Книга Imperium. Содержание - Roll VII

TO HIS SURPRISE, Cicero later discovered that he owed his victory to Catulus. This hard and snobbish old senator was, nevertheless, a patriot to his marrow, which was why his opinions commanded such respect. He took the view that the people had the right, under the ancient laws, to see Verres subjected to the most rigorous prosecution available, even though Verres was a friend of his. Family obligations to his brother-in-law, Hortensius, naturally prevented him from voting for Cicero outright, so instead he abstained, taking four waverers with him.

Grateful to be still in the boar hunt, as he called it, and delighted to have outwitted Hortensius, Cicero now flung himself into the business of preparing his expedition to Sicily. Verres’s official papers were sealed by the court under an order obsignandi gratia. Cicero laid a motion before the Senate demanding that the former governor submit his official accounts for the past three years (he never did). Letters were dispatched to every large town on the island, inviting them to submit evidence. I reviewed our files and extracted the names of all the leading citizens who had ever offered Cicero hospitality when he was a junior magistrate, for we would need accommodation throughout the province. Cicero also wrote a courtesy letter to the governor, Lucius Metellus, informing him of his visit and requesting official cooperation-not that he expected anything other than official harassment, but he reasoned it might be useful to have the notification in writing, to show that he had at least tried. He decided to take his cousin with him-Lucius having worked on the case for six months already-and leave his brother behind to manage his election campaign. I was to go, too, along with both of my juniors, Sositheus and Laurea, for there would be much copying and note-taking. The former praetor, Calpurnius Piso Frugi, offered Cicero the services of his eighteen-year-old son, Gaius-a young man of great intelligence and charm, to whom everyone soon took a liking. At Quintus’s insistence, we also acquired four strong and reliable slaves, ostensibly to act as porters and drivers, but also to serve as bodyguards. It was lawless country down in the south at that time-many of Spartacus’s followers still survived in the hills; there were pirates; and no one could be sure what measures Verres might adopt.

All of this required money, and although Cicero’s legal practice was now bringing in some income-not in the form of direct payments, of course, which were forbidden, but in gifts and legacies from grateful clients-he had nothing like the amount of ready cash necessary to mount a proper prosecution. Most ambitious young men in his position would have gone to see Crassus, who always gave loans to rising politicians on generous terms. But just as Crassus liked to show that he rewarded support, so he also took care to let people see how he punished opposition. Ever since Cicero had declined to join his camp, he had gone out of his way to demonstrate his enmity. He cut him dead in public. He poor-mouthed him behind his back. Perhaps if Cicero had groveled sufficiently, Crassus would have condescended to change his mind: his principles were infinitely malleable. But, as I have already said, the two men found it difficult even to stand within ten feet of each other.

So Cicero had no choice but to approach Terentia, and a painful scene ensued. I became involved only because Cicero, in a rather cowardly way, at first dispatched me to see her business manager, Philotimus, to inquire how difficult it would be to raise one hundred thousand from her estate. With characteristic malevolence, Philotimus immediately reported my approach to his mistress, who stormed down to find me in Cicero’s study and demanded to know how I dared poke my nose into her affairs. Cicero came in while this was happening and was obliged to explain why he needed the money.

“And how is this sum to be repaid?” demanded Terentia.

“From the fine levied on Verres once he is found guilty,” replied her husband.

“And you are sure he will be found guilty?”

“Of course.”

“Why? What is your case? Let me hear it.” And with that she sat down in his chair and folded her arms. Cicero hesitated, but knowing his wife and seeing she was not to be dissuaded, told me to open the strongbox and fetch out the Sicilians’ evidence. He took her through it, piece by piece, and at the end of it, she regarded him with unfeigned dismay. “But that is not enough, Cicero! You have wagered everything on that? Do you really think a jury of senators will convict one of their own because he has rescued some important statues from provincial obscurity and brought them back to Rome-where they properly belong?”

“You may be right, my dear,” conceded Cicero. “That is why I need to go to Sicily.”

Terentia regarded her husband-arguably the greatest orator and the cleverest senator in Rome at that time-with the kind of look a matron might reserve for a child who has made a puddle on the drawing-room floor. She would have said something, I am sure, but she noticed I was still there and thought the better of it. Silently she rose and left the study.

The following day, Philotimus sought me out and handed me a small money chest containing ten thousand in cash, with authorization to draw a further forty thousand as necessary.

“Exactly half of what I asked for,” said Cicero when I took it in to him. “That is a shrewd businesswoman’s assessment of my chances, Tiro-and who is to say she is wrong?”

Roll VII

WE LEFT ROME ON the Ides of January, on the last day of the Festival of the Nymphs, Cicero riding in a covered wagon so that he could continue to work-although I found it a torment trying even to read, let alone write, in that rattling, lurching carruca. It was a miserable journey, freezing cold, with snow flurries across the higher ground. By this time most of the crosses bearing the crucified rebel slaves had been removed from the Appian Way. But some still stood as a warning, stark against the whitened landscape, with a few rotted fragments of bodies attached. Gazing at them, I felt as if Crassus’s long arm had reached out after me from Rome and once again pinched my cheek.

Because we had departed in such a hurry, it had proved impossible to arrange places to stay all along our route, and on three or four nights when no inns were available we were reduced to sleeping by the roadside. I lay with the other slaves, huddled around the campfire, while Cicero, Lucius, and young Frugi slept in the wagon. In the mountains I would wake at dawn to find my clothes starched with ice. When at last we reached the coast at Velia, Cicero decided it would be quicker to board a ship and hug the coast-this, despite the risk of winter storms and pirates, and his own marked aversion to traveling by boat, for he had been warned by a Sibyl that his death would somehow be connected with the sea.

Velia was a health resort, with a well-known temple to Apollo Oulius, then a fashionable god of healing. But it was shuttered now and out of season, and as we made our way down to the harbor-front, where the gray sea battered the wharf, Cicero remarked that he had seldom seen a less enticing holiday spot. In the port, aside from the usual collection of fishing boats, was moored one huge vessel, a cargo ship the size of a trireme, and while we were negotiating our journey with the local sailors, Cicero asked to whom it belonged. It was, we were told, a gift from the citizens of the Sicilian port of Messana to their former governor Gaius Verres, and had been moored here for a month.

There was something infinitely sinister about that great ship, sitting low in the water, fully crewed and ready to move at a moment’s warning. Our appearance in the deserted harbor had clearly already been registered and was causing something of a panic. As Cicero led us cautiously toward it, three short blasts sounded on a trumpet, and the ship’s hull sprouted oars, like some immense water beetle, and edged away from the quayside. It moved a short distance out to sea and dropped anchor. As the vessel turned into the wind, the lanterns at its prow and stern danced bright yellow in the gloomy afternoon, and figures deployed along its heaving decks. Cicero debated with Lucius and young Frugi what to do. In theory, his warrant from the extortion court gave him authority to board and search any vessel he suspected of connection with the case. In truth, we lacked the resources, and by the time reinforcements could be summoned, the ship would be long gone. What it showed beyond doubt was that Verres’s crimes were on a scale far more vast than anything Cicero had imagined. He decided we should press on south at redoubled speed.

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