Against Verres 64 Essay

After the generic references in § 63 (ut mos erat istius, negotium dat illis suis comitibus, ecqua virgo sit aut mulier), Cicero now zooms in on specifics: in this particular case, the companion who came up with the goods was one Rubrius, who, being particularly talented for this sort of thing, learned from hearsay that one high-ranking citizen in Lampsacus called Philodamus had an outstandingly beautiful daughter known for her chastity. (We never learn her actual name.) This piece of information, so Cicero submits, was all it took to inflame Verres with an all-consuming passion to have his way with the woman. A tragic farce begins to play itself out. Comic elements include the role of Rubrius, who acts as scout and pimp; Verres’ instant outburst into passion upon hearing news of Philodamus’ daughter; the speaking name of Ianitor, Verres’ host; and hyperbolic statements such as the use of excessive force (summa vi) by which Ianitor is trying to prevent Verres from moving house. (The notion that a chap called ‘Porter’ gets into a pushing and pulling match with a Roman official to keep him lodged in his house borders on the absurd – it is a scene more at home in dramatic and literary genres, such as comedy or love elegy, than in Roman provincial administration.) The assimilation of the narrative to a farce or mime is further aided by Cicero’s generic use of homo to refer to the protagonists.

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