Cōnstituitur in forō Lāodicēae spectāculum acerbum et miserum et grave tōtī Asiae prōvinciae, grandis nātū parēns adductus ad supplicium, ex alterā parte fīlius, ille quod pudīcitiam līberōrum, hic quod vītam patris fāmamque sorōris dēfenderat. Flēbat uterque nōn dē suō suppliciō, sed pater dē fīlī morte, dē patris fīlius. Quid lacrimārum ipsum Nerōnem putātis profūdisse? quem flētum tōtīus Asiae fuisse, quem luctum et gemitum Lampsacēnōrum? secūrī esse percussōs hominēs innocentēs, nōbilēs, sociōs populī Rōmānī atque amīcōs, propter hominis flāgitiōsissimī singulārem nēquitiam atque improbissimam cupiditātem!

    After his portrayal of the corrupt and hasty trial, Cicero now lingers on the scene of execution, which reduced everyone with even a bit of human decency to tears. This is pathos on a grand scale. . . [full essay]

    Grammar and Syntax:

    • Explain the case and function of natu.
    • Explain the case and function of lacrimarum.

    Style and Theme:

    • Analyse the arrangement of sed pater de fili morte, de patris filius. What is the rhetorical effect of Cicero’s chosen design?
    • What are the means by which Cicero generates pathos?

    Laodiceae: a city on the river Lycus in Caria; ‘it was the judicial centre closest to Dolabella’s province of Cilicia, and was far removed from Lampsacum’: Mitchell (1986) 193.

    toti Asiae provinciae: Asiae is genitive depending on provinciae (which is in the dative).

    grandis natu parens: natu is an ablative of respect depending on grandis.

    ille quod pudicitiam liberorum, hic quod vitam patris famamque sororis defenderat: Cicero’s phrasing enacts the tight-knit loyalty within the family of Philodamus; the three accusative objects (each with a genitive attribute) pudicitiam liberorum, vitam patris, and famam sororis correspond to the three family members involved in the affair, though of course only father and son face execution – hence the bipartite arrangement illehic. And whereas the concern of the father embraces both of his children, which results in the slightly inaccurate formulation pudicitiam liberorum insofar as only the chastity of his daughter had been at stake, the son had jumped to the defence of both father and sister. In short, the family forms a triangle, with the father caring for both of his children and the son for his father and his sibling – an inverse mirror-image, as it were, of the triumvirate of evil Dolabella, Nero, Verres.

    pater de fili morte, de patris filius: Cicero uses *chiasmus (a) pater (b) de fili morte (b) de patris [sc. morte] (b) filius to underscore the distinct, yet interlinked perspectives of father and son; in addition, the *ellipsis of morte in the second half of the *chiasmus results in an emphasis on their joint destiny: death. The key term is placed right in the middle of the *chiasmus and points both backwards to pater and forward to filius. The pathos of the phrasing is profoundly tragic, and dimly recalls such scenes of the tragic theatre as the one in Euripides’ Iphigenia at Tauris, when Pylades and Orestes are both willing to sacrifice their life on behalf of their friend. In the Latin version of Ennius, the scene, in which the two friends vie with one another for the privilege to be sacrificed, became a hit at Rome: see Cicero, de Amicitia 24 and de Finibus 2.79 and 5.63.

    Quid lacrimarum ipsum Neronem putatis profudisse? quem fletum totius Asiae fuisse, quem luctum et gemitum Lampsacenorum?: the two indirect statements depend on putatis; quid has a double function as interrogative pronoun/ accusative object of the main clause and accusative object of the indirect statement.

    putatis: Cicero here challenges his audience to picture the scene of the execution in his mind – a technique to generate empathy and pity for the victims.88

    esse percussos: this indirect statement depends on the verbal force of luctum and gemitum in the previous sentence: it explicates the reason why there was such widespread weeping.

    homines innocentis nobilis … hominis flagitiosissimi: the repetition of homo to designate both the two innocent victims and the vicious perpetrator marks out a spectrum of what human beings are capable of, in good and in evil. As noted before, Cicero is fond of operating at an anthropological level, insofar as he assesses the worth of his characters as human beings, quite irrespective of whatever social role or status they may have. (Cf. above § 63.)

    propter hominis flagitiosissimi singularem nequitiam atque improbissimam cupiditatem!: a weighty, remorseless ending to the account of how Verres’ disgraceful conduct resulted in the death of two innocent human beings, friends and allies of the Roman people, no less. Cicero places the genitive (noun:attribute) in *chiastic position to the two phrases it modifies (attribute:noun, attribute:noun). If in the genitive phrase the number of syllables in noun (3) and attribute (7) are unequal, singularem (4) nequitiam (4) and improbissimam (5) cupiditatem (5) are perfectly and climactically balanced. Cicero again speaks in the superlative mode, with the ‘thematic superlative’ singularis providing some variation to the grammatical superlatives flagitiosissimi and improbissimam.

    88.For Cicero’s ‘vivid descriptions’ see Innocenti, B. (1994), ‘Towards a Theory of Vivid Description as Practiced in Cicero’s Verrine Orations’, Rhetorica 12, 355–81. Our passage is discussed on p. 376.


    Laodiceae A city on the river Lycus in Caria that came under Roman rule in 133 B.C. upon the death of King Attalus III of Pergamum.

    spectaculum show, spectacle; spectators' seats (pl.);

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

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

    grandis full-grown, grown up; large, great, grand, tall, lofty; powerful; aged, old;

    natu birth; age, years [minor natu => younger; maior natu => older

    fīlius, -ī, sometimes abbreviated, F., f., m., son.

    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.

    pudīcitia, -ae, [pudīcus], f., modesty, virtue, chastity.

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

    profundō, -ere, profūdī, profūsum, [prō + fundō], 3, a., pour out, pour forth; spend freely, lavish; squander, dissipate, waste.

    flētus, -ūs, [fleō], m., weeping, crying.

    lūctus, -ūs, [lūgeō, mourn], m., mourning, grief, sorrow, lamentation; distress, affliction.

    gemitum groan, sigh; roaring;

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

    secūris, -is, abl., secūrī, [secō], f., axe, battle-axe.

    percutiō, -cutere, percussī, percussum, [per + quatiō, shake], 3, a., strike through, thrust through, pierce, transfix; strike hard, smite, hit, kill, slay. dē caelō percussus, struck by lightning.

    innocēns, -entis, [in- + nocēns], adj., harmless, inoffensive; blameless; innocent, upright.

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

    flāgitiōsus, -a, -um, [flāgitium], adj., shameful, base, disgraceful; profligate, dissolute.

    singulāris, -e, [singulī], adj., one by one, alone, single, solitary; singular, matchless, extraordinary, unique, remarkable.

    nēquitia, -ae, [nēquam], f., worthlessness, inefficiency; wickedness, vileness.

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

    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/76