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deserted and reduced to want, a province robbed, the civil and religious rights of a people violated. What did the office he held in Asia Minor and Pamphilia produce, but the ruin of those countries?in which houses, cities, and temples were robbed by him. What was his conduct in his prætorship here at home? Let the plundered temples, and public works neglected, that he might embezzle the money intended for carrying them on, bear witness. But his prætorship in Sicily crowns all his works of wickedness, and finishes a lasting monument to his infamy. His nod has decided all causes in Sicily for these three years; and his decisions have broken all law, all precedent, all right. The sums he has by arbitrary taxes and unheard of impositions extorted from the industrious poor are not to be computed. The most faithful allies of the commonwealth have been treated as enemies. Roman citizens have like slaves been put to death with tortures. The most atrocious criminals, for money, have been exempted from deserved punishment; and the most upright men condemned and banished, unheard. Having, by his iniquitous sentences, filled the prisons with the most industrious and deserving of the people, he then proceeded to order numbers of Roman citizens to be strangled in the gaols; so that the exclamation, “I am a citizen of Rome !" which has often, in the most distant regions and among the most barbarous people, been a protection, was of no service to them, but, on the contrary, brought a speedier and severer punishment upon them.
I ask now, Verres, what you have to advance against this charge? Will you offer to deny it? Will you pretend that anything false, that even anything exaggerated, is alleged against you? Had any prince, or any state, committed the same outrage against the privilege of Roman citizens, should we not think we had sufficient ground for declaring immediate war against them? What punishment ought then to be inflicted upon a tyrannical and wicked prætor, who dared -at no greater distance than Sicily, within sight of the Italian coast,
to put to the infamous death of crucifixion that unfortunate and innocent citizen, Publius Gavius Cosanus, only for his having asserted his privilege of citizenship, and declared his intention of appealing to the justice of his country against a cruel oppressor, who had unjustly confined him in a prison in Syracuse, from which he had just escaped ? The unhappy man, arrested as he was going to embark for his native country, is brought before the wicked prætor. With eyes darting fury, and a countenance distorted with cruelty, he orders the helpless victim of his rage to be stripped and rods to be brought; accusing him, but without the least shadow of evidence, or even of suspicion, of having come to Sicily as a spy. It was in vain that the unhappy man cried out, “I am a Roman citizen ; I have served under Lucius Pretius, who is now at Panormus, and will attest my innocence." The blood-thirsty prætor, deaf to all he could urge in his own defence, ordered the infamous punishment to be inflicted. Thus, Fathers, was an innocent Roman citizen publicly mangled with scourging; whilst the only words he uttered amidst his cruel sufferings were, “I am a Roman citizen !” With these he hoped to defend himself from violence and infamy; but of so little service was this privilege to him that, while he was thus asserting his citizenship, the order was given for his execution for his execution upon the cross!
Oh, Liberty! Oh, sound once delightful to every Roman ear!
! Oh, sacred privilege of Roman citizenship!-once sacred !—now trampled upon! But what then? Is it come to this! Shall an inferior magistrate, a governor who holds his whole power of the Roman people, in a Roman province, within sight of Italy, bind, scourge, torture with fire and red-hot plates of iron, and, at the last, put to the infamous death of the cross a Roman citizen? Shall neither the cries of innocence expiring in agony, nor the tears of pitying spectators, nor the majesty of the Roman commonwealth, nor the fear of the justice of his country, restrain the licentious and wanton cruelty of a monster, who, in confidence of his riches, strikes at the root of liberty, and sets mankind at defiance ?