law were varied. Firstly, the statues were part of the artistic and juridical apparatus of the courtroom in a strictly technical sense: they converted the physical space of the courtroom into an official tribunal of Roman justice. The very presence of the imperial statues allowed valid juridical processes to take place. By the middle of the second century A.D., the imperial statue had also become invested with a certain notarizing power. To do something in front of an imperial statue, in other words, was tantamount to having done it in front of the emperor himself. In the imperial biography of Caracalla (Historia Augusta Carac. 5.7) we are told that people were executed for having urinated near imperial statues. It is evident that any perceived disrespect toward the imperial statue was a very serious matter, and Apuleius certainly capitalizes on this phenomenon when he draws attention to Pudens' decision to read his mother's "love" letter s aloud in court. This act was disrespectful not only toward his own mother, as Apuleius makes clear, but also toward the emperor Antoninus Pius. An imperial statue also served as a place of refuge. Philostratus tells the story of how Apollonius took refuge at an imperial statue after a large crowd, apparently irate at a corn shortage, had mobbed him (Life of Apollonius 1.15). Pliny relates the case of a slave in Bithynia who had taken refuge at the statues of the emperor Trajan (Letters 10.74). By making a reference to the imperial statues, Apuleius can, at least implicitly, invoke the protection which they offered. Although these statues of Antoninus Pius will have been clearly seen by everyone in the courtroom, Apuleius spotlights their presence by mentioning them, and this of course reinforces the notion that the courtroom, specifically because it contained within its walls the statues of the emperor, was an asylum for Apuleius. Finally, Apuleius' use of the cognomen Pius to refer to the emperor is a clever tactic which further underlines the blatant impiety of Sicinius Pudens. We must bear in mind that Antoninus' full title was "Imperator Caesar Titus Aelius Hadrianus Antoninus Augustus Pius." To refer to an emperor as "Caesar" or "Augustus" was probably most common. Antoninus, however, had earned the honorary title "Pius" after persuading a hesitant Senate to consecrate his adoptive father Hadrian (A.D. 138). The contrast with Pudens could not be more clear. Whereas Antoninus had exhibited singular devotion to his dead father Hadrian, Pudens, by reading Pudentilla's letters aloud in court, displayed a remarkable disrespect toward his living mother. And while the full wealth of this rhetorical trick might have been lost on the audience as a whole, there can be no doubt that Claudius Maximus appreciated its significance. The mere reference to the statues of the emperor Pius, then, reveals the full scope of Apuleian rhetoric. Not only does Apuleius strengthen his appeal to Roman justice, he also invokes the protection offered by the beneficent emperor -- through his perceived presence in the form of his statue. In addition, Apuleius turns a piece of his accusers' evidence, the letters of Pudentilla, into a damning testimony of their own impiety. With such oratorical exploits as this, can there be any doubt that Apuleius was acquitted?

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