Verres, a Roman governor of Sicily, put to death in 43 B. 0. He was the son of a Roman senator, and in 82 became quaestor to Cn. Papirius Carbo, but subsequently deserted the Marian faction to which Carbo belonged, and joined that of Sulla, who gave him a share of the confiscated estates and sent him to Beneventum. He was pro-quaestor to Dolabella, praetor of Cilicia, 80-79, and participated in the iniquitous acts of that rapacious governor, but afterward turned against him, and contributed by his evidence to his conviction. With the money obtained by plundering the provinces, he was elected praetor in 74, and became by lot proetor urbanus. After managing the affairs of the city in defiance of all justice and law, he obtained at the expiration of his term of office the administration of Sicily, then the wealthiest province of the republic. In this island he remained three years, during which time he amassed enormous wealth, and fairly desolated Sicily by his rapacity. The Sicilians intrusted to Cicero the prosecution of Verres, the importance of which was more due to political reasons than to the character of the criminal.
Verres was defended by Hortensius, and supported by the Scipios and the Metelli. The decision was to be made by the senate, on whom the judicial power taken from the equites had been conferred by Sulla; and on the result of this trial depended in great measure the continuance of this power, inasmuch as there was a strong feeling among the people in favor of a reform of the court. The adherents of Verres spared nothing in the shape of promises, threats, and bribes, in order to secure his acquittal; but their efforts were useless, and before the nine days which were given to the hearing of evidence were over,he fled to Massilia, where he remained in exile 27 years. He was put to death by the proscription of Antony.