In Verrem (actio secunda)
M. Tullius Cicero
(129) Nam quid ego de cotidiano sermone querimoniaque populi Romani loquar, de istius impudentissimo furto, seu potius novo ac singulari latrocinio? Ausum esse in aede Castoris, celeberrimo clarissimoque monumento, quod templum in oculis cotidianoque aspectu populi Romani positum est, quo saepe numero senatus convocatur, quo maximarum rerum frequentissimae cotidie advocationes fiunt--in eo loco in sermone hominum audaciae suae monumentum aeternum relinquere?
(130) Aedem Castoris, iudices, P. Iunius habuit tuendam de L. Sulla, Q. Metello consulibus. Is mortuus est; reliquit pupillum parvum filium. Cum L. Octavius C. Aurelius consules aedes sacras locavissent neque potuissent omnia sarta tecta exigere, neque ii praetores quibus erat negotium datum, C. Sacerdos et M. Caesius, factum est senatus consultum, quibus de sartis tectis cognitum et iudicatum non esset, uti C. Verres P. Caelius praetores cognoscerent et iudicarent. Qua potestate iste permissa sic abusus est ut ex Cn. Fannio et ex Q. Tadio cognovistis, verum tamen cum esset omnibus in rebus apertissime impudentissimeque praedatus, hoc voluit clarissimum relinquere indicium latrociniorum suorum, de quo non audire aliquando sed videre cotidie possemus. (131) Quaesivit quis aedem Castoris sartam tectam deberet tradere. Iunium ipsum mortuum esse sciebat; scire volebat ad quem illa res pertineret. Audit pupillum esse filium. Homo, qui semper ita palam dictitasset, pupillos et pupillas certissimam praedam esse praetoribus, optatum negotium sibi in sinum delatum esse dicebat. Monumentum illa amplitudine, illo opere, quamvis sartum tectum integrumque esset, tamen aliquid se inventurum in quo moliri praedarique posset arbitrabatur. (132) L. Habonio aedem Castoris tradi oportebat: is casu pupilli Iunii tutor erat testamento patris; cum eo sine ullo intertrimento convenerat iam quem ad modum traderetur. Iste ad se Habonium vocat; quaerit ecquid sit quod a pupillo traditum non sit, quod exigi debeat. Cum ille, id quod erat, diceret facilem pupillo traditionem esse; signa et dona comparere omnia; ipsum templum omni opere esse integrum; indignum isti videri coepit ex tanta aede tantoque opere se non opimum praeda, praesertim a pupillo, discedere. (133) Venit ipse in aedem Castoris, considerat templum; videt undique tectum pulcherrime laqueatum, praeterea cetera nova atque integra. Versat se; quaerit quid agat. Dicit ei quidam ex illis canibus quos iste Liguri dixerat esse circa se multos, "Tu, Verres, hic quod moliare nihil habes, nisi forte vis ad perpendiculum columnas exigere." Homo omnium rerum imperitus quaerit quid sit "ad perpendiculum"; dicunt ei fere nullam esse columnam quae ad perpendiculum esse possit. "Nam mehercule," inquit, "sic agamus; columnae ad perpendiculum exigantur." (134) Habonius, qui legem nosset, qua in lege numerus tantum columnarum traditur, perpendiculi mentio fit nulla, et qui non putaret sibi expedire ita accipere, ne eodem modo tradendum esset, negat id sibi deberi, negat oportere exigi. Iste Habonium quiescere iubet, et simul ei nonnullam spem societatis ostendit; hominem modestum et minime pertinacem facile coercet; columnas ita se exacturum esse confirmatą....
(144) Addicitur opus HS DLX milibus, cum tutores HS XL. milibus id opus ad illius iniquissimi hominis arbitrium se effecturos esse clamarent. (145) Etenim quid erat operis? Id quod vos vidistis. Omnes illae columnae, quas dealbatas videtis, machina apposita, nulla impensa deiectae iisdemque lapidibus repositae sunt. Hoc tu HS DLX. milibus locavisti. Atque in illis columnis dico esse quae a tuo redemptore commotae non sint; dico esse ex qua tantum tectorium vetus deiectum sit et novum inductum. Quod si tanta pecunia columnas dealbari putassem, certe numquam aedilitatem petivissem.
(146) At ut videatur tamen res agi et non eripi pupillo: SI QUID OPERIS CAUSA RESCIDERIS, REFICITO. Quid erat quod rescinderet, cum suo quemque loco lapidem reponeret? QUI REDEMERIT SATIS DET DAMNI INFECTI ET QUI A VETERE REDEMPTORE ACCEPERIT. Deridet, cum sibi ipsum iubet satis dare Habonium. PECUNIA PRAESENS SOLVATUR. Quibus de bonis? Eius qui, quo tu HS DLX. milibus locasti, HS XL. milibus effecturum se esse clamavit. Quibus de bonis? Pupilli, cuius aetatem et solitudinem, etiamsi tutores non essent, defendere praetor debuit. Tutoribus defendentibus non modo patrias eius fortunas, sed etiam bona tutorum ademisti. HOC OPUS BONUM SUO CUIQUE FACITO. Quid est SUO CUIQUE? Lapis aliqui caedendus et apportandus fuit machina sua; nam illo non saxum, non materies advecta est; tantum operis in ista locatione fuit quantum paucae operae fabrorum mercedis tulerunt, et manuspretium machinae. Utrum existimatis minus operis esse unam columnam efficere ab integro novam nullo lapide redivivo, an quattuor illas reponere? Nemo dubitat quin multo maius sit novam facere. Ostendam in aedibus privatis, longa difficilique vectura, columnas singulas ad impluvium HS XX. milibus non minus magnas locatas. (148) Sed ineptum est de tam perspicua eius impudentia pluribus verbis disputare, praesertim cum iste aperte tota lege omnium sermonem atque existimationem contempserit, qui etiam ad extremum ascripserit REDIVIVA SIBI HABETO; quasi quicquam redivivi ex opere illo tolleretur ac non totum opus ex redivivis constitueretur.
At enim si pupillo redimi non licebat non necesse erat rem ad ipsum pervenire; poterat aliquis ad id negotium de populo accedere. Omnes exclusi sunt non minus aperte quam pupillus. Diem praestituit operi faciundo Kalendas Decembres, locat circiter Idus Septembres; angustiis temporis excluduntur omnes. (149) Quid ergo? Habonius istam diem quomodo assequitur? Nemo Habonio molestus est neque Kalendis Decembribus neque Nonis neque Idibus; denique aliquanto ante in provinciam iste proficiscitur quam opus effectum est. Posteaquam reus factus est, primo negabat se opus in acceptum referre posse; cum instaret Habonius, in me causam conferebat, quod eum codicem obsignassem. Petit a me Habonius et amicos allegat; facile impetrat. Iste quid ageret nesciebat; si in acceptum non rettulisset, putabat se aliquid defensionis habiturum; Habonium porro intellegebat rem totam esse patefacturum-- tametsi quid poterat esse apertius quam nunc est? Ut uno minus teste ageret, Habonio opus in acceptum rettulit quadriennio post quam diem operi dixerat. (150) Hac condicione, si quis de populo redemptor accessisset, non esset usus; cum die ceteros redemptores exclusisset, tum in eius arbitrium ac potestatem venire nolebant qui sibi ereptam praedam arbitraretur. Nunc ne argumentemur quo ista pecunia pervenerit, facit ipse indicium. Primum cum vehementius cum eo D. Brutus contenderet, qui de sua pecunia HS DLX. milibus numeravit, quod iam iste ferre non poterat, opere addicto, praedibus acceptis, de HS DLX. milibus remisit D. Bruto HS CX. milia. Hoc, si aliena res esset, certe facere non potuisset. Deinde nummi numerati sunt Cornificio. Quem scribam suum fuisse negare non potest. Postremo ipsius Habonii tabulae praedam illam istius fuisse clamant. Recita. NOMINA HABONIIą¢?ĆĀ¦.
(154) Quaerimus etiam quid iste in ultima Phrygia, quid in extremis Pamphyliae partibus fecerit, qualis in bello praedonum praedo ipse fuerit, qui in foro populi Romani pirata nefarius reperiatur? Dubitamus quid iste in hostium praeda molitus sit, qui manubias sibi tantas ex L. Metelli manubiis fecerit, qui maiore pecunia quattuor columnas dealbandas quam ille omnes aedificandas locaverit? Exspectemus quid dicant ex Sicilia testes? Quis umquam templum illud aspexit quin avaritiae tuae, quin iniuriae, quin audaciae testis esset? Quis a signo Vertumni in circum maximum venit quin is uno quoque gradu de avaritia tua commoneretur? quam tu viam tensarum atque pompae eius modi exegisti ut tu ipse illa ire non audeas. Te putet quisquam, cum ab Italia freto disiunctus esses, sociis temperasse, qui aedem Castoris testem tuorum furtorum esse volueris? quam populus Romanus cotidie, iudices etiam tum cum de te sententiam ferent, videbunt.
(129) And now how shall I deal with a thing that was day after day the subject of indignant discussion throughout Rome--that impudent theft of his, or rather, that unheard of and extraordinary act of open robbery? To think of the temple of Castor, that famous and glorious memorial of the past, that sanctuary which stands where the eyes of the nation may rest upon it every day, in which the Senate not seldom meets, and which is daily thronged with those who come to take counsel upon matters of high import: and then to think that there Verres has a memorial of his criminal audacity graven for ever upon the lips of men!
(130) From the consulship of Lucius Sulla and Quintus Metellus, gentlemen, the contractor for the upkeep of the temple of Castor had been one Publius Iunius. He died, leaving a young son, not yet of age. Lucius Octavius and Gaius Aurelius during their consulship had made contracts for temple maintenance, the execution of which they had not had time, in all cases, to certify, nor had the two praetors, Gaius Sacerdos and Marcus Caesius, to whom this duty had been assigned. The Senate therefore decreed that Gaius Verres and Publius Caelius, the new praetors, should examine and pronounce upon those contracts not already dealt with. How Verres misused the powers thus entrusted to him you have already learnt from Gnaeus Fannius and Quintus Tadius. But open and unashamed as all his depredations were, he chose to leave us an especially striking demonstration of his methods of robbery; something that we might not hear of now and then, but daily see for ourselves. (131) He inquired who was responsible for handing over the temple of Castor in good repair; Iunius himself he knew was dead, and he wanted to know on whom the duty now devolved. He was told that it was the son, who was still a minor. He had always been in the habit of saying openly that minors, male or female, were a praetor's safest prey; and here, he told himself, was a most desirable piece of business put straight into his hands. In so large and elaborate a building, even were it in sound and good repair, he calculated on finding some means of working a profitable job for himself. (132) The temple contract was to be transferred to Lucius Habonius: this man, as it happened, was by the will of Iunius made one of the boy's guardians, and with him a quite comfortable settlement had been reached about the details of the transfer. Verres told Habonius to come and see him, and asked him whether his ward had failed in any detail of the transfer that he should be required to make good. Habonius replied, what was true, that his ward was having no trouble about the transfer; that no statues or offerings were missing; and that the building itself was in sound condition throughout. Verres began to feel that it would be a shame to abandon a great elaborate building like that without lining his own pockets richly--at a minor's expense, too. (133) He went himself into the temple of Castor, and surveyed the sacred edifice: he saw the whole roof beautifully panelled, and everything else in fresh and sound condition. He turned round, and asked what he had better do. Then one of the hounds, of whom he told Ligus he kept a large pack round him, observed, "Look you, Verres, there is no job you can work here, unless perhaps you would like to demand that the pillars be made exactly plumb." The hopeless ignoramus inquired what "plumb" signified: and they told him that practically no pillar could possibly be exactly plumb. "Why, damn it all," says Verres, "let's do that; let us demand that the pillars be made exactly plumb." (134) Habonius was familiar with the wording of the contract, which merely gave an inventory of the number of pillars and said nothing about their being plumb; and also he reckoned that it would not pay him to take over the contract on those conditions, since he might have to hand over to his successor on the same conditions later on. He therefore maintained that he had no right to claim this, and that it ought not to be required. Verres told Habonius to hold his tongue, at the same time hinting that he would have some chance of sharing in the profits, He had no trouble in suppressing this unassuming and easy-going person, and stated definitely that he would make the requirement about the pillars as mentioned.....
(144) The contract was let for L5600, though the guardians declared loudly that for L400 they were prepared to carry out the work so as to satisfy even that tyrannical rascal. (145) How much, after all, was there to do? Exactly what you yourselves, gentlemen, saw done. A scaffold was moved up to each of those pillars that you can now see freshly whitened; they were taken down and replaced, without further expense, stone for stone as before. This was the undertaking for which your contractor received L5600! Yes, and I assert that of those pillars there are some that he never touched: I assert that there is one from which he merely scraped off the old stucco and applied fresh. Well, if I had supposed it cost so much to whiten pillars, I should certainly never have been a candidate for the aedileship.
(146) However, to give it the appearance of a business arrangement and not a robbery of that boy, we have the clause, "Any portion of the structure cut away in the course of the restoration must be replaced." What was there to cut away, when he simply put each stone back in its place? "The contractor will be required to give security for possible damage during restoration to the successor of the original contractor." A good joke, to require Habonius to give security to himself! "The cost shall be paid in cash." And from whose property? That of the person who declared distinctly that he would do for L400 what you have paid your contractor L5600 to do! From whose property, I ask again? That of a boy under age, whose tender years and orphan condition called for the praetor's protection, even though he had had no guardians. He did have guardians, who tried to protect him, and you, Verres, have stolen not only his patrimony but the property of the guardians too. "The work must be carried out soundly with the proper material for each part of it." (147) What do you mean by "proper material for each part of it"? A certain amount of marble had to be cut and brought to the right spot by means of the proper appliance. That was all: there was no stone and no timber brought there: all that this contract involved was paying some masons for a few days' work, plus the cost of the scaffolding appliances. Which would you reckon the bigger undertaking, gentlemen, to construct a single complete new pillar without using any old stone again, or to put four of those pillars back where they were? Nobody can doubt that constructing one new one is far the bigger thing. Now I will prove to you that in a private house pillars just as large as these, though they had to be brought a long way over bad roads, have been erected round the rainpool for L200 apiece. (148) But it is silly, when his conduct is so obviously shameless, to argue in great detail about it; especially as by the whole wording of the contract he openly showed his contempt for what everyone would say or think, even adding at the end "The contractor may retain any unused old material"-- as if any old material at all were taken away from that operation, when the whole thing was done with old material.
It may be suggested that it did not follow, if the minor were not allowed to have the contract, that the matter must come into the hands of Verres: any member of the public might have undertaken the business. No, they were all barred from it as obviously as the minor himself. The day Verres fixed for the undertaking to be completed was the 1st of December, and he let the contract about the 13th of September; everyone was barred by the shortness of the time allowed. (149) Well, but then, how did Habonius keep within the time? Nobody made any trouble for Habonius either on the 1st of December, or a week later, or a fortnight later: in fact Verres had left for his province some time before the work was completed. After his prosecution, he first said for some time that he could not certify that the work had been duly carried out; then, when Habonius pressed him, he referred him to me, saying that I had the memorandum-book under seal. Habonius asked me for it, and sent his friends to support him: his request was granted at once. Verres did not see what to do. If he refused to give the certificate, he thought he might thus have some sort of defence for himself: but then he was aware that Habonius was likely in that case to expose the whole business-- though what could be clearer that it now is? To have one less witness against him, he gave Habonius his certificate-- in the fourth year after the date prescribed for the completion of the work! (150) Had any contractor from the general public come forward, he would not have enjoyed such favourable treatment: all the other contractors were not only barred by the time-limit, but afraid to trust themselves to the discretion of a powerful person who would be feeling that his prey had been torn from his grasp. There is no need to argue where that money must in fact have gone-- he tells us himself. In the first place, when Decimus Brutus, who had paid down that L5600 out of his own purse, pressed him forcibly about it, he, not being able to stand the pressure any longer, returned L1100 out of the L5600 to Brutus, after the contract had been let and security accept for its completion: which it is impossible to think that he would have done if the affair no longer concerned him. Secondly, the cash was paid to Cornificius, who, as he cannot deny, was his own clerk. Finally, Habonius's own accounts proclaim the fact that the spoils fell to Verres. Read them aloud. Accounts of Habonius.
Do we now ask how Verres has behaved in distant Phrygia, or in the remote regions of Pamphylia: or how in the war against the sea-robbers, he has played the robber himself: Verres, whose black deeds of piracy we find done here in the heart of Rome? Can we doubt his jobbery over the plunder taken from our enemies, seeing how he has enriched himself with spoil from the spoils that Lucius Metellus took for us, and paid his contractor more money for whitening four of those pillars than Metellus paid for the building of them all? Need we wait to hear what the witnesses from Sicily shall tell us? Has anyone looked at that temple without becoming a witness to your rapacity and injustice and reckless wickedness? Has anyone walked along the road from the statue of Vertumnus to the Circus Maximus without being reminded of your rapacious greed at every step he took? The repair of that road, the route for sacred coaches and processions, you have enforced so thoroughly that you would not risk going over it yourself. Is anyone expected to believe that, once salt water lay between you and Italy, you had any mercy on our allies, when you have not shrunk from letting Castor's temple be the witness of your thefts? Upon that temple the eyes of Rome rest daily; and upon it the eyes of your judges will rest, as they pronounce their verdict upon you.
Reprinted by permission of the publishers and the Trustees of the Loeb Classical Library from M. Tullius Cicero: Volume VII. The Verrine Orations I, Loeb Classical Library Vol. 221, translated by L.H.G. Greenwood, Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, © 1928, by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. The Loeb Classical Library ® is a registered trademark of the President and Fellows of Harvard College.