Against Verres 72 Essay

This paragraph picks up the rather vital piece of information that Cicero shared almost en passant as a seemingly unimportant interjection of Hortensius at the end of the previous paragraph: that the pro-magistrate in charge of Asia at the time, C. Nero, condemned Philodamus and his son to death after consideration of the case. In this and the following paragraphs, Cicero takes a closer look at how this verdict came into being, in effect launching a subtle campaign of besmearing first C. Nero’s and then Dolabella’s handling of provincial jurisdiction to show that the condemnation and eventual execution of the two Lampsacenes constituted an outrageous miscarriage of (Roman) justice and a human tragedy of the first order. To underscore his – often feeble – argument, Cicero digs deep into his rhetorical trick-box (not least in redefining Rome’s constitutional realities as he sees fit: see below on istius ille verbo lictor, re vera minister improbissimae cupiditatis) and drumming up pathos (see below on Audite … et … aliquando miseremini … et ostendite).

Cicero switches his attention between Dolabella and Nero. We begin with a paragraph featuring only Nero (71), as the one in charge of jurisdiction. Two paragraphs follow in which both are mentioned by name (72, 73); then Nero momentarily disappears: Dolabella dominates the paragraph in which Cicero recounts the final verdict (74), both feature in 75, but the paragraph on the execution only mentions Nero – in tears (76). Subsequently, Cicero turns to Dolabella only, in direct address for a final reckoning (77).

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