Quam vero aptas quamque multarum artium ministras manus natura homini dedit. digitorum enim contractio facilis facilisque porrectio propter molles commissuras et artus nullo in motu laborat. itaque ad pingendum, ad fingendum, ad scalpendum, ad nervorum eliciendos sonos, ad tibiarum apta manus est admotione digitorum. atque haec oblectationis, illa necessitatis, cultus dico agrorum exstructionesque tectorum, tegumenta corporum vel texta vel suta omnemque fabricam aeris et ferri; ex quo intellegitur ad inventa animo percepta sensibus adhibitis opificum manibus omnia nos consecutos, ut tecti, ut vestiti, ut salvi esse possemus, urbes, muros, domicilia, delubra haberemus.
(Cicero, De Natura Deorum 2.150)

Then what clever servants for a great variety of arts are the hands which nature has bestowed on man! The flexibility of the joints enables the fingers to close and open with equal ease, and to perform every motion without difficulty. Thus by the manipulation of the fingers the hand is enabled to paint, to model, to carve, and to draw forth the notes of the lyre and of the flute. And beside these arts of recreation there are those of utility, I mean agriculture and building, the weaving and stitching of garments, and the various modes of working bronze and iron; hence we realize that it was by applying the hand of the artificer to the discoveries of thought and observations of the senses that all our conveniences were attained, and we were enabled to have shelter, clothing and protection, and possessed cities, fortifications, houses and temples. (tr. Harris Rackham)



Ipse inflammatus scelere et furore in forum venit; ardebant oculi, toto ex ore crudelitas eminebat. exspectabant omnes quo tandem progressurus aut quidnam acturus esset, cum repente hominem proripi atque in foro medio nudari ac deligari et virgas expediri iubet. clamabat ille miser se civem esse Romanum, municipem Consanum; meruisse cum L. Raecio, splendidissimo equite Romano, qui Panhormi negotiaretur, ex quo haec Verres scire posset. tum iste, se comperisse eum speculandi causa in Siciliam a ducibus fugitivorum esse missum; cuius rei neque index neque vestigium aliquod neque suspicio cuiquam esset ulla; deinde iubet undique hominem vehementissime verberari. caedebatur virgis in medio foro Messanae civis Romanus, iudices, cum interea nullus gemitus, nulla vox alia illius miseri inter dolorem crepitumque plagarum audiebatur nisi haec, “Civis Romanus sum.” hac se commemoratione civitatis omnia verbera depulsurum cruciatumque a corpore deiecturum arbitrabatur; is non modo hoc non perfecit, ut virgarum vim deprecaretur, sed cum imploraret saepius usurparetque nomen civitatis, crux,—crux, inquam,—infelici et aerumnoso, qui numquam istam pestem viderat, comparabatur.
(Cicero, In Verrem 2.5.161-162)

Then he* made for the market-place, on fire with mad and wicked rage, his eyes blazing, and cruelty showing clearly in every feature of his face. Everyone was wondering how far he would go and what he was meaning to do, when he suddenly ordered the man to be flung down, stripped naked and tied up in the open market-place, and rods to be got ready. The unhappy man cried out that he was a Roman citizen, a burgess of Consa; that he had served in the army under the distinguished Roman knight Lucius Raecius, who was in business at Panhormus and could assure Verres of the truth of his story. To this Verres replied that he had discovered that Gavius had een sent to Sicily as a spy by the leaders of the fugitive army, a charge which was brought by no informer, for which there was no evidence, and which nobody saw any reason to believe. He then ordered the man to be flogged severely all over his body. There in the open market-place of Messana a Roman citizen, gentlemen, was beaten with rods; and all the while, amid the crack of the falling blows, no groan was heard from his lips in his agony except “I am a Roman citizen.” By thus proclaiming his citizenship he had been hoping to avert all those blows and shield his body from torture; yet not only did he fail to secure escape from those cruel rods, but when he persisted in his entreaties and his appeal to his citizen rights, a cross was made ready—yes, a cross, for that hapless and broken sufferer, who had never seen such an accursed thing till then.

* Verres

(tr. Leonard Hugh Graham Greenwood)



In consulatu Vatinii, quem paucis diebus gessit, notabilis Ciceronis urbanitas circumferebatur. “Magnum ostentum” inquit “anno Vatinii factum est, quod illo consule nec bruma nec ver nec aestas nec autumnus fuit. [Cicero, Dicta 31]” querenti deinde Vatinio quod gravatus esset domum ad se infirmatum venire, respondit, “volui in consulatu tuo venire, sed nox me comprehendit. [Dicta 32]” ulcisci autem se Cicero videbatur, ut qui respondisse sibi Vatinium meminerat, cum umeris se rei publicae de exilio reportatum gloriaretur, “Unde ergo tibi varices?”
(Macrobius, Sat. 2.3.5)

In Vatinius’ consulship, which he held for only a few days, one of Cicero’s noteworthy mots was in circulation: “A great marvel,” he said, “came to pass in the year of Vatinius, when there was neither winter nor spring nor summer nor fall while he was consul.” When Vatinius complained that Cicero had found it a bother to pay him a sick-call at home, Cicero replied, “I wanted to come during your consulship, but nightfall overtook me.” Cicero appeared to be getting his own back, since he recalled that when he boasted how he had been borne back from exile on the shoulders of the commonwealth, Vatinius had said, “How did you get those varicose veins, then?” (tr. Robert A. Kaster)



(…) gratiamque habeo Simonidi illi Cio, quem primum ferunt artem memoriae protulisse. dicunt enim, cum cenaret Crannone in Thessalia Simonides apud Scopam fortunatum hominem et nobilem cecinissetque id carmen, quod in eum scripsisset, in quo multa ornandi causa poetarum more in Castorem scripta et Pollucem fuissent, nimis illum sordide Simonidi dixisse se dimidium eius ei, quod pactus esset, pro illo carmine daturum; reliquum a suis Tyndaridis, quos aeque laudasset, peteret, si ei videretur. paulo post esse ferunt nuntiatum Simonidi ut prodiret; iuvenes stare ad ianuam duo quosdam, qui eum magno opere evocarent; surrexisse illum, prodisse, vidisse neminem: hoc interim spatio conclave illud, ubi epularetur Scopas, concidisse; ea ruina ipsum cum cognatis oppressum suis interisse: quos cum humare vellent sui neque possent obtritos internoscere ullo modo, Simonides dicitur ex eo, quod meminisset quo eorum loco quisque cubuisset, demonstrator unius cuiusque sepeliendi fuisse; hac tum re admonitus invenisse fertur ordinem esse maxime, qui memoriae lumen adferret. itaque eis, qui hanc partem ingeni exercerent, locos esse capiendos et ea, quae memoria tenere vellent, effingenda animo atque in eis locis collocanda; sic fore ut ordinem rerum locorum ordo conservaret, res autem ipsas rerum effigies notaret atque ut locis pro cera, simulacris pro litteris uteremur.
(Cicero, De Oratore 2.351-354)

(…) and I am grateful to the famous Simonides of Ceos, who is said to have first invented the science of mnemonics. There is a story that Simonides was dining at the house of a wealthy nobleman named Scopas at Crannon in Thessaly, and chanted a lyric poem which he had composed in honor of his host, in which he followed the custom of the poets by including for decorative purposes a long passage referring to Castor and Pollux; whereupon Scopas with excessive meanness told him he would pay him half the fee agreed on for the poem, and if he liked he might apply for the balance to his sons of Tyndareus, as they had gone halves in the panegyric. The story runs that a little later a message was brought to Simonides to go outside, as two young men were standing at the door who earnestly requested him to come out; so he rose from his seat and went out, and could not see anybody; but in the interval of his absence the roof of the hall where Scopas was giving the banquet fell in, crushing Scopas himself and his relations underneath the ruins and killing them; and when their friends wanted to bury them but were altogether unable to know them apart as they had been completely crushed, the story goes that Simonides was enabled by his recollection of the place in which each of them had been reclining at table to identify them for separate interment; and that this circumstance suggested to him the discovery of the truth that the best aid to clearness of memory consists in orderly arrangement. He inferred that persons desiring to train this faculty must select localities and form mental images of the facts they wish to remember and store those images in the localities, with the result that the arrangement of the localities will preserve the order of the facts, and the images of the facts will designate the facts themselves, and we shall employ the localities and images respectively as a wax writing tablet and the letters written on it. (tr. Edward William Sutton)


Nemo queritur Syrum nescio quem de grege noviciorum factum esse consulem; non enim nos color iste servilis, non pilosae genae, non dentes putridi deceperunt: oculi, supercilia, frons, voltus denique totus, qui sermo quidam tacitus mentis est, hic in fraudem homines impulit; hic eos, quibus eras ignotus, decepit, fefellit, induxit. pauci ista tua lutulenta vitia noramus; pauci tarditatem ingenii, stuporem debilitatemque linguae; numquam erat audita vox in foro; numquam periculum factum consilii; nullum non modo inlustre, sed ne notum quidem factum aut militiae aut domi. obrepsisti ad honores errore hominum, commendatione fumosarum imaginum, quarum simile habes nihil praeter colorem.
(Cicero, In Pisonem 1)

No one complains that some Syrian or other, some member of a crew of newly-made slaves, has become consul. We were not deceived by your slavish complexion, your hairy cheeks, and your discoloured teeth; it was your eyes, eyebrows, forehead, in a word your whole countenance, which is a kind of dumb interpreter of the mind, which pushed your fellow-men into delusion; this it was which tricked, betrayed, inveigled those who were unacquainted with you. There were but few of us who knew of your filthy vices, few the crassness of your intelligence and the sluggish ineptitude of your tongue. Your voice had never been heard in the forum; never had your wisdom in council been put to the test; not a single deed had you achieved either in peace or war that was, I will not say famous, but even known. You crept into office by mistake, by the recommendation of your dingy family busts,* with which you have no resemblance save colour.

* The imagines of the family, placed in the atrium, where the smoke of the fire would blacken them.

(tr. Neville Hunter Watts, with his note)


Non enim comitiis iudicat semper populus, sed movetur plerumque gratia; cedit precibus; facit eos, a quibus est maxime ambitus. denique, etiam si iudicat, non dilectu aliquo aut sapientia ducitur ad iudicandum, sed impetu nonnumquam, et quadam etiam temeritate. non est enim consilium in vulgo, non ratio, non discrimen, non diligentia: semperque sapientes ea, quae populus fecisset, ferenda, non semper laudanda duxerunt.
(Cicero, Pro Plancio 9)

Deliberate verdicts are not invariably arrived at in popular elections, which are often guided by partiality and swayed by prayers; the people promotes those who court it most assiduously; and even if after all it does give a deliberate verdict, that verdict is determined, not by a discriminating wisdom, but frequently by impulse and a spirit of headstrong caprice. For the multitude is a stranger to deliberation, to reason, to discernment, and to patient scrutiny; and all great thinkers have held that acquiescence, but not alway approval, should be accorded to the acts of the people. (tr. Nevile Hunter Watts)



Rex Prusias, cum Hannibali apud eum exsulanti depugnari placeret, negabat se audere, quod exta prohiberent. ‘An tu,’ inquit, ‘carunculae vitulinae mavis quam imperatori veteri credere?’
(Cicero, De Divinatione 2.52)

While Hannibal was in exile at the court of King Prusias he advised the king to go to war, but the king replied, ‘I do not dare, because the entrails forbid.’ ‘And do you,’ said Hannibal, ‘put more reliance in pieces of ox-meat than you do in a veteran commander?’ (tr. William Armistead Falconer)