Against Verres 68 Essay

Cicero here details the reaction of the civic community on ‘the morning after’: we get an image of ordered proceedings, but also a firm commitment to basic principles of fairness and justice. There is, then, a decisive shift in register and tone, away from the sordid affairs and the private lusts of Verres into the public sphere and collective decision-making within a civic setting. The turn at the end from the specific case at hand to general views about Roman (mal-)administration in the provinces implicitly highlights the wider significance of Verres’ misbehaviour and the importance of bringing him to justice. Cicero here gives a very partial and incomplete account of what happened in the aftermath of the fateful banquet. In particular, he leaves out any mention of the two inhabitants whom Verres would later on identify as the ringleaders of the uprising, namely Themistagoras and Thessalus (see §§ 83 and 85). The selective reporting has a rhetorical purpose: Cicero generates the impression of a collective moral outrage of all the inhabitants of Lampsacus, which nevertheless manifests itself at least initially in ordered political procedure, an impression that the naming of specific individuals responsible for instigating others into violent action would have weakened significantly.

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