Front Page Titles (by Subject) THE SPEECH OF M. T. CICERO FOR HIS HOUSE. ADDRESSED TO THE PRIESTS. - Orations vol. 3: Containing the Orations for his House, Plancius, Sextius, Coelius, Milo, Ligarius, etc.
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THE SPEECH OF M. T. CICERO FOR HIS HOUSE. ADDRESSED TO THE PRIESTS. - Marcus Tullius Cicero, Orations vol. 3: Containing the Orations for his House, Plancius, Sextius, Coelius, Milo, Ligarius, etc. 
The Orations of Marcus Tullius Cicero, trans. C.D. Yonge (London: G. Bell and Sons, 1913-21). Vol. 3.
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THE SPEECH OF M. T. CICERO FOR HIS HOUSE.
Cicero, soon after his consulship, had purchased the house of Marcus Crassus on the Palatine Hill, which adjoined that in which he had always lived with his father; it was one of the finest houses in Rome, and cost him nearly thirty thousand pounds, and was joined to the colonnade or portico called by the name of Catulus, who had built it out of the Cimbric spoils on that area where Flaccus formerly lived, whose house had been demolished by public authority for his seditious union with Caius Gracchus.
As soon as Clodius had carried his decree against Cicero after his flight, he immediately began plundering and destroying all his houses; the consuls, Piso and Gabinius, divided the greater part of his furniture and of the ornaments of his house and villa between them; and, in the hope of making the loss of his house at Rome irretrievable, Clodius consecrated the area on which it stood to the service of religion, building on it a temple to Liberty, and he pulled down the adjoining portico of Catulus in order to rebuild it of the same order as the temple. The law being that a consecration, legally performed, made the thing consecrated inapplicable ever after to any private use.
The affair was to be determined by the college of priests, who were the judges in all cases relating to religion; since the senate could only make a provisional decree, that, if the priests discharged the ground from the service of religion, then in that case the consuls should rebuild the house at the public charge. The cause now came before the priests on the last day of September. Cicero endeavoured, in the first place, to disabuse their minds of any enmity to him which might have been instilled into their minds by Clodius on account of his late conduct with respect to Pompey. (For there had been a great scarcity at Rome, partly occasioned by the great multitudes that had come from all parts of Italy on Cicero’s account; and Cicero had supported a resolution of the senate by which Pompey was entreated to undertake the province of restoring plenty to the city, and to this end the consuls had been ordered to draw up a law by which the whole administration of the corn and provisions of the republic was granted to Pompey for five years. And in consequence of Cicero’s advocacy of the measure Clodius endeavoured to excite odium against him, as having deserted the cause of the senate to pay court to Pompey; though the measure had been very successful, as the credit of Pompey’s name immediately reduced the price of provisions in the markets.)
As, however, the main question turned upon the legality of the consecration, Cicero applies to establish the fact of its illegality by proving that Clodius could not legally consecrate anything, as his election to the tribunate was illegal; since his adoption into a plebeian family, or at least into that particular family into which he had been adopted, was in violation and defiance of all the laws made for such cases; if his adoption was illegal, clearly he could not have legally been elected tribune, nor have legally done any action as tribune.
The priests decided that if he who performed the office of consecration had not been legally authorized to do so, then the area in question might without any scruple of religion be restored to Cicero. The point of law they left to the senate, who, after many interruptions from Clodius and Serranus, passed a decree that Cicero’s damage should be made good to him, and his houses rebuilt at the public charge.
Cicero himself thought very highly of this speech, and published it immediately; and says, in one of his letters to Atticus, (iv. 2,) that “if ever he was great in speaking, he was so especially now, as his indignation and the greatness of the injury done to him gave him especial energy and force of oratory.”
Some critics, but apparently without any good reason, have doubted the genuineness of this oration.
I.Many things, O priests, have been devised and established with divine wisdom by our ancestors; but no action of theirs was ever more wise than their determination that the same men should superintend both what relates to the religious worship due to the immortal gods, and also what concerns the highest interests of the state, so that they might preserve the republic as the most honourable and eminent of the citizens, by governing it well, and as priests by wisely interpreting the requirements of religion. But if there has ever been a time when an important cause has depended on the decision and power of the priests of the Roman people, this indeed is that cause; being such that the dignity of the whole republic, the safety of all the citizens, their lives, their liberties, their altars, their hearths, their household gods, their properties and condition as citizens, and their homes, all appear to be committed and entrusted to your wisdom, integrity, and power. You have got to decide this day whether you prefer for the future to deprive frantic and profligate magistrates of the protection of wicked and unprincipled citizens, or even to arm them with the cloak of religion and of the respect due to the immortal gods. For if that pest and conflagration of the republic succeeds in defending his own mischievous and fatal tribunate by appeals to divine religion, when he cannot maintain it by any considerations of human equity, then we must seek for other ceremonies, for other ministers of the immortal gods, for other interpreters of the requirements of religion. But if those things which were done by the madness of wicked men in the republic at a time when it was oppressed by one party, deserted by another, and betrayed by a third, are annulled by your authority and your wisdom, O priests, then we shall have cause rightly and deservedly to praise the wisdom of our ancestors in selecting the most honourable men of the state for the priesthood.
But since that madman has thought that he should find a ready road to your attention by blaming the sentiments that I in the last few days have expressed in the senate concerning the republic, I will deviate from the natural arrangement of my speech, and I will make a reply to what I will not call the speech of that furious fellow, (for that is more than he is capable of,) but to his abuse, that being an employment which he has fortified himself in the practice of by his own intolerable bad temper, and by the length of time that he has been allowed to indulge it with impunity.
II. And in the first place, I ask you this, O you insane and frantic man, what excessive punishment for your wickednesses and crimes is it that distracts you so as to make you think that these men—men of their high character, who support the dignity of the republic, not only by their wisdom, but also by their dignified appearance—are angry with me, because in delivering my opinion I connected the safety of the citizens with the honour of Cnæus Pompeius, and that they are likely at this present time to have different feelings with respect to the general interests of religion from those which they entertained when I was absent? “Oh,” says he, “you had the advantage before the priests, but now you must inevitably get worst off since you have had recourse to the people.” Is it so? Will you transfer that which is the greatest defect in the ignorant multitude,—namely, its fickleness and inconstancy, and change of opinion, as frequent as the changes of the weather, to these men, whose gravity protects them from inconsistency, while their fixed and definite principles of religion, and the antiquity of precedents, and the authority of written records and monuments, effectually deters them from all capricious change of sentiment? “Are you,” says he, “the man whom the senate was unable to do without? whom the good lamented? whom the republic regretted? by whose restoration we expected that the authority of the senate was restored? and who destroyed that authority the very first thing you did?” I am not at present speaking of my own matters; I will first of all reply to your impudence.
III. Did you then, O you deadly pest of the republic, by means of the sword and arms, by the terror of an armed force, by the wickedness of the consuls, and the threats of most audacious men,—by enlisting slaves, by besieging the temples, by occupying the forum, by oppressing the senate, contrive to compel the departure of that citizen from his home and from his country, in order to prevent actual battles between the virtuous and wicked citizens,—though you now confess that he was regretted and sent for back and recalled by the senate, by all good men, and by the whole of Italy, as the only means of preserving the republic? “But on that day of disturbance you ought not,” says he, “to have come into the senate, you ought not to have entered the Capitol.” But I did not come, and I kept in my own house as long as that disturbance lasted; while it was notorious that your slaves had come with you armed into the Capitol, ready for plunder and for the massacre of all good men, with all that band of wicked and profligate partisans of yours. And when this was reported to me, I know that I remained at home, and would not give you and your gladiators power of renewing the massacre. After news was brought to me that the Roman people had assembled at the Capitol, on account of their fear for, and difficulty of procuring corn, and that the ministers of your crimes had been frightened and had fled, some having dropped their swords, and some having had them taken from them, I came forward not only without any armed band, but with only a very few friends. Should I, when Publius Lentulus the consul, who had conferred the greatest benefits on me and on the republic,—when Quintus Metellus, your brother, O Metellus, who, though he had been my enemy, had still preferred my safety and dignity to any desire to keep alive our quarrel, and to your entreaties that he would do so, sent for me to the senate,—when that great multitude of citizens, who had lately shown such zeal in my behalf, entreated me by name to show my gratitude to them,—should I, I say, have declined to come forward, especially when it was notorious that you with your band of runaway slaves had already left the place? Have you dared to call me—me, the guardian and defender of the Capitol and of every temple—the enemy of the Capitol, because, when the two consuls were holding the senate in the Capitol, I came thither? Is there any time at which it can be discreditable to have attended the senate? or was that business which was then being transacted of such a nature that I was bound to repudiate the affair itself, and to condemn those who were promoting it?
IV. In the first place, I say that it is the duty of a virtuous senator at all times to attend the senate; and I do not agree with those who determine that they themselves will not come to the senate at unfavourable seasons, and who do not understand that this excessive obstinacy of theirs is exceedingly pleasant and acceptable to those men whose wishes they intend to counteract. “But some departed out of fear, because they thought that they could not remain with safety in the senate.” I do not name them, nor do I ask whether they had any real reason for fearing anything. I imagine that every one had a right to form his own opinion as to what grounds he had for fear. Do you ask why I was not afraid? Why, because it was known that you had gone away. Do you ask why, when some good men thought that they could not remain with safety in the senate, I did not think so too? or why, when I thought that it was impossible for me to remain in the city at all with safety, they did not think so too? Are then others to be allowed, and rightly enough, to have no fear for themselves at a time when I am in danger; and yet am I bound to be afraid not only when I am myself in peril, but when others are also?
Or am I to be blamed because I did not express an opinion condemnatory of both the consuls? Ought I then to condemn those men, of all men in the world, by whose law it was brought about that I, who had never been condemned and who had deserved well of the republic, should be saved from enduring the punishment of condemned criminals? Was I, of all men in the world, I who had been restored to my former dignity by their means, to denounce by my expressed opinion the admirable sentiments of those men, who, even if they had been in error, ought to have been borne with by me and by all good men, on account of their exceeding good-will displayed in ensuring my preservation? And what were the opinions which I delivered? In the first place, that one which the common conversation of the people had already previously fixed in our minds; in the second place, that one which had been discussed in the senate on the preceding days; and thirdly, that which the senate in a very full house adopted, expressing its agreement with me; so that no sudden or novel proposition was brought forward by me, and moreover, if there be any fault in the opinion, it is not more the fault of the individual who advanced it than of all those men who approved of it. “But the decision of the senate was not free, because of the fear in which they were.” If you make out that they who left it were in fear, at least grant that they who remained were not alarmed. But if no free decision could be come to without the presence of those men who were absent at that time, I say that the motion about framing a resolution of the senate began to be made when every one was present; it was carried by acclamation by the entire senate.
V. But I ask, since I am the prime mover in and the chief cause of this vote, what fault is found with the vote itself? Was there not good reason for adopting an unprecedented plan? Was not I as much concerned as any one in that matter? or, had we any other resource? What circumstances, what reasons could there be of greater consequence than famine? than sedition? than the designs of you and your partisans? who thought that, if an opportunity was given them of inflaming the minds of the ignorant, you, under the pretence afforded by the scarcity of provisions, would be able to renew your wicked and fatal practices.
As for corn, some of the countries which usually supply it had not got it; some had sent it into other countries, I imagine because of the great variety of sellers; and some were keeping it back, shut up in their stores, in order suddenly to send it, so that the supply might be more acceptable if they seemed to come to our aid when we were in a state of actual famine. The matter was not one of uncertain opinions, it was a case of actually existing danger, present to our eyes; it was not one which we were looking forward to in conjecture, but one which we were actually beholding by present experience. For when the scarcity was getting more severe, so that it was actually want and famine that was dreaded, and not mere dearness of price, there was a rush towards the Temple of Concord, when the consul Metellus summoned the senate to meet in that place. And if that was the genuine effect of the grief of men suffering under famine, certainly the consuls had good reason to undertake the affair, certainly the senate had good reason to adopt some determination or other.
But if the scarcity was the pretext, and if you in reality were the exciter and kindler of sedition, ought we not all to have striven to take away all shadow of pretext for your madness? What, if both these causes existed,—if there was both famine to excite men, and you too like a nail working into this ulcer? was there not all the more need to apply some remedy, which might put an end to both the evil caused by nature, and to the other mischief imported into the case? There was then both present dearness and impending famine; that is not enough; men were attacked with stones. If that arose from the indignation of the common people, without any one having stirred them up, it is a great misfortune; but if it was caused by the instigation of Publius Clodius, it is only the habitual wickedness of a wicked man: if both these causes existed,—if there was both a fact sufficient of itself to excite the feelings of the multitude, and if there were leaders of sedition ready and forearmed; then, does it not seem natural for the republic to have had recourse to the protection of the consul and the loyalty of the senate? But it is quite plain that one of these causes did exist; that there was a difficulty of obtaining provisions, and an extreme scarcity of corn, so that men were afraid not only of a continuance of high prices, but of actual famine. No one denies it. But I do not wish you, O priests, to suspect that that enemy of all tranquillity and peace was likely to seize on this as a pretext for conflagration, and massacre, and rapine, unless you see it proved.
Who are the men who were openly named in the senate by Quintus Metellus,—your brother, O Metellus,—the consul, by whom he said that he had been attacked with stones and actually hit? He named Lucius Sergius and Marcus Lollius. Who is that Lollius? A man who is not even at this moment by your side without his sword; who, while you were tribune of the people, demanded (I will say nothing of his designs against myself) to have the murder of Cnæus Pompeius entrusted to him. Who is Sergius? The armour-bearer of Catiline, your own body-guard, the standard-bearer of sedition, the exciter of the shopkeepers, a man who has been convicted of assault, an assassin, a stoner of men, a man who has depopulated the forum, and blockaded the senate-house. With these leaders and others like them, when you, at the time when provisions were dear, under pretence of espousing the cause of the poor and ignorant, were preparing for sudden attacks on the consuls, on the senate, on the property and fortunes of the rich; when it was impossible for you to find safety if affairs remained in a tranquil state; when, the leaders being all desperate men, you had your bands of profligates regularly enrolled and distributed into decuries,—did it not behove the senate to take good care that that fatal firebrand did not fall upon these vast materials for sedition?
VI. There was, therefore, good cause for adopting an unusual determination. See now whether or not I was the person who had the principal share in it. Who was it whom that friend of yours, Sergius, whom Lollius, whom the other rascals named when they were throwing the stones? who was it that they said ought to provide them with corn? was it not I? What was it that that nocturnal mob of boys which had been trained by you kept demanding? They were demanding corn of me; as if I superintended the corn-market; or as if I were keeping back any corn in store; or as if, in fact, I had any management of, or influence whatever in, any affairs of that class at all. But the fellow who was thirsting for slaughter had published my name to the artisans, and to the ignorant mob. When the senate, in a very full house assembled in the temple of the all-good and all-powerful Jupiter, had passed a decree touching my dignity with only one dissentient voice, on a sudden, on that very day, a most unexpected cheapness followed a time when corn had been excessively dear. Some said, (and I myself am of that opinion,) that the immortal gods had shown their approbation of my return by this exercise of their power. But some traced that fact back, connecting it with this argument and opinion,—that, as all hopes of tranquillity and concord appeared to depend on my return, and as there was an incessant dread of sedition connected with my absence, so now that all fear of contest was almost at an end, they thought that the state of the corn-market was altered; and, because it again had become more unmanageable after my return, then corn was demanded of me, on whose arrival virtuous men were in the habit of saying that there would be cheapness.
VII. Lastly, my name was pronounced not only by your band of artisans at your instigation, but even after your forces had been routed and scattered, I was summoned by name to the senate by the whole Roman people, who at that time were assembled around the Capitol, though on that day I was far from well. Being expected, I came. After many opinions had been already pronounced, I was asked mine. I delivered one very advantageous to the republic, and at the same time necessary for my own interests. Abundance of corn and cheapness of price was demanded of me; as if I had any influence in producing such a state of things as that. Things were in a very different condition. I was pressed by eager expostulation from many good men. I was unable to support the abuse of the wicked. I proposed to entrust the business to an influential friend, not in order to impose a burden on one to whom I was under such heavy obligations, (for I would rather have sunk under it myself than done that,) but because I saw, what every one else saw, that, whatever we promised in behalf of Cnæus Pompeius, he would most easily accomplish by his integrity, wisdom, virtue, and authority, and by his invariable good-fortune. Therefore, whether the immortal gods give this to the Roman people as the fruit of my return, that, as on my departure there ensued a want of corn, and famine, and devastation, and bloodshed, and conflagration, and pillage, and impunity for all crimes, and flight, and terror, and discord, so my return is followed by fertility of the lands, by abundant harvests, by hopes of tranquillity, by peaceful dispositions on the part of the citizens, by a restoration of the courts of justice and of the laws, while unanimity on the part of the people and the authority of the senate seem to have been brought back in my company; or, if the fact is that I, on my arrival, was bound, in return for such kindness, to do something for the Roman people by my prudence, authority and diligence; then I do promise, and undertake, and pledge myself to do it. I say no more. This I say, which is sufficient for the present occasion, that the republic shall not, on any pretence connected with the price of corn, fall into that danger into which some people endeavoured to bring it.
VIII. Are then my sentiments found fault with in this business which fell especially to my share? I rescued affairs of the greatest consequence from the mischief of the most imminent danger; and I saved not only it, but you also, from massacre, and conflagration, and devastation. No one denies this; as to the pretext of dearness there was added that spy of the general misery, who always lit the firebrand of his guilt in the misfortunes of the republic.
He says that nothing ought to have been decreed irregularly to any one. I do not at present make the same reply to you that I make to the rest,—That many wars, and these wars of the greatest danger and of the greatest importance, both by land and sea, have been entrusted to Cnæus Pompeius out of the regular order. And if any one repents of those measures, he must also repent of the victory of the Roman people. I do not deal with you in this manner. I can address this argument to those men, who state that if any matter must be entrusted to one individual, then they would rather entrust it to Cnæus Pompeius than to any one, but that they make a rule of never entrusting anything to any one in an irregular manner; still, after it has been entrusted to Pompeius, that they then vindicate and uphold the measure, as is due to the dignity of the man. From praising the sentiments of these men I am hindered by the triumphs of Cnæus Pompeius, by which he (though it was quite out of the regular order of things that he was summoned to defend his country) increased the reputation of the Roman people, and crowned their empire with honour. At the same time I praise their firmness, which is a virtue which I have need to avail myself of, since it was on my proposition that he was appointed, quite out of the regular routine, to conduct the war against Mithridates and Tigranes. But still there are some points which I can argue with them; but still, how great is your impudence, when you dare to say that nothing ought to be given to any one out of the regular routine! You who, when, by an iniquitous law, for some unknown cause you had confiscated the property of Ptolemy, King of Cyprus, the brother of the King of Alexandria, who was reigning by the same right as he was, and had involved the Roman people in the crime,—when you had sent a band of robbers from this empire to ravage his kingdom, and goods, and property, though there had been a long alliance and friendship between us and his father, and grandfather, and still more remote ancestors,—appointed Marcus Cato to superintend the carrying away of his money, and the managing the war if any individual was found hardy enough to defend his own property. Will you say, “Yes, but what a man Cato was! A most religious, most prudent, most gallant man; the firmest friend to the republic, a citizen of a most marvellous and almost unique virtue, and wisdom, and purity of life.” Very fine, but what is all that to you, when you say that it is untrue that any one ought to be appointed to any public duty out of the regular course?
IX. And in this matter I am only convicting you of inconsistency; who in the case of this very Cato, whom you did not so much promote out of regard for his dignity, as get out of the way lest he might hinder your wickedness,—whom you had exposed to your Sergii, and Lollii, and Titii, and your other leaders in massacre and conflagration,—whom you yourself had called the executioner of the citizens, the chief murderer of men who had never been condemned, the very fountain of cruelty,—you still by your motion conferred this honour and command on him out of the regular course, and behaved with such violence, that you were wholly unable to disguise your object and the system of wickedness which you had laid down for yourself.
You read letters in the assembly which you said had been sent to you by Caius Cæsar. “Cæsar to Pulcher.” And when you proceeded to argue that this was a proof of intimacy, because he only used the names of himself and you, and did not add “proconsul,” or “tribune of the people,” and then began to congratulate you that you had got Marcus Cato out of the way of your tribuneship for the remainder of the time, and that you had also taken away for the future the power of giving extraordinary commissions;—letters which he never sent to you at all, or which, if he did send them, he certainly never meant to be read in the public assembly;—at all events, whether he sent them or whether you forged them, your intention with respect to the honours conferred upon Cato was revealed by the reading of those letters. But, however, I will say no more about Cato, whose eminent virtue, and dignity, and integrity, and moderation in that business which he executed, appear like a screen to veil the iniquity of your law and of your argument. What more need I say? Who was it who gave to the most infamous man that has ever existed, to the most wicked and polluted of all men, that rich and fertile Syria? Who gave him a war to carry on against nations who were in a state of profound peace? Who gave him the money which was destined for the purchase of lands, and which had been taken by violence out of the fruits of the achievements of Cæsar? Who gave him an unlimited command?1 And, indeed, when you had given him Cilicia, you altered the terms of your bargain with him, and you transferred Cilicia to the prætor, again quite out of the regular course. And then, when the bribe had been increased, you gave Syria to Gabinius—expressly naming him. What more? Did you not, naming him expressly, deliver over, bound and fettered, to Lucius Piso, the foulest, the most cruel, the most treacherous of men, the most infamous of all men, as stigmatised for every sort of wickedness and lust, free nations, who had been declared free by numerous resolutions of the senate, and even by a recent law of your own son-in-law? Did not you, after the recompense for your service and the bribe of a province had been paid by him at my expense, still divide the treasury with him? Is it so? Did you annul the arrangement of the consular provinces, which Caius Gracchus, than whom there hardly ever lived a man more devoted to the people, not only abstained from taking from the senate, but even passed a solemn law to establish the principle that they were to be settled every year by the senate;—did you, I say, disturb that arrangement, and that too after it had been formally settled according to the Sempronian law? You gave the provinces, in an irregular manner, without casting lots, not to the consuls, but to the pests of the republic, expressly naming them. And shall we be found fault with, because we have appointed a most illustrious man, who has often been selected before on occasions of the greatest danger to the republic, (expressly naming him,) to superintend a matter of the most urgent importance, and which was previously in an almost desperate condition?
X. What more shall I say? If, then, amid the darkness and impenetrable clouds and storms which were then lowering above the republic, when you had driven the senate from the helm and turned the people out of the ship, and while you yourself, like a captain of pirates, were hastening on with all your sails set, with your most infamous band of robbers; if at that time you had been able to carry the resolutions which you proposed, and published, and brought forward, and sold, what place in the whole world would have been free from the extraordinary magistrates and commanders invested with their power by the great Clodius?
But at last the indignation of Cnæus Pompeius, (I will say, even in his hearing, what I have felt, and still do feel, whatever may be the way in which he takes it,)—the indignation, I say, of Cnæus Pompeius, which had been too long concealed and slumbering, being at last aroused, came on a sudden to the aid of the republic, and raised the city crushed with misfortunes, dumb, weakened, and broken-spirited through fear, to some hope of recovering its liberty and former dignity. And was this man not to be appointed to superintend the providing the city with corn? You, forsooth, by your law abandoned all the corn, whether belonging to private individuals or to the state, all the provinces which supply corn, and all the contractors, and all the keys of the granaries, to that most impure of gluttons, the taster of your lusts, to that most needy and most impious man, Sextus Clodius, the companion of your family, who by his tongue alienated even your sister from you. And it was by this action of yours that dearness was first produced, and afterwards scarcity. Famine, conflagration, bloodshed, and pillage were impending. Your insane frenzy was threatening the fortunes and property of every man. That ill-omened pest of the state even complains that the corn should have been taken out of the impure mouth of Sextus Clodius, and that the republic in its extremest peril should have implored the aid of that man by whom it recollected that it had often been preserved, and had its power extended. Clodius thinks that nothing ought to be done out of the regular course. What! what sort of law is it that you say that you passed about me, you parricide, you fratricide, you murderer of your sister; did you not pass that out of the regular course? Was it lawful for you to pass, I will not say a law, but a wicked private bill, concerning the ruin of a citizen, the preserver of the republic, as all gods and men have long since agreed to call him, and, as you yourself confess, when he was not only uncondemned but even unimpeached, amid the mourning of the senate and the lamentation of all good men, rejecting the prayers of all Italy, while the republic lay oppressed and captive at your feet? And was it not lawful for me, when the Roman people implored me, when the senate requested me, when the critical state of the republic demanded it of me, to deliver an opinion concerning the safety of the Roman people? And if by that opinion the dignity of Cnæus Pompeius was increased, in connexion with the common advantage, certainly I ought to be praised if I seemed to have given my vote for honour of that man who had brought his influence to aid in the ensuring of my safety.
XI. Let men cease—cease, I say, from hoping that now that I have been restored, I can be undermined by the same contrivances by which they formerly smote me when I was flourishing. For what pair of men of consular dignity were ever more united in friendship in this state than Cnæus Pompeius and I? Who has ever spoken more honourably or more repeatedly of his dignity before the Roman people or to the senate than I have? What labour was there so great, or what enmity so formidable, or what contest so arduous, that I was unwilling to encounter it for the sake of his dignity? and what honour that could be paid me by him, what panegyric of my glory, what recompense for my goodwill was ever omitted by him? This union of ours, this unanimity and concert in managing the affairs of the republic successfully, this most delightful agreement in life and all its duties, certain men, by false reports of conversations and false accusations, broke, interrupted; going to him, and warning him to be afraid of me, to guard against me, and at the same time telling me that he was hostile to me above all men: so that I had not sufficient confidence to ask of him what it was desirable for me to ask, nor did he, having been made sore by the jealousies and wickedness of certain individuals, promise me with sufficient freedom what my necessities required. A great price has been paid for my error, O priests, so that I am not only grieved for my folly, but ashamed of it too; since, though it was not some sudden and accidental occasion, but many labours of long standing, encountered and undertaken long before, which had united me with a most gallant and most illustrious man, I still suffered myself to be led away to abandon such a friendship, and did not perceive who they were whom it became me either to oppose as open enemies, or to distrust as treacherous friends. Let them now at length cease to try and excite me with the same language as before: “What is that man about? Does not he know how great his influence is, what great achievements he has performed, with what great honour he has been restored? Why does he do honour to the man by whom he was deserted?” But I neither think that I was deserted at that time, but rather surrendered; nor do I think it needful for me to explain what at the time of that unhappiness to the republic was done against me, nor how, nor by whose instrumentality it was done. If it was beneficial to the republic that I alone, as the victim offered for the general safety, should quaff that most unworthy cup of calamity, it may be useful also for me to conceal and be silent respecting the men by whose wickedness it was brought about. But yet it is the part of an ungrateful man to be silent. Therefore I will most willingly proclaim that Cnæus Pompeius laboured with all his zeal and influence as much as any one of you, and with all his means, and labour, and by entreaty, and even at his own personal risk, to promote my safety.
XII. This man, O Publius Lentulus, was present at all your counsels, while you were thinking of nothing day and night except my safety. He cooperated with you as a most influential adviser in planning the conduct to be pursued, as a most faithful ally in preparing for it, and as a most fearless assistant in executing it. It was he who visited all the municipalities and colonies; it was he who implored the assistance of all Italy, which was eager to afford it; it was he who in the senate was the first person to deliver his opinion, and when he had delivered it there, he then also entreated the Roman people to preserve me. Wherefore, you may desist from that language which you have been using, namely, that the dispositions of the priests were changed after my delivering the opinion which I did about the corn. As if they had any different opinion from what I myself had about Cnæus Pompeius, or as if they were ignorant what I ought to do either with regard to the expectation of the Roman people, or to the services which I have received from Cnæus Pompeius, or to my own circumstances and condition; or as if even, if my sentiments had perchance been offensive to any one of the priests, though I know for a certainty that the contrary was the case, any priest was on that account going to decide about religion, or any citizen about the republic, in any other manner than the laws respecting religious ceremonies compelled the one, or the interests and safety of the republic compelled the other.
I am aware, O priests, that I have said more things which are foreign to this cause, than either your opinion is likely to approve of, or than my own inclination prompted. But I was anxious to be acquitted in your eyes; and, further, your kindness in listening to me with attention carried me on to say more than I had intended. But I will make amends for this by the brevity of that part of the speech which relates to the actual matter now brought under your examination; and as the affair is divided into two heads,—one relating to the laws of religion, and the other to the laws of the state,—I will pass over the question of religion, which would take a longer time to discuss, and speak to the point of what is the law of the state. For what can be so arrogant as for a layman to endeavour to lecture the college of priests about religion, about divine affairs, and ceremonies, and sacrifices; or so foolish as for a man, if he has found anything of consequence in your books, to take up time in detailing it to you; or so superfluous, as to seek to acquire learning on those points concerning which our ancestors have laid down the principle that you alone have knowledge, and that you alone ought to be consulted?
XIII. I say that it was not possible, according to our common rights, and according to those laws which are in force in this city, for any citizen to be exposed to such disaster as mine without a formal trial. I say that this was the law in this state even at the time when the kings existed; I say that this was the principle handed down to us from our ancestors; I say, moreover, that this is the inalienable characteristic of a free state,—that no infringement on the liberties or property of a citizen can take place without the formal decision of the senate, or of the people, or of those persons who have been appointed as judges in each separate matter. Do you not see that I am destroying all your proceedings by the roots? that I am arguing, what is manifest, that you did nothing whatever according to law,—that you were not a tribune of the people at all? I say this, that you are a patrician. I say so before the priests; the augurs are present. I take my stand on the common public law. What, O priests, is the law concerning adoption? Why, that he may adopt children who is no longer able to have children himself, and who failed in having them when he was of an age to expect it. What reason, then, any one has for adopting children, what considerations of family or dignity are involved, what principles of religion are concerned, are questions which are accustomed to be put to the college of priests. What if all these circumstances are found to exist in that adoption? The person who adopts him is twenty years old; a minor adopts a senator. Does he do so for the sake of having children? He is of an age to have them of his own. He has a wife; he has actually got children of his own. The father, then, will be disinheriting his own son. What? why should all the sacred rites of the Clodian family perish, as far as it depends on you? And that must have been the idea of all the priests when you were adopted. Unless, perchance, the question was put to you in this way,—whether you were intending to disturb the republic by seditions, and whether you wished to be adopted with that object, not in order to become that man’s son, but only in order to be made a tribune of the people, and by that means utterly to overthrow the state? You answered, I presume, that your object was only to be made a tribune. That appeared to the priests to be a sufficient reason. They approved of it. No questions were asked about the age of the man who was adopting you; as was done in the case of Cuæus Aufidius and Marcus Pupius, each of whom, within our recollection, when extremely old, adopted as sons, the one Orestes, and the other Piso. And these adoptions, like others, more than I can count, were followed by the inheritance of the name and property and sacred rites of the family. You are not Fonteius, as you ought to be, nor the heir of your new father; nor, though you have lost your right to the sacred ceremonies of your own family, have you availed yourself of those which belong to you by adoption. And so, having thrown the ceremonies of religion into confusion,—having polluted both families, both the one which you have abandoned and the one which you have entered,—having violated the legitimate practices of the Romans with respect to guardianships and inheritances, you have been made, contrary to all the requirements of religion, the son of that man of whom you were old enough to be the father.
XIV. I am speaking before the priests; I say that that adoption did not take place according to the sacerdotal law. In the first place, because your respective ages are such that the man who has adopted you as your father might, as far as his age went, have been your son; in the second place, because a question is usually put as to the reason for the adoption, in order that the adopter may be a person who is seeking by regular and sacerdotal law that which by the ordinary process of nature he is no longer able to obtain; and that he may adopt a son in such a manner, as to in nowise impair the dignity of the families or the reverence belonging to their sacred ceremonies; and, above all things, that no false pretence, or fraud, or trickery, may creep in; so that this fictitious adoption of a son may appear to imitate as far as possible the real case of children being born to a man. But what greater false pretence can there be than for a beardless young man, a vigorous man and a husband, to come forward, and to say that he wishes to adopt as his own son a senator of the Roman people, and for all men to know and see that this senator is adopted, not in order to become really the son of the plebeian, but merely in order that he may quit the patrician body, and be made a tribune of the people? And all that without any disguise. For in this case the adopted son was immediately emancipated, lest he should really have become the son of him who adopted him. Why then is he adopted at all? Only approve of this sort of adoption, and in a moment the sacred ceremonies of every family, of which you ought to be the guardians, will be abolished, and not one patrician will be left. For why should any one be willing to be incapable of being made a tribune of the people? to have his power of standing for the consulship narrowed? and, while he might arrive at the priesthood, not to arrive at it because there is not a vacancy at the moment for a patrician?1 Whenever anything happens to any one to make it more convenient for him to be a plebeian, he will be adopted in the same manner as Clodius. And so in a short time the Roman people will neither have a king2 of the sacrifices, nor flamines,3 nor Salii,4 nor one half of the rest of the priests, nor any one who has a right to open the comitia centuriata, or curiata; and the auspices of the Roman people must come to an end if no patrician magistrates are created, as there will be no interrex,5 for he must be a patrician, and must be nominated by a patrician. I said before the priests, that that adoption had not been approved by any decree of this college; that it had been executed contrary to every provision of the sacerdotal law; that it ought to be considered as no adoption at all; and if there is an end to that, you see at once that there is an end likewise of the whole of your tribuneship.
XV. I come now to the augurs—and if they have any secret books I do not inquire into them; I am not very curious about inquiring into the principles of the augurs. I know, what I have learnt in common with all the people, what answers they have frequently given in the public assemblies. They say that it is contrary to divine law for any public business to be brought before the people when any proper officer is observing the heavens. Will you venture to deny that, on the day when the Lex curiata1 concerning you is said to have been passed, the magistrates were observing the heavens? A man is here present in court, of the most eminent wisdom, and dignity, and authority, Marcus Bibulus. I assert that on that very day he, as consul, was observing the heavens. “What then,” you will say, “are then the acts of Caius Cæsar, that most admirable citizen, invalid in your opinion?” By no means; for there is not one of them which concerns me in the least, nor anything else except these weapons which by that man’s proceedings are hurled at me. But the matter of the auspices, which I am now touching on with extreme brevity, has been handled in this manner by you. You, when your tribuneship was in danger and was falling to pieces as it were, all of a sudden came forward as a patron of the auspices; you brought forward Marcus Bibulus and the augurs into the assembly; you questioned the augurs, and they replied that when any magistrate was observing the heavens, no business could be transacted in the assembly of the people. You questioned Marcus Bibulus, and he told you in reply that he had been observing the heavens; and he also said in the public assembly, when he was brought forward there by your brother Appius, that you were no tribune of the people at all, because you had been adopted contrary to the auspices. In the succeeding months your language constantly was, that everything which Caius Cæsar had done ought to be rescinded by the senate, because they had been done in disregard of the auspices; and if they were rescinded, you said that you would bring me back on your own shoulders into the city as the guardian of the city. See now, O priests, the insanity of the man, when by means of his tribuneship he was connected to such an extent with the acts of Cæsar. If the priests deciding according to the law relating to sacrifices, and the augurs according to the religious observance due to the auspices, upset your whole tribuneship, what more do you ask? do you want some still more evident argument drawn from the rights of the people and the laws?
XVI. It was perhaps about the sixth hour when I complained in the court of justice (when I was defending Caius Antonius, my colleague,) of some things in the republic which appeared to me to relate to the cause of that unhappy man. What I said was reported by some wicked men to some very eminent citizens in language very different from that which I had employed. At the ninth hour on that very same day you were adopted. If, while in all other laws there ought to be an interval of three days, it is sufficient in a law respecting an adoption that there should be one of three hours, I have nothing to object to. But if the same forms are to be observed,—if the senate decreed that the people was not bound by the laws of Marcus Drusus, which had been passed contrary to the provisions of the Cæcilian1 and Didian laws,—you must see that by every description of right which prevails with regard to sacred things, to the auspices, or to the laws, you were not elected tribune of the people. And it is not without reason that I say no more on this point, for I see that some most eminent men, the chief men of the city, have given their decision on different occasions, that you could legally proceed with matters which came before the common people; who said too, with reference to my own case, though they said that the republic was murdered and buried by your motion, still that that burial, miserable and bitter as it was, was all according to law: they said that in carrying such a motion as you had carried concerning me a citizen, and one who had deserved well of the republic, you had inflicted a deadly wound on the republic; but, inasmuch as you had carried it with all due reverence for the auspices, they said that you had acted legally. Wherefore we, I imagine, may be allowed to abstain from attacking those actions by which they were induced to approve of the establishment of your tribuneship.
Suppose, however, that you were as rightly and legally tribune as Rullus himself, who is here present, a man most illustrious and honourable on every account; still, by what law, or in accordance with what precedent or what custom, did you pass a law affecting, by name, the civil rights of a citizen who had not been condemned?
XVII. The sacred laws,—the laws of the Twelve Tables, forbid bills to be brought in affecting individuals only; for such a bill is a privilegium. No one has ever carried such a bill. There is nothing more cruel, nothing more mischievous, nothing which this city can less tolerate. What was it in that miserable proscription, and all the other miseries of Sylla’s time, which was the most remarkable thing which will prevent the cruelties then practised from being ever forgotten? I imagine it was the fact that punishments were at that time proclaimed on Roman citizens by name without any trial. Will you, then, O priests, by this decision, and by your authority, give a tribune of the people power to proscribe whomsoever he chooses? For I ask what else proscribing is, excepting proposing such a law as this, “That you will decide and order that Marcus Tullius shall no longer be in the city, and that his property may become mine?” For this is the effect of what he carried, though the language is somewhat different. Is this a resolution of the people? Is this a law? Is this a motion? Can you endure this? Can the city endure that a single citizen should be removed out of the city by a single line? I, indeed, have now endured my share. I have no more violence to fear; I am in dread of no further attacks. I have satisfied the hostility of those who envied me; I have appeased the hatred of wicked men; I have satiated even the treachery and wickedness of traitors; and, what is more, by this time every city, all ranks of men, all gods and men have expressed their opinion on my case, which appeared to those profligate men to be exposed above all others as a mark for unpopularity. You now, O priests, are bound, as becomes your authority and your wisdom, to have regard in your decision to your own interests, and to those of your children, and to the welfare of the rest of the citizens.
For as the forms of proceeding before the people have been appointed by our ancestors to be so moderate,—so that in the first place no punishment affecting a man’s status as a citizen can be joined to any pecuniary fine; in the next place, that no one can be accused except on a day previously appointed; again, that the prosecutor must accuse him before the magistrate three times, a day being allowed to intervene between each hearing, before the magistrate can inflict any fine or give any decision; and when there is a fourth hearing for the accusation appointed after seventeen1 days, on a day appointed, on which the judge shall give his decision; and when many other concessions have been granted to the defendants to give them an opportunity of appeasing the prosecutor, or of exciting pity; and besides this, the people is a people inclined to listen to entreaties, and very apt to give their votes for a defendant’s safety; and, beyond all this, if anything prevents the cause from being proceeded with on that day, either because of the auspices, or on any other plea or excuse, then there is an end to the whole cause and to the whole business.
XVIII. As these things, then, are so, where is the accusation, where is the prosecutor, where are the witnesses? What is more scandalous, than when a man has neither been ordered to appear, nor summoned, nor accused, for hired men, assassins, needy and profligate citizens, to give a vote touching his status as a citizen, his children, and all his fortune, and then to think that vote a law? But if he was able to do this in my case, I being a man protected by the honours which I had attained, by the justice of my cause, and by the republic; and being not so rich as to make my money an object to my enemies, and who had nothing which could be injurious to me, except the great changes which were taking place in the affairs of the state, and the critical condition of the times; what is likely to happen to those men whose way of life is removed from popular honours, and from all that renown which gives influence, and whose riches are so great that too many men, needy, extravagant, and even of noble birth, covet them? Grant this licence to a tribune of the people, and then for a moment contemplate in your minds the youth of the city, and especially those men who seem now to be anxiously coveting the tribunitian power. There will be found, by Jove! whole colleges of tribunes of the people, if this law is once established, and they will all conspire against the property of all the richest men, when a booty so especially popular and the hope of great acquisitions is thus held out to them.
But what vote is it that this skilful and experienced lawgiver has carried? “May you be willing and may you command that Marcus Tullius be interdicted from water and fire.” A cruel vote, a nefarious vote, one not to be endured even in the case of the very wickedest citizen, without a trial. He did not propose a vote, “That he be interdicted.” What then? “That he has been interdicted.” O horrible, O prodigious, O what wickedness! Did Clodius frame this law, more infamous than even his own tongue?—that it has been interdicted to a person to whom it has not been interdicted? My good friend Sextus, by your leave, tell me now, since you are a logician and are devoted to this science, is it possible for a proposition to be made to the people, or to be established by any form of words, or to be confirmed by any votes, making that to have been done which has not been done? And have you ruined the public, with the man who drew this law for your adviser, and counsellor, and minister, a fellow more impure, not only than any biped, but even than any quadruped? And you were not so foolish or so mad as to be ignorant that this man who violated the laws was Clodius; but that there were other men who were accustomed to frame laws: but you had not the least power over any one of them, or over any one else who had any character to lose; nor could you employ the same framers of laws, or the same architects for your works, as the others; nor could you obtain the aid of any priest you chose. Lastly, you were not able to discover, not even when you were dividing your plunder, any purchaser, or any one to share your plunder with you, out of your own band of gladiators, nor any one to support that proscription of yours with his vote except some thief or assassin.
XIX. Therefore, when you, flourishing and powerful, were triumphing in the middle of your mob, those friends of yours, safe and happy in having you for their only friend, who had entrusted their fate to the people, were repelled1 in such a way that they lost the support of even that Palatine2 tribe of yours. They who came before a court of justice, whether as prosecutors or as defendants were condemned, though you endeavoured to beg them off. Lastly, even that new recruit, Ligur, your venal backer and seconder, when he had been disgraced by being passed over in the will of Marcus Papirius his brother, who expressed his opinion of him by that action, said that he desired to have a legal investigation into the circumstances of his death, and accused Sextus Propertius as accessory to it. He did not venture to accuse his partners of a crime in which they had no concern, and to endeavour to procure their condemnation, lest he himself should have been convicted of bringing false accusations.
We are speaking, then, of this law which appears to have been legally brought forward, while yet every one that has had anything to do with any part of it, either by hand, voice, vote, or by sharing in the plunder, wherever he has been, has come off rejected and convicted.
What shall we say if the proscription is framed in such terms that it repels itself? For it is, “Because Marcus Tullius has forged a decree of the senate.” If, then, he did forge a decree of the senate, the law was proposed; but if he did not forge one, no proposition has been made at all. Does it or does it not appear sufficiently decided by the senate that I did not falsely allege the authority of that order, but that I, of all the men that have ever lived since the foundation of the city, have been the most diligent in my obedience to the senate? In how many ways do I not prove that that which you call a law is no law at all? What shall we say if you brought many different matters before the people at one and the same time? Do you still think that what Marcus Drusus, that admirable man, could not obtain in most of his laws,—that what Marcus Scaurus and Lucius Crassus, men of consular rank, could not obtain, you can obtain through the agency of the Decumi and Clodii, the ministers of all your debaucheries and crimes? You carried a proposition respecting me, that I should not be received anywhere,—not that I should depart, when you yourself were not able to say that it was unlawful for me to remain in Rome.
XX. For what could you say? That I had been condemned? Certainly not. That I had been expelled. How could you say that? And yet even that was not stated in your bill that I was to depart; there is a penalty for any one who received me, which every one disregarded; but there is no mention anywhere of driving me out. However, suppose there were,—what are we to say about the collecting of all the common artisans to pull down my house? what shall we say about your having your name cut on it? does that seem to you to be anything except a plundering of all my property? Except that you could not by the Licinian law undertake the commission yourself. What are we to say about this very matter which you are now arguing before the priests; namely, that you consecrated my house, that you erected a memorial, that you dedicated a statue in my house, and that you did all these things by one little bit of a bill? Do all these things appear to be only one and the same business with the bill which you carried against me expressly by name? It is just the same thing that you did when you also carried these different enactments in one law,—one, that the king of Cyprus, whose ancestors had always been allies and friends to this nation, should have all his goods sold by the public crier, and the other, that the exiles should be brought back to Byzantium. “Oh,” says he, “I employed the same person on both those matters.” What? Suppose you had given the same man a commission to get you an Asiatic coin in Asia, and from thence to proceed into Spain; and given him leave, after he had departed from Rome, to stand for the consulship, and, after he was made consul, to obtain Syria for his province; would that be all one measure, because you were mentioning only one man? And if now the Roman people had been consulted about that business, and if you had not done everything by the instrumentality of slaves and robbers, was it impossible for the Roman people to approve of the part of the measure relating to the king of Cyprus, and to disapprove of that part which affected the Byzantine exiles? What other force, what other meaning, I should like to know, has the Cæcilian and Didian law, except this; that the people are not to be forced in consequence of many different things being joined in one complicated bill, either to accept what it disapproves of, or reject what it approves?
What shall we say if you carried the bill by violence? is it, nevertheless, a law? Or can anything appear to have been done rightfully which was notoriously done by violence? And if at the very time of your getting this law passed, when the city was stormed, stones were not thrown, and men did not actually come to blows hand to hand, is that any proof that you were able to contrive that disgrace and ruin to the city without extreme violence?
XXI. When in the Aurelian tribunal you were openly enrolling not only freemen but slaves also, got together out of all the streets in the city, were you not at that time preparing for violence? When, by your edicts, you ordered all the shops to be shut, were you aiming not at the violence of the mob, but at a modest and prudent gathering of honourable men? When you were having arms collected and carried to the temple of Castor, had you no other object beyond preventing others from being able to effect anything by violence? But when you tore up and removed the steps of the temple of Castor, did you then, in order to be able to act in a moderate manner, repel audacious men from the approaches and ascents leading to the temple? When you ordered those persons who, in an assembly of virtuous men, had spoken in defence of my safety, to come forward, and had driven away their companions and seconders by blows and arms and stones; then, no doubt, you showed that violence was excessively disagreeable to you. Oh, but this frantic violence of a demented tribune of the people could easily be crushed and put down by the virtue and superior numbers of the good citizens. What? when Syria was given to Gabinius, Macedonia to Piso, boundless authority and vast sums of money to both of them, to induce them to place everything in your power, to assist you, to supply you with followers, and troops, and their own prepared centurions, and money, and bands of slaves; to aid you with their infamous assemblies, to deride the authority of the senate, to threaten the Roman knights with death and proscription, to terrify me with threats, to threaten me with contests and murder, to fill my house with their friends, which had heretofore been full of virtuous men; through fear of proscription, to deprive me of the crowds of good men who used to associate with me, to strip me of their protection; to forbid the senate, that most illustrious body, not only to fight for me, but even to implore men, and to entreat them in my behalf, and, changing their garments, to lament my danger,—was not even this violence?
XXII. Why then did I depart, or what fear was there? I will not say in me. Allow that I am timid by nature; what are we to say of so many thousands of the bravest men? what did our Roman knights think? what did the senate? what, in short, did all good men think? If there was no violence, why did they escort me out of the city with tears, instead of reproving and detaining me, or being indignant with me and leaving me? Or was I afraid that I could not, while present, resist their accusations if they proceeded against me according to the usages and principles of our ancestors? If a day had been appointed for my trial, must I have dreaded the investigation? or must I have feared a private bill being introduced against me without any trial? A trial in so shameful a cause! I suppose I am a man who, if the cause were not understood, could not speak so as to explain it at all,—or could I not make people approve of my cause, when its excellence is such that of its own merits it made people approve not only of itself while it was before them, but of me also though I was absent? Was the senate, were all ranks of the people, were those men who flew hither from all Italy to cooperate in my recal, likely to be more indifferent, while I was present, about retaining and preserving me, in that cause which even that parricide says was such, that he complains that I was sought out and recalled to my previous honours by the whole people? Was there then no danger to me whatever in a court of justice; but was I to fear a private bill, and that if a penalty were sought to be recovered from me while I was present, no one would interpose a veto? Was I so destitute of friends, or was the republic so entirely without magistrates? What? supposing the tribes had been convoked, would they have approved of a proscription, I will not say against me who had deserved so well of them by my efforts for their safety, but would they have approved of it in the case of any citizen whatever? Or, if I had been present, would those veteran troops of conspirators, and those profligate and needy soldiers of yours, and that new force of two most impious consuls, have spared my person, when, after that I had, by departing, succumbed to their inhumanity and wickedness, I could not though absent satisfy their hostility to me by my misfortunes?
XXIII. For what injury had my unhappy wife done to you? whom you harassed and plundered and illtreated with every description of cruelty. What harm had my daughter done to you? whose incessant weeping and mourning and misery were so agreeable to you, though they moved the eyes and feelings of every one else. What had my little son done? whom no one ever saw all the time that I was away, that he was not weeping and lamenting; what, I say, had he done that you should so often try to murder him by stratagem? What had my brother done? who, when, some time after my departure, he arrived from his province, and thought that it was not worth his while to live unless I were restored to him, when his grief and excessive and unprecedented mourning seemed to render him an object of pity to every one, was constantly attacked by you with arms and violence, and escaped with difficulty out of your hands. But why need I dilate upon your cruelty, which you have displayed towards me and mine? when you have waged a horrible and nefarious war, dyed with every description of hatred, against my walls, my roofs, my pillars and door-posts. For I do not think that you, when, after my departure, you in the covetousness of your hopes had devoured the fortunes of all the rich men, the produce of all the provinces, the property of tetrarchs and of kings, were blinded by the desire of my plate and furniture. I do not think that that Campanian consul with his dancing colleague, after you had sacrificed to the one all Achaia, Thessaly, Bœotia, Greece, Macedonia, and all the countries of the barbarians, and the property of the Roman citizens in those countries, and when you had delivered up to the other Syria, Babylon, and the Persians, those hitherto uninjured and peaceful nations, to plunder; I do not think, I say, that they were covetous of my thresholds and pillars and folding-doors. Nor, indeed, did the bands and forces of Catiline think that they could appease their hunger with the tiles and mortar of my roofs. But as, without being influenced by the idea of booty, still out of hatred we are accustomed to destroy the cities of enemies;—not of all enemies indeed, but of those with whom we have waged any bitter and intestine war; because when our minds have been inflamed against any people by reason of their cruelty, there always appears to be some war still lingering in their abodes and habitations, NA* * *
XXIV. No law had been passed respecting me. I had not been ordered to appear in court; I had not been summoned. I was absent. I was even in your own opinion a citizen with all my rights as such unimpaired, when my house on the Palatine Hill, and my villa in the district of Tusculum, were transferred one a-piece to each of the consuls; decrees of the senate were flying about; marble columns from my house were carried off to the father-in-law of the consul in the sight of the Roman people; and the consul who was my neighbour at my villa had not only my stock and the decorations of my villa, but even my trees transferred to his farm; while the villa itself was utterly destroyed, not from a desire of plunder, (for what plunder could there be there?) but out of hatred and cruelty. My house on the Palatine Hill was burnt, not by accident, but having been set on fire on purpose. The consuls were feasting and revelling amid the congratulations of the conspirators, while the one boasted that he had been the favourite of Catiline, and the other that he was the cousin of Cethegus. This violence, O priests, this wickedness, this frenzy, I, opposing my single person to the storm, warded off from the necks of all good men, and I received on my body all the attacks of disaffection, all the long-collected violence of the wicked, which, having been long coming to a head, with silent and repressed hatred, was at last breaking out now that it had got such audacious leaders. Against me alone were directed the consular firebrands hurled from the hands of the tribunes; all the impious arrows of the conspiracy, which I had once before blunted, now stuck in me. But if, as was the advice of many most gallant men, I had determined to contend with violence and arms against violence, I should either have gained the day with a great slaughter of wicked men, who notwithstanding were citizens, or else all the good men would have been slain, to the great joy of the wicked, and I too should have perished together with the republic. I saw, that if the senate and people of Rome existed, I should have a speedy return with the greatest dignity; and I did not think it possible that such a state of affairs should long continue to exist, as for me not to be allowed to live in that republic which I myself had saved. And if I were not allowed to live there, I had heard and read that some of the most illustrious men of our country had rushed into the middle of the enemy to manifest death for the sake of the safety of their army. And could I doubt that if I were to sacrifice myself for the safety of the entire republic, I should in this point be better off than the Decii, because they could not even hear of their glory, while I should be able to be even a spectator of my own renown?
XXV. Therefore your frenzy, being disconcerted, kept making vain attacks. For the bitterness of my fortune had exhausted all the violence of all the wicked citizens. In such terrible disaster and such wide-spread ruin, there was no room for any new cruelty. Cato was next to me. Was there nothing which you could do, beyond making him who had been my leader and guide in all my conduct, a partner also in my misfortune? What? Could you banish him? No. What then? You could send him away for the money of Cyprus. One booty may have been lost; another will be sure to be found; only let this man be got out of the way. Accordingly, the hated Marcus Cato is commissioned to go to Cyprus, as if it was a kindness that was being conferred on him. Two men are removed, whom the wicked men could not bear the sight of; one by the most discreditable sort of honour, the other by the most honourable possible calamity. And that you may be aware that that man had been an enemy not to their persons, but to their virtues, after I was driven out, and Cato despatched on his commission, he turns himself against that very man by whose advice and by whose assistance he was in the habit of saying in the assemblies that he had done and continued to do what he was then doing and everything which he had hitherto done. He thought that Cnæus Pompeius, who he saw was in every one’s opinion by far the first man in the city, would not much longer tolerate his frenzy. After he had filched out of his custody by treachery the son of a king who was our friend,—himself being an enemy and a prisoner,—and having provoked that most gallant man by this injury, he thought that he could contend with him by the aid of those troops against whom I had been unwilling to struggle at the risk of the destruction of all virtuous citizens, especially as at first he had the consuls to help him. But after a time Gabinius broke his agreement with him; but Piso continued faithful to him. You saw what massacres that man then committed, what men he stoned, what numbers he made to flee; how easily by means of his armed bands and his daily plots did he compel Cnæus Pompeius to absent himself from the forum and the senate-house, and to confine himself to his own house, even after he had been already deserted by the best part of his forces. And from this you may judge how great that violence was at its first rise, and when first collected together, when even after it was scattered and almost extinct it alarmed Cnæus Pompeius in this way.
XXVI. That most prudent man, Lucius Cotta, a man most deeply attached to the republic and to me, and above all to truth, saw this when he delivered his opinion on the first of January. He then considered it unnecessary that any law should be passed for my return. He said that I had consulted the interests of the republic; that I had yielded to the tempest; that I had been more friendly to you and to the rest of the citizens than to myself and to my own relations; that I had been driven away by the disturbances of a body of men banded together for purposes of bloodshed, and by an unprecedented exercise of power; that no law could possibly have been passed affecting my status as a citizen; that no law had been drawn up in writing, that none could have any validity; that everything had been done in disregard of the laws and of the usages of our ancestors, in a rash and turbulent manner, by violence and frenzy. But if that were a law, then it was not lawful for the consuls to refer the matter to the senate,1 nor for him himself to express his opinion upon it in the senate. And as both these things were being done, it was not right that it should be decreed that a law should be passed concerning me, lest that which was no law at all, should be in consequence decided to be a law. No opinion could be truer, sounder, more expedient, or better for the republic. For the wickedness and frenzy of the man being stigmatised by it, all danger of similar disgrace to the republic for the future was removed. Nor did Cnæus Pompeius, who delivered a most elaborate opinion and most honourable to me, nor did you, O priests, who defended me by your decision and authority, fail to see that that was no law at all, and that it was rather the heat of the times, an interdict of wickedness, a voice of frenzy. But you were anxious to guard against any popular odium being excited against you; if we appeared to have been restored without any decision of the people. And with the same idea the senate adopted the opinion of Marcus Bibulus, a most fearless man, that you should decide the question relating to my house: not that he doubted that nothing had been done by Clodius with due regard either to the laws, or to the requirements of religion, or to the rights of the citizens; but that, as wicked men were so numerous, no one should at any time arise and say that there was anything holy about my house. For as often as the senate has expressed any opinion at all in my case, so often has it decided that that was no law at all, since indeed, according to that writing which that fellow drew up, it was forbidden to express any opinion at all. And that kindred pair, Piso and Gabinius, saw this. Those men, so obedient to the laws and courts of justice,—when the senate in very full houses kept constantly entreating them to make a motion respecting me,—said that they did not disapprove of the object, but that they were hindered by that fellow’s law. And this was true; but it was the law which he had passed about giving them Macedonia and Syria.
XXVII. But you, O Publius Lentulus, neither as a private individual nor as consul ever thought that it was a law. For when the tribunes of the people made a motion, you as consul elect often delivered your opinion concerning my affairs; and from the first of January to the time that the whole affair was completed, you persevered in making motions respecting me, you proposed a law, you passed it; none of which things could legally have been done by you if that thing of Clodius’s had been a law. But Quintus Metellus your colleague, a most illustrious man, even though he was a brother of Clodius, when he joined you in making a motion in the senate respecting my affairs, expressed his opinion that that was no law at all which men utterly unconnected with Clodius,—namely Piso and Gabinius, considered was a law. But how did those men who had such respect for Clodius’s laws observe the rest of the laws? The senate indeed, whose authority is of the very greatest weight on all questions affecting the power of the laws, as often as it has been consulted in my case, has decided that that was no law at all. And you, O Lentulus, showed that you were aware of its not being one in that law which you carried concerning me. For that law was not framed in such terms as that I might be allowed to come to Rome, but that I should come to Rome. For you did not wish to propose to make that lawful for me to do, which was lawful already; but you wished me to be in the republic, appearing to have been sent for by the command of the Roman people, rather than to have been restored for the purpose of aiding in the management of the republic.
Did you then, O you most monstrous pest, dare to call that man an exile, when you yourself were branded with such wickedness and such crimes that you made every place which you approached very like a place of banishment? For what is an exile? The name itself is an indication of misfortune, not of disgrace. When, then, is it disgraceful? In reality when it is the punishment of guilt; but in the opinion of men, when it is the punishment of a condemned person. Is it then owing to any crime of mine that I bear the name of an exile, or owing to any judicial sentence? Owing to any crime? Even you, whom those satellites of yours call the prosperous Catiline, do not dare to affirm that, nor do any one of those men who used to say so, venture to say so now. There is not only no one so ignorant now as to say that those actions which I did in my consulship were errors; but no one is such an enemy to his country as not to confess that the country was preserved by my counsels.
XXVIII. For what deliberative assembly is there in the whole earth, whether great or little, which has not expressed that opinion of my exploits which is most desirable and most honourable for me? The greatest council of the Roman people, and of all peoples, and nations, and kings, is the senate. That decreed that all men who desired the safety of the republic should come forward to defend me alone, and showed its opinion that the republic could not have been saved if I had not existed, and could not last if I did not return. The next in rank to this dignified body is the equestrian order. All the companies of public contractors passed most favourable and honourable decrees respecting my consulship and my actions. The scriveners, who are much connected with us in matters relating to public registers and monuments, took good care that their sentiments and resolutions respecting my services to the republic should not be left in doubt. There is no corporation in all this city, no body of men either from the higher or lower parts of the city,1 (since our ancestors thought fit that the common people of the city should also have places of meeting and some sort of deliberative assemblies,) which has not passed most honourable resolutions, not merely respecting my safety, but relating also to my dignity. For why need I mention those divine and immortal decrees of the municipal towns, and of the colonies, and of all Italy, by which, as by a flight of steps, I seem not only to have returned to my country, but to have mounted up to heaven? And what a day was that when the Roman people beheld you, O Publius Lentulus, passing a law respecting me, and felt how great a man and how worthy a citizen you were. For it is well known that the Campus Martius had never on any comitia seen so vast a crowd, or such a splendid assembly of men of every class, age, and order. I say nothing of the unanimous judgment and unanimous agreement of the cities, nations, provinces, kings,—of the whole world, in short,—as to the services which I had done to the whole human race. But what an arrival at and entry into the city was mine! Did my country receive me as it ought to receive light and safety when brought back and restored to it, or as a cruel tyrant, as you, you herd of Catiline, were accustomed to call me? Therefore that one day on which the Roman people honoured me by escorting me with immense numbers and loud demonstrations of joy from the gate to the Capitol, and from the Capitol home, was so delightful to me, that that wicked violence of yours which had driven me away appeared not to be a thing from which I ought to have been defended, out one which it was worth my while even to purchase. Wherefore that calamity, if it deserves to be called a calamity, has put an end to the whole previous system of abuse, and has prevented any one for the future from daring to find fault with my consulship, which has now been approved of by such numerous, and such important, and such dignified decisions, and testimonies, and authorities.
XXIX. And if, in all that abuse of yours, you not only impute no disgraceful conduct to me, but even add more lustre on my credit, what can exist or be imagined more senseless than you? For by one piece of abuse you admit that my country was twice saved by me; one when I performed that action which every one avows ought to be remembered for ever if it be possible, you thought that I ought to be punished and put to death; a second time, when I bore in my own person your own violence and that of the numbers who through your agency were inflamed against all virtuous men, in order to avoid taking arms, and in that condition bringing into danger that state which I had saved when without arms.
Be it so then. There was not in my case any punishment imposed for any offence. Still there was punishment imposed on me by a judicial decision. By what decision? Who ever examined me as a defendant under any law whatever? Who ever accused me? Who ever prosecuted me? Can then a man who is uncondemned be made to bear the punishment of a condemned man? Is this the act of a tribune of the people? Is this the act of a friend of the people? Although, when is it that a man can call himself a friend of the people, except when he has done something for the advantage of the people? Forsooth, has not this principle been handed down to us from our ancestors, that no Roman citizen can be deprived of his liberty, or of his status as a citizen, unless he himself consents to such a thing, as you yourself might learn in your own case? For, although in that adoption of yours nothing was done in a legal manner, still I suppose that you were asked, whether it was your object that Publius Fonteius should have the same power of life and death over you that he would have over an actual son. I ask, if you had either denied it or had been silent, if, nevertheless, the thirty curies had passed a vote to this effect, would that vote have had the force of law? Certainly not. Why? Because the law was established by our ancestors, who were not fictiously and pretendedly attached to the people, but were so in truth and wisdom, in such a manner that no Roman citizen could be deprived of his liberty against his consent. Moreover, if the decemvirs had given an unjust decision to the prejudice of any one’s liberty, they established a law that any one who chose might, on this subject alone, make a motion affecting a formal decision already pronounced. But no one will ever lose his status as a citizen against his will by any vote of the people.
XXX. The Roman citizens who left Rome and went to the Latin colonies could not be made Latins, unless they themselves promoted such a change, and gave in their names themselves. Those men who had been condemned on a capital charge, did not lose their rights as citizens of this city before they were received as citizens of that other city to which they had gone for the sake of changing their abode. Our ancestors took care that they should do so, not by taking away their rights of citizenship, but only their house, and by interdicting them from fire and water within the city. The Roman people on the motion of Lucius Sylla, the dictator, in the comitia centuriata, took away the rights of citizenship from the municipal towns, and at the same time took away their lands. The decree about the lands was ratified, for that the people had power to pass; but their decree concerning the rights of citizenship did not last even as long as the disturbances of the time of Sylla. Shall we then say that Lucius Sylla, victorious as he was, after he had been restored to the republic, could not in the comitia centuriata take away the rights of citizenship from the people of Volaterra, even though they were in arms at the time;—and the Volaterrans to this day enjoy the rights of citizenship in common with ourselves, being not only citizens, but most excellent citizens too;—and allow that Publius Clodius, at a time when the republic was utterly overturned, could take away his rights as a citizen from a man of consular rank, by summoning an assembly, and hiring bands not only of needy citizens, but even of slaves, with Sedulius as their imputed leader, though he declares that on that day he was not in Rome at all? And, if he was not, what could be a more audacious thing than your putting his name to that bill? What could be more desperate than your condition, when, even if you told a lie about it, you could not get up any more respectable authority? But if he was the first person who voted for it, as he easily might have been, as he was a man who, for want of a house, slept all night in the forum, why should he not swear that he was at Cadiz, when you have proved so very distinctly that you were at Interamna? Do you, then,—you, a man devoted to the people,—think that our rights as citizens, and our freedom, ought to be established on this principle; so that when a tribune of the people brings forward a motion, “Do you approve and determine” NA* * * * if a hundred Sedulii should say that they do approve and determine, any one of us may lose our privileges? Our ancestors, then, were not attached to the interests of the people, who with respect to the rights of citizenship and liberty established those principles which neither the power of time, nor the authority of magistrates, nor the decisions of judges, nor the sovereign power of the whole people of Rome, which in all other affairs is most absolute, can undermine. But you, also, you who take men’s rights as citizens from them, have also passed a law with respect to public injuries in favour of some fellow of Anagnia, of the name of Mærula, and he on account of that law has erected a statue to you in my house; so that the place itself, in bearing witness to your prodigious injustice, might refute the law and inscription on your statue. And that law was a much greater cause of grief to the citizens of Anagnia than the crimes which that gladiator had committed in that municipal town.
XXXI. What shall I say, if there is nothing said about the rights of citizenship even in that very form of motion which Sedulius declares he never voted for? Do you still cling to his authority in order to throw a lustre on the exploits of your splendid tribuneship by the dignity of that man?
But, although you passed no law respecting me, to prevent my continuing not only in the number of Roman citizens, but even in that rank in which the honours conferred on me by the Roman people had placed me; will you still raise your voice to attack him whom after the abominable wickedness of the preceding consuls you see honoured by the decisions of the senate, of the Roman people, and of all Italy? whom even at the time when I was departing you could not deny, even by your own law, to be a senator. For, where was it that you passed the law that I should be interdicted from fire and water? When Gracchus passed such a decree respecting Publius Popillius, and Saturninus respecting Metellus, and other most seditious men respecting other most virtuous and gallant citizens, they did not pass a decree that they had been interdicted, which would have been quite intolerable, but that they should be interdicted. When did you insert a clause that the censor should not enter me on the rolls of the senate in my proper place? which is a clause in the law, concerning every one who has been condemned when the interdict is being framed. Ask this of Sextus Clodius the framer of your laws. Bid him come forward; he is keeping out of the way; but if you order him to be looked for, they will find the man in your sister’s house, hiding himself with his head down. But if no one in his senses ever called your father, a citizen—ay, by Jove, a good citizen, and one very unlike you;—if no one, I say, ever called him an exile, who, when a tribune of the people had proposed a bill against him, would not appear on account of the iniquity of that period of Cinna’s triumph, and who, on that account, had his command taken from him; if, I say, in his case, a punishment inflicted by law carried no disgrace with it, on account of the violent character of those times, could there, in my case, be any penalty against me as if I had been condemned, when I never was tried, when I never was accused, when I never was summoned by any tribune of the people, and, especially, a penalty which was not mentioned, not even in the proposed bill itself?
XXXII. But just remark what the difference is between that most iniquitous misfortune inflicted on your father, and between my fortune and condition which I am now discussing. Lucius Philippus the censor, in reading the roll of the senate, passed over his own uncle, your father, a most excellent citizen, the son of a most illustrious man, himself a man of such severity of character that if he were alive you would not have been suffered to live. For he had no reason to allege why those acts should not be ratified which had been done in that republic in which, at that very time, he had been willing to take upon himself the office of censor. But as for me, Lucius Cotta, a man of censorian rank said in the senate on his oath, that if he had been censor at the time that I left the city, he should have retained me on the list as a senator in my proper place. Who appointed any judge in my place? who of my friends made a will at the time that I was absent, and did not give me the same that he would have given me if I had been in the city? who was there, I will not say only among the citizens, but even among the allies, who hesitated to receive and assist me in defiance of your law? Lastly, the whole senate, long before the law was passed respecting me, “Voted, that thanks should be given to all those cities by which Marcus Tullius . . . .” Was that all? No—it went, “a citizen who had done the greatest services to the republic, had been received:” and do you, one single pernicious citizen, deny that that citizen has been legally restored, whom the whole senate, even while he was absent, considered not only a citizen, but has at all times considered a most illustrious one? But as the annals of the Roman people and the records of antiquity relate, that great man Cæso Quintius, and Marcus Furius Camillus, and Marcus Servilius Ahala, though they had deserved exceedingly well of the republic, still had to endure the violence and passion of an excited people; and after they had been condemned by the comitia centuriata and had gone into banishment, were again restored to their former dignity by the same people in a more placable humour. But if, in the case of those men who were thus condemned, their calamity not only did not diminish the glory of their most illustrious names, but even added fresh lustre to it; (for, although it is more desirable to finish the course of one’s life without pain and without injury, still it contributes more to the immortality of a man’s glory to have been universally regretted by his fellow-citizens, than never to have been injured;) shall a similar misfortune have in my case the force of a reproach or of an accusation, when I left the city without any sentence of the people, and have been restored by most honourable resolutions of every order of society? Publius Popillius was always a brave and wise citizen in every point of view; yet in the whole of his life there is nothing which sheds a greater lustre on his character than this very calamity. For who would have recollected now that he conferred great benefits on the republic, if he had not been expelled by the wicked and restored by the good? The conduct of Quintus Metellus as a military commander was admirable, his censorship was splendid, his whole life was full of wisdom and dignity; and yet it is his calamity which has handed down his praises to everlasting recollection.
XXXIII. But if the injury inflicted on them by their enemies was not any disgrace to those men who were expelled unjustly, but still who were restored according to law, after their enemies had been slain, after the tribunes had brought forward motions respecting them; not by the authority of the senate, not by the comitia centuriata, not by the decrees of all Italy, not by the universal regret of the state; do you think that in my case, who departed uncondemned, who departed at the same time as the republic, and returned with the greatest dignity, while you were still alive, while one of your brothers was one of the consuls who brought me back, and the other was the prætor who demanded my recal, your wickedness ought to be any discredit to me? And if the Roman people, being inflamed with passion or envy, had driven me out of the city, and afterwards, remembering my services to the republic, had recollected itself, and shown its repentance for its rashness and injustice by restoring me; yet, in truth, no one would have been so senseless, as to think that such conduct on the part of the people ought not rather to be considered an honour to me than a disgrace. But now, when of all the people no one has accused me, when it is impossible for me to have been condemned, seeing that I have never been accused, since I was not even expelled in such a way that I could not have got the better of my adversaries if I had contested the point with them by force; and when, on the other hand, I have at all times been defended and praised and honoured by the Roman people; what pretence has any one for thinking himself better off than I am, at all events as far as the people are concerned?
Do you think that the Roman people consists of those men who can be hired for any purpose? who are easily instigated to offer violence to magistrates? to besiege the senate? to wish every day for bloodshed, conflagration and plunder? a people, indeed, whom you could not possibly collect together unless you shut up all the taverns; a people to whom you gave the Lentidii, and Lollii, and Plaguleii, and Sergii, for leaders. Oh for the splendour and dignity of the Roman people, for kings, for foreign nations, for the most distant lands to fear; a multitude collected of slaves, of hirelings, of criminals, and beggars! That was the real beauty and splendour of the Roman people, which you beheld in the Campus Martius at that time, when even you were allowed to speak in opposition to the authority and wishes of the senate and of all Italy. That is the people—that, I say, is the people which is the lord of kings, the conqueror and commander-in-chief of all nations, which you, O wicked man, beheld in that most illustrious day when all the chief men of the city, when all men of all ranks and ages considered themselves as giving their votes, not about the safety of a citizen, but about that of the state; when men arrive into the Campus, the municipal towns having been all emptied, not the taverns.
XXXIV. By the aid of this people, if there had then been real consuls in the republic, or if there had been no consuls at all, I should without any difficulty have resisted your head-long frenzy and impious wickedness. But I was unwilling to take up the public cause against armed violence, without the protection of the people. Not that I disapproved of the late rigour of Publius Scipio, that bravest of men, when he was only a private individual; but Publius Mucius the consul, who was considered somewhat remiss in defending the republic, immediately defended, and, more than that, extolled the action of Scipio in many resolutions passed by the senate. But, in my case, I, if you were slain, should have had to contend by force of arms against the consuls, or if you were alive, against both you and them together. There were many other circumstances also to be feared at that time. The contest would, in truth, have reached the slaves. So great an hatred of all good men had still got possession of the minds of impious citizens, being burnt as it were into their wicked minds by that ancient conspiracy.
Here, too, you warn me not to boast. You say that those things are intolerable which I am accustomed to assert concerning myself; and being a witty man, you put on quite a polite and elegant sort of language. You say that I am accustomed to say that I am Jupiter; and also to make a frequent boast that Minerva is my sister. I will not so much defend myself from the charge of insolence in calling myself Jupiter, as from that of ignorance in thinking Minerva the sister of Jupiter. But even if I do say so, I at all events claim a virgin for my sister; but you would not allow your sister to remain a virgin. Consider rather whether you have not a right to call yourself Jupiter, because you have established a right to call the same woman both sister and wife.
XXXV. And since you find fault with me for this, that you assert that I am accustomed to speak too boastfully of myself, I ask, who ever heard me speak in this way, or speak of myself at all, except when I was compelled, and was doing so of necessity? For if, when robberies, and bribery, and lust are imputed to me, I am accustomed to reply that the country was saved by my prudence, and labour, and personal danger, I ought not to be considered as boasting of my own exploits, so much as refusing to confess what is imputed to me. But if, before these most miserable periods of the republic, nothing else was ever imputed to me, except the cruelty of my conduct at that time when I warded off destruction from the republic, what will you say? Ought I when accused in this manner, not to have replied at all, or to have replied in an abject tone? But I have always thought it for the interest of even the republic itself, that I should uphold by my language the propriety and glory of that most noble exploit which I performed by the authority of the senate, with the consent of all virtuous men, for the safety of my country; especially when I am the only person in this republic who have been able to say on oath, in the hearing of the Roman people, that this city and this republic had been saved by my exertions. That accusation of cruelty has long since been extinguished, because men see that I was regretted, and demanded and sent for back by the wishes of all the citizens, not as a cruel tyrant, but as a most merciful parent. Another charge has risen up. That departure of mine from the city is attacked, which accusation I cannot reply to without the greatest credit to myself. For what, O priests, ought I to say? That I fled from a consciousness of guilt? But that which was imputed to me as a crime, not only was not a crime, but was the most glorious action ever performed since the birth of man. That I feared the sentence of the people? But not only was there no trial at any time before the people, but if there had been, I should have departed with redoubled glory. That the protection of the good was wanting to me? It is false. That I was afraid of death? That is an assertion disgraceful to those who make it.
XXXVI. I am therefore compelled to say that which I would not say if I were not compelled. (For I have never said anything at all in the way of extolling myself for the sake of gaining praise, but only with a view to repel an accusation.) I say, therefore, and I say it with the loudest voice I can command, when the inflamed violence of all the profligate citizens and conspirators, a tribune of the people being their leader, the consuls being their instigators, the senate being beaten down, the Roman knights being terrified, the whole city being in suspense and anxiety, was making an attack, not so much on me as, through me, on all good men,—I say that I then saw that if I conquered, there would be but little of the republic left, and if I were conquered, none at all. And when I had decided that this would be the case, I lamented indeed my separation from my unhappy wife, the desolate state of my most beloved children, the distress of my most affectionate and excellent brother, who was away, and the sudden ruin of a family which had seemed so thoroughly established; but still I preferred to all these considerations the safety of my fellow-citizens, and I preferred that the republic should rather fall, if fall it must, through the departure of one man, than through the slaughter of every one. I hoped (as indeed happened) that I, though overthrown, might be raised again by gallant men who were still alive; but I expected that if I perished, involving all virtuous men in my fall, I could not by any possibility be recovered. I felt, indeed, O priests, a great and incredible pain; I do not deny it; nor do I pretend to that wisdom which some expected of me, who said that I was too much dispirited and cast down. Could I, when I was torn from such a number and variety of enjoyments, (which I pass over, because even now I cannot speak of them without tears,) deny that I was a human being, and repudiate the common feelings of our nature? But in that case I should neither call that action of mine praiseworthy, nor should I say that any service had been done to the republic by me, if I had only given up, for the sake of the republic, those things which I could bear the loss of with calmness; and that firmness of the mind, resembling that hardness of body, which, even when it is burnt, does not feel it, I should consider insensibility rather than virtue.
XXXVII. To encounter voluntarily such great grief of mind, and by oneself to endure, while the city is standing those things which, when a city is taken, befal the conquered citizens; to see oneself torn from the embrace of one’s friends, one’s houses destroyed, one’s property plundered; above all, for the sake of one’s country, to lose one’s country itself, to be stripped of the most honourable favours of the Roman people, to be precipitated from the highest rank of dignity, to see one’s enemies in their robes of office demanding to conduct one’s funeral before one’s death has been properly mourned;—to undergo all these troubles for the sake of saving one’s fellow-citizens, and this with such feelings that you are miserable while absent, not being as wise as those philosophers who care for nothing, but being as attached to one’s relations and to oneself as the common feelings and rights of men require;—that is illustrious and godlike glory. For he who with a calm spirit for the sake of the republic abandons those things which he has never considered dear or delightful; is not showing any remarkable good-will towards the republic; but he who abandons those things for the sake of the republic from which he is not torn without the greatest agony, his country is dear to that man, and he prefers her safety to his affection for his own relations. Wherefore, that fury may burst itself, and it must hear me say these things since it has provoked me—I have twice saved the republic; both when as consul in the garb of peace I subdued armed enemies, and when as a private individual I yielded to the consuls in arms. Of each piece of conduct I have reaped the greatest reward: I reaped the reward of my first achievement when I saw the senate and all virtuous men, in pursuance of a resolution of the senate, change their garments for the sake of my safety; and that of my subsequent conduct, when the senate, and the Roman people, and all men, whether in a public or a private capacity, decided that without my return the republic would not be safe.
But this return of mine, O priests, depends now on your decision. For if you place me in my house, then I do plainly see and feel that I am restored, which is what all through my cause you have been always labouring to effect by your displays of zeal, by your counsels, and influence, and resolutions; but if my house is not only not restored to me, but is even allowed to continue to furnish my enemy with a memorial of my distress, of his own wicked triumph, of the public calamity, who is there who will consider this a restoration, and not rather an eternal punishment? Moreover, my house, O priests, is in the sight of the whole city; and if there remains in it that (I will not call it monument of the city, but that) tomb inscribed with the name of my enemy, I had better migrate to some other spot, rather than dwell in that city in which I am to see trophies erected as tokens of victory over me and over the republic.
XXXVIII. Could I have such hardness of mind or such shamelessness of eye, as to be able in that city, the preserver of which the senate has so often unanimously decided that I am, to behold my house thrown down, not by my own private enemy, but by the common foe, and then again built up and placed in the sight of the whole city, that the weeping of the virtuous citizens might know no cessation? The house of Spurius Mælius, who aimed at the kingdom, was razed. What else ensued? The Roman people by the very name of Æquimælium, which they gave the place, decided that what had happened to Mælius was deserved; the punishment inflicted on his folly was approved. The house of Spurius Cassius was destroyed for the same reason; and on the same spot was built the temple of Tellus. The house of Marcus Vaccus1 was in Vaccus’s meadows, which was confiscated and destroyed in order that his crime might be kept alive in people’s recollection by the name of the place. Marcus Manlius, when he had beaten back the attack of the Gauls from the Capitoline steep, was not content with the renown of his good deed; he was adjudged to have aimed at regal power, and on that account you see that his house was pulled down and the place covered with two groves. That therefore which our ancestors considered the greatest penalty which could be inflicted on wicked and infamous citizens, am I to undergo and to endure, so as to appear to posterity not to have been the extinguisher of conspiracy and wickedness, but its author and leader? And will the dignity of the Roman people, O priests, be able to support this stain of infamy and inconsistency, while the senate lives, while you are the chief men of the public council, if the house of Marcus Tullius Cicero appears joined with the house of Fulvius Flaccus by the memory of a punishment publicly inflicted? Marcus Flaccus, because he had acted with Caius Gracchus in a manner opposed to the safety of the republic, was put to death by the sentence of the senate, and his house was destroyed and confiscated; and on the spot Quintus Catulus some time after erected a portico out of the spoils of the Cimbri. But that firebrand and fury of his country, when, under those great generals Piso and Gabinius, he had taken the city, and occupied, and was in entire possession of it, at one and the same time destroyed the memorials of a most illustrious man who was dead, and united my house with the house of Marcus Flaccus, in order that he, after he had crushed the senate, might inflict on him whom the conscript fathers had pronounced to be the saviour of his country, the same punishment which the senate had inflicted on the destroyer of the constitution.
XXXIX. But will you allow this portico to stand on the Palatine Hill, and on the most beautiful spot in the whole city, erected as an everlasting token to keep alive the recollection of all nations and of all ages of the frenzy of the tribunes, of the wickedness of the consuls, of the cruelty of the conspirators, of the calamity of the republic, and of my sufferings? A portico which, out of the affection which you have and always have had for the republic, you ought to wish to pull down, not only by your votes, but, if it were necessary, even by your hands. Unless, perchance, the religious consecration of it by that chastest of pontiffs deters any one.
O that action, which careless men will never cease to laugh at, but which graver citizens cannot hear of without the greates, indignation; has Publius Clodius, who removed religion even out of the house of the Pontifex Maximus,1 introduced it into mine? Do you, you who are the ministers of the religious ceremonies and sacrifices, admit this man to be an originator and regulator of public religion? O ye immortal gods! (for I wish you to hear these things), does Publius Clodius have the management of your sacred rites? Does he feel a reverent awe of your divine power? Is he a man who thinks that all human affairs are regulated by your providence? Is he not mocking the authority of all those eminent men who are here present? Is he not abusing your authority, O priests? Can any expression of religion escape or fall from that mouth? of religion, which with that same mouth you have most foully and shamefully violated, by accusing the senate of passing severe degrees about religion.
XL. Behold, behold, O priests, this religious man, and if it seems good to you, (and it is only the duty of virtuous priests,) warn him that there are some fixed limits to religion; that a man ought not to be too superstitious. Why was it necessary for you, O fanatical man, with an old woman’s superstition, to go to see a sacred ceremony which was being performed at another person’s house? And how was it that you were possessed with such weakness of mind as to think it not possible for the gods to be sufficiently propitiated, unless you intruded yourself into the religious ceremonies of women? Whom of your ancestors did you ever hear of, of those men who were attentive to their private religious duties, and who presided over the public priesthoods, who were present when a sacrifice was being offered to the Bona Dea? No one; not even that great man who became blind: from which it may be easily seen that in this life men form many erroneous opinions; when he, who had not knowingly seen anything which it was impious to see, lost his eye-sight; but in the case of that fellow, who has polluted the ceremonies, not only by his presence, but also by his incestuous guilt and adultery, all the punishment due to his eyes has fallen on the blindness of his mind. Can you, O priests, avoid being influenced by the authority of this man, so chaste, so religious, so holy, so pious a man, when he says that he, with his own hands, pulled down the house of a most virtuous citizen, and with the same hands consecrated it to the gods?
What was that consecration of yours? “I had carried a bill,” says he, “to make it lawful for me to act.” What? had you not inserted this clause in it, that if there was anything contrary to what was right in the bill, it should be invalid? Will you then, O priests, by your decision, establish the point that it is right that the home of every one of you, and your altars, and your hearths, and your household gods, should be at the mercy of the caprice of the tribunes? that it is right for any one, not only to throw down the house of that man whom he may have chosen to attack with a body of excited men, and may have driven away by violence,—which is an act of present insanity, like the effect of a sudden terror,—but for him to bind that man and property for all future time by the everlasting obligation of religion?
XLI. I indeed, O priests, have always understood that in undertaking religious obligations the main thing is to interpret what the intention of the immortal gods appears to be. Nor is piety towards the gods anything but an honourable opinion of their divine power and intentions, while you suppose that nothing is required by them which is unjust or dishonourable. That disgrace to the city could not find one single man, not even when he had everything in his power, to whom he could adjudge, or deliver, or make a present of my house; though he himself was inflamed with a great desire for that spot and for the house, and though, on that account alone, that excellent man had brought in that exceedingly just bill of his to make himself master of my property, yet even in the height of his madness he did not dare to take possession of my house, with the desire of which he had been so excited. Do you think that the immortal gods were willing to remove into the house of that man to whose labour and prudence it was owing that they still retained possession of their own temples, dismantled and ruined as it was by the nefarious robbery of a most worthless man? There is not one citizen in this numerous people, out of that polluted and blood-thirsty band of Publius Clodius, who laid hands on a single article of my property, or who did not in that storm defend it as if it had been his own. But they who caught the infection and polluted themselves with any partnership in the plunder, or in the purchase of anything, were not able to escape every sort of condemnation, whether public or private. Of this property then, of which no one touched a single thing without being accounted in every one’s opinion one of the wickedest of men, did the immortal gods covet my house? Did that beautiful Liberty of yours turn out my household gods and the family divinities of my hearth, in order to be established there herself by you, as if in a conquered country? What is there more holy, what is there more carefully fenced round with every description of religious respect, than the house of every individual citizen? Here are his altars, here are his hearths, here are his household gods: here all his sacred rites, all his religious ceremonies are preserved. This is the asylum of every one, so holy a spot that it is impious to drag any one from it.
XLII. And on this account that man’s madness is the more to be rejected by your ears; who has not only attacked in a manner contrary to all religion those things which our ancestors intended to be safe and hallowed among us, as guarded by the sanction of religion, but has even made use of the name of religion to overturn them.
And what goddess is she whom you have established there? She ought indeed to be the good goddess; since she has been consecrated by you. “She is Liberty,” says he. Have you then established her in my house whom you have driven out of the whole city? Did you, after you had denied that your colleagues,—men invested with the highest power,—were free; after you had closed all access to the temple of Castor against every one; after you had ordered in the hearing of the Roman people, this most illustrious man, of a most noble family, who has received the greatest honours from the Roman people, a priest, and a man of consular rank, a citizen of singular gentleness and modesty of character, (a man of whom I cannot sufficiently wonder how you can dare to look him in the face,) to be kicked and trampled on by your attendants; after you had driven him out of the city without being condemned, having proposed a most tyrannical privilegium against him; after you had confined the first man in the whole earth to his house; after you had occupied the forum with armed bands of profligate men;—did you then place the image of Liberty in that house, which was of itself a proof of your most cruel tyranny and of the miserable slavery of the Roman people? Was he the man whom Liberty ought, of all men in the world, to have driven from his house, whose existence was the only thing that prevented the whole city from coming under the power of slaves?
XLIII. But from whence was that Liberty brought? for I sought for her diligently. She is said to have been a prostitute at Tanagra. At no great distance from Tanagra a marble image of her was placed on her tomb. A certain man of noble birth, not altogether unconnected with this holy priest of Liberty, carried off this statue to decorate his ædileship. He had in truth cherished the idea of surpassing all his predecessors in the splendour of his appointments. Therefore he brought away to his own house, like a prudent man as he was, all the statues and pictures, all the decorations of any sort, that remained in the temples and public places, out of all Greece and out of all the islands, for the sake of doing honour to the Roman people. After he understood that he might give up the ædileship, and still be appointed prætor by Lucius Piso the consul, provided he had any competitor whose name began with the same1 letter as his own, he stowed away what he had prepared for his ædileship in two places, partly in his strong-box, and partly in his gardens. He gave the statue which he had taken from the prostitute’s tomb to that fellow, because it was much more suited to such people as he is than to Public Liberty. Can any one dare to profane this goddess, the statue of a harlot, the ornament of a tomb, carried off by a thief, and consecrated by a sacrilegious infidel? Is it she who is to drive me from my house? Is she the avenger of this afflicted city? Is she to be adorned with the spoils of the republic? Is she to be a part of that monument which has been erected so as to be a token of the oppression of the senate, and to keep alive for ever the recollection of this man’s infamy?
O Quintus Catulus! (Shall I appeal rather to the father, or to the son? The memory of the son is fresher, and more closely connected with my exploits.) How greatly were you mistaken when you thought that I should find the greatest possible reward—a reward, too, becoming every day greater—in this republic! when you said that it was impossible for there to be at the same time in this city two consuls hostile to the republic. Two have been found who gave over the senate bound hand and foot to a frantic tribune; who, by edicts and positive commands, prohibited the conscript fathers from entreating the people and coming to it as suppliants on my behalf; who looked on while my house was being sacked and plundered; who ordered the damaged relics of my property to be carried off to their own houses.
I come now to the father. You, O Quintus Catulus, chose the house of Marcus Fulvius, though he was the father-in-law of your own brother, to be the monument of your victories, in order that every recollection of that man who had embraced designs destructive of the republic should be entirely removed from the eyes and eradicated from the minds of men. If, when you were building that portico, any one had said to you that the time would come when that tribune of the people, who had despised the authority of the senate and the opinion of all virtuous men, should injure and overthrow your monument, while the consuls were not looking on only, but even assisting in the work, and should join it to the house of that citizen who as consul had defended the republic in obedience to the authority of the senate; would you not have answered that that could not possibly happen, unless the republic itself was previously overthrown?
XLIV. But remark the intolerable audacity of the man, and at the same time his headlong and unbridled covetousness. That fellow never thought of any monument, or any religion; he wished to dwell splendidly and magnificently, and to unite two large and noble houses. At the same moment that my departure deprived him of all pretence for bloodshed, he was begging Quintus Seius to sell him his house; and when he refused to do so, he threatened that he would block up all his lights. Postumus declared that as long as he was alive that house should never belong to Clodius. That acute young man took the hint from his own mouth, as to what was best for him to do; and in the most open manner he took the man off by poison. He bought the house, after wearying out all the other bidders, for almost half as much again as he thought it really worth. What is my object in making this statement. That house of mine is almost entirely empty; scarcely one-tenth part of my house has been added to Catulus’s portico. The pretence was a promenade, and a monument, and that Tanagræan lady Liberty, (all Roman liberty having been entirely put down). He had set his heart upon a portico with private chambers, paved to the distance of three hundred feet, with a fine court surrounded by a colonnade, on the Palatine Hill, commanding a superb view, and everything else in character, so as far to surpass all other houses in luxury and splendour. And that scrupulous man, while be was both buying and selling my house at the same moment, still, even in a time of such darkness as that, did not venture to give in his own name as the purchaser. He put up that fellow Scato, a man whose virtue it was, no doubt, that had made him poor; so poor that among the Marsi, where he was born, he had no house in which he could take refuge from the rain; and yet he said now that he had purchased the finest house on the Palatine Hill. The lower part of the house he assigned not to his own Fonteian family, but to the Clodian family which he had quitted; but of all the numerous family of Clodius, no one applied for any share in his liberality except those who were utterly destitute from indigence and wickedness.
XLV. Will you, O priests, sanction this universal and unprecedented tyranny of every sort, this impudence and audacity and covetousness? “Oh,” says he, “a priest was present.” Are you not ashamed, when the matter is being discussed before the priests, to say that a priest was present, not the college of priests? especially when, as tribune of the people, you had power to summon them and even to compel their attendance. Be it so. You did not call in the whole college. Well. Which of the college was it who was present? For he had vested that authority in one individual which belongs to all of them; however, the age and rank of the man invest him with additional dignity. There was need also of knowledge; and although they were all of them learned men, still no doubt age gives them still more experience. Who then was it who was present? “The brother,” says he, “of my wife.” If we ask what was his authority, although he is of such an age that he cannot as yet have much, still even such authority as a young man can have is to be considered as diminished in his case, by reason of his near connexion with and relationship to you. But if we ask what knowledge he has, who could have less than he who had only come into the college a few days before? And he was the more bound to you by your recent kindness to him, inasmuch as he had seen himself, the brother of your wife, preferred by you to your own brother. Although in that matter you took care that your brother should not be able to accuse you.
Do you then call that a dedication, to which you were not able to invite the college of pontiffs, or any single priest distinguished by honours conferred on him by the Roman people; nor even any other young man, though you had some most intimate friends in the college? He only was present, if indeed he was present, whom you yourself instigated, whom his sister entreated, and whom his mother compelled to be so.
Take care now, O priests, what decision you give in this cause of mine, concerning the fortunes of all the citizens. Do you think that the house of every single citizen can be consecrated by the word of a priest, if he takes hold of a door-post and says something or other? But those dedications, and those religious ceremonies respecting temples and shrines, were instituted by our ancestors to do honour to the immortal gods, without inflicting any misfortune on their fellow-citizens. A tribune of the people has been found, who, assisted by the forces of the consuls, has rushed with all the violence of insanity on that citizen, whom, after he had been beaten down, the republic itself raised up again with its own hands.
XLVI. What next? Suppose any one like that fellow,—for there will not be wanting men who will be willing to imitate him,—should by violence oppress some one who does not resemble me, to whom the republic does not owe as much as it does to me, and should dedicate his house by the agency of one priest; will you determine by your authority that a deed done in that manner ought to stand? Will you say, “What priest will such a man be able to find?” What? Cannot a tribune of the people be himself a priest also at the same time? Marcus Drusus, that most illustrious tribune of the people, was a priest also. Therefore, if he had taken hold of a door-post of the house of Quintus Cæpio his enemy, and had uttered a few words, would the house of Cæpio have been dedicated to the gods? I say nothing here about the privileges of the priesthood, nor about the language of the dedication itself; I say nothing about religion, or religious ceremonies; I do not deny that I am ignorant of those matters, of which I should conceal my knowledge, even if I were acquainted with them, that I might not appear troublesome to others, and over curious to you; although many particulars of your usages do escape, and often reach the ears of the laity. I think, for instance, that I have heard that at the dedication of a temple, a door-post must be taken hold of. For the door-post is there where the entrance to the temple and its folding-doors are. But no one ever took hold of the posts of a promenade in dedicating that; but if you have dedicated a statue or an altar, that cannot be moved from its place afterwards without impiety. But you will not be able now to allege this, since you have said that the priest did lay hands on the post.
Although, why do I say anything about the dedication? or why do I discuss your right and the religious features of the case, contrary to my original intention?
XLVII. But, even if I were to allow that everything had been done with the regular forms of expression, according to ancient and established usages, I should still defend myself by the common law of the republic. When, after the departure of that citizen, to whose single exertions the senate and all good men had so often decided that the safety of the state was owing, you, with the aid of two most wicked consuls, were keeping down the republic which was groaning under the oppression of your most shameful robberies; when you had dedicated, with the countenance of some obscure priest, the house of that man who was unwilling that the country which had been preserved by him should perish on any pretence connected with him; could the republic when it had recovered itself endure that? Once, O priests, gave an opening for such religious acts as this, and you will very soon find no escape at all for any one’s property. If a priest has laid his hand on a door-post, and has transferred expressions intended for the honour of the immortal gods to the injury of the citizens, will the holy name of religion avail to procure the ratification of such an injury, and yet will it not avail if a tribune of the people consecrates the goods of any citizen with a form of words no less ancient and almost equally solemn? But Caius Atinius, within the recollection of our fathers, consecrated the property of Quintus Metellus, who, as censor, had expelled him from the senate; (your grandfather, O Quintus Metellus, and yours, O Publius Servilius, and your great-grandfather, O Publius Scipio;) placing a little brazier on the rostra and summoning a flute-player to assist him. What then? Did that frenzy of a tribune of the people, derived from some precedents of extreme antiquity, do any injury to Quintus Metellus, that great and most illustrious man? Certainly not. We have seen a tribune of the people do the same thing to Cnæus Lentulus the censor. Did he then at all bind the property of Lentulus to any peculiar sanctity?
But why should I speak of other men? You yourself, I say, with your head veiled, having summoned an assembly, having placed a brazier on the spot, consecrated the property of your dear friend Gabinius, to whom you had given all the kingdoms of the Syrians, and Arabians, and Persians. But if nothing was really effected at that time, why should my property be affected by the same measures? If, on the other hand, that consecration was valid, why did that abyss of a man, who had swallowed up with you all the blood of the republic, raise a villa as high as the heavens on my Tusculan estate, out of the funds of the public treasury? And why have I not been allowed to look upon the ruins of my property,—I, who am the only person who prevented the whole city from being in a similar condition?
XLVIII. I say nothing about Gabinius. Why? Did not Lucius Munius,1 the most fearless and most excellent of all men, consecrate your property by your own precedent? And if, because you yourself are concerned, you say that that action ought not to be ratified, did you in that splendid tribuneship of yours establish laws which, the moment that they were turned against yourself, you repudiated, though you made use of them to ruin other people? If that consecration be legal, then what is there in your property which can be applied to other than holy uses? Or has a consecration no power, while a dedication draws with it the sanctions of religion? What then was the meaning of your summoning that flute-player to be a witness? What was the object of your brazier? What became of your prayers? What was the meaning of all your old-fashioned expressions? Did you wish to lie, to deceive, to abuse the divine reverence due to the immortal gods, in order to strike terror into men? For if that act is once ratified,—I say nothing about Gabinius,—most certainly your house and whatever else you have is consecrated to Ceres. But if that was a joke of yours, what can be more impure than you who have polluted every sort of religion by lies and adulteries? “Well, I confess,” says he, “that in the case of Gabinius I did behave wickedly.” You see now that the punishment which was established by you with reference to another has been turned against yourself. But, O man, O you who are the very model of every possible crime and wickedness, do you deny with respect to me that which you admit in the case of Gabinius,—a man the immodesty of whose childhood, the lust of whose youth, the disgrace and indigence of whose subsequent life, the open robberies of whose consulship, we have seen,—a man to whom even calamity itself could not happen undeservedly? And do you say that that was a more solemn act which you performed with one young man alone for your witness, than it would have been if you had had the whole assembly in that character? “Oh,” says he, “a dedication is an act which carries the greatest possible quantity of sanctity with it.”
XLIX. Does not Numa Pompilius appear to be speaking to you? Learn his speech by heart, O priests, and flamens. Do you too, O king of the sacrifices, learn of the man of your own family: although, indeed, he has quitted that family; but still learn from a man entirely devoted to religious observances, and just, and deeply skilled in all questions of religion. What? in the case of a dedication do not people inquire who says such and such a thing, and what he says, and how? Do you so confuse and mix up these matters, that whoever chooses can dedicate whatever he chooses, and in whatever manner he chooses? Who were you who performed the dedication? By what right did you do so? By what law? According to what precedent? By what power? When and where had the Roman people appointed you to manage that business? For I see that there is an old tribunitian law, which forbids any one to consecrate any house, land, or altar, without the order of the Roman people. Quintus Papirius, who proposed this law, did not perceive nor suspect that there would be danger lest hereafter the houses or possessions of citizens who had not been condemned might be consecrated. For that could not lawfully be done; nor had any one ever done such a thing; nor was there any reason why a prohibition should be issued, the effect of which appeared likely to be not so much to deter people from an action as to remind them of it. But because buildings were consecrated,—I do not mean the houses of private persons, but those which are called sacred buildings,—and because lands were consecrated, not in such a way that any one who chose might consecrate our farms, but that a general might consecrate lands taken from the enemy; and because altars were erected, which carried with them a degree of sanctity to the place in which they were consecrated; he forbade all these things to be done unless the people ordered them. And if your interpretation of these edicts be that they were framed with reference to our houses and lands, I make no objection. But I ask, what law was passed that you should consecrate my house? where this power was given to you? and by what right you did it? And I am not now arguing about religion, but about the property of all of us; nor about the sacerdotal law, but about the common law.
L. The Papirian law forbids any building to be consecrated without the command of the people. Grant that that law refers to our houses, and not to the public temples. Show me one word of consecration in that law of yours—if it is a law, and not merely an expression of your wickedness and cruelty. But if, then, at the time of that shipwreck of the republic, everything necessary had occurred to you, or if the man who drew that law for you at the time of that general conflagration of the state had not been making contracts with the Byzantine exiles and with the royal ambassadors, but had his mind at leisure to attend to (what I will not call the ordinances, but) the monstrous papers which he was drawing, then you would have done what you wanted, if not in fact, at all events as far as regular legal language went. But at one and the same time bonds for money were being drawn, treaties with provinces were being entered into, titles of kings were being put up for sale, the numbering of all the slaves was going on over the whole city street by street, enemies were being reconciled, new commands were being given to the Roman youth, poison was being prepared for that unhappy Quintus Seius, designs were being formed for assassinating Cnæus Pompeius, the bulwark and protector of the empire, and to prevent the senate from having any power, and to cause the good to mourn for ever, and to reduce the captive republic, by the treachery of the consuls, to a state of subjection to the violence of the tribunes. When such numerous and such important designs were all on foot, it is no wonder, especially while you were both in such a state of frenzy and blindness, that many things escaped both his notice and yours.
But take notice now, what the effect of this Papirian law is in such a case as this; not such a case as you bring forward, full of wickedness and frenzy. Quintus Marcius the censor had made a statue of Concord, and had erected it in a public place. When Caius Cassius the censor had transported it into the senate-house, he consulted your college, and asked whether there was any reason why he should not dedicate that statue and the senate-house to Concord.
LI. I beseech you, O priests, compare man with man, the one time with the other, this case with that case. The one man was a censor of the greatest moderation and of the highest character; the other was a tribune of the people, of preeminent wickedness and audacity. That period was one of tranquillity, when the people enjoyed a full measure of liberty, and the senate all its legitimate authority; but your time was a time when the liberty of the Roman people was oppressed, and when the authority of the senate was destroyed. The proposed measure was one full of justice, wisdom, and dignity. For the censor, to whose power (though you have abolished that) our ancestors chose to commit the decision respecting the dignity of each member of the senate, wished the statue of Concord to be in the senate-house, and wished also to dedicate the senate-house to that goddess. It was a noble intention, and one worthy of all praise. For he thought that by that measure he was enjoining that opinions should be delivered without party spirit or dissension, if he bound the place itself and the temple of public counsel by the religious reverence due to the goddess Concord. You, when you were keeping down the enslaved and oppressed city by the sword, by fear, by edicts, by privileges, by bands of abandoned men constantly present, and by the fear of the army which was absent, and by threats of bringing it up, and by the assistance of the consuls, and by your nefarious agreement with them, erected a statue of Liberty in a mocking and shameless spirit, rather than with even any pretence to religion. He was dedicating a thing in the senate-house, which he was able to dedicate without any inconvenience to any one. You have erected an image not of public Liberty, but of licentiousness, on what I may call the blood and bones of that citizen who of all others has deserved best of the republic. And moreover he referred his design to the sacred college: to whom did you refer yours? If you deliberated at all, if you had anything which you wished to expiate, or any domestic sacrifice which you desired to institute, still according to the ancient practice of other men you should have referred the matter to the priests. When you were beginning a new temple in the most beautiful spot in the city, with some wicked and unheard of object, did you not think that you ought to refer the matter to the public priests? But if you did not think it desirable to consult the whole college of priests, was there no single one of them who seemed to you a suitable man (of those who are eminent among all the citizens for age and honour and authority) for you to communicate your intention about the dedication to him? The truth was, not that you despised, but that you were afraid of their dignity.
LII. Could you have dared to ask Publius Servilius or Marcus Lucullus, (men by the assistance of whose wisdom and authority I as consul snatched the republic out of your hands, out of your jaws,) with what words or with what ceremony you could consecrate the house of a citizen? (that is my first point;) and in the next place, of that citizen, to whom the chief of the senate, to whom all ranks of men, to whom all Italy, to whom every nation upon earth, bore testimony that he had saved this city and empire? What would you say, O you most wicked and mischievous disgrace to the city? “Come forward, come forward, Lucullus, Servilius, while I dedicate the house of Cicero. Come, stand before me, and take hold of the door-post.” You are, in truth, a man of extraordinary audacity and impudence, but still your eyes, and countenance, and voice would have failed you while those men who, by their dignity, upheld the character of the Roman people and the authority of the empire, were striking terror into you by their dignified language, and saying that it would be impious for them to be present at your frantic deeds, and at such wicked and parricidal attacks on the country. And when you saw this, then you betook yourself to your kinsman,—not that he was selected by you, but that he was left you by the rest. And yet I believe that he,—if he is really descended from those men who, it is traditionally reported, learnt their sacred ceremonies from Hercules himself, after he had completed his labours,—would not have been so cruel with respect to the distress of a brave man, as with his own hands to place a tomb on the head of a man still living and breathing; as he either actually said and did nothing at all, and bore this as a punishment for the rashness of his mother, that he lent his presence though mute, and his name to this sin; or, if he did say anything in a few faltering words, and if he did touch the door-post with trembling hand, at all events he did nothing regularly or solemnly, nothing according to proper usages or established forms. He had seen Murena, his stepfather, the consul elect, in company with the Allobroges, bring to me when I was consul the proofs of the conspiracy for the general destruction. He had heard from him that he had twice received safety from me, once as an individual, and a second time in common with the whole body of citizens. Who is there, then, who can think that this new priest, performing this his first religious ceremony, and uttering these his first official words since his admission to the priesthood, would not have felt his tongue grow mute, and his hand grow torpid, and his mind become weakened and fail through fear; especially when out of all that numerous college he saw neither king, nor flamen, nor priest, and was compelled against his will to become a partner in another’s wickedness, and was enduring the most terrible punishment of his most disgraceful relationship?
LIII. But to return to the question of the vindication of the public rights, which the priests themselves have always adapted not only to their own ceremonies, but also to the commands of the people. You have a statement in your records, that Caius Cassius the censor consulted the pontifical college about dedicating the statue of Concord, and that Marcus Æmilius, the Pontifex Maximus, answered him on behalf of the college, that, unless the Roman people had appointed him by name to superintend that business, it did not appear to them that the statue could properly be consecrated. What more? When Licinia,—a vestal virgin, a woman of the highest rank, and invested with the most holy of all priesthoods,—in the consulship of Titus Flamininus and Quintus Metellus, had dedicated an altar, and a little chapel, and a cushion at the foot of the sacred rock; did not Sextus Julius the prætor refer that matter to this college, in obedience to the authority of the senate? when Publius Scævola, the Pontifex Maximus, answered on behalf of the college, “that what Licinia, the daughter of Caius, had dedicated in a public place without the authority of the people, did not appear to be holy.” And with what impartiality and with what diligence the senate annulled that act, you will easily see from the words of the resolution of the senate. Read the resolution of the senate.
[The resolution of the senate is read.]
Do not you see that a commission is given to the prætor of the city, to take care that that which she had consecrated should not be accounted holy? and that, if any letters had been engraved or inscribed upon it, they should be removed? Shame on the times, and on their principles! Then the priests forbade the censor, a most holy man, to dedicate a statue to Concord in a temple which had not been duly consecrated. And after that the senate voted that that altar which had been consecrated on a most venerable spot, should be taken down in obedience to the authority of the priests, and did not permit any memorial of writing to exist as a relic of that dedication. You, O storm ravaging your country,—you whirlwind and tempest, dispelling peace and tranquillity,—did you hope that the republic would endure what you (in the shipwreck of the state, when darkness was spread over the republic, when the Roman people was overwhelmed, when the senate was overturned and expelled,) pulled down and built up? what you, after having violated every feeling of religion, still polluted under the name of religion? that it would endure the monument of the destruction of the republic which you erected in the house of this citizen who is now speaking, and in the city which he had preserved by his own exertions and dangers, to the disgrace of the knights and the grief of all virtuous men; that it would endure the inscription which you had placed there after having erased the name of Quintus Catulus, one moment longer than the time that it was absent from these walls, from which it had been driven at the same time that I myself was?
But if, O priests, you decide that no man who had a right to do so by law performed this dedication, and that nothing was dedicated which lawfully might be; then why need I prove that third point which I originally proposed to establish; namely, that he did not dedicate it with those forms and words which such ceremonies require?
LIV. I said at the beginning, that I was not going to say anything about your peculiar science; nor about the sacrifices, nor about the recondite laws of the priests. The arguments which I have hitherto advanced about the right of dedication, have not been drawn from any secret description of books, but are taken from common sources, from things openly done by the magistrates and referred to the sacred college, from resolutions of the senate, and from the law. Those inner mysteries, what ought to be said, or enjoined, or touched, or taken hold of, are still your own. But if it were proved that all these things had been done in a manner equal to the knowledge of Coruncanius, who is said to have been the most experienced of priests; or if that great man Marcus Horatius Pulvillus, who, when many men out of envy endeavoured to hinder his dedication by false pretences about religion, resisted them, and with the greatest firmness dedicated the Capitol, had himself presided at such a dedication as this, still I say that accuracy of religious observance would not hallow a wicked act; much less can that act have any validity which an unskilful young man, a new priest, influenced by the prayers of his sister and the threats of his mother, ignorant and unwilling, without colleagues, without books, without any adviser or assistant,1 is said to have performed by stealth, with trembling heart and faltering tongue; especially when that impure and impious enemy of all religion, who in defiance of all that is right or holy had often been as a woman among men, and a man among women, completed the business in so hurried and disorderly a manner, that neither his senses, nor his voice, nor his language, had any consistency in them.
LV. It was then reported to you, O priests, and after that it became a common topic of conversation, how he, with preposterous language, with ill-omened auspices, at times interrupting himself, doubting, fearing, hesitating, pronounced and did everything in a manner wholly different from that which you have recorded as proper in your books. It is, indeed, not very strange that, in doing an act of such wickedness and such insanity, even his audacity could not wholly repress his fear. In truth, if no robber was ever so savage and inhuman, as, when he had plundered temples, and then, having been excited by dreams or some superstitious feelings, consecrated some altar on a desert shore, not to shudder in his mind when compelled to propitiate with his prayers the deity whom he has insulted by his wickedness; what do you suppose must have been the agitation of mind of that plunderer of every temple, and of every house, and of the whole city, when he was consecrating one single altar to avert the vengeance due to his numberless acts of wickedness? He could not possibly (although the insolence of power had elated his mind, and although he was armed by nature with incredible audacity) fail to blunder in his proceedings, or to keep constantly making mistakes, especially when he had a priest and teacher who was compelled to teach before he had learnt himself. There is great power, not only in the divinity of the immortal gods, but also in the republic itself. When the immortal gods saw the guardian and protector of their temples driven away in a most wicked manner, they were unwilling to quit their temples and to remove into his house. Therefore they alarmed the mind of that most insensible man with fear and anxiety. But the republic, although that was banished at the same time with myself, was still constantly present to the eyes of its destroyer, and from his excited and kindled frenzy was constantly demanding my restoration and its own. What marvel then is it, if he, urged on by the insanity of fear and drawn on headlong by wickedness, was neither able properly to perform the ceremonies which he had begun, nor to utter one single word in due order with proper solemnity?
LVI. And as this is the case, O priests, recal now your attention from this subtle argument of ours to the general state and interests of the republic, which you have before now had many gallant men to assist you in supporting, but which in this cause you are upholding on your own shoulders alone. To you the whole future authority of the senate, which you yourselves always led in a most admirable manner during the discussion of my case; to you that most glorious agitation of Italy, and that thronging hither of all the municipal towns; to you the Campus Martius, and the unanimous voice of all the centuries, of which you were the chiefs and leaders; to you every company in the city, every rank of men, all men who have any property or any hopes, think that all their zeal for my dignity, all their decisions in my favour, are not only entrusted, but put wholly under your protection. Lastly, the immortal gods themselves, who protect this city and empire, appear to me to have claimed the credit of my return, and of the happiness which it has diffused, as due to the power and judicial sentence of their priests, in order to make it evident to all nations and to all posterity that I had been restored to the republic by divine agency. For this return of mine, O priests, and this restoration, consists in recovering my house, my possessions, my altars, my hearths, and my household gods. And if that fellow with his most wicked hands tears up their dwellings and abodes, and, with the consuls for his leaders, as if the city were taken, has thought it becoming to destroy this house alone, as if it were the house of its most active defender, still those household gods, those deities of my family, will be by you replaced in my house at the same time as myself.
LVII. Wherefore, O I pray and entreat thee, O thou great God of the Capitol, thee whom the Roman people hath styled, on account of thy kindnesses to us, All Good, and, on account of thy might, All Powerful; and thee, O royal Juno; and thee, O guardian of the city, O Minerva, thee who hast at all times been my assistant in my counsels, and the witness of my exertions; and ye too, ye who above all others have claimed me back and recalled me, ye, for the sake of whose habitations most especially it is that I am engaged in this contest, O ye household gods of my fathers, and of my family; and ye too, who preside over this city and this republic, ye do I entreat, ye from whose spires and temples I once repelled that fatal and impious flame; thee too do I supplicate, O Vesta, whose chaste priestesses I have defended from the rage and frenzy and wickedness of men, whose renowned and eternal fire I would not suffer either to be extinguished in the blood of the citizens, or to be confused with the conflagration of the whole city; I entreat you all, that,—if at that almost fatal crisis of the republic I exposed my life, in defence of your ceremonies and temples, to the rage and arms of abandoned citizens; and if, at a subsequent time, when the destruction of all good men was aimed at through my ruin, I invoked your aid, I recommended myself and my family to your protection, I devoted myself and my life, on condition that if, both at that moment, and previously, and in my consulship, disregarding all my own advantage, all my own interests, and all reward for my exertions, I strove with all my anxiety and thoughts and vigilance for nothing but the safety of my fellow-citizens, I might be allowed some day or other to enjoy my country restored to me; but if my counsels had been of no service to my country, then, that I might endure everlasting misery, separated from all my friends;—I may be allowed to think this devotion of my life accepted and approved by the gods, when I am by your favour restored to my home. For at present, O priests, I am not only deprived of my house, which you are at present inquiring into, but of the whole city, to which I appear to be restored. In the most frequented and finest part of the city, look to that (I will not say monument, but) wound of the country. And as you must see that that sight is to me one which is more to be detested and avoided than death itself, do not, I entreat you, allow that man by whose return you have thought that the republic too would be restored, to be deprived not only of the ornaments suited to his dignity, but even of his part in the city.
LVIII. I am not moved by the plundering of my property, nor by the razing of my houses, nor by the devastation of my farms, nor by the booty most cruelly taken by the consuls out of my possessions. I have always considered these as perishable and fleeting gifts of fortune and of the times, and not as proofs of virtue or genius; and they are things, too, of which I have never thought it becoming to wish for plenty and abundance, so much as for moderation in enjoying them, and patience if deprived of them. In truth, the moderate amount of my family property very nearly corresponds to my necessities; and I shall leave a sufficiently ample patrimony to my children in the name and memory of their father. But I cannot without great discredit to the republic, and great shame and misery to myself, continue deprived of my house, which has been taken from me by wickedness, and, under pretence of religion, built up again with even more impiety than it was pulled down.
Wherefore, if you consider that my return is pleasing and acceptable to the immortal gods, to the senate, to the Roman people, to all Italy, to the provinces, to foreign nations, and to yourselves, who have always taken the lead in and exercised a principal influence over all measures connected with my safety, I beg and entreat you, O priests, now, since it is the will of the senate that you should do so, to place me, whom you have restored by your authority and zeal and votes to my country, with your own hands in my house.
[1 ]Gabinius is meant here; but Grævius thinks that there is a good deal of corruption in this passage.
[1 ]When the number of pontifices was increased to eight, it was provided that one half of that number should always be plebeians. See Livy, x. 6.
[2 ]When the civil and military powers of the king were transferred to the two consuls, these magistrates were not invested with that part of the royal dignity by virtue of which he had been the high-priest of his nation; but this priestly part of his office was transferred to a priest called rex sacrificulus, or rex sacrorum. He was always elected and inaugurated in the comitia calata, under the presidency of the pontiffs, and was always a patrician, for as he had no influence upon the management of political affairs, the plebeians never coveted this dignity.
[3 ]Flamen was the name for any priest who was devoted to the service of one particular god.
[4 ]The Salii were the priests of Mars Gradivus, and were said to have been instituted by Numa. They were twelve in number, chosen from the patricians only, even down to the very latest times.
[5 ]An interrex was an officer first appointed on the death of Romulus. Under the republic interreges were appointed for holding the comitia for the election of consuls, when the consuls, through civil commotions or other causes, had been unable to do so during their year of office. Each interrex held the office for only five days. Plebeians were not admissible to this office; and consequently after plebeians were admitted into the senate, the patrician senators met without the plebeian members to elect an interrex.
[1 ]A Lex curiata was a law passed by the comitia curiata. And these comitia were held (among other causes) for the purpose of carrying into effect the form of adoption called arrogatio. When the question to be proposed had relation to sacred things, the pontifices presided in them.
[1 ]When a law comprised very various provisions relating to matters essentially different, it was called Lex satura, and the Lex Cæcilia Didia forbade the proposing of a Lex satura, on the ground that the people might be compelled either to vote for something which they did not approve, or to reject something which they did approve, if it was proposed to them in this manner. Vide Smith, Dict. Ant. pp. 559, 561, v. Lex.
[1 ]The Latin is “trinum nundinum prodictâ die.” Nundina, the ninth day inclusive; this was the Roman market day; because every ninth day the country people came to Rome to transact business . . . . three such nundinæ formed a trinum nundinum, or trinundinum, i. e. a space of seventeen days. Every bill was posted up during three nundinæ, that all persons might read it.”—Riddle, Lat. Dict. in v. Nundinus.
[1 ]He refers here to Vatinius, who had lately been an unsuccessful candidate for the ædileship.
[2 ]The Palatine tribe was composed of artisans and needy citizens, of whose aid Clodius availed himself largely in creating disturbances.
[1 ]Because a lex, properly so called, was only passed in the comitia centuriata, not in the senate. Vide Smith, Dict. Ant. v. Lex.
[1 ]The Latin is pagani aut montani, and whether it refers to portions of the city, or to people in the suburban districts, Grævius professes himself quite ignorant, saying that this is the only mention of such classes. Riddle translates it (v. paganus) “countrymen and mountaineers.” Yet the next words, plebei urbanæ, seem to show that they refer to some division of the citizens of the city itself.
[1 ]Vitruvius Vaccus (as Livy calls him) was the leader of the Fundani in the war between Rome and Privernum. He was taken prisoner in Privernum, and put to death. See Livy, lib. viii. c. 19, 20.
[1 ]The Pontifex Maximus was Julius Cæsar; and it was in his house that the mysteries of the Bona Dea were being celebrated when Clodius got access to it. On which account Cæsar divorced his wife Pompeia.
[1 ]In voting at the election of magistrates, the ballot tickets given to the voters were only marked with the initial of each candidate’s name.
[1 ]Some editions read Mummius.
[1 ]“The Latin word is fictor, and the fictores were among the regular attendants of the priests; their office appears to have been, when there was a scarcity of victims, or when the worshippers could not afford living animals, to make sham figures in flour and paste, or wax: they also made the cakes which were offered.”—Grævius.