Dīcēs tua quoque signa et tabulās pictās ōrnāmentō urbī forōque populī Rōmānī fuisse. Meminī; vīdī simul cum populō Rōmānō forum comitiumque adōrnātum ad speciem magnificō ōrnātū, ad sēnsum cōgitātiōnemque acerbō et lūgubrī; vīdī conlūcēre omnia fūrtīs tuīs, praedā prōvinciārum, spoliīs sociōrum atque amīcōrum. Quō quidem tempore, iūdicēs, iste spem maximam reliquōrum quoque peccātōrum nactus est; vīdit enim eōs quī iūdiciōrum sē dominōs dīcī volēbant hārum cupiditātum esse servōs.

    In this paragraph Cicero changes tack, as he anticipates (note the future dices) and counters the potential objection by Verres that, far from hiding away his plundered treasures. . . [full essay]

    Grammar and Syntax:

    • Define the case and the function of ornamento and urbi foroque.

    Style and Theme:

    • Explore how Cicero handles the theme of sight in the paragraph: who sees what with what consequences and emotional reactions?
    • Discuss the rhetorical design of the relative clause eos qui … esse servos and situate Cicero’s argument in its wider historical context.

    ornamento urbi foroque … fuisse: a double dative: urbi and foro are in the dative of advantage (dativus commodi); ornamento is a dative of purpose (dativus finalis)

    Memini: highly ironic: ‘don’t tell me, I remember very well!’

    comitium: an open space adjacent to the forum, used for assemblies.60

    adornatum ad speciem magnifico ornatu, sed ad sensum cogitationemque acerbo et lugubri: a contorted and *pleonastic way to describe the complex and contradictory response of those who saw Verres’ displays: they were indeed splendid to look upon (a point reinforced by the *figura etymologica adornatum ~ ornatu, which picks up ornamento in the opening sentence of the paragraph); but whatever awe the splendour was designed to inspire was overpowered by thoughts and emotions of grief. Cicero again enacts the point stylistically, achieving emphasis through quantity of verbiage: ad speciem is dwarfed by ad sensum cogitationemque, and the single qualifier magnifico is outdone by the two qualifiers acerbo et lugubri.

    magnifico: both magnifico and acerbo et lugubri are in the predicative position. The forum and the comitium were adorned (adornatum) with ornamentation (ornatu), which was spectacular (magnifico) to behold (ad speciem), but bitter and distressing (acerbo et lugubri) to feeling and thought (ad sensum cogitationemque).

    lugubri: Cicero returns to the theme of distress and grief caused by Verres’ public displays in more detail in the following paragraph.

    vidi … vidi … vidit: Cicero stages an intricate drama of sight. In the first half of the paragraph he describes his own experience, which, he implies, coincided with the experience of the Roman people (vidi simul cum populo Romano); in the second half, he focuses on what Verres sees, namely senators looking at his display in rampant greed. Cicero fingers their admiration and approval as the stimulus for future crimes on Verres’ part. In essence, he here implicates much of Rome’s senatorial elite in Verres’ crimes and his personality defects. This aggressive strategy recurs throughout the Verrines and has its flipside in Cicero’s repeated reminders that the jury can rid itself of suspicions of complicity with Verres (and regain at least a minimal reputation for righteousness and integrity) by deciding the case in his favour.

    furtis tuis, praeda provinciarum, spoliis sociorum atque amicorum: a *climactic *tricolon of instrumental ablatives, with each colon dramatically increasing in size on account of the attributes. Further stylistic touches include the *homoioteleuton furtis tuis and the *alliterations praeda provinciarum and spoliis sociorum.

    iudiciorum … dominos … cupiditatum … servos: a powerful *antithesis – the group of established aristocrats who think like Verres want to be masters of the lawcourts, but they are in fact slaves of their desires. Cicero here reactivates a theme that he pursues through the entire corpus of the Verrines: the deep-seated corruption of the senate in the aftermath of Sulla’s reforms, which had put senators in charge of the law courts. (Control of the courts would revert to the knights soon after the case against Verres.) It is unlikely that senators openly wanted to be called ‘masters of the court’ – outside the context of the familia and master-slave relationships, dominus comes close to being an insult: it implies the abuse of power.

    60.For a good, basic account of Roman assemblies see Beard, M. and Crawford, M. (1985), Rome in the Late Republic, Ithaca, NY.


    tabula, -ae, f., board, plank; tablet, writing-tablet; writing, record, memorandum, account; picture, painting. tabulae pūblicae, public records.

    pictas paint, draw; depict, portray;

    ōrnāmentum, -ī, [ōrnō], n., outfit, equipment, apparatus; mark of honor, decoration; distinction, ornament.

    Rōmānus, -a, -um, [Rōma], adj., of Rome, Roman, Latin. As subst., Rōmānus, -ī, m., Roman.

    comitium, -ī, [com-, eō], n., place of meeting; at Rome, the Comitium, an open place north of the Forum, where assemblies were held. See Map, p. 76.

    adōrnō, -āre, -āvī, -ātum, [ad + ōrnō], 1, a., provide, furnish, equip, prepare; decorate, embellish, adorn.

    magnifico splendid/excellent/sumptuous/magnificent/stately; noble/eminent; proud/boastful

    ornatu well equipped/endowed, richly adorned, ornate; distinguished, honored;

    cōgitātiō, -ōnis, [cōgitō], f., reflection, meditation; thought, reasoning, imagination.

    acerbus, -a, -um, [ācer], adj., sharp to the taste, bitter; harsh, severe, cruel; distressing, rigorous, burdensome.

    lugubri mourning; mournful; grievous;

    conlucere shine brightly, light up (with fire); reflect light, shine, be lit up; glitter;

    fūrtum, -ī, n., theft, robbery; thing stolen; artifice, craft.

    spolium, -ī, n., skin, hide; by metonymy, arms stripped from an enemy, spoils, booty, prey.

    peccātum, -ī, [peccō], n., fault, transgression, sin.

    nancīscor, -ī, nactus and nanctus sum, 3, dep., obtain, secure, get, receive; meet with, fall in with, find, reach; incur.

    cupiditās, -ātis, [cupidus], f., desire, eagerness, passion; greed, covetousness, cupidity, lust.

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    Suggested Citation

    Ingo Gildenhard, Cicero, Against Verres, 2.1.53–86. Cambridge: Open Book Publishers, 2011. ISBN: 978-1-90692-463-8. DCC edition, 2016. https://dcc.dickinson.edu/cicero-verres/58