Cicero : In Verrem 2.2

Sections 68-130

This speech was delivered against C. Verres, in 70 B.C.

The translation is by L.H.G. Greenwood (1928). Click on the L symbols to go to the Latin text of each section. Click on ** to go to the translator's footnotes.

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[28.] L   [68] And now to turn to his conduct of trials for capital offences, I need not review the details of each several case; I will select, out of a number of similar affairs, such as seem distinguished by exceptional wickedness.

Sopater of Halicyae was one of the wealthiest and most respected inhabitants of that town. Prosecuted by his enemies for a criminal offence in the praetorship of Gaius Sacerdos, he had no trouble, on that occasion, in securing an acquittal. When Verres succeeded Sacerdos, this same Sopater was prosecuted before him by these same enemies again on the same charge. He thought himself in little danger, both because he was not guilty, and because he could not suppose that Verres would venture to reverse the decision of Sacerdos. He was summoned to stand his trial, which took place at Syracuse. The charges put forward by the prosecutor were charges that had previously been refuted not merely by the arguments of the defence but by the verdict of the court. [69] Sopater was now defended by Quintus Minucius, a most distinguished and respected member of the equestrian order, not unknown to the members of this Court The case seemed to offer no room for fear, or even for any kind of uncertainty. While it was proceeding, Verres' freedman attendant, Timarchides, who is, as numerous witnesses informed you at the first hearing, the agent who helps him to carry out all affairs of this kind, approached Sopater, warning him not to trust too much to the decision of Sacerdos or the strength of his own case; his prosecutors and enemies were proposing to offer the praetor money, which, however, the latter would prefer to be paid for letting Sopater off; and at the same time he would rather, if he could, avoid reversing the previous decision. Finding himself without warning in this unexpected situation, Sopater was greatly perturbed, and had no immediate answer ready for Timarchides, except that he would think over what he had better do; observing at the same time that he was in great financial difficulties. Later he told his friends what had happened; they undertook to buy his escape for him, and he went back to Timarchides. After stating fully the straits he was in, he bargained with the man till he agreed to take eighty thousand sesterces, which sum he paid him. [29.] L   [70] When the proceedings in court began, all Sopater's supporters were now free from fear and anxiety; the charge was groundless, the case had been judged, Verres had taken his money - what doubt could there be of the result? That day the pleadings were not completed before the court adjourned; after which Timarchides again approached Sopater, and told him that his accusers had offered the praetor a much larger sum than he had himself paid, and he would therefore be wise to think the matter over. Sopater was a Sicilian and a man on his trial; in a position, that is, politically inferior and immediately dangerous; but for all that, he could endure and listen to Timarchides no longer. "Do what you will," he replied; "I am not going to pay you anything more." This resolution was approved by his friends and advisers also, all the more because, let Verres behave in the trial as he might, there were on his council respectable men from the Syracuse district, who had also been serving in the same way under Sacerdos when this same Sopater had been acquitted. Sopater's friends argued that the men who had acquitted him previously could never agree to find him guilty now on the same charge and the same evidence as before; and they went into court trusting to this single hope. [71] The court assembled ; the council was well attended by the usual persons; Sopater's whole hopes of a successful defence rested upon this good attendance of its reputable members, and on the fact which I mentioned, that these were the same persons as had before acquitted him on exactly the same charge. Remembering this, now observe the open and shameless wickedness of yonder man - wickedness cloaked neither by plausible argument nor even by any attempt at concealment. He told Marcus Petilius, a Roman knight sitting on his council, to go off to his duties as judge in a civil case. Petilius objected, because Verres was retaining on his council friends of Petilius whose presence the latter desired on his own council. Our courteous gentleman replied that he would not retain any person who wished to attend Petilius. So off they all went; for the others ** too asked and were granted permission to go, saying that they desired to support one or other of the parties in this other case. Thus Verres was left alone with the members of his rascally staff. [72] Minucius, who was defending Sopater, was assuming that Verres, having let his council go, did not mean to proceed with this business that day, when he was suddenly ordered to proceed with his speech. "To whom?" asked Minucius.   "To me," was the reply, '' if you think me qualified to try this little beast of a Sicilian Greek."   "Certainly," said Minucius, "but I should be very glad to have those present who were present before and are acquainted with the case."   "They cannot be present," said Verres; "go on."   "Why, the truth is," said Minucius, "that Petilius has asked me too to be one of his council" ; and with that he left his place to go. [73] Verres in a rage pursued him with violent language, and even began to threaten him savagely for conspiring thus to make people attack and hate him. [30.] L   Minucius, being a man who did not let his business interests at Syracuse make him forget his rights and responsibilities, and who was aware that his pursuit of wealth in Sicily ought not to mean any loss of his personal freedom, expressed with frankness what he felt about this case and the situation that had arisen, refusing to conduct the defence when the members of the court had been dismissed and packed off. He left his place accordingly ; and Sopater's other friends and supporters, the Sicilians excepted, did likewise. [74] Insolent and unscrupulous beyond belief as Verres is, on finding himself suddenly left behind alone he was overcome with fright and confusion, unable to see what to do or which way to turn. If he were to adjourn the trial now, he saw that when the court met later, with those members present whom he had got rid of, Sopater would be acquitted; if on the other hand he now condemned this unfortunate and guiltless man, having himself presided without a council and having left the accused without advocate or supporters, and reversing thereby the decision of Sacerdos, he felt that he would be unable to face the hatred that such an action would entail. In an agony of in decision, he kept shifting first this way and then that, not only mentally but physically, so that all those present could see how fear was contending in his mind with cupidity. There was a great crowd present - dead silence - breathless anxiety as to what line of attack his greed would adopt. His attendant Timarchides kept bending down to whisper in his ear. [75] At last he said, '' Come now, proceed!'' The accused man prayed and besought him to try the case before a court. Thereupon he abruptly ordered the witnesses to be called; two or three of them gave hurried evidence; there was no cross-examination; the court crier declared the case over. Verres leapt up from his chair as eagerly as if he were afraid that Petilius had finished or adjourned his hearing of the civil suit and would reappear in court with the others; and that innocent man, whom Sacerdos had acquitted, and whose case had not been tried, was, with the concurrence of a clerk, an apothecary, and a soothsayer, pronounced Guilty.

[31.] L   [76] Save Verres, gentlemen! save him for Rome! spare him, and keep him safe! You need such a man on the Bench. You need him in the Senate, to give his disinterested voice for peace or war. This latter consideration, to be sure, of how his voice will be given in the Senate, concerns us, and concerns the country, comparatively little. For how much weight will his opinion have? When will he have the courage, or the ability, to utter it? And when, unless it be in February, ** will such an indolent profligate come near the House? But let him attend, by all means; let him declare war on Crete, let him award the Byzantines freedom and Ptolemy his royal title; ** let him say, and let him think, whatsoever Hortensius will have him say and think. Such matters are of comparatively small import for us, for the safety of our lives, for the security of our fortunes. [77] The fatal thing, the terrible thing, the thing that all honest men must fear, is the certainty that Verres, if violence shall somehow secure his escape from his judges now, will be one of our judges, that his verdict will control the liberties of Roman citizens, that he will hold a commission in the army of the man ** who aspires to the command of our law-courts. It is against this that Romans protest ; it is to this that they cannot submit. If you, they cry, delight in such a man as this, if you choose to select persons of this type to add lustre to your order and distinction to your House, you may keep him, by all means, as a fellow-senator; nay, if you will have it so, you may keep him as a judge - to judge yourselves; but we who are not members of your order, we whom the great laws of Sulla do not permit even to challenge more than three of our judges, ** we refuse to be judged by this cruel and infamous scoundrel. [32.] L   [78] For indeed, if it is a wicked thing - and to me it seems the foulest and vilest thing in the world - that a judge should accept a bribe, that he should make money the master of his honour and his conscience, how much more wicked and vicious and shameful still it is that he should condemn a man from whom he has taken money to acquit him; that he, a magistrate, should have even less care to keep his pledged word than is customary among a gang of bandits! It is a crime to take money from an accused man: how much worse to take it from his prosecutor, how much worse still to take it from them both! You exposed your honour for sale in your province, and the man swayed you most who paid you best; well, never mind - there may now and then have been someone who did something of the same description. But when your honour and conscience is already another man's property and the price is already paid, will you then transfer that honour and conscience to his opponent who pays you more? Will you cheat them both and choose your own purchaser, and not even give your victim his money back? [79] Talk not to me of Bulbus or Staienus ** ; what such unnatural prodigy have we ever seen or heard of as this man who makes one bargain with the accused and then concludes another with the accuser, who banishes and expels from his court the respectable men who know the facts, condemns unsupported the already acquitted man whose money he has taken, and refuses to give that money back? Shall we have such a man as this among our judges? Shall this man's name appear again in a panel ** of senators? Shall a free man's status depend on his verdict? Shall the tablet to record the verdict be put into his hands - a tablet that he will be ready to smear, if the fancy takes him, not with mere wax ** but with the blood of men.

[33.] L   [80] For which of these charges does he deny ? only one, doubtless, the one that he must deny - that he received the money. Deny this? Of course he denies it. But the Roman knight Quintus Minucius, who defended Sopater, who knew of all that Sopater did and meant to do, has sworn that the money was paid, and has sworn that Timarchides said that the prosecutors were offering more money still. That is what many in Sicily will say ; what every man at Halicyae will say ; what, moreover, Sopater's young son will say, whom that ruffian's cruelty has robbed of his innocent father, and of the money his father would have left him. [81] But even if I could not bring evidence to prove the facts about the money, could you deny, or will you now deny, that you first dismissed your council and got rid of the reputable persons who had sat on the council of Sacerdos and had been regularly sitting on yours, and then pronounced judgement on an issue already judged? That you took a man whom Sacerdos, supported by his council, had first tried fairly and then acquitted, and with your council dismissed and no trial held at all declared him guilty ? When you have confessed to having done this thing that was done openly, in the market-place of Syracuse, in full view of the province, then by all means deny, if you care to deny, that you took the man's money ; you may, of course, possibly find someone who, having seen what happened in the daylight, is yet not sure of what you did in the dark, or someone who cannot quite decide whether he had rather believe my witnesses or your supporters.

[82] I have already said that I do not mean to enumerate all Verres' achievements of this sort, but to choose out the most remarkable. [34.] L   Let me tell you now of another notorious crime of his, the story of which has spread widely and often been told; a crime that seems to comprehend in itself every kind of evil action. I ask for your close attention to the tale of this crime, which was, as you will see, engendered by greed, nourished by lust, and finally completed by cruelty.

[83] The gentleman who is sitting near me is Sthenius of Thermae, whose high rank and character once made his name familiar to many of us, and whose unhappy fate and notable sufferings at Verres' hands have made it now familiar to us all. Though Verres had enjoyed his hospitality, though he had not only repeatedly been to see him at Thermae but actually stayed in his house, he carried off from it every object in which anyone could feel or see any degree of unusual beauty. The truth is that Sthenius had all his life been a rather keen collector of such things - Delian and Corinthian bronze of special elegance, pictures, and even finely wrought silver, of which he had, considering what the means of a man of Thermae would allow, a good stock. As a young man in Asia he had, as I said, been a keen collector of these things ; less with a view to his own enjoyment than to enable him to invite, and be ready to receive, our own people as his friends and guests. [84] When Verres had carried all his treasures off, having asked for some, demanded others, and helped himself to the rest, Sthenius bore his loss as well as he could. He was, of course, distressed at the almost bare and empty state to which Verres had by now reduced his well fitted and furnished home; still, he shared his unhappiness with nobody; the outrages of a governor must, he felt, be borne in silence, and those of a guest with calmness. [85] Verres, in the meantime, with the cupidity for which he is notorious all over the world, fell in love with certain very fine and ancient statues which he saw standing in some public part of Thermae, and began pressing Sthenius to promise him his assistance in getting hold of them. Sthenius, however, refused ; and more than that, pointed out that these ancient statues, memorials of Scipio Africanus, ** could not by any possibility be carried away from the town of Thermae so long as Thermae and the Roman Empire remained intact.

[35.] L   [86] What he meant - if I may, incidentally, illustrate the sympathy and fair-mindedness of the hero of Africa - was this. Long ago, ** the Carthaginians captured the town of Himera, till then one of the most famous and most richly adorned towns in Sicily. The honour of Rome, it seemed to Scipio, demanded that, when the war ** was over, our triumph should lead to our allies recovering what belonged to them; and after the capture of Carthage he saw to it that restitution was made, so far as might be, to all the Sicilians. Now after the destruction of Himera, those of its citizens who had survived the horrors of war had settled at Thermae, within the territory of the ancient city, and not far away from it ; and as they watched their ancestral treasures being set up in their town, they felt themselves beginning to regain the prosperity and importance enjoyed by their forefathers. [87] There were several bronze statues; among others, one of exceptional beauty, the figure of a woman wearing woman's dress, representing Himera herself, whose name is that of both town and river. There was also a statue of the poet Stesichorus, represented as an old man leaning forward and holding a book ; this is reckoned a very fine work of art ; its subject lived at Himera, but is, and always has been, honoured and renowned for his genius throughout the Greek world. Both these Verres had been seized with a frantic craving to acquire. There is also - I had nearly forgotten it - the figure of a she-goat, and this certainly is, as even we who know little of such things can tell, a wonderfully clever and charming bit of work. These and other such objects Scipio had not thrown carelessly aside for a connoisseur like Verres to appropriate, but had returned them to their owners, the people of Thermae ; not because he was without a garden in Rome, or an estate near it, or a place of some kind somewhere in which to put them; but because, if he took them away home, they would be called Scipio's for a short while only, and thereafter be known as the property of those who inherited them at his death: standing where they do, I feel that they will be Scipio's always ; and so indeed are they described.

[36.] L   [88] When Verres demanded these treasures, the matter was discussed in the local Senate. Sthenius there attacked the proposal violently, reminding his hearers of the facts in a long speech, delivered with the fluency for which he is distinguished among Sicilians. Better, he said, for them to abandon Thermae than to allow the removal from Thermae of those memorials of their fathers, those trophies of victory, those gifts of their illustrious benefactor, those tokens of their alliance and friendship with the Roman nation. All his hearers were deeply stirred ; none but declared that death were a better fate. And this is consequently almost the only town in the world from which Verres has so far found it impossible to carry off any publicly-owned treasure of this sort, either by stealth, or by force, or by the exercise of authority, or by favour, or by purchase. However, I will tell elsewhere the tale of his voracity in such matters, and will now go back to Sthenius. [89] Inflamed with violent anger against Sthenius, he renounced his hospitality and moved out of his house - or rather, stepped out of it, for he had moved ** out of it already. He was promptly invited by the chief enemies of Sthenius to stay with them ; they meant to increase his resentment against Sthenius by concocting some lying charge against the man. These enemies were a man of some note named Agathinus, and Dorotheus, who was married to Callidama the daughter of Agathinus ; Verres had heard of this lady, and chose the son-in-law's house as his new abode for that reason. After one night there he was so fond of Dorotheus that one would have supposed they had all things in common, and was paying Agathinus the attentions due to a near connexion ; it would even appear that he no longer cared much for the statue of Himera, the shape and features of his hostess gave him so much greater satisfaction. [37.] L   [90] The result was that he began encouraging these people to do something to ruin Sthenius and rig up some sort of charge against him. They told him that they could think of nothing to say. Thereupon he informed them, openly and positively, that any charge they chose to bring before him against Sthenius they would succeed in proving as soon as they had brought it. At this they delayed no longer, but promptly issued a summons against Sthenius, and alleged that he had forged an official document. Sthenius made application as follows: Whereas he was charged, by his fellow-citizens, with forging an official document ; and whereas the laws of Thermae provided a form of trial for that offence; and whereas the Senate and People of Rome, considering the unbroken amity and loyalty of the people of Thermae, had restored to them their city, their lands, and their own laws; and whereas the right of citizens to proceed against one another under their own laws was thereafter laid down in the laws made for the Sicilians by Publius Rupilius, in conformity with a decree of the Senate and the recommendations of the Commission of Ten; and whereas Verres in his Edict had confirmed this right: That on all the aforesaid grounds Verres would send his case for trial under the laws of the city. [91] But this paragon of disinterested impartiality announced that he would try the case himself, and ordered Sthenius to appear with his defence ready by the middle of the afternoon. The rascal's immoral plan was not obscure; for he had not kept it quite secret himself, nor had that woman succeeded in holding her tongue. It was seen that his purpose was, with no support of proof or evidence, to pronounce Sthenius guilty, and then to inflict, upon this elderly man of high standing, who had been the scoundrel's own host, the merciless punishment of flogging. This being obvious, Sthenius took the advice of his friends and intimates, and fled from Thermae to Rome, ready to face the rough waves of winter, if so he might escape the hurricane that was devastating all the land of Sicily.

[38.] L   [92] Our punctual and business-like Verres arrived in the afternoon at the hour appointed, and ordered Sthenius to be summoned. Finding that his victim was absent, in a wild outburst of disappointed fury he dispatched police-messengers to the house of Sthenius, and sent others off on horseback to make the round of his estates and farm-houses; and he waited so long for news from these men that the evening was half gone before he left the courthouse. The next morning he arrived early, sent for Agathinus, and bade him prosecute Sthenius for forgery in his absence. The case was so weak that, even though Sthenius was not there to reply and was being tried by his personal enemy, Agathinus could think of no arguments to submit; [93] he therefore merely stated in so many words that during the praetorship of Sacerdos Sthenius had forged an official document. The words were hardly out of his mouth when Verres pronounced sentence, "Sthenius is found guilty of forgery of an official document": to which this devotee of Venus added, without any usage or precedent to support him, "I will exact as penalty the payment of five hundred thousand sesterces from the estate of Sthenius to Our Lady of Eryx;" whereupon he took steps at once to have the belongings of. Sthenius sold up; and sold up they would have been, had there been the smallest delay in paying him that five hundred thousand sesterces. [94] The payment completed, he was not satisfied with this outrage of justice. From his chair of office on the tribunal he announced publicly that if anyone should think fit to prosecute Sthenius in absence on a capital charge, permission to prosecute would be granted; and with that he began urging his new host and connexion, Agathinus, to come forward and undertake such a prosecution. Agathinus replied, in a loud voice which all could hear, that he would not do so, that he was not so bitter an enemy to Sthenius as to allege him to be connected with a capital offence. Upon this, without warning, one Pacilius, a man of no position or character, stepped forward and professed himself ready, if it was allowable, to prosecute Sthenius in his absence. Verres replied that it was both allowable and usual, and that permission should be granted; and it was done accordingly. Verres at once gave notice summoning Sthenius to appear at Syracuse on the first day of December.

[95] Sthenius had reached Rome, after a voyage which, considering that the stormy season had begun, was quite satisfactory, and had been in all ways calmer and more agreeable than the temper of his guest the praetor. He reported the attack on him to his friends, all of whom considered it a cruel piece of injustice, as indeed it was. [39.] L   The immediate result was that the consuls Gnaeus Lentulus and Lucius Gellius moved the following resolution in the Senate, "That in the opinion of this House the prosecution of persons in their absence on capital charges should be prohibited in the provinces," and gave the Senate a full account of the ease of Sthenius and Verres' iniquitous cruelty. The elder Verres, this man's father, was in the House, and with tears in his eyes kept beseeching one senator after another to have mercy on his son, but without much success, so strong was the feeling in the Senate. Speeches were made supporting the motion "That whereas Sthenius has been prosecuted in his absence, it is agreed that no trial of him in his absence shall take place, and that if any such trial has already taken place, it shall be invalid." [96] No final decision could be reached that day, both because it was so late, and because Verres' father secured certain members to spin out the proceedings with long speeches. When the House rose, the old gentleman asked all the supporters and intimate friends of Sthenius to come and see him, and urgently entreated them not to continue the attack on his son. "You need not," he told them, "be anxious about Sthenius. I give you my word that I will see to it that no harm comes to him through my son ; I will for this purpose send him word in Sicily by responsible messengers, both overland and by water." It was, certainly, some thirty days yet to the 1st of December, the day Verres had officially fixed for the appearance of Sthenius at Syracuse. The appeal succeeded ; [97] the friends of Sthenius felt sure that the father's letters and messengers would make the son give up his insane purpose. The question was not discussed any further in the Senate. The messengers from home reached Verres, bringing his father's letters, before the 1st of December, while he had as yet taken no irrevocable steps regarding Sthenius; and at the same time a number of letters on the same subject reached him from a number of his friends and acquaintances. [40.] L   And then this man, whose passions had always blinded him to considerations of morality and prudence, of duty towards others and feeling for others, resolved neither to heed his father's warnings nor to defer to his father's wishes, because they interfered with his own desires. On the morning of the 1st of December, in accordance with his notice, he ordered Sthenius to be summoned into court. - [98] Had your father made that request of you at the instance of some friend, and from motives of kindliness or self-interest, even so you should have paid the utmost respect to a parent's wishes ; and when he asked you to do it to save yourself from ruin, and sent responsible messengers to you from home for the purpose, who reached you at a time when you had not finally committed yourself, could you not even so be recalled to duty and common sense by respect, if not for your father, at least for your own safety ? - He summoned the accused ; there was no answer. He summoned the prosecutor ; and I would bid you mark, gentlemen, how mightily Fortune herself fought against this madman, and note at the same time how chance helped the cause of Sthenius: the prosecutor Marcus Pacilius, by some chance or other did not answer, did not appear. [99] Now if Sthenius had been there to meet the charge in person, had his guilt been manifest and undeniable, even so, with no prosecutor there, it would have been wrong to convict him. Why, if it were possible for an accused man to be convicted with his prosecutor absent, I should never have made that voyage in a small boat from Vibo to Velia, risking the murderous assaults of revolted slaves and pirates - and your own; I hurried forward the whole of my journey then at the risk of my life, simply in order that my failure to appear at the time appointed should not mean your liberation from the ranks of the accused. You could have desired nothing better in your own trial than that I should not be there when called upon : why did you not hold that Sthenius had a right to the same advantage when his prosecutor failed to appear? And so the last stage of his proceedings was like the first. He had allowed Sthenius to be prosecuted when Sthenius himself was absent; and now, when the prosecutor was absent, he pronounced Sthenius guilty.

[41.] L   [100] News was brought to him very soon afterwards, and his father had told him too, in a long letter, that his action had been discussed in the Senate; further, that a tribune of the plebs, Marcus Palicanus, had denounced the proceedings against Sthenius at a public meeting; and lastly, that I myself had approached the corporation of tribunes, had pleaded the case of Sthenius as affected by their corporate proclamation banishing from Rome all persons convicted of capital offences, ** had set the facts before them (as I have just set them before yourselves), and had argued that this sentence ought not to be treated as a valid conviction ; whereupon all ten tribunes had agreed, and a resolution had been carried unanimously, "That in the opinion of this body the proclamation of banishment from Rome does not apply to Sthenius." [101] When this news reached Verres, he was at last thoroughly frightened and upset; and then he applied the blunt end of his stylus ** to his records, thereby making an end of all his chances of acquittal, for he has left himself no loop-hole for any sort of defence. For if he were to plead thus, "The prosecution of an absent person is legal, there is no law to forbid this in the provinces," it would be held a weak and immoral line of defence, but still a defence of a kind; or as a last desperate resort he might have pleaded that he acted in ignorance, thinking it was legal; this would be a quite hopeless defence, but at least it would have some show of reason. He expunged the true statement from the records, and made them read that Sthenius was present when prosecuted.

[42.] L   [102] And now observe the number of different nooses he has thus put round his neck - from none of which will he ever get it free. First, he himself in Sicily had frequently, publicly and officially stated, and had argued in many private conversations, that to allow the prosecution of a person in his absence was legal, that he had precedent for doing what he had done. Evidence that he had repeatedly said this was given at the first hearing by Sextus Pompeius Chlorus, of whose high character I have already spoken ; by Gnaeus Pompeius Theodorus, a man whose conduct of many important affairs has won the full approval of the eminent Gnaeus Pompeius, and whose reputation everywhere stands very high ; and by Posides Macro of Solūs, a man of the highest standing, reputation, and character. Similar evidence shall be given at this hearing by as many witnesses as you care to hear, both by leading members of our own Order who heard the above statement from his own lips, and by others who were present when he allowed the prosecution of Sthenius in absence. Next, when this affair was brought up in the Senate at Rome, all his friends, including his father, pleaded just this on his behalf - that his action was legal, that it had often been done before, that he had a precedent set up by other persons for doing what he did. [103] Further, all Sicily testifies to this fact, in the general petition addressed to the consuls by all her cities, wherein she prays and entreats this honourable House to decree the prohibition of all prosecutions of absent persons. You have heard what that distinguished young champion of Sicily, Gnaeus Lentulus, had to tell you about this : that when the Sicilians were putting before him the issue on which he was to support their interests in the Senate, they denounced the treatment of the unhappy Sthenius, and that it was precisely this wrong done to Sthenius that made them resolve to present the petition I speak of. [104] In the face of all this, how could you be possessed with such frantic recklessness as to alter an official document that stated a fact so clearly true, so fully confirmed, and by your own action so widely known? And how did you effect the alteration? Why, in such a fashion that your own tablets would be enough to convict you without a word said by any of us here. Let us have the volume, please ; carry it round, and show it to the Court. Do you see, gentlemen, how the whole passage that states that Sthenius was there when prosecuted is written over an erasure? What was written there before? what was the slip corrected by that erasure? Why should this Court feel that me must prove this charge? We hold our tongues; the documents are before you, proclaiming themselves altered and interpolated.

[105] Do you think to escape our pursuit here, where we are tracking you with the help not of vague conjectures but of your own footprints, left clear and fresh on this official document ? Do I find that the man who without trial convicted Sthenius of altering an official record is a man who cannot deny that, dealing with this same Sthenius, he has altered an official record himself ?

[43.] L   [106] Next note another piece of folly; note how, trying to free himself, he entangles himself further. He assigns Sthenius an attorney ; and who is it? Some kinsman or connexion of his? No. Some respectable and important citizen of Thermae? Not that either. Some other Sicilian, then, of appreciable prominence and worth? No one of the kind. Then who is it? A Roman citizen. Now who will let that pass? Sthenius was the most important man in his community ; his family was extensive, his friendships numerous ; in addition, his influence and popularity made him count for much all through Sicily : could he then find no Sicilian to stand attorney for him? Will you make us believe that ? Or did he himself prefer a Roman citizen? Quote me a single case of an accused Sicilian whose attorney has been a Roman citizen. Go through the records of all the praetors who have preceded you, and if you find one such case, I will admit that what you have written in that record is what did happen. [107] But we are to suppose, perhaps, that Sthenius thought it would look well to choose out of the ranks of our Roman citizens - out of his large circle of friends and guests - someone to be his attorney. Whom, then, did he choose ? Whose name appears in the record ? ''Gaius Claudius, son of Gaius Claudius, of the Palatine tribe." Now I will not ask who this Claudius is, how eminent or respected he is, or how far his influence and merit might properly lead Sthenius to disregard the regular Sicilian custom and offer a Roman citizen as his attorney. I will ask no such questions ; for I dare say Sthenius was guided in his choice not by the man's eminence but by his friendship for himself. Well then, if it is true that no man living was a more bitter enemy of Sthenius than this Claudius, his enemy always, but most of all in this affair and at this time; if he appeared against Sthenius in this forgery charge, and fought against him with every weapon available ; shall we prefer to believe that Sthenius's enemy became his attorney in order to save him, or that you have made a false use of that enemy's name in order that Sthenius might be ruined ?

[44.] L   [108] Now to remove any possible doubt as to the meaning of the whole business, although I feel sure that this man's wickedness has long been transparent to all of you, I ask your attention a little further. You observe yonder person with delicate curls and dark complexion, who is looking at us with what he is pleased to consider a very sharp expression, handling documents, writing notes, making suggestions, sitting close to Verres. That is Claudius, who in Sicily was Verres' agent and go-between and business manager, and had an official rank nearly on a level with Timarchides, and who is now so highly placed that he would seem to enjoy the great man's confidence hardly less than the notable Apronius; who used to call himself the official equal and partner not of Timarchides but of Verres himself. [109] You may hesitate, if you still can, to conclude that Verres chose him specially out of all the rest to play the wicked part of counterfeit attorney simply because he looked upon him as the worst enemy of Sthenius and his own best friend. And now will you hesitate, gentlemen, to inflict the punishment that all this insolence, this inhumanity, this tyranny of his deserves? Will you hesitate to follow the precedent set by the court which upon the conviction of Gnaeus Dolabella annulled the conviction of Philodamus of Opūs, because he had been prosecuted, not in his absence - nothing so unjust and cruel as that - but after being appointed by his fellow-citizens member of a deputation to visit Rome ? Equity induced that court to take that decision on grounds comparatively weak: will you hesitate to take a similar decision when the grounds for it are very strong, especially now that it is supported by the authority of a precedent? [45.] L   [110] Yes, Verres, and what manner of man is it to whom you have done so great and conspicuous a wrong? Who is this whom, absent and untried, you have pronounced guilty of forgery ? Who is this whom you have allowed, in his absence, to be prosecuted ? Who is this whom you have convicted, in his absence, not only without any speech or evidence for the prosecution, but without even the presence of the prosecutor? Who is this man? By the immortal gods, I will not say that you were bound to him by friendship, which is the most glorious thing in the world, nor by hospitality, which is the most sacred; for there is nothing that I am more unwilling to record of Sthenius, nor can I observe any other thing in him that is open to censure, than that so upright and honest living a man as he is invited to his house a licentious and filthy criminal like yourself; than that, having been or still being the host of Gaius Marius, Gnaeus Pompeius, Gaius Marcellus, Lucius Sisenna, your present supporter, and all those other gallant gentlemen, he has added to that roll of illustrious persons your name also. [111] I do not therefore denounce the violation of hospitality and your abominable crime in violating it. What I have to say is this, and I say it, not to those who know Sthenius, not, in other words, to anyone who has ever been in Sicily - for all such persons know how pre-eminent he is in his own city, and how great his worth and reputation are in the eyes of all Sicilians; but I would enable even those persons who have never been in the province to know the character of the man whom you have chosen to mark by treatment which all, whether they looked to the injustice of the deed itself or to the high merit of the sufferer, accounted an intolerable piece of brutality. [46.] L   [112] Can Sthenius be the man who attained with ease all the posts of authority in his own city, and discharged their responsibilities with splendid liberality ? the man who at his own cost adorned his little town by erecting splendid public buildings and works of art, whose services to the state of Thermae and to the Sicilians generally are attested by a bronze tablet set up in the Senate-house at Thermae, engraved with an inscription officially recording his benefactions ? Which tablet, torn down by your orders at the time, I have none the less now brought over here, that all men might learn of the honours and the greatness which he has achieved among his own people. [113] Can this be the man who was denounced to the illustrious Gnaeus Pompeius, on the ground, as his enemies who denounced him argued, that his relations of friendship and hospitality with Gaius Marius proved him to have been disloyal to his country ** - a charge that, however false, had much power to excite ill-will against him; and who nevertheless was acquitted of the charge by Pompeius, in terms that of themselves declared him fully worthy to be host or guest of Pompeius himself? and who, moreover, was eulogised and defended by all the Sicilians so warmly that Pompeius felt himself to be earning, by that acquittal, not only the man's own gratitude but that of the whole province? Finally, can this be the man who had so much love for his city, and so much power over his fellow-citizens, that he achieved what no one else in Sicily achieved throughout your praetorship, what was beyond the power not only of any other single Sicilian but of all Sicily together - he kept your hands off every statue and every work of art, everything sacred to the gods, or owned by the state; and that although there were many things of high merit there, and you had resolved to have them all? [114] And now compare with yourself, in whose honour the people of Sicily keep holiday and celebrate the sublime Festival of Verres - yourself, gilt statues of whom are set up in Rome, the joint offering (so the inscription informs us) of the Sicilian population - compare with yourself, I repeat, this Sicilian who has been condemned as a criminal by you, the champion of Sicily. His merits are attested, directly and officially, through the mouths of deputies sent here for that purpose, by one Sicilian city after another. You, the champion of all Sicily, have your merits officially attested by one city alone, the city of the Mamertines, your partner in robbery and rascality - though, what is unusual, while the deputation lauds your virtues the deputies lash your vices ; whereas all the other cities officially send us letters and deputations and witnesses to accuse and denounce and convict you, and are persuaded that your acquittal would mean their own complete destruction.

[47.] L   [115] At the expense of this man, and of this man's estate you have actually set up on Mount Eryx a memorial of your barbarous wickedness that bears the name of Sthenius of Thermae upon it. I have seen it - a silver Cupid, holding a torch. Now may I ask what justification or reason there was for applying the profit made out of Sthenius for that particular purpose? Did you intend this statue to be a symbol of cupidity, or a token of friendship and hospitality, or a record of your amour ? It is the way of those men who take delight not only in the sensual excitement of vicious excess, but also in their reputation as vicious persons, to like leaving behind them everywhere the marks and footprints of their evil deeds. [116] Inflamed with desire for his hostess, he had for her sake profaned the tie that bound him to his former host; this fact he wished to have not merely known at the time but remembered for ever ; so he decided that out of the fortune which, with the help of the woman's father as prosecutor, he had so nobly won, ** a fee was specially due to the goddess of Love, whose work the whole underhand business of the prosecution and trial was. I could believe you grateful to heaven if you had made this offering to Venus not out of the property of Sthenius but out of your own; that is what you ought to have done; especially as that very year you had had a legacy from Chelidon.

[117] And now let me say this. Even had I not been persuaded to undertake this case by the whole Sicilian people; had the province not united to entreat me to do it thus much service; had my loyal devotion to my country, had the cloud that rests on the good name of our Order and of these courts of law, not compelled me to do as I am doing; had my sole motive been that you have treated my friend and host Sthenius, for whom I felt, during my quaestorship, the warmest friendship and the highest respect, and to whom, I knew well, my own reputation in the province was an object of earnest solicitude - that you have treated that man with the abominable and wicked brutality which I have described : - even then I should feel the protection of this kind friend's happiness and fortune a sufficient reason for incurring this foul scoundrel's enmity. [118] In the days of our forefathers, many have acted thus ; and thus, not long since, did the eminent Gnaeus Domitius act, when he prosecuted the ex-consul Marcus Silanus for the wrong done to his former host, Aegritomarus of Transalpine Gaul. I should feel that I might well copy so humane and upright an action. I should offer those who have given me hospitality and friendship some reason to think that they will live lives of greater security because I am here to protect them. But when I find that the case of Sthenius is but one detail in the general catalogue of a whole province's wrongs, and that I am simultaneously defending, as citizens and as individuals, not one but many of my old hosts and friends, then, surely, I need not be afraid of being supposed to have undertaken to do what I am doing from any motive, or under any obligation, beyond the recognition of what is my bounden duty. [48.] L   Now I cannot prolong indefinitely my tale of the cases Verres tried, the sentences he pronounced, the proceedings he authorised. His misdeeds of this kind are without number; but my list of charges must be cut short, or my speech will never be done. I will therefore select a few instances of other kinds. [119] You have heard the statement of Quintus Varius that his agents paid Verres one hundred and thirty thousand sesterces to secure a favourable decision; you remember the evidence that Varius gave, and how the facts of the whole case are established by the evidence of the eminent Gaius Sacerdos. You are aware that the Roman knights Gnaeus Sertius and Marcus Modius, scores of other Roman citizens, and a large number of Sicilians, have stated that they paid Verres money to secure favourable decisions. Need I discuss this kind of charge, when it is so wholly a matter of the evidence of witnesses? Need I labour to prove the facts where their truth can be questioned by nobody? Will anyone at all question the fact that he offered his judicial decisions for sale there in Sicily, when we know that he did sell his edict entire, and his judicial orders wholesale, here in Rome ? Or that he accepted money from Sicilians for making provisional orders; ** when he demanded money from Marcus Octavius Ligus for pronouncing a final judgement? [120] Why, what further methods of extorting money has he neglected ? What possible methods, neglected by everyone else, has he not devised ? - Is there any object of ambition in the cities of Sicily, any post of any honour or power or responsibility, that you have not converted to your own profit by your trafficking in human beings? [49.] L   The evidence of this, both official and unofficial, has been given at the first hearing ; given by official deputies from Centuripa, from Halaesa, from Catina, from Panhormus, from many other cities; and given also by a host of unofficial witnesses. The evidence of these persons has sufficed to show you, gentlemen, that throughout Sicily for three years the rank of senator has never, in one single city, been conferred free of charge, never by the method of election which their laws prescribe, never otherwise than by Verres' spoken or written orders; that in filling all those senatorial vacancies there have not only been no elections, but not even any attention paid to the legal qualifications for membership, that neither wealth, nor age, nor any other qualification recognised in Sicily has been of any value; [121] that anyone who wished to become a senator, however young or incapable or disqualified by his legal standing, had only to pay Verres a larger bribe than more suitable people offered, and a senator he invariably became ; and that in this matter it was not only the local Sicilian laws that were completely set aside, but even the laws given by the Senate and Roman People; by them, I say, for when laws are given to our allies and friends by a man who has received his military power from the People and his legislative authority from the Senate, those laws must be held to be the gift of both the People and the Senate.

[122] The people of Halaesa were made independent in recognition of the many valuable services and benefits rendered to Rome by themselves and their ancestors ; but not long ago, in the consulship of Lucius Licinius and Quintus Mucius, ** owing to an internal dispute regarding the way of filling vacancies in their Senate, they asked the Roman Senate to legislate for them. The Senate honoured them by passing a decree appointing the praetor Gaius Claudius Pulcher (son of Appius Claudius) to draw up for them regulations for filling the aforesaid vacancies. Claudius, having secured the help of all the contemporary members of the Marcellus family, ** in accordance with their advice provided Halaesa with regulations, laying down a number of points, such as the age of candidates (those under thirty were excluded), the professions disqualifying for membership, the property qualification, and all such other points. All these regulations, sup ported by our magistrates and thoroughly approved by the inhabitants, were faithfully observed until Verres became praetor. Verres was bribed to sell the title to an auctioneer who wanted it; from Verres boys of sixteen and seventeen purchased the rank of senator. The right to prohibit such things, even by election, had been granted, at Rome, to our old and faithful friend and ally Halaesa ; and Verres made such things possible to those who bribed him!

[50.] L   [123] Agrigentum has ancient laws, made by Scipio, controlling elections to its Senate; these contain the same provisions as those mentioned, and the following one besides. There are two classes of Agrigentines ; one comprises the old population, the other the settlers from Sicilian towns whom, by order of our Senate, the praetor Titus (?) Manlius established in Agrigentum. In view of this, the laws of Scipio provided that the number of settlers in the Senate should not exceed that of the original inhabitants. Verres, always a leveller of privileges when bribed, and ready to remove distinctions and discriminations everywhere if paid to do it, not only blotted out all those of age, rank, and profession, but also made confusion of that concerning the two classes of citizens, the new and the old. [124] A senator belonging to the old class died ; and since an equal number of senators of either class then remained, the election in his place of a member of the old class was legally necessary, in order that this class might be in the majority. In spite of this, the would-be purchasers of this place in the Senate who now approached Verres included members of the new class as well as of the old. The result was that a new man offered most, succeeded, and came back to Agrigentum with an order from the praetor. The Agrigentines sent Verres a deputation, to tell him what the law was, and to point out that it had been observed without a break, so that he might be aware that he had sold the place to a man who ought not to have been allowed even to bargain for it. Having already received his bribe, he was not affected in the smallest degree by what they said. [125] At Heraclea he behaved in the same way. Settlers had been established there too, by Publius Rupilius, who had instituted similar laws to regulate elections to the Senate and the proportion between the old citizens and the new. There this man not only took his money as he did everywhere else, but also ignored the distinction of the old from the new class, and the proportion between them. [51.] L   You must not expect me to deal with every city in turn; let me observe comprehensively that so long as Verres was praetor no man could become a senator unless he had first paid Verres money.

[126] The same thing may be said of magistracies, directorships, and priesthoods, in dealing with which he trampled down not only the rights of men but all the commandments of the powers above. At Syracuse there is a religious ordinance requiring the annual appointment, by lot, of the priest of Jupiter, whose office is the most important priesthood they have ; [127] one candidate is nominated for it, by election, from each of the three divisions of the citizens, and then the lot decides between these. Verres, using his official power to influence the election, succeeded in having his crony Theomnastus returned as one of the three candidates ; and people wondered what he would do with the lot, which was not amenable to his orders. The man first tried the simple plan of forbidding the lot, ordering Theomnastus to be returned as appointed without it. The Syracusans replied that this could not possibly be done without invalidating the sacred rites ; that it would, in fact, be an act of sin. He told them to read him the text of the law; they did so. One clause directed the placing in an urn of as many lots as there were candidates nominated ; the man whose name came out of the urn was to hold the priesthood. "Very good," observed the highly acute and ingenious Verres, "the expression is 'So many candidates as shall be nominated' ; quite so; well, how many have been nominated?"   "Three," was the reply.   "Then nothing is required except to put three lots in and draw one out ? "   "Nothing." He thereupon ordered three lots to be put in, each one inscribed with the name of Theomnastus; whereupon there was a great cry of indignation at what everyone held a shameful piece of wickedness. And that is the way in which the most high-priesthood of Jupiter was conferred upon Theomnastus.

[52.] L   [128] At Cephaloedium there is a fixed month in which the office of high-priest has to be filled. This position was coveted by one Artemo, surnamed Climachias, who was admittedly a man of wealth and of high rank in his own town; however, his appointment was out of the question if a certain Herodotus appeared as candidate, a man whose claims to this position of authority for the coming year were so strongly supported that Climachias himself could not oppose them. The matter was reported to Verres and settled in his customary fashion - there was a transfer of some quite famous and valuable chased silver work. Herodotus, who was at Rome, took it that the day before the election would be time enough for him to arrive. But Verres, to avoid both holding the election in an unlawful month and having Herodotus there when his office was taken from him (not that the latter point troubled Verres, but Climachias was much against it), devised a plan - there is, I said some time ago, no sharper man alive, nor ever was - a plan for holding the election in the lawful month and yet not having Herodotus there. [129] It is the custom of the Sicilians as of all other Greeks, as they like to secure the agreement of their days of the month with the motions of the sun and moon, to correct an occasional discrepancy by shortening a month by some one day, or two days at most, days which they term "eliminated"; also they sometimes lengthen a month by one day, or by two days. When this was discovered by our new ** student of astronomy, who was thinking more of the silver plate than of the silver moon, he gave orders, not for shortening the month by a day, but for shortening the year by a month and a half, so that (for instance) the day which ought to be reckoned as the 13th of January would by his orders be publicly announced to be the 1st of March; and this, to the discontentment and dismay of everyone, was what happened. The 1st of March was the lawful day for the election, and so it came about that Climachias was duly returned as high-priest elect. [130] Herodotus on his return from Rome, fifteen days, as he imagined, before the election, found himself in the month following the election month, and the election over for a month already. The people of Cephaloedium subsequently introduced a supplementary month of forty-five days, so that the remaining months might fall at the right time as before. Had this been possible at Rome, Verres would certainly have somehow pushed through the removal of the thirty-five days, between the two festival periods, ** in which alone his trial could take place.

Following sections (131-192)


32.(↑)   i.e., such of the Sicilians as Petilius did not ask for as his assessors.

33.(↑)   The regular month for receiving petitions from subject or foreign communities, which venal senators could secure bribes to support (see Book I. § 90).

34.(↑)   Current pieces of foreign business, not of the highest importance.

35.(↑)   Hortensius : see Actio prima, § 85.

36.(↑)   A senator might challenge six.

37.(↑)   Two notoriously venal judges in the trial of Oppianicus some years before.

38.(↑)   Decuria, a section of the album ("White Book") of senators eligible for service as members of Criminal Courts.

39.(↑)   Referring perhaps to the scandal mentioned in the Actio prima, § 40.

40.(↑)   The younger.

41.(↑)   In 408 B.C.

42.(↑)   In 146 B.C. ; the third Punic War.

43.(↑)   His furniture (i.e., his host's treasures) had already been sent off.

44.(↑)   They published every year an official list of outlawed persons.

45.(↑)   To erase what was written.

46.(↑)   Evidently a cautious allusion to proceedings in the time of the Sullan proscriptions.

47.(↑)   'Gesserat' is ironically used for 'age' with allusion to the common phrase 'res gesta', "exploit."

48.(↑)   Orders for the possession of disputed property pending the final settlement of the dispute.

49.(↑)   95 B.C.

50.(↑)   These traditional patrons of Sicily were an important branch of the Claudian clan.

51.(↑)   'Novus' may mean that he was a recent recruit to the study, or that his methods were novel, or perhaps both.

52.(↑)   The Roman games, ending September 18, and the Games of Sulla's victory, beginning October 26. As September had twenty-nine days, the free period seems to consist of thirty-six days, not thirty-five. See Actio prima, § 31. Perhaps we should read xxxvi for xxxv.

Following sections (131-192) →

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