Commōtus est Dolābella: fēcit id quod multī reprehendērunt, ut exercitum, prōvinciam, bellum relinqueret, et in Asiam hominis nēquissimī causā in aliēnam prōvinciam proficīscerētur. Posteāquam ad Nerōnem venit, contendit ab eō ut Philodamī causam cognōsceret. Vēnerat ipse quī esset in cōnsiliō et prīmus sententiam dīceret; addūxerat etiam praefectōs et tribūnōs mīlitārēs suōs, quōs Nerō omnēs in cōnsilium vocāvit; erat in cōnsiliō etiam aequissimus iūdex ipse Verrēs; erant nōn nūllī togātī crēditōrēs Graecōrum, quibus ad exigendās pecūniās improbissimī cuiusque lēgātī plūrimum prōdest grātia.

    Cicero uses this paragraph to discredit thoroughly the group of advisors that helped Nero decide the case: Dolabella’s arrival and intervention are uncalled-for and irresponsible. . . [full essay]

    Grammar and Syntax:

    • What type of ut-clause is ut … relinqueret?
    • qui esset in consilio et primus sententiam diceret: explain the use of the subjunctives.

    Style and Theme:

    • Identify the stylistic devices that Cicero uses in ut exercitum, provinciam, bellum relinqueret and discuss their rhetorical effect.
    • Discuss Cicero’s use of the superlative in the paragraph, with special reference to hominis nequissimi causa, aequissimus iudex ipse Verres, improbissimi cuiusque legati, and plurimum prodest.
    • How does Cicero discredit the consilium that advised Nero?

    id … ut … relinqueret: a so-called epexegetical ut-clause, in apposition to id, which it explains further.

    ut exercitum, provinciam, bellum relinqueret: an *asyndetic *tricolon, designed to emphasize the irresponsible haste with which Dolabella let drop all of his official responsibilities to help out his rogue legate. Ver. 2.1.154 suggests that Dolabella was at the moment involved in warfare against the pirates who had strongholds at the costal border of Cilicia.

    hominis nequissimi … aequissimus iudex … improbissimi cuiusque legati: three superlatives, paired, respectively, with the generic homo, followed by two nouns (‘judge’ and ‘legate’) that designate official roles, which require a high level of ethics and sense of responsibility. Nequissimus and improbissimus heighten the bitter sarcasm of aequissimus. The fourth superlative in the paragraph, plurimum, integrates the Roman creditors into the corrupt economy of services that Roman magistrates and businessmen maintained for the exploitation of provincials.

    causam cognosceret: cognoscere is a technical term of Roman criminal procedure and, when used of magistrates, refers generally speaking to those cases in which the magistrate personally oversees the taking of evidence of the case and the passing of a verdict.84 Elsewhere in the Verrines, Cicero portrays how Verres, when presiding over a case, makes a mockery of proper procedure, including cognitio (2.2.75): Tum iste aliquando ‘Age dic!’ inquit. Reus orare atque obsecrare ut cum consilio cognosceret. Tum repente iste testis citari iubet; dicit unus et alter breviter; nihil interrogatur; praeco dixisse pronuntiat. Iste, quasi metueret ne Petilius … cum ceteris in consilium reverteretur, ita properans de sella exsilit, hominem innocentem a C. Sacerdote absolutum indicta causa de sententia scribae medici haruspicisque condemnat. (Then this man here finally said: ‘Go on, speak!’ The accused begged and beseeched him to investigate the matter in the presence of his advisory council. Then this man here suddenly orders the witnesses to be called in; one or the other speaks briefly; there is no cross-examination; the herald announces that each party has spoken. This man here jumped up from his seat with such haste, as if he feared that Petilius … could come back with the others into the advisory council, and, without the case having been properly pleaded,85 sentences the innocent man, who had been freed by C. Sacerdos, on the basis of the opinion of his scribe, his doctor, and his soothsayer.)

    Venerat ipse qui esset in consilio et primus sententiam diceret: a relative clause of purpose (hence the subjunctive).

    praefectos et tribunos militaris suos: praefecti were officers in the Roman army in charge of a military unit; military tribunes were partly elected by the Roman people, partly appointed by the commanding officer, and were in charge of important military business. Put differently, Cicero suggests that Dolabella ridiculously overreacted in bringing along half of his staff of command (and leaving his own province exposed in the process) just to do Verres’ bidding.

    quos Nero omnis in consilium vocavit: a reminder that Nero stayed nominally in charge of proceedings.

    togati creditores: creditors ‘clad in the toga’, i.e. Roman.86 Pseudo-Asconius spots the euphemism: noluit dicere equites Romanos (‘he [sc. Cicero] did not want to say “Roman knights”’). These moneylenders played a key role in the Roman system of provincial exploitation. Routinely charging outrageous interest rates, they often relied on the help of magistrates to enforce repayment. At the time, many were active in Asia, ‘aiding’ communities to meet indemnity obligations imposed upon them by Sulla, in the wake of the first war against Mithradates. As Steel (2004) 249 points out, ‘given the extent to which the cities were in debt in this period, it would probably have been difficult for Nero to find any Romans of suitable standing who were not creditors of the Greeks.’ See Plutarch, Lucullus 7.6 and 20 and Appian, Roman History 12, 62–63, two sources that describe the unholy alliance between Roman tax farmers (publicani) and Roman money-lenders (creditores) and the misery that Sulla’s punitive sanctions brought to the cities of Asia.

    improbissimi cuiusque legati plurimum prodest gratia: Cicero presents legates as more or less useful to creditors in direct proportion to the degree of their wickedness. Verres tops this scale: he is the most (plurimum) useful since he is the most wicked (improbissimus).

    84.Kunkel, W. (1995), Staatsordnung und Staatspraxis der römischen Republik, Zweiter Abschnitt: Die Magistratur, Munich, 145.
    85.indicta causa = the hasty processing of cognitio so as to obviate the possibility of a considered defence and the proper consultation of witnesses: Kunkel (1995) 145; OLD s.v. indictus 1b.
    86.The toga was the distinctive, and distinctively cumbersome, Roman dress that turned those who wore it into moving statues; before the advent of toga-parties, the garment was immortalized by Virgil, Aeneid 1.282 (Jupiter speaking): Romanos, rerum dominos gentemque togatam (‘The Romans, lords of the world, the people clad in the toga’). Augustus is said to have recited this line in disgust upon encountering a shoddily dressed crowd (Suetonius, Divus Augustus 40.5). See further Vout, C. (1996), ‘The Myth of the Toga: Understanding the History of Roman Dress’, Greece and Rome 43.2, 204-20.


    commoveō, -movēre, -mōvī, -mōtum, [com- + moveō], 2, a., stir, shake, move, used especially of violent motion; trouble, disturb, disquiet; affect, influence.

    Dolābella, -ae, m., in this book P. Cornēlius Dolābella, a profligate man, who nevertheless gained the hand of Cicero's daughter Tullia. They were married B.C. 50, and divorced four years later. Dolabella joined the party of Caesar, after whose death he secured the consulship by unfair means. He obtained Syria as a province, where he conducted himself with so great injustice and brutality that he was declared a public enemy. To escape capture he ordered a soldier to kill him, B.C. 43. Ep. xxii.

    reprehendō, -ere, reprehendī, reprehēnsum, [re- + prehendō], 3, a., hold back, hold fast, seize; restrain, check; blame, censure, rebuke, reprove.

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

    nēquam, pos. indecl., comp. nēquior, sup. nēquissimus, adj., worthless, vile, bad.

    posteā [post + eā], adv., after that, thereafter, later; then, afterwards. posteā quam, followed by a clause, after, after that.

    Neronem Gaius Claudius Nero, propraetor of Asia (with Dolabella). He formed the tribunal which ultimately condemned Philodamnus and his son to death.

    contendō, -ere, contendī, contentum, [com- + tendō], 3, a. and n., stretch tight, strain; aim, hurl; press, hasten; contend, vie, strive, fight; dispute; compare, contrast; maintain, assert, affirm, protest.

    Philodami A prominent citizen of Lampsacus who was forced by Verres to billet Rubrius and was ultimately condemned to death after a brawl (instigated by Rubrius) broke out at his house, resulting in Rubrius being injured and causing the townspeople to turn on Verres.

    praefectus, -ī, [praeficiō], m., overseer, director, prefect; governor, commander; cavalry captain.

    mīlitāris, -e, [mīles], adj., of a soldier, of war, warlike, military. rēs mīlitāris, art of war. sīgna mīlitāria, military standards.

    Verres C. Verres, the governor of Sicily form 73 B.C. to 71 B.C., who was prosecuted by Cicero in 70 B.C. for corruption. After several failed attempts to delay the trial, Verres chose to abandon his defense and lived in exile in Massilia until 43 B.C.

    non nulli some, several, a few; one and another; considerable;

    togātus, -a, -um, [toga], adj., wearing the toga, clad in the toga; in the garb of peace, in civil life, as a civilian.

    creditores lender, creditor; one to whom money is due; (w/GEN of debtor/debt);

    Graecorum Greek; the Greeks (pl.);

    improbus, -a, -um, [in- + probus], adj., wicked, bad, depraved, base; shameless, outrageous.

    multum [multus], adv., much, greatly, far; often, frequently.

    Text Read Aloud
    article Nav

    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/73