Cicero : In Verrem 2.3

Sections 64-115

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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[26.] L   [64] Do you now begin to perceive, gentlemen, what manner of pestilential monster has been going about in the oldest, the most loyal, and the nearest to you, of all your provinces ? do you now see why it is that, after enduring so many thefts and robberies, so many injuries and insults, at other hands in the past, this province has been unable to submit to wrongs and humiliations of a type so unheard-of, so unparalleled, so unbelievable as these are? It is plain to the whole world by now why the province has, as one man, looked for a champion and deliverer from whose honour, whose watchfulness, whose determination, nothing can enable Verres to escape. You have taken part in many trials ; from your own experience, and from the records of the past, you know how many evil men have been prosecuted for their crimes: have you ever seen, have you ever heard of anyone who had a career of such extensive and open robbery, a career so devoid of all scruple and all sense of shame? [65] Apronius kept this bodyguard of temple slaves attached to him, and led them round from one town to another. He would order dinners to be served and couches spread for him - in the market-places - at the expense of the community ; and men of the highest standing would be summoned to appear there before him ; not only Sicilians, but Roman knights too. No one but a dirty blackguard would ever have consented to live in the fellow's neighbourhood, and here the most estimable and respected persons were to be kept standing in front of his dinner-table. - You knew of all these things, Verres, you most abandoned of living scoundrels ; knew of them, heard of them daily, saw them happening ; and unless they had meant vast gains for yourself, would you have sanctioned their happening, with all the risk they meant for you? Did you value the enrichment of Apronius, did you value his filthy conversation and immoral endearments so highly that no care or consideration for your own interests ever troubled your mind ? - [66] You perceive, gentlemen, how these collectors fell upon the farmers, and like some great consuming fire swept through their fields ; and not their fields only, but all their possessions ; and not their property only, but all their rights as free men and citizens - when Verres was governor of Sicily. You see some of the farmers hanging from trees; others being knocked about and flogged ; others, again, held prisoners, with no roof over their heads, others left standing in the middle of dinner-parties, others sentenced in court by the praetor's physician and crier ; and their property all the while being plundered and swept away from their farms just as much as before. What means all this? Is this the government of Rome? is this the law that a Roman governor administers? are these the law-courts that try our loyal allies? is this Sicily, our nearest province? Do we not rather find the whole treatment of Sicily such that Athenio himself would not have acted thus, if that despot chief of revolted slaves had won the day? I assure you, gentlemen, that with all their insolence those rebels would not have achieved a fraction of this scoundrel's iniquities.

[27.] L   So much for his treatment of individuals : let us now ask how he treated communities. Gentlemen, you have heard of the evidence of a great many towns, and you shall hear that of the rest. [67] Let me first tell you briefly of the loyal and reputable people of Agyrium. This town is one of the most important in Sicily, and its inhabitants were, till Verres became governor, prosperous and efficient farmers. Our friend Apronius came to Agyrium as purchaser of the tithe-rights over its corn-lands. On arriving there with his attendants, full of violence and threats of violence, he proceeded to ask for a large sum of money, so that he might make his profit and depart : he did not wish to have any trouble, he said, but would like to take his money and go off as soon as he could to deal with some other town. The Sicilians are, all of them, a far from contemptible race, if only our magistrates would leave them alone ; they are really quite fine fellows, thoroughly honest and well-behaved ; and this is notably true of the community of which I am speaking. [68] They told the villain that they would pay him the amount of tithe that was due from them ; but they would not pay him a bonus as well, especially as he had paid a high price for the tithe-rights. ** Apronius reported this to the party whose interests were concerned. [28.] L   Immediately, as though some conspiracy against the State had been occurring, or the governor's representative beaten, the magistrates and five chief citizens of Agyrium were summoned by Verres. They reached Syracuse; there Apronius was ready for them, and alleged that the actual persons who had come there had broken the governor's regulations. They asked him how: he would tell that, he replied, to the members of the court. Yonder model of equity proceeded to intimidate these unfortunate persons with his usual threat of selecting the court from his own staff. They replied stoutly that they would stand their trial. [69] Verres thrust on them Cornelius Artemidorus the physician, and Cornelius Tlepolemus the painter, and others like them, as members of the court: not one of them a Roman citizen : they were rascally Greeks who were formerly temple-robbers, and had become Cornelii suddenly. ** The men from Agyrium saw that, before a court like this, Apronius would have no trouble in establishing any charge he might bring. They chose to be found guilty, and thus to bring odium and disgrace to Verres, rather than accept the terms and conditions their accuser demanded. They asked how he would state the charge on which they were to be tried. He replied "That they had broken the regulation" ; and that he would pronounce sentence according to the verdict on this. They chose to face an unfair ** charge, and an unscrupulous court, rather than to submit to any terms dictated by the man himself. Then he sent Timarchides secretly to them with a warning that if they were wise they would agree to a settlement. They still refused. "Oh? would you rather be sentenced to pay 50,000 sesterces apiece, then?" Yes, they said, they would. Then Verres said, loudly enough for all to hear, "Anyone found guilty will be flogged to death." At that, with tears in their eyes, they began to pray and entreat that they might be allowed to vacate their own farms and hand them over to Apronius with their crops and their harvests, if only they might get off without torture and disgrace.

[70] These, gentlemen, were the conditions under which Verres sold those tithes. Hortensius may say, if he will, that Verres sold the tithes for a high price. [29.] L   When Verres was governor of Sicily, the position of the farmers was such that they thought themselves well treated if they were allowed to vacate their farms and hand them over to Apronius ; they were only too eager to escape the numerous sufferings they saw in front of them. The edict required them to hand over as much corn as Apronius might declare due from them. Even if he declared more due than the whole of their crop? Yes: by Verres' edict that was what the magistrates had to exact from them. Well, the farmer had power to claim back from the collector. He had; and his claim was heard by - Artemidorus. What if the farmer paid over less than Apronius demanded? He was prosecuted before a court, with a fourfold penalty if convicted. From whom was this court selected ? From the highly respectable members of the governor's admirable staff. Is that all? No; I next charge you with making an under-statement of your acreage ; stand your trial for breaking the regulations. Trial before what court? Before a court taken from the staff aforesaid. And finally: if you are found guilty, or rather, when you are found guilty - for before such a court what doubt could there be of it ? - you must be flogged to death. Under such terms and such conditions, will anyone be so simple as to think that those sales were sales of tithes? as to suppose that the farmer was allowed to keep nine-tenths of his corn? as not to see that the farmers' goods and property and fortunes simply went to enrich that pirate of a governor ?

The threat of flogging, then, terrified these men of Agyrium into promising to do what they were ordered to do. [30.] L   [71] And now hear what Verres did order them to do, and then conceal if you can your certainty of what all Sicily saw clearly, that it was the governor himself who was the purchaser of those tithe-rights, or rather, who was the farmers' master and tyrant. He ordered the people of Agyrium to take over, as a community, the collection of the tithe, paying Apronius a bonus as well. - If Apronius bought those tithe-rights dear, may I ask you, Verres - since you are the man who looked into the value of these things so carefully, and tell us you sold those rights so dear - why should you think the purchaser ought to be paid a bonus? Oh well, you did think so: but why did you order that payment? What can "extortion of money" be - that clearly criminal act - if this violent abuse of your authority to force unwilling persons to pay another person a bonus - in other words, to pay him money - if this is not extortion ? - [72] Very well. They were ordered to pay a small trifle of bonus to the governor's particular friend Apronius. You shall believe, gentlemen, that it was Apronius to whom this was paid, if you make up your mind that it was a bonus for Apronius and not plunder for the governor. - You order them to take over the tithe-collection, and to pay Apronius a bonus of thirty-three thousand medimni of wheat. What? From the land of one town, this one town is forced, by the governor's orders, to make Apronius a present of enough corn to supply the populace of Rome for nearly a month ! What, you sold the tithes at a high price - when such a profit as that was made over to the man who bought them? If you had made careful inquiry into the value of those tithes when you were selling them, I am very sure the town would have added another ten thousand medimni then, rather than 600,000 sesterces ** afterwards.

You will think this a profitable robbery, gentlemen. Listen to the rest of the story, and give me your careful attention : it will not then seem so strange to you that sheer necessity has made the people of Sicily turn for help to their patrons, to our consuls and our senate, to our laws and our courts of law. [73] As a fee for the approval ** by Apronius of the wheat thus presented to him, Verres ordered the people of, Agyrium to pay Apronius one sesterce per medimnus, [31.] L   What have we here ? Besides the extortion by order, as a so-called bonus, of that great quantity of wheat, is a money fee as well exacted for the approval of that wheat? Why, could Apronius, could anyone at all, possibly reject Sicilian ** wheat, even if it were to be taken over for army stores ** ? and, moreover, there was nothing to prevent him from taking it over, if he chose, direct from the floors where it lay. ** All that corn is extorted and handed over by your orders. That is not enough: a money payment is ordered as well. The payment is made - and that will not do. A further sum of money is extorted for the tithes of barley, for which you order the presentation of a bonus of 30,000 sesterces. And so we find this tyrannical governor, by the use of threats and violence, officially robbing a single town of 33,000 medimni of wheat and 60,000 sesterces ** into the bargain.

Are these things hidden? Could they be hidden, though all the world should seek to hide them ? You have done them openly. The people of the district heard your orders given. Your extortions were effected before the eyes of the public. The officials and the five chief citizens of Agyrium, whom you hailed into court in order to enrich yourself, went home and reported your actions and your orders to their own senate. "That report, in accordance with the local law, was entered in their public records. The men of high standing who represent them are here in Rome, and have stated in the witness-box what I have stated here. [74] I ask the Court to listen to that official entry in the records, and then to the official evidence of the town. - Read them, please. (The passage from the town records, and the official evidence of the town, are read aloud.) - You will have noticed, gentlemen, when these witnesses were speaking, ** how Apollodorus Pyragrus, the chief citizen of his community, wept as he gave his evidence. Never, he told you, since the name of Rome had been a familiar sound in Sicilian ears, had the people of Agyrium once spoken or acted against the humblest Roman citizen - the people whose great wrongs, and whose sharp sufferings, were now forcing them to bear public testimony against a Roman governor. By Hercules, Verres, this single town is enough to beat down your defence, so impressive is these men's loyalty, so sharp the pain of their wrongs, so scrupulous their testimony. But indeed not one town only, but all the towns of Sicily have been crushed with similar wrongs and injuries, and have sent their representatives and their public testimonies to assist your prosecutors.

[32.] L   [75] Let us now, therefore, turn to Herbita, and see how Verres despoiled and ravaged that reputable and hitherto prosperous community. What good folk they are ! excellent farmers ; men to whom the disputes and litigations of city life are things unknown. - You foul rascal, your duty was to show them consideration, to forward their interests, to do your utmost to preserve such men from harm. - In Verres' first year, the tithes of that district were sold for 18,000 modii ** of wheat. They were sold to Atidius, another of this man's assistants in the tithe business. Ostensibly as a district judge, he arrived at Herbita with an escort of temple slaves, and a lodging was provided for him at the expense of the town. Thereupon the town was forced to give him a bonus of 38,800 modii of wheat, when the tithes had been sold for 18,000 modii! It was forced as a community to pay him that huge bonus at a time when the individual farmers had already fled from their farms, plundered and driven away by the illegal assaults of the collectors. [76] In the second year, Apronius bought the tithes for 25,800 modii of wheat; and on his arrival in person at Herbita with the band of highwaymen that formed his bodyguard, the inhabitants as a body were made to bestow on him a bonus of 21,000 modii of wheat and an additional fee of 2000 sesterces. As for the fee, it may possibly have been given to Apronius himself as the pay for his trouble - and his unblushing knavery : but that great quantity of wheat, at least, we shall all feel sure found its way, like the corn at Agyrium, to the corn-pirate who sits yonder.

[33.] L   In the third year he adopted a practice that may fairly be described as "royal." It is the custom of the native kings in Persia and Syria we are told, to have a number of wives, and to these wives they assign towns in the following fashion : one town is to provide for a lady's girdle, another for her necklace, another for her hair-ornaments ; and thus they keep whole populations not merely in the secret but in the service of their pleasures. [77] Even such, as I will now explain, were the lawless pleasures of yonder self-styled King of the Sicilians.

Aeschrio of Syracuse has a wife named Pipa, whose name the vicious practices of Verres have made a by-word throughout Sicily : couplets referring to this woman were constantly being scribbled over the dais and above his Excellency's head. This Aeschrio, Pipa's honorary husband, was put up to be the new tax-gatherer for the tithes of Herbita. The people of Herbita were aware that, if no advance were made on the figure that Aeschrio might offer, they would be robbed of as much as that unprincipled woman might choose to demand ; and therefore they bid up to the highest figure they thought they could manage to pay. Aeschrio outbid them, feeling quite sure that, with Verres governor of Sicily, there was no danger of a lady tithe-collector's losing money. The tithes were knocked down for 8100 medimni - for nearly as much again as the year before. ** This meant complete ruin for the farmers ; all the more so because they had been hard hit and all but crushed in the two previous years. Verres perceived that the price was so high that no larger amount could possibly be squeezed out of the people of Herbita; so he reduced the total figure by 600 medimni, and ordered the sale price to be entered as 7500 medimni instead of 8100.

[34.] L   [78] The barley-tithes of this same area had been bought by Docimus. Docimus is the man whom Verres had assigned as "husband" to Tertia the daughter of Isidorus the ballet-dancer, after he had carried her off from her Rhodian flute-player. This Tertia had more influence over him than any of his other women, more even than Pipa : as much, I would almost venture to say, while he was praetor in Sicily as Chelidon had while he was praetor in Rome. Both of our governor's by no means troublesome rivals in love - the rascally agents of worthless disreputable women - arrived at Herbita, and began to ask this thing and demand that and threaten the other. They could not indeed succeed in their attempt to copy Apronius ; they could not frighten their own countrymen thoroughly enough for that ; but they brought all manner of false charges against them, and made them accept a summons to appear before a court in Syracuse. On their arrival at Syracuse, the people of Herbita were forced to hand over to Aeschrio - in other words, to Pipa - the 3600 modii of wheat that had been deducted from the total of the sale price : Verres thought it better not to let this female tax-gatherer make too much out of tithes, or the creature might transfer her energies to revenue farming and neglect the profits of her own nocturnal profession. [79] The people of Herbita were imagining their affair settled, when Verres said "Well now, what are you thinking of doing about the barley and my dear friend Docimus ? " Note, gentlemen, that he was transacting this business in his bedroom, and indeed in his bed. They had no instructions, they said, about that. "Oh, nonsense: pay down 12,000 sesterces." What could the poor fellows do - or refuse to do? especially when they saw in his bed the recent imprint of that female tithe-collector's body, whereby his determination was obviously being stimulated. And in that manner this allied and friendly community became tributary not to one but to two worthless and abandoned women, when Verres was governor of Sicily.

And further: I have just now told you of the quantities of corn, and the sums of money, handed over by the people of Herbita as a community to those collectors of tithe. But remember this, that they failed to buy, with that corn and that money, freedom for their fellow-townsmen from being wronged by those collectors. The farmers had been crushed and their goods plundered already ; and that payment was made to the collectors simply to induce them to quit their farms and towns ** at last. [80] And so it was that when Philinus of Herbita, a man of education and understanding and of high rank among his own people, was speaking, as an official witness, of the disastrous plight of the farmers, and how they had fled, and how few of them were left, you heard, gentlemen, the groan that arose from that great gathering of our countrymen which has attended every day of this trial To the fewness of the farmers who are left I will refer later ; [35.] L   for the moment, there is a point that I have passed over and must not, I think, neglect to mention.

I speak of that reduction by Verres of the total sale-price. By the immortal gods, how, think you, should you endure such a thing, nay, how endure to hear me speak of it? [81] There has been one man only in all the history of Rome - may the immortal gods grant there will never be another - into whose hands our country, overcome by internal danger and calamity, surrendered itself without reserve. So great was the power of Lucius Sulla that no man was safe, if he willed otherwise, from poverty, from exile, from death. So unshrinking was his audacity that he did not hesitate to say, in a public speech, that in selling the goods of Roman citizens he was selling the plunder that belonged to him. The whole system that he set up is not only in force to-day, but supported against change by the authority of the State, in our fear of the worse troubles and evils that change might bring : but this one detail of it has been condemned in several decrees of the Senate, which has ordered that the amount of the deductions made by Sulla must be paid by the purchasers into the State treasury. ** It was the Senate's ruling that it was unlawful, even for him to whom nothing had been forbidden, to diminish total profits thus gained and acquired by the nation. - [82] That honourable House, Verres, held that Sulla was not entitled to make such deductions in favour of Roman gentlemen ; and will these members of that House ** hold that you were entitled to make them in favour of a worthless woman? Sulla, for whose benefit the people of Rome passed a law that gave his own will and pleasure the force of law, is nevertheless condemned, in this single matter, by the solemn sanctions of the laws of old; and yet have you, a man liable to punishment for breaking every law in the world, deliberately chosen to give the force of law to your own wanton will and pleasure? Sulla is condemned for allowing deductions from a revenue that he himself gained for us : shall you be acquitted for allowing deductions from the yield of the taxes imposed by the Roman nation ?

[36.] L   [83] An instance of this type of rascality far more shameless still was his behaviour in connexion with the tithes of the Acestans. ** He knocked these down to the Docimus whom we have already heard of - in effect, to Tertia - for 5000 modii of wheat, with an added fee of 1500 sesterces; and then he compelled the inhabitants as a body to take them over at the same figure from Docimus : this fact you shall learn from the official evidence of the Acestans - Read it, please. (It is read.) - You have heard the sum for which the town took over the tithes from Docimus - 5000 modii of wheat, plus fee : now note the sum for which Verres has recorded himself as selling them. (The list of sales of tithe ** during Verres' praetorship is read.) You observe that under this heading 3000 modii of wheat have been subtracted from the total. And having done thus much to starve the Roman people, to enfeeble their revenues and bleed their treasury - he made a present of it to Tertia the actress. Which is worst - the shameless robbery of our allies, the disgraceful present to a whore, the unscrupulous theft from the people of Rome, or the impudent forgery of official records ? - Shall any violence, shall any corruption, deliver you from the stern justice of this Court? None shall: but if it should, cannot you see that what I have just now been saying has an important bearing on another court - on a prosecution for embezzlement ? [84] And for that reason I will keep all this part of my case in reserve, and make no use of it, but resume and complete my handling of the subject of corn and the corn-tithes.

Now while Verres himself - I mean Apronius, his other self - used to ravage the largest and richest areas, he had other men whom he would let loose like hounds to prey upon the smaller communities ; and to these worthless rascals he would force such places to make corporate gifts of corn or money. [37.] L   There is, for instance, an interpreter in Sicily called Aulus Valentius, whom Verres employed to help him ** not with the Greek language but with his thefts and debaucheries. This unimportant and penniless interpreter suddenly turned tithe-collector, and bought for 600 medimni of wheat the tithes of the thin and poverty-stricken land in Lipara. ** The inhabitants of Lipara were called together, and forced to take over the collection of the tithes themselves and pay Valentius a cash bonus of 30,000 sesterces. - By the immortal gods, what line of defence will you take here? That you sold those tithes so much too cheap that the place promptly added, of its own accord, to those 600 medimni, a bonus of 30,000 sesterces, the equivalent of 2000 medimni of wheat? Or that you sold those tithes dear, and then wrung this sum of money from the reluctant inhabitants? [85] But why am I asking you what line you mean to take, instead of finding out from Lipara itself what did happen ? - Kindly read the official evidence of the community of Lipara, and then their statement of the circumstances in which the money was presented to Valentius. (The official evidence is read, and an extract from the public records stating how the money was paid.) - Yes ? was even this poor little place, that lay so far from your grasp and even from your observation, cut off from Sicily, situated on a wild and barren island - was this place, on which you had already piled a load of other and more grievous wrongs, also among those whose corn-crops became your prey and swelled your gains? This island that you presented complete, as though it were some trifling gratuity, to one of your own associates - even from it were these corn-bonuses extorted as though it lay in the midst of Sicily? Yes: and so these folk, who had been ransoming their own lands from the pirates year after year, while ** you were governor of Sicily, now had to pay the sum you demanded and ransom themselves from you.

[38.] L   [86] Now let us take the case of Tissa : a very small and poor community, though its people are honest men and industrious farmers. From them you took, as a so-called bonus, more than the whole amount of their harvest. The collector you sent to deal with them was Diognetus - a temple slave. (A novelty in the tax-farming profession, gentlemen : with such support from Verres, why are the government slaves not taking up tax-farming here in Rome as well?) In your second year, the people of Tissa were unwillingly compelled to pay a bonus of 21,000 sesterces; in your third year, they were compelled to pay a bonus of 12,000 modii of wheat to Diognetus the temple slave. - Now this Diognetus, gentlemen, who made such large profits out of the national revenues, owned no deputy-slave, nor one penny of private savings. ** By all means hesitate, if even after this you can still do so, to say whether this temple slave, this attendant of Verres, had all that corn given him for himself or took it for Verres' benefit. [87] Listen to the facts as stated in the official evidence of Tissa. - (The evidence is read.) - It is indeed hard to feel sure that our governor is himself the tithe-farmer, when his personal attendants exact corn from the towns, order them to pay sums of money, and themselves carry off as a bonus considerably more ** than they are to furnish as tithe to the people of Rome! Thus did you clothe your authority with equity and your office with dignity - by making temple slaves the Sicilians' masters : thus justly were social distinctions observed, when you were governor of Sicily - by classing farmers as slaves, and slaves as farmers of taxes.

[39.] L   [88] Consider next how the wretched inhabitants of Amestratus were made to hand over so much as tithe that they had nothing left for themselves, and were none the less forced to pay sums of money as well. The tithes were knocked down to Marcus Caesius in the presence of representatives of the town; and one of these, Heraclius, was compelled to pay him 22,000 sesterces on the spot. ** - What does this mean, Verres? Explain this robbery and violence of yours, this plundering of our allies! Heraclius cannot have had instructions from his senate to buy the tithes, or he would have bought them ** : if, then, he had no such instructions, how can he have paid that money of his own free will? - Well, he reported that he had paid this money to Caesius : [89] you shall hear his report as entered in the records of the town. - Read it, please. (It is read.) - By what order of the town senate was its representative authorised to do this ? No such order was given. Why, then, did he do it? He was forced to do it. Who says he was forced to do it? The whole community. - Read us the official evidence. (It is read.) - The year following, money was extorted from this same town in a similar fashion and given to Sextus Vennonius, as you have already learnt from this piece of evidence. And after selling the tithes of these people of Amestratus - who were poor men, remember - for 800 medimni to the temple slave Bariobalis (do but note the names of these tax-farmers !) you forced them to add a bonus that came to more than the sale price of the tithes, high as that price was. They gave Bariobalis 850 medimni, plus 1500 sesterces in money. Most certainly Verres would never have been such a lunatic as to allow a temple slave to receive a larger share of corn, grown on Roman soil, than went to the Roman people, unless all that plunder, nominally the slave's, came to Verres himself in the end.

[90] The tithes of Petra were knocked down at a high figure : but none the less, very much against its will, Petra was forced to pay 52,000 sesterces to an utter scoundrel called Publius Naevius Turpio, who was found guilty of assault and battery during the praetorship of Sacerdos. Do you mean to say that you sold those tithes so recklessly that they went for 3000 medimni - that is, since a medimnus was worth 15 sesterces, for 45,000 sesterces - and yet a bonus of 52,000 sesterces was paid to the collector ? ** Oh, you allege that you sold the tithe of that district for a very high price, do you ? - Very well then : what he has to boast of is not the bonus that was given to Turpio, ** but the robbery of the people of Petra.

[40.] L   [91] Next for Halicyae, whose tenants are subject to tithe though its own citizens are exempt. It was compelled to give this same man Turpio 15,000 sesterces, though the tithes had been sold for a mere hundred medimni. ** - If you could prove what you so very much desire to prove - that these bonus profits went to the collectors and you yourself never handled any of them - even so, the unjust and forcible extortion of these sums of money ought to bring disaster and condemnation on yourself. And as you can make none of us believe that you were so insane as to take such risks for yourself and your children in order to enrich mere slaves like Apronius and Turpio, do you suppose that anyone doubts that those men were simply your agents, and you the man for whose gain all that money was acquired ?

[92] To deal with Segesta, another community exempt from tithe, ** there was sent another of these temple slaves as collector, by name Symmachus. This man brought with him a letter from Verres which authorised him - in defiance alike of all our Senate's decrees, of all the inhabitants' rights, and of the Rupilian Law - to cite farmers before a court outside the limits of their district. Listen to this letter that Verres wrote to the people of Segesta. (The letter is read.) The sort of game that this temple slave played with these farmers you may appreciate by noting how he settled things in one case with one esteemed and reputable man: the rest of his doings are of the same type. [93] There is a well-known gentleman of Panhormus, named Diocles Phimes, who was working a farm in the Segestan area; a leasehold farm, for none but Segestans may own a freehold in their district ; for this farm he was paying a rent of 6000 sesterces. After being knocked about sufficiently by that temple slave, he agreed to pay the man as tithe 16,000 sesterces as well as 654 medimni of wheat. ** This is confirmed, as you shall hear, by his own books. The accounts are read aloud.

And Gaius Antonius Brocchus, a member of our Senate, a man whose distinction and merit you all recognise, was compelled to pay this same man Symmachus money as well as corn. Yes, a man like that, a senator of Rome, became material for enriching a temple slave - when Verres was governor of Sicily !

[41.] L   You may have thought nothing, Verres, of the supreme respect due to the senatorial order: were you not even aware that it judges in our courts ? [94] In former days, when the judges came from the equestrian order, dishonest and rapacious governors in our provinces were the tax-farmers' humble servants; they showered distinctions on all of them who were in business there; let them but come across a knight in their province, and their hospitable services attended him everywhere. Now criminal governors may have gained by this state of things : but far more often it told against those who did something that injured or offended the equestrian order. The knights, in those days, as if by a kind of general agreement, adhered resolutely to the tradition whereby, if any man thought fit to insult a single one of them, the whole order agreed that he ought to suffer for it. [95] And yet did your contempt for the senatorial order - did your degradation of all the world to the level of your own life of injustice and debauchery - did your settled determination to eliminate from this Court any man who was living in Sicily, or who had landed there while you were its governor - did all this prevent your remembering that, after all, you would have to face a Court whose members were members of this same senatorial order - men whose minds might perhaps nourish no private grievance for personal injuries, but who would none the less reflect that any wrong done to another senator meant that they were themselves insulted, and that the honour of their order was contemptuously kicked aside? And by heaven, gentlemen, I cannot feel that this calls for no more than ordinary resentment: such an insult inflicts a sting that the sensitive and honourable must find it hard to endure. [96] You have despoiled the people of Sicily : well, it is their way to keep silence when they are wronged. You have made havoc among the business men : well, they do not readily, or often, leave Sicily for Rome. You have surrendered Roman knights to the outrages of Apronius : well, how can they harm you who may no longer be your judges? And now, when you do grievous wrongs to Roman senators, are you not simply saying "Let me get hold of yonder senator too, and the world shall see that the most august title of senator was meant to be exposed not merely to the jealousy of ignorant fools but to the insolence of scoundrels" ? [97] And Annaeus was not the only senator he treated thus ; he treated them all thus ; the name of senator was to ensure them all not honour but humiliation. To that great and eminent man Gaius Cassius, though he was consul at that very time, in his own first year as praetor, he behaved in the vilest fashion, causing the tithe-collectors to remove the whole harvest of a farm at Leontini which the wife of Cassius, a lady of the highest standing, had inherited from her father. - You shall see Cassius in this trial, Verres: in the witness-box, as you took care to prevent his appearing on the bench. [98] Now it is for you, gentlemen, to recognise the common tie that binds us together. Our order has a heavy load laid upon it; many tasks, and many toils, and many dangers; not legislative and judicial only, but the outcome of hostile rumours and political uncertainties. In so lofty and exalted a place is our order set that we feel it exposed to the winds of unpopularity that blow upon it from every quarter. And having thus to spend our lives under conditions of such unhappy disadvantage, shall we not even keep the power of maintaining our own rights against our own officials ? must we appear as the objects of their contempt and derision ?

[42.] L   [99] The people of Thermae sent representatives to buy the tithes of their own territory, thinking it most important for themselves that the tithes should be bought by the town, even for a large sum, rather than fall into the hands of one of the governor's agents, A man named Venuleius was put up by Verres to buy them. This man overbid the others again and again; and they, having maintained the struggle up to the highest figure that appeared at all manageable, at last ceased to bid any further. The tithes were knocked down to Venuleius for 8000 medimni of wheat. Posidorus, one of the town's representatives, reported the result ; and intolerably high as the price seemed to everyone, Venuleius was nevertheless offered 7000 modii of wheat and 2000 sesterces in cash to forgo his rights : plain evidence enough of the respective amounts of the collector's pay and the governor's plunder. - Let us have the papers and evidence from the people of Thermae, please. (The city's accounts and evidence are read.) -

[100] You carried off the whole harvest of the people of Imachara, and reduced them to poverty by all your unjust exactions; and after all that, you forced these unhappy ruined folk to pay you a special donation by presenting Apronius with 20,000 sesterces. - Read us the decree about the donation, and the evidence of the town. (The decree of the town senate about paying the donation, and the evidence of Imachara, are read.)

The tithes of the Henna district were sold for 8200 medimni, and then the town was forced to pay Apronius 18,000 modii of wheat and 3000 sesterces in cash. I would beg you to note carefully the vast amount of corn extorted from the tithe-paying land as a whole. I am now running quickly through the list of the tithe-paying communities : the type of cases with which I am dealing now is not that of the stripping of individual farmers of all they possessed, but the corporate payments of bonuses to tithe-collectors, in the hope of ultimately getting them to leave the towns and the country-side, when they were at last stuffed to repletion with their accumulated gains.

[43.] L   [101] Why, in your third year, should you order the people of Calacte to deliver to the collector Marcus Caesius at Amestratus the tithes on their lands that they had always been used to deliver at Calacte itself? They had never sent them elsewhere before you became governor, and even you yourself had not made any such arrangement in the two preceding years. **

Why did you let loose Theomnastus of Syracuse against the territory of Mutyca? This man harried the farmers there so savagely that in order to pay the supplementary tithes - and this is a thing which, as I shall show, happened in other towns too - they were constrained by necessity to buy corn elsewhere because they had none of their own.

[102] You will further see, gentlemen, from the settlements made by the town of Hybla with the collector Gnaeus Sergius, that the amount of corn taken from the farmers there was no less than six times that of the seed sown. - Read, please, the passages from the town records dealing with the corn-sowings and the tithe-settlements. - Listen to the settlements made by the people of Menae - with a temple slave ; and also to the sowing returns [and settlements] made by the people of Menae. ** Gentlemen, will you allow these allies of ours - these farmers of Roman land - these men who toil for you and serve you - who are willing enough that the populace of Rome should be fed by them, if only they and their children may have enough left to feed themselves - will you allow these men, in a fashion as grossly unjust as it is bitterly humiliating, to be robbed of appreciably more corn than the whole yield of their harvest ? **

[103] I feel, gentlemen, that it is time for me to check myself, lest I should weary you with an excess of detail I will dwell no longer on this one subject. But the rest of it, though left out of my speech, shall none the less be put before you. You shall hear the citizens of Agrigentum - fine men, keen farmers - relate their grievances. You shall learn of the wrongs and sufferings of the strenuous and hard-working people of Entella. The hardships of Heraclea and Gela and Soluntum shall be put before you. You shall be told how Apronius laid waste the lands of prosperous and friendly Catina. You shall be made aware that by this iniquitous tithe business the famous Tyndaris, Cephaloedium and Haluntium, Apollonia and Engyium and Capitium, have all been ruined ; that Ina, Murgentia, Assorus, Helorus, Ietae have nothing at all left to them; that the people in the little districts of Cetaria and Schera have simply become ruined outcasts ; that, in fact, for the space of three years, throughout all the lands that are subject to tithe, one-tenth of the harvests went as tribute to Rome, and all the rest as tribute to Gaius Verres, and that the greater part of the farmers were left with none at all ; while, if we find that here and there some portion was either left behind or sent back, it only means that Verres had glutted his greed, and these were the scraps left over.

[44.] L   [104] There are however two cities the tale of whose corn-lands I have reserved till now - perhaps the richest and most famous lands of all: Aetna, and Leontini. In considering what Verres made out of these districts, I will neglect the total yield of his three years: what I am now about to say can be more simply put before you if I select a single year. I will take the third year ; the year which is nearest to us, and the year in which Verres, knowing that it was certain to be his last, managed affairs without caring whether, on leaving Sicily, he was likely to leave any farmers at all behind him. We are to consider the tithes of Aetna and Leontini. Note the position carefully, gentlemen. These lands are fertile ; it was the third year ; and the collector was Apronius.

[105]Of Aetna I will speak quite briefly : its citizens have officially spoken for themselves in the first part of this trial, and you will remember the official statement made by Artemidorus of Aetna as the leader of its representatives. He told you that Apronius, with a body of temple slaves, arrived in Aetna, sent for the magistrates, and gave orders for couches to be spread for him in the midst of the market-place. He told you that it was the man's daily habit to hold revels that the public not only witnessed but paid for, and that while the band ** was playing at these functions, and wine being served on the most lavish scale, farmers were commonly being held under arrest, and as much corn as Apronius chose to demand was being extorted from them by this combination of injury with insult. [106]All these things, gentlemen, you have heard ; and I will now let them pass unmentioned. I have nothing to say about the luxury of Apronius, nor about his insolence, nor about the licence granted to him by Verres, nor about his unparalleled and disgusting depravity. I shall speak only of the profits made in one year out of one district, to help you to form some notion of those made in three years out of the whole of Sicily. But it is no long tale I have to tell. The men of Aetna have come to us in person, and brought us official statements in their own hands. They have informed you of the modest profits made by the worthy Apronius, our governor's intimate friend. Let their own evidence, if you please, put these facts before you. - Read it, please. (The evidence is read.) [45.] L   What is that you said? Louder, please, speak louder, that Rome may hear this story of Roman revenues, of Roman farmers, of Roman allies and friends. - 50,000 medimni, 50,000 sesterces! By the immortal gods! One area in one year pays Apronius a bonus of 300,000 modii of wheat and 50,000 sesterces as well! Were those tithes sold for all that amount below their value? Or were they sold dear enough, and all this corn and all this money then torn forcibly from the farmers? Make which reply you will: be it this or that, the charge against you is unanswerable. [107] For one thing at least you will not say - I could wish you would - that this vast sum did not reach Apronius: I will prove that fact so surely, by displaying the contracts and accounts of corporate bodies and private persons, that you will find me no less thorough in detecting your thefts than you yourself were in committing them. And can you face that fact ? can anyone justify that fact ? can this Court - even should it incline to mercy - resist the force of that fact ? the fact that on a single visit, from a single area, Quintus Apronius carried off as a bonus, besides the amount in cash that I have stated, no less than 300,000 modii of wheat ? [108] And further: is that fact asserted by Aetna only? On the contrary, by Centuripa too, whose citizens are tenants of the great bulk of the Aetna land. The instructions given by the senate of that town to its eminent representatives, Andro and Artemo, were indeed confined to what concerned its corporate interests as a community ; the senate and people of that town would not send representatives to deal with the wrongs that their fellow-citizens had sustained outside their own frontiers. But the individual farmers of that town, who form a very large, respected, prosperous group of persons in Sicily, sent three representatives, from among their fellow-citizens, to give evidence before you, and to reveal thus to you the evil plight not of one area but of nearly all Sicily. For nearly all Sicily has Centuripans among its farmers ; and their evidence against Verres is all the more telling and conclusive, because the other places are roused by their own troubles only, whereas these people, being tenants of land in the territories of nearly all the towns, have also been sensitive to the losses and injuries sustained by all those others.

[46.] L   [109] However, as I have observed, the facts concerning Aetna are certain ; they are vouched for by documentary evidence official and personal. In dealing with the land of Leontini, a larger measure of earnest care must be required of me ; for, I must confess, the people of Leontini have not, as a corporate body, helped me a great deal. The fact is that during Verres' governorship these outrages committed by the collectors have done them no harm, but rather have actually helped them. You may think it strange, gentlemen, or even incredible, that, when the farmers have been suffering so heavily, the people of Leontini, that headquarters of corn-growing, should have suffered no loss or injustice. But the reason is this, that with the exception of the family of Mnasistratus not one of the citizens is the occupant of one clod of earth anywhere in the city's territory. And therefore, while you have heard, gentlemen, the evidence of the respected and excellent Mnasistratus, you are not to expect to see the rest of the citizens here, who cannot suffer agriculturally even from the weather, let alone from Apronius. Indeed, they have not only suffered no harm from those Apronian forays; they have been by way of making a positive profit out of them.

[110] Since, therefore, for the reason given, no support, no representatives from the city of Leontini have come to help me, I must devise my own plan, and discover a way for myself of arriving at the facts about the gains made by Apronius, or rather, about our governor's gigantic and monstrous depredations. In his third year of office, the tithes on that district were sold for 36,000 medimni; that is, for 216,000 modii. A high price, gentlemen, a high price: I certainly cannot deny that. It must follow that the collectors who paid it have lost, or at least made very little by it: that is the usual fate of those who pay a high price. [111] What then if I prove that on this single transaction the buyer made a profit of one hundred - of two hundred - of three hundred - of four hundred thousand modii of wheat? can you feel doubtful any longer whose were the coffers into which the proceeds of this vast robbery went? It may be thought unfair to argue from the size of the profit to the fact of theft and robbery. Well then, gentlemen, what if I prove that those who gained 400,000 modii would have lost but for the intervention of your gross injustice, Verres, and of your Court of Claims chosen from your staff? In the face of such profits and such injustice, will it not be at once clear to everyone that your wickedness was the cause of your vast profits, and the vastness of the profits the motive of your wickedness ?

[47.] L   [112] How, therefore, gentlemen, am I to succeed in finding out the amount of the profit made ? Not from the accounts of Apronius ; these I failed to find when I searched for them, and when I haled the man himself before the magistrate, I extorted from him the statement that he had kept none. - If he was lying, why had he got rid of those accounts, unless they were likely to tell against yourself? And if he had in fact kept no accounts at all, is that of itself not sufficient indication that he had not been carrying on his own private business ? - For, gentlemen, the business of tithe-collection is such that it cannot be managed without very full accounts. It is essential to make and keep a full record in writing of the accounts kept with each several farmer, and the several agreements made by each with the collector.

Well, all the farmers made returns of their acreage under crop, in obedience to your orders and regulations : and it is not likely that any of them returned it as less than it was, with the prospect, if he did, of all those tortures, and punishments, and trials by the members of your staff. - Now on the soil of the Leontini district it is the regular and unbroken practice to sow about one medimnus of seed wheat per iugerum ; and the land gives a yield of eightfold, under favourable circumstances ; or tenfold, by the special blessing of heaven. In the latter case, when it occurs, the result is that the tithe is the same as the amount of seed-corn sown ; in other words, for every iugerum sown, one medimnus is due as tithe. [113] That being so, the first thing I have to say is this : that the tithes on the Leontini area were sold for more thousands of medimni than there were thousands of iugera sown in the Leontini area. Now if it was impossible for that land to yield more than ten medimni a iugerum, and if one medimnus a iugerum would be the amount due as tithe if - as very seldom happens - there were a tenfold yield, what motive could any sensible collector have - if it was the tithes, and not the farmers' property, that was being offered for sale - in buying those tithes for appreciably more medimni than there were iugera under crop? The signed return of acreage in the district was at most 30,000 iugera: the tithes were sold for 36,000 medimni. [48.] L   Was Apronius out of his reckoning - or rather, was he out of his senses? He was not : but he would have been, if the farmers had been allowed to pay only what they legally should, instead of being obliged to pay what Apronius demanded.

[114] Now if I shall prove that none of them paid as tithe less than three medimni an iugerum, it will not be denied, I presume, that, even if a tenfold harvest was achieved, none paid less than three tithes. As a matter of fact, Apronius was asked as a favour to consent to a settlement at three medimni a iugerum. Many men were being compelled to pay four or even five medimni a iugerum ; many were being left with not one grain of corn, nay, with not even the chaff, out of their whole harvest and the hard work of a whole year. Meanwhile, the farmers of Centuripa, ** who are very numerous ** in the Leontini area, held a meeting, and deputed their fellow-citizen Andron, by birth and reputation one of their foremost men - this is the Andron whom Centuripa has sent to give evidence as its representative at this trial - to wait on Apronius and plead with him on the farmers' behalf, and to beg him not to exact from Centuripan farmers more than three medimni a iugerum. [115] It was only with difficulty, and as the greatest of favours, that they got Apronius to grant their petition so far as concerned those of them who were even then intact. And the petition thus granted, be it noted, was a petition to be allowed to pay three tithes instead of one ! - Why, had all this not been for your own benefit, they would have petitioned you that they might not pay more than one tithe - not Apronius that they might not pay more than three. - And now, to pass over for the moment the royal - or rather the tyrannical - measures of Apronius against those farmers; and to make no reference to those whom he stripped of all their corn, or those whom he left not merely with none of their harvest but with none of their belongings, let me show you the profit made out of these payments of three medimni a iugerum that he so kindly allowed as a favour.

Following sections (116-171)


19.(↑)   They would have, therefore, to pay him a heavy bonus if he was to be sure of making a profit on the price he had paid.

20.(↑)   The suggestion seems not to be that they were freedmen of L. Cornelius Sulla (the Dictator), but simply that they had assumed Roman names without justification.

21.(↑)   Unfair, because vague.

22.(↑)   This sum represents the value of the 33,000 medimni of wheat.

23.(↑)   i.e., for the labour and expense of examining the wheat to see that it was of standard quality.

24.(↑)   Cicero implies that the quality was always unimpeachable.

25.(↑)   And therefore must be of the best quality.

26.(↑)   Inspection would thus be easy and adulteration impossible.

27.(↑)   The fee for "approving" the 33,000 medimni of wheat would be 33,000 sesterces, and this with the cash "bonus" for the barley-tithe would make 63,000 sesterces. Under-statement, in such a case, is so unlikely with Cicero that for LX it seems likely that we should read LXIII.

28.(↑)   In the Actio Prima.

29.(↑)   The modius seems to have been ⅙ of the Sicilian medimnus. The purchaser of the tithe did not pay a sum of money to the State and then keep all the corn himself: he bound himself to collect and hand over a given amount of corn, and made his profit by collecting as much more as he could,

30.(↑)   8,100 medimni = 48,600 modii.

31.(↑)   The civitas of Herbita might include smaller towns or villages besides the chief town Herbita itself.

32.(↑)   Sulla had enabled his friends to secure the goods of proscribed persons by outbidding other persons at the auctions, on the understanding that reductions in the prices finally offered would be made afterwards.

33.(↑)   The members of the present Court.

34.(↑)   A community not easy to identify : not the Segestans, as Aeneid v. 718 might suggest : these Cicero refers to (§ 92) as Segestani.

35.(↑)   'Lex' rather suggests the meaning "conditions of sale" : the statement of the actual sales was perhaps appended to this.

36.(↑)   'Interpres' means "go-between" as well as "interpreter."

37.(↑)   The largest island of the Lipari group off the north coast of Sicily.

38.(↑)   "Before," if we follow the reading of the inferior mss. But Verres' failure to guard the coast and islands from the pirates, a failure denounced at length in Book v., is one of the "other and more grievous wrongs" of Lipara that Cicero has just mentioned.

39.(↑)   Not having these customary privileges of favoured slaves, it is argued that even for a slave he was a person of small importance.

40.(↑)   The official evidence no doubt indicated the amount of the actual tithe collected from Tissa: but these words may refer to the case of Lipara, § 84.

41.(↑)   As before, the town is forced to take over the tithes, and the bonus goes to the original buyer.

42.(↑)   The reasoning is, that Verres cannot claim that the transfer of the tithes was voluntary, a substitute for that purchase at the auction which the town had instructed him to effect. Had it been voluntary, the payment of the bonus would have been voluntary too.

43.(↑)   i.e, if Verres tries to show that Petra paid the bonus willingly when taking over the tithes, he must maintain that the sale price was not a high one but a low one; and since the bonus was so huge, the sale price must have been reprehensibly low. The whole sentence is of course ironical.

44.(↑)   Freely, in gratitude for a low assessment of their tithe; this has reference to the already rejected ironical supposition.

45.(↑)   The area cultivated by non-citizen tenants was plainly very small.

46.(↑)   Apparently, like Halicyae, only so far as the citizens themselves were concerned.

47.(↑)   In all, the equivalent of about 25,000 sesterces, or 4 times his annual rent.

48.(↑)   The grievance is here the cost of transporting loads of corn seven or eight miles inland and uphill for no conceivable good reason.

49.(↑)   The text of this sentence, as recorded in the manuscripts, is corrupt.

50.(↑)   The yield implied is very low, but not improbable. Long has an excursus (pp. 424-428) on the relation, in ancient and modern times, between the quantity of seed sown and the yield of the harvest.

51.(↑)   More exactly, a combination of choral singing with instrumental accompaniment.

52.(↑)   i.e., citizens of Centuripa, tenants of Leontini landowners.

53.(↑)   Or possibly "who are the majority of the farmers."

Following sections (116-171) →

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