Postrīdiē hominēs māne in contiōnem conveniunt; quaerunt quid optimum factū sit; prō sē quisque, ut in quoque erat auctōritātis plūrimum, ad populum loquēbātur; inventus est nēmō cuius nōn haec et sententia esset et ōrātiō, nōn esse metuendum, sī istīus nefārium scelus Lampsacēnī ultī vī manūque essent, nē senātus populusque Rōmānus in eam cīvitātem animadvertendum putāret; quodsī hōc iūre lēgātī populī Rōmānī in sociōs nātiōnēsque exterās ūterentur, ut pudīcitiam līberōrum servāre ab eōrum libīdine tūtam nōn licēret, quidvīs esse perpetī satius quam in tantā vī atque acerbitāte versārī.

Cicero here details the reaction of the civic community on ‘the morning after’: we get an image of ordered proceedings, but also a firm commitment to basic principles of fairness and justice. . . [full essay]

Grammar and Syntax:

  • Define the form and function of factu.
  • What kind of genitive is auctoritatis?
  • What is the case and function of quidvis?

Style and Theme:

  • How does Cicero present the civic community of Lampsacus to his Roman audience?

in contionem … auctoritatis plurimum … ad populum loquebatur: Cicero projects familiar elements of Rome’s political culture onto the Greek city: a contio is a meeting devoted to public deliberation that consists of speeches by members of the elite to the assembled populace (in contrast to voting meetings, which were called comitia); auctoritas is a Roman term that denotes respect and recognition granted on the basis of rank, standing, and achievement and carried much weight in Roman politics; and populus refers to a civic community held together by law. The use of the term here sets up an inherent affinity with the senate and the people of Rome, which are mentioned right afterwards. These are all markers of civilization and proper political procedure, the exact opposite of a raging mob of unruly provincials. Pseudo-Asconius perceptively comments on the ethnographic subtext in Cicero’s account: adeo non Graeca levitate res gestae sunt, sed agitato consilio defensa libertas. levitas (‘fickleness’) was a standard stereotype that the Romans ascribed to the Greeks, and Cicero does his best to obviate any charge that the Lampsacenes acted rashly (as Greeks were, from a Roman perspective, wont to do). Pseudo-Asconius attribute Graeca sets up the second half of an implicit antithesis: the defence of liberty after due consideration (agitato consilio) resonates in a Roman key.

pro se quisque … in quoque: a *polyptoton designed to underscore that the opinion of each individual add up to one collective view of the matter. Cicero’s depiction of the transformation of a plurality of voices into the unanimous outlook of the entire civic community is far more damning for Verres than Verres’ own account of the affair, which Cicero supplies only much later (§§ 83 and 85).

loquebatur: the imperfect stresses duration – the Lampsacenes, so Cicero implies, took their time to come to a considered view of the affair.

quid optimum factu sit: factu is an ablative supine: ‘what is best in the doing’, i.e. ‘what is best to do’.

et sententia et oratio: the nouns set up a complicated indirect statement that falls into two parts. The two verbs are (i) non esse metuendum; (ii) esse satius. (i) non esse metuendum is followed by a fear clause (ne putaret) that also forms the apodosis of a conditional clause (Cicero has put the protasis si ulti essent, which logically belongs into the ne-clause, ahead of it). (ii) esse satius is also the apodosis of a conditional clause (with quodsi uterentur as protasis); it takes two complementary infinitives: (quidvis) perpeti and (in tanta vi atque acerbitate) versari. Overall, the indirect statement specifies the two core ideas (one optimistic, the second – a default position – pessimistic) that emerged from the deliberations of the Lampsacenes: first, they believe that they have actually nothing to fear from the senate and the people of Rome if they avenged the injustice they suffered at the hands of Verres; and secondly, if Rome were to endorse Verres’ behaviour, then violent resistance would anyway be the only course of action.

ulti … essent: the third person plural pluperfect subjunctive of ulciscor. As Steel (2004) 246 n. 28 points out, the ‘vengeance’ in question could refer either to an act in the past (the death of the lictor) or the future (the riot that is about to start), depending on whether the pluperfect subjunctive in the indirect statement represents an original past tense or a future perfect.

in eam civitatem animadvertendum: animadvertere + in + acc. means, in an absolute sense, ‘to take punitive action (against)’, ‘to inflict (capital) punishment on’: OLD s.v. 8b. Here it is part of an indirect statement dependent on putaret, with esse to be supplied: ‘that punitive action ought to be taken against this citizenry’.

hoc iure: bitterly ironic. The paradox of ius functioning as the basis of oppression is heightened by the adversative force of in socios nationesque exteras.

legati populi Romani: legati is nominative plural (the subject of uterentur), populi Romani genitive singular.

pudicitiam liberorum servare ab eorum libidine tutam: a carefully constructed phrase that features *chiasmus, i.e. (a) pudicitiam (b) liberorum (b) eorum (a) libidine, *alliteration (liberorum, libidine), and *hyperbaton (pudicitiam – tutam), with the predicative attribute tutam coming as an emphatic surprise since it is strictly speaking superfluous.

quidvis esse perpeti satius: satius esse is syntactically at the same level as non esse metuendum and expresses the second, complementary opinion that emerged from the meeting of the Lampsacenes. See above on et sententia et oratio. perpeti is a complementary infinitive depending on satius esse, and quidvis (‘anything’) is the accusative object of perpeti.

in tanta vi atque acerbitate: a *hendiadys – what is so bitter is the kind of violent oppression the Lampsacenes suffer, which involves destruction of their nearest and dearest and the disrespect of everything they value.


postrīdiē [posterī + diē], adv., the next day, the day after.

māne, adv., in the morning, early in the morning.

cōntiō, -ōnis, [for conventiō, from conveniō], f., gathering, assembly, convocation; address, discourse, harangue.

nefārius, -a, -um, [nefās], adj., impious, heinous, abominable, nefarious; wicked, dastardly.

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

ulcīscor, ulcīscī, ultus sum, 3, dep., take vengeance on, punish; avenge, requite.

Rōmānus, -a, -um, [Rōma], adj., of Rome, Roman, Latin. As subst., Rōmānus, -ī, m., Roman.

animadvertō, -vertere, -vertī, -versum, [animum + advertō], 3, a., direct attention to, regard; notice, observe, consider, perceive, see; censure, punish, inflict punishment.

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.

nātiō, -ōnis, [nāscor, nātus], f., birth; breed, stock, kind; nation, people.

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

quīvīs, quaevīs, quidvīs, and, as adj., quodvīs, [quī + vīs, from volō], indef. pron., whom you please, what you please, any you please; any at all, any one, anything.

perpeti endure to the full;

acerbitās, -ātis, [acerbus], f., bitterness; harshness, severity; pl., sorrows, anguish, affliction.

versō, -āre, -āvī, -ātum, [freq. of vertō], 1, a., turn often, keep turning, turn over, turn; manage, direct; revolve, consider. Pass., versor, -ārī, -ātus sum, move about, dwell, remain, stay; be situated, be associated, be; be engaged in, be busy, be employed.

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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/68