Analysis of Ancient Roman Texts

Andrea Zuvich

14th October, 2004

1) Cicero: Against Verres: In this document, Cicero attempts to (and pulls off) a great prosecution against Verres, the former Governor of Sicilia. Although this historical document is a primary source, I am not sure what kind of primary source it is. Throughout the entire First Oration Against Verres, Cicero repeatedly uses such words as “licentious,” “wicked,” “plunderer,” “corrupt” etc to further his case against Verres. The words he uses to describe Verres are completely different from the ones he uses towards the more respected Marcus Glabrio: “O Marcus Glabrio, who can guard against ever taking place by your wisdom, and authority, and diligence…”(paragraph 21).

Considering that this is one of six speeches written by Cicero against Verres, we can definitely come to the conclusion that he was “out to get him.” Of course, due to what the writing tells us, Verres was a loathsome fellow; yet we must also understand that something may have happened in the past between the two men that Cicero could harbour such a grudge against him.

2) Plutarch: The Assassination of Cæsar, from the Life of Cæsar.

Basically, Plutarch describes to us the last day of Cæsar’s life- the Ides of March 44 B.C.E. Apparently, Cæsar had warnings that some unlucky thing would happen to him that day, and he seemed not to worry too much about it. And when the mighty Cæsar came into the capitol, the Senators were waiting and Cæsar took to his seat, like any other regular day. The Senators seemed to wish to discuss with him about some issues, and when he would not, they began their merciless and violent attack.

Plutarch, the famous writer/historian was a Greek and a proud one at that. In his work, Parallel Lives, there is a biography of over forty persons, half of them being Greek, the other half Roman. Plutarch, like many writers, probably would often exaggerate the truth in order to make it more interesting- more legendary- to the reader. And even according to an article from the History Channel website, “Plutarch is almost peerless, although his facts are not always accurate.” Like in the case of Arrian and Alexander the Great, we must accept Plutarch’s writings as a generalization of the event and not exactly as it may have occurred. But we must remember that in one part of his story, he says that Jvlivs Cæsar was stabbed “three and twenty times”- this is not far from the twenty-seven wounds modern historians have come to the conclusion of.  (There was an experiment shown on A&E a few months ago, where they staged the murder of Cæsar, and the forensic scientists concluded he had to be stabbed around 26-27 times).

This may be completely irrelevant to this, but isn’t it strange how Cicero pretty much abhorred Cæsar and in 44 they murdered him and then in 43, Cicero himself was murdered. Perhaps he was one of Cæsar’s murderers?

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