2.5.160 This Gavius whom I am speaking of, a citizens of Cosa, when he (among that vast number of Roman citizens who had been treated in the same way) had been thrown by Verres into prison, and somehow or other had escaped secretly out of the stone-quarries, and had come to Messana, being now almost within sight of Italy and of the walls of Rhegium, and being revived, after that fear of death and that darkness, by the light, as it were, of liberty and of the fragrance of the laws, began to talk at Messana, and to complain that he, a Roman citizen, had been thrown into prison. He said that he was now going straight to Rome, and that he would meet Verres on his arrival there.
The miserable man was not aware that it made no difference e whether he said this at Messana, or before the man's face in his own praetorian palace. For, as I have shown you before, that man had selected this city as the assistant in his crimes, the receiver of his thefts, the partner in all his wickedness. Accordingly, Gavius is at once brought before the Mamertine magistrates; and, as it happened, Verres came on that very day to Messana. The matter is brought before him. He is told that the man was a Roman citizen, who was complaining that at Syracuse he had been confined in the stone-quarries, and who, when he was actually embarking on board ship, and uttering violent threats against Verres, had been brought back by them, and reserved in order that he himself might decide what should be done with him.
2.5.161 He thanks the men and praises their good-will and diligence in his behalf. He himself, inflamed with wickedness and frenzy, comes into the forum. His eyes glared; cruelty was visible in his whole countenance. All men waited to see what does he was going to take,—what he was going to do; when all of a sudden he orders the man to be seized, and to be stripped and bound in the middle of the forum, and the rods to be got ready. The miserable man cried out that he was a Roman citizen, a citizen, also, of the municipal town of Cosa,—that he had served with Lucius Pretius a most illustrious Roman knight, who was living as a trader at Panormus, and from whom Verres might know that he was speaking the truth. Then Verres says that he has ascertained that he had been sent into Sicily by the leaders of the runaway slaves, in order to act as a spy; a matter as to which there was no witness, no trace, nor even the slightest suspicion in the mind of any one.
2.5.162 Then he orders the man to be most violently scourged on all sides. In the middle of the forum of Messana a Roman citizen, O judges, was beaten with rods; while in the mean time no groan was heard, no other expression was heard from that wretched man, amid all his pain, and between the sound of the blows, except these words, “I am a citizen of Rome.” He fancied that by this one statement of his citizenship he could ward off all blows, and remove all torture from his person. He not only did not succeed in averting by his entreaties the violence of the rods, but as he kept on repeating his entreaties and the assertion of his citizenship, a cross—a cross I say—was got ready for that miserable man, who had never witnessed such a stretch of power.
O the sweet name of liberty! O the admirable privileges of our citizenship! O Porcian law! O Sempronian laws! O power of the tribunes, bitterly regretted by, and at last restored to the Roman people! Have all our rights fallen so far, that in a province of the Roman people,—in a town of our confederate allies,—a Roman citizen should be bound in the forum, and beaten with rods by a man who only had the fasces and the axes through the kindness of the Roman people? What shall I say? When fire, and red-hot plates and other instruments of torture were employed? It the bitter entreaties and the miserable cries of that man had no power to restrain you, were you not moved even by the weeping and loud groans of the Roman citizens who were present at that time? Did you dare to drag any one to the cross who said that he was a Roman citizen? I was unwilling, O judges, to press this point so strongly at the former pleading; I was unwilling to do so. For you saw how the feelings of the multitude were excited against him with indignation, and hatred, and fear of their common danger. I, at that time, fixed a limit to my oration, and checked the eagerness of Caius Numitorius a Roman knight, a man of the highest character, one of my witnesses. And I rejoiced that Glabrio had acted (and he had acted most wisely) as he did in dismissing that witness immediately, in the middle of the discussion. In fact he was afraid that the Roman people might seem to have inflicted that punishment on Verres by tumultuary violence, which he was anxious he should only suffer according to the laws and by your judicial sentence.