70BC Trial Of Verres

Cicero in the Trial of Verres and Verre's crimes

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  • Created by: Abby
  • Created on: 22-12-12 15:22

Naval Crimes of Verres

Executing quarry workers instead of pirates:

  • When some pirates were found and taken to Verres, Verres ignored Roman law and instead of executing the Captin had him escorted to a little village where he was kept in comfort.
  • As a rule the crew should have all been kept together and executed at the same time, however Verres seperated the young and handsome ones from the old and allowed the young skilled pirates to live.
  • The villagers had counted the number of pirates caught and knew not all had been executed so Verres executed Roman citizens working in quarries - normally spanish.

Attempted cover-up of a Naval Fiasco

  • Verres had romantic interest in wife of Cleomenes, to get the injured man out the way he put him incharge of the seven-ship Sicilian naval fleet. He was not qualified for the job.
  • One a five-day sail from Syracuse Cleomenes spent his days drinking, however when pirates were spotted he fled on the nearest ship leaving his crew.
  • Verres knew everyone could point blame on him so got them to sign false papers saying the blame lay elsewhere. For good measure all captins were executed for treason 15 days later.


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Unlawful Punishments Of Roman Citizens

Beating and torture of C. Servilius:

  • C. Servilius was a trader from Panormus. He incurred the wrath of Verres by publicly criticizing some of the scandals of his administrations.
  • Governor trumped up charges against Servilius saying that the trader had fraudulently taken property belonging to the Goddess Venus.
  • After pleading not guilty Verres ordered him to post a bond. Servilius refused to pay and was beaten by six of Verres' lictors and later died from his injuries.

Use of unauthorised form of execution:

  • Verres openly employed against Roman citizens methods of punishment such as crucifixion which were permitted by Roman law to be used only for convicted slaves.


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Seizures Of Art And Other Valuables From Private I

Four figures from the Chapel of Heius:

  • Heius owned one of the most lavishly adorned homes in Messana. His private chaple featured four beautiful figures.
  • Verres removed them all while handing Heius a hefty sum in return.
  • Purchases by Roman governors were unlawful, however the payment was so low this could not be called a purchase.

The Golden Candelabrum of a Syrian Prince:

  • Attack in 83BC dethroned king of Syria, by 74BC invaders were driven out. In 73BC two sons left Rome to take throne in Syria. They were stopped in Sicily where Verres invited them to a banquet.
  • To repay the favour the Princes showed Verres their treasures, word got to Verres about the golden candelabrum. Verres asked for it to be brought to his house so he could inspect it in private.
  • When it came to retriving it the Princes servants were told excuses and the Princes were asked if it could be a gift. They said no.
  • The Princes were ordered to leave Sicily that night without time to get the candelabrum.
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Crimes Committed Before Becoming Provincial Govern

Dinner party leads to death:

  • Verres cause so much trouble at a dinner party that his lictor was killed by a father defending his daughter.
  • His son also joined the fight along with many other villagers.
  • The father and son were executed for protecting her in the market place, despite being in the right.

Case of the not quite perpendicular pillars:

  • 74BC Verres was praetura urbana - judical position.
  • Rome's eight praetors had different roles and Verres had to supervise court for civil litigation between citizens. Role that provided oppertunities for extortion,
  • Another responability was to examine publice buildings.
  • Verres found that repair of temple Castor and Pollux were not sastifactory and failed his insepection in some small way. Verres wanted more money from contractors.
  • Because the temple had been fixed very well Verres claimed that the pilars weren't perpendicular so demanded a bribe from the contractors.
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Abuse Of Tax Laws

Special edicts aimed at Q. Septicius:

  • Farmers were backbone of Sicilian economy so they were enraged when Verres abused them.
  • Septicius refused to accede to the tithe levied on his grain. Verres ordered that no farmer could remove grain from his threshing-floor unil he had satisfied demands of tax collector.
  • Septicius decided to leave his grain on the floor to be ruined. Verres introduced another edict saying the grain had to be delivered by August 1st, forcing Septicius to choose to either pay demand or violate one or the other special edicts.
  • Third special edict said farmers had to provide a security to guarantee their appearance at courts of the tax collectors choosing. By choosing geographically difficult courts Verres forced money out of victims.

Impossible demands on three farmer brothers:

  • Demanded three brothers pay more to government in grain than they had raised. Unable to pay brothers chose to flee.
  • Verres' cheif tax collector seized farms, farm implements and live stock. One brother returned and begged for restoration he was arressted and strung up on an olive tree in the forum.
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Seizures Of Valuable Public Property

Making a magistrate ride naked on a bronze horse:

  • Town of Tyndaris nothing was more valuable than statue of Mercury. Verres ordered it to be taken down and shipped to his treasure store-house.
  • Local opposition was so stong Verres had to follow up threats directed to magistrate, Sopater, who referred the matter of the statue to the local senate. They said it was a matter of death for anyone who touched it. Verres demanded the senate reconsider. Meeting adjourned without a vote.
  • Verres ordered Sopater to be stripped naked and strapped on a bronze statue in the middle of the forum. Order came in mid-winter.
  • Public were moved by sight of magistrates cold skin congeling on statue and allowed statue to be taken.

Scape=goat for stolen Ceres:

  • Only women could perform rituals at shrine of Ceres at Catalina - no man could even enter.
  • Verres organised for a servant to sneak in and make away with a staute of the Goddess.
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Significane Of Cicero's Success Against Verres

  • Verres went into voluntary exile. Cicero's speech was so damning he didn't bother fighting it.
  • Cicero only used 50 days rather than the alloted 110 to gather evidence so the trial didn't run into the games.
  • Cicero liked to defend - this was the first time he prosecuted, he only ever did it twice. Show's his loyalty to Sicilians as there was a very good chance this trial would have ruined his whole career.
  • Cicero became top advocate.
  • Cicero was in the process of standing for aedile which he also won - this meant his attention was split.
  • Allowed Cicero to position himself in Rome's politics.
  • Verres had bribed the jury yet Cicero still won. Verres had also bribed a witness in Sicily.
  • Cicero had gained experience and extensive support in Sicily.
  • Demonstrates Cicero's belief in the justice system.
  • Showed Cicero as courageous as he went against an evil and manipulative man.
  • Consolidated support.
  • Took a gamble and changed the way he presented his speech - changed the format of the trial.


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