85 & 86

[85] Nūper M. Aurēliō Scaurō postulante, quod is Ephesī sē quaestōrem vī prohibitum esse dīcēbat quō minus ē fānō Diānae servum suum, quī in illud asȳlum cōnfūgisset, abdūceret, Periclēs Ephesius, homō nōbilissimus, Rōmam ēvocātus est, quod auctor illīus iniūriae fuisse arguēbātur: tū, sī tē lēgātum ita Lampsacī tractātum esse senātum docuissēs ut tuī comitēs vulnerārentur, līctor occīderētur, ipse circumsessus paene incenderēre, eius autem reī ducēs et auctōrēs et prīncipēs fuisse, quōs scrībis, Themistagoram et Thessalum, quis nōn commovērētur, quis nōn ex iniūriā quae tibi esset facta sibi prōvidēret, quis nōn in eā rē causam tuam, perīculum commūne agī arbitrārētur? Etenim nōmen lēgātī eius modī esse dēbet quod nōn modo inter sociōrum iūra, sed etiam inter hostium tēla incolume versētur.

[86] Magnum hoc Lampsacēnum crīmen est libīdinis atque improbissimae cupiditātis: accipite nunc avāritiae prope modum in suō genere nōn levius ...

To support the claims advanced in the previous paragraph, Cicero now outlines an analogous incident in which the magistrate in charge acted as Verres ought to have done. 

Grammar and Syntax:

  • What construction is M. Aurelio Scauro postulante?
  • Parse incenderere.

Style and Theme:

  • Explore the similarities and differences in Cicero’s portrayal of the incident involving M. Aurelius Scaurus and of Verres’ handling of the Lampsacus affair.

Nuper: an adverb of time that refers to the recent past. But the notion of ‘recent’ is of considerable elasticity: it can refer to a period of a couple of days or (as here) half a century (see next note).

M. Aurelio Scauro: Marcus Aurelius Scaurus was quaestor in 117 BC. Several aspects make this an opportune comparandum, both in terms of similarities and differences. The rank of the Roman officials involved was more or less similar (Scaurus was quaestor, Verres was a legate, but promoted to the rank of pro-quaestor) and the geographic region the same (Asia Minor). Conversely, the transgression that drew Scaurus’ ire (a local aristocrat protecting the religious institution of asylum) was incomparably lighter than the rioting in Lampsacus that Verres’ reported – and the Roman response was incomparably harsher. Likewise, Cicero emphasizes the high standing of the offending provincial in Scaurus’ case (see below on homo nobilissimus), whereas the two men whom Verres fingered as the main culprits (Themistagoras and Thessalus) remain entirely faceless.

postulante: see OLD s.v. postulo 2, for the technical legal sense of ‘making an application to the praetor or other magistrate’.

Ephesi: a locative (‘in Ephesus’).

quo minus: literally, the phrase means ‘by which the less’ and is used after verbs of hindering and preventing. It ‘does not translate into idiomatic English’: Morwood (1999) 131.

e fano Dianae: the temple of Artemis (Cicero uses the Roman name for the goddess) at Ephesus was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.

asylum: a Greek technical term (here used as a loanword in Latin), designating a place that affords sanctuary for criminals or fugitives.91 Augustan writers famously employ the term with reference to the ‘asylum of Romulus’: see Virgil, Aeneid 8. 342 and Livy The temple of Artemis at Ephesus was a distinguished place of refuge in the Greek world, though it is clear from Cicero’s account that Roman magistrates saw no need to respect Greek asylum conventions.

homo nobilissimus: Cicero creates an implicit contrast between the renowned and high-ranking provincial who got summoned to Rome in this case, and the instigators whom Verres identified in his letter to Nero and who figure in Cicero’s narrative without any marks of distinction. The force of the adjective is thus adversative: even though he was a man of the highest distinction locally, he was nevertheless summoned to Rome.

tu, si te legatum ita Lampsaci tractatum esse senatum docuisses ut tui comites vulnerarentur, lictor occideretur, ipse circumsessus paene incenderere, eius autem rei duces et auctores et principes fuisse, quos scribis, Themistagoram et Thessalum … : a complicated si-clause. The verb is docuisses (pluperfect subjunctive to indicate a remote and unfulfilled condition), which takes senatum as accusative object and introduces an indirect statement that falls into two parts, linked by autem: te … tractatum esse (followed by an *asyndetic *tricolon of consecutive ut-clauses: see next note) and eius autem rei duces … fuisse … Thessalum. The first part (te … ita … tractatum esse) introduces a consecutive ut-clause (ut … incenderere).

ut tui comites vulnerarentur, lictor occideretur, ipse circumsessus paene incenderere: the *asyndetic *tricolon is arranged *climactically; the lack of connectives again underscores the drama of what happened and contrasts with the more expansive style Cicero uses of the perpetrators.

te legatum: the construction picks up and parallels se quaestorem. legatum is a predicative complement to te: ‘you, as legate…’

Lampsaci: another locative, in parallel to Ephesi.

duces et auctores et principes: a *polysyndetic *tricolon, which emphasizes the leading role of Themistagoras and Thessalus in the civic unrest at Lampsacus.

incenderere: second person singular imperfect subjunctive passive; an alternative form of incendereris.

quis non commoveretur, quis non ex iniuria quae tibi esset facta sibi provideret, quis non in ea re causam tuam periculum commune agi arbitraretur?: The main clause (apodosis), too, is designed as a *climactic and *asyndetic *tricolon (reinforced by the anaphora of quis non) as well as a rhetorical question. Cicero gradually moves from an unspecific emotional response (commoveretur) to a self-reflective reaction (what happened to Verres could also happen to me – I’d better take precautions: sibi provideret) to the realization that, beyond issues of personal safety, Rome’s public interest more generally is at stake (periculum commune agi arbitraretur). He thus gradually builds up to the point that the senate would have considered the incident as Lampsacus a dangerous precedent for Roman interests in the provinces more generally.

Magnum hoc Lampsacenum crimen est libidinis atque improbissimae cupiditatis: Cicero concludes his account of what happened at Lampsacus by reiterating the motivating impulse that set the dire sequence of events into motion: Verres’ lust, *pleonastically invoked by the virtual synonyms libido and cupiditas. This is a final exclamation mark before Cicero moves on to another vice: greed (avaritia).

91.See further Rigsby, K. J. (1997), Asylia: Territorial Inviolability in the Hellenistic World, Berkeley.
92.See further Dench, E. (2005), Romulus’ Asylum: Roman Identities from the Age of Alexander to the Age of Hadrian, Oxford.


nūper, sup. nūperrimē, [novus + per], adv., lately, recently, not long since.

Mārcus, -ī, abbreviated M., m., Mārcus, a common Roman forename; our Mark.

Aurēlius, -a, -um, adj., of an Aurelius, Aurelian, name of a Roman gens. Aurēlia via, Aurelian Way, the great north coast-road, leading from Rome to Pisa.

Scauro M. Aemilius Scaurus, quaestor in 117 B.C.

postulō, -āre, -āvī, -ātum, 1, a., ask, request; demand, require, claim, desire.

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.

Ephesus, -ī, [Ἔφεσος], f., Ephesus, a celebrated Greek city on the west coast of Asia Minor.

quaestor, -ōris, [for quaesitor, from quaerō], m., quaestor, an officer charged with public duties which varied according to the period and circumstances. At first there were but two quaestors, but the number was increased from time to time until it reached forty under Caesar's administration, B.C. 45. At that time the quaestors were engaged in the care of public moneys and of military stores, partly at Rome and partly in the provinces, which were assigned by lot. They were chosen annually, at the comitia tribūta.

quō [old dat. and abl. of quī], adv. and conj.: (1) As adv., inter., whither? to what place? to what end? wherefore? why? rel., whither, where, at what time, when; of degree of difference, by what, by as much as; of result, by reason of which, wherefore, whereby, and so. (2) As conj., that, in order that, that thereby. quō minus, that not, usually best translated by from with a participle.

fānum, -ī, [for], n., shrine, sanctuary.

Dianae Diana, goddess of light and of the moon; the moon;

asylum place of refuge, asylum, sanctuary; place for relaxation/recuperation, retreat;

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

abduceret lead away, carry off; detach, attract away, entice, seduce, charm; withdraw;

Pericles A prominent citizen of Ephesus who was summoned to Rome to stand trial for preventing M. Aemilius Scaurus, then quaestor from retrieving a slave of his who had sought sanctuary in the temple of Diana.

Ephesius, -a, -um, [Ephesus], adj., of Ephesus, Ephesian.

Rōma, -ae, f., Rome.

euocatus call forth; lure/entice out; summon, evoke;

arguebatur prove, argue, allege; disclose; accuse, complain of, charge, blame, convict;

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

trāctō, -āre, -āvī, -ātum, [freq. of trahō], 1, a., draw, pull; touch, handle; manage, practice, conduct, control; treat.

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

lictor lictor, an attendant upon a magistrate;

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

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

Themistagoram A citizen of Lampsacus who, along with Thessalus, is blamed (but notably not prosecuted) by Verres for inciting the people of Lampsacus to beseige him and attempt to burn him.

Thessalum A citizen of Lampsacus who, along with Themistagoras, is blamed (but notably not prosecuted) by Verres for inciting the people of Lampsacus to beseige him and attempt to burn him.

commoveō, -movēre, -mōvī, -mōtum, [com- + moveō], 2, a., stir, shake, move, used especially of violent motion; trouble, disturb, disquiet; affect, influence.

prōvideō, -ēre, prōvīdī, prōvīsum, [prō + videō], 2, a. and n., see beforehand, see in advance, foresee, discern; see to, take care, look after, provide, be careful.

etenim [et + enim], conj., for truly, and really, and indeed, because, since.

eius modi of this sort; of such kind; [et ~ => and the like];

incolumis, -e, [in- + columis], adj., unharmed, uninjured, safe, sound, whole.

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/85-86