Cicero : In Verrem 2.5

Sections 131-188

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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[50.] L   [131] And therefore, Verres, if you do find someone to attempt your defence in this matter of the fleet, let him attempt it without bringing forward those well-worn arguments that are here irrelevant. Let him not say that I am calling misfortune misconduct, and ill-success a criminal act ; that I am attacking you for losing your fleet, although many a gallant leader, exposed like all of us to the risks and uncertainties of war, has many a time come to grief. It is no ill-fortune that I allege against you. It is useless for you to mention the unsuccessful performances of other men, and to collect the many cases of shipwreck on the rocks of evil luck. My charge is this: that your ships were not manned, that rowers and sailors had been exempted from duty, that the remainder had no food but palm roots; that a Roman fleet was commanded by a Sicilian, and men who had always been our allies and friends by a Syracusan ; ** that you, at that very time, and for days together before that time, had been fuddling yourself with drink on the sea-shore in the company of worthless women. That is my charge ; and I produce witnesses to confirm every word of it. [132] And now does it seem that I am trampling upon you when you are down? debarring you from the plea to which your ill-fortune entitles you ? attacking and abusing you for what is due to the chances of warfare ? For that matter, the accusation of being unfortunate is not welcome, as a rule, to those who have given themselves into fortune's hands, who have had experience of her inconstancy and its attendant perils. But in this disaster of yours fortune has played no part. Men make trial of the fortunes of war on the battle-field, and not at the dinner-table : it is not the god of war, but the goddess of love, to whom we may assign a share ** in your disaster. And then, if it is improper to blame you for being unfortunate, why did the ill-fortune of those innocent men meet with no forgiveness and no consideration at your hands ?

[133] Nor had you better argue at any length that I am charging you with using the axe as your instrument of execution, and am seeking to excite prejudice against you for doing what our ancestors have always done. Your methods of execution form no part of my charge. I do not assert that no man should ever be beheaded, nor urge that fear and strict discipline and punishment for misbehaviour should no longer be part of our military system. I admit that our allies, nay, that our own citizens and soldiers, have been punished again and again with sternness and vigour. [51.] L   You will do well, therefore, to let this plea also alone. What I am proving is that you, and not the captains, were to blame. I am charging you with having taken payment for exempting their rowers and sailors from duty. This is stated by all the other captains; it is officially stated by our privileged ally Netum; it is officially stated by Amestratus and Herbita, by Henna and Agyrrhium and Tyndaris; and finally it is stated by your own witness, your own admiral, your rival in his wife's favours, your host - by Cleomenes, who says that he went ashore to get troops from the land garrison at Pachynus to man his ships with, a thing he would assuredly not have done if the crews had been at their proper strength, for a properly manned and equipped warship has no room for a single additional man, let alone for a considerable number. [134] I affirm, moreover, that the health and strength of such members of the crews as still remained on duty were undermined by lack of food and all other necessaries. I affirm that none of them were to blame ; or, if blame must be held to attach to one of them, that it should have been assigned chiefly to the man who had the most efficient and well-manned ship and was in command of the whole fleet; or else, if they were all to blame, that Cleomenes should not have been put among the spectators while the rest were put to a cruel death. And I also affirm that in actually executing them it was a monstrous thing to charge fees to their weeping friends, fees for the blows that mangled them, fees for the right to be buried in a grave. [135] If, therefore, you choose to answer my charges, what you must say is this : that the fleet was fully manned and equipped, none of the marines away from duty, none of the oars towed along ** for lack of oarsmen, plenty of corn on board; that the statements of the captains, the statements of all those responsible cities, nay, the statements of all Sicily, are falsehoods ; that Cleomenes, when he told us how he went ashore at Pachynus to take soldiers aboard from there, was guilty of a treacherous lie ; that what the captains needed was not more men, but more courage, and that they abandoned and deserted Cleomenes while he was fighting the enemy bravely ; that nobody was paid a penny for the burial of the dead. And if you do say this, you will be proved a liar; whereas if you say anything else my charges against you will be unanswerable.

[52.] L   [136] Will you now still dare to say "So-and-so among my judges is my personal friend, and so-and-so is a friend of my father's"? The more closely a man is connected with you, the more ashamed you should be to face him when such charges as these are brought against you. A friend of your father's? If your father himself were among your judges, what, by the immortal gods, could he do? Must he not address you thus? ''You are the man who, being the governor of a Roman province and responsible for the conduct of warlike operations at sea, for three years exempted the Messanians from supplying the warship which they were bound by treaty to supply. It is you for whose private use these Messanians built a great merchant-vessel at the public expense. It is you who extorted money, as a naval tax, from the towns of Sicily, and who exempted from service those rowers who paid you to do so. You, upon the capture of a pirate ship by your quaestor and your legate, hid the pirate captain where nobody could find him. You had the hardihood to execute men who were stated to be Roman citizens and recognised widely as being so. You dared to carry off pirates to your own house, and to produce from your house a pirate captain to appear at your trial. [137] You, here in this illustrious province, among our loyal allies and honoured countrymen, amid the dangers by which the province was menaced spent day after day idly carousing on the coast. You, all that time, were never to be found at home, never to be seen in the forum. Your guests at those carousals were married women, the wives of our Sicilian allies and friends. You introduced to the society of such women as that your young son - my grandson - so that, at the most unstable and dangerous period of his life, his own father's conduct might set him an example of vicious living. You, while a governor in command of your province, showed yourself wearing a Greek tunic and purple cloak. You, to gratify your licentious passion, took away the command of the fleet from the Roman legate and handed it over to a Syracusan. Your troops, in the grain-growing province of Sicily, went short of corn. Because of your luxury and greed, a Roman fleet was captured and burnt by the pirates. [138] It was under your rule that pirates first sailed about in the harbour of Syracuse, the harbour into which no enemy in war had ever penetrated in all the city's history. You did not seek to cover up these shameful occurrences by pretending ignorance, by preventing their being spoken of or remembered. Far from that, you wrenched the innocent captains of your ships from the embrace of their parents, of the men whose guest you had been, and hurried them to torture and death. No appeal made to you by those unhappy weeping parents to remember me, your father, softened your cruel heart. To you the blood of those guiltless persons brought not only pleasure, but profit also." [53.] L   If it were your own father that were addressing you thus, could you possibly entreat his mercy, or call upon him to forgive you ?

[139] I have now done enough for the people of Sicily, enough to meet the claims of my friendship for them, and to carry out the promise I made them. What still remains of my case, gentlemen, is something not taken upon me but born in me; something not brought to me from without, but indissolubly entwined with the inmost roots and fibres of my being. It is no longer a question of the preservation of our allies: it is a question of the life and existence of Roman citizens, or in other words, of each and every one of ourselves. Gentlemen, do not look for me to prove my statements in this matter, as though some part of them were open to doubt: all the facts I shall give you will be so notorious that I might have been making all Sicily a witness to their truth. The madness that accompanies unscrupulous wickedness plunged this man's unbridled passions and savage heart into such a depth of insanity that he never hesitated, in the open sight of our countrymen, to produce the punishments devised for convicted slaves and inflict them on citizens of Rome. [140] Need I remind you how many he had flogged? Gentlemen, the simple fact is this: when Verres was governor of Sicily, no distinction whatsoever was made, in this respect, between Roman citizens and other people. And the result of this practice was that before long his lictors were in the habit of actually laying hands upon the persons of Roman citizens without so much as waiting for his orders.

[54.] L   Can you deny this, Verres - that in the market-place of Lilybaeum, where there is a large Roman community, an elderly business man named Gaius Servilius, a Roman citizen belonging to the Panhormus community, was beaten with rods before your judgement-seat till he fell to the ground at your feet ? Deny this first charge if you can: all Lilybaeum saw it, and all Sicily heard of it. My charge is that a Roman citizen was beaten by your lictors till he collapsed fainting before your eyes. [141] And, by the immortal gods, for what a reason ! - Though indeed it is to the detriment of our common interest, and of our status as citizens, that I ask what the reason was in the case of Servilius, as if there were any possible reason that could justify such a thing's befalling any Roman citizen whatsoever. Forgive me, gentlemen, in this one instance : in the others I shall not spend long in asking what the reasons were. Servilius had talked rather freely about Verres' rascality and wickedness. This was reported to Verres, who immediately served the man with a summons bidding him appear at Lilybaeum to answer a charge brought against him by a temple slave. ** He obeyed, and appeared there ; but no one came forward to prosecute. Verres thereupon set about compelling him to accept a challenge from one of his lictors, involving the sum of 1000 sesterces , to prove that Verres ** was making money by robbery, saying that he would appoint a court to try the case from among his own staff. Servilius protested earnestly against being tried for a capital offence, ** before a prejudiced court, when no one had appeared to prosecute him. ** [142] In the midst of his appeal he was surrounded by six lictors, muscular fellows who had had plenty of practice in assaulting and flogging people, and who now proceeded to beat him savagely with rods ; till finally the senior lictor Sextius, a man whom I have already often mentioned, took the butt end of his stick, and began to strike the poor man violently across the eyes, so that he fell helpless to the ground, his face and eyes streaming with blood. Even then his assailants continued to rain blows on his prostrate body, till at last he consented to accept the challenge. Such was the treatment he then received ; and having been carried off for dead at the time, very soon afterwards he died. And yonder devotee of Venus, from whom radiates every imaginable grace and seductive charm, spent his victim's money on a silver Cupid, which he dedicated in the temple of Venus : thus foully misusing even the property of others to secure the gratification of his nocturnal lusts.

[55.] L   [143] Of the tortures inflicted on other Roman citizens I might well speak in general and comprehensive terms, instead of taking them one by one. While Verres was governor, the prison constructed at Syracuse by the cruel tyrant Dionysius, and known as the Stone Quarries, was the permanent home of Roman citizens. Let the thought or the sight of any one of them annoy him, and the man was flung into the Quarries forthwith. I perceive, gentlemen, the indignation which this arouses in you all; and I observed the same thing, in the first part of the trial, when the facts were being stated by witnesses. You hold, of course, that it is not only here in Rome that we should be sure of enjoying the freedom that is our right: not only where we have the tribunes of the plebs, the other officers of state, the courts of law that crowd our forum, the authority of our Senate, the public opinion of the assembled people of Rome. No : the infringement of a Roman citizen's rights, in whatsoever land, and among whatsoever people, is a thing which in your judgement affects the freedom and dignity of all Roman citizens alike. - [144] In that place where foreign criminals and scoundrels, where pirates and public enemies are confined, how could you dare, Verres, to imprison that multitude of Roman citizens ? Did no thought of your trial ever enter your mind ? no thought of your assembled countrymen? no thought of the great company now met together, now contemplating you with angry and hostile eyes ? Even at that distance, did the greatness of the Roman people, did the actual picture of this crowded gathering never present itself to your eyes or your imagination? Did you suppose that you would never return to the place where they could see you, never re-enter the forum of the Roman nation, never become subject to the authority of our laws and our courts of law ? -

[56.] L   [145] Now what gave rise to this display of wanton cruelty, and caused the man to load himself with so heavy a burden of crimes ? Gentlemen, it was simply a special new device for securing plunder. The poets tell us of men who infested inlets of the sea, or occupied precipitous cliffs or headlands, so as to be able to kill seafarers who were wrecked there : Verres, with a like purpose, threatened every part of the sea from every point in Sicily. Every ship that arrived from Asia or Syria, from Tyre or Alexandria, was promptly seized by his special band of spies and watchmen: the voyagers were all flung into the Stone Quarries, the cargoes and merchandise were carried off to the governor's residence. After long years Sicily was once more the prey - no, I will not say of a Dionysius, of a Phalaris, of one of the many cruel tyrants the island once produced, but rather of a new and monstrous creature, as savage as those that are said to have haunted those regions in ancient days. [146] Indeed, I conceive that neither Charybdis nor Scylla was as dangerous as he was to the mariners navigating those straits ; he was more dangerous, because he had girt himself about with more numerous and savage hounds. **He was a second Cyclops, but far more frightful, for he infested the whole island, while the Cyclops only occupied Aetna and the adjoining regions.

And what reason for this abominable cruelty was put forward by Verres at the time? The same, gentlemen, as that which will be brought up by his advocates now. All persons who landed in Sicily with any considerable store of goods he denounced as belonging to the army of Sertorius and being fugitives from Dianium. ** They sought to escape his anger by exhibiting their wares - Tyrian purple, incense and perfumes and linen fabrics, jewels and pearls, Greek wines, Asiatic slaves - so as to prove by the nature of their cargoes from what part of the world they had come. They did not foresee that the things they hoped would prove their innocence and save them were just the things that would lead to their ruin. Verres declared that they had acquired these goods by having dealings with the pirates, ordered them to be marched off to the Stone Quarries, and took their ships and cargoes into careful custody.

[57.] L   [147] These methods presently crowded the prison with honest traders ; and then those things began to happen of which you have heard from Lucius Suettius, a Roman knight and most excellent man, and of which you shall hear from the others likewise. There, in that prison, guiltless Roman citizens were most shamefully strangled. Now at last the cry "I am a Roman citizen," the famous appeal that has so often brought men help and rescue among savage races in the furthest corners of the earth, was to hasten the infliction and increase the agony of these men's death. -

Well, Verres ? what answer to this charge are you contemplating ? not, I presume, that I am lying, or inventing, or exaggerating ? you will hardly venture to make any such suggestion as those to your advocates here ? - Let us have, if you please, out of his own special treasures a Syracusan document that he thinks of as composed according to his own wishes ; let us have the prison record, which is carefully kept so as to show the dates on which prisoners are received, and on which they die - or are put to death. (The record is read.) - [148] You see, gentlemen, how citizens of Rome were herded into the Stone Quarries, how all these honest countrymen of yours were flung one on top of another in this place of dishonour. Look now for some sort of evidence that they departed from that place. There is none! Did all those men die there? Even were it a valid defence to say so, we should not believe him when he said so. But there in this same document we find written what he was too careless to notice and too ill-educated to understand, namely, the word edikaiōthēsan, the Sicilian equivalent of "the death penalty was inflicted upon them."

[58.] L   [149] If it were some king, or foreign community, or savage tribe, that had behaved thus to Roman citizens, should we not as a nation be taking steps to punish the offenders, and sending our armies against them? could we be suffering such an insult, such a blot on the honour of Rome, without exacting vengeance and retribution? In how many great wars, think you, did our ancestors engage, because Rome's citizens were alleged to have been insulted, her seamen arrested, her merchants robbed ? Yet I am not now complaining that these men were arrested, nor feeling it intolerable that they were robbed; my charge is that, after being deprived of ships and slaves and merchandise, honest merchants were flung into prison, and in that prison, being Roman citizens, were put to death. [150] If I were addressing an audience of Scythians, instead of speaking here in Rome to this vast gathering of Romans, in the hearing of a body of those Senators who are Rome's most distinguished citizens, in the forum of the Roman nation, about the cruel execution of that multitude of Roman citizens - even so my words would be arousing indignation, even in those barbarian souls ; for so glorious is our great empire, so highly is the name of Rome honoured in all the world, that it is felt to be beyond the power of any man to treat our countrymen with cruelty such as this. - And can I now conceive of any escape or any refuge for you, Verres, when I behold you enmeshed, like a wild beast in the hunter's nets, by the strict justice of your judges and the thronging assembly of your countrymen? [151] And this I tell you solemnly : if what I know is impossible should come to pass - if you escape the net that now enfolds you, if you find some means and method of working yourself free - it will only be to fall into a still more formidable snare, entangling you wherein I cannot fail, still your hunter but in a position now more commanding, to dispatch you and do away with you. **

For even if I were ready to grant the truth of the statement on which he bases his defence, that very defence, which is based on a fiction, should be as fatal to him as the charge I bring against him, which is based on facts. What is his defence? He says that he intercepted and executed fugitives from Spain. - And who authorised you to do that ? what right had you to do it? what entitled you to do what no one else had done? [152] We see our forum and our law courts full of such men as those, and the sight does not make us uneasy. Our civil strife - our insanity, our sad destiny, our evil luck, I know not which to call it - has ended not unhappily, in that we are at least allowed to preserve unharmed such of our countrymen as have survived it. But Verres, who long since, as we remember, betrayed his superior officer, carried his loyalty ** across to the other camp, and embezzled the nation's money, arrogated to him self such importance as a director of our national policy that he took men who were not prevented, either by the Senate or by the people or by any of our magistrates, from appearing in the forum, exercising their votes, living in Rome and sharing in political life, and pronounced the sentence of a painful and cruel death against as many of them as chanced to land anywhere on the coast of Sicily. [153] After Perperna had been put to death, a great number of men who had been in the Sertorian army threw themselves on the mercy of the famous and gallant Gnaeus Pompeius; and Pompeius did his utmost to secure the safety and well-being of every one of them ; to each and all of his countrymen who sued for grace that unconquerable arm was stretched forth to pledge his protection and encourage them to hope for pardon. - Can it be believed that these men found a haven of safety with him against whom they had fought, and were awarded torture and death by such a political nobody as you have always been? [59.] L   You perceive what a useful line of defence you have worked out for yourself! Upon my word, I would rather have this Court and the Roman nation believe what you allege in your defence than what I assert as your prosecutor ; yes, I would have such men as we speak of, rather than traders and seamen, taken to be the victims of your enmity ; my arguments convict you of outrageous greed, whereas your own defence convicts you of a monstrous kind of insanity, of a cruelty without precedent, of what is practically a fresh proscription.

[154] But this strong support that Verres offers me is not at my disposal. No, gentlemen; and why? Because the people of Puteoli ** are here in a body; their wealthy and respected merchants have come in great numbers to attend this trial, and these men tell us that their partners, their freedmen or fellow-freedmen were plundered and flung into prison, and some of them put to death in prison, and some of them beheaded. - And now mark, Verres, the fair treatment you will receive from me. When I call for the evidence of Publius Granius, that he may tell us how his own freedmen were beheaded by you, and claim his ship and cargo from you, you shall prove him a liar if you can, and I will desert my own witness, take your side, yes, support you strongly. You shall prove that his men had been with Sertorius, and had landed in Sicily in the course of their flight from Dianium. There is nothing that I would rather you could make your judges believe ; for your crime would deserve severer punishment than any other that could be detected and put before them. [155] I will, if you wish it, recall Lucius Flavius to give evidence again, in view of the fact that - by a wise innovation according to your advocates, but (as everyone knows) really because of your sense of guilt and the conviction carried by my witnesses - you cross-examined nobody in the first part of this trial. Let Flavius, if you will, be cross-examined, and asked who that Lucius Herennius was whom he described as a banker of Leptis, and who, in spite of finding over a hundred Roman citizens in the Syracusan community not only to identify him but to appeal to you on his behalf with tears in their eyes, was nevertheless beheaded in the sight of all Syracuse. I should really like you to prove this second witness of mine a liar, and demonstrate to the satisfaction of this Court that Herennius had been a Sertorian.

[60.] L   [156] What shall be said of those who were led forth in large numbers to be executed, among the captured pirates, with their heads covered ? - What is the meaning of this novel precaution of yours, and what made you devise it? Can it be that you were shaken by the cries of distress that your treatment of Herennius drew from Flavius and the others? Or was it the deep respect felt for the strong character and high standing of Marcus Annius that made you a little less careless and reckless than usual? I mean the Annius who a day or two ago testified on oath that a man who was no casual foreigner just come from abroad, but a Roman citizen born at Syracuse and known to all the Roman citizens in Syracuse, was beheaded by your orders. - [157] After those men's outcry, after that outrage had become known to and resented by everyone, Verres proceeded to execute his victims not indeed less brutally than before, but more cautiously ; he took to having his Roman citizens led forth to die with their heads covered, while having them nevertheless put to death in public because the people in that district, as I have already told you, were making an inconveniently careful estimate of the number of pirates missing. - Was this the treatment decreed for honest Romans, when you were governor of Sicily ? was this the prospect that their occupation afforded them? was this all the respect in which their rights and their lives were held? Are the perils and accidents that all traders must inevitably face so sadly few that such further terrors as these must threaten them, in Roman provinces and at the hands of Roman governors ? - To what end has Sicily been our near neighbour and loyal dependency, the home of our faithful allies and our honoured countrymen? to what end has she always gladly welcomed every citizen of Rome who would dwell within her borders? Has it been only for this, that men who were sailing back from the furthest coasts of Syria and Egypt, whose Roman dress had procured them no small measure of honour even among barbarous peoples, who had escaped the clutches of lurking pirates and the perils of storm and tempest, should fall slain by the executioner's axe in Sicily when they felt themselves already safe at home ?

[61.] L   [158] And now, gentlemen, I am to speak of Publius Gavius, burgher of Consa ** ; and with what strength of voice, what weight of eloquence, what sorrow of heart must my words be spoken ! Nay, of sorrow, indeed, my heart has no lack; rather it is voice and eloquence wherewith I must strive to equip myself in a measure befitting my theme and the sorrow that I feel. Such is the charge I now bring that when I was first told of the facts I could not see myself making use of them ; aware though I was of their complete truth, I could not imagine that they would be believed. Constrained by the tearful entreaties of all the Roman citizens who are business men in Sicily, and encouraged by the testimony of the worthy inhabitants of Vibo ** and by that of the whole population of Regium, and by that of a number of Roman knights who as it happened were at the time in Messana, in the first part of this trial I called no more witnesses than might suffice to convince everyone of the facts. [159] What am I to do now ? Hour after hour I have been handling the single topic of Verres' abominable cruelty. In speaking of other instances of that cruelty, I have almost wholly exhausted the resources of such language as befits his wickedness, and have not taken steps to keep your attention awake by varying the nature of my charges. And how, therefore, shall I deal with this terrible affair? There is, I think, but one course, one method possible. I will put the bare facts before you. They speak so forcibly for themselves that there is no need of eloquence, from my own feeble lips or from the lips of anyone else, to kindle your indignation.

[160] The man of whom I speak, Gavius of Consa, was one of those Roman citizens whom Verres threw into prison. Somehow or other he escaped from the Stone Quarries, and made his way to Messana. Italy was now visible only a few miles away, and the walls of Regium with its population of Roman citizens ; he had come forth from the awful shadow of death, revived and strengthened by the light of freedom and the fresh air of justice; and so he began to talk indignantly to people in Messana of how he, a Roman citizen, had been thrown into prison, and how he was going straight to Rome and would be ready for Verres on his arrival there. [62.] L   The poor fellow was not aware that to say such things in Messana was equivalent to saying them to the governor in his own house; for Verres, as I have already explained, had chosen this town to assist him in his crimes, to receive his stolen goods, and to share the secret of all his abominable deeds. The result was that Gavius was at once seized and taken before the chief magistrate of Messana. Verres chanced to arrive there that same day, and it was reported to him that there was a Roman citizen with an angry story about having been in the Stone Quarries at Syracuse, who was already going aboard a ship, uttering unpleasantly savage threats against Verres, when they had dragged him ashore again and kept him in custody for Verres to deal with as he thought best. [161] Verres thanked these people, commending warmly their kind and careful attention to his interests. Then he made for the market-place, on fire with mad and wicked rage, his eyes blazing, and cruelty showing clearly in every feature of his face. Everyone was wondering how far he would go and what he was meaning to do, when he suddenly ordered the man to be flung down, stripped naked and tied up in the open market-place, and rods to be got ready. The unhappy man cried out that he was a Roman citizen, a burgher of Consa ; that he had served in the army under the distinguished Roman knight Lucius Raecius, who was in business at Panhormus and could assure Verres of the truth of his story. To this Verres replied that he had discovered that Gavius had been sent to Sicily as a spy by the leaders of the fugitive army, a charge which was brought by no informer, for which there was no evidence, and which nobody saw any reason to believe. He then ordered the man to be flogged severely all over his body. [162] There in the open marketplace of Messana a Roman citizen, gentlemen, was beaten with rods ; and all the while, amid the crack of the falling blows, no groan was heard from the unhappy man, no words came from his lips in his agony except "I am a Roman citizen." By thus proclaiming his citizenship he had been hoping to avert all those blows and shield his body from torture ; yet not only did he fail to secure escape from those cruel rods, but when he persisted in his entreaties and his appeals to his citizen rights, a cross was made ready - yes, a cross, for that hapless and broken sufferer, who had never seen such an accursed thing till then.

[63.] L   [163] Does freedom, that precious thing, mean nothing? nor the proud privileges of a citizen of Rome? nor the Porcian law, the Sempronian laws ** ? nor the tribunes' power, whose loss our people felt so deeply till now at last it has been restored to them ? Have all these things come in the end to mean so little that in a Roman province, in a town whose people have special privileges, a Roman citizen could be bound and flogged in the market-place by a man who owed his rods and axes ** to the favour of the Roman people ? When the fire and hot metal plates and the like were brought to torture him, even if his agonised entreaties, his pitiful cries could not stay your hand, was your soul untouched even by the tears and the loud groans of the Roman citizens who then stood by? You dared to crucify any living man who claimed to be a Roman citizen ? - Gentlemen, in the earlier part of this trial I refrained from speaking of this matter with my present vehemence ; and I did so because, as you could see, the minds of the audience were being strongly excited against Verres by feelings of distress, of hatred, of fear for the general safety. I deliberately kept within bounds, on that occasion, both my own utterances and the evidence of Gaius Numitorius, the eminent Roman knight whom I called as a witness ; and I was glad that Glabrio did what it was very wise for him to do - abruptly adjourn the sitting while the witness was still speaking ; the truth being that he was afraid that men might see the people of Rome forcibly inflicting upon Verres the retribution which it feared he would escape at the hands of the law and of yourselves as his judges. - [164] But since it has now been made quite plain to everyone, Verres, how your case is going and what the result for you will be, I will deal thus with you. You declare all of a sudden that Gavius had been a spy. ** Well, I will prove that you had thrown him into prison in the Stone Quarries at Syracuse. And I will not prove this merely by quoting the Syracusan prison records: you shall not be able to say that I found the name Gavius in those records, and then selected it so as to be able to make a fictitious identification of this Gavius with the other. No, I will call witnesses, out of whom you shall make your choice, to testify that this man and no other was thrown into the Quarries at Syracuse by you. I will also put forward fellow-townsmen and intimate friends of his from Consa, who will show you and your judges, too late for you but not for them, that the Publius Gavius whom you crucified was a Roman citizen and a burgher of Consa, and not a spy from the ranks of the fugitives.

[64.] L   [165] Now when I have given your friends and supporters ample proof of all these facts that I undertake to prove, I intend to lay hold of the very point which you yourself concede me, and proclaim myself content with that. What did you say yourself the other day, when you leapt up terrified by the shouts and angry gestures of your countrymen - what did you tell us plainly then? That the man kept calling out that he was a Roman citizen simply in order to delay his execution, but was in fact a mere spy. Very well then, my witnesses are telling the truth. It is precisely this that we are told by Gaius Numitorius, by those two well-known gentlemen Marcus and Publius Cottius who come from the Tauromenium district, by Quintus Lucceius who has been an important banker in Regium, and by all the rest. For until now the witnesses I have called have been chosen not from among those who were to state that they knew Gavius personally, but from those who were to state that they saw him when he was being dragged off to be crucified in spite of his proclaiming himself a Roman citizen. This is exactly what you, Verres, say, this is what you admit, that he kept proclaiming himself a Roman citizen, that this mention of his citizenship had not even so much effect upon you as to produce a little hesitation, or to delay, even for a little, the infliction of that cruel and disgusting penalty. - [166] Of this admission, gentlemen, I lay hold, I stand by this, I am content with this one thing, all the rest may pass unheeded : his own admission must inevitably ensnare him and put the knife to his throat. - You did not know who he was, you had reasons for believing him a spy? I do not ask you what those reasons were. Out of your own mouth I accuse you: the man claimed to be a Roman citizen. If you, Verres, had been made prisoner in Persia or the remotest part of India, and were being dragged off to execution, what cry would you be uttering, save that you were a Roman citizen? You, a stranger among strangers, among savages, among a people inhabiting the farthest and remotest regions of the earth, would have been well served by your claim to that citizenship whose glory is known throughout the world: what, then, of this man whom you were hurrying to execution ? whoever he was, he was unknown to you, and he declared himself a Roman citizen : could not that statement, that claim of citizenship, secure from you on your judgement-seat if not remission yet at least postponement of the sentence of death? [65.] L   [167] Poor men of humble birth sail across the seas to shores they have never seen before, where they find themselves among strangers, and cannot always have with them acquaintances to vouch for them. Yet such trust have they in the single fact of their citizenship that they count on being safe, not only where they find our magistrates, who are restrained by the fear of law and public opinion, and not only among their own countrymen, to whom they are bound by the ties of a common language and civic rights and much else beside: no, wherever they find themselves, they feel confident that this one fact will be their defence. [168] Take away this confidence, take away this defence from Roman citizens ; lay it down that to cry "I am a Roman citizen" shall help no man at all; make it possible for governors and other persons to inflict upon a man who declares himself a Roman citizen any cruel penalty they choose, on the plea that they do not know who the man is; do this, accept that plea, and forthwith you exclude Roman citizens from all our provinces, from all foreign kingdoms and republics, from every region of that great world to which Romans, above all other men, have always had free access until now. And then again, when Gavius named the Roman knight Lucius Raecius, who was in Sicily at the time - might you not at least have written to him at Panhormus? Your Messanian friends would have kept your man in safe custody, you would have had him chained and locked up, till Raecius arrived from Panhormus. Should he identify the man, you would no doubt lessen the extreme severity of the sentence : should he fail to do so, then you would be free to set up this precedent, if you chose, that a man who was not known to yourself, and could not produce some person of substance to vouch for him, might be put to death on the cross, even if he were a Roman citizen.

[66.] L   [169] But I need say no more about Gavius. It was not Gavius against whom your hate was then displayed: you declared war upon the whole principle of the rights of the Roman citizen body. You were the enemy, I say again, not of that individual man, but of the common liberties of us all. What else was the meaning of your order to the Messanians, who had followed their regular custom by setting up the cross on the Pompeian Road behind the town, to set it up in the part of the town that looks over the Straits? and why did you add words that you cannot possibly deny having used, words that you said openly in the hearing of all - that you purposely chose this spot to give this man, since he claimed to be a Roman citizen, a view of Italy and a prospect of his home country as he hung on his cross? That is the only cross, gentlemen, ever set up in this spot in all Messana's history; and you now see why. This place with its view of Italy was deliberately picked out by Verres, that his victim, as he died in pain and agony, might feel how yonder narrow channel marked the frontier between the land of slavery and the land of freedom, and that Italy might see her son, as he hung there, suffer the worst extreme of the tortures inflicted upon slaves. [170] To bind a Roman citizen is a crime, to flog him is an abomination, to slay him is almost an act of murder ** : to crucify him is - what? There is no fitting word that can possibly describe so horrible a deed. Not satisfied with all the cruelty I have told you of, "Let him be in sight of his native land," he cries, "let him die with justice and freedom before his eyes." It was not Gavius, not one obscure man, whom you nailed upon that cross of agony : it was the universal principle that Romans are free men. - Nay, do but mark the villain's shamelessness! One can imagine how it vexed him to be unable to set up that cross to crucify us Roman citizens in our forum, in our place of public assembly and public speech : for he picked out the corner of his province that should be most like Rome in its populousness, and nearest to Rome in its position ; he would have this memorial of his abandoned wickedness stand in sight of Italy, at the entrance-gate of Sicily, in a place where all who came or went that way by sea must pass close by it.

[67.] L   [171] If I were not speaking to Roman citizens ; not to men who are our country's friends; not to those who have heard of the name and fame of Rome; not even to human beings, but to brute beasts ; nay, to go even further, if I were minded to tell this tale of suffering and wrong to the stones and rocks of some lonely desert waste, cruelty and injustice so awful as this would rouse sympathy even in the world of mute and lifeless things. And since those whom I am in fact addressing are senators of Rome, main pillars of our laws and our law-courts and our civic rights, I may rest assured that Verres will be pronounced the one Roman citizen for whom that cross would be a fitting punishment, and no others deserving, even in the smallest degree, of being treated thus. [172] A little while ago, gentlemen, the pitiful fate of those innocent ship's captains was bringing the tears into our eyes. It was right and proper for us to be affected thus deeply by the anguish of our guiltless allies: how must we be affected now, when we hear of the anguish of our own kinsman? I say our kinsman, for we must recognise blood-kinship between all Roman citizens ; truth, not less than concern for the general safety, bids us do so. And now in this place all the citizens of Rome, all those who are here and all who are elsewhere, are looking to you to do strict justice, appealing to your honour, imploring your help. They believe that their every right and interest and advantage, yes, that the whole of their liberty, depends on the verdict that you are to give. [173] From myself they ask nothing further; none the less, if that befalls which should not, it may be that they will have from me more than they are asking now. If some act of violence tears yonder man from the stern grasp of your justice - I do not fear this, gentlemen, nor look upon it as in any way possible - if, however, I find myself mistaken, the Sicilians indeed will be indignant that their case has suffered defeat, and will feel the distress that I myself shall feel; but the Roman people, having given me the power of submitting cases to its jurisdiction, will very soon - before January is over - recover its rights, and will give its own verdict on an issue that I shall lay before it. So far as concerns the enlargement of my own reputation, gentlemen, it suits my interests well enough that Verres should be torn from my grasp in this present trial, and reserved for trial then before the people of Rome. That will be a celebrated case indeed, providing certain and easy success for myself, satisfaction and pleasure for the people. And if it is supposed that I have been hoping - though I have sought nothing of the kind - to advance myself at the expense of this one man Verres, then his acquittal, which can only occur if a great many men have acted like criminals, will indeed enable me to advance myself at the expense of those many.

[68.] L   But the truth is, gentlemen, that for your sake, and for the sake of our country, I would not have so grave an offence committed by a body of men so carefully chosen as yourselves ; I would not have the members of this Court, whom I have myself selected ** and approved, going about in our city so defiled with the infamy of acquitting Verres that they might seem smeared not with wax ** but with mud. [174] And therefore I would offer some advice to you too, Hortensius, if the place where I stand is a place for offering advice. I would bid you look carefully and consider what you are doing and where it will lead you, the kind of man you are defending and the methods by which you are defending him. It is not that I would limit your freedom to use your ability and employ all the resources of your eloquence against me. But if, apart from this, you believe that, by what you do secretly outside the walls of this court of law, you can influence what is to take place within those walls, if you think to pervert the course of justice in any way by the help of artifice or ingenuity or power or favouritism or Verres' money, then I counsel you earnestly to forgo your purpose ; and as for the attempts at corruption which Verres has already set going, and which I have tracked down and discovered, I advise you to crush them and let them go no further. Misconduct in this trial will be very dangerous to yourself, more dangerous than you suppose. [175] Because you are consul elect and have held all the other offices of state, you may think yourself absolved from anxiety for your reputation ; but believe me, it is as hard a matter to keep as it was to gain these honours that the Roman people has graciously bestowed upon you. The country endured the despotic control by you and your friends ** of the law-courts and of public affairs generally, so long as it was possible and necessary to endure it; but on the day on which the tribunes of the plebs were given back to the Roman nation, all this power, though you may not yet be aware of the fact, was at one blow taken away from you. At this very moment, the eyes of all men are turned upon each one of us here, to see how honestly I prosecute, how scrupulous a verdict these gentlemen return, and by what methods you conduct the defence. [176] Let any one of us all turn aside from the straight path, be it never so little, and the result will not be the silent disapproval that you and your friends have been accustomed to ignore, but vehement and outspoken condemnation at the hands of the Roman people. Quintus, ** this man is not your kinsman, he is not your personal friend ; of the pleas by which you have often in the past, in one trial or another, excused your lack of impartiality, none are at your disposal in your defence of Verres. When he was governing his province he used to say, openly and Frequently, that he was doing what he was doing because he had confidence in you ; and unless you are very careful, it will be thought that he had good reason for saying so. [69.] L   [177] So far as my own duty goes, I feel sure that my worst detractors will grant that I have already discharged my obligations in full : for in the course of the few hours during which the first part of this trial lasted, I made the whole world pronounce Verres guilty. What still remains on trial? Not my honesty - that has been approved ; not Verres' conduct - that has been condemned. It is the members of this Court ; and also, to be candid, it is yourself. -

And now, in what circumstances is that trial to take place? this is a point that deserves the most serious thought ; for in polities, as in everything else, the position and tendency of affairs at any given time is of great practical importance. It will take place, as you are aware, at a time when the nation is eager to transfer judicial authority to a new type and class of man, and when the text has been published of a bill for reconstituting the courts and their membership. Now the publication of this bill is not really due to the person ** whose name you see attached to it ; it is the work of the man who stands accused before you; it is this man's hopes of your help, this man's estimate of your character, that have caused this bill to be drafted and published. [178] It had not been published when this case began ; there was no talk of it at the time when Verres, intimidated by your stern demeanour, had told us, by many indications, why he meant to offer no defence; the moment of its publication was immediately after he was observed to have recovered his spirits and confidence. That you are so distinguished a body of men is a strong argument against its becoming law ; it is the illusory hopes and extravagant impudence of Verres that secure it most support. Let any member of this Court be guilty of any kind of reprehensible conduct, and either the Roman people will try this man whom they have already adjudged unworthy of any trial, or else he will be tried by those new judges, set up by this new law to try the old judges whose conduct of the courts has given so much offence. [70.] L   [179] As for myself, there is surely no man alive who cannot see, without my telling him, how essential it is for me to go forward with this case. - Can I keep silent, Hortensius, can I feign indifference, when such a blow has been openly struck at the country's heart, when our provinces have been stripped bare, our allies harried and plundered, the gods robbed of their treasures, citizens of Rome tortured and put to death, and the criminal, whom I prosecuted, goes unpunished? It is impossible for me either to lay down such a responsibility as I leave this court or to continue to carry it and yet say nothing. Can I let this thing rest? must I not drag it into the light? must I not appeal to the honour of the Roman nation? must I not make those men who corrupted the judges in our courts, and those judges who suffered their honour to be stained by such corruption, face the peril of prosecution for the horrible wickedness they have committed ?

[180] "Do you really mean," I may be asked, "to enter upon so formidable a task, and to procure yourself so many bitter enemies?" Not with any eagerness, to be sure, nor of my own free will. But I have not the same privileges as men of noble birth, who sit still and see the honours our nation bestows laid at their feet ; the present conditions of political life oblige me to behave far otherwise. I am reminded of that wise and clear-sighted man Marcus Cato. Believing that his merit, though not his birth, was gaining him his countrymen's approval, and hoping to become the founder and promoter of a famous family of his own, he readily incurred the enmity of powerful persons, and at the price of immense exertions lived to be a very old and a very famous man. [181] After him Quintus Pompeius, ** a man of obscure and humble origin, made many enemies, and underwent heavy toils and grave dangers, before he reached the highest position in the state. In more recent times we have seen Fimbria and Marius and Caelius contending with formidable enmities and heavy labours in order to attain the high offices which you, gentlemen, have attained by a life of indolence and indifference. For persons like myself, our lives must be planned to follow the same path and take the same direction ; we belong to the school, and copy the methods, of the men I speak of. [71.] L   We are aware with what jealousy, with what dislike, the merit and energy of "new men" are regarded by certain of the "nobles" ; that we have only to shut our eyes for a moment to find ourselves caught in some trap; that if we leave them the smallest opening for any suspicion or charge of misconduct, we have to suffer for it at once ; that we must never relax our vigilance, and never take a holiday. [182] We have enemies - let us face them ; tasks to perform - let us shoulder them ; not forgetting that an open and declared enemy is less formidable than one who hides himself and says nothing. There is hardly one member of the old families who looks kindly on our activity ; by no services that we render them can we capture their goodwill; they withhold from us their interest and sympathy as completely as if we and they were different breeds of men. And for this reason there is little to be feared from the enmity of such people, since you have them regarding you with ill-will and jealousy long before you have done anything to make them your enemies.

[183] It is, then, gentlemen, my earnest hope that, having done what Rome expects of me, and having performed in full what I undertook to do for my Sicilian friends, I shall close my career as a prosecutor with this prosecution of Verres. But, for the reasons I have given, I have made up my mind, should the event falsify my estimate of your character, to bring to justice not only those on whom will rest the chief guilt of having corrupted the members of this Court, but those also who will share that guilt as accomplices. Accordingly let all persons who are minded to employ their power, their unscrupulousness or their ingenuity in corrupting the Court in the present case, add to their readiness a vision of themselves engaged in contest with me before the judgement-seat of the nation; and if they have found me lacking neither in energy nor in tenacity nor in vigilance as prosecutor of the man whose enmity Í owe to the people of Sicily, then let them look forward to finding me much fiercer and more formidable still as the prosecutor of men whose enmity I shall deliberately incur in defence of the vital interests of the people of Rome.

[72.] L   [184] Hear me now, O almighty and most gracious Father Jove ; thou whose royal offering, so worthy of thy glorious temple, of thy Capitoline hill that is the citadel of all the world, so worthy to be the gift of princes, made by those princes for thee and by them promised and dedicated to thee, Verres with sacrilegious wickedness plucked from those princes' hands; thou whose sacred and beautiful image he carried away from Syracuse :

hear me, Juno Queen of Heaven ; thou whose two sacred and ancient shrines, built by our allies in their two islands of Melita and Samos, this same Verres with an equal wickedness stripped of all their offerings and adornments :

hear me, Minerva ; thou against whom likewise he has sinned doubly in plundering two famous and holy temples, thy temple at Athens of that great mass of gold, thy temple at Syracuse of everything save its roof and walls :

[185] hear me, Latona and Apollo and Diana ; ye whose shrine at Delos - nay, as religious men believe, whose home, the abode of your godhead in times past - he broke open with violence by night and robbed of its treasures :

hear me once more, Apollo, whom he carried off from Chios :

hear me, Diana, again and yet again; thou whom he despoiled at Perga; thou whose most sacred image at Segesta, twice consecrated there, first by Segestan piety, and again by Scipio Africanus in his hour of victory, Verres caused to be pulled down and borne away :

hear me, Mercurius ; thou whose statue Verres set up in the wrestling-ground of some man's private house, instead of its standing, according to Scipio's purpose, in the gymnasium of our allies the people of Tyndaris, to be the guardian and patron of the youth of their city :

[186] hear me, Hercules; thou whose image at Agrigentum, in the dead of night, with the band of slaves that he had prepared and armed, he strove to uproot from its place and carry away :

hear me, holy Mother of Ida ; thou whose revered and sacred temple at Engyium he left so utterly despoiled that nothing remains there now save the name of Scipio and the marks of the sacrilege committed, for the memorials of Scipio's victory, the treasures that adorned the shrine, are there no longer :

hear me, Castor and Pollux; ye who have your place at the central heart of populous Rome, who watch and witness all that is done in our forum, our solemn deliberations, our laws and our courts of law ; ye from whose temple Verres got himself gain and plunder of the foulest kind :

hear me, whosoever of the gods are borne in the sacred coaches to behold our festival gatherings at the appointed seasons ; for it was to fill his purse, not to uphold the dignity of that solemn rite, that Verres saw to the making and repairing of the way by which you go:

[187] hear me, Ceres and Libera, the rites of whose worship, as religious men believe and tell us, are beyond all others exalted and mysterious; ye by whom food and nourishment, virtue and law, gentleness and culture, were first given us, they say, and spread abroad among men and nations; ye whose worship the people of Rome, having received and adopted it from the Greeks, performs with such earnestness of both corporate and personal devotion that it seems not brought hither from Greece but sent forth hence to all other peoples ; which worship this one man defiled and desecrated, causing the image of Ceres in Catina, which none but women might touch or even see without sin, to be wrenched from its place in the shrine and carried away, and bearing off that other image of Ceres from its home and dwelling-place at Henna, the image whose appearance was such that those who saw it thought of it either as the goddess herself or as her likeness wrought by no human hand, but fallen from heaven: ** [188] hear me, I beseech you again, hear me, most holy goddesses, whose home is in the lakes and woods of Henna, and who are patrons of all this land of Sicily whose defence has been entrusted to me ; ye whose discovery of corn and distribution of it to all the world has filled all nations and peoples with the fear of your holy godhead : **

and all other gods and goddesses likewise, ye against whose sanctuaries and holy worship this insane and immoral scoundrel has openly waged impious and sacrilegious war, hear ye my appeal and prayer : -

If in my prosecution of this man, and my pleading of this case, I have kept a single eye upon the vital interests of our allies, the honour of Rome and the dictates of my conscience ; if all my effort and attention and thought have been engaged in striving after the righteous performance of my duty, and in this alone : then may my purpose in undertaking this case, and my integrity in conducting it, equally inspire the members of this Court in pronouncing judgement upon it. [189] And if all the deeds of Gaius Verres are deeds of such shameless wickedness, of such treachery and lustfulness and greed and cruelty, that the like of them has never been seen or heard of in any man before: then may the verdict of this Court bring such a doom upon him as befits his life and conduct ; may my country and my conscience let me rest content to have been a prosecutor in this one case ; and henceforth may I be free for the defence of honest men, and not forced to undertake the prosecution of evil-doers.


46.(↑)   On this point see § 83-85 and § 124,

47.(↑)   The 'Venus communis' may carry a further reference to the "sharing" of Syracusan wives with Verres by their husbands.

48.(↑)   Not astern, but hanging from the rowlock pegs, probably.

49.(↑)   Slaves were incapable of bringing or defending actions in court: the man was perhaps a freedman.

50.(↑)   The subject of 'faceret' is taken by some (Mommsen, Long) to be Servilius: this raises more difficulties than it solves.

51.(↑)   If the 'sponsio' went against him, he could hardly avoid conviction (for 'maiestas' perhaps) as having slandered the praetor.

52.(↑)   That is, the temple slave had not appeared to prosecute.

53.(↑)   ie, than Scylla's. For Verres’ "hounds" see Book i. § 126 and 133.

54.(↑)   See note on Book i. § 87. 'Fugere', because Sertorius was now defeated,

55.(↑)   The threat is of prosecution before the people by Cicero as aedile. It was expressed more plainly and fully in Book i. § 13-14,

56.(↑)   Literally "transferred his quaestorship," i.e., the sacred obligations of loyalty to his superior officer that the rank of quaestor involves: see Book i, § 34-40.

57.(↑)   By now perhaps the most important trading-centre on the Italian coast.

58.(↑)   The name and position of this Italian municipium are doubtful: Long argues for Cossa in Etruria rather than Compsa further south, but not convincingly.

59.(↑)   Vibo was also known as Valentia.

60.(↑)   The exact nature of these laws is doubtful: there is reason to think that they secured to a Roman citizen everywhere the immunities from flogging and execution he had always, under the republic, enjoyed in Rome itself.

61.(↑)   The symbol of 'imperium' is mentioned with indignant reference to the misuse of the rods against Gavius.

62.(↑)   'Repentinum' really applies to 'dicis' (graphic present for 'dixisti'). 'Fuisse', not 'esse', because his arrest had stopped his spying.

63.(↑)   'Parricidium' may here mean "parricide," "unnatural murder." But Long argues plausibly for the meaning "murder." The actions 'vincire', 'verberare', 'necare' are spoken of as the action of a magistrate. That a magistrate should officially execute a Roman citizen in any manner is, Cicero says, nearly as bad as that one private person should murder another. Cicero does not mean us to think of Roman citizens actually convicted of crime: but even such persons were not normally bound, flogged or executed, so that even applied to them the dictum is not a gross or obvious exaggeration.

64.(↑)   By exercising his right of challenging a certain number of the judges.

65.(↑)   An obscure reference to the scandal of the coloured wax voting-tablets mentioned in Actio prima, § 40.

66.(↑)   The senatorial aristocracy made supreme by Sulla.

67.(↑)   The effect of this use of the first name of Hortensius is almost that of "Look here, old fellow."

68.(↑)   The praetor Lucius Aurelius Cotta.

69.(↑)   Surnamed Rufus; consul in 141 (Long).

70.(↑)   The last part of this paragraph ('vos etiam atque etiam . . . continentur') looks like a shortened alternative version of what precedes it.

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