Haec cum omnēs sentīrent, et cum in eam ratiōnem prō suō quisque sēnsū ac dolōre loquerētur, omnēs ad eam domum in quā iste dēversābātur profectī sunt; caedere iānuam saxīs, īnstāre ferrō, ligna et sarmenta circumdare ignemque subicere coepērunt. Tunc cīvēs Rōmānī, quī Lampsacī negōtiābantur, concurrunt; ōrant Lampsacēnōs ut gravius apud eōs nōmen lēgātiōnis quam iniūria lēgātī putārētur; sēsē intellegere hominem illum esse impūrum ac nefārium, sed quoniam nec perfēcisset quod cōnātus esset, neque futūrus esset Lampsacī posteā, levius eōrum peccātum fore sī hominī scelerātō pepercissent quam sī lēgātō nōn pepercissent.

    The shift from considered deliberation to violent action is swift and unanimous. If in the previous paragraph Cicero described the (impressively measured) proceedings on the basis. . . [full essay]

    Grammar and Syntax:

    • What case is Lampsaci?
    • Explain the syntax of sese intellegere hominem illum esse impurum ac nefarium.

    Style and Theme:

    • What is the technical term for the stylistic device Cicero uses in the formulations nomen legationis ~ iniuria legati?
    • Discuss how the use of the comparative (gravius, levius) figures in the reasoning of the Romans.

    omnes – omnes: Cicero emphasizes the unanimity with which the Lampsacenes acted in the matter.

    sensu ac dolore: a *hendiadys (‘feeling of grief’, ‘grievance’).

    caedere ianuam saxis, instare ferro, ligna et sarmenta circumdare ignemque subicere: the list of actions contains four units, which Cicero has arranged chiastically: verb (caedere) – nouns (ianuam saxis), verb (instare) – noun (ferro) :: nouns (ligna et sarmenta) – verb (circumdare), noun (ignem) – verb (subicere). But if one focuses on Cicero’s use of connectives, a tripartite structure emerges, which proceeds *climactically from stones to swords to fire: the unit from caedere to circumdare forms an *asyndetic *tricolon, with the last phrase ignemque subicere not adding a new idea but elaborating on ligna et sarmenta circumdare. The lack of connectives in the first half enacts the rage of the attack, whereas the two connectives in the second half (et and -que, one linking nouns, the other verbs) matches well the more deliberate, step-by-step mode of operation required for setting the house afire.

    cives Romani: note that Cicero here emphasizes the citizenship of the Roman ‘businessmen’ who intervene with sound advice; this is in pointed contrast to their colleagues who help Verres in executing the judicial murder of Philodamus and his son out of greed: Cicero calls them togati creditores (§ 73).

    negotiabantur: a deponent, here used in the intransitive sense ‘to do business’.

    gravius … nomen legationis quam iniuria legati: Cicero ascribes the same argument to the Roman businessmen at Lampsacus in their reasoning with the enraged citizens that he will make throughout the oration, namely that one needs to distinguish between an office and its holder. The further distinction between homo and legatus at the end of the paragraph follows a similar logic (see below).

    sese intellegere – levius peccatum fore: sese and levius peccatum are the subjective accusatives, intellegere and fore the verbs of an indirect statement; the main verb (something like dicunt) is implied.

    si homini scelerato pepercissent quam si legato non pepercissent: the Roman citizens formulate a dilemma: the Lampsacenes can sin either by sparing the wicked human being or by not sparing a magistrate of the Roman people. They submit that the former transgression is lighter, under the circumstances – Verres, after all, failed to carry out the misdeed he had planned and would shortly depart from Lampsacus forever anyway. Killing a Roman magistrate, on the other hand, even if he had proved himself wicked and worthless, would inevitably entail drastic retaliation on the part of Rome’s military machine – a thought that the Roman citizens who argue with the enraged Lampsacenes only hint at.


    deuersabatur put up at an inn; lodge;

    ianuam door, entrance;

    īnstō, -stāre, -stitī, -stātum, [in + stō], 1, n., stand upon, be near at hand, approach, draw nigh; press upon, pursue, harass; menace, threaten; insist upon, urge.

    ligna wood; firewood; timber; "stump"; gallows/cross; tree of the cross; staves (pl.)

    sarmenta shoot; twigs (pl.), cut twigs, brushwood;

    circumdō, -dare, -dedī, -datum, [circum + dō], 1, a., put around, place about; surround, encircle, besiege.

    subiciō, -icere, -iēcī, -iectum, [sub + iaciō], 3, a., throw under, place under; submit, present, give; subordinate; subjoin, append; forge, counterfeit.

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

    Lampsaci A Greek town located on the eastern side of the Hellespont.

    negōtior, -ārī, -ātus sum, [negōtium], 1, dep., do business, carry on business, trade, traffic.

    concurrunt run/assemble/knock/snap together; agree, fit, concur; coincide; make same claim; charge, fight/engage in battle; come running up/in large numbers; rally;

    Lampsacenos citizens of Lampsacusm a Greek town located on the eastern side of the Hellespont.

    lēgātiō, -ōnis, [lēgō], f., embassy, legation.

    impūrus, -a, -um, [in- + pūrus], adj., unclean, filthy; defiled, abandoned, vile. As subst., impūrī, -ōrum, m., pl., the filthy.

    nefārius, -a, -um, [nefās], adj., impious, heinous, abominable, nefarious; wicked, dastardly.

    perficiō, -ficere, -fēcī, -fectum, fut. part. perfectūrus, [per + faciō], 3, a., carry through, complete, accomplish; bring about, cause, effect.

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

    scelerātus, -a, -um, [part. of scelerō, pollute], adj., polluted, defiled, profaned; wicked, impious, accursed; sacrilegious, infamous, scandalous. As subst., scelerātus, -ī, m., scoundrel, rogue.

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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/69