Quae fuit igitur causa cūr cūncta cīvitās Lampsacēnōrum dē contiōne, quem ad modum tūte scrībis, domum tuam concurreret? Tū enim neque in litterīs quās Nerōnī mittis, neque in testimōniō causam tantī tumultūs ostendis ūllam. Obsessum tē dīcis, ignem adlātum, sarmenta circumdata, līctōrem tuum occīsum esse dīcis, prōdeundī tibi in pūblicum potestātem factam negās: causam huius tantī terrōris occultās. Nam sī quam Rubrius iniūriam suō nōmine ac nōn impulsū tuō et tuā cupiditāte fēcisset, dē tuī comitis iniūriā questum ad tē potius quam tē oppugnātum venīrent. Cum igitur quae causa illīus tumultūs fuerit testēs ā nōbīs prōductī dīxerint, ipse cēlārit, nōnne causam hanc quam nōs prōposuimus cum illōrum testimōnia tum istīus taciturnitās perpetua cōnfirmat?

After Cicero has established once more what has happened, he proceeds to explore once again why the Lampsacenes acted as they did. The key term of the paragraph, then, is causa. . . [full essay]

Grammar and Syntax:

  • What type of ablative is a nobis?

Style and Theme:

  • Explore how Cicero operates with the word causa in this paragraph.

Quae fuit igitur causa … ? … causam tanti tumultus ostendis ullam: the ullam (‘not any’) is placed emphatically and *climactically at the end of the sentence, an effect further reinforced by the *hyperbaton causam – ullam.

causa cur cuncta civitas Lampsacenorum de contione: note the *alliteration.

tute: an emphatic form of tu; in prose, tûte is indistinguishable from tûtê, the adverb of tutus (‘safely’, ‘securely’).

scribis – mittis – ostendis – dicis – dicis – negas – occultas: Cicero uses the present tense throughout to enhance the immediacy and vividness of his direct attack on Verres.

Obsessum te dicis, ignem adlatum, sarmenta circumdata, lictorem tuum occisum esse dicis, prodeundi tibi in publicum potestatem factam negas: if in the previous sentence Cicero reports what he himself has gleaned from Verres’ documents and testimony, he now reports what Verres is saying: his syntax generates the impression of disorder and confusion. To begin with, we get the events out of any coherent narrative order: Verres, egomaniac that he is, begins by saying ‘I was beset’; then he gives two details (fire and brushwood) in inverted chronological order, before concluding, almost as an afterthought, with the most significant detail of all, the killing of his lictor, which preceded any of his own perils. The following sentence – Verres’ inability to appear in public – comes as a bathetic anti-*climax.

Nam … venirent: Cicero now considers the possibility that Rubrius acted on his own accord, rather than following the instructions of Verres; he argues that in that case, the Lampsacenes would have congregated in front of Verres’ house to issue a complaint, rather than to resort to violence. But here Cicero may be splitting hairs and he is at any rate operating on the arguably unwarranted assumption that the Lampsacenes carefully differentiated between Verres and members of his entourage. Cicero never explains how the Lampsacenes would have been able to determine that Rubrius acted on Verres’ orders. Also, Cicero never acknowledges three other possibilities that are at least as plausible as the scenario he tries to establish as the true one (a) that Rubrius caused the uproar and the Lampsacenes wrongly assumed that Verres was to blame; (b) that the events at the dinner party or the Roman businessmen who intervened enraged the inhabitants to such a degree that they wanted to vent their anger against the principal representative of Roman rule rather than an insignificant underling; (c) that they were after Rubrius, who was hiding in Verres’ house.

si quam … iniuriam: quam = (ali)quam, modifying iniuriam.

(a) impulsu (b) tuo et (b) tua (a) cupiditate: a *chiasmus, designed to outweigh the alternative suo nomine.

questum – oppugnatum: two supines expressing purpose.

testes a nobis producti: in legal contexts, producere means ‘to bring (witnesses etc.) into court’: OLD s.v. 2b.

cum illorum testimonia tum istius taciturnitas perpetua: cum ~ tum correlates two circumstances but puts special emphasis on the second one, an effect that Cicero reinforces by endowing taciturnitas with the attribute perpetua, which is highly emphatic not least because it breaks the otherwise perfectly parallel construction: cum ~ tum, illorum ~ istius (linked by *alliteration), testimonia ~ taciturnitas (also linked by *alliteration). Cicero thereby foregrounds Verres’ self-indictment: his persistent silence and inability to specify a plausible cause for the behaviour of the Lampsacenes is more important than the testimony of the witnesses that confirm his version of the events.

celarit: syncopated form of celaverit.


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

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

concurreret run/assemble/knock/snap together; agree, fit, concur; coincide; make same claim; charge, fight/engage in battle; come running up/in large numbers; rally;

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

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

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

obsideō, -ēre, obsēdī, obsessum, [ob + sedeō], 2, n. and a., stay, remain; beset, invest, besiege; lie in wait for, look out for.

sarmenta shoot; twigs (pl.), cut twigs, brushwood;

circumdō, -dare, -dedī, -datum, [circum + dō], 1, a., put around, place about; surround, encircle, besiege.

lictorem lictor, an attendant upon a magistrate;

prodeundi go/come forth/out, advance; appear; sprout/spring up; issue/extend/project;

publicum public; common, of the people/state; official; [res publica => the state];

terror, -ōris, [cf. terreō], m., fright, alarm, terror, overwhelming fear; by metonymy, cause of fright, dread; terrible news.

occultō, -āre, -āvī, -ātum, [freq. of occulō, cover], 1, a., conceal, hide, secrete.

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

impulsus, -ūs, [impellō], m., striking against, shock; impulse, influence.

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

potius [potis], adv., comp., rather, more.

oppūgnō, -āre, -āvī, -ātum, [ob + pūgnō], 1, a., attack, assail, assault, storm, besiege.

producti lead forward, bring out; reveal; induce; promote; stretch out; prolong; bury;

celarit conceal, hide, keep secret; disguise; keep in dark/in ignorance; shield;

nōnne [nōn + -ne], inter, adv., expecting an affirmative answer, in a dir. question, not; in an indir. question, if not, whether not.

taciturnitās, -ātis, [taciturnus], f., keeping silent, silence.

cōnfīrmō, -āre, -āvī, -ātum, [com- + fīrmō], 1, a., make firm, make strong, strengthen, reinforce; encourage, cheer; confirm, establish; assert, affirm, assure, prove.

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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/80