Against Verres 77 Essay

After his account of the execution, Cicero turns to the perpetrators, first Dolabella (§ 77), then Verres (§ 78). By direct address and a string of rhetorical questions he explores possible motivations for Dolabella’s conduct and offers a further evaluation of it. As a result, Dolabella emerges as both cruel and stupid, insofar as he employed excessive force to ensure the friendship and goodwill of an utterly worthless, indeed treacherous creature who already had a distinguished track-record of back-stabbing his benefactors when it suited him. Put differently, Dolabella could have known that supporting Verres would not yield dividends in terms of future loyalty, which he, according to Cicero, was after. Verres is so abominably wicked that he operates without regard to the principle of manus manum lavat (i.e. ‘corrupt reciprocity’).

Cicero enhances his attack on Dolabella through systematic use of the second person singular personal pronoun and the possive adjective: tui, tuorum, tu, tibi (in the mocking *alliteration Verresne tibi tanti fuit…?), tua, tibi, tibi, in te, te.

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