Cicero : In Verrem 2.4

Sections 106-151

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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[48.] L   [106] It is an ancient belief, gentlemen, established by the oldest Greek books and inscriptions, that the island of Sicily as a whole is sacred to Ceres and Libera. This belief is held by other peoples as well ; and the Sicilians themselves are so sure of it that it seems implanted in their minds by nature herself. They hold that these goddesses were born in Sicily : that corn was first brought to light in Sicilian soil ; and that Libera, whom they also call Proserpina, was carried off from a wood near Henna, a place which, lying in the midst of the island, is known as the navel of Sicily. Ceres, the tale goes, in her eager search for traces of her lost daughter, lighted her torches at the fires that burst forth from the peak of Aetna, and roamed over all the earth carrying these in her hands. [107] Henna, the traditional scene of the event I speak of, is built on a lofty eminence, the top of which is a table-land, watered by perennial springs, and bounded in every direction by precipitous cliffs, round which are numerous lakes and copses, and flowers in profusion at all seasons : one feels that the landscape of itself confirms the story, familiar to us from childhood, of how the maiden was carried off. There is indeed in the neighbourhood, facing north, a bottomless cave, from which, we are told, Father___Dis suddenly issued in his chariot ; he seized the maiden, carried her away thence with him, and suddenly, not far from Syracuse, plunged underground; at this latter place, all in a moment, a lake appeared, near which the Syracusans to this very day hold an annual festival that is attended by crowds of men and women. [49.] L   The antiquity of this belief that finds in these spots the footprints, one might almost say the cradle, of those divine persons, has engendered throughout Sicily, in individuals and communities, a devotion to Ceres of Henna that is quite astonishing. And indeed, numerous portents give continual testimony to her power and presence; numerous persons in distressing circumstances have continually been vouchsafed her prompt succour ; so that men think of her not only as caring for the island but as dwelling in it and guarding it in person. [108] Nor is it the Sicilians only, but other races and peoples too, that have this deep reverence for Ceres of Henna. And if men are eager to take part in the sacred rites ** of the Athenians, whom Ceres is said to have visited in the course of her wanderings, bringing them the gift of corn, think how great her sanctity must be in the eyes of the people among whom she was born and devised that gift originally. We can thus understand what befell in our fathers' days. In the consulship ** of Publius Mucius and Lucius Calpurnius a terrible political crisis had arisen: Tiberius Gracchus had been slain, and prodigies indicated that fearful dangers were threatening us. The Sibylline Books were consulted ; and from them it was discovered that "the most ancient Ceres" must be placated. Thereupon, although there was a splendid and beautiful temple of Ceres here in our own city, yet priests of the Roman state, members of the distinguished body of decemvirs, ** left Rome to go all the way to Henna: so ancient, so awe-inspiring was that cult, that they were felt, in going thither, to be making their way not to a temple of Ceres but to the presence of Ceres herself.

[109] I will weary you no further with this description ; for some time I have had an uneasy feeling that you may think it unsuited to a court of law and to the style in which advocates are accustomed to plead. My charge is this: That this very Ceres, the most ancient and sacred of all, the fountain-head of all the cults of the goddess among all nations and peoples, was stolen by Gaius Verres from her own temple and her own home. Those of you who have visited Henna have seen the marble image of Ceres, and that of Libera in the other shrine. These are works of great size and notable beauty, but not so very old. But there was a bronze one, of moderate size and unique workmanship, in which the torches were shown ; this was very old - far the oldest, indeed, of all the treasures in this sanctuary. This Verres stole - and was not satisfied even with taking this. [110] In a wide open space before the shrine of Ceres there are two statues, one of Ceres and the other of Triptolemus, ** both of great size, and very beautiful. Their beauty endangered them, but their size saved them ; their demolition and removal seemed likely to be extremely difficult. But in the right hand of the Ceres there stood a large and exquisite statuette of Victory ; and this Verres caused to be wrenched away from the statue of Ceres and carried off.

[50.] L   And now I ask, what feelings must be aroused in this man by the recollection of his impious deeds, when I myself, who do but tell of them, am not only perturbed in spirit, but feel my very body shake and tremble? I think of that sanctuary, that sacred spot, that solemn worship : before my eyes rises the picture of the day when I visited Henna, my reception by the priests of Ceres wearing their fillets and carrying their sacred boughs, ** my address to the assembled townsfolk, in which my words were heard amid such groans and weeping as showed the whole town to be a prey to the bitterest distress. [111] It was not the cruel exaction of tithes, not the plundering of their goods, not the injustice of the courts, not this man's acts of savage lust, not his violence and his insolent outrages, of which these crushed and tormented folk now complained : it was the sin against the holiness of Ceres, against her ancient worship and venerated sanctuary, that they would see atoned for by the punishment of this utterly unscrupulous and wicked man : all else, they said, they were ready to endure without resentment. So extreme was their distress that one might fancy that the king of the shades had come to Henna once more, and not abducted Proserpina but carried Ceres herself away. For indeed the town of Henna is thought of as no mere town, but as Ceres' sanctuary: its people believe that Ceres dwells in their midst, and I therefore think of them not as the citizens of a city, but all of them as the priests, all of them as the servants and ministers of Ceres. - [112] And it was from Henna that you dared to remove the image of Ceres? at Henna that you went about to pluck Victory from Ceres' hand, robbing one goddess of another goddess? And this although men whose every tendency was to impiety rather than religion shrank from desecrating, nay, from touching, these holy things. In the consulship of Publius Popilius and Publius Rupilius, ** the place was in the hands of slaves - deserters, savages, public enemies. Yet they were less the slaves of their masters than you the slave of your lusts ; less deserters from their masters than you from what is just and legal; less savages by birth and speech than you by disposition and character; less the enemies of mankind than you of the gods in heaven. - What plea for mercy, then, is left for a man, more degraded than a slave, more reckless than a deserter, more impious than a savage, more cruel than an enemy in war?

[51.] L   [113] Gentlemen, you have heard the statement of Theodorus, Numenius and Nicasio, the representatives of Henna, about the instructions officially given them by their fellow-citizens. They were to approach Verres and request him to restore the images of Ceres and Victory. If successful, then they were to abide by the traditional practice of the people of Henna : devastator of Sicily though Verres was, yet none the less, in accordance with the custom inherited from their forefathers, they were to give no official evidence against him, But if he would not restore the images, then they were to appear at his trial, and to inform the Court of the injuries he had done them, putting his sacrilege in the forefront of their tale of wrong. And for God's sake I beseech you not to treat this tale of wrong with contempt, not to account it a petty and negligible thing. The rights of our wronged allies, the authority of our laws, the reputation and honour of our courts, are here at stake ; and these are all very great matters. But greater than all these is this, that the whole province is in the grasp of such religious terror, the minds of the whole population of Sicily are the prey of so fearful a panic, in consequence of this deed of Verres, that every public or private misfortune that befalls them is believed to come about as the result of his crime against heaven. [114] You have listened to the official witnesses from Centuripa, Agyrium, Catina, Aetna, Herbita, and not a few other places, telling how the countryside is a lonely wilderness, how the farmers have fled from their farms, how the whole land has become a neglected and abandoned desert. Though this is the result of many and various wrongs done them by Verres, yet in the belief of these Sicilians the sacrilege committed against Ceres is the chief reason why all the crops and fruits of Ceres in that part of the world have come to nothing. Gentlemen, do you give back to our allies their religious peace of mind - and do you preserve your own ; for indeed you have not here a religious faith that is foreign and alien to yourselves ; though if it were so, and if you were unwilling to make yourselves responsible for it, you ought none the less to be ready to uphold it by punishing the man who has outraged it. [115] But seeing that in fact it is a faith shared by all peoples alike, and its rites, performed by our forefathers, were introduced and adopted by them from abroad - rites which they decreed should be called "Greek," as indeed they were : how then can we, if we would, treat them with careless indifference ? [52.] L   There is still one city, Syracuse, the richest and fairest of all, the tale of whose plundering I will bring forward and relate to you, and thus round off and complete at last all this portion of my speech. There can hardly be any among you who has not often heard, and on occasion read in the history books, how Syracuse was captured by Marcus Marcellus. Compare, then, this time of peace with that time of war ; the visits of this Roman governor with the victory of that Roman general; this man's filthy retinue with that man's invincible army ; this man's self-indulgence with that man's self-control: and you will say that Syracuse was founded by the man who captured it, captured by the man who took it over a well-ordered community. [116] For the moment I say nothing of matters with which I shall deal, or have dealt, separately in many parts of my speech : of how the market-place of Syracuse, saved from the stain of bloodshed when Marcellus entered the city as conqueror, ran red with the blood of innocent Sicilians when Verres arrived there as governor: of how the harbour of Syracuse, closed in those days against the fleets of both Rome and Carthage, was free and open, when Verres was governor, to a Cilician galley and its pirate crew. I say nothing of the rape of free-born persons and the forcing of married women, outrages not committed in these days when the city was taken, however much the passions of war-time, military licence, the custom of war and the right of the conqueror might provoke them. I say nothing, I repeat, of all these performances of Verres during those three years: let me tell you of such as are akin to those of which I have been speaking already.

[117] You will often have been told that Syracuse is the largest of Greek cities and the loveliest of all cities. Gentlemen, what you have been told is true. Its position is not only a strong one, but beautiful to behold in whatever direction it is approached, by land or sea. Its harbours are almost enfolded in the embrace of the city buildings, their entrances far apart, but their heads approaching till they meet each other. At their meeting-place, that part of the town which is called the Island, being cut off from the rest by a narrow strip of sea, is re-united with it by a connecting bridge. [53.] L   [118] So large is the city that it is described as being four great cities joined together. One of these is the Island already mentioned, girdled by the two harbours, and extending to their two mouths or entrances. In this quarter is the house, once King Hiero's, which our governors regularly occupy. Here also are a number of temples, two much finer than the rest ; namely, that of Diana, and the other one that of Minerva, a place rich in treasures in the days before Verres arrived there. At one extremity of this island is the spring of fresh water called Arethusa ; an incredibly large spring, teeming with fish, and so placed that it would be swamped by the sea waves but for the protection of a massive stone wall. [119] Then there is a second town in the city, called Achradina: this contains a broad market-place, some fine colonnades, a richly-adorned town-hall, a spacious senate-house, and the noble temple of Olympian Jupiter, besides the rest of the town, which is filled with private houses, and divided by one broad continuous street crossed by a number of others. "There is a third town, called Tycha from the ancient temple of Fortune that once stood there : this contains a spacious gymnasium and several temples, and is also a crowded and thickly inhabited part of the city. And there is a fourth town, which being the most recently built is called Neapolis : on the highest point of this stands the great theatre ; besides which there are two splendid temples, one of Ceres and the other of Libera, and a large and beautiful statue of Apollo Temenites - which if Verres had been able to transport he would not have hesitated to carry off.

[54.] L   [120] I will now return to Marcellus, and you will see the reason for my telling you all this. Having with the help of his army attacked and captured this magnificent city, he took the view that it would not tend to the credit of Rome that he should blot out and destroy all this beauty, the more so as it threatened us with no danger. He therefore spared all its buildings, public and private, sacred and secular, as completely as if he had come with his army to defend it, instead of to assault it. In dealing with the city's treasures he did not forget either that he was a conqueror or that he was a humane man. As a conqueror, he thought it proper to remove to Rome many objects that might fitly adorn our city: as a humane man, not to strip the place completely bare, especially as he had resolved to prevent its destruction. [121] The result of his division of its treasures was that his humanity preserved at least as much for Syracuse as his conquest secured for Rome. All that was brought to Rome is to be seen near the temple of Honour and Virtue or elsewhere. He set up nothing in his mansion, in his garden, in his country-house near Rome ; he felt that if he refrained from putting the city's adornments into his own home, his home would thereby become one of the city's adornments. And he left Syracuse a great number of very beautiful things, not profaning or so much as touching a single one of its gods. Compare him with Verres. I do not mean that you are to wrong our great hero's memory by comparing the two men personally : but note the difference between peace-time and war-time, the reign of law and the reign of force, the civil procedure of the courts and the sword drawn in battle, the visits of a governor with his suite and the victory of a general with his army.

[55.] L   [122] On the Island stands the temple of Minerva that I have already mentioned. This temple, which Marcellus did not touch, which he left full of precious things, has been so thoroughly stripped and plundered by Verres that it looks as if it had been ravaged not by an enemy in war-time, who would after all have kept some respect for religion and for established custom, but by a set of piratical savages. The inner walls of the temple were covered with a set of pictures representing a cavalry engagement of king Agathocles ** ; these paintings were especially famous, and nothing at Syracuse was considered better worth going to see. Marcellus, though his victory entitled him to treat everything as unconsecrated, was stayed by religious scruples from laying hands on these paintings: Verres, though he found them transformed into sacred and holy things by the long continuance of peace and the loyalty of the Syracusan people, carried off every one of them, and left bare and unsightly the walls whose decorations had lasted for so many centuries and escaped from so many wars. [123] Marcellus, the man who had vowed to dedicate two temples at Rome if he captured Syracuse, shrank from adorning the building he was to erect with the treasures he had already captured: Verres, whose vows were due, not like those of Marcellus to Honour and Virtue, but to Venus and Cupid, none the less proceeded to despoil this temple of Minerva. Marcellus would not have one god robbed even to enrich another: Verres transferred the treasures of the pure virgin Minerva to a house presided over by harlots. He removed from the same temple twenty-seven other beautiful pictures, including portraits of the kings and tyrants of Sicily, the attractiveness of which lay not merely in their artistic merit, but also in the instructive record they provided of these men's personal appearance. Observe how much more hateful a tyrant of Syracuse this man was than any of his predecessors: they did, after all, adorn the temples of the gods, while this one removed even the memorials and adornments that they had given.

[56.] L   [124] And now I come to speak of the doors of this temple. Those who never saw them may, I fear, suspect me of unduly colouring and exaggerating all my facts : yet no one ought to suppose that my eagerness should make me willing that all those distinguished persons - especial such as are members of this Court - who have been at Syracuse, and have seen these doors, should be able to detect me in making reckless and untruthful statements. I can assert with a clear conscience, gentlemen, that more splendid doors, doors more exquisitely wrought in ivory and gold, have never existed in any temple at all. You can hardly believe how many Greek writers have left us descriptions of the beauty of these doors. Perhaps they admire and extol such things unduly; well, granted that they do, still, it is more creditable to our country that what they think beautiful should have been left in their keeping by the commander of our army in war-time than that it should be taken from them by our governor in time of peace. Upon those doors were various scenes carved in ivory with the utmost care and perfection : Verres had all these removed. He wrenched off, and took away, a lovely Gorgon's face encircled with serpents. With all this, he showed that it was not only the artistic quality of these objects but their cash value that attracted him ; for there were a number of massive golden knobs on these doors, all of which he carried off without hesitation ; and it was not the workmanship but the weight of these that appealed to him. And thus he left those doors in such a state that, instead of serving as before chiefly to adorn the temple, they now seemed to have been made only to shut it up. [125] Even those reed spears (I noticed, gentlemen, that you were much interested by the evidence of a witness on this point), things without any art or any beauty, or anything but their incredible size - which it is quite enough merely to hear of, and more than enough to see more than once - did your greed, Verres, extend even to this ?

[57.] L   [126] Your theft of the Sappho in the town-hall, of course, may very reasonably be defended: it almost seems an action that deserves to be allowed and overlooked. To this choice and highly-finished masterpiece of Silanion ** what individual, what nation, even, could have a better claim than so accomplished a connoisseur as Verres? Obviously, no objection can be raised to this. As for ourselves, who are not such grand people as he is, nor able to afford such luxuries, if any of us is ever disposed to have a look at something of this sort, let us go off to the temple of , or to that which Catulus built, ** or to the Colonnade of Metellus ** ; or let us apply for admission into the Tusculan country-house of one of the Verres set ; or let us go and look at the forum when it is decorated with what the fellow has lent the aediles from his collection: Verres is the man to own such things, Verres is to have his town house teeming and his country-houses crammed with the treasures of cities and of temples. How much longer, gentlemen, do you mean to tolerate this hod-carrier's voluptuous tastes? a man whose birth, whose education, whose mental and physical qualities suggest that he is much better fitted to carry statues than to carry them off. [127] Words can hardly convey the bitter sense of loss that the theft of this Sappho left behind it. Itself an exceptionally fine work of art, it had a notable Greek inscription cut on its pedestal, which this learned exponent of Greek culture, with his delicate critical sense and unique appreciation of these matters, would certainly have removed along with the statue, if he had understood one word of Greek. As it is, the words written on the unoccupied pedestal tell us what once stood there, and inform us that it has been taken away. -

Next, you cannot deny having taken a fine piece of sculpture from the temple of Aesculapius, a consecrated and much revered statue of Paean, ** universally visited for its beauty and worshipped for its sanctity. [128] Was not an image of Aristaeus, moreover, openly removed by your orders from the temple of Liber ** ? And did you not carry away from the temple of Jupiter the beautiful and deeply reverenced image of Jupiter Imperator, called Urios ** by the Greeks? And did you hesitate to remove from the temple of Libera that lovely head of . . . ** which we used to go there to see? Yet the Paean was worshipped by the Syracusans with annual sacrifices, together with Aesculapius ; and the Aristaeus - he is said to have discovered the olive ** - they had dedicated along with Liber his father, and in the same temple. [58.] L   [129] As for the Jupiter Imperator, consider how profoundly it must have been honoured in the god's own temple: you may judge of this if you will remember what intense reverence was felt for the statue, of similar shape and design, that was captured in Macedonia and placed in the Capitol by Titus Flamininus. It used to be said that there were three splendid statues of Jupiter Imperator, all of this one type, to be found in the world ; the first this one from Macedonia which we now see in the Capitol, the second by the narrow strait that opens into the Pontus, and the third this one that was at Syracuse in the days before Verres was governor. The first one Flamininus took away from its temple ; but only to place it in the Capitol, Jupiter's earthly dwelling-place. [130] The second one, that stands at the mouth of the Pontus, has been kept safely there to this day, free from damage or profanation, despite all the waves of war that have rolled through the straits, out of that sea or into it again. This third one, which was at Syracuse, which Marcus Marcellus, with his sword still in his conquering hand, beheld and piously refrained from taking, which was worshipped by the citizens and other inhabitants of Syracuse, and not only visited but venerated by travellers who came there - this one Verres took from the temple of Jupiter, and carried it away. [131] If I may refer once more to Marcellus, gentlemen, you may take it that the Syracusans have had to mourn the loss of more gods through the visits of Verres than of men through the victory of Marcellus. Indeed, Marcellus is even said to have searched for that brilliant and learned man Archimedes, and to have been deeply distressed when told that he had been killed ; whereas everything for which Verres searched he searched for not to keep it safe but to carry it off.

[59.] L   Certain misdeeds that will be held less serious I will pass over for that reason, such as his making off with Delphic tables of marble, fine bronze bowls, and a great quantity of Corinthian ware, from all the sacred edifices of Syracuse. [132] The result of all this, gentlemen, is that the persons known as ''mystagogues," who act as guides to visitors and show them the various things worth seeing, have had to reverse the form of their explanations. Formerly, they showed you everywhere what things were ; now, they explain everywhere what has been taken away.

Well now, gentlemen, do you suppose that all this has caused comparatively slight distress ? Far from it. In the first place, they are all religious people and believe it their duty to worship diligently, and to hold in safe keeping, the ancestral gods ** they inherited from their forefathers. And further, this decorative stuff, these artistic productions, statues and pictures and so on, afford all Greek persons only too much pleasure : so that when we hear their tale of distress we can see why they feel acutely miserable at what we, perhaps, feel to be negligible trifles. Believe me, gentlemen - though I am quite sure that you have yourselves heard what I am telling you - : in spite of all the disasters that in recent years have befallen both our allies and foreign peoples, and all the wrongs that they have suffered, nothing is causing, or has caused, more distress to the Greek part of them than such plunderings of temples and towns as I now speak of. [133] Verres may say, as he usually does say, that he bought everything ; but believe me, gentlemen, when I tell you that no community anywhere in Asia or in Greece has of its own free will sold any statue, or any picture, or any civic work of art whatever to anyone on any occasion. You will hardly suppose that since the law-courts of Rome ceased to administer strict justice these Greeks have begun to offer for sale the objects that - when courts of justice did exist - they not only would not offer for sale but would buy in great numbers : nor will you suppose that whereas no opportunities of buying such things from Greek owners were offered to persons so powerful as Lucius Crassus and Quintus Scaevola and Gaius Claudius, whose aedileships were marked by shows as brilliant as any that we have seen, such opportunities have been offered to those who have become aediles since our law-courts went to pieces.

[60.] L   [134] I would have you know that these falsely alleged purchases are even more distressing to the various communities than any secret theft or open seizure and removal. They account it the height of disgrace to have it set down in their public records that their community was induced by the offer of money, and of a small sum of money at that, to sell and alienate its ancestral heirlooms. It is indeed quite astonishing what delight a Greek will take in these things of which a Roman thinks so little. Because of this, our forefathers were ready to let them keep as many of such things as possible : to let our allies keep them, so that they might enjoy the utmost splendour and prosperity as members of our empire ; and even to leave them in the hands of those whom we made our subjects and tributaries, so that they, since they enjoy so much these things for which we care so little, might have them to cheer and console them in their state of subjection. [135] What sum of money do you imagine the people of Regium, now Roman citizens, would demand before parting with their famous marble Venus ? or the Tarentines, before losing their Europa on the Bull, the Satyr in their temple of Vesta, and their other treasures ? or the Thespians for the statue of Cupid that is their town's only attraction for visitors? or the people of Cnidus for their marble Venus, or those of Cos for their painted one ? or the Ephesians for their Alexander, or the Cyzicenes for their Ajax or their Medea, or the Rhodians for their Ialysus? or the Athenians for their marble Iacchus, their picture of Paralus, or their bronze heifer by Myron ? It would be tedious, and needless, to mention all the noteworthy sights to be found in the several towns of Greece and Asia: my purpose in mentioning these few is to convince you that an extraordinary degree of pain has been caused to those whose towns have been robbed of such treasures.

[61.] L   [136] To pass over other places, let me describe to you the feeling at Syracuse itself. At first, on my arrival there, I was under the impression, gathered from what I had been told at Rome by Verres' friends, that Syracuse was quite as friendly to him, because of the legacy of Heraclius, ** as Messana was because of its partnership in all his thefts and robberies ; and at the same time I was afraid that, if I sought to collect information from the Syracusan records, I should be opposed by his popularity with the women of rank and beauty whose wishes had been his law during his three years of office, and by the undue toleration, nay, by the warm support, accorded him by these ladies' legal husbands. [137] It was therefore the Roman citizens at Syracuse with whom I was spending my time there, whose accounts I was examining, and into whose wrongs I was inquiring. After being engaged for a long while in this trouble some business, I felt the need of rest and mental relaxation: so I went back to those precious accounts of Carpinatius, ** and it was then that, with the help of certain knights of the highest standing in the Roman community, I solved the problem of the man's "Verrucius" entries about which I have told you already. I was looking for no help at all either from the city of Syracuse or from its individual citizens, and had no intention of asking for it.

While thus occupied, I received an unexpected visit from Heraclius, at that time one of the chief magistrates at Syracuse ; a man of high rank, who had held the office of priest of Jupiter, the highest distinction that a Syracusan can hold. He asked me, and my cousin, to be kind enough to come to a meeting of their senate; they were assembled in the senate-house, which was crowded, and this request of his for our attendance was made by their orders. [138] At first we were in doubt what to do ; then it suddenly struck us that we ought not to avoid such a meeting in such a place, and we went to the senate-house accordingly. [62.] L   As we entered, those present rose, with the utmost respect, to their feet, and the president invited us to take seats near him. Then Diodorus the son of Timarchides, their oldest, most influential and, I gathered, most experienced member, proceeded to make a speech, the main tenor of which throughout was that the senate and people of Syracuse were deeply distressed that I, who had informed the senate and people in all the other Sicilian communities of my mission of help and deliverance, and had received from all of them instructions and official witnesses and extracts from records and written evidence, had done nothing of this kind at Syracuse. I replied that at the meeting of Sicilians in Rome at which all the representatives present drew up a unanimous petition to me for my help, and the cause of the whole province was put into my hands, no representatives of Syracuse had been there; and that I could not expect any resolution hostile to Gaius Verres to be passed in a senate-house where I saw before me Gaius Verres' gilded statue. [139] These words of mine were followed by such a groan, as those present looked at the statue and took in my reference to it, that one might have supposed it set up in the senate-house to commemorate the man's crimes and not his services. And then one man after another used all his powers of eloquence to tell me of the facts that I put before you a few minutes ago: of how their city had been robbed and their temples plundered ; and how he had himself appropriated far the greatest part of the legacy of Heraclius that he had awarded to the keepers of the athletic park {palaestra} ; and how little he should be suspected of any friendliness for keepers of athletic parks, when he had even stolen the god who had discovered the use of oil ** ; and how the statue there had not been erected at the cost of the city or presented by the city, but those who had participated in the plunder from the legacy had had it made and set up there; and how their representatives at Rome had been these same men, who had helped Verres in his misconduct, shared in his thefts, and been privy to his shameful deeds ; and how I ought therefore not to be greatly surprised that they refused to support all the other representatives, or to defend the cause of Sicily.

[63.] L   [140] As soon as it became clear to me that the pain caused to those people by the wrongs that Verres had done them was not merely as great as that caused to the rest of the Sicilians, but perhaps even greater, I told them of my feelings towards them ; I put fully before them the basis and principle of my intended action, and of the enterprise to which I had committed myself ; I urged them to be true to the cause and to help the deliverance of Sicily, and to rescind the eulogy which, as they told me, they had been forced and intimidated into decreeing only a few days before. And, gentlemen, the people of Syracuse, the followers and friends of Verres, did so accordingly. First they produced for my inspection certain public records which they had been keeping stowed away in the more private part of their treasury ; included in these they showed me a detailed list of all the robberies of which I have told you, and of even more than I have been able to mention. The entries were in this form : that whereas such and such things were missing from the temple of Minerva, the temple of Jupiter, the temple of Liber, and so on - there were separate entries for each person responsible for the care and protection of the several objects - upon the keepers being called to account, as the law bids, and being required to hand over what had been entrusted to them, these persons had applied for indemnity in respect of the disappearance of the said things; and that they had all been acquitted of responsibility, and indemnity accorded to them all. These documents I caused to be officially sealed and taken away with me.

[141] Of the eulogy the following account was given me. In the first place, some time before my arrival they had received from Verres a letter asking for an eulogy ; but none was decreed. Later, some of his friends urged that one ought to be decreed ; but their proposal was rejected with loud shouts and angry abuse. Later still, when the time for my arrival was drawing near, the holder of supreme authority ** ordered them to decree one: they obeyed, but in a fashion calculated to do Verres much more harm than good; which fact I will now put before you, in the form in which it was pointed out by them to me.

[64.] L   [142] It is the custom at Syracuse that when a motion is proposed ** in the senate anyone who chooses may speak to it; no particular person is called upon to speak. It is, indeed, usual for the person senior in age or official position to be willing to speak first, and the others concede him this priority. If, however, as sometimes happens, no one rises, the members are compelled to speak in an order determined by lot. This, then, being their custom, a motion proposing an eulogy of Verres was now proposed in their senate. The first response to it was an amendment, moved by a number of members in order to secure some delay, with reference to Sextus Peducaeus. He, they said, had done extremely well by Syracuse and by Sicily as a whole ; and when they had heard, some time ago, that trouble had been stirred up for him, they had been anxious to give him an official eulogy for his numerous and important services, but had been forbidden to do so by Gaius Verres ; and although their eulogy could no longer be of use to Peducaeus, it would be unfair not to pass the measure that they had formerly wished to pass, before that which they were being forced to pass now. [143] There was general applause, and it was agreed that this was the proper thing to do. The motion about Peducaeus was proposed, and members spoke to it in the order of seniority determined by their age or official position. Let me confirm this to you from the actual wording of the decree - for it is their custom to make a full record of the opinions expressed by the leading speakers. Read it out, please. - (On the motion concerning Sextus Peducaeus. . . .) - Tell us who were the chief supporters of the motion. - (The motion was passed ; and then the motion about Verres was brought forward.) - Tell us what happened, please. - (On the motion concerning Gaius Verres. . . .) - Yes, what comes next ? - (No one having risen to address the House . . .) - Oh, indeed? - (Lots were drawn.) - And why, Verres? Was there no one ready of his own accord to eulogise your conduct as governor and support you in the hour of danger - and gain the present governor's goodwill into the bargain? There was not. Not even your own boon-companions and counsellors and accomplices and partners dared to utter one word. There in the senate-house stood your statue, and the naked figure of your son; and there was no one in that senate-house whose sympathy could be roused even by your son's naked charms, in that province that was itself stripped naked. - [144] It was further pointed out to me that they had so worded their eulogy as to show everyone that it was not really an eulogy, but a satire that drew attention to the discreditable and disastrous nature of Verres' rule: that there were such clauses as because he had no one flogged - whereas you have learnt that he had men of high rank and stainless character actually beheaded; or for his watchful administration of his province - whereas everyone knows that his night watches were invariably spent in fornication and adultery ; or because he prevented the pirates from approaching the island of Sicily - whereas he had allowed them to sail in past the island of Syracuse.

[145] Having learnt these facts from them, my cousin and I left the senate-house, so that they might pass such decrees as they might wish without our being present. [65.] L   They at once agreed, in the first place, to make me an official guest of the city, and my cousin Lucius as well, seeing that he had now taken it upon himself to show the same friendship for Syracuse as I had always shown. Not only did they record this degree in writing at once, but they presented it to us engraved in bronze. - You are constantly referring to "your Syracusan friends" : upon my word, they must be deeply attached to you, if they form ties of friendship with your prosecutor, and think themselves fully justified in doing so by his intention to prosecute you and his visit to collect evidence against you. - It was next agreed, and not by a small majority but almost unanimously, to rescind the eulogy already decreed for Gaius Verres.

[146] This resolution had not only been voted upon, but even written out and entered in their records, when notice was given of an appeal to the governor. And given by whom? By one of their magistrates? No. By a senator? Not that either. By some Syracusan citizen? Not a bit of it. Who did appeal to the governor, then? Publius Caesetius - a former quaestor of Verres. Dear me, how ridiculous! Poor deserted, hopeless, abandoned Verres! From the ruling of a Sicilian magistrate ** - in order to prevent Sicilian senators passing a decree - to debar them from exercising their own rights in accordance with their own customs and their own laws - appeal is made to the Roman governor, not by a friend of Verres, not by a host of Verres, not, in fact, by a Sicilian at all, but by a Roman quaestor. Was such a thing ever seen or heard of before? Our prudent and fair-minded governor dissolved the meeting of the senate. A great crowd gathered quickly at the place I was in. There were loud complaints from senators that their rights and their liberties were being torn from them, to which the citizens replied with cries of approval for the senate and of gratitude towards myself: and all the time there were Roman citizens keeping me company. And that day it was only with the utmost difficulty, and after great exertions on my part, that the people were restrained from laying hands on the man who had made the appeal.

[147] Upon our appearance in court before the governor, he devised a highly ingenious way of deciding the question: before I could utter a word, he rose from his seat and left the court. It was already growing late: so for the present we all went off i home. [66.] L   Early the next morning, I applied to him for permission for the Syracusans to furnish me with a copy of their decree of the day before. He firmly refused, adding that I had behaved improperly in addressing a Greek senate: and to have talked to a Greek audience in its own language was, it would appear, something quite intolerable. I made the only answer that I could or should or would have made. I remember telling him, among other things, that it was easy to discern the difference between this Metellus and that true and genuine member of the family, the famous Numidicus ** : that Metellus had refused to give eulogistic testimony in support of Lucius Lucullus, though Lucullus was his sister's husband and on the best of terms with him, whereas this present one was using force and intimidation to make a city eulogise a man with whom he had nothing at all in common. [148] Well, on becoming aware that he had been much influenced by messages that had lately reached him, by letters that were not letters of introduction but letters of credit, ** I tried, at the suggestion of the Syracusans themselves, to seize the tablets on which the decree had been written out. At once there was fresh trouble and disputation : I would not, after all, have you suppose Verres to be altogether without friends and entertainers at Syracuse, or entirely defenceless and abandoned. A man called Theomnastus took the tablets and held on to them - an amusingly crazy fool whom the townsfolk call Theoractus, ** the sort of man whom the boys follow about, and who makes every one laugh as soon as he opens his mouth. His craziness, however, while it amuses other folk, was on this occasion a real nuisance to myself. He foamed at the mouth, his eyes blazed, he shouted at the top of his voice that I was assaulting him ; and we were still struggling together as we reached the praetor's court. [149] Here I proceeded to apply for leave to seal up and remove these tablets, while he protested, arguing that the appeal to the governor made the decree of the senate invalid, and that it ought not to be handed over to me. I quoted the law authorising me to possess myself of all records and documents whatsoever, and the lunatic insisted that our laws had nothing to do with him. Our discerning governor ruled that I ought not to remove to Rome a document that could not properly be a valid decree of the senate. Well, I can only say that unless I had given him an emphatic warning, and quoted the text of the sanctions and penalties prescribed in the law, I should not have secured possession of those tablets. As for my crazy opponent, although he had opposed me on Verres' behalf with such violent clamour, when he failed to gain his end he gave me, doubtless to recover my goodwill, a note-book containing a written list of all Verres' thefts at Syracuse - which I knew already, from information supplied to me by other people.

[67.] L   [150] And now let your friends at Messana eulogise you, by all means, since they are the only people in the whole province who would welcome your acquittal : but when they do so, let Heius, their chief representative, be present ; and when they do so, let them be ready to answer the questions they will have been asked. And as I do not wish to crush them without warning, the questions I mean to ask are these. Are they bound to supply a ship for the Roman navy? They will admit that they are. Have they done so during Verres' governorship ? They will say no. Have they at the public cost built a large cargo-ship and presented it to Verres ? They will be unable to say no. Has Verres had corn from them, to be sent, as it has been sent by his predecessors, to feed the people of Rome? They will say no. What military or naval contingent have they furnished during these three years? They will reply that they have not furnished one man. They will be unable to deny that Messana has been the receiver of all Verres' stolen and plundered goods ; they will admit that large quantities of these objects have been exported from their town in a number of different ships, and finally that this great cargo-ship which their town gave Verres sailed from there, heavily laden, at the same time as Verres himself. -

[151] In view of these facts, you are quite welcome to your Messanian eulogy. That the feelings of the people of Syracuse towards you correspond to their treatment by you, we are fully aware. Even that villainous Festival of Verres has been abolished from their midst: it was indeed highly inappropriate that divine honours should be rendered to the man who had robbed them of their divine images. And I will add that the Syracusans would, upon my word, deserve censure, if they cut out of their calendar the day of festival celebration made famous and holy by the tradition of its being the actual day of the capture of Syracuse by Marcellus, and yet continued to observe a festival day commemorating Verres, when Verres had deprived them of everything that the former day of disaster had left them. Observe, gentlemen, the fellow's impudent arrogance in this matter. Not content with establishing this immoral and ridiculous Verres Festival of his - and endowing it with the money of Heraclius - he actually ordered the abolition of the Marcellus Festival. They were to hold solemn worship every year in honour of the man whom they have to thank for destroying the worship of all past years and taking the gods of their fathers from them : and they were to abolish the festival in honour of the family to which they owe the recovery of their power to keep both that festival and all others.


41.(↑)   The Eleusinian mysteries, at which Demeter and Kore (Persephone) were worshipped. Athenian tradition made Eleusis the birthplace of corn.

42.(↑)   143 B.C.

43.(↑)   The 'decemviri sacris faciundis', "Commissioners of Public Worship.”

44.(↑)   An Attic deity of agriculture, whose worship, with that of Demeter and Kore, had doubtless been brought from central Greece to Sicily.

45.(↑)   The regular insignia of suppliants among the Greeks.

46.(↑)   132 B.C. The revolted slaves held out in Henna, besieged by Roman troops, for some two years.

47.(↑)   Tyrant of Syracuse for a generation after the death of Alexander.

48.(↑)   A sculptor of Alexander's time.

49.(↑)   The temple of Fortune vowed by the elder Catulus in the Cimbric War, 101 B.C.

50.(↑)   A votive offering of the time of the third Macedonian War.

51.(↑)   That is, of Apollo as the Healer: Asclepius was his son.

52.(↑)   Dionysus.

53.(↑)   A cult title of Zeus as giver of fair winds.

54.(↑)   Many emendations of 'parinum' have been suggested, none obviously right.

55.  * Literally "olive-oil."

56.(↑)   Here, as often, the images of gods are not thought of as clearly distinct from the gods themselves.

57.(↑)   For this affair see Book ii. § 35-50; especially, in the above connexion, § 45-50.

58.(↑)   See Book ii. § 169-191, especially § 186-191.

59.(↑)   Regularly used by athletes: for the theft of the statue of Aristaeus see § 128.

60.(↑)   A cautious reference to L. Metellus, Verres' successor. For his efforts on Verres' behalf see, e.g., Book ii. § 62-65.

61.(↑)   Or perhaps "when any matter is brought forward" ; and so elsewhere in this paragraph.

62.(↑)   No doubt the chairman or president of the senate.

63.(↑)   The consul of 109 who commanded in the war against Jugurtha,

64.(↑)   So Hall translates; but it is not clear what 'tabulae tributariae' can mean. It seems unlikely that Verres was offering Metellus a financial "tribute" or bribe; nor does the phrase seem to have normally any technical sense.

65.(↑)   Not "remembered" but "blasted" by the gods.

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