Against Verres 76 Essay

After his portrayal of the corrupt and hasty trial, Cicero now lingers on the scene of execution, which reduced everyone with even a bit of human decency to tears. This is pathos on a grand scale: father and son, both innocent victims, emerge as heroic protagonists in a tragedy, each more concerned for the welfare and the life of the other than their own. Cicero first focuses on each individually (parens – filius; ille – hic); then portrays them jointly as weeping (flebat uterque), before specifying that each weeps for the death of the other (pater de fili morte, de patris filius); the design re-enacts their common destiny, their courage, and their mutual pietas. Such bravery and sympathy in the face of death brought the entire Roman province to its knees with weeping, including the presiding Roman magistrate, Nero. Quintilian (Institutio Oratoria 4.2.111–15) cites this paragraph in support of his point that appeal to the emotions ought not to be reserved until the final part of the speech (peroratio); rather, it should be mustered in aid of rational argumentation (probatio) whenever apposite.

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