Sociī vērō nātiōnēsque exterae spem omnem tum prīmum abiēcērunt rērum ac fortūnārum suārum, proptereā quod cāsū lēgātī ex Asiā atque Achāiā plūrimī Rōmae tunc fuērunt, quī deōrum simulācra ex suīs fānīs sublāta in forō venerābantur, itemque cētera signa et ōrnāmenta cum cognōscerent, alia aliō in locō lacrimantēs intuēbantur. Quōrum omnium hunc sermōnem tum esse audiēbāmus, nihil esse quod quisquam dubitāret dē exitiō sociōrum atque amīcōrum, cum quidem vidērent in forō populī Rōmānī, quō in locō anteā quī sociīs iniūriās fēcerant accūsārī et condemnārī solēbant, ibi esse palam posita ea quae ab sociīs per scelus ablāta ēreptaque essent.

    Cicero here elaborates on the idea he introduced obliquely in the previous paragraph, with the formulation ornatu … acerbo et lugubri. The scenes he pretends to remember are as emotionally moving. . . [full essay]

    Grammar and Syntax:

    • Explain the case and function of Romae.
    • What is the antecedent of the relative clause qui sociis iniurias fecerant?

    Style and Theme:

    • Explore how Cicero follows up on the keynote (Socii) in the rest of the paragraph.
    • How does Cicero generate pathos (and sympathy for the plight of Rome’s allies)?
    • Discuss Cicero’s rhetoric of space.

    Socii vero nationesque exterae: Cicero distinguishes between civic communities within a Roman province and people not subjected to Roman rule. The socii here are the first item in a magnificent *polyptoton: after the initial nominative, we get the allies in the genitive (sociorum), the dative (sociis) and the ablative (ab sociis). The foreign peoples, on the other hand, drop from view.

    vero … spem omnem … abiecerunt: the formulation works in antithesis to spem maximam at the end of the previous paragraph, with the adversative vero functioning as pivot. The highly promising prospect of future criminal exploitation for Verres correlates with the utter loss of hope among the provincials.

    rerum ac fortunarum suarum: an emphatic *pleonasm (‘their property and possessions’). Cicero here touches upon an issue that continues to resonate forcefully today in the sphere of international diplomacy and justice: to whom do objects of plunder and exploitation belong? Cicero’s Verrines have assumed archetypal importance in western thinking on the subject: see the highly accessible analysis by Miles M. M. (2008), Art as Plunder: The Ancient Origins of Debate about Cultural Property, New York, who explores Greek precedents, devotes a significant part of her discussion to Cicero’s Verrines, and outlines continuities and changes in practice and the terms of the debate from late antiquity to modern times.

    propterea quod casu legati ex Asia atque Achaia plurimi Romae tunc fuerunt: given the vagueness of Cicero’s temporal indications (see introduction to the previous paragraph) it is difficult to ascertain the precise year Cicero had in mind and why there happened to be a large number of envoys from Asia and Achaia in Rome at the time. But the period in question falls in the wake of Sulla’s war against Mithradates, after which he burdened the province of Asia with the enormous penalty of 20,000 talents. Many cities were unable to collect sufficient taxes and had to lend money at exorbitant interest-rates, not least from Roman creditors, to meet their obligations, a vicious cycle that drove them gradually to ruin, necessitating envoys to Rome to plead their cause. In the light of all this, Cicero’s use of casu (‘by chance’) is utterly disingenuous: the envoys were in Rome because the provinces suffered inordinately from systemic Roman exploitation. This, however, was not something he was keen to emphasize given his strategy of portraying the Roman system of government as essentially sound, well-liked, and beneficial, with only the occasional rotten apple, such as Verres or Dolabella. See also below on § 73 (togati creditores).

    Romae: a locative (‘in Rome’).

    simulacra … sublata: the two words are linked by *alliteration.

    deorum simulacra … venerabantur: the religious spirit of the provincials contrasts sharply with the materialist attitude of Verres: what for the latter are objects of plunder are cult-images of the gods for the former, i.e. objects of worship that retain their numinous power and link with the supernatural beings they represent even outside their usual abode in temples.61

    cetera signa: that is, further, non-religious statuary.

    cetera signa et ornamenta cum cognoscerent: the postponement of cum puts special emphasis on cetera signa et ornamenta; note the harsh *alliteration cetera - cum - cognoscerent, which contrasts in sound with the subsequent plaintive alia alio in loco lacrimantes.

    lacrimantes intuebantur: lacrimantes is a circumstantial participle (‘while weeping’, ‘in tears’).

    nihil esse quod: ‘there is no reason why’: OLD s.v. nihil 5a.

    cum quidem viderent … ereptaque essent: this sentence functions as Cicero’s explanatory gloss on why the talk of the allies was all about doom and death. As Mitchell (1986) 188 notes, ‘the indicatives fecerant and solebant show this is Cicero’s own comment, not part of what the allies said.’

    qui sociis iniurias fecerant: the antecedent (ii) needs to be supplied.

    in foro populi Romani – quo in loco – ibi: in loco and ibi are strictly speaking unnecessary and are added to underscore Verres’ perversion of a public space for his private displays: the very location in which Roman courts in the past dispensed justice for allies now serves as a showcase of criminal exploitation.

    61.Steiner, D. (2002), Images in Mind: Statues in Archaic and Classical Greek Literature and Thought, Princeton, offers a wide-ranging discussion of the varying significance of statues in ancient Greek culture.


    nātiō, -ōnis, [nāscor, nātus], f., birth; breed, stock, kind; nation, people.

    abiciō, abicere, -iēcī, -iectum, [ab + iaciō], 3, a., throw away, cast away, throw down; give up, abandon; reflex., abicere sē, throw one's self down, prostrate one's self, give up in despair.

    proptereā [propter + eā], adv., therefore, for this reason, on that account. proptereā quod, because.

    quod [acc. neut. of quī], conj., that, in that, the fact that; because, since, inasmuch as; in view of the fact that, as regards the fact that, wherein; so far as, to the extent that.

    Asia, -ae, [Ἀσία], f., Asia, usually referring to Asia Minor.

    Achāia, -ae, [Ἀχαία], f., Achāia, a Roman province, comprising all of Greece except Thessaly. See n. to p. 130, 4.

    Rōma, -ae, f., Rome.

    simulācrum, -ī, [simulō], n., likeness, image, form, figure; appearance, semblance, pretence.

    fānum, -ī, [for], n., shrine, sanctuary.

    veneror, -ārī, -ātus sum, 1, dep., reverence, worship, adore; venerate, do homage to; beseech.

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

    lacrimō, -āre, -āvī, -ātum, [lacrima], 1, n. and a., shed tears, weep; bewail, lament.

    intueor, -ērī, intuitus sum, [in + tueor], 2, dep., look upon, gaze at; contemplate, consider; admire, wonder at.

    exitium, -ī, [exeō], n., destruction, ruin, mischief, death.

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

    anteā [ante + eā], adv., before, formerly, previously, hitherto.

    accūsō, -āre, -āvī, -ātum, [ad, causa], 1, a., reproach, accuse, blame, find fault with; prosecute, indict.

    condemnō, -āre, -āvī, -ātum, [com- + damnō], 1, a., sentence, find guilty, convict, condemn.

    palam, adv., openly, plainly, publicly.

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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/59