Nōlīte, per deōs immortālēs, cōgere sociōs atque exterās nātiōnēs hōc ūtī perfugiō, quō, nisi vōs vindicātis, ūtentur necessāriō! Lampsacēnōs in istum numquam ūlla rēs mītigāsset nisi eum poenās Rōmae datūrum crēdidissent: etsī tālem accēperant iniūriam, quam nūllā lēge satis dignē persequī possent, tamen incommoda sua nostrīs committere lēgibus et iūdiciīs quam dolōrī suō permittere māluērunt. Tū mihi, cum circumsessus ā tam inlūstrī cīvitāte sīs propter tuum scelus atque flāgitium, cum coēgeris hominēs miserōs et calamitōsōs quasi dēspērātīs nostrīs lēgibus et iūdiciīs ad vim, ad manūs, ad arma cōnfūgere, cum tē in oppidīs et cīvitātibus amīcōrum nōn lēgātum populī Rōmānī, sed tyrannum libīdinōsum crūdēlemque praebueris, cum apud exterās nātiōnēs imperī nōminisque nostrī fāmam tuīs probrīs flāgitiīsque violāris, cum tē ex ferrō amīcōrum populī Rōmānī ēripueris atque ex flammā sociōrum ēvolāris, hīc tibi perfugium spērās futūrum? Errās: ut hūc inciderēs, nōn ut hīc conquiēscerēs, illī tē vīvum exīre passī sunt.

    In his narration (§ 69) Cicero made it appear that the intervention of the Roman businessmen, who warned the Lampsacenes of the dire consequences. . . [full essay]

    Grammar and Syntax:

    • What kind of condition is Lampsacenos in istum numquam ulla res mitigasset nisi eum poenas Romae daturum credidissent?

    Style and Theme:

    • Analyse the design of the sentence Tu mihi … speras futurum?

    Nolite: Cicero turns back to the judges with the challenge that it is up to them not to force non-Roman communities to resort to violent resistance out of desperation.

    Nolite … hoc uti perfugio, quo … utentur necessario!uti is complementary infinitive to nolite and takes hoc perfugio as ablative object, which is also the antecedent of quoquo, in turn, is ablative object of utentur with necessario as predicative complement (in place of an adverb).

    per deos immortalis: an emotive invocation of the gods; Cicero uses this device frequently in moments of special pathos or outrage. See further Gildenhard (2011) 246.

    hoc … perfugio: violent resistance to death.

    perfugio – ad vim, ad manus, ad arma confugere – perfugium: the notion frames the paragraph, but in each case it is cancelled out – the Lampsacenes’ refuge is violence and, perhaps, death; Verres’ the Roman law courts.

    nisi vos vindicatisvindicare here has the meaning ‘to protect’: OLD s.v. 4 and thus continues the semantic field of perfugium. Note the emphatic use of vos.

    Lampsacenos in istum numquam ulla res mitigasset nisi eum poenas Romae daturum credidissent: a past counterfactual condition, which introduces a new aspect into Cicero’s portrayal of the inhabitants of Lampsacus, that is, their faith in the justice of the Roman legal system.

    Tu mihi,

    • (i) cum circumsessus a tam inlustri civitate sis propter tuum scelus atque flagitium,
    • (ii) cum coegeris homines miseros et calamitosos quasi desperatis nostris legibus et iudiciis ad vim, ad manus, ad arma confugere,
    • (iii) cum te in oppidis et civitatibus amicorum non legatum populi Romani, sed tyrannum libidinosum crudelemque praebueris,
    • (iv) cum apud exteras nationes imperi nominisque nostri famam tuis probris flagitiisque violaris,
    • (v) cum te ex ferro amicorum populi Romani eripueris atque ex flamma sociorum evolaris,

    hic tibi perfugium speras futurum?:

    A remarkable sentence, framed by the two datives mihi – tibi. The five cum-clauses are arranged symmetrically. (i) correlates with (v): circumsessus sis gets resolved by te eripueris atque evolaris. (ii) correlates with (iv): Verres’ coercive actions (coegeris) entail his violation (violaris) of Rome’s reputation abroad. And at the very centre (v), Cicero has placed the key idea: Verres has shown himself not an officer of the Roman people, but as a tyrant. A further pattern emerges if one looks at how Verres features in the cum-clauses: he starts out as the subject of a passive verb (i); in (ii) – (v) he is the subject of active verbs, with the accusative objects alternating between external targets (ii: homines; iv: famam) and himself (iii: te; v: te). The grammar also underscores the central position of (iii): apart from the prepositional phrase in oppidis et civitatibus amicorum the entire sentence is taken up by the direct object and its predicative extension te … non legatum populi Romani, sed tyrannum libidinosum crudelemque. In the other cum-clauses, other constructions dominate.

    In the cum-clauses, Cicero for the most part opts for weighty, pleonastic phrasing: tuum scelus atque flagitiumhomines miseros et calamitososnostris legibus et iudiciisin oppidis et civitatibustyrannum libidinosum crudelemqueimperi nominisque nostri famamtuis probris flagitiisque;eripueris atque evolaris. (The pattern of connectives – atqueetetet, -que, -que, -queatque – is hardly coincidental: it is a good example of the extreme care Cicero took over his writing, down to the last, loving detail.) The very deliberate style of exposition contrasts with the dramatic *asyndetic tricolon ad vim, ad manus, ad arma confugere and the simple punch line hic tibi perfugium speras futurum? Another rhetorical drama that plays itself out subliminally in the sentence is Cicero use of pronouns: tu – mihi – proper tuum scelus atque flagitium – desperatis nostrislegibus et iudiciis – te non legatum, sed tryannum praebueris – imperi nominisque nostri famam – tuis probris flagitiisque – te eripueris – tibi. Put differently, Cicero uses the cum-clauses to invoke Rome’s civic community, which is grounded in law and respected for this abroad and which Verres’ criminal activity has irreparably damaged; this serves as apposite foil for the rhetorical question that Verres seeks safety in Rome, of all places.

    quasi desperatis nostris legibus et iudiciis: ablative absolute.

    tyrannum libidinosum crudelemquetyrannus is a Greek loanword in Latin, which began to mesh with the indigenous anti-regnum discourse in the last few centuries of the Republic; it was used to describe the abuse of power. In Greece, the figure of the tyrant accrued certain attributes, among which an existence driven by passions and pleasure in cruelty. (Phalaris, for instance, the legenday tyrant of the Sicilian town of Acragas, is said to have roasted his enemies in an iron-bull, delighting in the roaring groans that issued from the contraption.) The Verrines are the earliest speeches in which Cicero systematically stigmatizes his adversary as a tyrant. See further Gildenhard (2011) 85–92, with a discussion of Verres on 90–1.

    Erras: short and to the point, the sentence offers a powerful complement and conclusion to the elaborate rhetorical question that precedes it. (Note that Cicero imagines Verres to have answered the question in the affirmative, and his erras responds to Verres imagined reply.)

    ut huc incideres, non ut hic conquiesceres, illi te vivum exire passi sunt: Cicero has it both ways: he motivates the initial violence by arguing that the inhabitants of Lampsacus despaired of attaining justice by means of legal procedure; and he explains the survival of Verres by suggesting that in the end they changed their mind and decided to put their hope into the Roman legal system, rather than taking justice into their own hands. This, of course, puts the judges trying Verres under pressure to prove worthy of the trust invested in them.


    immortālis, -e, [in- + mortālis], adj., undying, immortal; endless, eternal, imperishable.

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

    perfugium, -ī, [perfugiō], n., refuge, shelter, asylum.

    vindicō, -āre, -āvī, -ātum, [vindex], 1, a., lay claim to, claim, assume; protect, defend, liberate, deliver; avenge, punish, take vengeance.

    necessāriō, [necessārius], adv., unavoidably, inevitably.

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

    mitigo, -are: soften; lighten, alleviate; soothe; civilize;

    Rōma, -ae, f., Rome.

    etsī [et + sī], conj., although, though, even if, and yet.

    digne worthily; appropriately/suitably; in a fitting manner;

    persequor, -sequī, -secūtus sum, [per + sequor], 3, dep., follow persistently, follow after, pursue; prosecute, avenge; perform, accomplish; set forth, relate.

    incommodum, -ī, [incommodus], n., inconvenience, disadvantage, trouble; misfortune, loss, defeat.

    circumsedeō, -sedēre, -sēdī, -sessum, [circum + sedeō], 2, a., sit around; surround, besiege, beset.

    illūstris, -e, [in, cf. lūstrō, make bright], adj., bright, shining, brilliant; clear, manifest, plain; famous, distinguished, noble.

    flāgitium, -ī, [cf. flāgitō], n., lit. importunity; shameful act, outrage; burning shame, shame, disgrace.

    calamitosos calamitous; ruinous, destructive; liable to damage/disaster; damaged/miserable;

    dēspērō, -āre, -āvī, -ātum, [dē + spērō], 1, a. and n., lose all hope of, despair of; be hopeless, give up hope, give up.

    confugere flee (for refuge/safety/protection); take refuge; have recourse/appeal to;

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

    tyrannus, -ī, [τύραννος], m., ruler, monarch, sovereign, king; despot, tyrant.

    libidinosum lustful, wanton; capricious;

    crūdēlis, -e, [crūdus, unfeeling], adj., unfeeling, cruel, merciless, hard-hearted; of things, pitiless, harsh, bitter.

    probris disgrace; abuse, insult; disgrace, shame;

    violō, -āre, -āvī, -ātum, [cf. vīs], 1, a., treat with violence, injure, outrage; profane, desecrate.

    euolaris fly away, fly up/out/forth; rush out/forth;

    conquiēscō, -iēscere, -iēvī, conquiētum, [com- + quiēscō], 3, n., rest, repose; stop, cease; find rest, be at rest, enjoy peace.

    vīvus, -a, -um, [cf. vīvō], adj., alive, living, having life; green, vigorous. As subst., vīvī, -ōrum, m., pl., the living, those who are alive.

    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/82