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Cicero : In Verrem 2.3

Sections 172-228

This speech was delivered against C. Verres, in 70 B.C.

The translation is by L.H.G. Greenwood (1928). Click on the L symbols to go to the Latin text of each section. Click on ** to go to the translator's footnotes.



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[74.] L   [172] If I choose to expose one by one the various criminal steps taken in this one robbery, how far will you have me go before bringing Verres to a standstill ? ** - You refuse to pass the Sicilians' corn. Why then, what of the corn you send off yourself? have you got some private Sicily of your own that is able to supply you with corn of a different quality ? When the Senate decrees and the assembly votes for the purchase of corn in Sicily, it is presumably aware that the corn to be brought here from Sicily is Sicilian corn; and when you refuse to pass any of the corn of the Sicilian cities anywhere, you do not, I take it, mean to send corn to Rome from Egypt or Syria. You refuse to pass the corn of Halaesa, Thermae, Cephaloedium, Amestratus, Tyndaris, Herbita, and many other cities as well as these. May I ask what has happened to make the land of these communities, while you are governor, for the first time in history bear corn of a quality unfit to be passed by you or by the nation, in spite of the fact that the agents have already conveyed to Rome, as tithe, ** corn grown on the same land in the same year? What has happened to allow the tithe corn to pass and cause the purchase corn out of the same barn to be rejected ? The whole of this refusal of yours to pass the corn is quite clearly a scheme devised for extracting money.

[173] Well, well, you refuse to pass the Halaesa corn, but there is corn from some other nation available, which you can pass. Purchase the corn that satisfies you, then, and let those go whose corn you have refused to pass. Oh no, not at all. From these people whose corn you have rejected you exact a sum of money enough to purchase the amount of corn you ordered them to supply. ** I see, from the public records of Halaesa, that the city paid you 15 sesterces for every medimnus. I will prove, from the accounts of the wealthiest farmers, that no one in Sicily sold his corn at that time for more than that. ** [75.] L   Now what sort of scheme, or rather what sort of madness, have we here? You refuse to pass corn grown in the place from which the Roman Senate and people said they would have it purchased, corn taken from a heap one part of which you yourself have already passed as tithe corn; and then you exact money from the cities for the purchase of corn, when you have had the money for that already paid to you by the Treasury. What, did the law of Terentius ** bid you buy corn with the Sicilians' money instead of buying it from the Sicilians with Roman money ? - [174] And now, gentlemen, you perceive that the whole of the money from the treasury, which ought to have been paid to these cities for their corn, went into the man's own coffers. - For you got 15 sesterces a medimnus, that being then the local price, and you kept 21 sesterces a medimnus, that being the price fixed by law to be paid for Sicilian corn. What is the difference between doing this and, instead of rejecting, passing and taking over the Sicilian corn and then keeping all the public money and never paying any of the cities anything ? For the price fixed by law was a price that at any other time ought to have satisfied the Sicilians, and while you were their governor ought to have delighted them: the legal price was 3½ sesterces a modius, and actually, while you were governor, the price got was 2 sesterces, as you yourself boasted in a number of letters written to your friends. However, let us say that the actual price was 2½ sesterces, since you exacted that amount per modius from the cities. Had you paid the Sicilians the amount that the Roman nation bade you pay them, the farmers might well have been delighted ; instead of which, you not only would not let them get what they were entitled to get, but actually made them pay what they were not bound to pay. [175] And that these things were indeed done you shall learn, gentlemen, both from the official records and from the official evidence submitted by the cities, in which you will find no inventions, no adjustments to suit my purpose : all that I am telling you is there in the accounts of these cities, which show no interpolations or rearrangements or sudden additions, but are precise and straightforward, with all the facts entered in their proper order. - Read them to us. - The Halaesa accounts are read. - To whom does it say the money was paid? Speak still louder. "To Volcatius, Timarchides and Maevius."

[76.] L   Now, Verres, you have deprived yourself even of the plea that it was merchants who were concerned with these transactions, merchants who refused to pass the corn, merchants who made the cities arrange to pay that money ; that these persons had money from you to pay the cities, and subsequently themselves bought corn for their own purposes,** and that you are in no way responsible for these doings. A miserably weak plea, upon my word, for a governor to put forward - "I never handled that corn or even set eyes on it; I authorised the merchants to pass or reject it ; it was the merchants who extorted those sums from the cities, and I paid the merchants the money I ought to have paid the cities !" [176] Such a plea, as I have said, is a weak, nay, a hopeless plea wherewith to excuse grave misconduct ; it is a confession of the injustice and slothfulness that it implies, and not a defence against the charge. And yet you may not make use of this plea, bad as it is, even if you would. Volcatius, ** that favourite of you and yours, forbids you to talk of "merchants" ; Timarchides, that pillar of your household, strangles your plea for you - the man to whom, along with Volcatius, Halaesa paid over the money ; and indeed your clerk, with the golden ring that accrued to him from these transactions, ** will prevent your taking such a line of defence. What then is left for you but to confess that you sent to Rome corn purchased with the Sicilians' money, and diverted the public money into your own purse ? What pleasures habitual wrongdoing provides for men without principle or sense of shame, when they have escaped punishment and found themselves given a free hand! [177] This is not the first time that Verres has been found thus robbing the state, though it is only now that his guilt is proved. We have seen how money was paid to him as quaestor from the treasury for the maintenance of a consular army, and we have seen how a few months later army and consul were despoiled of that money ; ** but it all disappeared in the fog and darkness that at that time overspread the whole country. Once again he held the office of quaestor - this time inherited ** - and embezzled a large sum of money from Dolabella ; but he got the responsibility for this connected with Dolabella's conviction. ** And now when all this money was entrusted to him as governor, you will not find the man licking cautiously and delicately at these wicked gains ; without hesitation, he swallowed all that public money at a gulp. The opportunity for habitual misconduct has developed his natural viciousness, until he has become incapable of setting bounds to his own impudence. [178] Well, his guilt is being brought home to him at last, the guilt of deeds as monstrous as they are manifest. And I look on him as entrapped thus by the will of heaven, so that he may not only pay the just penalty of his most recent deeds, but atone likewise for his former crimes against Carbo and Dolabella.

[77.] L   There is indeed, gentlemen, a new and special fact brought into prominence by this charge, such a fact as finally confirms the previous charge connected with the tithes. Even should I let pass the point that a great many farmers had no corn for that second tithe, for those 800,000 modii they were to supply for sale to the Roman nation, and that they had to buy it from your agent, in other words from Apronius - which shows clearly enough that you had left those farmers with no corn at all ; even if I pass over this fact of which many witnesses have given clear evidence, can there be any fact more certain than that for three years all the corn of Sicily, all the harvests of the tithe-paying land, were in your granaries and under your control ? [179] For when you exacted money from the cities in lieu of corn, where did you find corn to send to Rome, unless you had it all shut up under lock and key in your own keeping ? Thus the first profit you made from this corn was that part of the corn itself which you forced out of the farmers, and the other profit came from the way in which you took all that you so unscrupulously acquired during those three years, and sold exactly the same corn not once but twice, and not for one price but two, first to the cities for 15 sesterces a medimnus, and then precisely the same corn to the Roman nation, which, you cheated of 21 sesterces for every medimnus of it.

[180] It will be argued that you did pass the corn of Centuripa, Agrigentum, and perhaps some other places as well, and that you did pay these communities their money. Well, granted that a certain number of cities belong to the class of those whose corn you consented to pass, what then ? were these cities paid for their corn all the money due to them ? Find me one community, find me one single farmer - search, inquire, look round everywhere, and see if there is a single one, in this province you governed for three years, who does not hope for your ruin; of all those farmers who subscribed for your statue, ** show me a single one, I repeat, who says that the full amount due to him for his corn has been paid to him. I tell you, gentlemen, not one of them will say so.

[78.] L   [181] From the full sum that you should have paid to those farmers deductions, under this head or that, were regularly made. The first was for "inspection and exchange," the second for something called "wax-money." All these terms, gentlemen, are not names for real things ** : they are names for impudent pieces of theft. How can there be any exchange, where a single coinage is in universal use ? And as for "wax-money" - why, how can such a term have any connexion with magistrates' accounts and public money ** ? The third kind of deduction, on the other hand ** wore the air of being permissible - of being desirable - of being entirely necessary. Two-fiftieths of the whole of the payments made were subtracted under the heading "clerk.” Who gave you leave for that ? what law, what authority from the Senate, and moreover what principle of justice, gave leave for your clerk to carry off all that money, whether from the farmers' resources or from the revenues of the Roman nation? [182] If that amount can be deducted without injustice to the farmers, let the nation have it, especially with the treasury depleted as it now is ; if the nation has willed that it should be paid to the farmers, and if it is just that it should be so paid, shall a fellow whom the nation pays a small salary a week to work in your office go preying upon the farmers' property ?

And is it in defence of such a system that Hortensius means to rouse the whole clerical class against me, declaring that I am endangering its interests and attacking its rights ? As if clerks had any precedent for doing what that man did, or any recognised right to do it! I need not go back to the old days, nor speak of those clerks whom we all know to have been men of blameless honour. I am not unaware, gentlemen, that ancient precedents are now listened to, and regarded, as romantic inventions, and I will confine myself to our own unhappily degenerate days. You, Hortensius, were a quaestor not many years ago, and how your clerks behaved you can best tell us : how mine behaved I will now tell you. In this same province of Sicily I had with me ** as clerks two thoroughly honest men, Lucius Mamilius and Lucius Sergius ; and when I was paying the cities money for their corn, not only was the Verrine deduction of two-fiftieths not made, but not one penny was deducted from the payment made to anyone. [79.] L   For this, gentlemen, I should take the whole credit to myself, if those men had ever asked my permission to do otherwise, or ever thought for one moment of doing so. [183] Why, indeed, should there be deductions for the clerk ? why not, instead, for the mule-driver who has brought the money, the postman whose arrival with the advices enabled them to apply for it, the attendant who bade them come in and get it, the porter or temple slave who took away the empty basket? The clerk's share in the business is not so laborious or so valuable as to entitle him to receive, in addition to his salary, so large a share of the money itself. "The clerk's profession" you tell us "has a high standing." Who denies that ? and what has it to do with the matter in hand? It has, in fact, a high standing because its members are entrusted with the public accounts and the reputations of our magistrates. Go then to those clerks who are worthy members of their profession, honest and reputable family men, and ask them what those two-fiftieths deductions mean. You will soon find that all of them regard the whole thing as a scandalous innovation. [184] But please let me refer the question to such clerks as these. Do not consider the men who have scraped together enough cash, from the presents of wasters ** or the gratuities of actors, to buy themselves membership ** of the profession, and then boast of having risen from the front rank ** among the playhouse rowdies to the second rank in the public service. On the charge before us you and I must take the opinion of clerks who resent the membership of such men as that : though the fact is that, when we find a number of unfit persons in a profession intended for men of industry and character, we can hardly wonder that some people should disgrace themselves in a position that is open to anyone who will pay for it. - [80.] L   As for you, Verres, when you confess that your clerk appropriated 1,300,000 sesterces of public money with your consent, can you conceive that any further defence of yourself is possible ? can you suppose that anyone will tolerate such conduct? that anyone even among your own supporters is at this moment hearing without indignation how, in the country in which so distinguished a man as the former consul Gaius Cato ** was condemned to pay a fine of 8000 sesterces, your office-assistant has been allowed to appropriate 1,300,000 sesterces under one single heading ? [185] And hence the golden ring with which you publicly presented that man of yours : a peculiarly impudent proceeding of yours, which startled all Sicily, and was more than I myself could at first believe. Often, indeed, when an enemy has been defeated and a great victory won for Rome, the commanders of our armies have publicly presented their clerks with golden rings. But what victory had you won, what enemy had you defeated, that you should dare to summon a public meeting at which to make such presentations? For you not only presented your clerk with a ring: you also presented Quintus Rubrius - a fine man of a very different type from yourself, notable for his valour, personal influence and prosperity - with chaplet, breast-bosses and neck-chain, ** and also the upright and respected Marcus Cossutius, and the distinguished, able and popular Marcus Castricius. [186] What was the meaning of these presentations to these three Roman citizens? And you made other presentations to powerful Sicilians of high rank, whose ardour was not damped thereby as you hoped it would be - they have but come better equipped by your own pronouncement to give their evidence. What spoils taken from the enemy, what victory won, what booty or plunder provided you with the means of these presentations ? was it because, while you were governor of Sicily, the pirates arrived in a few schooners, and with their own hands set on fire the splendid fleet that was the main defence of the province's safety ? or was it because, while you were governor, the Syracusan territory was burnt and plundered by marauding bands? or was it because the market-place at Syracuse ran red with the blood of your naval commanders ? or was it because that pirates' schooner went sailing up and down in the harbour of Syracuse? I can discover no reason for your tumbling into that piece of insanity, unless of course it was your purpose that the world should not forget, let alone forgive, your wretched ** performances.

[187] The clerk was presented with a gold ring - and a public meeting was called to witness the presentation. How you should have blushed with shame to see, at that meeting, men at whose expense you were presenting the fellow with that gold ring, men who had taken off their own gold rings and stripped them from the hands of their children, to provide the wherewithal for your clerk to live up to ** the benefaction you bestowed on him! And with what words did you preface the presentation? Presumably the traditional formula that our generals use, "Inasmuch as your conduct in battle and war and military service . . .," a thing never so much as mentioned while you were governor of Sicily. Or perhaps the words were "Inasmuch as you have never failed me in any matter of cupidity or filthiness, and have been associated with me in all my foul deeds, both when I was legate, and when I was praetor in Rome, and here in Sicily : in recognition hereof, and having already enriched you with substance, I now present you with this gold ring" ? This would have been the truth : for that gold ring, being your gift, does not proclaim your clerk a brave man ; it only proclaims him a wealthy person. That ring, given by any other man, we should regard as a witness to the recipient's valour: given by you, we pronounce it an appendage of his money.

[81.] L   [188] I have now dealt, gentlemen, with the tithe corn, and I have dealt with the purchased corn : it only remains for me to deal with the commuted corn. This is a matter where the great sum stolen, and the foul wrong done, may well stir any man's heart to anger: and all the more so because this charge is being met not with any ingenious proof of innocence, but with an unblushing avowal of guilt. Verres was entitled, by law and by decree of the Senate, to receive corn for his own maintenance ** ; and whereas the price fixed by the Senate for this corn was four sesterces for a modius of wheat and two for a modius of barley, ** he added his amount of barley to his quantity of wheat, ** and then required the farmers to commute this corn for money at the rate of twelve sesterces ** for a modius of wheat. - The charge is not that he took money instead of corn, Hortensius : it is vain for you to contemplate replying that many good upright honest men have many a time set a price on the maintenance corn due to them from farmers or from communities, and instead of their corn taken their money. I know what is usual ; I know what is permissible; and there is here no attack upon any part of Verres' action that has hitherto been part of honest men's customary behaviour. [189] The attack I do make is this : that whereas a modius of wheat was then locally worth 2 sesterces according to Verres' own letter to you, or 3 sesterces at the most, as has been demonstrated alike by the evidence of all our witnesses and by the farmers' accounts, Verres nevertheless exacted from the farmers 12 sesterces for every modius of wheat. [82.] L   That is the charge. It is based - let me make this plain to you - not on his taking money instead of corn, not on his taking 12 sesterces a modius, but on his taking it as he did when the market-price was what it was.

The fact is, gentlemen, that the original reason for practice of commutation was not the advantage of our praetors and consuls, but that of the communities and the farmers. No magistrate, at the outset, being entitled to corn, was shameless enough to demand money instead. Without question, the practice began with the farmer, or with the community, to whom the requisition was sent. They had sold their corn, or they wished to keep it, or they were unwilling to transport it to the place specified ; so they asked, as a favour and a kindness, to be allowed, instead of supplying the corn, to pay over what the corn was worth. From such a source it was - from the good-nature of obliging magistrates - that this practice of commutation came in. [190] There followed magistrates of a greedier sort: yet these men, with all their greed, discovered not only a way of enriching themselves, but a line of defence where by to save their skins. They introduced the device of always requiring delivery of their corn at the remotest spots, to which its conveyance would cause the utmost trouble, so that the difficulty of transport might enable them to fix their own terms for commutation. Now it is easier to think ill of such conduct than to attack it. We may well think the man who behaves thus a greedy fellow : to prosecute him on this account is less easy, for it is held that our magistrates must not be denied the right of receiving their corn where they will. This therefore is a thing that, I dare say, has been done often enough: though not so often but that the truly scrupulous men of whom we know or have heard have refrained from doing it. P> [83.] L   [191] And now I ask you, Hortensius, with which sort of behaviour you think of comparing the behaviour of Verres. Doubtless, with the behaviour of those whose good-nature made them grant to the communities, as an act of grace and favour, permission to pay cash instead of corn. We can well believe that the farmers, unable to sell their wheat for 8 sesterces a modius, asked leave to pay cash instead of corn at the rate of 12 sesterces a modius. Or perhaps, since you dare not say that, you will resort to saying that it was the transport difficulty that made them prefer to pay the 12 sesterces? Transport? what transport, from what place and to what place, could they be so eager to avoid ? One would suppose it was from Philomelium to Ephesus ! I know the usual difference between the prices of corn at those two places; I know how long the journey takes; I know that it suits the farmers of Philomelium to pay, there in Phrygia, a cash sum corresponding to the price of corn at Ephesus, rather than transport the corn to Ephesus or send agents to Ephesus with money to buy corn there. [192] But nothing of all this applies to Sicily. No Sicilian town lies further from the coast than Henna : yet compel the folk of Henna to deliver you so much corn at the coast - and you cannot compel them to do more than that - at any one of places so widely sundered as Phintias, Halaesa and Catina, and they will transport the corn there within he day. Nor need they, indeed, transport it at all. All the profit from this practice of commutation, gentlemen, arises from the fact that the price of corn differs in different places ; for our magistrates in their provinces are able to have their corn delivered to them where the price is highest ; this commutation system is therefore effective in Asia, effective in Spain, effective in any province where the price of corn is not commonly the same everywhere. But in Sicily, what could it matter to anyone where he delivered his corn ? he had not to transport it there ; no matter where he might have been ordered to convey it, he would buy it there for just the price for which he had sold it at home. [193] If therefore, Hortensius, you would show that Verres' conduct, in this commutation business, has some likeness to the conduct of other men, it will be for you to show that somewhere in Sicily, while Verres was its governor, the price of wheat was 12 sesterces a modius.

[84.] L   Observe the line of defence I have opened for you ; and observe what unfairness to our allies, what inconsistency with the public good, what contradiction of the purpose grate of the law, such a line of defence involves ready to deliver your corn to you on my own land, in my own town, and, mark you, in the place where you are, where you are going about and doing your work and performing your duties as governor. Shall you nevertheless pick me out some far-away unoccupied corner of the province, and bid me deliver my measure of corn there - a place to which I cannot transport it without loss, and in which I cannot buy other corn instead of it ? [194] A rascally act, gentlemen, an intolerable act, a thing no man may legally do, even if, perhaps, no man hitherto has been punished for doing it. Nevertheless, gentlemen, I will let this thing, which I say is intolerable, be freely allowed to Verres. If there is one spot in all his province where the price of corn has reached the price in his commutation, I hold that this charge must not be accounted so grave as to tell against him here. - But the truth is that you exacted those 12 sesterces a modius when at no place within your province was the price above 2 sesterces, or 3 at the most. And if you cannot dispute what I say concerning either the price of corn or your commutation, then why do you still sit there? what hope have you? what defence can you make? Do you recognise yourself guilty of financial extortion, offending against the laws and the public interest, and treating our allies with the gravest injustice? Or do you indeed defend your conduct as upright - in order - in the public interest - unjust to nobody ?

[195] When the Senate drew that money from the treasury for you, and paid it over to you with instructions to pay the farmers 4 sesterces for every modius of wheat, what ought you to have done? Had you acted like the famous Lucius Piso Frugi, the author of the first Extortion Law, you would have bought at the current price and repaid the balance to the treasury. Had you, like some others, been a kindly man or sought after popularity, the Senate having fixed a price above the current rate, you would have paid the farmers not at the current rate but at that fixed by the Senate. Had you done, as most men do, a thing that meant considerable gain, but gain of a respectable and recognised kind, you would have refused to buy the corn, because it was worth less, and you would have exacted money to the amount allowed you by the Senate for maintenance.

[85.] L   But now, what do we find you doing, and what explanation of it can be offered? I do not even ask what honest explanation, but what dishonourable and shameless one. There is hardly any action, however dishonourable, that governors in office venture openly to commit, of which they do not in general offer, if not a good explanation, at least an explanation of some kind. [196] But what have we here ? Up comes the governor. "I am supposed to buy corn of you," he says. - Oh, by all means. - "And to pay you 4 sesterces a modius." - Most kind and generous, as I can't get 3 for it. - "But I don't need the corn ; I want cash." - Well, says the farmer, I did hope I was going to handle the denarii ; however, if it must be so, you will note what the current price is. - "Yes, 2 sesterces, I see." - Well, since the Senate has given you 4 sesterces a modius, how much money can be due from me to you ? - How much does he demand, gentlemen ? Note the amount, and note therewith, I beg you, the fair justice of our governor's behaviour. - [197] "The 4 sesterces a modius, which the Senate has assigned me and paid out to me from the treasury, I will keep, and transfer from the national funds to my private purse." - Well, and then what ? - "For every modius of corn that I requisition ** from you, you shall give me 8 sesterces." - What is the meaning of that ? - "Meaning ? meaning ? there is no meaning in this affair ; it is just a matter of profit and plunder." - I really don't follow you, says our farmer. The Senate meant you to give me cash, and me to give you corn. You are going to keep for yourself the cash which the Senate meant you to give me, and then instead of paying me, as you ought, at the rate of 4 sesterces, to take twice as much from me, and describe this act of plunder and robbery as "maintenance" ? [198] It needed but this piece of calamitous injustice, when you were governor of Sicily, to complete the farmers' ruin. What resources could be left to a man forced by this outrage not only to lose all his harvest but to sell all his gear and stock ? And what else could he do? What surplus had he from which to find the money to pay you? He had had taken from him, as a so-called tithe, as much as satisfied the good pleasure of Apronius. For the second tithe, and for the purchased corn, either he had either received nothing, or he had received the little that the other clerks had not appropriated ; or even, as you have learnt from me, he had actually been robbed of still more. [86.] L   And is he, besides all this, to have money extorted from him ? On what system ? with what justification ? with what precedent? When the farmer's harvests were being swept off, and injustice of every kind was tearing his property to shreds, he saw himself losing all the profit that his own plough had brought him, his own hard toil won for him, his own land and crop borne for him. [199] Yet, while suffering these terrible wrongs, he had at least this pitiful consolation, that he saw himself losing what, under some other governor, that same land would enable him to regain. But for a farmer to pay money - a thing he cannot grow, nor his plough or his toil procure him - he must sell his oxen, his very plough, the whole of his gear and stock. You must not argue thus, that this same man has the sum required in cash or in town property. When this or that burden is laid on a farmer, one is not to take account of such other resources as the individual may possess, but to consider the relative capacity of his farm in itself, asking how heavy a load it can and should carry, how large a profit it can and should bring him. In point of fact, even such men as that ** Verres has sucked dry and ruined in every conceivable way : but apart from this, what you have to determine is how great a public burden you expect the farmer, as a farmer, to perform and undergo. You impose tithes on them, and they submit ; additional tithes, and they feel they must serve you in your time of need ; you bid them supply further corn for purchase, and if you wish for it they will supply it. [200] How onerous these demands are - how little, after all these subtractions, can remain untouched for the use of the original growers - you, gentlemen, can I think, guess for yourselves, knowing what you spend on your country estates and how much they yield you. Now reckon in with the rest Verres' orders and regulations and oppressive acts ; reckon in the tyranny and the robberies of Apronius and the temple slaves throughout the tithe-paying areas. Yet with all this I am not now concerned. I am speaking of the maintenance corn only. Would you have the Sicilians supply your officials with maintenance corn gratis? Nothing could be more improper or more unfair: and now let me assure you that, when Verres was governor of Sicily, the farmers might well pray and implore to be treated thus.

[87.] L   You shall hear what Sositheus of Entella has to say - a most sensible man and a man of high rank in his own community, who has been sent as an official deputy to attend this trial, along with two others, both men of standing, Artemo and Meniscus. At a meeting of the senate of Entella, in the course of a long speech, addressed to me, about Verres' oppressive acts, he said this: that if Verres' conduct in connexion with this commutation of maintenance corn should be allowed to pass, the Sicilians would willingly promise our Senate maintenance corn gratis, to prevent future decrees entitling our officials to such vast sums of money. [201] I feel sure that you perceive how greatly this would help the Sicilians, not indeed to secure fair treatment, but to embrace the least of possible evils. For the man who, out of his own share of his harvest, had supplied Verres gratis with a thousand modii of corn for maintenance, would have paid him 2000 sesterces, or 8000 sesterces at most; and as it is, that man has been forced to pay 8000 sestercesinstead of that same quantity of corn. It is certain that no farmer can have managed to make such payments, for three successive years, out of the produce of his harvests: he must have had to sell his gear and stock. And if agriculture can indeed support the imposition of such a tax - if Sicily, in other words, ** can bear this burden - let her bear it for the benefit of Rome, and not of Roman officials. It means a large sum of money, a large addition to our revenues : a splendid addition, if we can acquire it without injuring our province and oppressing our allies. Our officials are to lose nothing ; let as much be supplied for their maintenance as always has been supplied ; what further amount Verres demands let the farmers refuse to supply, if they cannot supply it, and if they can, let it add to the nation's revenues and not to the governor's loot. - [202] And further, why is this commutation system of yours to be applied to corn of one description only, if it be a just and a tolerable system? Sicily has to pay tithes of corn to Rome : why not let her keep the corn and pay us 12 sesterces for every modius of it? You received one sum of money to buy corn for your own maintenance, and another sum to buy corn from the Sicilian communities and send it to Rome. The money received for your own purposes you keep, and you appropriate a very large additional sum that you allege to be due to yourself. Very well. Treat in the same way the corn due to the Roman nation, exact money at the same rate from the communities, pay the proceeds into the Roman treasury - and the Roman treasury will be fuller than it has ever been before. [203] "Yes," you may reply, '' but in connexion with the national corn Sicily could not have borne the strain, whereas in connexion with my own corn she has borne it." Why, is your system of commutation fairer when it profits yourself than when it profits the nation? What I suggest involves a larger sum of money than what you have done involves, but the injustice is of precisely the same kind.

But the truth is that the Sicilians cannot possibly bear the strain even of your own maintenance. Even if all else were conceded them - even if they were delivered henceforth from all the disastrous wrongs they have suffered during your years of office - even so, they tell us, they cannot possibly bear the strain of your maintenance and your commutations. [88.] L   [204] Not long ago, Sosippus of Agrigentum, an eloquent, accomplished and excellent man, is reported to have delivered a speech before our consul Gnaeus Pompeius, wherein, on behalf of Sicily as a whole, he set forth, with impressive fulness of detail, the lamentable distress of the farming class ; and nothing in this speech stirred greater indignation in his hearers, who were present in large numbers, than his remark that a matter in which our Senate had treated the farmers especially well and kindly by fixing a generous and liberal price was made the occasion of plunder for the praetor and ruin for the farmers, and that this was not merely done but done as if it were a lawful and permissible thing to do.

[205] What will Hortensius reply to this? That the charge is false? He will never say that. That the sum of money acquired by this method was a small one? He will not say that either. That the people of Sicily, the farmers of Sicily, have not been wronged ? And how can he possibly say that? What, then, will his reply be? That other men have done the same thing. What can this mean? Is the purpose to rebut the charge against Verres, or is it to secure him companions in his exile? "With public affairs in such disorder - with misconduct so popular, and indeed (owing to the abuses prevalent till to-day in our courts of law) so freely permitted - will you, Hortensius, ** defend against my attacks this behaviour of Verres, not as being within his rights, not as being fair, not as being legal, not on the ground that it was incumbent upon him or permissible for him to act thus, but on the ground that someone has acted thus already ? [206] For that matter, other men have acted ill in many other ways - why confine your present line of defence to this one charge ? - Some of your crimes, Verres, are altogether peculiar to yourself - they could not be alleged against any other man, nor be appropriate to any other man's character; but there are some that you share with many others. To pass over your thefts, and the bribes you accepted to pronounce false legal decisions, ** and the other offences of this kind that others have perhaps committed before you, and to take the crime for which I have so vehemently attacked you, the acceptance of bribes to give unjust verdicts - will you offer the same defence, that others have done the same ? I may find truth in your statement ; I shall deny value to your argument. Rather your condemnation, which will leave the rest less scope for defending their misconduct, than your acquittal, from which others would secure approval of their unscrupulous behaviour.

[89.] L   [207] Because of Roman greed and Roman injustice, all our provinces are mourning, all our free communities are complaining, and even foreign kingdoms are protesting. As far as the bounds of Ocean there is no spot now so distant or so obscure that the wanton and oppressive deeds of Romans have not penetrated thither. Not against the onset of the armies of the world in war, but against its groans and tears and lamentation, can Rome hold out no longer. When such ate the facts, and such the prevailing moral standards, if any prosecuted person, upon his crimes being clearly demonstrated, shall plead that others have done the like, he will not find himself without precedents : but Rome will find herself without hope of escaping doom, if the precedents set by one scoundrel are to secure the acquittal and. impunity of another. [208] Are you satisfied with the prevailing moral standards ? satisfied that our governors shall govern as they do? satisfied that our allies should for the future be treated as you see that in recent years they have been treated? Then why am I wasting my labour here, why do you still sit on, why do you not rise and go while I am still addressing you? Would you, on the other hand, do something to reduce the unscrupulous and unprincipled villainy of such men as that ? Then waver no longer between the advantage of sparing one rascal for the sake of a number of rascals, and that of punishing one rascal and thereby checking the rascality of many others.

[90.] L   [209] Yet what, after all, are these numerous precedents? In so important a trial on so serious a charge, when the advocate for the defence begins to plead that something has "often been done," his hearers expect to be told of precedents drawn from the annals of the past, recorded by the sculptor's chisel and the historian's pen, clothed with all the dignity of bygone days ; for these, it is found, most delight our ears and most convince our judgements. I ask my learned friend - will he tell us of a Scipio, a Cato, a Laelius, and assert that they have done the same? However little I may approve such actions, I cannot hold out against the authority of such men. Or failing these, will he bring forward the men of our own day - the elder Catulus, Marius, Scaevola, Scaurus, Metellus ? all of them men who governed provinces and requisitioned corn for their maintenance. The authority of such men is great indeed - great enough to cover even the suspicion of misconduct. [210] But not even from such men as these of our own day can he produce any authority for commuting corn as Verres did. Whither, then, to what precedents, will he refer me ? Will he pass over the careers of men who lived when moral standards were high, when public opinion was respected, when our law-courts were honestly administered, and refer me to the dissolute and unbridled profligacy of the present day, and seek to defend his client by quoting the examples set by men whom the people of this land regard as deserving exemplary punishment? Not that I refuse to consider even the standards that now prevail among us, provided that we take as our guides precedents that the national conscience approves, and not such as it condemns. For such, I need not look long or far afield. I have before me, as he has, two members of this Court, Publius Servilius and Quintus Catulus, two of the leading men in Rome, who are so highly respected, and distinguished by service so eminent, that they rank with those famous men of the distant past of whom I have already spoken. We are looking for precedents - for modern precedents: so be it. Not long ago, both these men were commanding armies. ** [211] Let my learned friend mark - since modern precedents are to his taste - let him mark what these men did. Incredible! Catulus made use of his corn and required no money. Servilius, who held his command for five years, and had he been a Verres could have amassed a vast sum of money, felt himself debarred from doing anything that he had not seen done by his father or by his famous grandfather Metellus. And shall it be left to Gaius Verres to argue that what is profitable is proper, and to justify by the example of others his doing what none but scoundrels have ever done ?

[91.] L   You will tell me that it has often been done in Sicily. And how does "in Sicily" help your argument? The antiquity, the loyalty, the proximity of Sicily entitle her to special favour : on what grounds do you prescribe for her conditions of special injustice? But take Sicily if you will. [212] Even here I shall not look far afield for a precedent: I can find precedents in this assembly here present. Gaius Marcellus, I appeal to you. As proconsul you governed the province of Sicily : during your term of office, were any sums of money exacted in lieu of maintenance corn? I would not praise you on that account. Praise, and the highest praise, is due to the quite different measures that you devised and executed, thereby restoring vigour and health to that crushed and broken province. But even your predecessor Lepidus had never behaved thus about the maintenance corn. ** What precedents, then, for such behaviour in Sicily can my learned friend put forward, if the conduct not only of Marcellus but even of Lepidus provides him with no answer to the charge I bring? [213] Can he mean to refer me to the way in which the corn was valued, and money exacted instead, by Marcus Antonius? "Yes," he replies, "Marcus Antonius" - I take his nod of assent to mean this. So then, Verres, out of all the praetors, consuls and commanders of Rome it is Marcus Antonius you have chosen as your model - and the worst thing that even Marcus Antonius ever did! And now need I hesitate to assert, or my hearers to agree with me, that during his period of command with unlimited powers Marcus Antonius so conducted himself that it must do Verres far more harm to state that he deliberately copied the worst of Antonius's misdeeds than if he could plead that he had never in his life imitated Antonius ** at all? Men on trial who have to rebut some charge against them are in the habit of putting forward not merely the actions of so-and-so, but such of his actions as have secured approval. Now Antonius, while doing much, and planning to do more, to ruin our allies and damage our provinces, in the midst of his career of greed and injustice died suddenly. Will Hortensius argue as though our Senate, our people, our courts of law had approved all the actions and policy of Antonius, and for that reason quote his example to justify the unscrupulous conduct of Verres?

[92.] L   [214] But Sacerdos, we shall be told, has "done the same." Sacerdos is an upright man, and a man of the utmost discretion. But has he "done the same"? It will only be proper to think so if we find that he has done it for the same reason. With the principle of commutation in itself I have never found fault. Its fairness depends upon the interests and the wishes of the farmers. No fault can be found with any commutation that is not only not injurious to the farmer but actually welcome to him. Now Sacerdos, upon reaching his province, did requisition corn for his maintenance. The price of wheat, before the harvest was reaped, being 5 denarii a modius, the communities asked him to commute the corn for money. The price at which he did so was considerably lower than the price current in the market : he asked only 3 denarii a modius. You see, Verres, that owing to the difference of the seasons the same commutation rate justifies us in praising him and in prosecuting you: it indicates beneficence on his part and oppression on yours. [215] In the same period ** the praetor Antonius commuted at the rate of 3 denarii, after the harvest, when corn was at its cheapest, and when farmers would rather have supplied the corn for nothing. Antonius used to say that he had fixed the same rate as Sacerdos ; nor was this false ; but by fixing this same rate, which was yours also, Sacerdos helped the farmers and Antonius crushed them. And I may observe that, unless the whole question of corn-values had to be regarded in relation to the seasons and the current market-prices, and not simply as a matter of numbers and quantities, those 3 half-modii a head of yours, Hortensius, would never have been so welcome, which you measured out in such sparing proportions and distributed to the people of Rome to the great satisfaction of everyone ; for the high market-price made your gift, which seems a small thing in itself, seem large because of the circumstances. Had you chosen to bestow the same quantity on the people of Rome when corn was cheap, your benefaction would have excited laughter and contempt.

[93.] L   [216] Do you say, then, that Verres has done the same as Sacerdos did, seeing that he did not do it at the same season of the year nor when the current price was the same? Rather you must say - since you now have a suitable precedent to quote - that what Antonius did in respect of a single visit and rations for barely a month, this Verres did for a period of three years: the conduct of Antonius is the precedent by means of which you must justify the conduct of your client. You certainly cannot appeal to that of the excellent and upright Sextus Peducaeus, against whom no farmer ever brought any complaint, and who is universally regarded as the most upright and conscientious governor yet known. He governed the province for two years, ** in one of which corn was cheap, in the other very dear : and no farmer ever paid him one penny when it was cheap, nor complained of the rate of his com mutation when it was dear. You may reply that when it was dear, he did very well out of his rations. ** Very likely ; but there is nothing new or objectionable in that. [217] Gaius Sentius is a man notable for integrity of the old traditional type : and only the other day we heard of his returning from Macedonia with a quite large sum of money which the high prices there had enabled him to make out of his rations. And therefore, Verres, I do not grudge you any profits that have accrued to you legally. But I complain of your acts of injustice ; I attack your immoral conduct ; I denounce you, and prosecute you, for your rapacity.

And if you and your friends would incite us to believe that the present charge is applicable to many of our provinces and many of the men who govern them, I will not shrink from facing your line of defence ; I will, on the contrary, proclaim myself the defender of all the provinces. This I say, and say loudly : Wheresoever this thing has been done, it has been ill done; and whosoever has done it merits punishment. - [94.] L   [218] By the immortal gods, gentlemen, look to the future and foresee what must come to pass. There are many men who, like Verres, have amassed large sums, wrung from reluctant communities and reluctant farmers, nominally as maintenance allowances. (I am not in fact aware of any such person at all, other than Verres : but I will concede the point to my opponents - let us suppose there are many such.) In the person of Verres, this conduct is now brought up for judgement before you. What then can you do? You are the members of a court to try cases of extortion : can you ignore extortion on such a scale as this? The extortion law was passed to help our allies : can you shut your ears to our allies' remonstrances ? [219] But even such arguments I will not press against my opponents. Ignore the past, gentlemen, if you will: but see to it that you do not extinguish hope for the future, and bring ruin to all our provinces. Until now, rapacity has been wont to make use of narrow and hidden paths : see that your authority does not enable it to travel henceforth by the broad and open highway. For if you mean to approve this action, to pronounce lawful the extortion of money under this pretext, then certainly this thing, which till now only a thorough scoundrel has done, henceforward only a thorough fool will fail to do : they are scoundrels who extort money illegally, but they are fools who refuse to do what has been declared legal. [220] And note also, gentlemen, how limitless are the opportunities for such robberies that you will be providing. Acquit the man who has extorted three denarii a modius, and another will extort four - five - nay, ten or even twenty. What ground will there be for prosecuting ? at what degree of injustice will the judge's conscience begin to rebel? what is the minimum number of denarii per modius to be held impermissible, on reaching which the rate of commutation is to be attacked as unjust and criminal? For it is not the rate but the principle of such commutation that you will have endorsed ; you will not be able to pronounce it lawful to exact three denarii but not to exact ten. As soon as the market-price and the farmers' wishes are disregarded, and it comes to be a matter of what the governor likes, the possible limit to the rate of commutation is fixed neither by law nor by moral principle, but by the rapacious inclinations of the individual man. [95.] L   And therefore you must understand that, once you, in pronouncing your verdict on Verres, have overstepped the barrier of justice and legality, you have left no barrier to restrain any other man, in fixing his rate of commutation, from the most criminal rapacity.

[221] Observe, then, how many things are contained in this demand now made of you. You are to acquit a man who confesses that he has, with the grossest injustice, extorted from our allies huge sums of money. That is not enough. There are several others who have done the same ; acquit any such persons likewise, so that a single verdict may absolve as many rascals as possible. Even that is not enough: you are to ensure that everyone else in future will be able to do the same thing. Ensure it you will; but this is still not all. Allow everyone permission to fix as high a rate of commutation as he likes. Behold, it is done; henceforth only exceptional fools will fix the lowest rate. Assuredly, gentlemen, you now see that, if you endorse this action of Verres, greed will be everywhere unchecked henceforth, and wickedness everywhere unpunished. - [222] Take care, then, Hortensius. You are consul-elect ; you will soon be drawing lots for your province. When you address this Court about this commutation of corn, shall we understand you to be announcing your intention of doing what you maintain Verres was entitled to do? to be intensely eager to find lawful for yourself what you tell us was lawful for him ? - Now, gentlemen, if that is to be lawful, you have no reason to think that anyone will hereafter deliberately run the risk of being found guilty of extortion. Whatever sum of money a given man has set his heart upon getting, he will be able to secure it lawfully, under the title of "maintenance," by fixing a high enough rate of commutation.

[96.] L   [223] There is indeed one consideration which Hortensius will not openly include in his arguments for the defence, but which he will, in what he does say, imply and suggest to you plainly enough : to wit, that this matter affects the interests of senators, that it affects the future advantage of those members of this Court who expect some day to find themselves in the provinces as magistrates or assistant magistrates. My learned friend has a high opinion indeed of the members of this Court, if he thinks them likely to make allowances for the wrong deeds of others in order to get readier permission to do wrong themselves. Is this, then, what we would have believed by the people of Rome, by our provinces, by our allies and by foreign nations - that here, at least, is one way of extorting with gross injustice an unlimited sum of money without any possible risk of prosecution? If that is true, what reply can we make to the charges of the praetor who occupies his place of vantage ** day after day, maintaining that political stability is unattainable unless the courts are handed back to the equestrian order? [224] Why, if he proceeds to urge this one argument, that there is a senatorial method of extorting money that is common to the whole order and by now all but its admitted right ; that by this method our allies are with gross injustice being robbed of vast sums ; that the offenders run no risk of prosecution in courts composed of senators, and that when the courts were manned by the equestrian order such offences were never committed : who will oppose him ? who will be so much devoted to you, so strong a supporter of your order. as to be able to object to the transference of the courts ?

[97.] L   I wish, indeed, that Verres could seek to meet this charge with some plea that however unfounded was at least civilised and customary. You would be sitting to try this case with less danger both to yourselves and to all our provinces. If he had been denying that he exacted that money as he did, and if you had believed him, people would feel that you had believed the man, not approved the action. But he cannot possibly deny it ; all Sicily is pressing the charge ; there is not one of all its many farmers from whom "maintenance" money has not been wrung. [225] And I wish he could say even this, that the whole business was no concern of his, since his quaestors had managed everything to do with corn. But even this he is debarred from saying, because we have been hearing read aloud his own letter written to the communities demanding the 3 denarii a modius. What then is his plea? "I have done what you attack me for doing ; I have amassed great sums as maintenance money : but it was permissible for me to do so, and - if you will look ahead - it will be permissible for you." Gentlemen, it is a dangerous thing for our provinces that your verdict should establish the principle of this injustice ; and it will be fatal for our order if the nation should believe that men who may themselves incur the penalties of the law are incapable of conscientiously upholding the law when they sit as judges in our courts.

And further, gentlemen, when Verres was governor, not only was there no limit to the rate of commutation, but there was none to the amount of corn demanded: it was not the amount due to him that he demanded, but the amount that suited his inclinations. I will put before you, on the authority of the official records and official evidence of the communities, the total amount of the corn demanded for maintenance ; and you will find it five times as much as he was legally entitled to demand from the communities for that purpose. The man both fixed an intolerably high rate for commutation, and at the same time demanded an amount of corn immensely in excess of what the law allowed him. Can shameless impudence go further ?

[226] And now that the full story of the farmers and their corn has been put before you, gentlemen, you may very easily perceive that the fertile and valuable province of Sicily is lost to the Roman nation, unless you are ready to recover it by finding Verres guilty. For what is Sicily, if you take away its agriculture, if you blot out the farming population and the farming profession ? And what further disaster can there be in store that has not already descended on those unhappy farmers under the governorship of Verres, accompanied by the extremest forms of injustice and insolence ? They were bound to pay tithes, and hardly a tithe has been left them for their own use. The money due to them has not been paid. The Senate intended them to receive a liberal rate of payment for corn supplied for the governor's maintenance, and they have been forced to sell even their tools and stock.

[98.] L   [227] I have remarked already, gentlemen, that apart from all such inflictions as these, the reasons for being a farmer at all are the possibility of success and the pleasantness of the life rather than the profits actually earned. Year by year so much labour and so much money is definitely expended for an indefinite and variable result. Further, the market-price is never high unless the harvest is a failure ; when an abundant crop has been gathered in, a low selling price is the consequence ; so you find that in a good year you have to sell cheap, and if you can sell for a good price you have had a bad harvest. And farming is throughout a thing whose profits depend not on intelligence and industry but on those most uncertain things, wind and weather. Since from those profits one tithe is deducted by law and ancient custom, and by recent legislation another tithe is exacted because of the scarcity of corn, and every year a further amount of corn must be sold to the government, and lastly, still more is demanded for the maintenance of our magistrates and their legates, how much power is left to the farmer and owner to dispose freely of his own crop, and how much of the crop itself is left free for him to dispose of? ** [228] And if they endure all these exactions - if their toil and expense and labour serve you and your country better than them and their own advantage - must they also endure these unheard-of edicts and demands issued by our governors, the tyranny of men like Apronius, the thefts and robberies of temple slaves ? instead of selling their corn, must they supply it for nothing ? even when they are eager to supply maintenance corn for nothing, must they pay a vast sum of money as well? and must they even submit to having all these forms of damage and loss accompanied by the most unjust and insulting treatment ?

Well, gentlemen, to this utterly unendurable state of affairs they have not submitted. You are informed that throughout Sicily all the farm land has been deserted and abandoned by its owners; and the supreme issue of this trial is simply this - Will you, conscientiously and earnestly following my lead and guidance, enable the Sicilians, our oldest and most loyal allies, the Roman nation's own cultivators and farmers, to come back once more to their fields and homes ?

Part 4



FOOTNOTES


89.(↑)   i.e., before you are satisfied that any further defence of Verres is impossible.

90.(↑)   And therefore officially passed as of good quality.

91.(↑)   The exaction must have been defended as a loan of ready money wherewith to buy good corn elsewhere—a loan to be repaid later from the public money when it was convenient. Had it in fact been repaid, Halaesa would not have had very much to complain of except the loss of the higher price (21 sesterces) for its corn.

92.(↑)   And therefore the average price paid was less, and Verres took too much even for his ostensible purpose.

93.(↑)   See § 163.

94.(↑)   To send to Rome, as the law required, and as Verres, according to Cicero, did by drawing on his private stocks. The 'mancipes' seem to be trading firms who would carry through the purchase of the corn on Verres' behalf and its transport to Rome on behalf of the cities.

95.(↑)   i.e, his signature; and so in the following clauses.

96.(↑)   His profits enabled him to reach the standard, and wear the badge, of the equestrian census. His ring would have a seal and be used to seal his signature to the document recording the transaction.

97.(↑)   The affair of Book i. § 34-37.

98.(↑)   From Malleolus; see Book i. § 90.

99.(↑)   See Book i. § 95-98.

100.(↑)   See Book ii. § 141-168.

101.(↑)   I.e., for costs really incurred or real work performed.

102.(↑)   It was probably used for a "sealing fee" customary in private contracts.

103.(↑)   'Nam' : i.e, I may well ask that question about "wax-money," for it migbt appear quite out of place when we come to the third kind of deduction.

104.  * When he was quaestor (in western Sicily) to Peducaeus (75 B.C.).

105.(↑)   Rich habitués's of the theatre would pay the claqueurs to applaud or hiss particular actors, who had to spend part of their pay or their presents in securing these persons' favour.

106.(↑)   Lit. "a section" of the whole body, in which the new member would pay a large entrance-fee to be enrolled.

107.(↑)   There is play made with the literal sense of 'ordo', "row (of seats in the theatre)." I follow Long in supposing 'explosorum' to be the genitive plural of 'explosor' (though the word is not found elsewhere) and not that of 'explosus' : see note above.

108.(↑)   Grandson of Cato the censor : consul in 114: thereafter governor in Macedonia, for extortion in which province he was prosecuted with the result stated.

109.(↑)   These were essentially military decorations: hence the tone of what follows.

110.(↑)   The words 'male gestarum' are thought to be interpolated.

111.(↑)   By being able to maintain his equestrian 'census'.

112.(↑)   The maximum amount was fixed (see § 225); it was more than was likely to be needed, as appears later.

113.(↑)   A liberal price for the wheat, and no doubt for the barley too ; the intention would be to compensate the farmer or town for having to supply the corn at short notice or at a remote place.

114.(↑)   Either he reckoned 2 modii of barley as 1 of wheat, which would be strictly honest, or else (by an abuse which, since Cicero says no more of it, must have been recognised) he reckoned each modius of barley as a modius of wheat. The calculation was, in any case, merely the first step in stating the amount of money claimed instead of corn of any kind.

115.(↑)   4 sestertii = 1 denarius.

116.(↑)   That is, formally, as a prelude to demanding the cash.

117.(↑)   Even such men as have - or had - other resources than their farming profits.

118.(↑)   It is implied that the whole wealth of Sicily depends on her agriculture.

119.(↑)   'Tu' may refer to Verres, not Hortensius.

120.(↑)   'Ius dicere' is to interpret the law in a particular way: 'rem iudicare' is to find for or against one party or the other, as the result of a trial, on the point of fact.

121.(↑)   Catulus as consul in 78, against his colleague Lepidus: Servilius as consul and proconsul in Asia Minor 79-75.

122.(↑)   For the misgovernment of Sicily by Lepidus in 80 (or 81?) B.C., and the good work of his successor Marcellus, see II. ii. 3 § 8 .

123.(↑)   For Antonius see Divinatio 17 § 55 . ***

124.(↑)   78 B.C, the year of Sacerdos's governorship and Antonius's special commission.

125.(↑)   76-75 B.C.

126.(↑)   By selling the surplus at the high rate then current.

127.(↑)   'Templum', doubtless the Rostra in the Forum, a regular place for speeches to the people, which was also a 'templum' or place set apart for observation of auguries or taking auspices. There seems to be a suggestion that Cotta was not only trying to make people support the new measure, but keeping his eyes open to see how opinion was moving.

128.(↑)   The text ('quid aut quantum . . . solutum ?') is obscure as it stands and possibly corrupt. The above rendering seems to come near the general sense.


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