2.3.123 Does any one require the evidence of Lucius Metellus against Verres? No one. Does any one demand it? I think not What, however, if I prove by the evidence and letters of Lucius Metellus that all these things are true? What will you say then? That Metellus writes falsely? or that he is desirous of injuring his friend? or that he, though he is praetor, does not know in what state the province is? Read the letters of Lucius Metellus, which he sent to Cnaeus Pompeius and Marcus Crassus, the consuls, those which he sent to Marcus Mummius, the praetor, those which he sent to the quaestors of the city. [The letter of Lucius Metellus is read.] “I sold the tenths according to the law of Hiero.” When he writes that he had sold them according to the law of Hiero, what is he writing? Why, that he had sold them as all others had done, except Verres. When he writes that he had sold them according to the law of Hiero, what is he writing? Why, that he had restored the privileges granted to the Sicilians by the kindness of our ancestors and taken away by Verres, and their rights, and the terms on which they became our allies and friends. He mentions at what price he sold the tenths of each district. After that what does he write?
2.3.124 Read the rest of the letter.—“The greatest pains has been taken by me to sell the tenths for as good a price as possible.” Why then, O Metellus, did you not sell them for as much as Verres? “Because I found the allotments deserted, the fields empty, the province in a wretched and ruined condition.” What? And as for the land that was sown, how was any one found to sow it? Read the letters. [The letters are read.] He says that he had sent letters, and that, when he arrived, he had given a positive promise; he had interposed his authority to prevail on them, and had all but given hostages to the cultivators that he would be in no respect like Verres But what is this about which he says that he took so much pains? Read—“To prevail on the cultivators of the soil, who were left, to sow as largely as they could.” Who were left? What does this mean—left? After what war? after what devastation? What mighty slaughter was there in Sicily, or what was there of such duration and such disaster while you were praetor, that your successor had to collect and recover the cultivators who were left?
When Sicily was harassed in the Carthaginian wars, and afterwards, in our fathers' and our own recollection, when great bands of fugitive slaves twice occupied the province, still there was no destruction of the cultivators of the soil; then, if the sowing was hindered, or the crop lost, the yearly revenue was lost too, but the number of owners and cultivators of the land remained undiminished. Then those officers who succeeded the praetors Marcus Laevinus, or Publius Rupilius, or Marcus Aquillius in that province, had not to collect the cultivators who were left. Did Verres and Apronius bring so much more distress on the province of Sicily than either Hasdrubal with his army of Carthaginians, or Athenio with his numerous bands of runaway slaves, that in those times, as soon as the enemy was subdued, all the land was ploughed, and the praetor had not to send letters to beg the cultivator to come to him, and entreat him to sow as much land as he could; but now, even after the departure of this most ill-omened pestilence, no one could be found who would till his land of his own free-will; and very few were left to return to their farms and their own familiar household gods, even when urged by the authority of Lucius Metellus?
2.3.126 Do not you feel, O most audacious and most senseless of omen, that you are destroyed by these letters? Do you not see that, when your successor addresses those agriculturists who are left, he writes this in express words, that they are left, not after war or after any calamity of that sort, but after your wickedness, and tyranny, and avarice, and cruelty? Read the rest—“But still in such quantities as the difficulty of the times and the poverty of the cultivators permitted.” The poverty of the cultivators, he says. If I, as the accuser, were to dwell so repeatedly on the same subject, I should be afraid of wearying your attention, O judges; but Metellus cries out, “If I had not written letters.” That is not enough—“If I had not, when on the spot, assured them.” Even that is not enough—“The cultivators who were left,” he says. Left? In that mournful word he intimates the condition of nearly the whole province of Sicily. He adds, “the poverty of the cultivators.”
Wait a little, O judges, wait a little, if you can, for confirmation of my speech. I say that the cultivators have been driven away by that man's avarice: Metellus writes word that those who were left have been reassured by him. I say that the fields have been abandoned, and the allotments deserted: Metellus writes word that there is great penury among the cultivators. When he writes this, he shows that the allies and friends of the Roman people have been cast down, and driven off, and stripped of all their fortunes; and yet if any calamity had happened to these men by his means, even without any injury to our revenues, you ought to punish him, especially while judging according to that law which was established for the sake of the allies. But when our allies are oppressed and ruined, and the revenues of the Roman people diminished at the same time,—when our supplies of corn and provisions, our wealth, and the safety of the city and of our armies for the future is destroyed by his avarice, at least have a regard to the advantage of the Roman people, if you have no anxiety to show your regard for our most faithful allies.