edited by Ingo Gildenhard
Against Verres 53 Essay
Cicero’s main aim in this paragraph is to illustrate the magnitude of Verres’ greed, in particular how it manifests itself in comprehensive looting. The contrast between what Cicero will not say and what he is saying (non dicam – hoc dico), made more forceful by the demonstrative pronoun hoc, is between selective thieving and systematic plunder. The paragraph thus continues themes that are prominent throughout Cicero’s portrayal of Verres: complete lack of self-control, resulting in the uninhibited indulgence in excessive behaviour, especially where objects of art and sex are concerned.
A key theme in the paragraph is Cicero’s depiction of public and private space: the town of Aspendos, with its richly adorned temples and civic spaces, is set in contrast to the location where the treasures end up: the house of Verres. Note, too, how in the course of the paragraph Cicero alternates his addressees: he begins with a gesture to the judges (scitis), then switches to Verres (named in the vocative), before concluding with a sentence in third-person reporting mode (sustulit … posuit), which, however, includes a relative clause that is again addressed directly to the judges (de quo … audistis).