Tantaene tuae, Verrēs, libīdinēs erunt ut eās capere ac sustinēre nōn prōvinciae populī Rōmānī, nōn nātiōnēs exterae possint? Tūne quod vīderis, quod audīeris, quod concupīeris, quod cōgitāris, nisi id ad nūtum tuum praestō fuerit, nisi libīdinī tuae cupiditātīque pāruerit, immittentur hominēs, expugnābuntur domūs, cīvitātēs nōn modo pācātae, vērum etiam sociōrum atque amīcōrum ad vim atque ad arma cōnfugient, ut ab sē atque ā līberīs suīs lēgātī populī Rōmānī scelus ac libīdinem prōpulsāre possint? Nam quaerō abs tē circumsessusne sīs Lampsacī, coeperitne domum in quā dēversābāre illa multitūdō incendere, voluerintne lēgātum populī Rōmānī combūrere vīvum Lampsacēnī? Negāre nōn potes; habeō enim testimōnium tuum quod apud Nerōnem dīxistī, habeō quās ad eundem litterās mīsistī. Recitā hunc ipsum locum dē testimōniō. TESTIMŌNIUM C. VERRIS IN ARTEMIDORUM. NŌN MULTŌ POST IN DOMUM.

Cicero here turns his attention again to Verres. As with Dolabella in the previous paragraph, he employs direct address. From here on until the end of the episode (the beginning of § 86). . . [full essay]

Grammar and Syntax:

  • Parse concupieris, cogitaris, and deversabare.

Style and Theme:

  • Explore the function of Verres’ libido (or libidines) in Cicero’s argument.
  • Compare and contrast the style of the first half of the paragraph (Tantaene … propulsare possint?) with the second half (Nam quaero … in domum).

Tantaene tuae … ? Tune … ?: the *alliterative drum of the opening words links the two rhetorical questions on the level of style as well as theme (with the second question explicating the first).

erunt: ‘the future indicative is not uncommon in indignant rhetorical questions of this sort where the deliberative subjunctive might be expected’: Mitchell (1986) 194. Cicero sticks to the future also in the following sentence (immittenturexpugnabunturconfugient).

ut eas capere ac sustinere non provinciae populi Romani, non nationes exterae possint: the word order in this consecutive ut-clause (accusative object, complementary infinitives, subject, verb) reinforces the theme: Verres’ passions (eas) stand prominently at the beginning, and try as they might (an idea hinted at by Cicero’s advanced placement of the two infinitives) the territories exposed to them are unable to contain them. (The notion that the affected regions actively attempted to impose boundaries upon Verres’ passion is of course slightly absurd.) The phrasing following on from eas is well-balanced: two infinitives linked by ac and the *asyndetic juxtaposition of the two subjects, further coordinated by reiteration of the negation (non).

non provinciae populi Romani, non nationes exterae: put differently, the entire known world – a clear instance of dramatic *hyperbole. Cicero distinguishes between territories under direct control of the Roman people (provinciae) and nations outside Roman jurisdiction (nationes exterae). In the second rhetorical question Cicero uses slightly different phrasing (civitates pacataecivitates sociorum atque amicorum) and narrows the focus on to civic communities within Roman provinces.

Tune quod videris … propulsare possint: this extraordinary rhetorical question consists of a conditional sequence (nisi … fueritnisi … paruerit), the main clause (a tricolon: immittenturexpugnabunturconfugient), and a concluding ut-clause. The antecedent of the four initial relative clauses introduced by quod is the id after the first nisi; in effect, then, Cicero places the relative clauses before the nisi-clause into which they belong and additionally extrapolates the subject of the relative clauses (Verres) in the form of the personal pronoun tu, which he places at the beginning of the sentence. This arrangement corresponds to, and reinforces, the main theme of the sentence: the egomania of the sociopath Verres.

videris … audieris … concupieris … cogitaris: future perfects (as are fuerit and paruerit); concupieris is the syncopated form of concupiveris and cogitaris of cogitaveris. Note the *homoioteleuton.

(a) immittentur (b) homines, (a) expugnabuntur (b) domus, (b) civitates … (a) confugient: Cicero constructs a *tricolon with a twist: the first two cola feature passive verbs and Cicero clearly implies that the people and the houses that come under threat are the victims of Verres’ libidinous aggression. In the third colon, however, we get a *chiastic inversion: Cicero starts with the subject (civitates) and the dynamic of the sentence suggests that they, too, are the passive victims of violence. In the course of the sentence, however, it becomes clear that they are in fact opting for violent resistance. This twist invites a re-evaluation of the first part of the sentence: those who issued threats and stormed a house in the Philodamus-incident were after all the inhabitants of Lampsacus, not Verres or his men. The studied ambiguity seems deliberate: it portrays Verres as someone who both uses and incites violence.

civitates non modo pacatae, verum etiam sociorum atque amicorum ad vim atque ad arma confugient, ut ab se atque a liberis suis legati populi Romani scelus ac libidinem propulsare possint?: after Cicero uses *asyndeton in the first part of the sentence (the four quod-clauses, the two nisi-clauses, and the three pairs of subjects and main verbs are all unlinked by any connectives), he switches to a more deliberate exposition in the second half, with a sequence of noun phrases paired by atque or ac. Cicero thereby highlights, if in different ways, both Verres’ aggression and the comprehensive nature of the response.

ab se atque a liberis suis – scelus ac libidinem: *alliteration links se with scelus and liberis with libidinemscelus ac libidinem may be understood as a *hendiadys (‘crime of passion’).

propulsare possint: note the *alliteration. The two rhetorical questions end with the same word (possint).

Nam quaero abs te … Lampsaceni?: Cicero here revisits elements of his narration (see § 69) as if he were cross-examining Verres; the posture presupposes the hypothetical scenario that the defendant somehow wishes or tries to deny that the recounted events actually took place. If Verres was out of control in the first half of the paragraph, Cicero is in control in the second half, and he foregrounds this by placing the verbs up front: quaero is followed by habeo (twice).

deversabare: an alternative form of deversabaris, i.e. second person singular imperfect passive of the deponent deversari. Cicero also uses the verb at the end of § 64.

testimonium tuum – quas … litteras: somehow Cicero managed to procure pieces of the correspondence between Verres and Nero, in which Verres informed the governor of the province of what had happened at Lampsacus.

Recita: an order to the court official to read from the documents. See above § 57.

TESTIMONIUM C. VERRIS IN ARTEMIDORUM. NON MULTO POST IN DOMUM: apparently, Verres singled out one Artemidorus as being a ringleader in the attack on his house. The incomplete sentence non multo post in domum introduces the passage that Cicero wanted to have read out.


Verres C. Verres, the governor of Sicily form 73 B.C. to 71 B.C., who was prosecuted by Cicero in 70 B.C. for corruption. After several failed attempts to delay the trial, Verres chose to abandon his defense and lived in exile in Massilia until 43 B.C.

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

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

concupīscō, -īscere, -īvī, -ītum, [com-, cupiō], 3, inch., greatly desire, long for, eagerly desire, covet.

nūtus, abl. -ū, found only in nom., acc., and abl. sing., acc. and abl. pl., [nuō], m., nod; compliance, assent; will, command.

praestō, adv., at hand, present, here.

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

immittō, -ere, immīsī, immissum, [in + mittō], 3, a., send in, let in, admit, introduce; send against; set on; discharge, hurl.

expugnabuntur assault, storm; conquer, plunder; accomplish; persuade;

pācō, -āre, -āvī, -ātum, [pāx], 1, a., make peaceful, pacify, subdue.

vērum [vērus], adv., truly; but in truth, but notwithstanding, but, however, still. nōn modo — vērum, not only — but. nōn modo — vērum etiam, not only — but also.

confugient flee (for refuge/safety/protection); take refuge; have recourse/appeal to;

prōpulsō, -āre, -ārī, -ātum, [freq. of prōpellō], 1, a., ward off, repel, repulse, avert.

circumsedeō, -sedēre, -sēdī, -sessum, [circum + sedeō], 2, a., sit around; surround, besiege, beset.

Lampsaci A Greek town located on the eastern side of the Hellespont.

deuersabare put up at an inn; lodge;

incendō, -ere, incendī, incēnsum, 3, a., set fire to, kindle, burn; of the feelings, inflame, arouse, incite, irritate, enrage.

comburere burn up/away; (w/love); consume/destroy w/fire; reduce to ash, cremate; scald;

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

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

testimōnium, ī, [testis], n., evidence, attestation, testimony, proof.

Neronem Gaius Claudius Nero, propraetor of Asia (with Dolabella). He formed the tribunal which ultimately condemned Philodamnus and his son to death.

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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/78