Preface and Acknowledgements

This site represents a version of Ingo Gildenhard's book, Cicero, Against Verres, 2.1.53–86 (Cambridge, UK: Open Book Publishers, 2011), produced with the kind cooperation of Open Book Publishers and Professor Gildenhard. The DCC edition contributes four new features:

The vocabulary lists employ the normal DCC policy of glossing only those words that are not included in the DCC Core Latin Vocabulary (which represents the thousand most common words in Latin). The dictionary entries used in the running lists come from the back of Francis Kelsey’s Select Orations and Letters of Cicero, thirteenth edition (Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1909), with supplements as needed. This was meant to ensure that Ciceronian definitions are present and easily found. Another crucial ingredient in the creation of the vocabulary lists was data provided by Dominique Longrée of the research group Laboratoire d'Analyse Statistique des Langues Anciennes (LASLA) at the University of Liège, Belgium. LASLA provided a fully lemmatized Latin text, that is, a text in which each word form is attached to a specific dictionary head word, as determined by a human being, not a machine. The joining of the LASLA data with Kelsey's dictionary—a marriage deftly brokered by Derek Frymark—ensured that the lists identify and describe the words being glossed with a very high degree of accuracy and relevance.

I would like to express my deep thanks to all the scholars just mentioned for their contributions to this site. I am also continually grateful to the OBP team, Bianca Gualandi and Alessandra Tosi, for their generous and effective collaboration, and in particular I would like to thank Francesca Giovannetti, who performed the exacting task of converting OBP’s original files into html to our specifications. Meagan Ayer created the Drupal pages, the navigation and menus, and formatted the text on the site. The original DCC design was done by Chris Stamas, and the site created in Drupal 7 by web developer Ryan Burke.

Please send any comments or suggestions for improvement to the site directly to me at

Christopher Francese, Dickinson College, October, 2015

This little volume has its origins in a coincidence. I had just finished writing Creative Eloquence: The Construction of Reality in Cicero’s Speeches (Oxford, 2011), which involved some close analysis of Cicero’s orations against Verres, when I was asked to give a lecture on how best to teach a new set-text that the Examination Board of Oxford, Cambridge, and the Royal Society of Arts (OCR) has specified for their A-Level Latin examination for the years 2012–2014. The passage in question, in Verrem 2.1.5369, consists of some paragraphs on Verres’ looting of artworks from Greek cities in Asia Minor during his legateship under Dolabella (§§ 5362) and of about a third of the infamous episode at Lampsacus. Paragraphs 6369 contain an account of what happened when Verres visited the Greek city. According to Cicero, he tried to abduct and rape the daughter of the local notable Philodamus, which resulted in the death of one of his lictors and brought the inhabitants of the town to the brink of rioting. Paragraphs 7086 deal with the aftermath of the sordid affair, including the trial and public execution of Philodamus and his son in what Cicero portrays as a blatant miscarriage of justice designed to cover up Verres’ crimes.

Prof. Ingo Gildenhard

Part of the brief was to talk about the resources available for teaching the text. These turned out to be rather less spectacular than the chosen passage. There is, of course, T. N. Mitchell’s superb Aris & Phillips edition with translation and commentary of Verrines II.1 (London, 1986), which remains an invaluable port of call for anyone working on, or teaching, (portions of) the speech. Yet one of the main purposes of the edition is to render the oration accessible to students without Latin, and thus the commentary, which is keyed to the translation, focuses on historical context rather than details of language and style (even though Mitchell’s explication of the rhetorical texture is uniformly excellent). And other than that, one pretty much draws a blank, at least in terms of commentaries. I therefore decided to write up my own set of notes, drawing on the work done for Creative Eloquence. Feedback from the Latin teachers to whom I had the chance to circulate a draft version in June was sufficiently encouraging to explore the possibility of making the material more generally available, not least since it seemed an excellent opportunity to link research and outreach.

For the commentary, it seemed inadvisable to follow OCR in their (understandable) decision to chop the Lampsacus episode in half. Hence the present volume includes Ver. 2.1.5386 rather than just §§ 5369. And while I have to agree with one of the anonymous referees that a full-scale linguistic commentary on the entire speech would have been very desirable, exigencies of timing militated against including more. For one thing, extending the coverage from the 33 paragraphs now covered to the full 158 that comprise the oration would have rendered the exercise useless for the current generation of Latin A-level students. There is only so much one can do in the course of a summer. At the same time, A-level students are not the only constituency I had in mind when designing this volume. The portion of Cicero explicated here would also seem to lend itself for study in other settings, such as Latin summer schools, undergraduate reading courses in American or British universities, or postgraduate Latin courses at MA-level. I have therefore added content meant to widen the appeal, even though not all of it will seem immediately relevant to all users. The edition now tries to cater to students as well as their teachers, to dedicated students of Latin as well as to language learners (such as ancient historians at postgraduate level) who study Latin perhaps not so much for its own sake but as a research tool.

All users, however, should be able to relate to the primary mission of the commentary: it is to render Cicero’s text intelligible and resonant with meaning and thereby to enhance appreciation and enjoyment of the chosen passage as a fascinating historical document and a superb specimen of rhetorical artistry. The commentary offers help in three areas in particular. First, while a basic grasp of Latin grammar and syntax is presupposed, the notes explicate more unusual grammatical phenomena as well as difficult syntax and sentence construction. Secondly, the commentary pays careful attention to the craftsmanship of Cicero’s text, not least in showing how his rhetorical design interacts with, and reinforces, his arguments and themes. And thirdly, the edition tries to situate Cicero’s prose within wider contextual and historical frames, such as the courtroom setting and Rome’s system of imperial exploitation. The principle that informs the commentary is simple: the more one sees in his text, the more enjoyable, indeed exciting, reading Cicero becomes. And he merits re-reading: it took some time, for instance, for the penny to drop that the eight connectives Cicero uses in the massive sentence in § 82 produce a pleasing symmetrical pattern.1 The example is a good illustration of the care Cicero took over the most insignificant detail, easily overlooked: his verbal craftsmanship is simply extraordinary, and I am sure the text under discussion hides many more delights than I managed to spot: I encourage every student to ponder, discover, and enjoy.

In an attempt to render this edition as useful as possible to as many different end-users as possible, I have included the following features:

  • (a) Introduction: excellent accounts of the wider historical background and the legal circumstances of Cicero’s prosecution of Verres exist in abundance (and are cited in the introduction). It nevertheless seemed useful to include a rudimentary survey of some basic facts and figures, and brief indications of key issues and themes to help orient those who are new to Cicero and his speeches. The introduction therefore provides brief biographical sketches of Cicero and Verres, offers information on the trial, situates the passage under consideration within the Verrines as a whole, discusses some important aspects of Cicero’s oratory and relates the text in question to developments in late republican history and culture. In all, it is meant to provide quick and easy access to some basic contextual information, with references to works of secondary literature for those who wish to pursue a specific aspect further.

  • (b) The Latin text: the Latin text of Cicero’s Verrines is available online in various formats. The text printed here is taken from The Latin Library (, with some minor changes and corrections, mainly of a typographical nature. I have consulted the apparatus of the standard critical edition (W. Peterson’s Oxford Classical Text), but discuss variants only occasionally. Even these rare instances might be considered too much for an edition such as this, which is primarily addressed to students still in the process of learning the language. But even at this stage, an occasional reminder that any classical text we nowadays read is not an autograph, but the result of transmission and editorial constitution, seemed appropriate. From the point of view of transmission, at any rate, the chosen passage is fairly unproblematic. It is worth mentioning, too, that the text of Cicero’s Verrines is freely available on the website of the Perseus Project (, which offers the Oxford Classical Text edition with critical apparatus and hyperlinks of each word to the Lewis & Short Latin Dictionary. I imagine that many students will want to read the text online in this format, perhaps with the commentary opened in a separate window (or in hardcopy on the desk).

  • (c) Study questions for grammar and syntax, style and theme: each paragraph of the Latin text is followed by some study questions designed to draw attention to features in the passage that are either difficult or interesting (or both). They are meant as gateways into the passage. The distinction between ‘grammar and syntax’ and ‘style and theme’ is of course somewhat artificial, but seemed nevertheless worth making for didactic reasons, even though some of the questions deliberately try to blur the boundary. Answers to the questions can usually be found embedded in the commentary (though they are not explicitly marked up as such).

  • (d) Help with grammar and syntax: I assume that users of this edition, who are still in the process of acquiring facility with the technical terminology of Latin grammar and syntax, will have access to a Latin grammar, such as James Morwood’s excellent Latin Grammar (Oxford 1999), which is a model of concision and clarity and is as accessible as it is affordable.2 It includes a Glossary of Grammatical Terms on pages ix–xv, and I have tried to abide by his terminology. I am aware that different systems of grammatical nomenclature exist, but, despite the suggestion of one of the referees, felt that multiple labelling of phenomena (such as ‘ethic dative’ or the ‘polite dative’ or – the way I learned it – the dativus ethicus) would add a lot of clutter for fairly limited returns. I have therefore only supplied alternative terminology occasionally, when it seemed especially appropriate for one reason or another.
  • (e) Technical terms for figures of speech: figures of speech (*anaphora, *chiasmus, *pleonasm, etc.) are prefaced by a star (*) in the commentary and briefly glossed in the List of Rhetorical Terms on p. 169. Apart from enabling students to acquire familiarity and ease with a range of rhetorical figures, the star-system is also designed to draw attention to recurrent features of Cicero’s style and could be used to raise questions to do with aesthetic value. Readers may wish to ponder, for instance, whether Cicero’s use of *alliteration in the passage is ‘excessive’, a sign of his youthful exuberance, to be scaled back in his more mature writing.3 Enhanced awareness of figures of speech is a significant side benefit of studying Latin and of a classical education more generally; but the identification of rhetorical features can easily turn into a mechanical exercise (along the lines of ‘give me three tricola and a climax, please’). To draw attention to the risk of turning the hunt for rhetorical figures into an end in itself and to highlight the powerful presence of classicizing rhetoric in the western cultural tradition, I have chosen to illustrate the terms in the glossary with examples drawn from Shakespeare, especially the staging of the Pyramus-and-Thisbe episode from Ovid, Metamorphoses 4, towards the end of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The passage is arguably the greatest spoof of rhetorical ornamentation ever written, full of frivolous fun with figures and forms, not least excessive *alliteration and a brilliant reductio ad absurdum of classical rhetoric. A ‘compare-and-contrast’ exercise on the (effective) use of figures in Cicero and Shakespeare should produce interesting results.

  • (f) References to secondary literature: in the introduction and throughout the commentary I have included, in footnotes, a very selective – but, I hope, judicious – sample of some of the best scholarly literature available on the various themes mentioned in or raised by the passage from Cicero considered here. The reasons behind this practice, which is unusual for a commentary keyed to language learners, are various. Some issues may capture the imagination of readers who want to pursue them further. The references offer teachers the opportunity to introduce extra material or perspectives according to personal preference, perhaps via student reports. And some of the language students may come from sub-disciplines of classics such as ancient history where greater knowledge of the background gathered by following up on some of the secondary literature will enhance the inherent interest of the Latin text. Even for those users who do not feel the need or desire to chase up any of the items mentioned, the presence of references may be of benefit: it serves as a useful reminder that a mountain of scholarship exists, has accumulated over centuries and is growing on a daily basis. This mountain does not obstruct our view of the ancient world, but enables it, even if the view from the top and more gradually from any of the lower foothills is constantly changing. While most of the references are to secondary literature in English, I have not shied away from titles in various European languages, partly to acknowledge intellectual debts and partly to underscore the point that classics is, and has always been, an international enterprise. Any such material, however, has been confined to the footnotes. I cite all items in full on the spot (sacrificing economy and elegance in presentation to convenience of use) with four exceptions: recurrent references to Gildenhard (2011), Mitchell (1986), Morwood (1999), and Steel (2004) are presented in the Harvard system of author’s name + year of publication. Full details are included in the List of Abbreviations on page 167.

  • (g) Translation: I have decided to include my own translation of the passage. It is solely meant as an aid to understanding the original and stays as close to the Latin as possible. As such, it has no literary value. Put differently, memorizing this version for the exam won’t earn students any style-points.

  • (h) Map: the edition includes a map of the geographical names mentioned in the commentary. The hard copy is a snapshot of a map designed with the help of Google Earth. The (interactive) 3D version of the map is available under ‘Extra Resources’ on the book’s website at Open Book Publishers.

  • (i) Appendix: issues for further discussion: finally, I have included an appendix that flags up some ‘big themes’ and open-ended questions raised by the text. They lend themselves for debate and group discussion and should help to relate the detailed work on the passage to wider frames of reference. For any one reader the edition may include information that may appear either too basic or too advanced. Less may perhaps have been more, but in the end I decided to trust in the ability of all users to screen out data deemed superfluous. Selective reading for pertinent information is, in any case, an increasingly important transferable skill.

I am very grateful to the friends and colleagues who provided comments and feedback during my work on this volume, notably Benjamin Biesinger, Wolfgang Havener, Ted Kaizer, Myles Lavan, who also generously shared forthcoming work of his own, Mathew Owen, and Rik Van Wijlick. Closer to home, I would like to acknowledge the help of Norbert Gildenhard who read through an early draft, offering comments and corrections page by page, and Paola Ceccarelli who volunteered to design the map. I had hoped to include a reprint of Catherine Steel’s superb analysis of the Lampsacus episode (‘Being Economical with the Truth: What Really Happened at Lampsacus?’, in J. Powell and J. Paterson (eds.), Cicero the Advocate, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 233–51) in this volume; unfortunately, problems to do with copyright interfered, but I am nevertheless very grateful for her personal agreement and support. Alessandra Tosi and Corin Throsby at Open Book Publishers have simply been wonderful in accommodating this rather unusual project as well as its urgent time frame. I also benefited much from the speedy endorsement and feedback offered by the two anonymous referees. As previous work, this volume profited considerably from the library resources of the Philologische Seminar of Tübingen University, and I am once again extremely grateful to Professor Maennlein-Robert for offering hospitality. My most significant debt is to three PhD students in the Department of Classics & Ancient History at Durham University. Zara Chadha, Louise Hodgson, and Lauren Knifton generously volunteered to read through the penultimate draft, provided invaluable annotations, and agreed to join in a series of workshops (‘having fun with Cicero’) devoted to discussing issues to do with the volume large and small. Their eagle eyes spotted more embarrassing mistakes than I care to remember; and their good sense and sensibility vastly improved the final product. Their critical engagement with the commentary and ability to improve upon my own reading of Cicero exemplify my notion of this volume’s ideal reader. It is thus a particular pleasure to dedicate this book to them and their spirit of intellectual camaraderie.

Ingo Gilgenhard, King's College Cambridge, 2011


1.atque, et, et, et, -que, -que, -que, atque.
2.A note of caution: not every grammatical and syntactical feature in the set passage finds explication in Morwood. When it comes to the use of the subjunctive in relative clauses, for example, he covers the two most frequent types, i.e. expression of purpose (under Purpose clauses, p. 97) and the generic or consecutive use (under Result Clauses, pp. 100–1), but has nothing on the – admittedly less frequent – use of the subjunctive in a relative clause to convey a causal or concessive sense.
3.Cf. Hofman, J. B., Szantyr, A. (1965), Lateinische Syntax und Stilistik, vol. 2, Munich, 701.

Image on this page: Ingo Gildenhard. Source: The Prince's Teaching Institute.

Cover image: Wall painting from Room H of the Villa of P. Fannius Synistor at Boscoreale (detail), ca. 50–40 B.C. Source: Metropolitan Museum of Art

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