Sīc iste multō scelerātior et nēquior quam ille Hadriānus aliquantō etiam fēlīcior fuit. Ille, quod eius avāritiam cīvēs Rōmānī ferre nōn potuērunt, Uticae domī suae vīvus exustus est, idque ita illī meritō accidisse exīstimātum est ut laetārentur omnēs neque ūlla animadversiō cōnstituerētur: hīc sociōrum ambustus incendiō tamen ex illā flammā perīculōque ēvolāvit, neque adhūc causam ūllam excōgitāre potuit quam ob rem commīserit, aut quod ēvēnerit, ut in tantum perīculum venīret. Nōn enim potest dīcere, ‘cum sēditiōnem sēdāre vellem, cum frūmentum imperārem, cum stīpendium cōgerem, cum aliquid dēnique reī pūblicae causa gererem, quod ācrius imperāvī, quod animadvertī, quod minātus sum.’ Quae sī dīceret, tamen ignōscī nōn oportēret, sī nimis atrōciter imperandō sociīs in tantum adductus perīculum vidērētur.

Cicero here faces a tricky moment: he needs to justify the claim that Verres, who was, after all, a Roman official, would have deserved to be killed by a provincial mob. This is not a notion easily. . . [full essay]

Grammar and Syntax:

  • Identify the case and function of multo.
  • Identify the case of Uticae and of domi suae.
  • What kind of conditional clause is Quae si diceret, …?

Style and Theme:

  • What stylistic device does Cicero use in the formulation flamma periculoque?
  • What rhetorical techniques does Cicero employ to make Verres’ close shave with death appear justified?
  • Compare and contrast the tone of quod acrius imperavi and nimis atrociter imperando sociis.

iste … ille Hadrianus … Ille … hic…: the first half of the paragraph is taken up by a two-part comparison between Verres and Hadrianus. Cicero employs a *husteron proteron: he first draws the conclusion, then details the respective facts on which it is based. Overall, the arrangement is *chiastic: Verres (iste, hic) comes first and last, Hadrianus (ille – ille), the foil, takes the less conspicuous position in the middle.

Hadrianus: C. Fabius Hadrianus was praetor or propraetor of the province Africa in the late 80s BC. In 84, he prevented Metellus Pius from taking charge of the province for Sulla; in 82, he was burned to death in his praetorium. As Mitchell (1986) 191 notes: ‘Cicero naturally omits any reference to his political affiliations, almost certainly the reason his murder went unpunished.’ Put differently, he spins the deplorable incident in such a way as to turn it into a suitable precedent for what happened at Lampsacus.

multo … aliquanto: multo is an ablative of the measure of difference and together with the adverb aliquanto (‘considerably’) indicates the different degrees to which Verres was more criminal (sceleratior) and wicked (nequior) as well as luckier (felicior) than Hadrianus. Cicero points to an imbalance in justice, contained within the surprising phrase aliquanto etiam felicior: for to the extent that Verres outdoes Hadrianus in vice one would have expected him to be more wretched (miserior) rather than luckier if the universe were just; yet while Verres, the greater criminal, suffered some harm, he still came out of the affair better than his counterpart. Cicero, however, always clung to the belief in the overall justice of the universe (however rough and ready this might be), even in the face of massive evidence to the contrary. And in the following paragraph he counters the challenge to the notion that the universe is just, which he here implicitly issues: he makes it clear that Verres only appeared to outdo Hadrianus in luck by escaping; in fact, Fortuna had a providential hand in it since she wanted to ensure that Verres would receive his punishment at Rome, in this very law court. The argument elevates the judges into arbiters and agents of cosmic justice.

Uticae domi suae: two locatives.

Uticae … suae vivus exustus: note the *homoioteleuta.

exustus … ambustus: Cicero operates his comparison by way of two compounds of uro: exuro here signifies ‘to burn completely’ whereas amburo (ambi + uro) means ‘to burn around’, i.e. only on the surface.

animadversio: picking up animadvertendum from § 68.

ex illa flamma periculoque: a *hendiadys. The lexeme periculum recurs twice more in the paragraph (ut in tantum periculum veniret; in tantum adductus periculum) and is further developed in § 71 (ex illo periculo). Throughout the episode Cicero exploits the puzzling gaps between the peace-loving nature of the Lampsacenes and the danger in which Verres found himself.

Non enim potest dicere: what follows is a list of reasons that may provoke allies and provincials to resort to violence against Roman officials – Cicero categorically denies that Verres can adduce any of them to explain the attack of the Lampsacenes.

cum … cum … cum … cum … quod … quod … quod … : Cicero splits the list into two halves, marked by a switch in his choice of causal conjunction; the cum-clauses specify official types of actions (summed up in the fourth), whereas the simpler quod-clauses indicate more personal failings, that is, ways in which Verres may have been lacking in ‘emotional intelligence’ in his dealings with the provincials.

seditionem sedare: an *alliterative *paronomasia.

stipendium: ‘a cash payment levied from conquered states to defray the expenses of the occupying army’: OLD s.v. 3.

Quae si diceret: quae is a connecting relative; si introduces a present counterfactual condition – apparently, the list of justification that Cicero just rehearsed are all hypothetical defences that Verres never actually brought into play, and even if he did he would still have to bear the blame for what happened.

nimis atrociter imperando: Cicero here realistically rephrases the (euphemistic) quod acrius imperavi that he had put into Verres’ mouth. Alternatively, we could read Verres’ formulation as truthful and Cicero’s rewriting as *hyperbolic.

adductus: supply esse.


scelerātus, -a, -um, [part. of scelerō, pollute], adj., polluted, defiled, profaned; wicked, impious, accursed; sacrilegious, infamous, scandalous. As subst., scelerātus, -ī, m., scoundrel, rogue.

nēquam, pos. indecl., comp. nēquior, sup. nēquissimus, adj., worthless, vile, bad.

Hadrianus C. Fabius Hadrianus, the corrupt praetor or propraetor of the province of Africa in the late 80s B.C. who was burned to death in his own home in Utica in 82 B.C. by irate Roman citizens.

aliquantō [aliquantus], adv., in a degree, considerably, somewhat, rather; usually with comparatives. post aliquantō, some time afterwards.

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.

avāritia, -ae, [avārus], f., greed, avarice, covetousness.

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

Vticae Utica; (town in Africa west of Carthage);

vīvus, -a, -um, [cf. vīvō], adj., alive, living, having life; green, vigorous. As subst., vīvī, -ōrum, m., pl., the living, those who are alive.

exūrō, -ere, exussī, exūstum, [ex + ūrō], 3, a., burn up, consume.

meritō [meritum], adv., deservedly, justly.

laetor, -ārī, -ātus sum, [cf. laetus], 1, dep., rejoice, be joyful, be glad.

animadversiō, -ōnis, [animadvertō], f., observation, inquiry; reproach, censure; chastisement, punishment.

ambustus burn around, scorch, char, scald; fire harden; burn up, cremate; frost-bite/nip

incendium, -ī, [incendō], n., fire, conflagration; of the feelings, heat, flame, vehemence, passion.

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

excogitare think out; devise, invent, contrive;

ob, prep. with acc., to, towards, for, on account of, by reason of. quam ob rem, wherefore, hence. In composition ob is usually assimilated before c, f., g, p, but remains unchanged before other letters. It adds the meaning towards, at, before, against.

ēveniō, -īre, ēvēnī, ēventum, [ē + veniō], 4, n., come out; come to pass, happen, turn out.

sēditiō, -ōnis, [sēd + itiō, from eō], f., dissension, discord; insurrection, mutiny, sedition.

sēdō, -āre, -āvī, -ātum, [cf. sedeō], 1, a. and n., bring to rest; calm, quiet, check, stop; allay, appease.

stīpendium, -ī, [stips, gift, cf. pendō], n., tax, tribute; income, pay, bounty; military service, campaigning.

rēs pūblica, reī pūblicae, f., see pūblicus.

ācriter, comp. ācrius, sup. ācerrimē, [ācer], adv., sharply, keenly, cruelly; earnestly, zealously, vigorously.

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

minor, -ārī, -ātus sum, [minae], 1, dep., project; threaten, menace.

ignōscō, -ere, ignōvī, ignōtum, [in- + (g)nōscō], 3, a., pardon, forgive, excuse, overlook.

atrociter violently; bitterly, acrimoniously; cruelly, savagely; severely, harshly;

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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/70