Cicero : In Verrem 2.5

Sections 65-130

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.

    ← Previous sections (1-64)

[26.] L   [65] This is merely an inference? No man can be a competent judge who is unaffected by convincing circumstantial evidence. You know your man; and you are aware of the universal custom - how gladly the captor of a hostile general or private chief permits him to be exposed freely to the public gaze. Gentlemen, in all that populous city of Syracuse I found not one man who claimed to have set eyes on the captured pirate leader, although there was the usual gathering of the whole population, and the customary eager inquiries from would-be spectators. What led to this man's being so thoroughly concealed that no one was able to get even a casual glimpse of him? The seafaring folk of Syracuse, who had often heard and often trembled at his name, longed to feast their eyes and satisfy their souls with the spectacle of his torture and execution, and none of them was allowed even to look at him. [66] Publius Servilius captured more pirate chiefs alive than all his predecessors together ; and was anyone forbidden to enjoy the consequent satisfaction of seeing the captives? Far from it. Wherever Servilius journeyed, he provided the public with the delightful sight of its captured enemies in chains ; and crowds gathered in consequence from every quarter to meet him, and came to see the spectacle not only from the towns through which the prisoners passed, but from the neighbouring towns as well. And why was his actual triumph in Rome the most welcome and acceptable of all triumphs to our people here? Because nothing is more delightful than victory, and there is no surer evidence of victory than for us to see those at the thought of whom we have often trembled led in chains to their execution. [67] Why did you not do likewise ? why was that pirate thus hidden from view, as if it would have been a sin to exhibit him ? why did you not execute him ? what justified your keeping him alive ? do you know of any pirate chief before now taken prisoner in Sicily and not beheaded ? Quote me one single authority, produce one single precedent, in support of your conduct. You kept this pirate captain alive - for what purpose ? To have him led before your chariot at your triumph, no doubt. After your loss of that splendid fleet of Roman ships, and your devastation of that Roman province, indeed it only remained for us to award you a naval triumph. -

[27.] L   [68] Well, he preferred the innovation of keeping this pirate captain a prisoner to the regular practice of having him executed ; and I now ask, what was the imprisonment like ? among whom was the man kept, and in what fashion? You have all heard of, and most of you have seen, the Syracuse stone-quarries : an immense and splendid piece of work, carried out by the kings and tyrants. The whole thing is a profound excavation in the rock carried down to an astonishing depth by the labours of many stone-cutters; no prison more strongly barred, more completely enclosed, more securely guarded, could be constructed or imagined. Persons officially sentenced to imprisonment are brought to these quarries not only from Syracuse but from all the other towns in Sicily. [69] Now since Verres had flung a number of Roman citizens into prison in this place, and had also ordered the rest of the pirates to be put away there, he saw that if he also sent that counterfeit ** pirate captain to this same spot for custody the absence of the real captain would be noted by a number of persons in the quarries. Therefore he did not dare to commit this man to that best and safest of prisons ; indeed, no part of Syracuse seemed safe to him, and he sent the man off - where, please? To Lilybaeum, perhaps? oh, very well - after all, he is not really afraid of the people who live on the coast? No, gentlemen, not there. To Panhormus, then? why, that will do ; not but what, as the man was captured in Syracusan waters, Syracuse was the right place for his imprisonment, if not for his execution. But no, not to Panhormus either. [70] Where was it, then? Why, where do you suppose? To a place whose inhabitants had the least possible reason to feel any fear or concern about the pirates, and had nothing to do with sea-faring or maritime matters : to Centuripa, which has a wholly inland population of excellent farmers, to whom no sea-going pirate's name had ever been a name of fear - their one and only dread, while you Verres, were governor, was that pirate chief of the dry land Apronius. And to let everyone perceive without trouble his purpose in this, which was to enable the substitute to pass himself off without difficulty or trouble as the man he was not, he gave orders to the people of Centuripa to have the fellow supplied with food and all other comforts on the most ample and generous scale.

[28.] L   [71] The Syracusans meanwhile, being experienced and educated folk who could not merely perceive what was obvious but draw their conclusions about what was not, all of them kept count each day of the number of pirates executed: what the number should be they calculated from the size of the captured vessel and the number of its oars. As Verres had removed for his own purposes all those who possessed any degree of artistic skill or personal beauty, he argued that there would be a general outcry if he followed the regular practice of having all the rest bound to the stake in a body, because so many more of them had been taken away than left behind. He therefore proceeded to bring them forth for execution in small numbers on different days ; none the less, in all that populous city there was no one who failed to keep a reckoning of the numbers, noted how many were missing, and asked for, even demanded, these men also. [72] A great many were still lacking ; whereupon this abominable scoundrel, to take the place of those pirates whom he had removed to his own house, began to produce as substitutes for them some Roman citizens whom he had before this thrown into prison. Some of these he alleged were fugitives from the army of Sertorius, who on their way from Spain had been forced to land in Sicily : others, who had been captured by pirates, persons engaged in trade or travelling by sea for some other reason, he accused of being in the pirates' company of set purpose. And so some of these Roman citizens were rushed from their prisons to slaughter at the stake with their faces muffled to prevent their being recognised, and others were executed in spite of being recognised by many of their fellow-citizens and declared innocent by all of them. Of these men's painful deaths, of the cruel tortures they suffered, I will speak when the time comes for me to deal with that subject; and in such a fashion will I do it, with such indignation will I tell of yonder man's ferocity in slaughtering those innocent Roman citizens, that if my strength, nay, if my very life should fail me as I spoke, I should count it a matter for pride and for rejoicing. [73] Meanwhile, observe this achievement, this noble triumph: a pirate galley is captured, and its captain is set free, those musicians are sent off to Rome, the attractive, youthful and accomplished captives are taken off to the governor's house, their places are taken by an equal number of citizens of Rome who are tortured and killed as if they were enemies of Rome, all the woven stuffs are carried off, all the gold and silver is carried off and appropriated.

[29.] L   You will remember how during the first hearing of this case Verres convicted himself. For day after day he had held his tongue ; but when that distinguished man Marcus Annius in the course of his evidence asserted that a Roman citizen had been executed, and that the pirate captain had not, Verres suddenly leapt to his feet, inflamed by the knowledge of his own wickedness and the madness begotten of his own crimes, and declared that he knew he would be charged with having taken a bribe and having failed to execute the real pirate captain, and that for this reason he had not beheaded him ; and he also declared that he had two pirate captains in his house. - [74] What mercy the people of Rome showed you - or let me say, what amazing and unparalleled long-suffering ! Marcus Annius, a Roman knight, states that a citizen of Rome was beheaded, and you say nothing ; that the pirate captain was not, and you admit the fact. Groans and cries arose from every throat; the people of Rome might well have done justice upon you there and then; but they refrained, they checked themselves, they left it to the strictness of this Court to take thought for their protection. ** And you knew, did you, that this charge would be brought against you? How did you know it? what reason had you even to think it? You had no enemies ; nor, if you had, had your behaviour been such as to keep before you the prospect of prosecution! Or was it indeed the sense of your own guilt that made you, as it makes other men, fearful and suspicious ? Well then, if while you were still in authority you were shuddering at the prospect of prosecution and trial, can you hope for acquittal now when all these witnesses are establishing your guilt? [75] But granted that you were afraid of being thus charged with substituting a victim for execution in the place of the pirate captain, which way of defending yourself, after all, did you suppose would be the more effective - to produce at your trial, under the compulsion of my demand, before strangers, after this long interval, someone whom you alleged to be that pirate captain ? or without delay, at Syracuse, before those who knew the man, with practically all Sicily looking on, to have that captain executed? No question which alternative you should have chosen: the latter would have left no ground for attacking you, the former leaves you no line of defence. And that is why all governors have always done the latter, whereas I have yet to learn who before you, and who except you, has done the former. You kept that pirate alive, and how long? As long as your term of office lasted. And on what ground, with what precedent, for what reason was it so long ? For what reason, I repeat, when those Roman citizens whom the pirates had captured were executed on the spot, did you suffer a pirate himself to enjoy the light of day so long ? [76] Be it so, however ; let us allow you a free hand so long as you were in office ; but have you kept them thus even when out of office, even when committed for trial, even when all but found guilty - kept these leaders of your country's enemies in your private house? For one month - two months - in the end for nearly a year from the time they were captured, those pirates were living in your house, until I put an end to it; until, that is, Manius Glabrio put an end to it, by making an order, on my application, that they should be produced and lodged safely in gaol. [30.] L   What right, or custom, or precedent or such behaviour can you allege? This cruel and deadly enemy of the Roman nation - let me rather say, this common enemy of all nations and peoples - shall any private person in all the world be allowed to keep him living inside the walls of his own house ? [77] Suppose now that on the day before you were forced by me to confess that after beheading citizens of Rome you had the pirate chief alive and living with you - suppose, I say, that on that day he had escaped from your house, and had been able to organise an armed rising against the state, what would you now have to say? "He lived in my house, he was in my company ; I kept him alive and unharmed against the day of my trial, to help me to explain away the charge my enemies would bring against me." So that is it! You mean to save yourself by endangering the safety of the public; you will exact the penalty of death, incurred by our defeated enemies, when it suits yourself, and not when it suits your country ; the enemy of Rome is to be preserved as a prisoner in a private house! Why, even triumphing generals, who keep enemy leaders alive for some time in order to have them led in the triumphal procession, so as to enable the people of Rome to enjoy the fine sight and reap the reward of victory - even they, as their chariots swing round to leave the forum for the Capitol, bid their captives be led off to prison, and the day that ends the authority of the conqueror also ends the lives of the conquered.

[78] May all of us now venture to infer - and the more readily that, by your own admission, you had made up your mind that your prosecution was certain - to infer that you were not likely ** to run the risk of not beheading that pirate captain but keeping him alive and thus quite plainly endangering yourself? You tell us you were afraid of this charge: may I ask who would now believe your reply to it, if the man had died? It would be established that nobody at Syracuse had seen the captain, that everyone had looked for him in vain ; nobody doubted that you had been bribed to set him free; it was common talk that a man had been substituted for him whom you were trying to pass off as the captain himself; you had already confessed that all this long time you had been afraid of the charge in question: who, then, would believe you for one moment, if you told us the man had died? [79] Even as it is, when you do produce your man, whoever he is, alive, you see that we laugh at you : and what if your pirate had escaped, had broken his chains like the famous pirate Nico, whom Publius Servilius recaptured with the same good fortune as led to his original capture - what would you have been able to say then? But the truth was this: once the genuine pirate were executed, you had lost your money; and if this pretended pirate died or escaped, it would be easy to replace this first substitute by a second. - I have spoken at greater length than I intended about this pirate captain ; but even so I have not brought forward the most convincing proofs of the charge in question ; I wish, indeed, to keep it as a whole intact for the present, to be heard in its own place, under its own law, and before its own tribunal. **

[31.] L   [80] The acquisition of all this plunder, the addition to his wealth of these slaves and silver and woven fabrics, wholly failed to make him attend more carefully to the equipment of his fleet or to the recall to duty and the provisioning of its crews, though that meant more plunder for himself as well as more security for his province. During the height of summer, the season when it has been the practice of all other governors to move actively about and inspect their province, or even, when the risk of attacks by pirates was as formidable as it then was, to put to sea themselves - at that season his official palace, once King Hiero's, and now our governors' regular quarters, did not satisfy his dissolute and profligate tastes. To spend the summer in his usual fashion, he gave orders, as already described, for tents of linen canvas to be set up on the sea-coast, on the Island at Syracuse, beyond the spring of Arethusa, close to the mouth and entrance of the harbour : a pleasant spot, to be sure, and well removed from observation. [81] Here this Roman governor, this warden and protector of our province, spent the days of summer giving daily dinner-parties to women, with no men at table except himself and his young son - and as they were the men, I might well have said that no men at all were present. Sometimes the freedman Timarchides was asked to join them. The women were all married ladies of position, with the single exception of that daughter of the actor Isidorus to whom Verres was so much devoted that he had carried her off from her Rhodian flautist. Among these ladies was Pipa, the wife of Aeschrio of Syracuse, a woman about whom a number of lampoons in verse were composed, in allusion to Verres' passion for her, which are in circulation throughout Sicily. [82] There was also Nicē, said to be a remarkably pretty woman, the wife of Cleomenes of Syracuse. Nicē's husband was fond enough of her, but had neither the power nor the courage to stand in the way of Verres' lust, and his hands were tied, moreover, by the many presents and favours that Verres had conferred on him. But though Verres is the shameless rascal that you know him to be, none the less he felt unable, at that time, to keep Cleomenes' wife in his company on the beach, day after day, with a completely easy and comfortable mind, so long as Cleomenes himself was in Syracuse. He thought of a very original way out of this difficulty, which was to hand over the fleet, hitherto commanded by a deputy governor, to Cleomenes - to give full power and command over a Roman fleet to Cleomenes the Syracusan. His purpose was not only to keep the man at sea and so away from his home, but to make him glad to be kept away because of the honour and advantage involved ; and with the husband banished to a safe distance he himself would be able to enjoy the wife's society, I will not say more freely than before, for nobody ever prevented the gratification of Verres' lusts, but at any rate a little more comfortably for the removal of a man who was not only her husband but his rival.

[83] Behold, then, the ships of our allies and friends handed over to Cleomenes the Syracusan ; [32.] L   and I hardly know with which side of this criminal outrage to deal first. Take the fact that a post of authority, dignity and power for a legate, a quaestor, the governor himself, was given to a Sicilian. Your own time was no doubt fully engaged with dinner-parties and women ; but what of your quaestors and legates ? ** what of the corn valued at 12 sesterces for a modius? what of the mules, the tents, the abundant and varied equipment given and entrusted by the Senate and people of Rome to their magistrates and legates ? what, if it comes to that, ** of your captains and tribunes? If no Roman citizen was fit for the business, were there not the communities who have remained without interruption loyal and friendly to Rome ? were there not Segesta and Centuripa, so closely linked with us not only by their good service, their loyalty, their antiquity, but also by ties of blood, ** as almost to deserve the name of Romans? [84] And when Cleomenes of Syracuse was put by Verres in command of the men and ships and captains of these same communities, - God help us, was not this to trample upon all that was just and fair and right? Did we ever wage war in Sicily without having Centuripa our ally and Syracuse our enemy? I would not, in saying this, cast aspersions on Syracuse ; I do but recall the facts of ancient history. It was because of these facts that the great man and famous general Marcus Marcellus, by whose valour Syracuse was captured, and by whose mercifulness it was preserved, suffered no Syracusan to live in that part of the city which is built upon the Island ; at this very day, I tell you, no Syracusan is allowed to live there. For it is a place that a mere handful of men could hold against attack; and because of this, Marcellus would not put it in the power of men not altogether to be trusted. And a further reason was that it is in this direction that the city is approached by sea: the Syracusans had often refused entrance to our forces, and therefore he held that the keys of the city should not be put into their hands. [85] Mark the contrast, Verres, between your weak wantonness and the strong judgement of our forefathers, between your insane profligacy and their far-sighted wisdom. They took from the Syracusans access to the shore, and you have conceded them command of the sea ; they refused to let a Syracusan live where ships could come, and you agreed to let a Syracusan command the ships of our fleet; to the people whom they deprived of part of their own city you have presented a part of our imperial power ; the Syracusans obey our commands because of the help our allies gave us, and you have bidden our allies obey the commands of a Syracusan.

[33.] L   [86] Cleomenes sailed out of the harbour in the Centuripan ship, a quadrireme, followed by six other ships, those of Segesta, Tyndaris, Herbita, Heracleia, Apollonia and Haluntium - a fine fleet to look at, but weak and helpless because so many marines and rowers had been exempted from serving. All that our governor saw of this fleet that was under his authority was during the time it sailed past the scene of his shameful carousals ; he himself had been invisible for many days, but on this occasion he did for a few moments show himself to his sailors. That Roman governor stood there on the shore in slippers, wearing a purple Greek cloak and a long-skirted tunic, and leaning on one of his women ; and often enough before that had any number of Sicilians and Romans citizens seen him in this costume. [87] The fleet, after no more than four days at sea, put in at Pachynus, by which time food was so short that the sailors had to set about collecting the roots of the wild palms that grow abundantly there as in most parts of Sicily ; and while the poor wretches were keeping themselves alive on these, Cleomenes, who thought of himself as Verres' double in authority as well as in profligate self-indulgence, ** imitated him by spending whole days drinking in a tent pitched on the shore. [34.] L   And now, while he was drunk and his men starving, the news suddenly arrived that there were pirate ships in the harbour of the place known as Odyssea, our fleet being in the harbour of Pachynus. As there was - or rather, there was supposed to be - a land garrison there, Cleomenes counted on being able to withdraw soldiers from it in order to make up his full complement of sailors and rowers. But it now appeared that Verres' money-grubbing tactics had been applied to the land forces as well as to the fleet : most of these men had been exempted from service, and only a few were left.

[88] Cleomenes was the first away. On his quadrireme from Centuripa he ordered the mast to be hoisted up, the sails spread, and the anchor-cables cut, and at the same time the signal given to the others to follow him. This ship from Centuripa was astonishingly fast, under sail - while Verres was governor no one could tell how fast a ship's oars could carry her - though in this quadrireme, out of deference to the rank of Cleomenes, he had been favoured with the smallest shortage of rowers and soldiers. Her rapid retreat had carried her nearly out of sight while the other vessels were still together doing their best to get away. [89] The deserted crews showed courage enough ; few as they were, and in spite of the odds against them, they declared loudly that they meant to fight ; they were ready to yield up to the enemy's swords what life and strength starvation had left in their bodies. Indeed, if Cleomenes had not run away so far in front of them, there would, even as things were, have been some hope of holding their own. His was the one decked vessel, and large enough to protect the rest very considerably ; in an engagement with the pirates it would have towered like a city over those buccaneering galleys. But as it was, left helpless by the admiral in command, all they could do was to begin following in his wake. [90] So like Cleomenes himself they steered for Helorus, not so much to escape being attacked by the pirates as to follow the lead of their commanding officer. And now the last to flee were the first to suffer, as the pirates fell in turn upon the hindermost ships. The first to be captured was the ship from Haluntium, whose captain, a Haluntine of good family named Phylarchus, was later ransomed from these pirates by the Locrians at the public expense ; in the course of the first hearing of this case, you learnt from his sworn evidence the full story of what happened and why it happened. Next the ship from Apollonia was captured, and its commander Anthropinus killed. [35.] L   [91] In the meantime, Cleomenes had already reached the coast at Helorus - had already hurried ashore and left his great ship afloat. The captains of the other ships, finding their admiral disembarked, and aware that they could not possibly themselves either beat off the enemy or escape by sea, put in at Helorus and followed Cleomenes. Thereupon the pirate chief Heracleo, thus suddenly and unexpectedly victorious, though not through his own valour but through the iniquitous cupidity of Verres, seeing this fine fleet of Roman ships run ashore on dry land, gave orders as soon as darkness came on to set them on fire and burn them.

[92] What a pitiful miserable episode in Sicilian history ! what calamity and ruin for hundreds of innocent men! what a matchless piece of foul wickedness on the part of Verres! On one and the same night we see the Roman governor burning with the vile fires of lust, and the Roman fleet with the flames that those pirates kindled. The bad news of this disaster reached Syracuse late at night, and there was a rush to the governor's residence, to which he had returned not long before from the scene of his brilliant festivities, escorted by the women to the sound of singing and band music. Even though it was night, Cleomenes dared not show himself publicly, but shut himself up at home, poor fellow, with no wife there to comfort him in his trouble. [93] As for this illustrious general of ours, discipline in his household was so strict that even at such a crisis, even with such serious news to report, no one was allowed access to him, no one dared either to wake him when asleep or to interrupt him when awake. But presently the facts became generally known, and a vast crowd gathered from all parts of the city. For the pirates' approach was not being indicated, as always hitherto, by a beacon-fire on some watchtower or rising ground: it was the flames of the blazing ships themselves that announced the recent disaster and the impending danger. [36.] L   Where was the governor? As soon as it became clear that no one had reported the news to him, the excited crowd with loud cries made a rush to his house. [94] At last he was roused, and heard the whole story from Timarchides. Putting on his military cloak, he came forth, as daylight was breaking, heavy with sleep and drink and debauchery. Such a yell from the crowd greeted his appearance that he saw himself again in the perilous situation in which he had been at Lampsacus; and the danger seemed even greater now, the crowd being no less hostile and much larger. There were loud references to his days on the shore, to his carousals and debaucheries there ; his women's names were heard on the lips of the crowd ; he was openly asked where he had been all those days on end during which nobody had seen him ; there were demands that Cleomenes, whom he had made admiral, should be handed over to them ; and nothing was ever nearer happening than the reproduction at Syracuse of the precedent set with Hadrianus at Utica, and the finding of yet another grave by another wicked governor in another province. ** However, the crowd was restrained by remembering that the situation was critical and the enemy in arms, and had regard, moreover, to the dignity and credit of Syracuse, where the Roman citizen body is thought of as adding lustre not merely to Sicily but to Rome itself. [95] As Verres stood there still dazed and half-awake, they called on one another to play the man, armed themselves, and occupied the whole of the market-place and that large part of the city called the Island.

After waiting for that one night only off Helorus, the pirates left our vessels still smoking, and set off in the direction of Syracuse. No doubt they had often been told how there was no finer sight than Syracuse with its fortifications and harbours, and concluded that they were never likely to see them if they failed to do so while Verres was governor. [37.] L   [96] The first place they reached was the governor's famous summer station, the actual point on the coast where Verres during the previous weeks had pitched the tents of his pleasure camp. They found the spot deserted ; the governor had plainly struck camp and moved off elsewhere, and they proceeded without misgivings to push on without delay into the harbour itself. And when I say that these pirates entered the harbour, gentlemen - I must explain the lie of the land with especial care for the benefit of those who do not know it - when I say this, I am saying that they entered the city, and the innermost part of the city; for Syracuse is not bounded by the waters of its harbour ; rather the harbour is itself encircled and embraced by the city, and instead of the seas washing the outermost part of the walls the harbour waters themselves flow into the city's very bosom. - [97] And here it was that, while you were governor, Heracleo the pirate and his four small galleys sailed about without let or hindrance. God help us! with Syracuse a part of the Roman empire and governed by a Roman magistrate, a pirate galley has sailed right up to its market-place, to every one of its quays; it has reached a spot that the renowned fleets of Carthage at the height of her naval power, despite attempt after attempt in war after war, never succeeded in reaching ; a spot to which the glorious navy of Rome, that until you became governor never knew defeat, in all her wars with Carthaginian and Sicilian was never able to penetrate; a spot so situated that the people of Syracuse beheld an enemy's triumphant arms within their ramparts, their city, their market-place, before they beheld a single one of his ships within their harbour. [98] Under your governorship, those tiny pirate vessels sailed about freely where only once within human memory had a fleet forced an entrance, the vast and mighty fleet of Athens with her three hundred ships - and it was defeated and crushed in that same harbour by the sheer strength of that harbour's position. There it was that the hitherto triumphant power of that famous state was shattered and brought low ; it was in this harbour that we think of the pride and power and glory of the Athenian people as suffering shipwreck. [38.] L   What, has a pirate pushed his way in to a spot where the city was not only no longer in front of him but a great part of it left behind him ? He sailed right beyond the Island, and the Island at Syracuse counts as a city in its own right and with its own walls ; it is the region where, as I have mentioned, our ancestors forbade any Syracusan to dwell, because they saw that the inhabitants of that part of the city would be able to control the harbour. [99] And how triumphantly he sailed to and fro, his men brandishing the wild-palm roots they had found on board our ships, to tell everyone of Verres' villainy and Sicily's misfortunes, how Sicilian soldiers, the sons of those farmers whose toil grew corn enough to feed the people of Rome and all Italy - how these men, the natives of Ceres' own island, where corn, they tell us, was first discovered, had had to eat the wretched food from which, by the discovery of corn, their forefathers rescued themselves and all the world beside. Sicilian soldiers fed on palm roots, Sicilian corn was the food of pirates - when you were governor of Sicily ! - [100] Think of that pitiful, miserable scene ! think of the glory of Rome, the honour of the Roman people, the multitude of Roman ** citizens dwelling there, mocked and insulted by that pirate galley! think of that pirate celebrating his victory over the Roman fleet by a triumphal procession in the harbour of Syracuse, his oars dashing spray in the face of this indolent scoundrel of a governor !

When the pirates had sailed out of the harbour again - not frightened away, but simply satiated - people began to ask what had led to this disaster. Everyone said, and argued quite openly, that with all those oarsmen and soldiers exempted from service, with the rest of them broken down through want of food and necessaries, and with the governor spending day after day on drinking-bouts with his women, this shameful and deplorable occurrence was only to have been expected. [101] These attacks on Verres' conduct and character were supported by the captains of the ships, to the command of which they had been appointed by their several communities. Each of these captains who had escaped to Syracuse after the loss of the fleet stated the number of men whom he knew to have been exempted from service in his own ship. The whole thing was plain enough ; Verres' shameless misconduct was proved beyond doubt not only by circumstantial evidence but by direct testimony.

[39.] L   Verres was informed that all day long the whole attention of the market-place and the Roman citizen community was devoted to questioning the captains about how the fleet was lost, and these men in reply were telling one person after another that it was due to the exemption of so many rowers from duty, the starvation of the remainder, and the cowardly flight of Cleomenes. This information set him thinking. As you heard him say himself during the first part of this trial, he had already made up his mind, before this happened, that he was sure to be prosecuted. He perceived that if the captains gave their evidence he could not possibly meet this grave charge. His first plan was foolish, but still not cruel. [102] He sent for the captains, and when they appeared, reprimanded them for talking about him as they had; he then requested that each of them would state that he had had the proper number of sailors in his ship, and that no one had been exempted from duty. They, it must be said, signified their readiness to do what he wished. Thereupon without loss of time he had his friends summoned to his presence, and then asked the captains one by one how many sailors he had had ; each of them returned the prescribed answer, which Verres caused to be written down and sealed with his friends' seals, with the far-sighted intention, we may assume, of using this testimony in case of need as a defence against the charge we are considering. [103] I take it that the fool's own councillors laughed at him, and pointed out to him that this written record would do him no service, and that in fact a governor's taking such excessive precautions would be a further reason for believing the charge justified. It was by no means the first time that he had employed this stupid device, even ordering the official deletion or insertion of passages in various town records to suit his wishes ; all of which, he is now aware, is doing his cause no good, since there is the definite authority of written and spoken evidence to prove his guilt. [40.] L   When he saw that the captains' statements and his own declarations and written records would avail him nothing, he embarked on a plan which was not so much that of an unscrupulous magistrate - this would have been tolerable - as that of a savage insane despot. He decided that if he meant to weaken the force of this charge - he saw no hope of eliminating it altogether - all those captains, the men who could swear to his guilt, must be put to death. [104] One thought kept recurring to him: "What is to be done with Cleomenes? Can I possibly punish subordinates and yet let off the man whom I put in full authority over them? can I execute the men who followed Cleomenes' lead, and acquit Cleomenes who ordered them to follow after him and join him in running away ? can I be severe with men who had ships with no crews and no decks, and indulgent to the one man who had a decked ship and a less depleted crew? Let Cleomenes hang with the rest ! " Ah, but what of those promises and vows of affection, those clasped hands and embraces of friendship, that comradeship in the tents of love's battle-field on yonder shore of dainty dalliance ? No, at all costs Cleomenes must be spared. [105] So he sends for Cleomenes, and tells him that he is resolved to punish all the captains: considerations of his own safety require and demand this. "I will spare you and you only ; I will rather expose myself to being held responsible for your misconduct and blamed for weak partiality than either be cruel to you or leave alive and unharmed so many damaging witnesses against me." Cleomenes thanks him, approves of his plan, and tells him he is quite right, but at the same time reminds him of one point he had overlooked : Phalacrus the Centuripan captain cannot be punished, because he was along with Cleomenes himself in the Centuripan quadrireme. Well, but then shall Phalacrus, a young man of such high standing and the citizen of so famous a city, be left to give his evidence? "For the moment, yes," says Cleomenes, "as we can't help it: but presently we will take steps to prevent his giving us trouble."

[41.] L   [106] This plan made and agreed upon, Verres hurried off from the governor's residence to the market-place, hot with his wicked, insane, cruel purpose. He sent for the captains, who promptly appeared, having no fear or suspicion of any trouble ; whereupon he ordered the poor innocent fellows to be arrested and chained. They protested earnestly against this treatment, and begged to know the reason for it ; to which he replied that the reason was that they had betrayed the fleet to the pirates. There was a loud outcry from the astonished bystanders: could the man be so impudent and reckless as to make others responsible for a disaster wholly due to his own cupidity, or to charge others with treachery when he was believed to be in league with the pirates himself ? and why, moreover, had the charge not been brought until a fortnight after the loss of the fleet? [107] And where, by the way, was Cleomenes? Not that anyone thought that Cleomenes himself, whatever his character might be, deserved punishment for the reverse in question. What could Cleomenes have done? I cannot bring a false charge against anyone; and I repeat, what is there, worth mentioning, that Cleomenes could have done with ships that Verres' greed had denuded of their men? But then he was observed sitting beside the governor and whispering to him in his usual familiar fashion; whereupon there was a general burst of indignation at the chaining and imprisonment of men of high standing who had been publicly chosen to command their several cities' ships, while Cleomenes remained the governor's friend and intimate because he was a partner in the governor's disgraceful debaucheries. [108] Well, a man was at least put up to prosecute the prisoners - one Naevius Turpio, who had been found guilty of assault when Gaius Sacerdos was governor; a most suitable tool for the unscrupulous Verres, who had used him regularly as an agent and go-between in dealing with tithes, prosecutions on capital charges, and false accusations of every description.

[42.] L   The parents and relatives of these unhappy young men, alarmed by the news of this blow that had fallen upon them, came to Syracuse, and there they saw their sons chained and bound, their sons' necks and shoulders bearing the penalty for that which Verres' cupidity had brought to pass. They came into court, pleaded for them, cried aloud for mercy, appealed to your sense of justice, - a thing which had no existence, then or ever. Among those fathers was Dexo of Tyndaris, a man of the highest standing, whose guest you had been. You had stayed in his house; you had called him host ; and now that you saw this highly respected man overwhelmed with misery, could not his tears, could not his grey hairs, could not the sacred bond of hospitality, turn you from your wickedness to show some little measure of humanity ? - [109] But why do I speak of the bond of hospitality in connexion with this beast and monster ? He had been the guest of Sthenius of Thermae, and he had stripped his host's house of everything it contained, caused him to be prosecuted in his absence, sentenced him to a capital penalty with his case untried: shall we expect him now to regard a host's rights or discharge a guest's duties? Nay, is it the cruelty of a human being that we have here - is it not the monstrous savagery of a wild beast ? - Your heart was untouched by this father's tears, tears called forth by his innocent son's peril. You had left a father behind you, you had a son with you: but your son who was with you could not remind you how dear children are to their parents, nor your absent father how tenderly a father loves his son. [110] Aristeus your host, Dexo's son, was there in chains. And why? For betraying the fleet? and for what reward? For running away ? and what did Cleomenes do? For cowardice ? why, you had already decorated him for bravery. For allowing his sailors off duty ? why, you had pocketed the exemption fee from everyone of them. - Yonder, again, stood Eubulidas of Herbita, a man of rank and distinction in his own town, who, for saying something against Cleomenes while trying to defend his own son, had the clothes all but torn off his back. Yet what plea, what defence, could anyone put forward? "No reference must be made to Cleomenes." I must, in my own defence. "Breathe his name, and you are a dead man" - Verres' threats were never half-hearted affairs. Why, but there was the shortage of rowers. "Would you make charges against the governor ? break his neck for him." Well, what is to be done, if we may not refer either to the governor or to the governor's lady's husband, and the whole of our defence is concerned with these two men?

[43.] L   [111] Among the accused persons was Heraclius of Segesta, a member of one of the best families in that city. Gentlemen, my story should appeal to your sympathetic hearts; for it is a story of great suffering, and great wrong, inflicted on our Sicilian allies. You are to know that the position of Heraclius was that owing to serious eye trouble he did not on this occasion go to sea, but by the orders of the person in authority remained behind at Syracuse on leave of absence. He, most certainly, did not betray the fleet, or run away in a panic, or leave his post of duty - or why was he not punished at the time when the fleet sailed from Syracuse? Yet he was treated as if he had been caught red-handed in the commission of some criminal act, a man against whom there was no pretext for bringing even an unfounded charge of misconduct.

[112] One of these captains was a certain Furius of Heracleia - for some of those folk have such Latin names as this - a man of note and distinction beyond the limits of his own town even during his lifetime, and throughout all Sicily since his death. He possessed such courage as not only to denounce Verres without reserve - knowing himself a doomed man, he was aware that he risked nothing by acting thus - but with death looking him in the face, while day and night his mother sat weeping by his side in the prison, he composed a written speech in his own defence ; and there is no one in Sicily to-day who does not possess this speech, and read it, and learn from it, Verres, the tale of your crimes and your cruelty. In it he tells how many sailors his town assigned him, how many he exempted from duty, what sum was paid for these exemptions, how many men he had with him ; and he also tells us about the other ships. These facts he stated before you in court, whereupon he was beaten across the face with rods. With certain death before him, he bore the pain calmly enough, loudly declaring what he has left us in writing, how foul a shame it was that the kisses of an adulterous woman should have more power to make you acquit Cleomenes than the tears of a mother to make you spare his own life. - [113] And I learn that he said another thing, a dying man's testimony to yourselves, gentlemen, which, if Rome is not deceived in you, was fully justified. Verres, he said, may kill the witnesses, but he cannot put justice to death. I in the grave shall give such evidence as in the eyes of discerning judges will count for more than if I were being called into court as a living witness. Alive, I could but testify to the man's cupidity : thus slaughtered, I shall testify to his shameless and wicked cruelty. It is not - he finely observes - not only the troop of witnesses, O Verres, that will appear before your judges at your trial, but the avenging spirits arising from the graves of innocent men, and the Furies that pursue the guilty scoundrel. My own fate, he cries, seems a smaller thing because I have already beheld your axe sharpened, looked upon the face of Sextius your executioner, and seen what his hands did, when here in this home of Roman citizens the axe by your orders fell upon Roman citizens' necks. - [114] In a word, gentlemen : you have granted our allies freedom, and this freedom Furius used to the full, while suffering the most cruel death as if he were the most miserable of slaves.

[44.] L   Verres pronounced them all found guilty by his court. And what was this court that sat to try so many men on a charge so fearful? He did not call on his quaestor Titus Vettius to assist its deliberations, nor on the legate Publius Cervius - this worthy man was the first whom Verres challenged as one of his own judges, because he had been legate while Verres was governor. No; he found all those men guilty in accordance with the verdict of his own suite - the verdict, in other words, of a band of robbers. [115] And now all the Sicilians, those most ancient and faithful allies whom our forefathers loaded with benefits, were stricken with consternation, terrified by the threat to their own lives and welfare. They were appalled by the change from the former mildness and gentleness of our rule into such barbarous cruelty, by the simultaneous condemnation of all those guiltless men, by the endeavour of our villainous governor to escape punishment for his own robberies by putting the blameless and innocent to death.

You will think, gentlemen, that the man's insane villainy and cruelty must now have reached its limit. And it is but natural that you should think so. In competition with other scoundrels he would easily leave them all far behind. [116] But he is his own competitor ; with each new crime his aim is to break his previous record. I have said that Phalacrus of Centuripa was removed from the list at the suggestion of Cleomenes because Cleomenes had been in his quadrireme. The young man was none the less in a state of great uneasiness, knowing his position to be the same as that of the innocent persons already doomed to die. So Timarchides went to see him, and told him that he was in no danger of execution, but had better take steps to avoid being flogged. I spare you the details: you have heard from the young man's own lips how he was thus frightened into giving a bribe to Timarchides. [117] But such charges are trifles when it is Verres who is standing his trial. What if he did make this ship's captain, the most notable man in his own community, secure himself by bribery against being flogged? Men do behave thus. What if he took money to acquit some other person ? Such a thing has been done before. This nation does not expect us to bring stale charges against Verres. It demands novelties; it yearns for the unprecedented; for this, it feels, is not the trial of a Sicilian governor, but the trial of some foul and evil despot. [45.] L   The condemned men were thrust into prison, and the agonies decreed for them were exacted forthwith from their hapless parents, who were forbidden access to their sons, forbidden to bring their own children food and clothing. [118] The fathers - you see them here in court - lay crouched in the doorway; the unhappy mothers passed the nights at the prison entrance, cut off from the last sight of their children, begging for nothing but permission to receive with their lips their sons' parting breath. The prison warder would come along, the governor's executioner, bringer of death and death's terrors to the allies and citizens of Rome - Sextius the lictor ; and every groan and pang meant a scheduled profit for him. "So much for leave to see him - so much to be allowed to bring in food and clothing " - and everyone paid up. " Well now, what offers for making an end of your son with one blow of my axe - no long suffering, no repeated blows, no feeling of pain as he ives up the ghost?" Yes, the lictor got his money for this too. [119] Think of that unbearable burden of pain, of the anguish that racked those unhappy parents, thus compelled to purchase for their children by bribery not life but a speedy death. Nay, the poor lads themselves discussed the fatal blow, the single stroke of the axe, with their good Sextius, and their last petition to their fathers and mothers was that money might be paid to the lictor to have their suffering lightened. Well, we see many forms of torture devised for those parents and relatives - many indeed, and horrible; but these will surely end with their children's death ? They will not. Why, is there any way for cruelty to go further still? A way will be found : when the axe has fallen and killed the lads, their corpses will be flung to the beasts ; or if that distresses their parents, let their parents pay for permission to bury them. [120] You have heard Onasus, a well-known citizen of Segesta, testify that he paid money to Timarchides for leave to bury the captain Heraclius. It is thus useless to argue that of course the bereaved fathers attending this trial are exasperated by their loss ** ; for here we have the statement of a gentleman of the highest standing who is not one of those fathers. And here is a thing that everyone then at Syracuse heard of and knows to be true, that these burial bargains were struck with Timarchides even by the victims themselves before they died. They discussed the matter with the man openly ; all of them called in all their relatives to help them, and arranged while yet alive for their own funeral rites. All these negotiations being concluded and settled, they were taken from prison and bound to the stake. -

[46.] L   [121] And who now was so stony-hearted, who so inhuman, save yourself alone, as not to be moved with pity for the unhappy fate of these young men whom all knew so well? Was there anyone who did not weep - who did not feel those men's calamity as a blow that struck himself and menaced the lives of all? The axe fell on them ; a cry of grief went up; you alone rejoiced and triumphed, happy in the removal of those witnesses to your cupidity. But you were wrong, Verres, wildly wrong, in thinking to wash away the plague-spots of your thefts and debaucheries in the blood of those guiltless allies of ours. It was the headlong folly of a madman to suppose that the damage your greed had done you could be cured by the application of cruelty. Those witnesses to your wickedness are indeed no more : none the less, their kinsmen turn their backs neither on them nor on you ; and none the less, some of those same captains are alive and here in court; preserved by destiny, as I must think, to appear in this trial and to avenge their innocent comrades. [122] Phylarchus of Haluntium is with us, who did not run away when Cleomenes did, and was in consequence caught and captured by the pirates - a disaster that saved him, for unless the pirates had captured him, he would have fallen a prey to this buccaneer who has plundered all Sicily. He has told us in his evidence of the exemption of sailors from duty, of the food shortage, of how Cleomenes ran away. And Phalacrus of Centuripa is with us, a distinguished citizen of a distinguished city ; and his testimony agrees with that of Phylarchus in every detail.

[123] Now what, in God's name I ask you, are your feelings and thoughts, gentlemen, as you sit there and hear me speak these words? Is my own judgement astray ? are the calamities that have befallen our unhappy allies distressing me more than is reasonable? Or are the agonies of pain and grief inflicted on these innocent persons causing yourselves equal distress ? For my own part, when I tell you of men of Herbita and Heracleia dying by the executioner's axe, my imagination is stirred vividly by the shameful injustice of their fate. [47.] L   Citizens of the states, born and brought up amid the fields, from which year by year, through their toil and labour, corn in vast abundance is procured to feed the populace of Rome, have they been reared and trained by their parents with the fairest hopes from Roman rule and Roman justice, only to fall the victims of this man Verres' inhuman wickedness and his executioner's hideous axe? [124] When I think of the captains from Tyndaris and Segesta, my thoughts dwell on the privileges that Tyndaris and Segesta have enjoyed and the services that they have rendered. Scipio judged that the spoils of war might fitly be applied to making these cities even fairer than they were : the wicked villainy of Verres has robbed them not only of those things of beauty but of her noblest sons as well Thus might the people of Tyndaris be proud to speak of themselves : "We are counted among the seventeen loyal states of Sicily ; we, throughout the Punic and Sicilian wars, never broke our ties of friendship with the Roman nation ; we have never ceased to supply the Roman nation with all that might contribute to its success in time of war and its prosperity in time of peace." Mightily indeed have those privileges availed them while they were under the authority of governor Verres ! - [125] Once it was Scipio who led your ** sailors against Carthage: to-day it is Cleomenes who leads against the pirates your all but empty ship. The hero of Africa gave you a share of the spoils of war, a share of the victor's reward of glory : but now you are despoiled by Verres, your ship is carried off by the pirates, and you yourselves are regarded and treated as enemies. - And then there is the famous kinship of blood between Rome and Segesta, ** not merely recorded in the archives of Segesta or recounted by her orators, but confirmed and made effective by the many services she has rendered to us: what benefit accrued to her from this connexion in the days of Verres' rule? Why, gentlemen, so highly was she privileged that one of her foremost sons was torn from his country's bosom and delivered over to this man's executioner Sextius. - To her our ancestors granted an extensive and fertile territory, to her they gave immunity from public burdens: and you, Verres, disregarded so completely the claims of her blood-kinship with us, her loyalty to us, her antiquity and her importance, that she pleaded in vain with you to spare the life of that single son of hers, and not to shed the blood of a highly honoured and altogether innocent man.

[48.] L   [126] Where shall our allies seek refuge, whose help shall they entreat, nay, what hope will possess them that can make life seem worth living, if you, gentlemen, fail them ? Shall they approach the Senate? To what end? that it may have Verres punished? That is not customary ; that is not the Senate's function. Shall they appeal to the assembled nation? It will have good reason to say them no ; it will tell them that it has passed a certain law for its allies' good, and has appointed you to take charge of that law and to see that it is not broken. Here, therefore, is the one place to which they may turn for refuge ; here is our allies' harbour, here their citadel, and here their sanctuary. And the refuge they now seek here is not such as they have been wont to seek when they sued for the restitution of their stolen property. They do not now claim back their gold, their silver, their tapestries, their slaves, no, nor the works of art of which their cities and shrines have been robbed. The poor ignorant folk are afraid that the Roman nation has come to permit such doings, and is content to see them occur. Year after year, indeed, we have allowed them to occur ; we have seen all the wealth of all the world become the property of a mere handful of men; and our readiness to tolerate and permit this is the more apparent because none of those persons conceals his cupidity, none is concerned to throw any doubt upon the fact of it. [127] Among all the treasures that so richly adorn this beautiful city of ours, is there one statue, one picture, that has not been captured and brought hither from the enemies we have defeated in war? whereas the country-houses of the men to whom I refer are furnished to overflowing with the countless beautiful things of which they have robbed our most loyal allies. What do you suppose has become of the wealth of the foreign nations who are now so poor, when you see Athens, Pergamum, Cyzicus, Miletus, Chios, Samos - nay, all Asia and Achaea, all Greece and Sicily, concentrated in these few country-houses ? Yet I repeat, gentlemen, that to-day your allies are not attempting, and not caring, to recover any of these treasures. By their loyalty and good service they guarded themselves against being deprived of them by public decree of the Roman nation. The time came when they could not resist the greed of this man or that, but in one way or another they were able to gratify it. To-day they have lost the power not only of resisting but even of supplying the demands made of them. And therefore they are not concerned for their property ; they forbear to claim that restitution of moneys which this Court, as its name shows, was instituted to secure. They come, with their appeal to you, dressed as you see them dressed. ** [128] Look, gentlemen, look on the unkempt and dishevelled condition of these loyal friends of ours !

[49.] L   Sthenius of Thermae stands before you. You see his neglected hair, his garb of mourning. - But though you have ransacked every corner of his house, Verres, he makes no mention of your robberies. It is himself he bids you restore - no more than that - you whose wanton wickedness has thrust him forth bodily from the land of his birth, where his many virtues and beneficent deeds had gained him such pre-eminence. - Here, gentlemen, you see Dexo of Tyndaris - and what, Verres, does Dexo demand from you? Not the treasures of which you have robbed is town, not those of which you have robbed himself. It is his only son whom this unhappy man demands, his noble and wholly innocent son: he seeks not to carry home money from the sum your judges sentence you to pay, but to carry to his dead son's bones and ashes such poor consolation as your ruin shall afford. Here is the aged Eubulidas : in spite of his years, he undertook the weary journey to Rome, not in the hope of recovering some fraction of his property, but that his eyes, having once beheld the blood gushing from his son's neck, might now behold you in the hour of your conviction - [129] And the mothers, gentlemen, and the sisters of those hapless men were eager to come too, if only Lucius Metellus had let them come. One of them came to meet me, as I was approaching Heracleia one evening ; with her were all the married women of the city, many of them bearing torches in their hands. Addressing me as her own saviour, calling Verres her own executioner, with pitiful appeals to the memory of her son, the poor creature prostrated herself before me as if it were in my power to raise her son from the dead. In the other towns the aged mothers, yes, and the little children of these poor lads, behaved in the same fashion, age and youth alike establishing their claims on my zeal and industry, on your honour and compassion. [130] And so it is, gentlemen, that Sicily has bidden me tell this tale of wrong as well as the others, a tale for whose telling pity, and not ambition, has been the motive. It is my purpose that the condemnation of the guiltless, that chains and prison, that the scourge and the axe, that the agony of our allies and the blood of their innocent sons, that, worst of all, the bloodless corpses of the dead and the grief of their parents and their kinsfolk, shall not be allowed to be the means of enriching Roman magistrates. If, gentlemen, your honour and integrity shall enable me, by the condemnation of this scoundrel, to rid Sicily of her fear that such things may happen, I shall feel that my own conscience, and the wishes of those who begged me to do what I am doing, are fully satisfied.

Following sections (131-188)


32.(↑)   As this counterfeit is here mentioned for the first time, 'hunc' is perhaps corrupt: 'quem' would give the sense required, "a counterfeit." Dr. Rouse suggests 'huic', "a (fake) captain in place of this (the real) one.”

33.(↑)   As Roman citizens whose own lives were endangered by the precedent set by Verres.

34.(↑)   Unless, that is, Verres had been heavily bribed by the pirates to do so.

35.(↑)   The Court that tried charges of treason ('maiestas').

36.(↑)   The best sense that it seems possible to give these words is that these resources for the defence of Sicily must have been intended for direct use by those persons, and by those persons only, on whom they were thus bestowed by the state.

37.(↑)   The most junior officer of the Roman army would be a fitter admiral than Cleomenes.

38.(↑)   For Segesta's claim to this see Book iv. § 70.

39.(↑)   An easier sense would be given by reading (as Zielinski suggested) 'cum imperio tum etiam luxurie ac nequitia'. But Cicero means, perhaps, that Cleomenes thought of himself as possessing irresponsible power like Verres, and therefore as free to indulge himself as he liked.

40.(↑)   See Book i. § 69-70 for the Lampsacus affair and a fuller reference to the fate of Hadrianus at Utica.

41.(↑)   The above rendering takes 'urbis' to mean not Syracuse but Rome, and 'conventum et multitudinem' as a hendiadys.

42.(↑)   And therefore their evidence against Verres is prejudiced and untrustworthy.

43.(↑)   The people of Tyndaris are apostrophised here.

44.(↑)   See Book iv. § 72 for a fuller reference to this tradition.

45.(↑)   In the garb of bereaved mourners.

Following sections (131-188) →

Attalus' home page   |   09.04.24   |   Any comments?