THE THIRD BOOK OF THE SECOND PLEADING IN THE ACCUSATION AGAINST CAIUS VERRES.
ON THE COUNT RELATING TO CORN.
A great part of this speech is occupied with charges against Verres of extortion committed with respect to the decuriæ or tenths. “The decuriæ formed a part of the vectigalia of the Romans, and were paid by subjects whose territory, either by conquest, or by deditio, had become the property of the state. They consisted, as the name denotes, of a tithe or tenth of the produce of the soil, levied upon the cultivators (aratores) or occupiers (possessores) of the lands; which from being subject to this payment were called agri decumani. . . . It appears from Cicero (c. Verr. act. ii. lib. iii.) that the Romans, on reducing Sicily to a province, allowed to the old inhabitants a continuance of their ancient rights, and that, with some few exceptions, the territory of all the states was subjected, as formerly, to the payment of a tithe on corn, wine, oil, and the ‘fruges minutæ.’ It was further determined that the place and time of paying these tithes to the decumani should ‘be and continue’ as settled by the law of king Hiero (Lex Hieronica), which enacted severe penalties against any orator who did not pay his due, as well as against the decumani who exacted more than their tenth. . . . The name of decumani was also applied to the farmers of these tributes, who purchased them from the state, and then collected them on their own account.” In fact “the revenues which Rome derived from conquered countries, consisting chiefly of tolls, tithes, harbour duties, &c. . . . were chiefly let out, or, as the Romans expressed it, sold by the censors in Rome itself to the highest bidders, (Cic. c. Verr. ii. iii. 7.) . . . The tithes raised in the province of Sicily alone, with the exception of those of wine, oil, and garden produce, were not sold at Rome, but in the district of Sicily itself, according to a practice established by Hiero, (Cic. c. Verr. ii. iii. 64, 33.) The persons who undertook the farming of the public revenue, of course, belonged to the wealthiest Romans; and down to the end of the republic, as well as during the earlier part of the empire, the farming of the public revenues was almost exclusively in the hands of the equites, whence the words equites and publicani are sometimes used as synonymous, (Cic. c. Verr. i. 51, 52, 71., . . . The publicani had to give security to the state for the sum at which they bought one or more branches of the revenue in a province; and as no one person was rich enough to give sufficient security, a number of equites generally united together and formed a company (socii, societas, or corpus) which was ‘recognised by the state, and by which they were enabled to carry on their undertakings on a large scale. The shares which each partner in such a company took in the business were called partes, and if they were small particulæ. The responsible person in each company, and the one who contracted with the state, was called manceps, but there was also a magister to manage the business of each company, who resided at Rome, and kept up an extensive correspondence with the agents in the provinces, (Cic. c. Verr. ii. 74.) He seems to have held his office only for one year; his representative in the province was called submagister, who had to travel about and superintend the actual business of collecting the revenues. . . . Nobody but a Roman citizen was allowed to become a member of a company of publicani; freedmen and slaves were excluded, (Cic. c. Verr. ii. iii. 39.) No Roman magistrate, however, or governor of a province, was allowed to take any share whatever in a company of publicani, (Cic. c. Verr. ii. iii. 57); a regulation which was chiefly intended as a protection against the oppression of the provincials . . The actual levying or collecting of the taxes in the provinces was performed by an inferior class of men, who were said operas publicanis dare, or esse in operis societatis, (Cic. c. Verr. ii. iii. 41.) They were engaged by the publicani, and consisted of freemen as well as slaves, Romans as well as provincials.” (Cic. c. Verr. ii. iii. 77.)—Smith, Dict. Ant. pp. 316, 806, vv. Decumæ, Publicani.
Verres had broken the law which forbade a governor of a province to hold shares in a company which farmed the revenue; and as he had therefore a personal interest in increasing the taxes, he committed unexampled acts of extortion himself, and protected those who committed similar acts. And in many other respects he had plundered the cultivators of the public domain, whom I have called in this translation “agriculturists,” not using the word “farmers,” by which word I have rendered “publicani.”
The medimnus, as we see, (c. 45, 46), was equal to six modii, and contained within a fraction of twelve English gallons, or a bushel and a half.
I. Every man, O judges, who, without being prompted by any enmity, or stung by any private injury, or tempted by any reward, prosecutes another for the good of the republic, ought to consider, not only how great a burden he is taking upon himself at the time, but also how much trouble he is courting for the remainder of his life. For he imposes on himself a law of innocence, of moderation, and of all virtues, who demands from another an account of his life; and he does so the more if, as I said before, he does this being urged by no other motive except a desire for the common good. For if any one assumes to himself to correct the manners of others, and to reprove their faults, who will pardon him, if he himself turn aside in any particular from the strict line of duty? Wherefore, a citizen of that sort is the more to be praised and beloved by all men for this reason also,—that he does not only remove a worthless citizen from the republic, but he also promises and binds himself to be such a man as to be compelled, not only by an ordinary inclination to virtue and duty, but by even some more unavoidable principle, to live virtuously and honourably. And, therefore, O judges, that most illustrious and most eloquent man, Lucius Crassus, was often heard to say that he did not repent of anything so much as having ever proceeded against Caius Carbo: for by so doing he had his inclination as to everything less uncontrolled, and he thought, too, that his way of life was remarked by more people than he liked. And he, fortified as he was by the protection of his own genius and fortune, was yet hampered by this anxiety which he had brought upon himself, before his judgment was fully formed, at his entrance into life; on which account virtue and integrity is less looked for from those who undertake this business as young men, than from those who do so at a riper age; for they, for the sake of credit and ostentation, become accusers of others before they have had time to take notice how much more free the life of those who have accused no one is. We who have already shown both what we could do, and what judgment we had, unless we could easily restrain our desires, should never, of our own accord, deprive ourselves of all liberty and freedom in our way of life.
II. And I have a greater burden on me than those who have accused other men, (if that deserve to be called a burden which you bear with pleasure and delight,)—but still I have in one respect undertaken a greater burden than others who have done the same thing, because all men are required to abstain most especially from those vices for which they have reproved another. Have you accused any thief or rapacious man? You must for ever avoid all suspicion of avarice. Have you prosecuted any spiteful or cruel man? You must for ever take care not to appear in any matter the least harsh or severe. A seducer? an adulterer? You must take care most diligently that no trace of licentiousness be ever seen in your conduct. In short, everything which you have impeached in another must be earnestly avoided by you your self. In truth, not only no accuser, but no reprover even can be endured, who is himself detected in the vice which he reproves in another. I, in the case of one man, am finding fault with every vice which can exist in a wicked and abandoned man. I say that there is no indication of lust, of wickedness, of audacity, which you cannot see clearly in the life of that one man. In the case of this criminal, I, O judges, establish this law against myself; that I must so live as to appear to be, and always to have been, utterly unlike that man, not only in all my actions and words, but even in that arrogance and haughtiness of countenance and eyes which you see before you. I will bear without uneasiness, O judges, that that course of life which was previously agreeable to me of my own accord, shall now, by the law and conditions I have laid down for myself, become necessary for me.
III. And in the case of this man you often, O Hortensius, are asking me, under the pressure of what enmity or what injury I have come forward to accuse him. I omit all mention of my duty, and of my connexion with the Sicilians; I answer you as to the point of enmity. Do you think there is any greater enmity than that arising from the opposite opinions of men, and the contrariety of their wishes and inclinations? Can he who thinks good faith the holiest thing in life avoid being an enemy to that man who, as quæstor, dared to despoil, to desert, to betray, and to attack his consul, whose counsels he had shared, whose money he had received, with all whose business affairs he had been entrusted? Can he who reverences modesty and chastity behold with equanimity the daily adulteries, the dissolute manners of that man, the domestic pandering to his passions? Can he who wishes to pay due honours to the immortal gods, by any means avoid being an enemy to that man who has plundered all the temples, who has dared to commit his robberies even on the track of the wheels of the sacred car? Must not he who thinks that all men ought to live under equal laws, be very hostile to you, when he considers the variety and caprice of your decrees? Must not he who grieves at the injuries of the allies and the distresses of the provinces be excited against you by the plundering of Asia, the harassing of Pamphylia, the miserable state and the agony of Sicily? Ought not he who desires the rights and the liberty of the Roman citizens to be held sacred among all men,—to be even more than an enemy to you, when here collects your scourgings, your executions, your crosses erected for the punishment of Roman citizens? Or if he had in any particular made a decree contrary to my interest unjustly, would you then think that I was fairly an enemy to him; but now that he has acted contrary to the interests, and property, and advantage, and inclination, and welfare of all good men, do you ask why I am an enemy to a man towards whom the whole Roman people is hostile? I, who above all other men ought to undertake, to gratify the desires of the Roman people, even a greater burden and duty than my strength perhaps is equal to.
IV. What? cannot even those matters, which seem more trifling, move any one’s mind,—that the worthlessness and audacity of that man should have a more easy access to your own friendship, O Hortensius, and to that of other great and noble men, than the virtue and integrity of any one of us? You hate the industry of new men; you despise their economy; you scorn their modesty; you wish their talents and virtues to be depressed and extinguished. You are fond of Verres: I suppose so. If you are not gratified with his virtue, and his innocence, and his industry, and his modesty, and his chastity, at least you are transported at his conversation, his accomplishments, and his high breeding. He has no such gifts; but, on the contrary, all his qualities are stained with the most extreme disgrace and infamy, with most extraordinary stupidity and boorishness. If any man’s house is open to this man, do you think it is open, or rather that it is yawning and begging something? He is a favourite of your factors, of your valets. Your freedmen, your slaves, your housemaids, are in love with him. He, when he calls, is introduced out of his turn; he alone is admitted, while others, often most virtuous men, are excluded. From which it is very easily understood that those people are the most dear to you who have lived in such a manner that without your protection they cannot be safe. What? do you think this can be endurable to any one,—that we should live on slender incomes in such a way as not even to wish to acquire anything more; that we should be content with maintaining our dignity, and the goodwill of the Roman people, not by wealth, but by virtue; but that that man, having robbed every one on all sides, and having escaped with impunity, should live in prosperity and abundance? that all your banquets should be decorated with his plate, your forum and hall of assembly with his statues and pictures? especially when, through your own valour, you are rich in all such trophies? That it should be Verres who adorns your villas with his spoils? That it should be Verres who is vieing with Lucius Mummius: so that the one appears to have laid waste more cities of the allies, than the other overthrew belonging to the enemy? That the one, unassisted, seems to have adorned more villas with the decorations of temples, than the other decorated temples with the spoils of the enemy? And shall he be dearer to you, in order that others may more willingly become subservient to your covetousness at their own risk?
V. But these topics shall be mentioned at another time, and they have already been mentioned elsewhere. Let us proceed to the other matters, after we have in a few words, O judges, begged your favourable construction. All through our former speech we had your attention very carefully given to us. It was very pleasing to us; but it will be far more pleasing, if you will be so kind as to attend to what follows; because in all the things which were said before, there was some pleasure arising from the very variety and novelty of the subjects and of the charges. Now we are going to discuss the affair of corn; which indeed in the greatness of the iniquity exceeds nearly all the other charges, but will have far less variety and agreeableness in the discussion. But it is quite worthy of your authority and wisdom, O judges, in the matter of careful hearing, to give no less weight to conscientiousness in the discharge of your duties, than to pleasure. In inquiring into this charge respecting the corn, keep this in view, O judges, that you are going to inquire into the estates and fortunes of all the Sicilians—into the property of all the Roman citizens who cultivate land in Sicily—into the revenues handed down to you by your ancestors—into the life and sustenance of the Roman people. And if these matters appear to you important—ay, and most important,—do not be weary if they are pressed upon you from various points of view, and at some length. It cannot escape the notice of any one of you, O judges, that all the advantage and desirableness of Sicily, which is in any way connected with the convenience of the Roman people, consists mainly in its corn; for in other respects we are indeed assisted by that province, but as to this article, we are fed and supported by it. The case, O judges, will be divided under three heads in my accusation: for, first, I shall speak of the collectors of the tenths; secondly, of the corn which has been bought; thirdly, of that which has been valued.
VI. There is, O judges, this difference between Sicily and other provinces, in the matter of tribute derived from the lands; that in the other provinces, either the tribute imposed is of a fixed amount, which is called stipendiarium, as in the case of the Spaniards and most of the Carthaginian provinces, being a sort of reward of victory, and penalty for war; or else a contract exists between the state and the farmers, settled by the censor, as is the case in Asia, by the Sempronian law. But the cities in Sicily were received into our friendship and alliance, retaining the same laws which they had before, and that being subject to the Roman people on the same conditions as they had formerly been subject to their own princes. Very few cities of Sicily were subdued in war by our ancestors, and even in the case of those which were, though their land was made the public domain of the Roman people, still it was afterwards restored to them. That domain is regularly let out to farmers by the censors. There are two federate cities, whose tenths are not put up to auction; the city of the Mamertines and Taurominium. Besides these, there are five cities without any treaty, free and enfranchised; Centuripa, Halesa, Segesta, Halicya, and Panormus. All the land of the other states of Sicily is subject to the payment of tenths; and was so, before the sovereignty of the Roman people, by the will and laws of the Sicilians themselves. See now the wisdom of our ancestors, who, when they had added Sicily, so valuable an assistant both in war and peace, to the republic, were so careful to defend the Sicilians and to retain them in their allegiance, that they not only imposed no new tax upon their lands, but did not even alter the law of putting up for sale the contracts of the farmers of the tenths, or the time or place of selling them; so that they were to put them up for sale at the regular time of year, at the same place, in Sicily,—in short, in every respect as the law of Hiero directed; they permitted them still to manage their own affairs, and were not willing that their minds should be disturbed even by a new name to a law, much less by an actual new law. And so they resolved that the farming of the tenths should always be put up to auction according to the law of Hiero, in order that the discharge of that office might be the more agreeable if, though the supreme power was changed, still, not only the laws of that king, who was very dear to the Sicilians, but his name also remained in force among them. This law the Sicilians always used before Verres was prætor. He first dared to root up and alter the established usages of them all, their customs which had been handed down to them from their ancestors, the conditions of their friendship with us, and the rights secured to them by our alliance.
VII. And in this, this is the first thing I object to and accuse you for, that in a custom of such long standing, and so thoroughly established, you made any innovation at all. Have you ever gained anything by this genius of yours? Were you superior in prudence and wisdom to so many wise and illustrious men who governed that province before you? That is your renown; this praise is due to your genius and diligence. I admit and grant this to you. I do know that, at Rome, when you were prætor, you did transfer by your edict the possession of inheritance from the children to strangers, from the first heirs to the second, from the laws to your own licentious covetousness. I do know that you corrected the edicts of all your predecessors, and gave possession of inheritance not according to the evidence of those who produced the will, but according to theirs who said that a will had been made. And I do know too that those new practices, first brought forward and invented by you, were a very great profit to you. I recollect, moreover, that you also abrogated and altered the laws of the censors about the keeping the public buildings in repair; so that he might not take the contract to whom the care of the building belonged; so that his guardians and relations might not consult the advantage of their ward so as to prevent his being stripped of all his property; that you appointed a very limited time for the work, in order to exclude others from the business; but that with respect to the contractor you favoured, you did not observe any fixed time at all. So that I do not marvel at your having established a new law in the matter of the tenths; you, a man so wise, so thoroughly practised in prætorian edicts and censorian laws. I do not wonder, I say, at your having invented something; but I do blame you, I do impeach you, for having of your own accord, without any command from the people, without the authority of the senate changed the laws of the province of Sicily. The senate permitted Lucius Octavius and Caius Cotta, the consuls, to put up to auction at Rome the tenths of wine, and oil, and of pulse, which before your time the quæstors had been in the habit of putting up in Sicily; and to establish any law with respect to those articles which they might think fit. When the contract was offered for sale, the farmers begged them to add some clauses to the law, and yet not to depart from the other laws of the censors. A man opposed this, who by accident was at Rome at that time; your host,—your host, and intimate friend, I say, O Verres,—Sthenius, of Thermæ, who is here present. The consuls examined into the matter. When they had summoned many of the principal and most honourable men of the state to form a council on the subject; according to the opinion of that council they gave notice that they should put the tenths up to auction according to the law of Hiero.
VIII. Was it not so? Men of the greatest wisdom, invested with the supreme authority, to whom the senate had given the whole power of making laws respecting the letting out the farming of the tributes, (and this power had been ratified by the people, while only one Sicilian objected to it,) would not alter the name of the law of Hiero, even when the measure would have been accompanied by an augmentation of the revenue; but you, a man of no wisdom, of no authority, without any order from people or senate, while all Sicily objected, abrogated the whole law of Hiero, to the greatest injury and even destruction of the revenue. But what law is this, O judges, which he amends, or rather totally abrogates? A law framed with the greatest acuteness and the greatest diligence, which gives up the cultivator of the land to the collector of the tenths, guarded by so many securities, that neither in the corn fields, nor on the threshing floors, nor in the barns, nor while removing his corn privily, nor while carrying it away openly, can the cultivator defraud the collector of one single grain without the severest punishment. The law has been framed with such care, that it is plain that a man framed it who had no other revenues; with such acuteness that it was plain that he was a Sicilian; with such severity, that he was evidently a tyrant: by this law, however, cultivating the land was an advantageous trade for the Sicilian; for the laws for the collectors of the tenths were also drawn up so carefully that it is not possible for more than the tenth to be extorted from the cultivator against his will. And though all these things were settled in this way, after so many years and even ages, Verres was found not only to change, but entirely to overturn them, and to convert to purposes of his own most infamous profit those regulations which had long ago been instituted and established for the safety of the allies and the benefit of the republic. In the first instance he appointed certain men, collectors of the tenths in name, in reality the ministers and satellites of his desires; by whom I will show that the province was for three years so harassed and plundered, O judges, that it will take many years and a long series of wise and incorruptible governors to recover it.
IX. The chief of all those who were called collectors, was Quintus Apronius, that man whom you see in court, concerning whose extraordinary wickedness you have heard the complaints of most influential deputations. Look, O judges, at the face and countenance of the man; and from that obstinacy which he retains now in the most desperate circumstances, you may imagine and recollect what his arrogance must have been in Sicily. This Apronius is the man whom Verres (though he had collected together the most infamous men from all quarters, and though he had taken with him no small number of men like himself in worthlessness, licentiousness, and audacity,) still considered most like himself of any man in the whole province. And so in a very short time they became intimate, not because of interest, nor of reason, nor of any introduction from mutual friends, but from the baseness and similarity of their pursuits. You know the depraved and licentious habits of Verres. Imagine to yourselves, if you can, any one who can be in every respect equal to him in the wicked and dissolute commission of every crime, that man will be Apronius; who, as he shows not only by his life, but by his person and countenance, is a vast gulf and whirlpool of every sort of vice and infamy. Him did Verres employ as his chief agent in all his adulteries, in all his plundering of temples, in all his debauched banquets; and the similarity of their manners caused such a friendship and unanimity between them, that Apronius, whom every one else thought a boor and a barbarian, appeared to him alone an agreeable and an accomplished man; that, though every one else hated him, and could not bear the sight of him, Verres could not bear to be away from him; that, though others shunned even the banquets at which Apronius was to be present, Verres used the same cup with him; lastly, that, though the odour of Apronius’s breath and person is such that even, as one may say, the beasts cannot endure him, he appeared to Verres alone sweet and pleasant. He sat next to him on the judgment-seat; he was alone with him in his chamber; he was at the head of his table at his banquets; and especially then, when he began to dance at the feast naked, while the young son of the prætor was sitting by.
X. This man, as I began to say, Verres selected for his principal agent in distressing and plundering the fortunes of the cultivators of the land. To this man’s audacity, and wickedness, and cruelty, our most faithful allies and most virtuous citizens were given up, O judges, by this prætor, and were placed at his mercy by new regulations and new edicts, the entire law of Hiero, as I said before, having been rejected and repudiated.
First of all, listen, O judges, to his splendid edict. “Whatever amount of tithe the collector declared that the cultivator ought to pay, that amount the cultivator should be compelled to pay to the collector.”—How? Let him pay as much as Apronius demands? What is this? is the regulation of a prætor for allies, or the edict and command of an insane tyrant to conquered enemies? Am I to give as much as he demands? He will demand every grain that I can get out of my land. Am I to give all? Ay, and more too, if he chooses. What, then, am I to do? What do you think? You must either pay, or you will be convicted of having disobeyed the edict. O ye immortal gods, what a state of things is this? For it is hardly credible. And indeed I am persuaded, O judges that, though you should think that all other vices are met in this man, still this must seem false to you. For I myself, though all Sicily told me of it, still should not dare to affirm this to you, if I was not able to recite to you these edicts from his own documents in those very words—as I will do. Give this, I pray you, to the clerk; he shall read from the register. Read the edict about the returns of property.
[The edict about the returns of property is read.]
He says I am not reading the whole. For that is what he seems to intimate by shaking his head. What am I passing over? is it that part where you take care of the interests of the Sicilians, and show regard for the miserable cultivators? For you announce in your edict, that you will condemn the collector in eightfold damages, if he has taken more than was due to him. I do not wish anything to be passed over. Read this also which he requires; read every word.
[The edict about the eightfold damages is read.]
Does this mean that the cultivator is to prosecute the collector at law? It is a miserable and unjust thing for men to be brought from the country into the forum, from the plough to the courts of justice; from habits of rustic life to actions and trials to which they are wholly unaccustomed.
XI. When in all the other countries liable to tribute, of Asia, of Macedonia, of Spain, of Gaul, of Africa, of Sicily, and in those parts of Italy also which are so liable; when in all these, I say, the farmer in every case has a right to claim and a power to distrain, but not to seize and take possession without the interference of the law, you established regulations respecting the most virtuous and honest and honourable class of men,—that is, respecting the cultivators of the soil,—which are contrary to all other laws. Which is the most just, for the collector to have to make his claim, or for the cultivator to have to recover what has been unlawfully seized? for them to go to trial when things are in their original state, or when one side is ruined? for him to be in possession of the property who has acquired it by hard labour, or him who has obtained it by bidding for it at an auction? What more? They who cultivate single acres, who never cease from personal labour, of which class there were a great number, and a vast multitude among the Sicilians before you came as prætor,—what are they to do? When they have given to Apronius all he has demanded, are they to leave their allotments? to leave their own household gods? to come to Syracuse, in order while you, forsooth, are prætor, to prosecute, by the equal law which they will find there, Apronius, the delight and joy of your life, in a suit for recovery of their property? But so be it. Some fearless and experienced cultivator will be found, who, when he has paid the collector as much as he says is due, will seek to recover it by course of law, and will sue for the eightfold penalty. I look for the vigour of the edict, for the impartiality of the prætor; I espouse the cause of the cultivator; I wish to see Apronius condemned in the eightfold penalty. What now does the cultivator demand? Nothing but sentence for an eightfold penalty, according to the edict. What says Apronius? He is unable to object. What says the prætor? He bids him challenge the judges. Let us, says he, make out the decuries. What decuries? Those from my retinue; you will challenge the others. What? of what men is that retinue composed? Of Volusius the soothsayer, and Cornelius the physician, and the other dogs whom you see licking up the crumbs about my judgment-seat. For he never appointed any judge or recuperator from the proper body. He said all men who possessed one clod of earth were unfairly prejudiced against the collectors. People had to sue Apronius before these men who had not yet got rid of the surfeit from his last banquet.
XII. What a splendid and memorable court! what an impartial decision! what a safe resource for the cultivators of the soil! And that you may understand what sort of decisions are obtained in actions for the eightfold penalty, and what sort of judges those selected from that man’s retinue are considered to be, listen to this. Do you think that any collector, when this licence was allowed him of taking from the cultivator whatever he claimed, ever did demand more than was due? Consider yourselves in your own minds, whether you think any one ever did so, especially when it might have happened, not solely through covetousness, but even through ignorance. Many must have done so. But I say that all extorted more, and a great deal more, than the proper tenths. Tell me of one man, in the whole three years of your prætorship, who was condemned in the eightfold penalty. Condemned, indeed! Tell me of one man who was ever prosecuted according to your edict. There was not, in fact, one cultivator who was able to complain that injustice had been done to him; not one collector who claimed one grain more as due to him than really was due. Far from that. Apronius seized and carried off whatever he chose from every one. In every district the cultivators, harassed and plundered as they were, were complaining, and yet no instance of a trial can be found. Why is this? Why did so many bold, honourable, and highly esteemed men—so many Sicilians, so many Roman knights—when injured by one most worthless and infamous man, not seek to recover the eightfold penalty, which had most unquestionably been incurred? What is the cause, what is the reason? That reason alone, O judges, which you see,—because they knew they should come off at the trial defrauded and ridiculed. In truth, what sort of trial must that be, when three of the profligate and abandoned retinue of Verres sat on the tribunal under the name of judges?—slaves of Verres, not inherited by him from his father, but recommended to him by his mistress. The cultivator, forsooth, might plead his cause; he might show that no corn was left him by Apronius,—that even his other property was seized; that he himself had been driven away with blows. Those admirable men would lay their heads together, they would chat to one another about revels and harlots, if they could catch any when leaving the prætor. The cause would seem to be properly heard: Apronius would have risen, full of his new dignity as a knight; not like a collector all over dirt and dust, but reeking with perfumes, languid with the lateness of the last night’s drinking party, with his first motion, and with his breath he would have filled the whole place with the odour of wine, of perfume, and of his person. He would have said, what he repeatedly has said, that he had bought, not the tenths, but the property and fortunes of the cultivators; that he, Apronius, was not a collector, but a second Verres,—the absolute lord and master of those men. And when he had said this, those admirable men of Verres’s train, the judges, would deliberate, not about acquitting Apronius, but they would inquire how they could condemn the cultivator himself to pay damages to Apronius.
XIII. When you had granted this licence for plundering the cultivators to the collectors of the tenths,—that is, to Apronius,—by allowing him to demand as much as he chose, and to carry off as much as he demanded, were you preparing this defence for your trial,—that you had promised by edict that you would assign judges in a trial for an eightfold penalty? Even if in truth you were to give power to the cultivator, not only to challenge his judges, but even to pick them out of the whole body of the Syracusan assembly, (a body of most eminent and honourable men,) still no one could bear this new sort of injustice,—that, when one has given up the whole of one’s produce to the farmer, and had one’s property taken out of one’s hands, then one is to endeavour to recover one’s property and to seek its restitution by legal proceedings; but when what is granted by the edict is, in same indeed, a trial, but in reality a collusion of your attendants, most worthless men, with the collectors, who are your partners, and besides that, with the judges, do you still dare to mention that trial, especially when what you say is refuted, not merely by my speech, but by the facts themselves? when in all the distresses of the cultivators of the soil, and all the injustice of the collectors, not only has no trial ever taken place according to that splendid edict, but none has ever been so much as demanded? However, he will be more favourable to the cultivators than he appears; for the same man who has announced in his edict that he will allow a trial against the collectors, in which they shall be liable to an eightfold penalty, had it also set down in his edict, that he would grant a similar trial against the cultivators, in which they should be liable to a fourfold penalty. Who now dares to say that this man was unfavourably disposed or hostile to the cultivators? How much more lenient is he to them than to the collectors? He has ordered in his edict that the Sicilian magistrate should exact from the cultivator whatever the collector declared ought to be paid to him. What sentence has he left behind, which can be pronounced against a cultivator of the soil? It is not a bad thing, says he, for that fear to exist; so that, when the money has been exacted from the cultivator, still there will be behind a fear of the court of justice, to prevent him from stirring himself. If you wish to exact money from me by process of law, remove the Sicilian magistrate. If you employ this violence, what need is there of a process of law? Moreover, who will there be who would not prefer paying to your collectors what they demand, to being condemned in four times the amount by your attendants.
XIV. But that is a splendid clause in the edict, that gives notice that in all disputes which arise between the cultivator and the collector, he will assign judges, if either party wishes it. In the first place, what dispute can there be when he who ought to make a claim, makes a seizure instead? and when he seizes, not as much as is due, but as much as he chooses? and when he, whose property is seized, cannot possibly recover his own by a suit at law? In the second place, this dirty fellow wants even in this to seem cunning and wily; for he frames his edict in these words—“If either wishes it, I will assign judges.” How neatly does he think he is robbing him! He gives each party the power of choice; but it makes no difference whether he wrote—“If either wishes it,” or “If the collector wishes it.” For the cultivator will never wish for those judges of yours. What next? What sort of edicts are those which he issued to meet particular occasions, at the suggestion of Apronius? When Quintus Septitius, a most honourable man, and a Roman knight, resisted Apronius, and declared that he would not pay more than a tenth, a sudden special edict makes its appearance, that no one is to remove his corn from the threshing-floor, before he has settled the demands of the collector. Septitius put up with this injustice also, and allowed his corn to be damaged by the rain, while remaining on the threshing-floor; when on a sudden that most fruitful and profitable edict comes out, that every one was to have his tenths delivered at the water-side before the first of August. By this edict, it was not the Sicilians, (for he had already sufficiently crushed and ruined them by his previous edicts,) but all those Roman knights who had fancied that they could preserve their rights against Apronius, excellent men, and highly esteemed by other prætors, who were delivered bound hand and foot into the power of Apronius. For just listen and see what sort of edicts these are. “A man,” says he, “is not to remove his corn from the threshing-floor, unless he has settled all demands.” This is a sufficiently strong inducement to making unfair demands; for I had rather give too much, than not remove my corn from the threshing-floor at the proper time. But that violence does not affect Septitius, and some others like Septitius, who say, “I will rather not remove my corn, than submit to an extortionate demand.” To these then the second edict is opposed. “You must have delivered it by the first of August.” I will deliver it then.—“Unless you have settled the demands, you shall not remove it.” So the fixing of the day for delivering it at the waterside, compelled the man to remove his corn from the threshing-floor. And the prohibition to remove, unless the demand were settled, made the settlement compulsory and not voluntary.
XV. But what follows is not only contrary to the law of Hiero, not only contrary to the customs of all former prætors, but even contrary to all the rights of the Sicilians, which they have as granted them by the senate and people of Rome,—that they shall not be forced to give security to appear in any courts of justice but their own. Verres made a regulation that the cultivator should appear to an action brought by a collector in any court which the collector might choose. So that in this way also gain might accrue to Apronius, when he dragged a defendant all the way from Leontini to Lilybæum to appear before the court there, by making false accusations against the wretched cultivators. Although that device for false accusation was also contrived with singular cunning, when he ordered that the cultivators should make a return of their acres, as to what they were sown with. And this had not only great power in causing most iniquitous claims to be submitted to, as we shall show hereafter, and that too without any advantage to the republic, but at the same time it gave a great handle to false accusations, which all men were liable to if Apronius chose. For, as any one said anything contrary to his inclination, immediately he was summoned before the court on some charge relative to the returns made of his lands. Through fear of which action a great quantity of corn was extorted from many, and vast sums were collected; not that it was really difficult to make a correct return of a man’s acres, or even to make an extravagantly liberal one, (for what danger could there be in doing that?) but still it opened a pretext for demanding a trial because the cultivator had not made his return in the terms of the edict. And you must feel sure what sort of trial that would be while that man was prætor, if you recollect what sort of a train and retinue he had about him. What is it, then, which I wish you to understand, O judges, from the iniquity of these new edicts? That any injury has been done to our allies? That you see. That the authority of his predecessors has been overruled by him? He will not dare to deny it. That Apronius had such great influence while he was prætor? That he must unavoidably confess.
XVI. But perhaps you will inquire in this place, as the law reminds you to do, whether he himself has made any money by this conduct. I will show you that he has made vast sums, and I will prove that he established all those iniquitous rules which I have mentioned before, with no object but his own profit, when I have first removed out of his line of defence that rampart which he thinks he shall be able to employ against all my attacks.
I sold, says he, the tenths at a high price. What are you saying? Did you, O most audacious and senseless of men, sell the tenths? Did you sell those portions which the senate and people of Rome allowed you to sell, or the whole produce; and in that the whole property and fortunes of the cultivators? If the crier had openly given notice by your order, that there was being sold, not a tenth, but half the corn, and if purchasers had come with the idea of buying half the corn,—if then you had sold the half for more than the other prætors had sold the tenth part of it, would that seem strange to any one? But what shall we say if the crier gave notice of a sale of the tenths, but if, in fact, by your regulation,—by your edict,—by the terms of the sale which you offered, more than a half portion was sold? Will you still think that creditable to yourself, to have sold what you had no right to sell for more than others sold what they fairly could? Oh, I sold the tenths for more than others had sold them. By what means did you manage that? by innocent means? Look at the temple of Castor, and then, if you dare, talk of your innocent means. By your diligence? Look at the erasures in your registers at the name of Sthenius of Thermæ, and then have the face to call yourself diligent. By your ability? You who refused at the former pleadings to put questions to the witnesses, and preferred presenting yourself dumb before them, pray call yourself and your advocates able men as much as you please. By what means, then, did you manage what you say you did? For it is a great credit to you if you have surpassed your predecessors in ability, and left to your successors your example and your authority. Perhaps you had no one before you fit to imitate. But, no doubt, all men will imitate you, the inventor and first parent of such excellent methods. What cultivator of the soil, when you were prætor, paid a tenth? Who paid two-tenths only? Who was there who did not think himself treated with the greatest lenity if he paid three-tenths instead of one, except a few men, who, on account of a partnership with you in your robberies, paid nothing at all? See how great a difference there is between your harshness and the kindness of the senate. The senate, when owing to any necessity of the republic it is compelled to decree that a second tenth shall be exacted, decrees that for that second tenth money be paid to the cultivators, so that the quantity which is taken beyond what is strictly due may be considered to be purchased, not to be taken away. You, when you were exacting and seizing so many tenths, not by a decree of the senate, but by your own edicts and nefarious regulations, shall you think that you have done a great deed if you sell them for more than Lucius Hortensius, the father of this Quintus Hortensius, did,—than Cnæus Pompeius or Caius Marcellus sold them for; men who did not violate justice or law, or established rules? Were you to consider what might be got in one year, or in two years, and to neglect the safety of the province, the well-doing of the corn interest, and the interests of the republic in future times, though you came to the administration of affairs when matters were so managed that sufficient corn was supplied to the Roman people from Sicily, and still it was a profitable thing for the cultivators to plough and till their land? What have you brought about? What have you gained? In order that, while you were prætor, some addition might be made to the revenue derived from the tenths, you have caused the allotments of land to be deserted and abandoned. Lucius Metellus succeeded you. Were you more innocent than Metellus? Were you more desirous of credit and honour? For you were seeking the consulship, but Metellus neglected the renown which he had inherited from his father and his grandfather. He sold the tenths for much less, not only than you had done, but even than those had who had sold them before you.
XVII. I ask, if he himself could not contrive any means for selling them at the best possible price, could he not follow in the fresh steps of you the very last prætor, so as to use your admirable edicts and regulations, invented and devised by you their author? But he thought that he should not at all be a Metellus if he imitated you in anything; he who when he thought that he was to go to that province sent letters to the cities of Sicily from Rome, a thing which no one in the memory of man ever did before, in which he exhorts and entreats the Sicilians to plough and sow their land for the service of the Roman people. He begs this some time before his arrival, and at the same time declares that he will sell the tenths according to the law of Hiero; that is to say, that in the whole business of the tenths he will do nothing like that man. And he writes this, not from being impelled by any covetousness to send letters into the province before his time, but out of prudence, lest, if the seed-time passed, we should have not a single grain of corn in the province of Sicily. See Metellus’s letters. Read the letter of Lucius Metellus.
[The letters of Lucius Metellus are read.]
XVIII. It is these letters, O judges, of Lucius Metellus which you have heard, that have raised all the corn that there is this year in Sicily. No one would have broken one clod of earth in all the land of Sicily subject to the payment of tenths, if Metellus had not sent this letter. What? Did this idea occur to Metellus by inspiration, or had he his information from the Sicilians who had come to Rome in great numbers, and from the traders of Sicily? And who is ignorant what great crowds of them assembled at the door of the Marcelli, the most ancient patrons of Sicily? what crowds of them thronged to Cnæus Pompeius, the consul elect, and to the rest of the men connected with the province? And such a thing never yet took place in the instance of any one, as for a man to be openly accused by those people over whose property and families he had supreme dominion and power. So great was the effect of his injuries, that men preferred to suffer anything, rather than not to bewail themselves and complain of his wickedness and injuries. And when Metellus had sent these letters couched in almost a supplicating tone to all the cities, still he was far from prevailing with them to sow the land as they formerly had. For many had fled, as I shall presently show, and had left not only their allotments of land, but even their paternal homes, being driven away by the injuries of that man.
I will not indeed, O judges, say anything for the sake of unduly exaggerating my charges. But the sentiments which I have imbibed through my eyes and in my mind, those I will state to you truly, and, as far as I can, plainly. For when four years afterwards I came into Sicily, it appeared to me in such a condition as those countries are apt to be in, in which a bitter and long war has been carried on. Those plains and fields which I had formerly seen beautiful and verdant, I now saw so laid waste and desolate that the very land itself seemed to feel the want of its cultivators, and to be mourning for its master. The land of Herbita, of Enna, of Morgantia, of Assoria, of Imachara, and of Agyrium, was so deserted as to its principal part, that we had to look not only for the allotments of land, but also for the body of owners. But the district of Ætna, which used to be most highly cultivated, and that which was the very head of the corn country, the district of Leontini, the character of which was formerly such that when you had once seen that sown, you did not fear any dearness of provisions, was so rough and unsightly, that in the most fruitful part of Sicily we were asking where Sicily could be gone? The previous year had, indeed, greatly shaken the cultivators, but the last one had utterly ruined them.
XIX. Will you dare also to make mention to me of the tenths? Do you, after such wickedness, after such cruelty, after such numerous and serious injuries done to people, when the whole province of Sicily entirely depends on its arable land, and on its rights connected with that land; after the cultivators have been entirely ruined, the fields deserted—after you have left no one in so wealthy and populous a province—not only no property, but no hope even remaining; do you, I say, think that you can acquire any popularity by saying that you have sold the tenths at a better price than the other prætors? As if the Roman people had formed this wish, or the senate had given you this commission, by seizing all the fortunes of the cultivators under the name of tenths, to deprive the Roman people for all future time of that revenue, and of their supply of corn; and, as if after that, by adding some part of your own plunder to the total amount got from the tenths, you could appear to have deserved well of the Roman people.
And I say this, as if his injustice was to be reproved in this particular, that, out of a desire for credit to be got by surpassing others in the sum derived from tenths, he had put forth a law rather too severe, and edicts rather too stringent, and rejected the examples of all his predecessors. You sold the tenths at a high price. What will be said, if I prove that you appropriated and took to your own house no less a sum than you had sent to Rome under the name of tenths? What is there to obtain popularity for you in that plan of yours, when you took for yourself from a province of the Roman people a share equal to that which you sent to the Roman people? What will be said if I prove that you took twice as much corn yourself as you sent to the Roman people? Shall we still expect to see your advocate toss his head at this accusation, and throw himself on the people, and on the assembly here present? These things you have heard before, O judges; but perhaps you have heard it on no other authority than report, and the common conversation of men. Know now that an enormous sum was taken by him on pretences connected with corn; and consider at the same time the profligacy of that saying of his, when he said that by the profit made on the tenths alone, he could buy himself off from all his dangers.
XX. We have heard this for a long time, O judges. I say that there is not one of you who has not often heard that the collectors of the tenths were that man’s partners. I do not think that anything else has been said against him falsely by those who think ill of him but this. For they are to be considered partners of a man, with whom the gains of a business are shared. But I say that the whole of these gains, and the whole of the fortunes of the cultivators, went to Verres alone. I say that Apronius, and those slaves of Venus, who were quite a new class of farmers first heard of in his prætorship, and the other collectors, were only agents of that one man’s gains, and ministers of his plunder. How do you prove that? How did I prove that he had committed robbery in the contract for those pillars? Chiefly, I think, by this fact, that he had put forth an unjust and unprecedented law. For who ever attempted to change all the rights of people, and the customs of all men, getting great blame for so doing, except for some gain? I will proceed and carry this matter further. You sold the tenths according to an unjust law, in order to sell them for more money. Why, when the tenths were now knocked down and sold,—when nothing could now be added to their sum total, but much might be to your own gains,—why did new edicts appear, made on a sudden and to meet an emergency? For I say, that in your third year you issued edicts, that a collector might summon a man before the court anywhere he liked; that the cultivator might not remove his corn from the threshing-floor, before he had settled the claims of the collector; that they should have the tenths delivered at the water-side before the first of August. All these edicts, I say, you issued after the tenths had been sold. But if you had issued them for the sake of the republic, notice would have been given of them at the time of selling; because you were acting with a view to your own interest, you, being prompted by your love of gain and by the emergency, repaired the omission which had unintentionally occurred. But who can be induced to believe this—that you, without any profit, or even without the greatest profit to yourself, disregarded the great disgrace, the great danger to your position as a free man, and to your fortunes, which you were incurring, so far as, though you were daily hearing the groans and complaints of all Sicily,—though, as you yourself have said, you expected to be brought to trial for this,—though the hazard of this present trial is not at all inconsistent with the opinion you yourself had formed,—still to allow the cultivators of the soil to be harassed and plundered with circumstances of the most scandalous injustice? In truth, though you are a man of singular cruelty and audacity, still you would be unwilling for a whole province to be alienated from you,—for so many most honourable men to be made your greatest enemies, if your desire for money and present booty had not overcome all reason and all consideration of safety. But, O judges, since it is not possible for me to detail to you the sum total and the whole number of his acts of injustice,—since it would be an endless task to speak separately of the injuries done to each individual,—I beg you, listen to the different kinds of injustice.
XXI. There is a man of Centuripa, named Nympho, a clever and industrious man, a most experienced and diligent cultivator. He, though he rented very large allotments, (as other rich men like him have been in the habit of doing in Sicily,) and though he cultivated them at great expense, keeping a great deal of stock, was treated by that man with such excessive injustice, that he not only abandoned his allotments, but even fled from Sicily, and came to Rome with many others who had been driven away by that man. He then contrived that the collector should assert that Nympho had not made a proper return of his number of acres, according to that notable edict, which had no other object except making profit of this sort. As Nympho wished to defend himself in a regular action, he appoints some excellent judges, that same physician Cornelius, (his real name is Artemidorus, a citizen of Perga, under which name he had formerly in his own country acted as guide to Verres, and as prompter in his exploit of plundering the temple of Diana,) and Volusius the soothsayer, and Valerius the crier. Nympho was condemned before he had fairly got into court. In what penalty? perhaps you will ask, for there was no fixed sum mentioned in the edict. In the penalty of all the corn which was on his threshing-floors. So Apronius the collector takes, by a penalty for violating an edict, and not by any rights connected with his farming the revenue—not the tenth that was due, not corn that had been removed and concealed, but seven thousand medimni of wheat—from the allotments of Nympho.
XXII. A farm belonging to the wife of Xeno Menenius, a most noble man, had been let to a settler. The settler, because he could not bear the oppressive conduct of the collectors, had fled from his land. Verres gave his favourite sentence of condemnation against Xeno for not having made a return of his acres. Xeno said that it was no business of his; that the farm was let. Verres ordered a trial to take place according to this formula,—“If it should appear” that there were more acres in the farm than the settler had returned, then Xeno was to be condemned. He said not only that he had not been the cultivator of the land, which was quite sufficient, but also that he was neither the owner of that farm, nor the lessor of it; that it belonged to his wife; that she herself transacted her own affairs; that she had let the land. A man of the very highest reputation, and of the greatest authority, defended Xeno, Marcus Cossetius. Nevertheless Verres ordered a trial, in which the penalty was fixed at eighty thousand sesterces. Xeno, although he saw that judges were provided for him out of that band of robbers, still said that he would stand the trial. Then that fellow, with a loud voice, so that Xeno might hear it, orders his slaves of Venus to take care the man does not escape while the trial is proceeding, and as soon as it is over to bring him before him. And at the same time he said also, that he did not think that, if from his riches he disregarded the penalty of a conviction, he would also disregard the scourge. He, under the compulsion of this violence and this fear, paid the collectors all that Verres commanded.
XXIII. There is a citizen of Murgentia, named Polemarchus, a virtuous and honourable man. He, when seven hundred medimni were demanded as the tenths due on fifty acres, because he refused to pay them, was summoned before the prætor at his own house; and, as he was still in bed, he was introduced into his bed-chamber, into which no one else was admitted, except his woman and the collector. There he was beaten and kicked about till, though he had refused before to pay seven hundred medimni, he now promised a thousand, Eubulides Grosphus is a man of Centuripa, a man above all others of his city, both for virtue and high birth, and also for wealth. They left this man, O judges, the most honourable man of a most honourable city, not merely only so much corn, but only so much life as pleased Apronius. For by force, by violence, and by blows, he was induced to give corn, not as much as he had, but as much as was demanded of him, which was even more. Sostratus, and Numenius, and Nymphodorus, of the same city, three brothers of kindred sentiments, when they had fled from their lands because more corn was demanded of them than their lands had produced, were treated thus,—Apronius collected a band of men, came into their allotments, took away all their tools, carried off their slaves, and drove off their live stock. Afterwards, when Nymphodorus came to Ætna to him, and begged to have his property restored to him, he ordered the man to be seized and hung up on a wild olive, a tree which is the forum there; and an ally and friend of the Roman people, a settler and cultivator of your domain, hung suspended from a tree in a city of our allies, and in the very forum, for as long a period as Apronius chose.
I have now been recounting to you, O judges, the species of countless injuries which he has wrought,—one of each sort. An infinite host of evil actions I pass over. Place before your own eyes, keep in your minds, these invasions by collectors of the whole of Sicily, their plunderings of the cultivators of the soil, the harshness of this man, the absolute reign of Apronius. He despised the Sicilians; he did not consider them as men, he thought that they would not be vigorous in avenging themselves, and that you would treat their oppression lightly.
XXIV. Be it so. He adopted a false opinion about them, and a very injurious one about you. But while he deserved so ill of the Sicilians, at least, I suppose, he was attentive to the Roman citizens; he favoured them; he was wholly devoted to securing their good-will and favour? He attentive to the Roman citizens? There were no men to whom he was more severe or more hostile. I say nothing of chains, of imprisonment, of scourgings, of executions. I say nothing even of that cross which he wished to be a witness to the Roman citizens of his humanity and benevolence to them. I say nothing, I say, of all this, and I put all this off to another opportunity. I am speaking about the tenths,—about the condition of the Roman citizens in their allotments; and how they were treated you heard from themselves. They have told you that their property was taken from them. But since there was such a cause for it as there was, these things are to be endured,—I mean, the absence of all influence in justice, of all influence in established customs. There are, in short, no evils, O judges, of such magnitude that brave men, of great and free spirit, think them intolerable. What shall we say if, while that man was prætor, violent hands were, without any hesitation, laid by Apronius on Roman knights, who were not obscure, nor unknown, but honourable, and even illustrious? What more do you expect? What more do you think I can say? Must I pass as quickly as possible from that man and from his actions, in order to come to Apronius, as, when I was in Sicily, I promised him that I would do?—who detained for two days in the public place at Leontini, Caius Matrinius, a man, O judges, of the greatest virtue, the greatest industry, the highest popularity. Know, O judges, that a Roman knight was kept two days without food, without a roof over his head, by a man born in disgrace, trained in infamy, practised in accommodating himself to all Verres’s vices and lusts; that he was kept and detained by the guards of Apronius two days in the forum at Leontini, and not released till he had agreed to submit to his terms.
XXV. For why, O judges, should I speak of Quintus Lollius, a Roman knight of tried probity and honour? (the matter which I am going to mention is clear, notorious, and undoubted throughout all Sicily;)—who, as he was a cultivator of the domain in the district of Ætna, and as his farm belonged to Apronius’s district as well as the rest, relying on the ancient authority and influence of the equestrian order, declared that he would not pay the collectors more than was due from him to them. His words are reported to Apronius. He laughed, and marvelled that Lollius had heard nothing of Matrinius or of his other actions. He sends his slaves of Venus to the man. Remark this also, that a collector had officers appointed to attend him by the prætor; and see if this is a slight argument that he abused the name of the collectors to purposes of his own gain. Lollius is brought before Apronius by the slaves of Venus, and dragged along, at a convenient moment, when Apronius had just returned from the palæstra, and was lying on a couch which he had spread in the forum of Ætna. Lollius is placed in the middle of that seemly banquet of gladiators. I would not, in truth, O judges, believe the things which I am now saying, although I heard them commonly talked about, if the old man had not himself told them to me in the most solemn manner, when he was with tears expressing his thanks to me and to the willingness with which I had undertaken this accusation. A Roman knight, I say, nearly ninety years old, is placed in the middle of Apronius’s banquet, while Apronius in the meantime was rubbing his head and face with ointment. “What is this, Lollius,” says he; “cannot you behave properly, unless you are compelled by severe measures?” What was the man to do? should he hold his tongue, or answer him? In truth he, a man of that bright character, and that age, did not know what to do. Meantime Apronius called for supper and wine; and his slaves, who were of no better manners than their master, and were born of the same class and in the same rank of life, brought these things before the eyes of Lollius. The guests began to laught, Apronius himself roared; unless, perchance, you suppose that he did not laugh in the midst of wine and feasting, who even now at the time of his danger and ruin cannot suppress his laughter. Not to detain you too long; know, O judges, that Quintus Lollius, under the compulsion of these insults, came into the terms and conditions of Apronius. Lollius, enfeebled by old age and disease, could not come to give his evidence. What need have we of Lollius? There is no one who is ignorant of this, no one of your own friends, no one who is brought forward by you, no one at all who, if he is asked, will say that he now hears this for the first time. Marcus Lollius, his son, a most excellent young man, is present; you shall hear what he says—For Quintus Lollius, his son, who was the accuser of Calidius, a young man both virtuous and bold, and of the highest reputation for eloquence, when being excited by these injuries and insults he had set out for Sicily, was murdered on the way; and the crime of his death is imputed indeed to fugitive slaves; but, in reality, no one in Sicily doubts that he must be murdered because he could not keep to himself his intentions respecting Verres. He, in truth, had no doubt that the man who, under the promptings of a mere love of justice, had already accused another, would be ready as an accuser for him on his arrival, when he was stimulated by the injuries of his father, and indignation at the treatment received by his family.
XXVI. Do you now thoroughly understand, O judges, what a pest, what a barbarian has been let loose in your most ancient, most loyal, and nearest province? Do you see now on what account Sicily, which has before this endured the thefts, and rapine, and iniquities, and insults of so many men, has not been able to submit to this unprecedented, and extraordinary, and incredible series of injuries and insults? All men are now aware why the whole province sought out that man as a defender of its safety, from the effects of whose good faith, and diligence, and perseverance Verres could not possibly be saved. You have been present at many trials, you know that many guilty and wicked men have been impeached within your own recollection, and that of your ancestors. Have you ever seen any one, have you ever heard of any one, who has lived in the practice of such great, such open robberies, of such audacity, of such shameless impudence? Apronius had his attendants of Venus about him; he took them with him about the different cities; he ordered banquets to be prepared and couches to be spread for him at the public expense, and to be spread for him in the forum. Thither he ordered most honourable men to be summoned, not only Sicilians, but even Roman knights, so that men of the most thoroughly proved honour were detained at his banquet, when none but the most impure and profligate men would join him in a banquet. Would you, O most profligate and abandoned of all mortals, when you knew these things, when you were hearing of them every day, when you were seeing them, would you ever have allowed or endured that such things should have taken place, to your own great danger, if they had taken place without enormous profit to yourself? Was it the profit made by Apronius, and his most beastly conversation, and his flagitious caresses, that had such influence with you, that no care for or thought of your own fortunes ever touched your mind? You see, O judges, what sort of conflagration, and how vast a torrent of collectors spread itself with violence, not only over the fields but also over all the other property of the cultivators; not only over the property, but also over the rights of liberty and of the state. You see some men suspended from trees; others beaten and scouraged; others kept as prisoners in the public place; others left standing alone at a feast; others condemned by the physician and crier of the prætor; and nevertheless the property of all of them is carried off from the fields and plundered at the same time. What is all this? Is this the rule of the Roman people? Are these the laws of the Roman people? are these their tribunals? are these their faithful allies? is this their suburban province? Are not rather all these things such that even Athenio would not have done them if he had been victorious in Sicily? I say, O judges, that the evidence of fugitive slaves would not have equalled one quarter of the wickedness of that man.
XXVII. In this manner did he behave to individuals. What more shall I say? How were cities treated in their public capacity? You have heard many statements and testimonies from some cities, and you shall hear them from the rest. And first of all, listen to a brief tale concerning the people of Agyrium, a loyal and illustrious people. The state of Agyrium is among the first in all Sicily for honour;—a state of men wealthy before this man came as prætor, and of excellent cultivators of the soil. When this same Apronius had purchased the tenths of that district, he came to Agyrium; and when he had come thither with his regular attendants—that is to say, with threats and violence,—he began to ask an immense sum, so that when he had got his profit, he might depart. He said that he did not wish to have any trouble, but that, when he had got his money, he would depart as soon as possible to some other city. All the Sicilians are not contemptible men, if only our magistrates leave them alone; but they are many, of sufficient courage, and very economical and temperate, and among the very first is this city of which I am now speaking, O judges. Therefore the men of Agyrium make answer to this most worthless man, that they will give him the tenths which are due from them, that they will not add to them any profit for himself, especially since he had bought them an excellent bargain. Apronius informs Verres, whose business it really was, what was going on.
XXVIII. Immediately, as if there had been some conspiracy at Agyrium formed against the republic, or as if the lieutenant of the prætor had been assaulted, the magistrates and five principal citizens are summoned from Agyrium at his command. They went to Syracuse. Apronius is there. He says that those very men who had come had acted contrary to the prætor’s edict. They asked, in what? He answered, that he would say in what before the judges. He, that most just man, tried to strike his old terror into the wretched Agyrians; he threatened that he would appoint their judges out of his own retinue. The Agyrians, being very intrepid men, said that they would stand the trial. That fellow put on the tribunal Artemidorus Cornelius, the physician, Valerius, the crier, Tlepolemus, the painter, and judges of that sort; not one of whom was a Roman citizen, but Greek robbers of temples, long since infamous, and now all Corneliuses. The Agyrians saw that whatever charge Apronius brought before those judges, he would very easily prove; but they preferred to be convicted, and so add to his unpopularity and infamy, rather than accede to his conditions and terms. They asked what formula would be given to the judges on which to try them? He answered, “If it appeared that they had acted contrary to the edict,” on which formula he said that he should pronounce judgment. They preferred trying the question according to a most unjust formula, and with most profligate judges, rather than come to any settlement with him of their own accord. He sent Timarchides privily to them, to warn them, if they were wise, to settle the matter. They refused. “What, then, will you do? Do you prefer to be convicted each of you in a penalty of fifty thousand sesterces?” They said they did. Then he said out loud, in the hearing of every one, “Whoever is condemned, shall be beaten to death with rods.” On this they began with tears to beg and entreat him to be allowed to give up their cornfields, and all their produce, and their allotments, when stripped of everything, to Apronius, and to depart themselves without insult and annoyance. These were the terms, O judges, on which Verres sold the tenths. Hortensius may say, if he pleases, that Verres sold them at a high price.
XXIX. This was the condition of the cultivators of the soil while that man was prætor; that they thought themselves exceedingly well off, if they might give up their fields when stripped of everything to Apronius, for they wished to escape the many crosses which were set before their eyes. Whatever Apronius had declared to be due, that they were forced to give, according to the edict. Suppose he declared more was due than the land produced? Just so. How could that be? The magistrates were bound, according to his own edict, to compel the payment. Well, but the cultivators could recover. Yes, but Artemidorus was the judge. What next? What happened if the cultivator had given less than Apronius had demanded? A prosecution of the cultivator to recover a fourfold penalty. Before judges taken from what body? From that admirable retinue of most honourable men in attendance on the prætor. What more? I say that you returned less than the proper number of acres: select judges for the matter which is to be tried, namely, your violation of the edict. Out of what class? Out of the same retinue. What will be the end of it? If you are convicted, (and what doubt can there be about a conviction with those judges?) you must be beaten to death with rods. When these are the rules, these the conditions, will there be any one so foolish as to think that what was sold were the tenths? Who believes that nine parts were left to the cultivator? Who does not perceive that that fellow considered as his own gain and plunder the property and possessions and fortunes of the cultivators? From fear of the rods the Agyrians said that they would do what they were commanded to.
XXX. Listen now to what his orders were; and conceal, if you can, that you are aware of what all Sicily well knew, that the prætor himself was the farmer of the tenths, or rather the lord and sovereign of all the allotments in the province. He orders the Agyrians to take the tenths themselves in the name of their city, and to give a compliment to Apronius If he had bought them at a high price, since you are a man who inquired into the proper price with great diligence, who, as you say, sold them at a high price, why do you think that a compliment ought to be added as a present to the purchaser? Be it so; you did think so. Why did you order them to add it? What is the meaning of taking and appropriating money, for which the law has a hold on you, if this is not it,—I mean the compelling men by force and despotic power against their will to give a compliment to another, that is to say, to give him money? Well, what comes next? If they were ordered to give some small compliment to Apronius, the delight of the prætor’s life, suppose that it was given to Apronius, if it seems to you the compliment to Apronius, and not the plunder of the prætor. You order them to them the tenths; to give Apronius a compliment,—thirty-three thousand medimni of wheat. What is this? One city is compelled by the command of the prætor to give to the Roman people out of one district almost food enough to support it for a month. Did you sell the tenths at a high price, when such a compliment was given to the collector? In truth, if you had inquired carefully into the proper price, then when you were selling them, they would rather have given ten thousand medimni more then, than six hundred thousand sesterces afterwards. It seems a great booty. Listen to what follows, and remark it carefully, so as to be the less surprised that the Sicilians, being compelled by their necessity, entreated aid from their patrons, from the consuls, from the senate, from the laws, from the tribunals. To pay Apronius for testing the wheat which was given to him, Verres orders the Agyrians to pay Apronius three sesterces for every medimnus.
XXXI. What is this? When such a quantity of corn has been extorted and exacted under the name of a compliment, is money to be exacted besides for testing the corn? Or could, not only Apronius, but any one, if corn was to be served out to the army, disapprove of the Sicilian corn, which Verres might have measured on the threshing-floor, if he had liked? That vast quantity of corn is given and extorted at your command. That is not enough. Money is demanded besides. It is paid. That is too little. For the tenths of barley more money is extorted. You order thirty thousand sesterces to be paid. And so from one city there are extorted by force, by threats, by the despotic power and injustice of the prætor, thirty-three thousand medimni of wheat, and besides that, sixty thousand sesterces! Are these things obscure? Or, even if all the world wished it, can those things be obscure which you did openly, which you ordered in open court, which won extorted when every one was looking on? concerning which matters the magistrates and five chief men of Agyrium, whom you summoned from their homes for the sake of your own gain, reported your acts and commands to their own senate at home; and that report, according to their laws, was recorded in the public registers, and the ambassadors of the Agyrians, most noble men, are at Rome, and have deposed to these facts in evidence. Examine the public letters of the Agyrians; after that the public testimony of the city. Read the public letters.
[The public letters are read.]
Read the public evidence.
[The public evidence is read.]
You have remarked in this evidence, O judges, that Apollodorus, whose surname is Pyragrus, the chief man of his city, gave his evidence with tears, and said that since the name of the Roman people had been heard by and known to the Sicilians, the Agyrians had never either said or done anything contrary to the interests of even the meanest of the Roman citizens; but that now they are compelled by great injuries and great suffering to give evidence in a public manner against a prætor of the Roman people. You cannot, in truth. O Verres, invalidate the evidence of this one city by your defence; so great a weight is there in the fidelity of these men, such great indignation is there at their injuries, such great conscientiousness is there in the way in which they gave their evidence. But it is not one city alone, but every city, that now being crushed by similar distresses pursues you with deputations and public evidence.
XXXII. Let us now, in regular order, proceed to see in what way the city of Herbita, an honourable and formerly a wealthy city, was harassed and plundered by him. A city of what sort of men? Of excellent agriculturists, men most remote from courts of law, from tribunals, and from disputes; whom you, O most profligate of men, ought to have spared, whose interests you ought to have consulted, the whole race of whom you ought most carefully to have preserved. In the first year of your prætorship the tenths of that district were sold for eighteen thousand medimni of wheat. When Atidius, who was also his servant in the matter of tenths, had purchased them, and when he had come to Herbita with the title of præfect, attended by the slaves of Verres, and when a place where he might lodge had been assigned him by the public act of the city, the people of Herbita are compelled to give him as a profit thirty-seven thousand modii of wheat, when the tenths of the wheat had been sold at eighteen thousand. And they are compelled to give this vast quantity of wheat in the name of their city, since the private cultivators of the soil had already fled from their lands, having been plundered and driven away by the injuries of the collectors. In the second year, when Apronius had bought the tenths of wheat for twenty-five thousand modii, and when he himself had come to Herbita with his whole force and his whole band of robbers, the people was compelled to give him in the name of the city a present of twenty-six thousand modii of wheat, and a further gift of two thousand sesterces. I am not quite sure about this further gift, whether it was not given to Apronius himself as wages for his trouble, and a reward for his impudence. But concerning such an immense quantity of wheat, who can doubt that it came to that robber of corn, Verres, just as the corn of Agyrium did? But in the third year he adopted in this district the custom of sovereigns.
XXXIII. They say that the barbarian kings of the Persians and Syrians are accustomed to have several wives, and to give to these wives cities in this fashion:—that this city is to dress the woman’s waist, that one to dress her neck, that to dress her hair; and so they have whole nations not only privy to their lusts, but also assistants in it. Learn that the licentiousness and lust of that man who thought himself king of the Sicilians, was much the same. The name of the wife of Æschrio, a Syracusan, is Pippa, whose name has been made notorious over all Sicily by that man’s profligacy, and many verses were inscribed on the prætor’s tribunal, and over the prætor’s head, about that woman. This Æschrio, the imaginary husband of Pippa, is appointed as a new farmer of the tenths of Herbita. When the men of Herbita saw that if the business got into Æschrio’s hands they should be plundered at the will of a most dissolute woman, they bid against him as far as they thought that they could go. Æschrio bid on, for he was not afraid that, while Verres was prætor, the woman, who would be really the farmer, would ever be allowed to lose by it. The tenths are knocked down to him at thirty-five thousand medimni, nearly half as much again as they had fetched the preceding year. The cultivators were utterly destroyed, and so much the more because in the preceding year they had been drained dry, and almost ruined. He was aware that they had been sold at so high a price, that more could not be squeezed out of the people; so he deducts from the sum total three thousand six hundred medimni, and enters on the registers thirty-one thousand four hundred.
XXXIV. Docimus had bought the tenths of barley belonging to the same district. This Docimus is the man who had brought to Verres Tertia, the daughter of Isidorus the actor, having taken her from a Rhodian flute-player. The influence of this woman Tertia was greater with him than that of Pippa, or of all the other women, and I had almost said, was as great in his Sicilian prætorship as that of Chelidon had been in his city prætorship. There come to Herbita the two rivals of the prætor, not likely to be troublesome to him, infamous agents of most abandoned women. They begin to demand, to beg, to threaten; but though they wished it, they were not able to imitate Apronius. The Sicilians were not so much afraid of Sicilians; still, as they put forth false accusations in every possible way, the Herbitenses undertake to appear in court at Syracuse. When they had arrived there, they are compelled to give to Æschrio—that is, to Pippa—as much as had been deducted from the original purchase-money, three thousand six hundred modii of wheat. He was not willing to give to the woman who was really the farmer too much profits out of the tenths, lest in that cass she should transfer her attention from her nocturnal gains to the farming of the tributes. The people of Herbita thought the matter was settled, when that man added,—“And what are you going to give out of the barley to my little friend Docimus? What are your intentions?” He transacted all this business, O judges, in his chamber, and in his bed. They said that they had no commission to give anything, “I do not hear you; pay him fifteen thousand sesterces.” What were the wretched men to do? or how could they refuse? especially when they saw the traces of the woman who was the collector fresh in the bed, by which they understood that he had been inflamed to persevere in his demand. And so one city of our allies and friends was made tributary of two most debauched women while Verres was prætor. And I now assert that that quantity of corn and those sums of money were given by the people of Herbita to the collectors in the name of the city. And yet by all that corn and all that money they could not deliver their fellow-citizens from the injuries of the collectors. For after the property of the cultivators was destroyed and carried off, bribes were still to be given to the collectors to induce them to depart at length from their lands and from their cities. And so when Philinus of Herbita, a man eloquent and prudent, and noble in his own city, spoke in public of the distress of the cultivators, and of their flight, and of the scanty numbers that were left behind, you remarked, O judges, the groans of the Roman people, a great crowd of whom has always been present at this cause. And concerning the scanty number of the cultivators I will speak at another time.
XXXV. But at this moment a topic, which I had almost passed over, must not be altogether forgotten. For, in the name of the immortal gods! how will you, I will not say tolerate, but how will you bear even to hear of the sums which Verres subtracted from the sum total? Up to this time there has been one man only since the first foundation of Rome, (and may the immortal gods grant that there may never be another,) to whom the republic wholly committed herself, being compelled by the necessities of the times and domestic misfortunes. He had such power, that without his consent no one could preserve either his property, or his liberty, or his life. He had such courage in his audacity, that he was not afraid to say in the public assembly, when he was selling the property of Roman citizens, that he was selling his own booty. All his actions we not only still maintain, but out of fear of greater inconveniences and calamities, we defend them by the public authority. One decree alone of his has been remodelled by a resolution of the senate, and a decree has been passed, that these men, from the sum total of whose debts he had made a deduction, should pay the money into the treasury. The senate laid down this principle,—that even he to whom they had intrusted everything had not power to diminish the total amount of revenue acquired and procured by the valour of the Roman people. The conscript fathers decided that he had no power to remit even to the bravest men any portion of their debts to the state. And shall the senators decide that you have lawfully remitted any to a most profligate woman? The man, concerning whom the Roman people had established a law that his absolute will should be the law to the Roman people, still is found fault with in this one particular, out of reverence for their ancient laws. Did you, who were liable to almost every law, think that your lust and caprice was to be a law to you? He is blamed for remitting a part of that money which he himself had acquired. Shall you be pardoned who have remitted part of the revenue due to the Roman people?
XXXVI. And in this description of boldness he proceeded even much more shamelessly with respect to the tenths of the district of Segesta; for when he had knocked them down to this same Docimus, for five thousand modii of wheat, and had added as an extra present fifteen thousand sesterces, he compelled the people of Segesta to take them of Docimus at the same price in the name of their city; and you shall have this proved by the public testimony of the Segestans. Read the public testimony.
[The public testimony is read.]
You have heard at what price the city took the tenths from Docimus,—at five thousand modii of wheat, and an extra gift. Learn now at what price he entered them in his accounts as having been sold.
[The law respecting the sale of tithes, Caius Verres being the prætor, is read.]
You see that in this item three thousand bushels of wheat are deducted from the sum total, and when he had taken all this from the food of the Roman people, from the sinews of the revenue, from the blood of the treasury, he gave it to Tertia the actress. Shall I call it rather an impudent action, to extort from allies of the state, or an infamous one to give it to a prostitute? or a wicked one to take it away from the Roman people, or an audacious one to make false entries in the public accounts? Can any influence or any bribery deliver you from the severity of these judges? And if it should deliver you, do you not still see that the things which I am mentioning belong to another count of the prosecution, and to the action for peculation? Therefore I will reserve the whole of that class of offences, and return to the charge respecting the corn and the tenths which I had begun to speak of.
While this man was laying waste the largest and most fertile districts by his own agency, that is to say by Apronius, that second Verres, he had others whom he could send, like hounds, among the lesser cities, worthless and infamous men, to whom he compelled the citizens to give either corn or money in the name of their city.
XXXVII. There is a man called Aulus Valentius in Sicily, an interpreter, whom Verres used to employ not only as an interpreter of the Greek language, but also in his robberies and other crimes. This interpreter, an insignificant and needy man, becomes on a sudden a farmer of tenths. He purchases the tenths of the territory of Lipara, a poor and barren district, for six hundred medimni of wheat. The people of Lipara are convoked: they are compelled to take the tenths, and to pay Valentius thirty thousand sesterces as profit. O ye immortal gods! which argument will you take for your defence; that you sold the tenths for so much less than you might have done,—that the city immediately, of its own accord, added to the six hundred medimni thirty thousand sesterces as a compliment, that is to say, two thousand medimni of wheat? or that, after you had sold the tenths at a high price, you still extorted this money from the people of Lipara against their will? But why do I ask of you what defence you are going to employ, instead of rather asking the city itself what you have done. Read the public testimony of the Liparans, and after that read how the money was given to Valentius.
[The public testimony is read.]
[The statement how the money was paid, extracted out of the public accounts, is read.]
Was even this little state, so far removed out of your reach and out of your sight, separated from Sicily, placed on a barren and uncultivated island, turned as a sort of crown to all your other iniquities, into a source of plunder and profit to you in this matter of corn? You had given the whole island to one of your companions as a trifling present, and still were these profits from corn exacted from it as from the inland states? And therefore the men who for so many years, before you came as prætor, were in the habit of ransoming their lands from the pirates, now had a price set on themselves, and were compelled to ransom themselves from you.
XXXVIII. What more need I say? Was not more extorted, under the name of a compliment, from the people of Tissa, a very small and poor city, but inhabited by very hardworking agriculturists and most frugal men, than the whole crop of corn which they had extracted from their land? Among them you sent as farmer Diognotus, a slave of Venus, a new class of collector altogether. Why, with such a precedent as this, are not the public slaves at Rome also entrusted with the revenues? In the second year of your prætorship the Tissans are compelled against their will to give twenty-one thousand sesterces as a compliment. In the third year they were compelled to give thirty thousand medimni of wheat to Diognotus, a slave of Venus, as a compliment! This Diognotus, who is making such vast profits out of the public revenues, has no deputy, no peculium at all. Doubt now, if you can, whether this Venereal officer of Verres received such an immense quantity of corn for himself, or exacted it for his master. And learn this also from the public testimony of the Tissans.
[The public testimony of the Tissans is read.]
Is it only obscurely, O judges, that the prætor himself is the farmer, when his officers exact corn from the cities, levy money on them, take something more as a compliment for themselves than they are to pay over to the Roman people under the name of tenths? This was your idea of equity in your command—this was your idea of the dignity of the prætor, to make the slaves of Venus the lords of the Sicilian people. This was the line drawn, these were the distinctions of rank, while you were the prætor, that the cultivators of the soil were to be considered in the class of slaves, the slaves in the light of farmers of the revenue.
XXXIX. What more shall I say? Were not the wretched people of Amestratus, after such vast tenths had been imposed upon them, that they had nothing left for themselves, stil, compelled to pay money besides? The tenths are knocked down to Marcus Cæsius in the presence of deputies from Amestratus, and Heraclius, one of their deputies, is compelled at once to pay twenty-two thousand sesterces. What is the meaning of this? What is the meaning of this booty? of this violence? of this plundering of the allies? If Heraclius had been commissioned by his senate to purchase the tenths, he would have purchased them; if he was not, how could he pay money of his own accord? He reports to his fellow-citizens that he has paid Cæsius this money. Learn his report from his letters. Read extracts from the public letters.
[The public letters are read.]
By what decree of the senate was this permission given to the deputy? By none. Why did he do so? He was compelled. Who says this? The whole city. Read the public testimony.
[The public testimony is read.]
By the same evidence you see that there was extorted from the same city in the second year a sum of money in a similar manner, and given to Sextus Vennonius. But you compel the Amestratines, needy men, after you have sold their tenths for eight hundred medimni to Banobalis, a slave of Venus, (just notice the names of the farmers,) to add more still as a compliment, than they had been sold for, though they had been sold at a high price. They gave Banobalis eight hundred medimni of wheat, and fifteen hundred sesterces. Surely that man would never have been so senseless, as to allow more corn to be given out of the domain of the Roman people to a slave of Venus than to the Roman people itself, unless all that plunder had, under the name of the slave, come in reality to himself. The people of Petra, though their tenths had been sold at a high price, were, very much against their will, compelled to give thirty-seven thousand sesterces to Publius Nævius Turpio, a most infamous man, who was convicted or assault while Sacerdos was prætor. Did you sell the tenths so carelessly, that, when a medimnus cost fifteen sesterces, and when the tenths were sold for three thousand medimni, that is, for forty-five thousand sesterces, still three thousand sesterces could be given to the farmer as a compliment? “Oh, but I sold the tenths of that district at a high price” he boasts forsooth not that a compliment was given to Tarpio, but that money was taken from the Petrans.
XL. What shall I say next? The Halicyans, the settlers among whom pay tenths, themselves have their lands free from taxes. Were not they also compelled to give to the same Turpio fifteen thousand sesterces, when their tenths had been sold for a hundred medimni? If, as you are especially anxious to do, you could prove that these compliments all went to the farmers, and that none of them reached you, still these sums, taken and extorted as they were by your violence and injustice, ought to ensure your conviction; but, as you cannot persuade any one that you were so foolish as to wish Apronius and Turpio, two slaves, to become rich at your own risk and that of your children, do you think that any one will doubt that through the instrumentality of those emissaries all this money was really procured for you? Again, Symmachus, a slave of Venus, is sent as farmer to Segesta, a city exempt from such taxes; he brings letters from Verres, to order the cultivators to appear in a court of some other city than their own, contrary to every resolution of the senate, to all their rights and privileges, and to the Rupilian law. Hear the letters which he sent to the Segestans.
[The letters of Caius Verres are read.]
Now learn by one bargain made with an honourable and respected man, how this slave of Venus insulted the cultivators of the soil; for there are other instances of this sort. There is a man of the name of Diocles, a citizen of Panormus, surnamed Phimes, an illustrious man, and of high reputation as an agriculturist, he rented a farm in the Segestan district, (for there are no traders in that place,) for six thousand sesterces; after having been assaulted by this slave of Venus, he settled with him to give him sixteen thousand, six hundred, and sixty-four sesterces. You may learn this from Verres’s own accounts.
[The items entered under the name of Diocles of Panormus are read.]
Anneius Brocchus also, a senator, a man of a reputation, and of a virtue with which you are all acquainted, was compelled to give money also besides corn to this same Symmachus. Was such a man, a senator of the Roman people, a subject of profit to a slave of Venus, while you were prætor?
XLI. Even if you were not aware that this body excelled all others in dignity, were you not at least aware of this, that it furnished the judges? Previously, when the equestrian order furnished the judges, infamous and rapacious magistrates in the provinces were subservient to the farmers; they honoured all who were in their employ; every Roman knight whom they saw in the province they pursued with attentions and courtesies; and that conduct was not so advantageous to the guilty, as it was a hindrance to many if they had acted in any respect contrary to the advantage or inclination of that body. This sort of principle was somehow or other diligently preserved among them as if by common consent, that whoever had thought any Roman knight deserving of any affront, was to be considered by their whole order as deserving of every possible misfortune. Did you so despise the order of senators, did you so reduce everything to the standard of your own insults and caprices, had you so deliberated and fixed it in your own mind as an invariable rule, to reject as judges every one who dwelt in Sicily, or who had been in Sicily while you were prætor, that it never occurred to you that still you must come before judges of the same order? in whose minds, even if there were no indignation from any personal injury done to themselves, still there would be this thought, that they were affronted in the affront offered to another, and that the dignity of their order was contemptuously treated and trampled on, which, O judges, appears to me not to be endured with patience, for insult has in it a sting which modest and virtuous men can with difficulty put up with. You have plundered the Sicilians, for indeed the provincials are accustomed to obtain no revenge amid their wrongs. You have harassed the brokers, for they seldom come to Rome, and never of their own accord. You gave up a Roman knight to the ill-treatment of Apronius. To be sure; for what harm can they do you now, when they cannot be judges? What will you say when you treat senators also with the greatest violence? what else can you say but this, “Give me up that senator also, in order that the most honourable name of senator may appear to exist not only to excite the envy of the ignorant, but also to attract the insults of the worthless.” Nor did he do this in the case of Anneius alone, but in the instance of every senator, so that the name of that order had not so much influence in procuring honour as insult for its members. In the case of Caius Cassius, a most illustrious and most gallant man, though he was consul at that very time, in the first year of his prætorship, he behaved with such injustice, that, as his wife, a woman of the highest respectability, had lands in Leontini, inherited from her father, he ordered all her crops to be taken away for tenths. You shall have him as a witness in this cause, O Verres, since you have taken care not to have him as a judge; but you, O judges, ought to think that there is some community of interests, some close connexion existing between the members of our body; many offices are imposed on this our order, many toils, many dangers, not only from the laws and courts of justice, but also from vague reports, and from the critical character of the times; so that this order is, as it were, exposed to view, and set on an eminence, in order, as it seems, to be the more easily caught by every blast of envy. In so miserable and unfair a condition of life, shall we not retain even the honour of not appearing vile and contemptible in the eyes of our own magistrates, when we appear before them to obtain our rights?
XLII. The men of Thermæ sent agents to purchase the tenths of their district. They thought it was much better for them, that they should be purchased by their own state at ever so high a price, than that they should get into the hands of some emissary of his. A man of the name of Venuleius had been put up to buy them. He did not cease from bidding. They went on competing with him, as long as the price appeared such as could by any possibility be borne. At last they gave up bidding. They are knocked down to Venuleius at eight thousand modii of wheat. Possidorus, the deputy of Thermæ, sends notice home. Although it appeared to every one a most intolerable hardship, still there were given to Venuleius eight thousand modii of wheat, and two thousand sesterces besides, not to come near them. From which it is very evident which part was the wages of the farmer, and which the booty of the prætor. Give me the letters and testimony of the people of Thermæ.
[The accounts of the people of Thermæ, and heir evidence, are read.]
You compelled the Imacharans after you had taken away all their corn, after they had been impoverished by your incessant injuries, miserable and ruined as they were, to pay tribute so as to give Apronius twenty thousand sesterces. Read the decree about the tributes, and the public testimony.
[The Resolution of the Senate about the trioute to be paid, is read.
[The testimony of the Imacharans is read.]
The people of Enna, though the tenths of the territory of Enna had been sold for three thousand two hundred medimni, were compelled to give Apronius eighteen thousand modii of wheat, and three thousand sesterces. I entreat you to remark what an enormous quantity of corn is extorted from every district liable to the payment of tenths; for my speech extends over every city which is so liable. And I am at present engaged about this class of injuries, O judges, in which it is not a case of single cultivators being stripped of all their property, but of compliments being exacted from the public treasury of each city, for the farmers, in order that at last they may depart from the lands and cities glutted and satiated with this immense heap of gain.
XLIII. Why in the third year of your prætorship did you order the Calactans to carry the tenths of their land, which they had been accustomed to pay at Calacta, to Marcus Cæsius the farmer of Amestratus, a thing which they had never done before you were prætor, and which you yourself had never ordered in the two years preceding? Why was Theomnastus the Syracusan sent by you into the district of Mutyca, where he so harassed the cultivators, that for their second tenths they were unavoidably forced to buy wheat, because they had actually none of their own, (a thing which I shall prove happened also in the case of other cities.) But now, from the agreements made with the people of Hybla, which were made with the farmer Cnæus Sergius, you will perceive that six times as much corn as was sown was exacted of the cultivators. Read the accounts of the sowings and the agreements, extracted from the public registers. Read.
[The agreements of the people of Hybla with Cnæus Sergius, extracted out of the public registers, are read.]
Listen also to the returns of the sowings, and the agreements of the men of Mena with that slave of Venus. Read them out of the public registers.
[The returns of the Sowings, and the agreements of the Menans with the servant of Venus, extracted from the public registers, are read.]
Will you, O judges, endure that a great deal more than has been produced should be exacted from our allies, from the cultivators of the domain of the Roman people, from those who are labouring for you, are in your service, who are so eager that the Roman people should be fed by them, that they only retain for themselves and their children enough for their actual subsistence, and should be exacted too with the greatest violence, and the most bitter insults? I feel, O judges, that I must now set some bounds to the length of my speech, and that I must avoid wearying you. I will no longer dwell on one kind of injury alone, and I will leave the other instances out of my speech, though they will still make a part of my accusation. You shall hear the complaints of the Agrigentines, most gallant, and most industrious men; you shall become acquainted, O judges, with the sufferings and the injuries of the Entellans, a people of the greatest perseverance and the greatest industry; the wrongs of the men of Heraclea, and Gela, and Solentum shall be mentioned: you shall be told of the fields of the Catanians, a most wealthy people and most friendly to us, ravaged by Apronius: you shall be made aware that the cities of Tyndaris, that most noble city, of Cephalædis, of Halentia, of Apollonia, of Enguina, of Capitia, have been ruined by the inquity of these farmers; that actually nothing is left to the citizens of Ina, of Murgentia, of Assoria, of Elorum, of Enna, and of Ietum; that the people of Cetaria and Acheria, small cities, are wholly crushed and destroyed; in short, that all the lands liable to the payment of tenths have been for three years tributary to the Roman people, to the extent of one tenth of their produce, and to Caius Verres to the extent of all the rest; that to most of the cultivators nothing at all is left, that if anything was either remitted to or left to any one, it was only just so much as remained of that property by which the avarice of that man had been satiated.
XLIV. I have reserved the territories of two cities, O judges, to speak of last, the best and noblest of all, the territory of Ætna and that of Leontini: I will say nothing of the gains made out of these districts in his three years; I will select one year in order that I more easily may be able to explain what I have settled to mention. I will take the third year, because it is both the most recent, and because it has been managed by him in such a way that, since he knew that he was certainly going to depart, he evidently did not care if he left behind him not one cultivator of the soil in all Sicily. We will speak of the tenths of the territory of Ætna and Leontini. Give heed, O judges, carefully. The lands are fertile; it is the third year; Apronius is the farmer. I will speak a little of the people of Ætna; for they themselves at the former pleading spoke in the name of their city. You recollect that Artemidorus of Ætna, the chief of that deputation, said, in the name of his city, that Apronius had come to Ætna with the slaves of Venus; that he had summoned the magistrates before him; that he had ordered a couch to be spread for him in the middle of the forum; that he was accustomed every day to feast not only in public, but at the public expense; that, when at those feasts the concert began to sound, and slaves began to serve him with wine in larger goblets, then he used to detain the cultivators of the soil, and not only with injustice, but even with insolence, to extort from them whatever quantity of corn he had ordered them to supply. You heard all these things, O judges, all which I now pass by and leave unnoticed. I say nothing of the luxury of Apronius, nothing of his insolence, nothing of his unexampled profligacy and wickedness; I will only speak of the gain and profit made out of one district in one year, so that you may the more easily be able to form your conjectures of the whole three years and of the whole of Sicily; but I do not mean to say much about the people of Ætna, for they have come hither themselves, they have brought with them their public documents; they have proved to you what gains were made by that honest man, the intimate friend of the prætor, Apronius. I pray of you learn this from their own testimony. Read the testimony of the people of Ætna.
[The testimony of the people of Ætna is read.]
XLV. What are you saying? Speak, speak, I pray you, louder, that the Roman people may hear about its revenues, its cultivators of the soil, its allies, and its friends. “Three hundred thousand medimni; and fifty thousand sesterces.” Oh, the immortal gods! Does one district in one year give three hundred thousand modii of wheat, and fifty thousand sesterces besides, as a compliment to Apronius? Did the tenths sell for so much less than they were really worth? or, though they had been sold at a sufficiently high price, was such a quantity of corn and money nevertheless exacted by main force from the cultivators? For whichever of these you say was the truth, blame and criminality will attach to it. For you certainly will not say (what I wish you would say) that this quantity never came to Apronius. So I will hold you here, not only by the public covenants and letters, but also from the private ones of the cultivators, so as to let you understand that you were not more diligent in executing robberies, than I have been in detecting them. Will you be able to bear this? Will any one defend you? Will these men be able to endure this, if they are inclined to pronounce a sentence favourable to you,—that Quintus Apronius, at one visit, out of one district, (besides all the money which was paid him, and which I have mentioned,) should have taken three hundred thousand modii of wheat, under the name of a compliment? What! are they the men of Ætna alone who say this? Ay, the Centuripans also, who are in occupation of far the largest part of the Ætnæan district, to whose ambassadors, most noble men, Andron and Artemon, their senate gave commissions which had reference to their city in his public capacity, concerning those injuries which the citizens of Centuripa sustained not in their own territories, but in those of others. The senate and people of Centuripa did not choose to send ambassadors; but the Centuripan cultivators of the soil, which is the greatest body of such men in Sicily, a body of most honourable and most wealthy men, themselves selected three ambassadors, fellow-citizens of their own, in order that by their evidence you might be made aware of the calamities, not of one district only, but of almost all Sicily. For the Centuripans are engaged as cultivators of the soil in almost every part of Sicily. And they are the more important and the more trustworthy witnesses against you, because the other cities are influenced by their own distresses alone, the Centuripans, as they occupy land in almost every district, have felt the injuries and wrongs of the other cities also.
XLVI. But as I have said, the case of the men of Ætna is clear enough, and established both by public and by private documents. The task allotted to my diligence is to be required of me rather in the district of Leontini, for this reason, because the Leontini themselves have not assisted me much by their public authority. Nor, in truth, while that fellow was prætor, did these injuries of the farmers very greatly affect them, or rather, I might say, they did them good. This may, perhaps, appear a marvellous or even an incredible thing to you, that in such general distress of the cultivators of the soil, the Leontini, who were the heads of the corn interest, should have been free from injury and calamity. This is the reason, O judges, that in the territory of Leontini, no one of the Leontini, with the exception of the single family of Mnasistratus, occupies any land. And so, O judges, you shall hear the evidence of Mnasistratus, a most honest and virtuous man. Do not expect to hear any others of the Leontini, whom not only Apronius, but whom even a tempest in their fields could not injure. They in truth not only suffered no inconvenience, but even in the rapine of Apronius they found gain and advantage. Wherefore, since the city and embassy of the Leontini has failed me on account of the cause which I have mentioned, I must devise a plan and contrive a way for myself by which I may get at the gain of Apronius, or even at his enormous and wicked booty. The tenths of the Leontini territory were sold in the third year of Verres’s prætorship for thirty-six thousand medimni of wheat; that is, for two hundred and twenty-six thousand modii of wheat. A great price, O judges, a great price; and I cannot deny it. Therefore it is certain that there must have been a loss, or at all events not a great gain to the farmers. For this very often happens to men who have taken a contract at a high rate. What will you think if I prove to you that, by this one purchase, there were made a hundred thousand modii of profit? what if it was two hundred thousand? what if three? what if four hundred thousand was the sum? Will you still doubt for whom that immense booty was acquired? Will any one say that I am unfair if from the mere magnitude of the gain made I form a conjecture as to the direction of the stolen goods and plunder? What if I prove to you, O judges, that those men who are making four hundred thousand modii of profit, would have suffered a loss if your iniquity, O Verres, if judges of your retinue had not stepped in? Can any one doubt, in a case of so much gain and so much iniquity, that you made such immense profit by dishonest means? that for such immense gains you were willing to be dishonest?
XLVII. How then, O judges, am I to arrive at this knowledge of how much profit was made? Not from the accounts of Apronius, for when I sought for them, I could not find them, and when I brought him into court, I made him deny that he kept any accounts at all. If he was telling lies, why did he remove them out of the way, if they were likely to do you no harm? If he really had kept any accounts at all, does not that alone prove plainly enough, that it was not his own business that he was conducting? For it is a quality of tenths, that they cannot be managed without many papers; for it is necessary to keep an account of, and to set down in books the names of all the cultivators, and with each name the amount of their tenth. All the cultivators made returns of their acres according to your command and regulation; I do not believe that any one made a return of a smaller quantity than he had in cultivation, when there were so many crosses, so many penalties, so many judges of that retinue before his eyes. On an acre of Leontini ground about a medimnus of wheat is usually sown, according to the regular and constant allowance of seed. The land returns about eightfold on a fair average, but in an extraordinarily favourable season, about tenfold. And whenever that is the case, it then happens that the tenth is just the same quantity as was sown; that is to say, as many acres as are sown, so many medimni are due. As this was the case, I say first of all, that the tenths of the territory of Leontini were sold for many more thousand medimni than there were thousands of acres sown in the district of Leontini. But if it was impossible for them to produce more than ten medimni on an acre, and if it was fair that a medimnus should be paid out of each acre liable to the payment of tenths, when the land produced a tenfold crop, which however very seldom happened, what was the calculation of the farmer if indeed it was the tenths of the cultivator that were being sold, and not his whole property, when he bought the tenths for many more medimni than there had been acres sown? In the Leontini district the list and return made of acres is not more than thirty thousand.
XLVIII. The tenths were sold for thirty-six thousand medimni. Did Aprouius make a blunder, or rather was he mad? Ay, he would indeed have been mad if it had been lawful for the cultivators to give only what was due from them, and had not rather been compulsory on them to give whatever Apronius commanded. If I prove that no man gave less for his tenths than three medimni to the acre, you will admit, I suppose, that, even supposing the produce amounted to a tenfold crop, no one paid less than three tenths. And indeed this was begged as a favour from Apronius, that they might be allowed to compound at three medimni an acre. For, as four and even five were exacted from many people, and as many had not only not a grain of corn, but not even a wisp of straw left out of all their crop and after all their year’s labour; then the cultivators of Centuripa, which are the main body of agriculturists in the Leontini district, assembled in one place. They sent as a delegate to Apronius, Andron of Centuripa, a man among the first of his state for honour and nobility, (the same man whom now the city of Centuripa has sent to this trial as a deputy and as a witness,) in order that he might plead with him the cause of the cultivators of the soil, and beg of him not to exact of the Centuripan cultivators more than three medimni for each acre. This request was with difficulty obtained from Apronius, as a most excessive kindness to those men who were even then safe. And when this was obtained, this is what was obtained, forsooth, that they might be allowed to pay three tenths instead of one. But if your own interest had not been at stake in the matter, O Verres, they would rather have entreated you not to be made to pay more than one tenth, than have begged of a promise not to be made to pay more than three. Now, that at the present time I may pass over those rules which Apronius, in a kingly, or rather in a tyrannical spirit, made with respect to the cultivators, and that I may not at present call those men from whom he took all their corn, and to whom he left nothing not only of their corn, but nothing even of their property; just see how much gain is made of these three medimni, which he considered as a great favour and indulgence.
XLIX. The return of acres in the district of Leontini is thirty thousand. This amounts to ninety thousand medimni of wheat, that is to say, to five hundred and forty thousand modii of wheat. Deduct two hundred and sixteen thousand modii of wheat, being what the tenths were sold for, and there remain three hundred and twenty-four thousand modii of wheat; add to the sum total of five hundred and forty thousand modii three fiftieths, that is to say, thirty-two thousand four hundred modii of wheat, (for three fiftieths besides were exacted from every one;) this now amounts to three hundred and fifty-six thousand four hundred modii of wheat. But I said that four hundred thousand sesterces of profit had been made. For I do not include in this calculation those who were not allowed to compound at three medimni an acre. But that by this present calculation I may make out the sum which I promised to do, many were compelled besides to pay two sesterces, and many even five, with each medimnus, and those who had to pay least paid a sesterce with every medimnus. To take the least of these sums, as we calculated there were ninety thousand medimni, we must add to that, according to this new and infamous example here given, ninety thousand sesterces. Will he now dare to tell me, that he sold the tenths at a high price, when he took for himself more than twice as much as he sent to the Roman people out of the same district? You sold the tenths of the Leontine district for two hundred and sixteen thousand modii of wheat? If you did so according to law, it was a fine price; if your caprice was the law, it was a low price; if you sold them so that those were called tenths which were in reality a half, you sold them at a very low price. For the yearly produce of all Sicily might be sold for much more, if that was what the senate or people of Rome had desired you to do. Indeed, the tenths were often sold for as much, when they were sold according to the law of Hiero, as they have been sold for now under the law of Verres. Let me have the accounts of the sale of tenths under Caius Norbanus.
[The account of the sale of the tenths in the Leontine district under Caius Norbanus is read.]
And yet, then, there were no trials about the return of acres; nor was Artemidorus Cornelius a judge, nor did a Sicilian magistrate exact from a cultivator whatever the farmer demanded; nor was it entreated as a favour from the farmer to be allowed to compound at three medimni an acre; nor was a cultivator obliged to give an additional present of money, nor to add three-fiftieths of corn. And yet a great quantity of corn was sent to the Roman people.
L. But what is the meaning of these fiftieths? what is the meaning of these additional presents of money? By what right, and, what is more, in what manner did you do this? The cultivator gave the money. How or whence did he get it? If he had wished to be very liberal, he would have used a more heaped up measure, as men formerly used to do in the matter of the tenths, when they were sold by fair laws, and on fair terms. He gave the money. Where did he get it? from his corn? As if, while you were prætor, he had anything to sell. Something, then, must be taken from his principal, in order to add this pecuniary gratuity for Apronius to all the profit which he derived from the lands. The next thing is, Did they give it willingly or unwillingly? Willingly? They were very fond, I suppose, of Apronius. Unwillingly? How, then, were they compelled to do so, except by violence and ill-treatment? Again; that man, that most senseless man, in the selling of the tenths, caused additional sums to be added to every tenth. It was not much; he added two or three thousand sesterces. In the three years he made about five hundred thousand sesterces. He did this neither according to any precedent, nor by any right; nor did he make any return of that money; nor can any man ever imagine how he is going to defend himself against this petty charge.
And, as this is the case, do you dare to say that you sold the tenths at a high price, when it is evident that you sold the property and fortunes of the cultivators, not for the sake of the Roman people, but with a view to your own gain. As if any steward, from a farm which had been used to produce ten thousand sesterces, having cut down and sold the trees, having taken away the buildings and the stock, and having driven off all the cattle, sent his master twenty thousand sesterces instead of ten, and made a hundred thousand more for himself. At first the master, not knowing the injury that had been done to him, would be glad, and be delighted with his steward, because he had got so much more profit out of the farm; but afterwards, when he heard that all those things on which the profit and cultivation of his farm depends have been removed and sold, he would punish his steward with the greatest severity, and think himself very ill used. So also, the Roman people, when it hears that Caius Verres has sold the tenths for more than that most innocent man, Caius Sacerdos, whom he succeeded, thinks that it has got a good steward and guardian over its lands and crops; but when it finds out that he has sold all the stock of the cultivators, all the resources of the revenue, and has destroyed all the hopes of their posterity by his avarice,—that he has devastated and drained the allotments and the lands subject to tribute,—that he has made himself most enormous gain and booty,—it will perceive that it has been shamefully treated, and will think that man worthy of the severest punishment.
LI. By what, then, can this be made evident? Chiefly by this fact, that the land of the province of Sicily liable to the payment of tenths is deserted through the avarice of that man. Nor does it happen only that those who have remained on their lands are now cultivating a smaller number of acres, but also very many rich men, farmers on a large scale, and skilful men, have deserted large and productive farms, and abandoned their whole allotments. That may be very easily ascertained from the public documents of the states; because according to the law of Hiero the number of cultivators is every year entered in the books by public authority before the magistrates. Read now how many cultivators of the Leontine district there were when Verres took the government. Eighty-three. And how many made returns in his third year? Thirty-two. I see that there were fifty-one cultivators so entirely got rid of that they had no successors. How many cultivators were there of the district of Mutyca, when you arrived? Let us see from the public documents. A hundred and eighty-eight. How many in your third year? A hundred and one. That one district has to regret eighty-seven cultivators, owing to that man’s ill-treatment, and to that extent our republic has to regret the loss of so many heads of families, and demands them back at his hand, since they are the real revenues of the Roman people. The district of Herbita had in his first year two hundred and fifty-seven cultivators; in his third, a hundred and twenty. From this region a hundred and thirty-seven heads of families have fled like banished men. The district of Agyrium—what men lived in that land! how honourable, how wealthy they were?—had two hundred and fifty cultivators in the first year of your prætorship. What had it in the third year? Eighty,—as you have heard the Agyrian deputies read from their public documents.
LII. O ye immortal gods! If you had driven away out of the whole of Sicily a hundred and seventy cultivators of the soil, could you, with impartial judges, escape condemnation? When the one district of Agyrium is less populous by a hundred and seventy cultivators, will not you, O judges, form your conjectures of the state of the whole province? And you will find nearly the same state of things in every district liable to the payment of tenths, and that those to whom anything has been left out of a large patrimony, have remained behind with a much smaller stock, and cultivating a much smaller number of acres, because they were afraid, if they departed, that they should lose all the rest of their fortunes; but as for those to whom he had left nothing remaining which they could lose, they have fled not only from their farms, but from their cities. The very men who have remained—scarcely a tenth part of the old cultivators of the soil—were about to leave all their lands too, if Metellus had not sent letters to them from Rome, saying that he would sell the tenths according to the law of Hiero; and if he had not entreated them to sow as much land as they could, which they had always done for their own sakes, when no one entreated them, as long as they understood that they were sowing, and labouring, and going to expense for themselves and for the Roman people,—not for Verres and Apronius. But now, O judges, if you neglect the fortunes of the Sicilians,—if you show no anxiety about the treatment the allies of the Roman people receive from our magistrates, at all events undertake and defend the common cause of the Roman people. I say that the cultivators have been driven out,—that the lands subject to tribute have been devastated and drained by Verres—that the whole province has been depopulated and tyrannized over. All these things I prove by the public documents of the cities, and by the private evidence of most unimpeachable men.
LIII. What would you have more? Do you wait till Lucius Metellus, who by his commands and by his power has deterred many witnesses from appearing against Verres shall himself, though absent, bear testimony to his wickedness, and dishonesty, and audacity? I think not. But he, who was his successor, has had the best opportunity of knowing the truth. That is true, but he is hindered by his friendship for him. Still, he ought to inform us accurately in what state the province is. He ought, still he is not forced to do so. Does any one require the evidence of Lucius Metellus against Verres? No one. Does any one demand it? I think not. What, however, if I prove by the evidence and letters of Lucius Metellus that all these things are true? What will you say then? That Metellus writes falsely? or that he is desirous of injuring his friend? or that he, though he is prætor, does not know in what state the province is? Read the letters of Lucius Metellus, which he sent to Cnæus Pompey and Marcus Crassus, the consuls, those which he sent to Marcus Mummius, the prætor, those which he sent to the quæstors of the city.
[The letter of Lucius Metellus is read.]
“I sold the tenths according to the law of Hiero.” When he writes that he had sold them according to the law of Hiero, what is he writing? Why, that he had sold them as all others had done, except Verres. When he writes that he had sold them according to the law of Hiero, what is he writing? Why, that he had restored the privileges granted to the Sicilians by the kindness of our ancestors and taken away by Verres, and their rights, and the terms on which they became our allies and friends. He mentions at what price he sold the tenths of each district. After that what does he write? Read the rest of the letter.—“The greatest pains has been taken by me to sell the tenths for as good a price as possible.” Why then, O Metellus, did you not sell them for as much as Verres? “Because I found the allotments deserted, the fields empty, the province in a wretched and ruined condition.” What? And as for the land that was sown, how was any one found to sow it? Read the letters.
[The letters are read.]
He says that he had sent letters, and that, when he arrived, he had given a positive promise; he had interposed his authority to prevail on them, and had all but given hostages to the cultivators that he would be in no respect like Verres But what is this about which he says that he took so much pains? Read—“To prevail on the cultivators of the soil, who were left, to sow as largely as they could.” Who were left? What does this mean?—left? After what war? after what devastation? What mighty slaughter was there in Sicily, or what was there of such duration and such disaster while you were prætor, that your successor had to collect and recover the cultivators who were left?
LIV. When Sicily was harassed in the Carthaginian wars, and afterwards, in our fathers’ and our own recollection, when great bands of fugitive slaves twice occupied the province, still there was no destruction of the cultivators of the soil; then, if the sowing was hindered, or the crop lost, the yearly revenue was lost too, but the number of owners and cultivators of the land remained undiminished. Then those officers who succeeded the prætors Marcus Lævinus, or Publius Rupilius, or Marcus Aquillius in that province, had not to collect the cultivators who were left. Did Verres and Apronius bring so much more distress on the province of Sicily than either Hasdrubal with his army of Carthaginians, or Athenio with his numerous bands of runaway slaves, that in those times, as soon as the enemy was subdued, all the land was ploughed, and the prætor had not to send letters to beg the cultivator to come to him, and entreat him to sow as much land as he could; but now, even after the departure of this most ill-omened pestilence, no one could be found who would till his land of his own free-will; and very few were left to return to their farms and their own familiar household gods, even when urged by the authority of Lucius Metellus? Do not you feel, O most audacious and most senseless of men, that you are destroyed by these letters? Do you not see that, when your successor addresses those agriculturists who are left, he writes this in express words, that they are left, not after war or after any calamity of that sort, but after your wickedness, and tyranny, and avarice, and cruelty? Read the rest—“But still in such quantities as the difficulty of the times and the poverty of the cultivators permitted.” The poverty of the cultivators, he says. If I, as the accuser, were to dwell so repeatedly on the same subject, I should be afraid of wearying your attention, O judges; but Metellus cries out, “If I had not written letters.” That is not enough—“If I had not, when on the spot, assured them.” Even that is not enough—“The cultivators who were left,” he says. Left? In that mournful word he intimates the condition of nearly the whole province of Sicily. He adds, “the poverty of the cultivators.”
LV. Wait a little, O judges, wait a little, if you can, for confirmation of my speech. I say that the cultivators have been driven away by that man’s avarice: Metellus writes word that those who were left have been reassured by him. I say that the fields have been abandoned, and the allotments deserted: Metellus writes word that there is great penury among the cultivators. When he writes this, he shows that the allies and friends of the Roman people have been cast down, and driven off, and stripped of all their fortunes; and yet if any calamity had happened to these men by his means, even without any injury to our revenues, you ought to punish him, especially while judging according to that law which was established for the sake of the allies. But when our allies are oppressed and ruined, and the revenues of the Roman people diminished at the same time,—when our supplies of corn and provisions, our wealth, and the safety of the city and of our armies for the future is destroyed by his avarice, at least have a regard to the advantage of the Roman people, if you have no anxiety to show your regard for our most faithful allies. And that you may be aware that man had no consideration for either the revenue or for our posterity, in comparison with present gain and booty, see what Metellus writes at the end:—“I have taken care of the revenues for the future.” He says that he has taken care of the revenues for the future. He would not write that he had taken care of the revenues, if he had not meant to show this, that you had ruined the revenues. For what reason was there for Metellus taking care for the future of the revenues in respect of the tenths, and of the whole corn interest, if that man had not diverted the revenues of the Roman people to his own profit? And Metellus himself, who is taking care of the revenues for the future, who is reassembling the cultivators of the soil who are left, what does he effect but this, to make those men plough, if they can, to whom Verres’s satellite Apronius has hardly left one plough remaining, but who yet remained on their land in the hope and expectation of Metellus? What more? What became of the rest of the Sicilians? What became of that numerous body of cultivators who were not only driven away from their farms, but who even fled from their cities, from the province, having had all their property and all their fortunes taken from them? By what means can they be recalled? How many prætors of incorruptible wisdom will be required to re-establish, in process of time, that multitude of cultivators in their farms and their habitations?
LVI. And that you may not marvel that so great a multitude has fled, as you find, from the public documents and from the returns of the cultivators, has fled, know that his cruelty and wickedness towards the cultivators was so excessive, (it is an incredible statement to make, O judges, but it is both a fact, and one that is notorious over all Sicily,) that men, on account of the insults and licentiousness of the collectors, actually killed themselves. It is proved that Diocles of Centuripa, a wealthy man, hung himself the very day that it was announced that Apronius had purchased the tenths. A man of high birth, Archonidas of Elorum, said that Dyrrachinus, the first man of his city, slew himself in the same way, when he heard that the collector had made a return, that, according to Verres’s edict, he owed him a sum that he could not make good at the expense of all his property.
Now you, though you always were the most dissolute and cruel of all mortals, still you never would have allowed, (because the groanings and lamentations of the province brought danger on your own head,)—you would never, I say, have allowed men to seek refuge from your injustice in hanging and death, if the matter had not tended to your profit and to your own acquisition of booty. What! would you have suffered it? Listen, O judges; for I must strive with all my sinews, and labour earnestly to make all men perceive how infamous, how evident, how undeniable a crime they are seeking to efface by means of money. This is a grave charge, a serious charge,—it is the most serious one which has been made in the memory of man, ever since trials for peculation and extortion were first instituted,—that a prætor of the Roman people has had collectors of the tenths for his partners.
LVII. It is not the case that a private individual is now for the first time having this charge brought against him by an enemy, or a defendant by his accuser. Long ago, while sitting on his seat of justice as prætor, while he had the province of Sicily, when he was not only feared (as is common) on account of his absolute power, but also on account of his cruelty, (which is his especial characteristic,) he heard this charge urged against him a thousand times, when it was not carelessness which delayed him from avenging it, but the consciousness of his wickedness and avarice that kept him in check. For the collectors used to say openly, and, above all the rest, that one who had the greatest influence with him, and who was laying waste the most extensive districts, Apronius, that very little of these immense gains came to them, that the prætor was their partner. When the collectors were in the habit of saying this all over the province, and mixing up your name with so base and infamous a business, did it never come into your mind to take care of your own character? Did it never occur to you to look to your liberty and fortunes? When the terror of your name was constantly present to the ears and minds of the cultivators,—when the collectors made use, not of their own power, but of your wickedness and your name to compel the cultivators to come to terms with them,—did you think that there would be any tribunal at Rome so profligate, so abandoned, so mercenary, that any protection from its judgment would be found for you?—when it was notorious that, when the tenths had been sold contrary to the regulations, the laws, and the customs of all men, the collectors, while employed in seizing the property and fortunes of the cultivators, were used to say that the shares were yours, the affair yours, the plunder yours; and that you said nothing, and though you could not conceal that you were aware of it, were still able to bear and endure it, because the magnitude of the gain obscured the magnitude of the danger, and because the desire of money had a good deal more influence over you than the fear of judgment? Be it so; you cannot deny the rest. You have not even left yourself this resource, to be able to say that you heard nothing of this,—that no mention of your infamy ever came to your ears; for the cultivators were complaining with groans and tears. Did you not know it? The whole province was loud in its indignation. Did no one tell you of it? Complaints were being made of your injuries, and meetings held on the subject at Rome,—were you ignorant of this? Were you ignorant of all these facts? What? when Publius Rubrius summoned Quintus Apronius openly at Syracuse in your hearing, at a great assembly of the people, to be bound over to stand a trial, offering to prove, “that Apronius had frequently said that you were his partner in the affair of the tenths.” Did not these words strike you? did they not agitate you? did they not arouse you to take care of your own liberty and fortunes? You were silent; you even pacified their quarrel; you took pains to prevent the trial from coming on.
LVIII. O ye immortal gods! could either an innocent man have endured this? or would not even a man ever so guilty, if it were only because he thought that there might be a trial at Rome hereafter, have endeavoured by some dissimulation to study his character in the eyes of men? What is the case? A wager is offered about a matter affecting your position as a free citizen, and your fortunes. Do you sit still and say nothing? do not you follow up the matter? do not you persevere? do not you ask to whom Apronius said it? who heard him? whence it arose? how it was stated to have happened? If any one had whispered in your ear, and told you that Apronius was in the habit of saying that you were his partner, you ought to have been roused, to have summoned Apronius, and not to have been satisfied yourself with him, till you had satisfied the opinion of others with respect to yourself. But when in the crowded forum, in a great concourse of people, this charge was urged, in word and pretence indeed, against Apronius, but in reality against you, could you ever have received such a blow in silence, unless you had decided that, say what you would in so evident a case, you would only make the matter worse? Many men have dismissed quæstors, lieutenants, prefects, and tribunes, and ordered them to leave the province, because they thought that their own reputation was being injured through their misconduct, or because they considered that they were behaving ill in some particular. Would you never have addressed Apronius, a man scarcely a free man, profligate, abandoned, infamous, who could not preserve, I will not say an honest mind, but not even a pure soul, with even one harsh word, and that too when smarting under disgrace and insult yourself? And moreover, the respect due to a partnership would not have been so sacred in your eyes as to make you indifferent to the danger you were in, if you had not seen the matter was so well known and so notorious to every one. Publius Scandilius, a Roman knight, whom you are all acquainted with, did afterwards adopt the same legal proceedings against this same Apronius respecting that partnership, which Rubrius had wished to adopt. He urged them on; he pressed it, he gave him no respite; security was given to the amount of five thousand sesterces; Scandilius began to demand recuperators or a judge.
LIX. Does not this wicked prætor seem to be hemmed in now within sufficiently narrow bounds in his own province, ay, and even on his own throne and tribunal; so that he must either while present and sitting on the bench allow a trial to proceed affecting his own liberty, or else confess that he must be convicted by every tribunal in the world? The trial is on this formula, “that Apronius says that you are his partner in the matter of the tenths.” The province is yours; you are present, judgment is demanded from you yourself. What do you do? What do you decree? You say that you will assign judges. You do well; though where will there be found judges of such courage as to dare, in his province, when the prætor himself is present, to decide in a manner not only contrary to his will, but adverse even to his fortunes? However, be it so; the case is evident; there was no one who did not say that he had heard this distinctly; all the most respectable men were most undoubted witnesses of it; there was no one in all Sicily who did not know that the tenths belonged to the prætor, no one who had not heard Apronius frequently say so; moreover, there was a fine body of settlers at Syracuse, many Roman knights, men of the highest consideration, out of which number the judges must be selected, who could not possibly decide in any other manner. Scandilius does not cease to demand judges; then that innocent man, who was so eager to efface that suspicion, and to remove it from himself, says that he will assign judges from his own retinue.
LX. In the name of the good faith of gods and men, who is it that I am accusing? in whose case am I now desirous that my industry and diligence should be proved What is it that I sought to effect and obtain by speaking and meditating on this matter? I have hold, I have hold. I say, in the middle of the revenues of the Roman people, in the very crops of the province of Sicily, of a thief, manifestly embezzling the whole revenue derived from the corn, an immense sum: I have hold of him; so I say that he cannot deny it. For what will he say? Security has been entered into for a prosecution against your agent Apronius, in a matter in which all your fortunes are at stake—on the charge of having been in the habit of saying that you were his partner in the tenths. All men are waiting to see how anxious you will be about this, how you will endeavour to give men a favourable opinion of you and of your innocence. Will you here appoint as judges your physician, and your soothsayer, and your crier, or even that man whom you had in your train, in case there was any affair of importance, a judge like Cassius, Papirius Potamo, a severe man of the old equestrian school? Scandilius began to demand judges from the body of settlers; then Verres says that he will not entrust a trial in which his own character is at stake, to any one except his own people. The brokers think it a scandalous thing for a man to protest against, as unjust to himself, that form in which they transact their business. The prætor protests against the whole province as unjust to him. Oh, unexampled impudence! Does he demand to be acquitted at Rome, who has decided in his own province that it is impossible that he should be acquitted? who thinks that money will have a greater influence over senators most carefully chosen, than fear will over three judges? But Scandilius says that he will not say a word before a judge like Artemidorus, and still he presses the matter on, and loads you with favourable conditions, if you choose to avail yourself of them. If you decide that, in the whole province of Sicily, no capable judge or recuperator can be found, he requires of you to refer the matter to Rome; and on this you exclaim that the man is a dishonest man, for demanding a trial in which your character is at stake to take place in a place where he knows that you are unpopular. You say you will not send the case to Rome. You say that you will not appoint judges out of the body of settlers; you put forward your own retinue. Scandilius says that he shall abandon the whole affair for the present, and return at his own time. What do you say to that? what do you do? you compel Scandilius to do what? to prosecute the matter regularly? In a shameless manner you put an end to the long-expected trial of your character; you do not do that—what do you do, then? Do you permit Apronius to select what judges he chooses out of your retinue? It is a scandalous thing that you should give one of the parties a power of selecting judges from that worthless crew, rather than give both a power of rejecting judges from a respectable class. You do neither of those things—what then? Is there anything more abominable that can be done? Yes; for he compels Scandilius to give and pay over that five thousand sesterces to Apronius. What neater thing could be done by a prætor desirous of a fair reputation,—one who was anxious to repel from himself all suspicion, and to deliver himself from infamy?
LXI. He had been a common topic of conversation, of reproach, of abuse. A worthless and debauched man had been in the habit of saying that the prætor was his partner. The matter had come before the courts, had come to trial; he, upright and innocent man that he was, had an opportunity, by punishing Apronius, of relieving himself from the most serious disgrace. What punishment does he devise? what penalty for Apronius? He compels Scandilius to pay to Apronius five thousand sesterces, as reward and wages for his unprecedented rascality, his audacity, and his proclamation of this wicked partnership. What difference did it make, O most audacious man, whether you made this decree, or whether you yourself made that profession and declaration concerning yourself which Apronius was in the habit of making? The man whom, if there had been shame, ay, if there had even been any fear in you, you ought not to have let go without punishment, you could not allow to come off without a reward. You might see the truth in every case, O judges, from this single affair of Scandilius. First of all, that this charge about the partnership in the tenths was not cooked up at Rome, was not invented by the accuser; it was not (as we are accustomed sometimes to say in making a defence for a man) a domestic or back-stairs accusation; it was not originated in a time of your danger, but it was an old charge, bruited about long ago, when you were prætor, not made up at Rome by your enemies, but brought to Rome from the province. At the same time his great favour to Apronius may be clearly seen; also the, I will not say confession, but the boast of Apronius, about him. Besides all this, you can take as clearly proved this first, that, in his own province, he would not entrust a trial in which his reputation was at stake, to any one out of his own retinue.
LXII. Is there any judge who has not been convinced, from the very beginning of my accusation respecting the collection of tenths, that he had made an attack on the property and fortunes of the cultivators of the soil? Who is there who did not at once decide, from what I then proved, that he had sold the tenths under a law quite novel, and, therefore, no law at all, contrary to the usage and established regulations of all his predecessors? But even if I had not such judges as I have, such impartial, such careful, such conscientious judges, is there any one whatever who has not long ago formed his opinion and his judgment from the magnitude of the injuries done, the dishonesty of the decrees, the iniquity of the tribunals? Even although a man may be somewhat careless in judging,—somewhat indifferent to the laws, to his duty to the republic, to our allies and friends, what then? Can even such a man doubt of the dishonesty of that man, when he is aware that such vast gains were made,—such iniquitous compromises extorted by violence and terror?—when he knows that cities were compelled, by violence and imperious commands, by the fear of scourges and death, to give such great rewards, not only to Apronius and to men like him, but even to the slaves of Venus? But if any one is but little influenced by the injuries done to our allies,—if there be any one who is not moved by the flight, the calamities, the banishment, and the suicides of the cultivators of the soil; still I cannot doubt that the man who knows, both from the documents of the cities and the letter of Lucius Metellus, that Sicily has been laid waste and the farms deserted, must decide that it is quite impossible that any other than the severest judgment should be passed on that man. Will there be any one who can conceal from himself, or be indifferent to these facts? I have brought before you trials commenced respecting the partnership in the tenths, but prevented by that man from being brought to a decision. What is there that any one can possibly desire plainer than this? I have no doubt that I have satisfied you, O judges. But I will go further; not, indeed, in order that this may be proved more completely to your satisfaction than I feel sure that it already is, but that he may at last give over his impudence,—may cease at last to believe that he can purchase these things which he himself was always ready to sell, his good faith, his oath, truth, duty, and religion;—that his friends may cease to keep continually saying things which may be injury, a stain, and odium, and infamy to all of us. But what friends are they? Alas, the order of senators! wretched, and unpopular, and detested through the fault and unworthiness of a few! That Alba Æmilius, sitting at the entrance of the market, should say openly that Verres had gained his cause,—that he had bought the judges, one for four hundred thousand sesterces, another for five, the one who who went cheapest, for three! And when he was answered that that was impossible; that many witnesses would give evidence, and besides, that I should not desert the cause,—“Though,” said he, “every one were to make every possible statement against him, still, unless the matter be brought home to him so evidently that no answer can be given, we have gained the cause.” You say well, Alba. I will agree to your conditions. You think that conjecture avails nothing at a trial,—that suspicion avails nothing,—that the character of one’s previous life avails nothing,—nor the evidence of virtuous men,—nor the authority or letters of cities. You demand evident proof. I do not ask for judges like Cassius. I do not ask for the ancient impartiality of courts of justice. I do not, O judges, implore your good faith, your self-respect, your conscientiousness in giving judgment. I will take Alba for my judge; that man who is himself desirous of being considered an unprincipled buffoon: who by the buffoons has always been considered as a gladiator, rather than as a buffoon. I will bring forward such a case about the tenths, that Alba shall confess that Verres, in the case of the corn, and in that of the property of the cultivators of the soil, has been an open and undisguised robber.
LXIII. He says that he sold the tenths of the Leontine district at a high price. I showed at the beginning, that he ought not to be considered to have sold them at a high price, who in name indeed sold the tenths, but who in reality and by the terms of the sale, and through his law, and through his edict, and through the licentiousness of the collectors, left no tenths at all to the cultivators of the soil. I proved that also, that others had sold the tenths of the Leontine district and of other districts also, for a high price; and that they had sold them according to the law of Hiero; and that they sold them for even more than you had, and that then no cultivator had complained. Nor indeed was there anything of which any one could complain, when they were sold according to a law most equitably framed; nor did it ever make any difference to the cultivator at what price the tenths were sold. For it is not the case that, if they be sold at a high price, the cultivator owes more, if at a low price, less. As the crops are produced, so are the tenths sold. But it is for the interest of the cultivator, that his crops should be such that the tenths may be able to be sold at as high a price as possible. As long as the cultivator does not give more than a tenth, it is for his interest that the tenth should be as large as possible. But, I imagine, you mean this to be the chief article of your defence, that you sold all the tenths at a high price, but the tenths of the Leontine district, which produces the most, for two hundred and sixteen thousand modii of wheat. If I prove that you could have sold them for a good deal more, but that you would not knock them down to those who were bidding against Apronius, and that you adjudged them to Apronius for much less than you might have adjudged them to others;—if I prove this, will even Alba, not only your oldest friend, but even your lover, be able to acquit you?
LXIV. I assert that a Roman knight, a man of the highest honour, Quintus Minucius, with others like himself, was willing to add to the tenths of the Leontine district not one thousand, not two thousand, not three thousand modii of wheat, but thirty thousand modii of wheat to the tenths of one single district, and that he was not allowed to become the purchaser, that the matter might not escape the grasp of Apronius. You cannot by any means deny this, unless you are determined to deny everything. The business was transacted openly, in a full assembly, at Syracuse. The whole province is the witness, because men are accustomed to flock together thither from all parts at the sale of the tenths. And whether you confess this, or whether it be proved against you, do you not see in what important and what evident acts you are detected. First of all, it is proved that that business and that booty was yours. For unless it was, why did you prefer that Apronius (who every one was saying was only managing your affairs in the matter of the tenths as your agent) should get the tenths of the Leontine district rather than Quintus Minucius? Secondly, that an enormous and immense profit was made by you. For if you would not have been influenced by thirty thousand modii of wheat, at all events Minucius would willingly have given thus much as a compliment to Apronius, if he had been willing to accept it. How great then must we suppose the expectation of booty which he entertained to have been, when he despised and scorned such vast present profit, acquired without the slightest trouble. Thirdly, Minucius himself would never have wished to have them at such a price, if you had been selling the tenths according to the law of Hiero; but because he saw that by your new edicts and most iniquitous resolutions he should get a good deal more than tenths, on that account he advanced higher. But Apronius had always even a good deal more permitted to him than you had announced in your edict. How much gain then can we suppose was made by him to whom everything was permitted; when that man was so willing to add so large a compliment, who would not have had the same licence if he had bought the tenths? Lastly, unquestionably that defence, under which you have constantly thought that all your thefts and iniquities could be concealed, is cut from under your feet; that you sold the tenths at a high price—that you consulted the interest of the Roman people—that you provided for plenty of provisions. He cannot say this, who cannot deny that he sold the tenths of one district for thirty thousand modii less than he might have done; even if I were to grant you this, that you did not grant them to Minucius because you had already adjudged them to Apronius; for they say that that is what you are in the habit of saying, and I am expecting to hear it, and I wish you would make that defence. But, even if it were so, still you cannot boast of this as a great thing, that you sold the tenths at a high price, when you admit that there were people who were willing to buy them at a much higher price.
LXV. The avarice, then, and covetousness of this man, his wickedness, and dishonesty, and audacity, are proved, O judges, are proved most incontestably. What more shall I say? What if his own friends and defenders have formed the same opinion that I have? What can you have more? On the arrival of Lucius Metellus the prætor, when Verres had made all his retinue friends of his also by that sovereign medicine of his, money, men applied to Metellus; Apronius was brought before him; his accuser was a man of the highest consideration, Caius Gallius, a senator. He demanded of Metellus to give him a right of action according to the terms of his edict against Apronius, “for having taken away property by force or by fear,” which formula of Octavius, Metellus had both adopted at Rome, and now imported into the province. He does not succeed; as Metellus said that he did not wish by means of such a trial to prejudge the case of Verres himself in a matter affecting his condition as a free citizen. The whole retinue of Metellus, grateful men, stood by Apronius. Caius Gallius, a man of our order, cannot obtain from Lucius Metellus, his most intimate friend, a trial in accordance with his own edict. I do not blame Metellus; he spared a friend of his—a connexion, indeed, as I have heard him say himself. I do not, I say, blame Metellus; but I do marvel how he not only prejudged the case of a man concerning whom he was unwilling that any previous decision should take place by means of judges, but even judged most severely and harshly respecting him. For, in the first place, if he thought that Apronius would be acquitted, there was no reason for his fearing any previous decision. In the second place, if Apronius were condemned, all men were likely to think that the cause of Verres was involved in his; this at all events Metellus did now decide, and he determined that their affairs and their causes were identical, since he determined that, if Apronius were condemned, it would be a prejudging of the case of Verres. And one fact is at the same time a proof of two things; both that the cultivators gave much more than they owed to Apronius because they were constrained by violence and fear; and also, that Apronius was transacting Verres’s business in his own name, since Lucius Metellus determined that Apronius could not be condemned without giving a decision at the same time respecting the wickedness and dishonesty of Verres.
LXVI. I come now to the letter of Timarchides, his freedman and attendant; and when I have spoken of that, I shall have finished the whole of my charge respecting the tenth. This is the letter, O judges, which we found at Syracuse, in the house of Apronius, where we were looking for letters. It was sent, as it proves itself, on the journey, when Verres had already departed from the province; written by the hand of Timarchides. Read the letter of Timarchides. “Timarchides, the officer of Verres, wishes health to Apronius.” Now I do not blame this which he has written, “The officer.” For why should clerks alone assume to themselves this privilege? “Lucius Papirius the clerk,” I should like this signature to be common to all attendants, lictors, and messengers. “Be sure and be very diligent in everything which concerns the prætor’s character.” He recommends Verres to Apronius, and exhorts him to resist his enemies. Your reputation is protected by a very efficient guard, if indeed it depends on the diligence and authority of Apronius. “You have virtue and eloquence.” How abundantly Apronius is praised by Timarchides! How splendidly! Whom ought I to expect to be otherwise than pleased with that man who is so highly approved by Timarchides? “You have ample funds.” It is quite inevitable that what there was superfluous of the gain you both made by the corn, must have gone chiefly to the man by whose intervention you transacted that business. “Get hold of the new clerks and officers. —Use every means that offer, in concert with Lucius Vulteius, who has the greatest influence.” See now, what an opinion Timarchides has of his own dishonest cunning, when he gives precepts of dishonesty to Apronius! Now these words, “Use every means in your power” —Does not he seem to be drawing words out of his master’s house, suited to every sort of iniquity? “I beg, my brother, that you will trust your own little brother,” your comrade, indeed, in gain and robbery, your twin-brother and image in worthlessness, dishonesty, and audacity.
LXVII. “You will be considered dear to the retinue.” What does this mean, “to the retinue?” What has that to do with it? Are you teaching Apronius? What? had he come into this retinue at your prompting, or of his own accord? “Whatever is needful for each man, that employ.” How great, do you suppose, must have been the impudence of that man when in power, who even after his departure is so shameless? He says that everything can be done by money: you must give, waste, and spend, if you wish to gain your cause. Even this, that Timarchides should give this advice to Apronius, is not so offensive to me, as the fact of his also giving it to his patron, “When you press a request, all men gain their objects.” Yes, while Verres was prætor, not while Sacerdos was, or Peducæus, or this very Lucius Metellus. “You know that Metellus is a wise man.” But this is really intolerable, that the abilities of that most excellent man, Lucius Metellus, should be laughed at, and despised and scorned by that runaway slave Timarchides. “If you have Vulteius with you, everything will be mere child’s play to you.” Here Timarchides is greatly mistaken, in thinking either that Vulteius can be corrupted by money, or that Metellus is going to discharge the duties of his prætorship according to the will of any one man; but he is mistaken by forming his conjectures from his own experience. Because he saw that, through his own intervention and that of others, many men had been able to do whatever they pleased with Verres, without meeting with any difficulty, he thought that there were the same means of access to every one. You did very easily whatever you wanted with Verres, and found it as easy as child’s play to do so, because you knew many of the kinds of play in which he indulged.
“Metellus and Vulteius have been impressed with the idea that you have ruined the cultivators of the soil.” Who attributed the action to Apronius, when he had ruined any cultivator? or to Timarchides when he had taken money for assigning a trial, or making a decree, or giving any order, or remitting any thing? or to Sextus the lictor, when he, as executioner, had put an innocent man to death? No one. Every body at the time attributed these things to Verres; whom they desire now to see condemned. “People have dinned into their ears, that you were a partner of the prætor’s.” Do you not see how clear the matter both is and was when even Timarchides is afraid of this? Will you not admit that we are not inventing this charge against you, but that your freedman has been this long time seeking some defence against this charge? Your freedman and officer, one most intimate, and indeed connected with you and your children in everything, writes to Apronius, that it is universally pointed out to Metellus that Apronius had been your partner in the tenths. “Make him see the dishonesty of the cultivators: they shall suffer for it, if the gods will.” What, in the name of the immortal gods, is the meaning of that? or on what account can we say that such great and bitter hatred is excited against the cultivators? What injury have the cultivators of the soil done to Verres, that even his freedman and officer should attack them with so inimical a disposition in these letters?
LXVIII. And I would not, O judges, have read to you the letter of this runaway slave, if I had not wished you to see from it the precepts, and customs, and system of the whole household. Do you see how he advises Apronius? by what means and by what presents he may insinuate himself into the intimacy of Metellus? how he may corrupt Vulteius? how he may win over with bribes the clerks and the chief officer? He teaches him what he has himself seen done. He teaches a stranger the lessons which he has learnt at home himself. But in this one thing he makes a mistake, that he thinks there is the same road to every one’s intimacy. Although I am deservedly angry with Metellus, still I will say this which is true. Apronius could not corrupt Metellus with bribes, as he had corrupted Verres, nor with banquets, nor with women, nor with dehauched and profligate conversation, by which means he had, I will not say crept into that man’s friendship slowly and gradually, but had in a very short time got possession of the whole man and his whole retinue. But as for the retinue of Metellus, which he speaks of, what was the use of his corrupting that, when no judges were appointed out of it to judge the causes of the cultivators? For as for what he writes, that the son of Metellus was a mere boy, he is greatly mistaken. For there is not the same access to the son of every prætor. O Timarchides, the son of Metellus is in the province, not a boy, but a virtuous and modest youth, worthy of his rank and name. How that boy of yours had behaved in the province, I would not say if I thought it the fault of the boy, and not the fault of his father. Did not you, though you knew yourself and your own habits of life, O Verres, take with you your son, still clad in the robes of a boy, into Sicily, so that even if nature had separated the boy from his father’s vices and from every resemblance to his family, still habit and training might prevent his degenerating from them? Suppose there had been in him the disposition of Caius Lælius, of Marcus Cato, still what good could be expected or extracted out of one who has lived in the licentious school of his father in such a way that he has never seen one modest or sober banquet? who since he has grown up has lived in daily revels for three years among immodest women and intemperate men? who has never heard a word from his father by which he might become more modest or more virtuous? who has never seen his father do anything, which, if he had imitated, would not have laid him under the most disgraceful imputation of all, that of being considered like his father?
LXIX. By which conduct you have done an injury, not only to your son, but also to the republic. For you had begotten children, not for yourself alone, but also for your country; who might not only be a pleasure to you, but who might some day or other be able to be of use to the republic. You ought to have trained and educated them according to the customs of your ancestors, and the established system of the state; not in your crimes, in your infamy. Were he the able, and modest, and upright son of a lazy, and debauched, and worthless father, then the republic would have had a valuable present from you. Now you have given to the state another Verres instead of yourself, if, indeed, he is not worse (if that be possible) in this respect,—that you have turned out such as you are without being bred up in the school of a dissolute man, but only under a thief, and a go-between. What can we expect likely to turn out more complete than a person who is by nature your son, by education your son, by inclination your copyist? Whom, however, I, O judges, would gladly see turn out a virtuous and gallant man. For I am not influenced by his enmity, if, indeed, there is to be enmity between him and me; for if I am innocent and like myself in everything, how will his enmity hurt me? And if, in any respect, I am like Verres, an enemy will no more be wanting to me than he has been wanting to him. In truth, O judges, the republic ought to be such, and shall be such, being established by the impartiality of the tribunals, that an enemy shall never be wanting to the guilty, and shall never be able to injure the innocent. There is, therefore, no cause why I should not be glad for that son of his to emerge out of his father’s vices and infamy. And although it may be difficult, yet I do not know whether it be impossible; especially if (as is at present the case) the guardians placed over him by his friends continue to watch him, since his father is so indifferent to him, and so dissolute. But my speech has now digressed more than I had intended from the letter of Timarchides: and I said, that when that had been read, I would end all I had to say on the charge connected with the tenths; from which you have clearly seen that an incalculable amount of corn has been for these three years diverted from the republic, and taken illegally from the cultivators.
LXX. The next thing is, O judges, for me to explain to you the charge about the purchase of corn, a theft very large in amount, and exceedingly shameless. And I entreat you to listen while I briefly lay before you my statements, being both certain, few in number, and important. It was Verres’s duty, according to a decree of the senate, and according to the law of Terentius and to the law of Cassius about corn, to purchase corn in Sicily. There were two descriptions of purchase,—the one the purchase of the second tenths, the other the purchase of what was furnished in fair proportions by the different cities. Of corn derived from the second tenths the quantity would be as much as had been derived from the first tenths; of corn levied on the cities in this way there would be eight hundred thousand modii. The price fixed for the corn collected as the second tenths was three sesterces a modius; for that furnished in compliance with the levy, four sesterces. Accordingly, for the corn furnished in compliance with the levy, there was paid to Verres each year three million two hundred thousand sesterces, which he was to pay to the cultivators of the soil; and for the second tenths, about nine millions of sesterces. And so, during the three years, there was nearly thirty-six million six hundred thousand sesterces paid to him for this purchase of corn in Sicily. This enormous sum of money, given to you out of a poor and exhausted treasury; given to you for corn,—that is to say, for what was necessary for the safety and life of the citizens; given to you to be paid to the Sicilian cultivators of the soil, on whom the republic was imposing such great burdens;—this great sum, I say, was so handled by you, that I can prove, if I choose, that you appropriated the whole of this money, and that it all went to your own house. In fact, you managed the whole affair in such a way that this which I say can be proved to the most impartial judge. But I will have a regard for my own authority, I will recollect with what feelings, with what intentions I have undertaken the advocacy of this public cause. I will not deal with you in the spirit of an accuser; I will invent nothing; I do not wish any one to take for proved, while I am speaking, anything of which I myself do not already feel thoroughly convinced. In the case of this public money, O judges, there are three kinds of thefts. In the first place, he put it out among the companies from which it had been drawn at twenty-four per cent. interest; in the second place, he paid actually nothing at all for corn to very many of the cities; lastly, if he did pay any city, he deducted as large a sum as ever he chose. He paid no one whatever as much as was due to him.
LXXI. And first I ask you this—you, to whom the farmers of the revenue, according to the letters of Carpinatius, gave thanks. Was the public money, drawn from the treasury, given out of the revenues of the Roman people to purchase corn, was it a source of profit to you? Did it bring you in twenty-four per cent. interest? I dare say you will deny it. For it is a disgraceful and dangerous confession to make. And it is a thing very difficult for me to prove; for by what witnesses am I to prove it? By the farmers of the revenue? They have been treated by him with great honour; they will keep silence. By their letters? They have been put out of the way by a resolution of the collectors. Which way then shall I turn? Shall I leave unmentioned so infamous a business, a crime of such audacity and such shamelessness, on account of a dearth of witnesses or of documentary proofs? I will not do so, O judges. I will call a witness. Whom? Lucius Vettius Chilo, a most honourable and accomplished man of the equestrian order, who is such a friend of and so closely connected with Verres, that, even if he were not an excellent man, still whatever he said against him would seem to have great weight; but who is so good a man that, even if he were ever so great an enemy to him, yet his testimony ought to be believed. He is annoyed and waiting to see what Vettius will say. He will say nothing because of this present occasion; nothing of his free will, nothing of which we can think that he might have spoken either way. He sent letters into Sicily to Carpinatius, when he was superintendent of the tax derived from the pasture lands, and manager of that company of farmers, which letters I found at Syracuse, in Carpinatius’s house, among the portfolios of letters which had been brought to him; and at Rome in the house of Lucius Tullius, an intimate friend of yours, and another manager of the company, in portfolios of letters which had been received by him. And from these letters observe, I pray you, the impudence of this man’s usury.
[The letters of Lucius Vettius to Publius Servilius, and to Caius Antistius, managers of the company, are read.]
Vettius says that he will be with you, and will take notice how you make up your accounts for the treasury; so that, if you do not restore to the people this money which has been put out at interest, you shall restore it to the company. Can we not establish what we assert by this witness, can we not establish it by the letters of Publius Servilius and Caius Antistius, managers of the company, men of the highest reputation and of the highest honour, and by the authority of the company whose letters we are using? or must we seek for something on which we can rely more, for something more important?
LXXII. Vettius, your most intimate friend,—Vettius, your connexion, to whose sister you are married,—Vettius, the brother of your wife, the brother of your quæstor, bears witness to your most infamous theft, to your most evident embezzlement; for by what other name is a lending of the public money at usury to be called? Read what follows. He says that your clerk, O Verres, was the drawer up of the bond for this usury: the managers threaten him also in their letters; in fact, it happened by chance that two managers were with Vettius. They think it intolerable that twenty-four per cent. should be taken from them, and they are right to think so. For whoever did such a thing before? who ever attempted to do such a thing,—who ever thought that such a thing could be done, as for a magistrate to venture to take money as interest from the farmers, though the senate had often assisted the farmers by remitting the interests due from them? Certainly that man could have no hope of safety, if the farmers—that is, the Roman knights, were the judges. He ought to have less hope now, O judges, now that you have to decide; and so much the less, in proportion as it is more honourable to be roused by the injuries of others than by one’s own. What reply do you think of making to all this? Will you deny that you did it? Will you defend yourself on the ground that it was lawful for you to do it? How can you deny it? Can you deny it, to be convicted by the authority of such important letters, by so many farmers appearing as witnesses? But how can you say it was lawful? In truth, if I were to prove that you, in your own province, had lent on usury your own money, and not the money of the Roman people, still you could not escape; but when I prove that you lent the public money, the money decreed to you to buy corn with, and that you received interest from the farmers, will you make any one believe that this was lawful? a deed than which not only others have never, but you yourself have never done a more audacious or more infamous one. I cannot, in truth, O judges, say that even that which appears to me to be perfectly unprecedented, and about which I am going to speak next—I mean, the fact of his having actually paid very many cities nothing at all for their corn—was either more audacious or more impudent; the booty derived from this act was perhaps greater, but the impudence of the other was certainly not less. And since I have said enough about this lending at interest, now, I pray you, give your attention to the question of the embezzlement of the whole sum in many instances.
LXXIII. There are many cities in Sicily, O judges, of great splendour and of high reputation, and among the very first of these is the city of Halesa. You will find no city more faithful to its duties, more rich in wealth, more influential in its authority. After that man had ordered it to furnish every year sixty thousand modii of wheat, he took money for the wheat, at the price which wheat bore in Sicily at the time; all the money which he thus received from the public treasury, he kept for himself. I was amazed, O judges, when a man of the greatest ability, of the highest wisdom, and of the greatest influence, Æneas of Halesa, first stated this to me at Halesa in the senate of Halesa; a man to whom the senate by public resolution had given a charge to return me and my brother thanks, and at the same time to explain to us the matters which concerned this trial. He proves to me that this was his constant custom and system; that, when the entire quantity of corn had been brought to him under the name of tenths, then he was accustomed to exact money from the cities, to object to the corn delivered, and as for all the corn which he was forced to send to Rome, he sent that quantity from his own profits, and from his own store of corn. I demand the accounts, I inspect the documents, I see that the people of Halesa, from whom sixty thousand modii had been levied, had given none, that they had paid money to Volcatus, and to Timarchides the clerk. I find a case of plunder of this kind. O judges, that the prætor, whose duty it was to buy corn, did not buy it, but sell it; and that he embezzles and appropriates the money which he ought to have divided among the cities. It did not appear to me any longer to be a theft, but a monster and a prodigy; to reject the corn of the cities, and to approve of his own; when he had approved of his own, then to put a price on that corn, to take from the cities what he had fixed, and to retain what he had received from the Roman people.
LXXIV. How many degrees of offence in one single act of fraud do you think will be enough, if I insist on them severally, to bring the matter to a point where he can go no further? You reject the Sicilian corn; why? because you are sending some yourself. Have you any Sicily of your own, which can supply you corn of another sort? When the senate decrees that corn be bought in Sicily, or when the people order this, this, as I imagine, is what they mean, that Sicilian corn is to be brought from Sicily. When you reject all the corn of Sicily, do you send corn to Rome from Egypt or from Syria? You reject the corn of Halesa, of Cephalædis, of Thermæ, of Amestras, of Tyndaris, of Herbita, and of many other cities. What has happened then to cause the lands of these people to bear corn of such a sort while you were prætor, as they never bore before, so that it can neither be approved of by you, nor by the Roman people; especially when the managers of the different companies had taken corn, being the tenths, from the same land, and of the same year, to Rome? What has happened that the corn which made part of the tenths was approved, and that that which was bought, though out of the same barn, was not approved of? Is there any doubt that all that rejection of corn was contrived with the object of raising money? Be it so. You reject the corn of Halesa, you have corn from another tribe which you approve of. Buy that which pleases you; dismiss those whose corn you have rejected. But from those whom you reject you exact such a sum of money as may be equivalent to the quantity of corn which you require of their city. Is there any doubt what your object has been? I see from the public documents that the people of Halesa gave you fifteen sesterces for every medimnus—I will prove from the accounts of the wealthiest of the cultivators, that at the same time no one in Sicily sold corn at a higher price.
LXXV. What, then, is the reason for your rejecting, or rather what madness is it to reject corn which comes from that place from which the senate and the people of Rome ordered it to be brought? which comes from that very heap a part of which, under the name of tenths, you had actually approved of? and besides, to exact money from the cities for the purchase of corn, when you had already received it from the treasury? Did the Terentian law enjoin you to buy corn from the Sicilians with the money of the Sicilians, or to buy corn from the Sicilians with the money of the Roman people? But now you see that all that money out of the treasury, which ought to have been given to these cities for corn, has been made profit of by that man. For you take fifteen sesterces for a medimnus of wheat; for that is the value of a medimnus at that time. You keep eighteen sesterces; for that is the price of Sicilian corn, estimated according to law. What difference does it make whether you did this, or whether you did not reject the corn, but, after the corn was approved and accepted, detained all the public money, and paid none to any city whatever? when the valuation of the law is such that while it is tolerable to the Sicilians at other times, it ought also to be pleasant to them during your prætorship. For a modius is valued by law at three sesterces. But, while you were prætor, it was, as you boast in many letters to your friends, valued at two sesterces. But suppose it was three sesterces, since you exacted that price from the cities for every modius. When, if you had paid the Sicilians as much as the Roman people had ordered you to pay, it might have been most pleasing to the cultivators, you not only did not choose them to receive what they ought, but you even compelled them to pay what was not due from them. And that these things were done in this manner, you may know, O judges, both from the public documents of the cities, and from their public testimonies; in all which you will find nothing false, nothing invented as suited to the times. Everything which we speak of is entered in the returns and made up in a regular manner, without any interpolations or irregularities being foisted into the people’s accounts, but while they are all made up with deliberation and accuracy. Read the accounts of the people of Halesa. To whom does he say that money was paid? Speak, speak, I say, a little louder. “To Volcatius, to Timarchides, to Mævius.”
LXXVI. What is all this, O Verres? have you not left yourself even this argument in your defence, that they are the managers of the companies who have been concerned in those matters? that they are the managers who have rejected the corn? that they are the managers who have settled the affair with the cities for money? and that it is they also who have taken money from you in the name of those cities? and, moreover, that they have bought corn for themselves; and that all these things do not at all concern you? It would, in truth, be an insufficient and a wretched defence for a prætor to say this, “I never touched the corn, I never saw it, I gave the managers of the companies the power of approving or rejecting it; the managers extorted money from the cities, but I paid to the managers the money which I ought to have paid to the people.” This is, as I have said, an insufficient, or rather, a profligate defence against an accusation. But still, even this one, if you were to wish to use it, you cannot use. Volcatius, the delight of yourself and your friends, forbids you to make mention of the manager; and Timarchides, the prop of your household, stops the mouth of your defence; who, as well as Volcatius, had money paid to him from the cities. But now your clerk, with that golden ring of his, which he procured out of these matters, will not allow you to avail yourself of that argument. What then remains for you, except to confess that you sent to Rome corn which had been bought with the money of the Sicilians? that you appropriated the public money to your own purposes? O you habit of sinning, what delight you afford to the wicked and the audacious, when chastisement is afar off, and when impunity attends you! This is not the first time that that man has been guilty of that sort of peculation, but now for the first time is he convicted. We have seen money paid to him from the treasury, while he was quæstor, for the expense of a consular army; we saw, a few months afterwards, both army and consul stripped of everything. All that money lay hid in that obscurity and darkness which at that time had seized upon the whole republic. After that, he discharged the duties of the quæstorship to which he succeeded under Dolabella. He embezzled a vast sum of money; but he mixed up his accounts of that money with the confusion consequent on the conviction of Dolabella. Immense sums of money were entrusted to him when prætor. You will not find him a man to lick up these most infamous profits nervously and gently; he did not hesitate to swallow up at a gulp the whole of the public money. That wicked covetousness, when it is implanted in a man’s nature, creeps on in such a way, when the habit of sinning has emancipated itself from restraint, that it is not able to put any limits to its audacity. At length it is detected, and it is detected in affairs of great importance, and of undoubted certainty. And it seems to me that, by the interposition of the gods, this man too has become involved in such dishonesty, as not only to suffer punishment for the crimes which he has lately committed, but also to be overwhelmed with the vengeance due to the sins which he committed against Carbo and against Dolabella.
LXXVII. There is in truth also another new feature in this crime, O judges, which will remove all doubts as to his criminality on the former charge respecting the tenths. For, to say nothing of this fact, that very many of the cultivators of the soil had not corn enough for the second tenths, and for those eight thousand modii which they were bound to sell to the Roman people, but that they bought them of your agent, that is, of Apronius; which is a clear proof that you had left the cultivators actually nothing: to pass over this, which has been clearly set forth in many men’s evidence, can anything be more certain than this,—that all the corn of Sicily, and all the crops of the land liable to the payment of tenths, were for three years in your power and in your barns? for when you were demanding of the cities money for corn, whence was the corn to be procured for you to send to Rome, if you had it not all collected and locked up? Therefore, in the affair of that corn, the first profit of all was that of the corn itself, which had been taken by violence from the cultivators; the next profit was because that very corn which had been procured by you during your three years, you sold not once, but twice; not for one payment, but for two, though it was one and the same lot of corn; once to the cities, for fifteen sesterces a medimnus, a second time to the Roman people, from whom you got eighteen sesterces a medimnus for the very same corn. But perhaps you approved besides of the corn of the Centuripans, of the Agrigentines, and of some others, and paid money to these nations. There may be some cities in that number whose corn you were unwilling to object to. What then? Was all the money that was owed for corn paid to these cities? Find me one—not one people, but one cultivator. See, seek, look around, if perchance there is any single man in that province in which you were governor for three years, who does not wish you to be ruined. Produce me one, I say, out of all those cultivators who contributed money even to raise a statue to you, who will say that everything that was due for corn was paid. I pledge myself, O judges, that none will say so.
LXXVIII. Out of all the money which it was your duty to pay to the cultivators, you were in the habit of making deductions on certain pretexts; first of all for the examination, and for the difference in the exchanges; secondly, for some sealing money or other. All these names, O judges, do not belong to any legal demand, but to the most infamous robberies. For what difference of exchange can there be when all use one kind of money? And what is sealing money? How has this name got introduced into the accounts of a magistrate? how came it to be connected with the public money? For the third description of deduction was such as if it were not only lawful, but even proper; and not only proper, but absolutely necessary. Two fiftieths were deducted from the entire sum in the name of the clerk. Who gave you leave to do this?—what law? what authority of the senate? Moreover where was the justice of your clerk taking such a sum, whether it was taken from the property of the cultivators, or from the revenues of the Roman people? For if that sum can be deducted without injury to the cultivators of the soil, let the Roman people have it, especially in the existing difficulties of the treasury; but if the Roman people intended it to be paid to the cultivators, and if it is just that it should be, then shall your officer, hired at small wages paid by the people, plunder the property of the cultivators? And shall Hortensius excite against me in this cause the whole body of clerks? and shall he say that their interests are undermined by me, and their rights opposed? as if this were allowed to the clerks by any precedent or by any right. Why should I go back to old times? or why should I make mention of those clerks, who, it is evident, were most upright and conscientious men? It does not escape my observation, O judges, that old examples are now listened to and considered as imaginary fables. I will go only to the present wretched and profligate time. You, O Hortensius, have lately been quæstor. You can say what your clerks did; I say this of mine; when, in that same Sicily, I was paying the cities money for their corn, and had with me two most economical men as clerks, Lucius Mamilius and Lucius Sergius, then I say that not only these two fiftieths were not deducted, but that not one single coin was deducted from any one.
LXXIX. I would say that all the credit of this was to be attributed to me, O judges, if they had ever asked this of me, if they had ever thought of it. For why should a clerk make this deduction, and not rather the muleteer who brought the corn down? or the courier, by whose arrival they heard of its coming and made the demand? or the crier, who ordered them to appear? or the lictor and the slave of Venus, who carried the money? What part of the business or what seasonable assistance can a scrivener pretend to, that, I will not say such high wages should be given him, but, that a division of such a large sum should take place with him? Oh they are a very honourable body of men;—who denies it? or what has that to do with this business? But they are an honourable body, because to their integrity are entrusted the public accounts and the safety of the magistrates. Ask, therefore, of those scriveners who are worthy of their body, masters of households, virtuous and honourable men, what is the meaning of those fiftieths? In a moment you will all clearly see that the whole affair is unprecedented and scandalous. Bring me back to those scriveners, if you please; do not get together those men who when with a little money scraped together from the presents of spendthrifts and the gratuities to actors, they have bought themselves a place in some decury, think that they have mounted from the first class of hissed buffoons into the second class of the citizens. Those scriveners I will have as arbitrators in this business between you and me, men who are indignant that those other fellows should be scriveners at all. Although, when we see that there are many unfit men in that order, an order which is held out as a reward for industry and good conduct, are we to wonder that there are some base men in that order also, a place in which any one can purchase for money?
LXXX. When you confess that your clerk, with your leave, took thirteen hundred thousand sesterces of the public money, do you think that you have any defence left? that any one can endure this? Do you think that even any one of those who are at this moment your own advocates can listen to this with equanimity? Do you think that, in the same city in which an action was brought against Caius Cato, a most illustrious man, a man of consular rank, to recover a sum of eighteen thousand sesterces; in that same city it could be permitted to your clerk to carry off at one swoop thirteen hundred thousand sesterces? Here is where that golden ring came from, with which you presented him in the public assembly; a gift which was an act of such extraordinary impudence that it seemed novel to all the Sicilians, and to me incredible. For our generals, after a defeat of the enemy, after some splendid success, have often presented their secretaries with golden rings in a public assembly; but you, for what exploit, for the defeat of what enemy did you dare to summon an assembly for the purpose of making this present? Nor did you only present your clerk with a ring, but you also presented a man of great bravery, a man very unlike yourself, Quintus Rubrius, a man of eminent virtue, and dignity, and riches, with a crown, with horse trappings, and a chain; and also Marcus Cossutius, a most conscientious and honourable man, and Marcus Castritius, a man of the greatest wealth, and ability, and influence. What was the meaning of these presents made to these three Roman citizens? Besides that, you gave presents also to some of the most powerful and noble of the Sicilians, who have not, as you hoped, been the more slow to come forward, but have only come with more dignity to give their evidence in this trial of yours. Where did all these presents come from? from the spoils of what enemy? gained in what victory? Of what booty or trophies do they make a part? Is it because while you were prætor, a most beautiful fleet, the bulwark of Sicily, the defence of the province, was burnt by the hands of pirates arriving in a few light galleys? or because the territory of Syracuse was laid waste by the conflagrations of the banditti while you were prætor? or because the forum of the Syracusans overflowed with the blood of the captains? or because a piratical galley sailed about in the harbour of Syracuse? I can find no reason which I can imagine for your having fallen into such madness, unless indeed your object was to prevent men from ever forgetting the disasters of your administration. A clerk was presented with a golden ring, and an assembly was convoked to witness that presentation. What must have been your face when you saw in the assembly those men out of whose property that golden ring was provided for the present; who themselves had laid aside their golden rings, and had taken them off from their children, in order that your clerk might have the means to support your liberality and kindness? Moreover, what was the preface to this present? Was it the old one used by the generals?—“Since in battle, in war, in military affairs, you . . . .” There never was even any mention of such matters while you were prætor. Was it this, “Since you have never failed me in any act of covetousness, or in any baseness, and since you have been concerned with me in all my wicked actions, both during my lieutenancy, and my prætorship, and here in Sicily; on account of all these things, since I have already made you rich, I now present you with this golden ring?” This would have been the truth. For that golden ring given by you does not prove he was a brave man, but only a rich one. As we should judge that same ring, if given by some one else, to have evidence of virtues when given by you, we consider it only an accompaniment to money.
LXXXI. I have spoken, O judges, of the corn collected as tenths; I have spoken of that which was purchased; the last, the only remaining topic, is the valuation of the corn, which ought to have weight with every one, both from the vastness of the sum involved, and from the description of the injustice done; and more than either, because against this charge he is provided, not with some ingenious defence, but with a most scandalous confession of it. For though it was lawful for him, both by a decree of the senate, and also by the laws, to take corn and lay it up in the granaries, and though the senate had valued that corn at four sesterces for a modius of wheat, two for one of barley, Verres, having first added to the quantity of wheat, valued each modius of wheat with the cultivators at three denarii. My charge is not this, O Hortensius; do not you think about this; I know that many virtuous, and brave, and incorruptible men, have often valued, both with the cultivators of the soil and with cities, the corn which ought to have been taken and laid up in the granary, and have taken money instead of corn; I know what is accustomed to be done; I know what is lawful to be done; nothing which has been previously the custom of virtuous men is found fault with in the conduct of Verres. This is what I find fault with, that, when a modius of wheat in Sicily cost two sesterces, as his letter which was sent to you declares, or at most, three, as has also already been made clear from all the evidence and all the accounts of the cultivators, he exacted from the cultivators three denarii for every modius of wheat.
LXXXII. This is the charge; I wish you to understand, that my accusation turns not on the fact of his having valued the corn, nor even of his having valued it at three denarii, but on that of his having increased the quantity of corn, and consequently the amount of the valuation. In truth this valuation originated, O judges, at first not in the convenience of the prætors or consuls, but in the advantage to the cultivators and the cities. For originally, no one was so impudent as to demand money when it was corn that was due; certainly this proceeded in the first instance from the cultivator or from the city which was required to furnish corn; when they had either sold the corn, or wished to keep it, or were not willing to carry it to that place where it was required to be delivered, they begged as a kindness and a favour, that they might be allowed, instead of the corn, to give the value of the corn. From such a commencement as this, and from the liberality and accommodating spirit of the magistrates the custom of valuations was introduced. More covetous magistrates succeeded; who, in their avarice, devised not only a plan for their own gain, but also a way of escape, and a plea for their defence. They adopted a custom of always requiring corn to be delivered at the most remote and inconvenient places, in order that, through the difficulty of carriage, the cultivators might be more easily brought to the valuation which they wished. In a case of this kind it is easier to form one’s opinion, than to make out a case for blame; because we can think the man who does this avaricious, but we cannot easily make out a charge against him; because it appears that we must grant this to our magistrates, that they may have power to receive the corn in any place they choose; therefore this is what many perhaps have done, not, however, so many but that those whom we recollect, or whom we have heard of as the most upright magistrates, have declined to do it.
LXXXIII. I ask of you now, O Hortensius, with which of these classes you are going to compare the conduct of Verres? With those, I suppose, who, influenced by their own kindness, have granted, as a favour and as a convenience to the cities, permission to give money instead of corn. And so I suppose the cultivators begged of him, that, as they could not sell a modius of wheat for three sesterces, they may be allowed to pay three denarii instead of each modius. Or, since you do not dare to say this, will you take refuge in that assertion, that, being influenced by the difficulty of carriage, they preferred to give three denarii? Of what carriage? Wishing not to have to carry it from what place to what place? from Philemelium to Ephesus? I see what is the difference between the price of corn at different places; I see too how many days’ journey it is; I see that it is for the advantage of the Philomelians rather to pay in Phrygia the price which corn bears in Ephesus, than to carry it to Ephesus, or to send both money and agents to Ephesus to buy corn. But what can there be like that in Sicily? Enna is a completely inland town. Compel (that is the utmost stretch of your authority) the people of Enna to deliver their corn at the waterside; they will take it to Phintia, or to Halesa, or to Catina, places all very distant from one another, the same day that you issue the order; though there is not even need of any carriage at all; for all this profit of the valuation, O judges, arises from the variety in the price of corn. For a magistrate in a province can manage this,—namely, to receive it where it is dearest. And therefore that is the way valuations are managed in Asia and in Spain, and in those provinces in which corn is not everywhere the same price. But in Sicily what difference did it make to any one in what place he delivered it? for he had not to carry it; and wherever he was ordered to carry it, there he might buy the same quantity of corn which he sold at home. Wherefore, if, O Hortensius, you wish to show that anything, in the matter of the valuation, was done by him like what has been done by others, you must show that at any place in Sicily, while Verres was prætor, a modius of wheat ever cost three denarii.
LXXXIV. See what a defence I have opened to you; how unjust to our allies, how far removed from the good of the republic, how utterly foreign to the intention and meaning of the law. Do you, when I am prepared to deliver you corn on my own farm, in my own city,—in the very place, in short, in which you are, in which you live, in which you manage all your business and conduct the affairs of the province,—do you, I say, select for me some remote and desert corner of the island? Do you bid me deliver it there, whither it is very inconvenient to carry it? where I cannot purchase it? It is a shameful action, O judges, intolerable, permitted to no one by law, but perhaps not yet punished in any instance. Still this very thing, which I say ought not to be endured, I grant to you, O Verres; I make you a present of it. If in any place of that province corn was at the price at which he valued it, then I think that this charge ought not to have any weight against him. But when it was fetching two sesterces, or even three at the outside, in any district of the province which you choose to name, you exacted twelve. If there cannot be any dispute between you and me either about the price of corn, or about your valuation, why are you sitting there? What are you waiting for? What will you say in your defence? Does money appear to have been appropriated by you contrary to the laws, contrary to the interests of the republic, to the great injury of our allies? Or will you say in your defence, that all this has been done lawfully, regularly, in a manner advantageous to the republic, without injury to any one? When the senate had given you money out of the treasury, and had paid you money which you were to pay the cultivators, a denarius for every modius, what was it your duty to do? If you had wished to do what Lucius Piso, surnamed Thrifty, who first made the law about extortion, would have done, when you had bought the corn at the regular price, you would have returned whatever money there was over. If you wished to act as men desirous of gaining popularity, or as kind-hearted men would, as the senate had valued the corn at more than the regular price, you would have paid for it according to the valuation of the senate, and not according to the market price Or if, as many do, a conduct which produces some profit indeed, but still an honest and allowable one, you would not have bought corn, since it was cheaper than they expected, but you would have retained the money which the senate had granted you for furnishing the granary.
LXXXV. But what is it that you have done? What pretence has it, I will not say of justice, but even of any ordinary roguery or impudence? For, indeed, there is not usually anything which men, however dishonest, dare to do openly in their magistracy, for which they cannot give, if not a good excuse, still some excuse or other. But what sort of conduct is this? The prætor came. Says he, I must buy some corn of you. Very well. At a denarius for a modius. I am much obliged to you; you are very liberal, for I cannot get three sesterces for it. But I don’t want the corn, I will take the money. I had hoped, says the cultivator, that I should have touched the denarii; but if you must have money, consider what is the price of corn now. I see it costs two sesterces. What money, then, can be required of me for you, when the senate has allowed you four sesterces? Listen, now, to what he demands. And I entreat you, O judges, remark at the same time the equity of the præter: “The four sesterces which the senate has voted me, and has paid me out of the treasury, those I shall keep, and shall transfer out of the public chest into my strong box.” What comes next? What? “For each modius which I require of you, do you give me eight sesterces.” On what account? “What do you ask me on what account for? It is not so much on what account that we need think, as of how advantageous it will be,—how great a booty I shall get.” Speak, speak, says the cultivator, a little plainer. The senate desires that you should pay me money,—that I should deliver corn to you. Will you retain that money which the senate intended should be paid to me, and take two sesterces a-modius from me, to whom you ought to pay a denarius for each modius? And then will you call this plunder and robbery granary-money? This one injury,—this single distress, was wanting to the cultivators under your prætorship, to complete the ruin of the remainder of their fortunes. For what remaining injury could be done to the man who, owing to this injury, was forced not only to lose all his corn, but even to sell all his tools and stock? He had no way to turn. From what produce could he find the money to pay you? Under the name of tenths, as much had been taken from him as the caprice of Apronius chose; for the second tenths and for the corn that had been purchased either nothing had been paid, or only so much as the clerk had left behind, or perhaps it was even taken for nothing, as you have had proved to you.
LXXXVI. Is money also to be extorted from the cultivators? How? By what right? by what precedent? For when the crops of the cultivator were carried off and plundered with every kind of injustice, the cultivator appeared to lose what he had himself raised with his plough, for which he had toiled, what his land and his cornfields had produced. But amid this terrible ill-treatment, there was still this wretched consolation,—that he seemed only to be losing what, under another prætor, he could get again out of the same land. But now it is necessary for the cultivator—to give money, which he does not get out of the land—to sell his oxen, and his plough itself, and all his tools. For you are not to think this, “The man has also possessions in ready money; he has also possessions inland, near the city.” For when a burden is imposed on a cultivator of the soil, it is not the means and ability of the man that is to be considered, whether he has any property besides; but the quality and description of his land, what that can endure, what that can suffer, what that can and ought to produce. Although those men have been drained and ruined by Verres in every possible manner, still you ought to decide what contribution you consider the cultivator ought to render to the republic on account of his land, and what charges he can support. You impose the payment of tenths on them. They endure that. A second tenth. You think they must be subservient to your necessities,—that they must, besides that, supply you with more if you choose to purchase it. They will so supply you if you choose. How severe all this is, and how little, after all these deductions are made, can be left of clear profit for the owners, I think you, from your own farming experience, can guess. Add, now, to all this, the edicts, the regulations, the injuries of Verres,—add the reign and the rapine of Apronius, and the slaves of Apronius, in the land subject to the payment of tenths. Although I pass over all this; I am speaking of the granary. Is it your intention that the Sicilians should give corn to our magistrates for their granaries for nothing? What can be more scandalous, what can be more iniquitous than that? And yet, know you that this would have seemed to the cultivators a thing to be wished for, to be begged for, while that man was prætor.
LXXXVII. Sositenus is a citizen of Entella; a man of the greatest prudence, and of the noblest birth in his city. You have heard what he said when he was sent by the public authority to this trial as a deputy, together with Artemon and Meniscus, men of the highest character. He when in the senate at Entella he was discussing with me the injustice of Verres, said this: that, if the question of the granaries and of the valuation were conceded, the Sicilians were willing to promise the senate corn for the granary without payment, so that we need not for the future vote such large sums to our magistrates. I am sure that you clearly perceive how advantageous this would be for the Sicilians,—not because of the justice of such a condition, but in the way of choosing the least of two evils; for the man who had given Verres a thousand modii for the granary as his share of the contribution required, would have given two, or, at most, three thousand sesterces, but the same man has now been compelled for the same quantity of corn to give eight thousand sesterces. A cultivator could not stand this for three years, at least not out of his own produce. He must inevitably have sold his stock. But if the land can endure this contribution and this tribute,—that is to say, if Sicily can bear and support it, let it pay it to the Roman people rather than to our magistrates. It is a great sum, a great and splendid revenue. If you can obtain it without damage to the province, without injury to our allies, I do not object at all. Let as much be given to the magistrates for their granary as has always been given. What Verres demands besides, that, if they cannot provide it, let them refuse. If they can provide it, let it be the revenue of the Roman people rather than the plunder of the prætor. In the next place, why is that valuation established for only one description of corn? If it is just and endurable, then Sicily owes the Roman people tenths; let it give three denarii for each single modius of wheat; let it keep the corn itself. Money has been paid to you, O Verres,—one sum with which you were to buy corn for the granary, the other with which you were to buy corn from the cities to send to Rome. You keep at your own house the money which has been given to you; and besides that, you receive a vast sum in your own name. Do the same with respect to that corn which belongs to the Roman people; exact money from the cities according to the same valuation, and give back what you have received,—then the treasury of the Roman people will be better filled than it ever has been. But Sicily could not endure that in the case of the public corn; she did indeed bear it in the case of my own. Just as if that valuation was more just when your advantage was concerned, than when that of the Roman people was; or, as if the conduct which I speak of, and that which you adopted, differed only in the description of the injury, and not in the magnitude of the sum involved. But that granary they can by no means bear, not even if everything else be remitted; not even if they were for ever hereafter delivered from all the injuries and distresses which they have suffered while you were prætor, still they say that they could not by any possibility support that granary and that valuation.
LXXXVIII. Sophocles of Agrigentum, a most eloquent man, adorned with every sort of learning and with every virtue, is said to have spoken lately before Cnæus Pompeius, when he was consul, on behalf of all Sicily, concerning the miseries of the cultivators, with great earnestness and great variety of arguments, and to have lamented their condition to him. And of all the things which he mentioned, this appeared the most scandalous to those who were present, (for the matter was discussed in the presence of a numerous assembly,) that, in the very matter in which the senate had dealt most honestly and most kindly with the cultivators, in that the prætor should plunder, and the cultivators be ruined; and that should not only be done, but done in such a manner as if it were lawful and permitted.
What says Hortensius to this? that the charge is false? He will never say this.—That no great sum was gained by this method? He will not even say that.—That no injury was done to Sicilians and the cultivators? How can he say that?—What then, will he say,—That it was done by other men. What is the meaning of this? Is it a defence against the charge, or company in banishment that he is seeking for? Will you in this republic, in this time of unchecked caprice, and (as up to this time the course of judicial proceedings has proved) licentiousness on the part of men, will you defend that which is found fault with, and affirm that it has been done properly; not by reference to right, nor to equity, nor to law, nor because it was expedient, nor because it was allowed, but because it was some one else who did it? Other men, too, have done other things, and plenty of them; why in this charge alone do you use this sort of defence? There are some things in you so extraordinary, that they cannot be said of, or meet in the character of, any other man; there are some things which you have in common with many men. Therefore, to say nothing of your acts of peculation, or of your taking money for the appointment of judges, and other things of that sort which, perhaps, other men also may have committed; will you defend yourself, also, from the charge which I bring against you as the most serious one of all—the charge, namely, of having taken money to influence your legal decisions, by the same argument, that others have done so too? Even if I were to admit the assertion, still I should not admit it as any defence. For it would be better that by your condemnation there should be more limited room for defending dishonesty left to others, than that, owing to your acquittal, others should be thought to have legitimately done what they have done with the greatest audacity.
LXXXIX. All the provinces are mourning; all the nations that are free are complaining; every kingdom is expostulating with us about our covetousness and our injustice; there is now no place on this side of the ocean, none so distant, none so out of the way, that, in these latter times, the lust and iniquity of our citizens has not reached it. The Roman people is now no longer able to bear (I have not to say the violence, the arms, and the war, but) the mourning, the tears, and the complaints, of all foreign nations. In a case of this sort, in speaking of customs of this sort, if he who is brought before the tribunal, when he is detected in evident crimes, says that others have also done the same, he will not want examples; but the republic will want safety, if, by the precedents of wicked men, wicked men are to be delivered from trial and from danger. Do you approve of the manners of men at present? Do you approve of men’s behaving themselves in magistracies as they do? Do you approve, finally, of our allies being treated as you see that they have been treated all this time? Why am I forced to take all this trouble? Why are you all sitting here? Why do you not rise up and depart before I have got halfway through my speech? Do you wish to lay open at all the audacity and licentiousness of these men? Give up doubting whether it is more useful, because there are so many wicked men, to spare one, or by the punishment of one wicked man, to check the wickedness of many. Although, what are those numerous instances of wicked men? For when in a cause of such importance, when in the case of a charge of such gravity, the defendant has begun to say that anything has frequently been done, those who hear him are expecting precedents drawn from ancient tradition, from old records and old documents, full of dignity, full of antiquity.
XC. For such instances usually have both a great deal of authority in proving any point, and are very pleasant to hear cited. Will you speak to me of the Africani, and the Catos, and the Lælii, and will you say that they have done the same thing? Then, even though the act might not please me, still I should not be able to fight against the authority of those men. But, since you will not be able to produce them, will you bring forward these moderns, Quintus Catulus the father, Caius Marcius, Quintus Scævola, Marcus Scaurus, Quintus Metellus? who have all governed provinces, and who have all levied corn on the ground of filling the granary. The authority of the men is great, so great as to be able to remove all suspicion of wrong-doing. But you have not, even out of these men who have lived more recently, one precedent of that authority. Whither, then, or to what examples will you bring me back? Will you lead me away from those men who have spent their lives in the service of the republic at a time when manners were very strict, and when the opinion of men was considered of great weight, and when the courts of justice were severe, to the existing caprice and licentiousness of men of the present age? And do you seek precedents for your defence among those men, as a warning to whom the Roman people have decided that they are in need of some severe examples? I do not, indeed, altogether condemn the manners of the present time, as long as we follow those examples which the Roman people approves of; not those which it condemns. I will not look around me, I will not go out of doors to seek for any one, while we have as judges those chiefs of the city, Publius Servilius and Quintus Catulus, who are men of such authority, and distinguished for such exploits, that they may be classed in that number of ancient and most illustrious men of whom I have previously spoken. We are seeking examples, and those not ancient ones. Very lately each of them had an army. Ask, O Hortensius, since you are fond of modern instances, what they did. Will you not? Quintus Catulus used corn, but he exacted no money. Publius Servilius, though he commanded an army for five years, and by that means might have made an incalculable sum of money, thought that nothing was lawful for himself which he had not seen his father and his grandfather, Quintus Metellus, do. Shall Caius Verres be found, who will say that everything is lawful for him which is profitable? Will he allege in his defence that he has done in accordance with the example set by others, what none, except wicked men, ever have done? Oh, but it has been often done in Sicily.
XCI. What is that condition in which Sicily is? Why is the law of injustice especially defined by a reference to the usages prevalent in that land which, on account of its antiquity as our ally, its fidelity, and its nearness to us, ought to enjoy the best laws of all? However, in Sicily itself, (I will not go abroad to look for examples,) I will take examples out of the very bench of judges before me. Caius Marcellus, I call you as a witness. You governed the province of Sicily when you were proconsul. Under your command were any sums of money extorted, under the name of money for the granary? I do not give you any credit for this. There are other exploits, other designs of yours worthy of the highest praise, measures by which you recovered and set up again an afflicted and ruined province. For even Lepidus whom you succeeded had not committed this fraud about the granary. What precedents then have you in Sicily affecting this charge about the granary, if you cannot defend yourself from the accusation by quoting any action even of Lepidus, much less any action of Marcellus? Are you going to bring me back to the valuation of the corn, and the exaction of money by Marcus Antonius? Just so, says he; to the valuation of Marcus Antonius. For this is what he seemed to mean by his signs and nods. Out of all the prætors of the Roman people then, and consuls, and generals, have you selected Marcus Antonius, and even the most infamous action done by him, for your imitation? And here is it difficult for me to say, or for the judges to think, that in that unlimited authority Marcus Antonius behaved himself in such a manner, that it is by far more injurious to Verres to say that as he, in a most infamous transaction, wished to imitate Antonius, than if he were able to allege in his defence, that he had never in his whole life done anything like Marcus Antonius? Men in trials are accustomed to allege, in making a defence against an accusation, not what any one did, but what he did that was good. In the middle of his course of injustice and covetousness death overtook Antony, while he was still both doing and planning many things contrary to the safety of the allies, many things contrary to the advantage of our provinces. Will you defend the audacity of Verres by the example of Antonius, as if the senate and people of Rome approved of all his actions and designs?
XCII. But Sacerdos did the same You name an upright man, and one endued with the greatest wisdom; but he can only be thought to have done the same thing, if he did it with the same intention. For the mere fact of the valuation has never been found fault with by me; but the equity of it depends on the advantage to, and willingness of the cultivator. No valuation can be found fault with, which is not only not disadvantageous, but which is even pleasing to the cultivator. Sacerdos, when he came into the province, commanded corn to be provided for the granary. As before the new harvest came in a modius of wheat was five denarii, the cities begged of him to have a valuation. The valuation was somewhat lower than the actual market price, for he valued it at three denarii. You see that the same fact of a valuation, through the dissimilarity of the occasion, was a cause of praise in his instance, of accusation in yours. In his instance it was a kindness, in yours an injury. The same year Antonius valued corn at three denarii, after the harvest, in a season of exceeding cheapness, when the cultivators would rather give the corn for nothing, and he said that he had valued it at the same price as Sacerdos; and he spoke truly, but yet, by the same valuation the one had relieved the cultivators, the other had ruined them. And if it were not the case that the whole value of corn must be estimated by the season, and the market price, not by the abundance, nor by the total amount, these modii and a half of yours, O Hortensius, would never have been so agreeable; in distributing which to the Roman people, for every head, small as the quantity was, you did an action which was most agreeable to all men; for the dearness of corn caused that, which seemed a small thing in reality, to appear at that time a great one. If you had given such a largess to the Roman people in a time of cheapness, your kindness would have been derided and despised.
XCIII. Do not, therefore, say that Verres did the same as Sacerdos had done, since he did not do it on the same occasion, nor when wheat was at a similar price; say rather, since you have a competent authority to quote, that he did for three years what Antonius did on his arrival, and with reference to scarcely a month’s provisions, and defend his innocence by the act and authority of Marcus Antonius. For what will you say of Sextus Peducæus, a most brave and honest man? What cultivator ever complained of him? or who did not think that his prætorship was the most impartial and the most active one that has ever been known up to this time? He governed the province for two years, when one year was a year of cheapness, the other a year of the greatest dearness. Did any cultivator either give him money in the cheap season, or in the dear season complain of the valuation of his corn? Oh, but provisions were very abundant that dear season. I believe they were; that is not a new thing nor a blameable one. We very lately saw Caius Sentius, a man of old-fashioned and extraordinary incorruptibility, on account of the dearness of food which existed in Macedonia, make a great deal of money by furnishing provisions. So that I do not grudge you your profits, if any have come to you legally; I complain of your injustice; I impeach your dishonesty; I call your avarice into court, and arraign it before this tribunal.
But if you wish to excite a suspicion that this charge belongs to more men and more provinces than one, I will not be afraid of that defence of yours, but I will profess myself the defender of all the provinces. In truth I say this, and I say it with a loud voice, “Wherever this has been done, it has been done wickedly; whoever has done it is deserving of punishment.”
XCIV. For, in the name of the immortal gods, see, O judges, look forward with your mind’s eye at what will be the result. Many men have exacted large sums from unwilling cities, and from unwilling cultivators, in this way, under pretence of filling the granary. (I have no idea of any one person having done so except him, but I grant you this, and I admit that many have.) In the case of this man you see the matter brought before a court of justice; what can you do? can you, when you are judges in a case of embezzlement which is brought before you, overlook the misappropriation of so large a sum? or can you, though the law was made for the sake of the allies, turn a deaf ear to the complaints of the allies? However, I give up this point too to you. Disregard what is past, if you please; but do not destroy their hopes for the future, and ruin all the provinces; guard against this,—against opening, by your authority, a visible and broad way for avarice, which up to this time has been in the habit of advancing by secret and narrow paths; for if you approve of this, and if you decide that it is lawful for money to be taken on that pretext, at all events there is no one except the most foolish of men who will not for the future do what as yet no one except the most dishonest of men ever has done; they are dishonest men who exact money contrary to the laws, they are fools who omit to do what it has been decided that they may do. In the next place, see, O judges, what a boundless licence for plundering people of money you will be giving to men. If the man who exacts three denarii is acquitted, some one else will exact four, five, presently ten, or even twenty. What reproof will he meet with? At what degree of injury will the severity of the judge first begin to make a stand? How many denarii will it be that will be quite intolerable? and at what point will the iniquity and dishonesty of the valuation be first arraigned? For it is not the amount, but the description of valuation that will be approved of by you. Nor can you decide in this manner, that it is lawful for a valuation to be made when the price fixed is three denarii, but not lawful when the price fixed is ten; for when a departure is once made from the standard of the market price, and when the affair is once so changed that it is not the advantage of the cultivators which is the rule, but the will of the prætor, then the manner of valuing no longer depends on law and duty, but on the caprice and avarice of men.
XCV. Wherefore, if in giving your decisions you once pass over the boundary of equity and law, know that you impose on those who come after no limit to dishonesty and avarice in valuing. See, therefore, how many things are required of you at once. Acquit the man who confesses that he has taken immense sums, doing at the same time the greatest injury to our allies. That is not enough. There are also many others who have done the same thing. Acquit them also, if there are any; so as to release as many rogues as possible by one decision. Even that is not enough. Cause that it may be lawful to those who come after them to do the same thing. It shall be lawful. Even this is too little. Allow it to be lawful for every one to value corn at whatever price he pleases. He may so value it. You see now, in truth, O judges, that if this valuation be approved of by you, there will be no limit hereafter to any man’s avarice, nor any punishment for dishonesty. What, therefore, O Hortensius, are you about! You are the consul elect, you have had a province allotted to you. When you speak on the subject of the valuation of corn, we shall listen to you as if you were avowing that you will do what you defend as having been legitimately done by Verres; and as if you were very eager that that should be lawful for you which you say was lawful for him. But if that is to be lawful, there is nothing which you can imagine any one likely to do hereafter, in consequence of which he can possibly be condemned for extortion. For whatever sum of money any one covets, that amount it will be lawful for him to acquire, under the plea of the granary, and by means of the highness of the valuation.
XCVI. But there is a thing, which, even if Hortensius does not say it openly in defending Verres, he still does say in such a manner that you may suspect and think that this matter concerns the advantage of the senators; that it concerns the advantage of those who are judges, and who think that they will some day or other be in the provinces themselves as governors or as lieutenants. But you must think that we have splendid judges, if you think them likely to show indulgence to the faults of others, in order the more easily to be allowed to commit faults themselves. Do we then wish the Roman people, do we wish the provinces, and our allies, and foreign nations to think that, if senators are the judges, this particular manner of exorting immense sums of money with the greatest injustice will never be in any way chastised? But if that be the case, what can we say against that prætor who every day occupies the senate, who insists upon it that the republic can not prosper, if the office of judge is not restored to the equestrian order? But if he begins to agitate this one point, that there is one description of extortion, common to all the senators, and now almost legalized in the case of that order, by which immense sums are taken from the allies with the greatest injustice; and that this cannot possibly be repressed by tribunals of senators, but that, while the equestrian order furnished the senators, it never was committed; who, then, can resist him? Who will be so desirous of gratifying you, who will be such a partisan of your order, as to be able to oppose the transference of the appointment of judges to that body?
XCVII. And I wish he were able to make a defence to this charge by any argument, however false, as long as it is natural and customary. You could then decide with less danger to yourselves, with less danger to all the provinces. Did he deny that he had adopted this valuation? You would appear to have believed the man in that statement, not to have approved of his action. He cannot possibly deny it. It is proved by all Sicily. Out of all that numerous band of cultivators, there is not one from whom money has not been exacted on the plea of the granary. I wish he were able to say even this, that that affair does not concern him; that the whole business relating to corn was managed by the quæstors. Even that he cannot say, because his own letters are read which were sent to the cities, written on the subject of the three denarii. What then is his defence? “I have done what you accuse me of; I have extorted immense sums on the plea of the granary; but it was lawful for me to do so, and it will be lawful for you if you take care.” A dangerous thing for the provinces for any classes of injury to be established by judicial decision! a dangerous thing for our order, for the Roman people to think that these men, who themselves are subject to the laws, cannot defend the laws with strictness when they are judges. And while that man was prætor, O judges, there was not only no limit to his valuing corn, but there was none either to his demands of corn. Nor did he command that only to be supplied that was due, but as much as was advantageous for himself. I will put before you the sum total of all the corn commanded to be furnished for the granary, as collected out of the public documents, and the testimonies of the cities. You will find, O judges, that man commanded the cities to supply five times as much as it was lawful for him to take for the granary. What can be added to this impudence, if he both valued it at such a price that men could not endure it, and also commanded so much more to be supplied than was permitted to him by the laws to require?
Wherefore, now that you have heard the whole business of the corn, O judges, you can easily see that Sicily, that most productive and most desirable province, has been lost to the Roman people, unless you recover it by your condemnation of that man. For what is Sicily, if you take away the cultivation of its land, and if you extinguish the multitude and the very name of the cultivators of the soil? For what can there be left of disaster which has not come to those unhappy cultivators, with every circumstance of injury and insult? They were liable, indeed, to pay tenths, but they have scarcely had a tenth left for themselves. When money has been due to them, it has not been paid; though the senate intended them to supply corn for the granary according to a very equitable valuation, they have been compelled to sell even the tools with which they cultivate their lands.
XCVIII. I have already said, O judges, that even if you remove all these injuries, still that the occupation of cultivating land is maintained owing to the hopes and a certain sort of pleasure which it gives, rather than because of the profit and emolument arising from it. In truth every year constant labour and constant expense is incurred in the hope of a result which is casual and uncertain. Moreover, the crop does not command a high price, except in a disastrous harvest. But if there has been a great abundance of crops gathered, then there is cheapness in selling them. So that you may see that the corn must be badly sold if it is got in well, or else that the crop must be bad if you get a good price for it. And the whole business of agriculture is such, that it is regulated not by reason or by industry, but by those most uncertain things,—the weather and the winds. When from agriculture one tenth is extracted by law and on fair terms,—when a second is levied by a new regulation, on account of the necessity of procuring a sufficient supply for ourselves,—when, besides, corn is purchased every year by public authority,—and when, after all that, more still is ordered by magistrates and lieutenants to be supplied for the granary,—what, or how much is there after all this of his own crop which the cultivator or owner can have at his own disposal, for his own profit? And if all this is endured,—if by their care, and expense, and labour, they consult your advantage and that of the Roman people rather than themselves and their own profit,—still, ought they also to bear these new edicts and commands of the prætors, and the imperiousness of Apronius, and the robberies and rapine of the slaves of Venus? Ought they also to supply corn which ought to be purchased of them, without getting any payment for it? Ought they also, though they are willing to supply corn for the granary without payment, to be forced to pay large sums too? Ought they also to endure all these injuries and all these losses, accompanied with the greatest insult and contumely? Therefore, O judges, those things which they have not at all been able to bear, they have not borne. You know that over the whole of Sicily the allotments of land are deserted and abandoned by their owners. Nor is there anything else to be gained by this trial, except that our most ancient and faithful allies, the Sicilians, Roman settlers, and the cultivators of the soil, owing to your strictness and your care, may return to their farms and to their homes under my guidance and through my instrumentality.