Quod ubi ille intellēxit, id agī atque id parārī ut fīliae suae vīs adferrētur, servōs suōs ad sē vocat; hīs imperat ut sē ipsum neglegant, fīliam dēfendant; excurrat aliquis quī hoc tantum domesticī malī fīliō nūntiet. Clāmor intereā fit tōtā domō; pugna inter servōs Rubrī atque hospitis; iactātur domī suae vir prīmārius et homō honestissimus; prō sē quisque manus adfert; aqua dēnique ferventī ā Rubriō ipsō Philodamus perfunditur. Haec ubi fīliō nūntiāta sunt, statim exanimātus ad aedēs contendit, ut et vītae patris et pudīcitiae sorōris succurreret; omnēs eōdem animō Lampsacēnī, simul ut hoc audiērunt, quod eōs cum Philodamī dignitās tum iniūriae magnitūdō movēbat, ad aedēs noctū convēnērunt. Hic līctor istīus Cornēlius, quī cum eius servīs erat ā Rubriō quasi in praesidiō ad auferendam mulierem conlocātus, occīditur; servī nōn nūllī vulnerantur; ipse Rubrius in turbā sauciātur. Iste, quī suā cupiditāte tantōs tumultūs concitātōs vidēret, cupere aliquā ēvolāre, sī posset.

The paragraph focuses on the events that unfold in Philodamus’ house, and how the dwelling becomes the centre of attention for the entire town. For the news spread. . . [full essay]

Grammar and Syntax:

  • Identify the type of ut-clause Cicero uses in the first sentence (ut filiae suae vis adferretur).
  • Explain the mood of excurrat.
  • What is the meaning of cum in cum Philodami dignitas etc.?
  • Identify the case and function of noctu.

Style and Theme:

  • Identify the words in the paragraph that refer to Philodamus’ household and dwelling – what overall image of the event is Cicero creating?
  • Discuss the movements and the action in the paragraph: who does what (from) where? And where in all of this is Verres?

Quod: connecting relative.

servos suos ad se vocat – his imperat ut se ipsum neglegant: the *alliteration underscores the telling dynamic of Philodamus summoning his slaves to him only to tell them to disregard his own safety.

ut se ipsum neglegant, filiam defendant: the *asyndeton (no et or equivalent after neglegant) conveys something of the breathlessness and urgency with which Philodamus issues his orders.

excurrat: subjunctive – syntactically, Cicero continues the ut-clause introduced by imperat. Just as the *asyndeton (see previous note), the disjointed, *elliptic language underscores the stress Philodamus experiences.

domestici mali tota domo domi suae: Cicero emphasizes by means of a *figura etymologica and the *polyptoton domo – domi that the commotion takes place not in public spaces but a private dwelling – this is not a riot of provincials, but an attack carried out by Romans on what ought to be a sanctuary of peace for the owners. The domestic motif continues with ad aedis contendit and ad aedis convenerunt.75

pugna inter servos Rubri atque hospitis: Cicero elides the verb; it is either est or fit (from the previous sentence).

iactatur domi suae vir primarius et homo honestissimus: Cicero’s syntax enacts the confusion he depicts – the subject comes at the end (rather than the beginning) and the verb (iactatur) at the beginning (rather than the end).

vir primarius et homo honestissimus: Cicero uses an elaborate paraphrasis of Philodamus that combines the generic terms vir and homo with superlative attributes and a climactic increase of syllables (1:4 :: 2:5); the *alliteration homo honestissimus reinforces the overall effect of pathos and outrage at the Romans’ utter disregard for the respectability and social standing of their host.

… Philodamus perfunditur: again, the subject is effectively delayed until the very end; the two words go well together at the sound level (perhaps enacting the drenching?), not least since all five vowels feature (i-o-a-u + e-u-i-u).

Haec ubi filio nuntiata sunt: there is a minor inconcinnity in Cicero’s account: for the violence against the father, of which the son is notified here, occurred after Philodamus’ orders to his slaves to fetch his son (see excurrat aliquis); so either the slaves waited to witness the further developments or we have to reckon with two messengers.

exanimatus: literally, exanimatus (the participle of ex-animo) means ‘deprived of one’s soul/ life (anima)’, hence killed, but it is also used figuratively to signify ‘paralyzed with fear or passion’. This metaphorical usage is particularly widespread in New Comedy; Cicero, too, uses exanimatus frequently in this sense to heighten the drama of a situation.

lictor istius Cornelius: Roman magistrates were accompanied by attendants who helped them carry out their official duties; they famously carried the fasces, which symbolized the right and the power to command and exercise jurisdiction. The number of lictors varied according to office: a Roman consul had twelve, a legate two.76 The presence of the lictor, at an advanced stage of the fighting, comes as somewhat of a surprise. Cicero gives the impression that he had been there from the start, and was supposed to play a key role in the abduction plot. But another scenario, suggested by Steel (2004) 241, is equally plausible: that he was ‘summoned once the fight began’. The brawling, after all, went on for some time: if Philodamus was able to dispatch messengers to recall his son (and the entire town to gather around Philodamus’ house at the news of the commotion), Verres, too, must have become aware of the disorder in the city – and sending a lictor in the first instance to see that order was observed would have been an obvious thing to do.

Cornelius … occiditur; servi … vulnerantur; ipse Rubrius … sauciatur: in all three passive constructions, Cicero studiously suppresses the agent – in contrast to his earlier specification that Philodamus was drenched in boiling water ‘by Rubrius’ (a Rubrio ipso Philodamus perfunditur). The killing and the wounding occur in the wake of the son rushing (contendit) to the house to aid his father and sister and the Lampsacenes coming together (convenerunt) in outrage, but Cicero passes over in silence what these parties actually did upon arrival. He thereby elegantly sidesteps the issue of who was actually responsible for the death of a Roman official.

quasi in praesidio ad auferendam mulierem conlocatus: a paradoxical formulation: praesidium usually occurs in scenarios of protection, not abduction. As often when he experiments conceptually, Cicero here hedges with the modifier quasi, which puts imaginary scare-quotes around in praesidio, thus signalling the irony.

Iste … qui … videret: Cicero here describes Verres’ reaction to the turmoil as if he were an eye-witness (clearly the impression he wished to generate among members of the jury). But videre can also have (as here) the more abstract meaning, ‘perceive’, ‘come to understand’. As Steel (2004) 238 points out ‘Cicero is not saying something obviously false, and the alert reader will see that he must mean that Verres wished that he were no longer in Lampsacus.’

cupere: Cicero uses the historic infinitive, instead of a finite verb form, to enhance the vividness of his account.

75.Secondary literature on Greek houses includes Jameson, M. (1990), ‘Private Space in the Greek City’, in O. Murray and S. Price (eds.), The Greek City from Homer to Alexander, Oxford, 171–98; and Nevett, L. (1999), House and Society in the Ancient Greek World, Cambridge.
76.See further Marshall, A. J. (1984), ‘Symbols and Showmanship in Roman Public Life: the Fasces’, Phoenix 38, 120–41.


neglegō -ere, neglēxī, neglēctum, [nec + legō], 3, a., disregard, neglect, not attend to, not heed, slight; despise, contemn, treat with indifference.

excurrat run out; make an excursion; sally; extend; project;

domesticus, -a, -um, [domus], adj., of the house; domestic, private, personal; as opposed to that which is foreign, internal, intestine, civil.

malum, -ī, [malus], n., evil, misfortune, calamity; hurt, punishment; wrong-doing, crime.

fīlius, -ī, sometimes abbreviated, F., f., m., son.

nūntiō, -āre, -āvī, -ātum, [nūntius], 1, a., announce, declare; report, communicate.

intereā [inter + eā], adv., meanwhile, in the meantime.

Rubri A henchman of Verres about whom little is known. Cicero alleges that he was responsible for arranging liaisons for Verres.

iactō, -āre, -āvī, -ātum, [freq. of iaciō], 1, a., throw, fling, hurl; toss, toss about; shake, brandish; emit, utter, say. sē iactāre, to boast, show off, make a display.

primarius in the first rank, distinguished;

feruenti red hot, boiling hot; burning; inflamed, impetuous; fervent/zealous (Bee);

Philodamus A prominent citizen of Lampsacus who was forced by Verres to billet Rubrius and was ultimately condemned to death after a brawl (instigated by Rubrius) broke out at his house, resulting in Rubrius being injured and causing the townspeople to turn on Verres.

perfunditur pour over/through, wet, flood, bathe; overspread, coat, overlay; imbue;

exanimō, -āre, -āvī, -ātum, [exanimus], 1, a., put out of breath, fatigue; deprive of life, kill; wear out, prostrate, unnerve.

contendō, -ere, contendī, contentum, [com- + tendō], 3, a. and n., stretch tight, strain; aim, hurl; press, hasten; contend, vie, strive, fight; dispute; compare, contrast; maintain, assert, affirm, protest.

pudīcitia, -ae, [pudīcus], f., modesty, virtue, chastity.

succurreret run to the aid of, help;

Lampsaceni citizens of Lampsacusm a Greek town located on the eastern side of the Hellespont.

quod [acc. neut. of quī], conj., that, in that, the fact that; because, since, inasmuch as; in view of the fact that, as regards the fact that, wherein; so far as, to the extent that.

noctu by night, at night;

lictor lictor, an attendant upon a magistrate;

Cornēlius, -a, name of a Roman gens which included a number of prominent families, both patrician and plebeian. The Cornēliī mentioned in this book are described under their family names; see Balbus, Cethēgus, Cinna, Dolābella, Lentulus, Scīpiō, Sulla.

collocō -āre, -āvī, -ātum, [com- + locō], 1, a., set right, place, set, put, arrange; set up, erect; locate, station; of money, invest, lay out.

non nulli some, several, a few; one and another; considerable;

vulnerō, -āre, -āvī, -ātum, [vulnus], 1, a., wound, hurt, injure, harm, pain.

sauciatur wound, hurt; gash, stab;

cupiditās, -ātis, [cupidus], f., desire, eagerness, passion; greed, covetousness, cupidity, lust.

tumultus, -ūs, [tumeō], m., commotion, disturbance, tumult, uproar; insurrection, mutiny.

concitō, -āre, -āvī, -ātum, [freq. of conciō], 1, a., stir up, arouse, excite; urge, move, instigate.

aliqua somehow, in some way or another, by some means or other; to some extent;

euolare fly away, fly up/out/forth; rush out/forth;

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Suggested Citation

Ingo Gildenhard, Cicero, Against Verres, 2.1.53–86. Cambridge: Open Book Publishers, 2011. ISBN: 978-1-90692-463-8. DCC edition, 2016. http://dcc.dickinson.edu/cicero-verres/67