Against Verres 78 Essay

Cicero here turns his attention again to Verres. As with Dolabella in the previous paragraph, he employs direct address. From here on until the end of the episode (the beginning of § 86), Cicero revisits the incident at Lampsacus, challenging Verres, mainly in the form of rhetorical questions, to explain this or that aspect in a way different from his own interpretation. In a sense, then, he puts his version of the events on trial to show that any alternative explanation that Verres may come up with does not stand up to scrutiny: the full scale of the disaster – a lictor dead, friends and allies of the Roman people in uproar, two innocent people executed – was ultimately caused by Verres’ criminal passion. To leave no doubt about where he locates the driving force behind the events at Lampsacus, Cicero begins the paragraph with two magnificent rhetorical questions, which, by means of *hyperbole, try to measure out the enormity of Verres’ lust, before settling down to a more fact-focused cross-examination in the second half of the paragraph.

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