Front Page Titles (by Subject) THE SPEECH OF M. T. CICERO IN DEFENCE OF CNÆUS PLANCIUS. - Orations vol. 3: Containing the Orations for his House, Plancius, Sextius, Coelius, Milo, Ligarius, etc.
Return to Title Page for Orations vol. 3: Containing the Orations for his House, Plancius, Sextius, Coelius, Milo, Ligarius, etc.
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
THE SPEECH OF M. T. CICERO IN DEFENCE OF CNÆUS PLANCIUS. - 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.
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The text is in the public domain.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
THE SPEECH OF M. T. CICERO IN DEFENCE OF CNÆUS PLANCIUS.
Cnæus Plancius had been quæstor in Macedonia when Cicero fled thither from Rome, and had been at that time of the greatest assistance to him. He had now been chosen ædile, but was accused by a disappointed candidate, Marcus Laterensis, of bribery and corruption; and Cicero (though there had been a good deal of coldness between them of late, as Plancius, when tribune of the people, had very much altered towards him, and shown an inclination to take the part of his adversaries) defended him in the following speech.
The speech appears to have been spoken in the year a. u. c. 699. Plancius was acquitted.
I.When, O judges, I saw that, on account of the eminent and singular good faith of Cnæus Plancius, shown in taking care of my safety, so many excellent men were favourers of his cause, I felt no ordinary pleasure, because I saw that the recollection of what happened at the time of my necessities was pleading for him whose kindness had been my preservation. But when I heard that men, some of whom were my enemies, and others of whom were envious of me, favoured this accusation, and that the very same thing was now adverse to the interests of Cnæus Plancius in this trial, which had been advantageous to him in his canvass, I was grieved, O judges, and was very indignant at the idea of his safety being endangered for the sole reason that he by his benevolence, and energy, and vigilance had protected my safety and my life. But now, O judges, the sight of you, and the fact of such men as you being the judges, strengthens and refreshes my mind, when I look upon and behold each individual of you; for in all this number I see no one to whom my safety has not been dear, no one who has not acted with the greatest kindness towards me, no one to whom I am not under eternal obligations from the recollection of their services. Therefore I do not fear that the care shown by Cnæus Plancius for my safety will be any injury to him with those men who themselves have wished above all things to see me in safety; and, O judges, it has more frequently come into my mind that it is a strange thing that Marcus Laterensis, a man who has shown the greatest regard for my dignity and safety, should have picked out this man of all the world to institute a prosecution against, than that I have any ground to fear lest he should appear to you to have had good reason for doing so.
Although I do not assume so much, or claim so much importance for myself, O judges, as to think that Cnæus Plancius is entitled to impunity on account of his kindness towards me. If I do not display to you that his life is most upright, his habits most virtuous, his good faith unimpeachable,—if I do not prove him to be a man of perfect temperance, piety, and innocence, I will not object to your punishing him; but if I establish that he has every quality which may be expected in the character of a virtuous man, then I will beg of you, O judges, to grant, at my entreaty, your pity to that man, through whose pity it is that I myself have been preserved in safety. In truth, in addition to the labour which I am devoting to this cause, in a greater degree than I think necessary in other trials. I have this anxiety also, that I have not only to speak on behalf of Cnæus Plancius, whose safety I am bound to defend equally with my own, but on behalf of myself also, since the prosecutors have said almost more about me than they have about the merits of the case, and about the real defendant.
II. Although, O judges, if they have found any fault in me which is not connected with the case of my present client, I am not much disturbed about that; for I am not afraid that, because it is a very rare thing to meet with grateful men, on that account it can really be considered as a charge against me when those men say that I am too grateful. But as for the points that have been urged by them, when they have said either that the services done me by Cnæus Plancius were of less importance than I make them out to be; or that if they were ever so great, still they ought not to have that weight with you which I considered them entitled to; these points, O judges, must be touched on by me with moderation, indeed, lest I should give any offence myself; and not until I have fully replied to the accusations brought against him, lest my client should seem to have been defended not so much by his own innocence, as by the recollection of his conduct at the time of my necessity.
But, considering how plain and simple my case is, O judges, the line to be taken by me in defending it is exceedingly difficult and slippery. For if it were merely necessary for me to argue against Laterensis, yet even this would be a very vexatious thing, considering our great friendship and intimacy; for it is an old principle of genuine and real friendship, such as subsists between him and me, that friends should always have the same wishes; nor is there any surer bond of friendship than an agreement in and community of designs and wishes. But the most annoying circumstance to me in the case is, not that I have merely to argue against him, but much more, that I have to argue against him in a cause in which it seems impossible to avoid drawing some comparison between the parties themselves. For Laterensis asks, and presses this point above all others, in what virtue, in what sort of renown or worth Plancius is superior to himself. And so, if I admit his high qualifications,—and he has plenty of them, and important ones too,—I must not only run the risk of Plancius losing this dignity which he has obtained, but he must submit also to the suspicion of bribery. If I speak of my client as superior to him, then my speech will be considered insulting, and I shall be supposed to say, (as he puts the question himself,) that Laterensis was surpassed by Plancius in real worth. And so I must either hurt the feelings of a man who is a great friend of mine, if I follow the line taken by the prosecutor, or else I must abandon the safety of one who has behaved to me with the greatest kindness.
III. But I, O Laterensis, will confess that I should be conducting this cause in a most blind and headlong manner, if I were to say that you could be surpassed in worth by either Plancius, or any one else. Therefore I will discard that comparison to which you invite me, and will proceed to those arguments to which the cause itself naturally conducts me. What? Do you think that the people is judge of a man’s worth? Perhaps it is sometimes. I wish indeed it were so always. But it is very seldom the case, and if it ever is, it is so when the question is concerning the election of those magistrates to whom it considers that its own safety is entrusted. At the less important comitia honours are gained by the diligence and influence of the candidates, and not by those high qualities which we see exist in you. For, as to what concerns the people, that man must always be an incompetent judge of worth who either envies any one or favours any one, although you cannot, O Laterensis, point to any good quality in yourself, as peculiarly entitled to praise, which Plancius has not in common with you.
But all this shall be discussed presently. At present I am only arguing about the right of the people, which both can and sometimes does pass over worthy men; and it does not follow because a man has been passed over by the people who ought not to have been, that he who has not been passed over is to be condemned by the judges. For if that were the case, the judges would have that power which the senate itself could not maintain in the times of our ancestors,—namely, that of being correctors of the comitia: or a power which is even more intolerable than that; for at that time a man who had been elected did not enter upon the duties of his office if the senators had not approved of his election; but now it is required of you to correct the judgment of the Roman people by the banishment of the man who has been elected by them. Therefore, although I have entered upon the cause by a door which I did not wish to open, still I seem to hope, O Laterensis, that my speech will be so far removed from all suspicion of being intended to give you offence, that I may rather reprove you for bringing your own dignity into an unreasonable contest, than attempt myself to disparage it by any injurious expressions on my part.
IV. Do you think your temperance, your industry, your attachment to the republic, your virtue, your innocence, your integrity, and your exertions disregarded and despised and trampled on, just because you have not been made ædile? See, O Laterensis, how greatly I differ from you in opinion. If, I declare to God, there were only ten virtuous, and wise, and just, and worthy men in this state who had pronounced you unworthy of the ædileship, I should think that decision a much more unfavourable one to you than this has been, on account of which you fear that this may seem to be the opinion of the people. For in the comitia the people does not invariably act in obedience to its judgment; but it is usually influenced by interest, or it yields to entreaties, and it elects those by whom it has been canvassed with the greatest assiduity. And lastly, if it does proceed according to its judgment, still it is not led to form that judgment by any careful selection, or by wisdom, but more frequently by impulse, and what I may even call a sort of precipitation. For there is no wisdom in the common people, no method, no discrimination, no diligence; and wise men have at all times considered the things which the people may have done necessary to be endured, but not at all invariably necessary to be praised. So that when you say that you ought to have been elected ædile, it is the people you are finding fault with, and not your competitor. Allow that you were more worthy than Plancius, (though that point I will contest with you presently, though without at all disparaging your pretensions or character;)—still, allow that you were more worthy, yet it is not your competitor by whom you have been defeated, but the people by whom you have been passed over, that is in fault.
And in this affair you ought to recollect that at all comitia, and especially at those held for the election of ædiles, it is the party spirit of the people, and not their deliberate judgment, which bears sway; that their votes are coaxed out of them, not extorted by merit; that the voters are more apt to consider what obligations they themselves are under to each individual, than what benefits the republic has received at his hands. But if you insist on it, that it is their deliberate judgment, then you must not annul it, but bear it. The people has decided wrongly. Still it has decided. It ought not to have decided so. Still it had the power. I will not bear it. But many most illustrious and wise citizens have borne it. For this is the inalienable privilege of a free people, and especially of this the chief people of the world, the lord and conqueror of all nations, to be able by their votes to give or to take away what they please to or from any one. And it is our duty,—ours, I say, who are driven about by the winds and waves of this people, to bear the whims of the people with moderation, to strive to win over their affections when alienated from us, to retain them when we have won them, to tranquillize them when in a state of agitation. If we do not think honours of any great consequence, we are not bound to be subservient to the people; if we do strive for them, then we must be unwearied in soliciting them.
V. I proceed now to take on myself the part of the people, so as to argue with you in their language rather than in my own. If the people then could meet you, and speak with one voice, it would say this—“I, O Laterensis, have not preferred Plancius to you; but, as you were both equally virtuous men, I have conferred my favours on him who entreated me for them, rather than on him who had not solicited me with any great humility.” You will reply, I suppose, that you relied on your high character, and the antiquity of your family, and did not think it necessary to canvass very laboriously. But the people will remind you of its own established principles, and of the precedents of its ancestors. It will say that it has always chosen to be asked for these honours, and to be solicited eagerly. It will tell you that it preferred Marcus Seius, a man who was unable to keep even his dignity as a knight undamaged by an adverse decision in a court of justice, to a man of the highest rank, most unimpeachable, and most eloquent, Marcus Piso. It will tell you that it preferred to Quintus Catulus, a man of the most illustrious family, a most wise and admirable man, I will not say Caius Seranus a most foolish man, for nevertheless he was a noble; nor Caius Fimbria, a new man, for he was a magnanimous man and a wise counsellor; but Cnæus Mallius, a man not only of no rank or family at all, but utterly destitute of virtue and ability, and of contemptible and sordid habits of life.—“My eyes,” says the people, “looked in vain for you when you were at Cyrene; for I should have preferred reaping the benefit of your virtue myself to letting your companions have it all to themselves; and the more it was an object to me to do so, the more did you keep aloof from me. At all events, I did not see you. Then you deserted and abandoned me, though thirsting for your virtue; for you had begun to offer yourself as a candidate for the tribuneship of the people at a time which was especially in need of your eloquence and virtue; and when you abandoned your canvass for that office, if you intimated by so doing that in such a stormy time you could not take the helm, I had reason to doubt your courage; but if you did so because you did not then choose to assume so much responsibility, then I had grounds for questioning your attachment to me. But if the truth was, as I rather believe, that you reserved yourself for other times, I too,” the Roman people will say, “have now recalled you to the time for which you had of your own accord reserved yourself. Offer yourself, then, now for that magistracy in which you can be of great use to me. Whoever the ædiles are, I shall have the same games prepared for me; but it is of the greatest consequence who are the tribunes of the people. Either, then, give me those exertions of yours which you encouraged me to hope for, or, if your heart is most set on what is of the least consequence to me, how can you expect that I will give you the ædileship, especially when you ask for it with such indifference? But if you wish to gain the most distinguished honours, as most suited to your worth, then learn, I pray you, to solicit them of me with a little more earnestness.”
VI. This is what the people says to you. But what I say to you, O Laterensis, is this: that the judge has nothing to do with inquiring why you were defeated, as long as you were not defeated through bribery. For if, as often as any man is passed over who ought not to have been passed over, the man who has been elected is to be condemned, there will no longer be any reason for canvassing the people at all. There will be no reason in waiting for the polling, or for addressing entreaties to the magistrates, or for the final declaration of the state of the poll; the moment that I see who are standing, I shall say—“This man is of a consular family; that man is of a prætorian one; I see that all the rest are of equestrian rank; they are all without stain, all equally virtuous and upright men: but it is necessary that the distinctions of rank should be observed; that the prætorian family should yield to the consular; and that the equestrian body should not contend with a prætorian house.” There is an end to all eagerness for any candidate, an end to all voting; there are no longer any contests; the people has no longer any liberty of choice in electing magistrates; there is no anxiety to see how the votes will be given; nothing will ever happen, (as is so often the case,) contrary to the general expectation; there will be for the future no variety in the comitia. But if it is constantly happening that we marvel why some men have been elected, and why some men have not; if the Campus Martius and those waves of the comitia, like a deep and wide sea, swell in such a manner, as if through some tide or other, that they approach one party and recede from another; why, when the impulse of party spirit is so great, and when so much is done with precipitation, are we to seek for any rational explanation, any deliberate intention or any system in such a case?
Do not then, O Laterensis, insist on my drawing any comparison between you. In truth, if the voting tablet is dear to the people, which shows the countenances of men, while it conceals their intentions, and which gives them the liberty of doing whatever they please, while they can promise whatever they are asked, why do you require that to be done in a court of justice which is not done in the Campus Martius?—This man is more worthy than that man. It is a very grave assertion to make. What then is it more reasonable to say? Say this, (and this is the question, this is sufficient for the judge)—This is the man who has been elected. Why should he have been elected rather than I? Either I do not know, or I do not choose to say, or lastly, (which, however, would be a very vexatious thing to me to say, and yet I ought to be able to say with impunity), he ought not to have been. For what would you gain if I were to have recourse to this last defence, that the people had done what it chose, and not what it ought to have done?
VII. What will you say, if, besides, I defend the act of the people, O Laterensis, and prove that Cnæus Plancius did not creep by underhand means to that honour, but that he arrived at it by the regular course which has at all times been open to men born in this equestrian rank of ours; can I, by this argument expunge from your speech the comparison between you two, which cannot be handled without an appearance of insult, and can I thus bring you at last to the merits of the case itself and of your accusation? If, because he is the son of a Roman knight, he ought to have been inferior to you, all the rest who were candidates at the same time with you were the sons of Roman knights. I say no more: but this I do wonder at, why you should be angry with this man above all the rest who was the furthest removed from you. In truth, if, at any time, as is sometimes the case, I am pushed about in the crowd, I do not find fault with that man who is on the very crown of the Via Sacra, when I am pushed up against the arch of Fabius; but with him who falls against me and pushes me. But you are not angry with Quintus Pedius, a very gallant man; nor with Aulus Plotius,1 whom I see here, a most accomplished citizen, and my own intimate friend; but you think yourself defeated by him who has also defeated them, rather than by those who were nearest yourself in the number of votes, and who therefore pressed more immediately on you.
But, nevertheless, you compare yourself with Plancius, in the first place as to your race and family, in which he is beaten by you. For why should not I confess what cannot be denied? But he is not more inferior to you in this respect than I was to my competitors, both on other occasions, and when I was a candidate for the consulship. But beware lest these very particulars for which you look down upon him may have told in his favour. For let us make the comparison in this way—You are descended from a consular family on both sides. Have you any doubt then that all those who favour the nobility of birth, who think that the finest of all things, who are influenced by the images and great names of your ancestors, all voted for you as ædile. I myself have not a doubt of it. But if the number of those who are thus devoted to high birth is not very large, is that our fault? In truth, let us go back to the head and origin of each of your families.
VIII. You are of that most ancient municipal town of Tusculum, from which many of our consular families are derived, among which is also the Juventian family; there have not so many families of that rank proceeded from all the other municipal towns put together. Plancius comes from the prefecture of Atina; certainly a less ancient and distinguished abode, and not so near to the city. How much difference do you think this ought to make in standing for an office? In the first place, which people do you suppose are most eager to support their own fellow-citizens; the people of Atina, or those of Tusculum? The one, (for this is a matter with which I may easily be well acquainted, on account of my neighbourhood to them,) when they saw the father of this most accomplished and excellent man, Cnæus Saturninus, elected ædile, and afterwards, when they saw him elected prætor, were delighted in a most extraordinary manner, because he was the first man who had ever brought a curule honour, not only into that family, but even into that prefecture. But I never understood that the others (I suppose because that municipality is crammed full of consuls, for I know to a certainty that they are not an ill-natured people) were particularly delighted at any honour obtained by their fellow-citizens. This is our feeling, and it is the feeling of our municipal towns. Why should I speak of myself, or of my brother? The very fields,—I might almost say, the very hills themselves,—supported us in the pursuit of our honours. Do you ever see any man of Tusculum boast of that great man, Marcus Cato, the first man in every sort of virtue, or of Tiberius Coruncanius, though a citizen of their own municipal town, or of all the Fulvii? No one ever mentions them. But if ever you fall in with a citizen of Arpinum, you are forced, whether you will or no, perhaps, to hear something about us, but at all events something about Caius Marius. In the first place, then, Plancius had the ardent zeal of his fellow-citizens in his favour; you had no more than was likely to exist among men who are by this time surfeited with honours. In the next place, your fellow-citizens are indeed most admirable men, but still they are very few in number if they are compared with the people of Atina. The prefecture to which Plancius belongs is so full of the bravest men, that no city in all Italy can be pronounced more populous. And that multitude you now behold, O judges, in mourning attire and in distress addressing its supplications to you. All these Roman knights whom you see here, all these ærarian tribunes, (for we have sent the common people away from this court, though they were all present at the comitia,)—how much strength, how much dignity did they not add to my client’s demand of the ædileship? They did not give him only the aid of the Terentian tribe, of which I will speak hereafter, but they added dignity to him, they kept their eyes fixed upon him, they attended him with a solid, and vigorous, and unceasing escort; and even now my own municipal town is greatly interested in his cause, from the sort of connexion which the fact of their being neighbours to him engenders.
IX. Everything which I am saying about Plancius, I say having experienced the truth of it in my own case. For we of Arpinum are near neighbours of the people of Atina. It is a neighbourhood to be praised, and even to be loved, retaining the old-fashioned habits of kindness for one another: one not tainted with ill-nature, nor accustomed to falsehood, not insincere, nor treacherous, nor learned in the suburban, or shall I say, the city artifices of dissimulation. There was not one citizen of Arpinum who was not anxious for Plancius, not one citizen of Sora, or of Casinum, or of Aquinum. The whole of that most celebrated district, the territory of Venafrum, and Allifæ, in short, the whole of that rugged mountainous faithful simple district, a district cherishing its own native citizens, thought that it was honoured itself in his honour, that its own consequence was increased by his dignity. And from those same municipalities Roman knights are now present here, having been sent by the public authority, commissioned to bear evidence in his favour; nor is their anxiety in his behalf now inferior to the zeal which they displayed then. For, in truth, it is a more terrible thing to be stripped of one’s goods than not to attain a dignity.
Therefore, although the other qualifications, O Laterensis, those which your ancestors bequeathed to you, were more conspicuous in you than in him; yet, on the other hand, Plancius had an advantage over you not only in the zeal of his municipality, but in that of his whole neighbourhood. Unless, indeed, the neighbourhood of Tusculum to Lavicum, or Gabii, or Bovillæ was any use to you; municipal towns in which you can now hardly find a single citizen to bear a part in the Latin holidays. I will add, if you like, that which you consider is even an objection to him, that his father is a farmer of the revenues. And who is there who does not know what a great assistance that body of men is to any one in seeking for any honour? For the flower of the Roman knights, the ornament of the state, the great bulwark of the republic is all comprehended in that body. Who is there, then, who can deny that that body showed extraordinary zeal in aiding Plancius in his contest for honour? And it was very natural that they should, because his father is a man who has for a long time been the head of the company of farmers; and because he was exceedingly beloved by his follows of that company; and because he canvassed them with the greatest diligence; and because he was entreating them in favour of his son; and because it was notorious that Plancius himself had both in his quæstorship and tribuneship done many kindnesses to that body; and because in promoting him they thought that they were promoting themselves, and consulting the welfare and dignity of their children.
X. Something, moreover, (I say it timidly, but still I must say it,)—something we ourselves contributed to his success; not, indeed, by our riches, not by any invidious exertion of influence, not by any scarcely endurable stretch of power, but by the mention of his kindness to ourselves, by our pity for him, and by our prayers in his behalf. I appealed to the people; I went round the tribes, and besought them; I entreated even those who, of their own accord, offered themselves to me, who volunteered their promises. He prevailed, owing to the motive which I had for soliciting them, not owing to my interest. Nor, if a most honourable man, to whom there is nothing which may not deservedly be granted at his entreaty, failed, as you say, in obtaining something which he desired, am I arrogant if I say that I did prevail? For, to say nothing of the fact that I was exerting myself in behalf of a man who had great influence himself, that solicitation is always the most agreeable which is the most closely connected with previous obligations and friendship. Nor, indeed, did I ask for him in such a manner as to seem to request it because he was my intimate friend, because he was my neighbour, because I had always been on terms of the greatest intimacy with his father; but I asked as if I were soliciting on behalf of one who was as it were my parent, and the guardian of my safety. It was not my interest, but the cause which prompted my requests, which was so influential. No one rejoiced at my restoration, no one grieved at my injury, to whom the pity shown me by this man was not acceptable. In truth, if, before my return, good men in numbers, of their own accord, offered their services to Cnæus Plancius when he was a candidate for the tribuneship, do not you suppose that, if my name, while I was absent, was a credit to him, my entreaties, when I was present, must have been serviceable to him? Are the colonists of Minturnæ held in everlasting honour because they saved Caius Marius from the sword of civil war and from the hands of wicked men, because they received him in their houses, because they enabled him to recruit his strength when exhausted with fasting and with tossing on the waves, because they furnished him with means for his journey, and gave him a vessel, and, when he was leaving that land which he had saved, followed him with tears and prayers, and every good wish? And do you wonder that his good faith and merciful and courageous disposition was a credit to Cnæus Plancius, who, whether I was expelled by violence, or yielded from a deliberate plan of conduct, received me, assisted me, protected me, and preserved me for these citizens, and for the senate and people of Rome, that they might be able at a subsequent time to restore me?
XI. These circumstances which I have been mentioning might in truth have been sufficient to throw a veil over the vices of Cnæus Plancius. Do not then wonder that, in such a life as I am proceeding to describe, they should have been such numerous and great helps to him in the attainment of honour; for this is he, who, when quite a young man, having gone with Aulus Torquatus into Africa, was beloved by that most dignified and holy man, so worthy of every description of praise and honour, to as great a degree as the intimacy engendered by being messmates, and the modesty of a most pure-minded youth, allowed. And if he were present he would affirm it no less zealously than his cousin who is here present, and his father-in-law, Titus Torquatus, his equal in every sort of glory and virtue, who is indeed connected with him in the closest bonds of relationship and connexion; but these obligations of affection are so strong that those other reasons for intimacy drawn from relationship appear insignificant. He was in Crete afterwards as the comrade of Saturninus, his relation, as a soldier of Quintus Metellus, who is here present; and as he was most highly approved of by them, and is so to this day, he has a right to hope that he will be approved of by every one. In that province Caius Sacerdos was the lieutenant,—how virtuous, how consistent a man! and Lucius Flaccus,—what a man, what a citizen was he! and they, by their zeal in his behalf, and by their evidence, declare what sort of man they think Plancius. In Macedonia he was a military tribune: in that same province he was afterwards quæstor. In the first place, Macedonia is so attached to him, as these men, the chief men of their respective cities, state it to be; who, though they were sent with another object, still, being moved by his unexpected danger, give him their countenance, sitting here by his side, and put forth all their exertions in his behalf; if they stand by him, they think that they shall be doing what is more acceptable to their fellow-citizens, than if they attend strictly and solely to their embassy, and to the commission that was entrusted to them. But Lucius Appuleius considers him so excellent a man, that by his attentions and kindness to him, he has gone beyond that principle of our ancestors which enjoins that prætors ought to consider themselves as standing in the light of parents to their quæstors. He was a tribune of the people, not perhaps as violent as those men whom you naturally extol, but certainly such an one, that if all had at all times been like him, a violent tribune would never have been wished for or regretted.
XII. I say nothing of those things which if they are less brought on the stage than others, still at all events are always praised when they do come to light; for instance, how he lives among his own relations; in the first place with his father, (for in my opinion filial affection is the foundation of all the virtues,) whom he venerates as a god, (and indeed a parent does not stand in a very different relation to his children,) but loves as a companion, as a brother, as a friend of his own age. Why should I speak of his conduct to his uncle? to his connexions? to his relations? to this Cnæus Saturninus whom you see in court, a most gallant man? And you may judge how desirous this man was of his attaining honour, when you see how he partakes of his grief. Why should I speak of myself? for I seem to myself, now that he is in danger, to be put on my own defence too. Why should I speak of all these virtuous men whom you see in court, with their garments changed for mourning robes? But these are all solid and well marked proofs, O judges; these are evidences of integrity, not coloured by forensic artifice, but deeply dyed with the indelible marks of truth. All that running about and caressing of the people is very easy work; it is looked at at a distance, not taken into the hand and examined; it makes a fine show if you do not get too near and shake it.
I say, then, that this man is adorned with every high quality, both such as are eminent abroad and amiable at home. I admit that he was inferior to you in some points, such as those of name and family; but in others I assert that he was superior to every one within the recollection of the present generation, in the zeal of his fellow-citizens, and neighbours, and of the companies of farmers in his behalf; equal to any one in virtue, integrity, and modesty; and yet do you wonder at his being elected ædile?
Do you try to defile the brilliancy of such a life as this with those imputations? You impute adulteries to him which no one can recognise, not only by having ever heard any one’s name mentioned, but even by having heard a suspicion breathed against him. You call him twice-married, in order to invent new words, and not only new accusations. You say that some one was taken by him into his province to gratify his lust; but that is not an accusation, but a random lie, ventured on from the expectation of impunity. You say that an actress was ravished by him. And this is said to have happened at Atina, while he was quite young, by a sort of established licence of proceeding towards theatrical people, well known in all towns. O how elegantly must his youth have been passed, when the only thing which is imputed to him is one that there was not much harm in, and when even that is found to be false. He released some one from prison illegally. The man you allude to was discharged out of ignorance,—discharged, as you know, at the request of an intimate friend and a most virtuous young man; and the same man was arrested subsequently again. And these, and no others, are all the faults which you can discover to attribute to him throughout the whole of his life, while at the same time you affect to doubt his virtue, and religion, and integrity.
XIII. “But his father,” says the prosecutor, “ought to be considered an objection to the son.” O what a harsh expression, how unworthy of your honesty, O Laterensis! To say that in a capital trial, that in a contest where all his fortunes are at stake, a father ought to be an objection to his son in the eyes of such men as these judges! when even if he were ever so mean, or ever so sordid, still, by the mere name of father, he would have weight with mild and merciful judges; would have weight, I say, because of the common feelings of all men, and through the sweet recommendation of nature. But as that Cnæus Plancius is a Roman knight, whose rank as such is of that antiquity that his father, his grandfather, and all his ancestors were Roman knights before him, and in a most flourishing prefecture1 occupied the highest position both for rank and influence; secondly, as he himself while serving in the legions under Publius Crassus as general, enjoyed a character of the highest respectability among a number of most accomplished men, Roman knights; as he was after that the chief man among his fellow-citizens, a most incorruptible and upright judge in many causes, a promoter of many companies, and president of some;—if not only no fault has ever been found with him, but if the whole of his conduct has been universally praised; shall we still be told that such a father shall be an objection to a most honourable son, when he would be able by his authority, or, if not, by his interest, to protect a less honourable man, or one entirely unconnected with him? “He has at times,” says he, “said some very harsh things.” Perhaps he may have spoken rather freely. “But that speaking freely, as you term it,” says he, “is not to be borne.” Are then those men to be borne who complain that they cannot bear the freedom of a Roman knight? Where are our old customs? Where is our equality of privileges? Where is that ancient liberty, which, having been overwhelmed by civil disasters, ought by this time to be raising its head, and to be at last recovered and assuming a more erect attitude again? Need I recount the abuse directed by the Roman knights against even the noblest men, or that of the harsh, ferocious, unbridled expressions of the farmers against Quintus Scævola, a man superior to all others in genius, justice, and integrity?
XIV. Granius, the crier, replied to the consul Publius Nasica in the middle of the forum, when he, after a suspension of all judicial proceedings had been proclaimed, as he was returning home, had asked Granius “why he was sad; was it because all the auctions were postponed?” “Rather,” said he, “because they have sent back the ambassadors.” The same man made this answer to a tribune of the people, Marcus Drusus a most influential man, but one who was causing great disturbances in the republic. When Drusus had saluted him, as is the fashion, and had said, “How do you do, O Granius?” he replied, “I should rather ask, O Drusus, what are you doing?” And he often reproved with impunity the designs of Lucius Crassus and Marcus Antonius, with still harsher witticisms. At present the state is to such a degree oppressed by your arrogance, that the freedom of laughing in which a crier used to be indulged, is more than is now allowed to a Roman knight in making lamentations. For what expression was ever used by Plancius which was not dictated by grief rather than by insult? And what did he ever complain of, except at times when he was protecting his companions or himself from injury? When the senate was hindered from making a reply to a representation of the Roman knights,—a thing which was invariably given even to enemies,—that injury was a great grief to all the farmers of the revenue; and that indignation this man did not care to conceal. Their common feelings may perhaps have been disguised by others; but the sentiments which my client shared with the rest, he revealed more plainly than the rest both by his countenance and by his language.
Although, O judges, (for thus much I know of my own knowledge,) many things are attributed to Plancius which were never said by him. In my own case, because I sometimes say something, not from any deliberate intention, but either in the heat of speaking, or because I have been provoked; and because, as is natural, among the many things which I say in this manner, something comes out at times, if not excessively witty, still perhaps not altogether stupid, the consequence is, that whatever any one else says people say that I have said. But I, if it is anything clever, and worthy of a well-educated and learned man, have no great objection; but I am very angry when the sayings of other men are attributed to me, which are utterly unworthy of me. For, because he was the first person to give his vote for the law concerning the farmers, at the time when that most illustrious man the consul gave that privilege to that order of men by a vote of the people, which, if he could have done it, he would have given them by a vote of the senate; if it be a crime in him to have given his vote for it, I ask what farmer was there who did not vote for it? If the charge be that he was the first to vote, is that the fault of chance, or of the man who proposed the law? If it was the effect of chance, then there can be no crime in what happened by chance. If it was by the choice of the consul, then it adds to the renown of Plancius, that he was considered the chief man of his order by so illustrious a man.
XV. But let us at last come to the merits of the case; in which, under cover of the Licinian law, which relates to treating,1 you have embraced all the laws relating to bribery. Nor have you had any other object in view in dwelling on this law, except the power which it gave you of selecting your judges. And if this sort of tribunal is an equitable one in any other case except that of bribing the tribes, I do not understand why, in this one description of prosecution alone, the senate has allowed the tribes from which the judges are taken to be selected by the prosecutor, and has not given the same power of selection in other cases also. In actual prosecutions for bribery, it has directed the tribunal to be formed by each party striking off judges alternately; and though it omitted no other species of severity to the defendant, still it thought it ought to omit this. What? Is the reason of this conduct still obscure? was it not mooted when that matter was discussed in the senate, and argued most abundantly by Hortensius yesterday, who carried all the senate with him? This, then, was our opinion, that if he had bribed any tribe by means of this hospitality,—which the treating would be called by people more solicitous to give it a respectable name than a true one;—if he had, I say, corrupted any tribe by disgraceful bribery, he must be known to have done so by the men who belonged to that tribe above all others. Accordingly, the senate thought that when those tribes were selected as the judges of the accused person, which he was said to have corrupted by bribery, they would serve both as witnesses of the truth and as judges. It is altogether a very severe sort of tribunal; but still, if either his own tribe, or one with which he was especially connected, was proposed to a man as that which was to judge him, it could hardly be refused.
XVI. But in this case, O Laterensis, what tribes did you select? The Terentian tribe, I suppose. That certainly was an equitable proceeding, and certainly one that was expected, and it was quite worthy of your wisdom and firmness. The tribe of which you keep crying out that Plancius had been the seller, and corrupter, and briber; that tribe, especially since it consists, as it does, of most virtuous and highly respectable men, you ought to have chosen. Did you choose the Voltinian tribe? for you have taken it into your head to connect some charge or other with that tribe. Why, then, did you not select that tribe? What had Plancius to do with the Lemonian tribe? What had he to do with the Ufentian? or with the Crustumine? for as for the Mæcian tribe, you selected that to be one, not to judge, but to be rejected. Have you any doubt, then, O judges, that Marcus Laterensis selected you on his own judgment, having regard not to the spirit of the law, but to some hope which he had himself formed with reference to the state? Have you any doubt that when he avoided selecting those tribes among which Plancius had extensive connexions, the reason was that he judged that they had been won over by legitimate attention and kindness, not corrupted by bribery? For what reason can he allege why that power of selection given to the prosecutor is not a measure of great severity towards the defendant, if it is adopted without the consideration which determined us to pass such a law? Are you to choose out of all the people either those who are personal friends of your own, or personal enemies to me, or men whom you consider inexorable, inhuman and cruel? Are you, without my knowing, or suspecting, or dreaming of such a step, to choose your own connexions and those of your friends, personal enemies to me and to my counsel? And are you to add to them those whom you think by nature harsh and unfriendly to all the world? And are you then to produce them all of a sudden, so that I see the bench of judges who are to try me before I can form the least idea who they are going to be? And are you to compel me to plead my cause, one in which all my fortunes are at stake, before those men, without having the power of rejecting even five, which was a privilege allowed to the last man who was put on his trial by the decision of the judges themselves? For it does not follow because Plancius has lived in such a manner as never wilfully to offend any one, or because you have made such a mistake as unintentionally to select such men that we find we are come before judges, and not before executioners, that on that account that selection, if looked at by itself, is not a severe measure.
XVII. Was it not lately the case that some most illustrious citizens would not endure the idea of a judge selected by the prosecutor, (when, out of a hundred and twenty-five judges, the chief men of the equestrian order, the defendant rejected seventy-five, and retained fifty,) and preferred throwing the whole business into confusion, to obeying that law and complying with those terms? And shall we put up with judges chosen not out of the select body of judges, but out of the whole people, and not proposed to us with a power of striking off the obnoxious ones, but appointed by the prosecutor in such a way that we have no power to object to a single one?
I am not now complaining of the injustice of the law, but I am showing that your conduct is at variance with the spirit of the law; and I not only should not complain of the severity of that proceeding, if you had acted as the senate intended and as the people decreed, and had proposed to him as judges his own tribe, and those which he had paid attentions to; but, if you had given him those men as judges who ought also to have served as witnesses, I should think him acquitted at once. And even now my opinion is not very different. For when you proposed these tribes, you showed plainly that you preferred having judges who were unknown rather than such as were known; you evaded the intention of the law; you discarded every principle of justice; you preferred enveloping the case in obscurity to throwing light upon it. “The Voltinian tribe was corrupted by him.” “He had bought the Terentian tribe.” What could he say then before men of the Voltinian tribe, or before his own tribesmen, if they were his judges? Ay, what rather could you say yourself? What judge of all the number could you find who might be a silent witness of those matters, or which of them could you summon as such? In truth, if the defendant himself were to propose the tribes which were to furnish his judges, Plancius perhaps would have proposed the Voltinian tribe on account of his neighbourhood to and connexion with it; but most unquestionably he would have proposed his own. And if he had had to propose the president of the court, whom would he have been more likely to propose than this very Caius Alfius, who is the president, to whom he ought to be thoroughly well known, his own neighbour, a man of his own tribe, a most respectable and upright man? Whose impartiality and desire for the safety of Cnæus Plancius, which, without the least suspicion of being influenced by any covetous motives, he makes no concealment of, declares plainly enough that my client had no reason to avoid having men of his own tribe for judges, when you see that a man of his own tribe for president was a most desirable thing for him.
XVIII. Nor am I now finding fault with your prudence in not giving him those tribes to which he was best known, but I am proving that the intention of the senate was disregarded by you. In truth, which of all these men would listen to you? Or what could you say? Could you say that Plancius was guilty of the depository of the money to be used in bribery? Men’s ears would reject the assertion. No one would endure it. All would turn away from it. That he was a very acceptable man to the tribes? They would hear that willingly. We ourselves should not be afraid to allow that. For do not think, O Laterensis, that the effect of those laws which the senate has thought fit to establish concerning bribery has been to put an end to the recommendation of candidates, to attentions being paid to electors, or to personal influence. There have always been virtuous men who have been anxious to have influence among the men of their own tribe. Nor, indeed, has our order ever been so harsh towards the common people, as to be unwilling to have it courted by moderate liberality on our part. Nor are our children to be forbidden to pay attention to the men of their own tribe, or to show regard for them, or to canvass them on behalf of their friends, or to expect a similar service from them when they are themselves candidates for any office. For all these things are only acts of mutual kindness and politeness, and are sanctioned by ancient customs and precedent. That was our own conduct when the occasions of our ambition required it; and such we have seen to be the course of most illustrious men; and even at the present day we see many men alive to the necessity of keeping up their interests. It was the dividing the men of a tribe into decuries, the classification of the whole people, and the attempt to bind men’s votes by bribes, that provoked the severity of the senate, and the energetic indignation of all good men. Allege this, prove this, direct your attention to this point, O Laterensis, that Plancius divided the tribes into decuries, that he classified the people, that he was an agent with whom money was deposited, that he promised money, that he distributed it; and then I shall wonder at your not having chosen to use the weapons which the law has armed you with. For with judges taken from the men of our own tribe, I need not say we could not, if those things were true, bear their severity, but we could not even look them in the face. But, after having avoided this line of conduct, and declined having those men for judges, who, as they must have had the most certain knowledge of such conduct, were bound to feel the greatest indignation at it, what will you say before those men who silently ask of you why you have imposed this burden upon them; why you have chosen them above all men; why you prefer having them to proceed by guesswork, rather than those men to decide who had means of knowing the truth?
XIX. I, O Laterensis, say that Plancius himself is a popular man, and that he had to assist him in his canvass many men eager in his cause, who were also popular men. And if you call them agents to treat people, you are polluting a kind and zealous friendship, by a very insidious name. But if, because they are popular, you think them on that account objects for prosecution, then do not wonder that you yourself, after repudiating the friendship of popular men, failed in attaining what your real worth demanded for you.
But now, as I prove that Plancius was a popular man in his tribe, because he has been kind to many of them, because he has been security for many of them, because he has procured employment for many of them by means of the authority and interest of his father, and because he has bound the whole prefecture of Atina to himself by all the kindness displayed by himself, by his father, and by his ancestors; I call on you to prove in an equally convincing manner, that he was an agent for receiving money to be spent in bribery; that be was himself a briber; that he classified the people; that he divided the tribes into decuries. And if you cannot, do not deny our order the exercise of a legitimate liberality; do not think that popularity is a crime; do not enact a punishment to be inflicted for courteous attentions.
And accordingly, as you were forced to hesitate about this charge of corrupting a tribe by means of treating, you had recourse to a general accusation of bribery. And in examining this, let us, if you please, cease awhile to contend in vulgar and random declamation. For I will argue with you in this way. Do you choose any one tribe you please, and prove, as you are bound to do, what agent received the money for corrupting it, and who distributed the money among the men of the tribe. And if you cannot do that, which in my opinion you will not even begin to attempt, I will show you the means to which he owes his success. Is not this a fair challenge? Do not you like to proceed in this manner? Can I come to closer quarters, as they say, or can I meet you on a fairer field? Why are you silent? Why do you conceal your intentions? Why do you seek to shirk off? Again and again I press upon you, and keep close to you; I pursue you, I ask for, I even demand some definite accusation. Whatever tribe, I say, you select, whose votes Plancius received, you show, if you can, any flaw in that one instance. I will then show you by what means he really did gain its vote, and the principle shall be exactly the same in his case, and, O Laterensis, in yours. For as you, if I were to ask you, may be able to explain to me through whose influence it was that you gained the affection of these tribes who voted for you, so do I assert that I will explain to you, our adversary, the means by which we gained the vote of any tribe you choose to inquire about.
XX. But why do I argue in this manner? Just as if Plancius had not already been elected ædile in the former comitia. Which comitia were begun to be held by the consul, a man in every respect of the very highest authority, and the author of those very laws concerning bribery. And besides, he began to hold them very suddenly, contrary to any one’s expectation; so that, even if any one had formed the design of committing bribery, he would never have had time to manage it. The tribes were summoned; the votes were given; counted up; declared. Plancius was by far the highest of all on the poll.1 There neither was nor could there be any suspicion of bribery. Is it not the case that the one prerogative century carries such weight with it that no one has ever gained the vote of that, but what he has been declared consul either at that very comitia, or at all events consul for the year? And yet do you wonder that Plancius was elected ædile when it was not a small portion of the people, but the whole people that had declared their good-will towards him? when it was not a portion of one tribe, but the whole comitia which were prerogative comitia in his behalf?
And at that time if you, O Laterensis, had been inclined, or if you had thought it consistent with your gravity to do what many men of high birth have often done, who, having gained a great many fewer votes than they had expected, afterwards, when the comitia had been adjourned, have prostrated themselves, and, with broken spirits and in a humble tone, had addressed supplications to the Roman people, I do not question but that the whole multitude would have turned towards you. For nobility, especially when upright and innocent, has never, when appearing as a suppliant, been rejected by the Roman people. But if your personal dignity and character for magnanimity was, as it ought to have been, of more importance to you than the ædileship, then, since you have that which you preferred, do not regret that which you thought of less consequence. I myself, in truth, have always striven most zealously, in the first place, to be worthy of honour; in the second place, to be considered so. The third consideration with me, though with most men it is the first, has been the honour itself; but that is a thing which ought to be acceptable to those men in whose case the Roman people has conferred it on them as a testimony to their worth, and not as a favour granted to their assiduity in canvassing for it.
XXI. You ask also, O Laterensis, what answer you can make to the images of your ancestors; how you are to excuse yourself to that most accomplished and excellent man your deceased father? Never think about those things. Take care rather lest that querulousness and excessive grief of yours be reproved by those men of consummate wisdom. For your father saw that Appius Claudius, a most noble man, even in the lifetime of his own father, a most influential and most illustrious citizen, Caius Claudius, failed in his endeavour to obtain the ædileship, and yet that he was afterwards elected consul without a repulse. He saw that a man most closely connected with himself, a most illustrious citizen, Lucius Volcatius, and he saw that Marcus Piso too, having both sustained a slight defeat in the matter of the ædileship, received afterwards the very highest honours from the Roman people. But your grandfather could tell you also of the rejection of Publius Nasica, when he stood for the ædileship, though I am sure that a greater citizen has never existed in this republic; and of Caius Marius too, who was twice rejected when a candidate for the ædileship, and yet was seven times made consul; and of Lucius Cæsar, and of Cnæus Octavius, and of Marcus Tullius; every one of whom we know were beaten for the ædileship, and were elected consuls afterwards.
But why am I hunting up instances of men having failed as candidates for the ædileship, when it is an office which has often been discharged in such a way that the people appeared to have been doing a kindness to the men who had been passed over. Lucius Philippus, a man of the highest birth and most distinguished eloquence, failed in his election as military tribune. Caius Cælius, a most illustrious and admirable young man, was beaten for the quæstorship. Publius Rutilius Rufus Caius Fimbria, Caius Cassius, Cnæus Orestes, all stood in vain for the tribuneship of the people. And yet we know that every one of these men were afterwards made consuls. And your father and your ancestors will of their own accord tell you this; not with the object of comforting you, nor to excuse you from any fault which you fear that you must seem to have been guilty of, but with a view of encouraging you to persevere in that course which you have followed from your earliest youth. No credit, believe me, O Laterensis, has been lost by you. Lost, do I say? I declare solemnly, if you were to come to a right appreciation of what has happened, an especial testimony has been borne to your virtue.
XXII. For think not that there was not a great impression made by the circumstances of your offering yourself as a candidate for that office from all competition for which you subsequently withdrew, rather than swear to a particular thing. You then, being quite a young man, declared plainly what were your sentiments about public affairs: speaking more boldly, indeed, than some men who had already attained the honours of the state, and more undisguisedly than regard to your ambition, or to your age, required. And, therefore, among the people who disparaged your pretensions, you must not think that there were none who had taken offence at the intrepid spirit which you then displayed; who were able, perhaps, to keep you, incautious as you were, from arriving at that rank, but will never be able to move you when you are on your guard and watchful against them.
Have these arguments had any influence with you? “Have you any doubt,” says he, “that a coalition was entered into against me, when you see that Plancius and Plotius gained the votes of the majority of the tribes?” But could they have acted in concert if the tribes did not give their votes in concert? But some of the tribes gave almost the very same number of votes for each of them. Yes, when at the preceding comitia those two had been already almost elected and declared. Although even that fact would not necessarily involve any suspicion of a coalition. For our ancestors would never have established a rule of casting lots for the ædileship, if they had not seen that it was possible that the competitors should have had an equal number of votes. And you say that at the preceding comitia the tribe of the Anio was given up by Plotius to Pedius, and the Terentian tribe by Plancius to you; but now, that they are taken away from both Pedius and you, lest they should run the contest too fine. What a probable story it is, that before the inclination of the people was ascertained, those men, who you say had already joined their forces, should have thrown away their own tribes in order to assist you, and that the same men should afterwards have been close and stingy, when they had tried and found out how strong they were. They were afraid, I suppose, of a close contest. As if the matter could come to a close point, or as if there could be any danger. But, nevertheless, do you bring the same charge against Aulus Plotius, a most accomplished man? or do you admit that you have only attacked the man who never requested you to spare him?1 For as for your having complained that you had more witnesses concerning the case of the Voltinian tribe, than you had received votes in that tribe, you show by that, either that you are bringing forward those men as witnesses who passed you over because they had taken a bribe, or else that you could not get their votes though they were paid nothing for them.
XXIII. But as for that charge about the money which you say was seized in the Flaminian Circus, it made a great noise while the matter was recent, but now it has got quite cold. For you have never explained what money that was, nor what were the tribes which were to receive it, nor who was to distribute it to them. And he, indeed, who was then impeached on this account, being brought before the consuls, complained that he had been shamefully treated by your partisans. For if he acted as the distributor of the money, particularly for that man whom you were prosecuting, why was he also not prosecuted by you? Why did you get some appearance of a decision having been already come to in this cause by his conviction? But the fact is, that you have no proofs to advance, nor do you place the slightest reliance on any. It is quite another motive and another consideration which has induced you to cherish the hope of crushing this man. You have great resources; very extensive influence; many friends, many eager partisans, many favourers of your credit: many are envious of my client; to many too his father, a most excellent man, appears to be too great a stickler for the freedom and privileges of the equestrian order. Many too are the common enemies of every defendant: men who always give their evidence on trials for bribery and corruption in such a way as if they could influence the minds of the judges by their evidence, or as if it were pleasing to the Roman people, and as if, on that account, they would the more easily attain that dignity which they are desirous of. But you shall not see me, O judges, contending with those men in my former fashion; not because it is right for me to shirk anything which the safety of Plancius requires, but because it is neither necessary, that I should follow up that argument with my voice, which you already see with your mind; and because those very men whom I see already as witnesses, have deserved so well of me, that you ought to take upon your own prudence the task of reproving them, and to excuse my modesty from that task.
This one thing I beg and entreat of you, O judges, both for the sake of this man whom I am defending, and out of regard to the common danger; not to think that the fortunes of innocent men are to be placed at the mercy of reports which people falsely pretend that they have heard, or of vague and uncertain conversation. Many friends of the prosecutor, some men, too, who are personal enemies of ours, many general and universal calumniators, and men who envy everybody, have invented heaps of things. But there is nothing which travels so fast as slander; nothing is more easily sent abroad, nothing is received more rapidly, nothing is spread more extensively. Nor will I, if you can ever trace the origin of a calumny, ever require you to disregard it or conceal it. But if anything gets abroad without a head, or if there be any report of such a nature that no author of it can be found; if he who has heard it appears to you either so careless as to have forgotten where he heard it; or if he knows his authority to be so insignificant that he is ashamed to confess that he recollects who he is,—then I do beg of you not to let that common expression, “I heard that NA* * * *,” injure an innocent man upon his trial.
XXIV. But I come now to Lucius Cassius, my own intimate friend, and I have not as yet made any complaint about that Juventius whom that young man, accomplished in every virtue and in every branch of polite learning, mentions in his speech, and says that he was the first man of the common people who was ever made a curule ædile. And with reference to that case, if, O Cassius, I were to reply to you that the Roman people knew nothing of that fact, and that there is no one who can tell us anything about him, especially now that Longinus is dead, you would not wonder, I imagine, when I myself, who am not at all inclined to neglect the study of antiquity, confess that I first heard of this fact in this place, from your mouth. And since your oration was very elegant and very ingenious, worthy both of the learning and modesty of a Roman knight, and since you were listened to by these men with such attention as did great honour both to your abilities and to your character as a gentleman and a scholar, I will reply now to what you said, of which the greater part concerned me myself, and in which the very stings, if you did put out any in your reproof of me, were still not disagreeable to me.
You asked me whether I thought that the road to the attainment of honours had been easier to me, the son of a Roman knight, than it would be to my son, who was now of a consular family. But, although I would rather that all good fortune fell to his lot than to my own, still I have never wished for him that the road to honour might be more easy to him than I have found it myself. Moreover, lest he should by chance think that I have procured him honours myself rather than pointed out to him the path by which he might arrive at them, I am accustomed to read him this lesson, (although his age is not exactly the age to attend to instruction,) which the great son of Jupiter is represented teaching his children,—
“Men must always be vigilant; there are many snares in the path of virtuous men.”
You know the rest, do not you?
“That which many men envy NA* * * *”1
Which that wise and ingenious poet wrote, not in order to excite those boys who were no longer in existence to toil and the desire of glory, but to encourage us and our children in such pursuits. You ask what more Plancius could have got if he had been the son of Cnæus Scipio. He could not have been made an ædile more than he is; but he would have gained this, that he would not be so much envied. In truth, the degrees of honour are equal in the case of the highest and the lowest citizens; but the glory of arriving at them is unequal.
XXV. Who of us would call himself equal to Marcus Carius, or to Caius Fabricius, or to Caius Duilius? Who reckons himself a match for Atilius Calatinius, or for Cnæus and Publius Scipio, or for Africanus, Marcellus, or Maximus? And yet we have arrived at the same degree of rank that they did. In truth, in virtue there are many steps; so that he is the most eminent in renown, who is the superior in virtue. The summit of the honours conferred by the people is the consulship. And by this time nearly eight hundred men have obtained that. And of this eight hundred, if you examine carefully, you will find hardly one tenth of the number worthy of such a preeminence. But yet no one ever went on as you do. “Why is that man made consul? What could he have got more if he had been Lucius Brutus, who delivered the city from the tyranny of the kings?” He could have got no higher rank certainly, but he would have much more glory. And in the same manner, therefore, Plancius has been made quæstor, and tribune of the people, and ædile, just as much as if he had been a man of the highest rank by birth; but a countless number of other men, born in the same rank as he, have also attained these honours. You speak of the triumphs of Titus Didius, and Caius Marius; and ask what there is like these exploits in Plancius. As if those men whom you are speaking of obtained their magistracies because they had triumphed, and did not on the contrary triumph after having performed great achievements, because those magistracies were entrusted to them. You ask what campaigns he has served; when he was a soldier in Crete, while Metellus, who is here in court, was commander-in-chief, and military tribune in Macedonia; and when he was quæstor he only abstracted just so much time from his attention to his military duties as he thought it better to devote to protecting me.
You ask whether he is an eloquent man. At all events, what is the next best thing to being so, he does not think himself one. “Is he a lawyer?” As if there were any one who complains that he has given him a false answer in a point of law. For all such acts as that are open to criticism in the case of men who, after they have professed an acquaintance with them, are unable to satisfy people’s expectations; not in the case of men who confess that they have never paid any attention to those pursuits. What is usually required in a candidate is virtue, and honesty, and integrity, not volubility of tongue, or an acquaintance with any particular art or science. As we, when we are procuring slaves, are annoyed if we have bought a man as a smith or a plasterer, and find, however good a man he may be, that he knows nothing of those trades which we had in view in buying him; but if we have bought a man to give him charge of our property as steward, or to employ him to look after our stock, then we do not care for any other qualities in him except frugality, industry, and vigilance; so the Roman people elects magistrates to be as it were stewards of the republic, and if they are masters of some accomplishment besides, the people have no objection, but if not, they are content with their virtue and innocence. For how few men are eloquent; how few are skilful lawyers, even if you include all those in your calculation who wish to be so! But if no one else is worthy of honour, what on earth is to become of so many most virtuous and most accomplished citizens?
XXVI. You request Plancius to mention any faults of Laterensis. He cannot mention any, unless he thinks him too ill-tempered towards himself. At the same time you extol Laterensis highly yourself. I have no particular objection to your spending a number of words on what has nothing to do with the trial; and to your occupying so much time, while conducting the prosecution, in saying what I, who am the counsel for the defence, can admit without any danger. And I do not only admit that every sort of high quality is to be found in Laterensis; but I even find fault with you, for not enumerating his chief excellences, but descending to look for trifling and insignificant subjects for panegyric. You say “That he celebrated games at Præneste.” Well; have not other quæstors done the same? “That at Cyrene he was liberal towards the farmers of the revenue, and just towards the allies.” Who denies it? but so many important transactions take place at Rome, that it is difficult for those things which are done in the provinces to get heard of. I have no fear, O judges, of appearing to assume too much credit to myself, if I speak of my own quæstorship. For although I got great credit in it, still I consider that I have been employed since that in the highest offices of the state, so that I have no need to seek for much glory from the credit I gained in my quæstorship; but still I do not fear that any one will venture to say that anybody’s quæstorship in Sicily has been either more acceptable to the people, or has gained a higher reputation for the quæstor. Indeed, I can say this with truth, I too at that time thought that men at Rome were talking of nothing else except my quæstorship. At a time of great dearness, I had sent an immense quantity of corn to Rome. I had been affable to the traders, just to the merchants, liberal to the citizens of the municipal towns, moderate as regards the allies, and in every respect I appeared to have been most diligent in the discharge of every part of my duty. Some perfectly unheard-of honours were contrived for me by the Sicilians: therefore I left my province with the hope that the Roman people would come forward of its own accord to pay me every sort of honour. But, when one day by chance at that time, I, on my road from the province, had arrived in the course of my journey at Puteoli, at a time which great numbers of the wealthiest men are accustomed to spend in that district, I almost dropped with vexation when some one asked me what day I had left Rome, and whether there was any news there. And when I had replied that I was on my road from my province, “Oh ay,” said he, “from Africa, I suppose.”
XXVII. On this, I angry and disgusted, said, “No; from Sicily.” And then, some one else, with the air of a man who knew everything, said, “What! do not you know that Cicero has been quæstor at Syracuse?” I need not make a long story of it; I gave over being angry, and was content to be considered one of those who had come to Puteoli for the waters. But I do not know, O judges, whether what happened then did not do me more good than if every one had congratulated me. For after I learnt from this that the people of Rome had deaf ears, but very sharp and active eyes, I gave up thinking what men would have said of me; but took care that they should every day see me in their presence: I lived in their sight; I stuck to the forum; neither my porter nor even sleep was allowed to prevent any one from having access to me. Need I say anything about my time which was devoted to business, when even my leisure time was never my own? For the very orations which you say, O Cassius, that you are in the habit of reading when you are at leisure, I wrote on days of festival and on holidays, so that I never was at leisure at all. In truth, I have always thought that saying of Marcus Cato, which he put at the head of his Origines, a splendid and admirable one: “That eminent and great men ought to lay down a regular plan for their leisure as well as for their business.” And, therefore, if I have any credit, I hardly know how much I have; it has all been acquired at Rome, and earned in the forum. And public events have sanctioned my private counsels in such a way, that even at home I have had to attend to the general interests of the republic, and to preserve the city while in the city. The same road, O Cassius, is open to Laterensis, the same path by virtue to glory. And it will be the easier to him, perhaps, on this account: that I have mounted up hither without having any family interest to push me on, and relying solely on myself; but his admirable virtues will be assisted by the recommendation which the virtues of his ancestors supply him with.
However, to return to Plancius, he has never been absent from the city unless any lot which he may have drawn, or some law, or some necessity compelled him to be so. He did not excel in those things in which some men perhaps do; but he did excel in diligence, he did excel in paying attention to his friends, he did excel in liberality. He kept himself before men’s eyes; he stood for offices; he has followed at all times that course of life by which, while there is less danger that way of incurring unpopularity, the greatest number of new men have attained the same honours which he has.
XXVIII. For as to what you say, O Cassius,—that I am not under greater obligations to Plancius than I am to all good men, because my safety was equally dear to all of them,—I confess that I am under obligations to all good men. But even those men to whom I am under obligations, good men and virtuous citizens, said at the comitia for the election of the ædiles, that they themselves were under some obligations to Plancius on my account. However, grant that I am under obligations to many people, and among others to Plancius, ought it therefore to make me bankrupt; ought I not rather, when each man’s turn comes, to pay them all this debt which I acknowledge, whenever it is demanded? Although, being in debt for money and for kindness are two different things. For the man who pays money, the moment he does so, no longer has that which he has paid; and he who owes is in debt. But the man who shows his gratitude by requiting a kindness, still preserves the feeling; and he who feels it, requites the kindness by the mere fact of his feeling it. Nor shall I cease to be under obligations to Plancius even if I requite his service to me now; nor should I have been less grateful to him as far as my inclination went, if this trouble had not befallen him. You ask of me, O Cassius, what I could do more for my own brother, who is most dear to me,—what I could do more for my own children, than whom nothing can be more delightful to me, than I am doing for Plancius? And you do not see that the very affection which I feel for them, stimulates and excites me to defend the safety of Plancius too. For they have nothing more at heart than the safety of the man by whom they know that my safety was ensured; and I myself never look on them without recollecting that it is by his means that I was preserved to them, and remembering his great services done to me.
You relate that Opimius was condemned, though he himself had been the saviour of the republic. You add to him Calidius, by whose law Quintus Metellus was restored to the state; and you find fault with my prayers on behalf of Cnæus Plancius, because Opimius was not released on account of his services, nor Calidius on account of those of Quintus Metellus.
XXIX. As for Calidius, I will only state this in answer to you, which I saw myself. That Quintus Metellus Pius, when consul, at the comitia for the election of prætors, for which office Quintus Calidius was standing, addressed supplications to the Roman people, and did not hesitate—though he was consul at the time, and a man of the very highest rank—to call him his patron and the patron of his most noble family. And now I ask of you whether you think that, if Calidius had been on his trial, Metellus Pius, if he had been able to be at Rome, or his father, if he had been alive, would have done for him what I am doing on the trial of Cnæus Plancius? I wish, indeed, that the misfortune of Opimius could be eradicated from men’s memories. But it is to be considered as a wound inflicted on the republic, as a disgrace to this empire, as the infamy of the Roman people, and not as a judicial verdict. For what more terrible blow could those judges—if indeed they deserve to be called judges, and not parricides of their country—inflict on the republic, than they did when they drove that man out of the state, who as prætor had delivered the republic from a war waged against it by its neighbours, and as consul, from one carried on against it by its own citizens?
But you say that I make out the kindness done me by Plancius to have been greater than it really was; and, as you say, I exaggerate it in speaking of it—as if I were bound to regulate my gratitude by your estimate, and not by my own. “What great service was it, after all, that he did you? Was it that he did not put you to death?” Say rather that he prevented me from being put to death. And while speaking on this point, O Cassius, you even acquitted my enemies, and said that no plots had been laid by them against my life. And Laterensis advanced the same assertion. Wherefore I will presently say a little more on that head. At present I only ask of you whether you think it was but a slight hatred which my enemies had conceived against me? Did any barbarians ever entertain such savage and cruel feelings against an open enemy? Or do you suppose that there was in those men any regard for fame or any fear of punishment, when you saw them during the whole of that year brandishing their swords in the forum, menacing the temples with conflagration, and disturbing the whole city with their violence? Unless, perhaps, you think that they spared my life because they had no apprehension of my return. Do you think that there was any one so wholly destitute of sense as not to think that, if these men were permitted to live, and if the city and the senate-house were allowed to remain standing, I also ought certainly to be restored if I too remained alive? Wherefore you, being such a man and such a citizen as you are, ought not to say that my enemies were too moderate to attack my life, when the fact is that it was preserved by the fidelity of my friends.
XXX. I will now reply to you, O Laterensis, perhaps less vigorously than I have been attacked by you; and certainly in a manner not more destitute of consideration for, or of friendly feeling towards you, than your manner was towards me. For in the first place, that was rather a harsh thing for you to say, that in what I was saying about Plancius I was speaking falsely, and inventing statements to suit the emergency. I suppose, forsooth, I, like a wise man, planned how I might appear bound to another by the greatest bonds of kindness and gratitude, when I was in reality a free man and under no obligation at all. Why need I have done so? Had I not plenty of reasons besides for defending Plancius? were not my own intimacy with him, my neighbourhood to him, and my friendship for his father, sufficiently cogent motives? And even if they had not existed, I had reason to fear, I suppose, lest I should be doing a discreditable thing in defending a man of his high respectability and worth. It must have been a very clever idea of mine to pretend that I owed everything to that man who was about to owe everything to me! But this is a thing which even common soldiers do against their will, and they are reluctant to give a civic crown to a citizen, and to confess that they have been saved by any one; not because it is discreditable to have been protected in battle, or to be saved out of the hands of the enemy, (for in truth that is a thing which can only happen to a brave man, and to one fighting hand to hand with the enemy,) but they dread the burden of the obligation, because it is an enormous thing to be under the same obligation to a stranger that one is to a parent. But because others deny kindnesses which they have received, even when they are of less importance, in order not to appear under any obligation, am I on that account speaking falsely, when I say that I am bound to a man by his previous services done to me, for which it is quite impossible for me to make any adequate return? Are you ignorant of this, O Laterensis?—you who, being, as you were, a great friend of mine, and willing to share with me even the danger with which my life was at that time threatened,—when you had escorted me in that hour of my sad and bitter agony and departure from the city, not only with your tears, but also with your courage and your person, and with all your resources,—when you had in my absence defended with all your means, and all your power of protection, my children and my wife, were always pressing this statement upon me, that you willingly allowed and granted that I should employ all my zeal in contributing to the honour of Cnæus Plancius, because you said that the services which he had done me were acceptable to you yourself also.
And is not even that oration, which is the first which I made in the senate after my return, a proof that I am saying nothing new now,—nothing just to meet the emergency? For as in that I returned thanks to very few by name, because it was quite impossible to enumerate all those who had served me, (and it would have been a crime to pass over any one,) and because I had therefore laid down a rule for myself to name those men only who had been the leaders and standard-bearers, as it were, in our cause; still among them I returned thanks to Plancius by name. Let the oration be read,—which, on account of the importance of the business, was pronounced from a written paper; in which I, cunning fellow that I must have been, gave myself up to a man to whom I was under no very great obligation, and bound myself to the slavery of this duty which I am now discharging by this undying testimony against myself. I do not wish to recite the other things which I committed to writing; I pass them over, that I may not seem to bring them up now on this emergency, or to avail myself of that description of learning which appears to be more suitable to my private studies than to the usages of courts of justice.
XXXI. And you keep crying out, O Laterensis, “How long are you going to keep on saying this? You did no good in the case of Cispius; people have got tired of your entreaties.” Will you object to me what I did in the case of Cispius, who had indeed deserved well of me, but whom I defended, having you for a witness in his favour, and at your especial request? And will you say “How long” to a man who you say was unable to obtain what he begged on behalf of Cispius? For to say “How long” to a man who exerted himself for one friend alone, and who did not succeed in his object, is rather like laughing at a person than reproving him: unless, perhaps, I, above all other men, have behaved in such a manner in the courts of justice, have lived in such a manner with those men who are the judges, and among them—unless I am such an advocate of defendants on their trial, and unless I am and always have been such a citizen in the republic, as to deserve to be held up by you as the only person who never ought to obtain anything from the judges by my entreaties.
And then you object to me a tear which I shed at the trial of Cispius. For this is what you said; “I saw your tear.” See now how I repent of having given you cause to say so. You might have seen not only a tear, but many tears and weeping and sobbing. Was I to abstain from showing my grief at the danger of a man who was so far moved by the tears of my family in my absence, that he laid aside the enmity which he had conceived against me, and was not only no opposer of my safety, (as my enemies had expected that he would have been,) but was even a great defender of it? And you, O Laterensis, who then said that my tears were a grateful sight, now wish to found an accusation against me on them.
XXXII. You say that the tribuneship of Plancius did not bring any assistance to my dignity. And in this place, (as you can do with the greatest truth,) you enumerate the godlike services done to me by Lucius Racilius, a most gallant and sensible man. And I never have concealed, and I shall at all times openly assert, that I am under the very greatest obligations to him, as I am to Cnæus Plancius; for he never thought any contest, or any enmity, or any danger even of his life too great for him to encounter for the sake of my welfare, or of that of the republic. And I wish that the Roman people were not prevented by the violence and injustice of wicked men from proving to him their gratitude by their acts, and measuring it by the extent of my own. But if Plancius did not make the same exertions in my favour when he was tribune, you ought to think, not that his inclination was wanting, but that I, being already under such vast obligations to Plancius, was now content with the services of Racilius.
Do you think that the judges will be the less inclined to do anything for my sake, because you accuse me of gratitude? Or, when the senators themselves, in that resolution of the senate which was passed in the monument of Marius,1 in which my safety was recommended to all nations, returned thanks to Plancius alone, (for he was the only defender of my safety, of all the magistrates or vice-magistrates, to whom the senate thought it proper to return thanks on my behalf,) shall I think that I myself am not bound to show my gratitude to him? And when you see all these things, what do you suppose must be my feelings towards you, O Laterensis? Do you think that there is any danger, or any labour, or any contest of so arduous a nature that I would shun it if it could advance not only your safety, but even your dignity? And I am so much the more, I will not say miserable, (for that is an expression which is inconsistent with the character of a virtuous man,) but severely tried; not because I am under obligations to many people, (for gratitude for kindness received is a very light burden,) but because circumstances often happen, on account of the quarrels of some men who have deserved well of me with one another, which make me fear that it is impossible for me to appear grateful to them all at the same time. But I must weigh in my own scales not only what I owe to each individual, but also of what importance the case is to each person, and what the necessities of each require of me at the particular moment.
XXXIII. What is at stake now on your part is this,—your eager wishes, or even, if you like, your reputation, and the glory of the ædileship. But on the side of Cnæus Plancius, it is his safety, his rights as a Roman and a citizen, which are in peril. You wished me to be safe; he even ensured my safety by his actions. Yet I am torn asunder and rent in pieces by grief—I do grieve that, in a contest where the stakes are so unequal, you should be offended by my conduct; but, I declare most solemnly, I would much rather endanger my own safety on your behalf, than abandon the safety of Cnæus Plancius to your hostility in this contest. In truth, O judges, while I wish to be adorned with every virtue, yet there is nothing which I can esteem more highly than the being and appearing grateful. For this one virtue is not only the greatest, but is also the parent of all the other virtues. What is filial affection, but a grateful inclination towards one’s parents?—who are good citizens, who are they who deserve well of their country both in war and at home, but they who recollect the kindness which they have received from their country?—who are pious men, who are men attentive to religious obligations, but they who with proper honours and with a grateful memory acquit themselves to the immortal gods of the gratitude which they owe to them?—what pleasure can there be in life, if friendships be taken away?—and, moreover, what friendship can exist between ungrateful people?—Who of us has been liberally educated, by whom his bringers up, and his teachers, and his governors, and even the very mute place itself in which he has been brought up and taught, are not preserved in his mind with a grateful recollection?—who ever can have, or who ever had such resources in himself as to be able to stand without many acts of kindness on the part of many friends?—and yet no such acts can possibly exist, if you take away memory and gratitude. I, in truth, think nothing so much the peculiar property of man, as the quality of being bound, not only by a kindness received, but by even the intimation of goodwill towards one; and I think nothing so inconsistent with one’s idea of a man—nothing so barbarous or so brutal—as to appear, I will not say unworthy of, but surpassed by kindness.
And as this is the case, I will succumb, O Laterensis, to your accusation; and in that very particular in which there cannot by any possibility be any excess,—namely, in gratitude, I will confess that I have gone to excess, since you insist upon it that it is so. And I will entreat you, O judges, to bind that man to you by a kindness, in whom the only fault that those who blame him find with him is that they accuse him of being immoderately grateful. And that ought not to prevail with you so as to make you think lightly of my gratitude, when he said that you were neither guilty men nor litigious men, so that there was the less reason for your allowing me any great influence over you: as if in my intercourse with my friends I did not always prefer that these abilities of mine (if indeed I have any abilities) should be at the service of my friends, rather than they should become necessary to them. In truth, I do venture to say this of myself, that my friendship has been a pleasure to more men than those to whom it has been a protection; and I should greatly repent of my past life, if there was no room in my friendship for any one who was not either a litigious person or a guilty one.
XXXIV. But somehow or other you have repeated over and over again, and have dwelt upon the assertion, that you did not choose to connect this case with the games, lest I, according to my usual custom, should say something about the sacred cars, for the sake of exciting pity; as I had done before in the case of other ædiles. No doubt you got something by this; for you deprived me of an embellishment of my speech. I shall be laughed at now if I make any mention of the sacred cars, after you have predicted that I should do so. And without the sacred cars what can I find to say? And here you added, too, that this was the reason why I by my law had established the penalty of banishment in cases of bribery, that I might be able to sum up my orations in a way more calculated to excite pity. Does he not, when he says all this, seem to you to be arguing against some teacher of declamation, and not with one who is a pupil, as I may say, of the real toils of the forum? “Yes, for I was not at Rhodes,” says he. (He means that I was.) “But I was,” says he, (I thought he was going to say, at Vacca,1 ) “twice at Nicæa, in Bithynia.” If the place gives a person any handle for finding fault with one, I know not why you should think Nicæa stricter than Rhodes: if we are to examine into the cause, then you were in Bithynia with the greatest credit, and I was at Rhodes with no less. For as to the point on which you found fault with me,—namely, that I had defended too many people,—I wish that you, who are able to do it, and others too, who shirk it, were willing to relieve me of this labour. But the effect of your diligence, who weigh causes so carefully that you reject almost all of them, is that nearly all causes come to me, who am not able to deny anything to men who are in misery and distress.
You reminded me also, since you had been in Crete, that something might have been said against your offering yourself as a candidate; and that I let that opportunity slip. Which of us, then, is more covetous of a smart saying?—I who did not say what might have been said, or you who said it even against yourself? You were fond of saying that you had sent home no letters with accounts of your exploits, because mine, which I had sent to some one or other, had injured me. But I am not aware that they did injure me; I am quite sure that they might have been of service to the republic.
XXXV. But these things are of but little importance; but those points are serious and weighty, that you wish now to find fault with, and in an underhand manner to accuse my departure from the city, which you had often wept over. For you have said that assistance was not wanting to me, but that I was wanting to those who were willing to assist me. But I confess that, because I saw that aid was not wanting to me, I did on that account spare that aid; for who is there who does not know what was the state of things at that time,—what danger and what a storm there was in the republic? Was it fear of the tribunes, or was it the frenzy of the consuls which influenced me? Was it a very formidable thing for me to fight with the sword with the relics of those men, whom when they were flourishing with their strength unimpaired, I had defeated without the sword? The basest and most infamous consuls in the memory of man,—as both the beginning of their conduct, and as their recent termination of those affairs, show them to have been, (one of whom lost his army, and the other sold it,)—having bought their provinces, had deserted the senate, and the republic, and all good men. When no one knew what were the feelings of those men who by means of their armies, and their arms, and their riches, were the most powerful men in the state, then that voice, rendered insane by its infamous debaucheries, made effeminate by its attendance on holy altars, kept crying out in a most ferocious manner that both these men and the consuls were acting in concert with him.
Needy men were armed against the rich, abandoned men against the good, slaves against their masters. The senate was with me, even changing its garments in token of the danger; a measure which was adopted by public resolution for no one else except myself in the memory of man. But recollect who were then our enemies with the name of consuls. The only men since the city was built who ever prevented the senate from complying with a resolution of the senate, and who by their edict took away, not indeed grief, from the conscript fathers, but the power of deciding on the reasons for their grief. The whole equestrian order was with me; whom, indeed, that dancing consul of Catiline’s used to frighten in the assemblies of the people with menaces of proscription. All Italy was assembled, and terrified with fear of civil war and devastation.
XXXVI. I admit, O Laterensis, that I might have availed myself of these assistants, zealous in my behalf, and in a state of great excitement as they were. But the contest must have been decided not by right, nor by the laws, nor by argument; for, in truth, that assistance of my own, which has often been placed so readily at the disposal of others, would not, especially in so good a cause, have been wanting to me myself. We must have fought with arms,—ay, with arms, I say; and it would have been destruction to the republic for arms to have been employed by slaves and leaders of slaves for the slaughter of the senate and of the virtuous citizens.
I confess that it would have been a fine thing for the wicked to have been conquered by the good, if I could have seen the end of the victory; (which, in truth, I could not.) For where should I have found to stand by me so brave a consul as Lucius Opimius, or as Caius Marius, or as Lucius Flaccus? under whom, as her leaders, the republic did put down wicked men with armed citizens; or, if I could not get men as fearless as those, yet where could I find men as just as Publius Mucius, who, after Tiberius Gracchus had been slain, defended Publius Scipio, and asserted that the arms which he as a private individual had taken up, had been taken up in strict accordance with the law? We, then, should have had to fight with the consuls. I say no more, except this one thing; I saw that there were formidable adversaries ready to dispute the victory with us, and no one who would avenge us if we fell. If, then, I was wanting to these aids to the cause of my safety, because I was unwilling to do battle for it, I will then confess, as you say, that assistance was not wanting to me, but that I myself was wanting to the assistance which I had. But if, the greater I saw the zeal of good men in my behalf, the more I thought it my duty to consult their interests, and to spare them, do you find fault with me for the same conduct which was considered a credit to Quintus Metellus, and which is to this day, and always will be, his greatest glory? for it is well known—as you may hear from many who were present at the time—that he departed greatly against the will of all good men; and there is not the slightest doubt that he would have had the best of it, if they had come to a struggle and a trial of arms. Therefore, though he was defending his own actions, and not those of the senate,—though it was his own opinion that he was resolutely upholding, and not the welfare of the republic,—still when he endured that voluntary wound, he surpassed in glory and credit the justest and most illustrious triumphs of all the Metelli; because he would not be the cause of even those wickedest of citizens being slain, and because he provided against the danger of any good man being involved in their slaughter. And should I.—seeing such great danger before us, as, if I were defeated, the total destruction of the republic must ensue, and if I got the better, an endless contest would follow,—should I, I say, give any one reason to style me the destroyer of the republic, after having been its saviour?
XXXVII. You say that I was afraid of death. But I should think it wrong to accept even immortality at the expense of the welfare of the republic; much less should I be willing to die, if by that means I was to damage the commonwealth. For as for those men who have given up their lives for the sake of the state, (although you may say that I am talking foolishly,) I have never considered that they had met with death so much as with immortality. But if I had at that time fallen by the weapons and hands of wicked men, the republic would for ever have lost the civil guardian of its safety. Moreover, if any violence of disease, or if nature itself had carried me off, still the resources of posterity would have been diminished, because by my death the opportunity would have been lost of showing what great zeal of the senate and people of Rome was to be exerted in retaining me. Should I, if I had ever had any extravagant fondness for life, have challenged the weapons of all those parricides in the month of December of the year of my consulship, when, if I had remained quiet for twenty days longer, they would all have fallen on the vigilance of other consuls? Wherefore, if fondness for life when contrary to the interests of the republic is shameful, at all events a desire for death in my case, which must have been accompanied with injury to the state, would have been more shameful still.
For as for your boasting that you were a free man in the republic, I confess that you are, and I rejoice at it, and I also congratulate you on that account; but as for your denying that I am free also, as to that particular I will neither allow you nor any one else to continue in your mistake any longer.
XXXVIII. For if any one thinks that my independence has suffered any diminution, because I do not now differ in opinion with all those same men with whom I was formerly accustomed to differ; in the first place, if I show myself grateful to those who have deserved well of me, I do not cease to be attacked with the accusation of being a man of too good a memory, and too grateful. But if, without any injury to the republic, I sometimes show a regard to my own safety and that of my family, at all events I not only do not deserve to be blamed for this, but, even if I were to wish myself to run on ruin, there are good men who would entreat me not to do so.
But the republic itself, if it were able to speak, would plead with me, that as I had always served her interests, and never my own, and as I had received a reward from her not such as I ought, rich and abundant, but mingled with exceeding bitterness, now at length to serve myself, and to consult the interests of my family; and would urge not only that she herself had received enough from me, but that she even feared that she had made me but an inadequate return for all the services which I had rendered her.
But what will you say if I think nothing of all these things, and if I persevere in the same course in the republic which I have always pursued? will you still ask what is become of my independence? which you make to consist in the fact of our struggling for ever with any one with whom we have at any time had a contest. But this is all nonsense; for we ought at all times to act as if we were standing in some revolving orb of the republic, and as that turns round we ought to choose that part to which the advantage and safety of the republic direct us.
XXXIX. But I do not call Cnæus Pompeius the author, and prime cause, and defender of my safety, (for these things demand perhaps a recollection of the kindness and gratitude for it from a man in his private capacity,) but I say this, which has reference to the common welfare of the republic; should not I defend that man whom every one admits to be the first man in the republic? should I be wanting to the praises of Caius Cæsar, when I see them celebrated first of all by numerous and most honourable decisions of the Roman people, and now too by those of the senate, to which body I have always devoted myself? In that case, in truth, I should confess that I had never formed any opinion with reference to the welfare of the republic, but that I was guided solely by my friendship for or enmity towards particular persons.
When I see a ship holding on its course with favourable winds, if it does not proceed towards that port which I at one time thought best, but to some other no less safe and tranquil than that, shall I rather strive with the tempest even at the risk of danger, instead of yielding to it and being guided by it, especially when there is a hope of safety in such a line of conduct? But I have learnt these principles, I have seen and read them in books, written records have handed down to us these memorials of wise and most illustrious men, both in this republic and in other cities, and show that the same opinions have not at all times been upheld by the same men, but that they have adopted whatever sentiments the constitution of the republic, the state of affairs at the time, and the considerations of peace and concord pointed out as desirable. And this is what I am doing, O Laterensis, and what I always shall do; and the independence which you profess to look for in me, and which I have never lost, I never will lose, and yet on the other hand I will not believe it to consist in obstinacy, but in moderation.
XL. Now I come to your last assertion, when you said that, while I was extolling so highly the services which Plancius had done me, I was making a castle out of a sewer, and worshipping a stone taken from a sepulchre as a god; and that I had never been in the least danger of any one forming plots against me, or of death. And therefore I will in a few words, and not reluctantly, explain the circumstances of that time. For there is nothing that has happened during my lifetime which has got abroad less, or which has been seldomer talked about by me, or which has been less heard of and which is less commonly known by men in general. For I, O Laterensis,—on departing from that general conflagration of laws and justice, and the senate, and all good men, at a time when my house threatened while burning itself to set fire to the city and to all Italy, if I did not remain perfectly quiescent,—I, I say, intended to proceed to Sicily, which was all united like one family in my favour, and which was at that time governed by Caius Virgilius, with whom I was most intimately connected both by the long duration of our acquaintance, and by friendship, and by his belonging to some of the same guilds as my brother, and by our common attachment to the republic. See, now, the blackness of those times. When the very island itself—I may almost say—wished to come forward to meet me, that prætor, repeatedly harassed as he was by the harangues and attacks of that same tribune of the people, on account of his attachment to the republic, would not consent (I will not use a stronger term) to my coming to Sicily. What shall I say? Shall I say that Caius Virgilius, that that excellent citizen and man had forgotten his regard for me, the recollection of the days of our companionship, and all regard for piety, humanity, and good faith? Nothing of the sort, O judges, was the case; he was only afraid that he might not be able by his own unassisted strength to make a stand against that tempest which we even, when supported by you, had been unable to encounter. Then, my plans being thus suddenly changed, I determined to proceed by land from Vibo to Brundusium, for the severity of the weather prevented any attempt at proceeding by sea.
XLI. As all those municipal towns which are between Vibo and Brundusium were in my interest, O judges, they, though many people threatened me, and though they were in great alarm themselves, rendered my journey safe to me. I arrived at Brundusium, or, I should rather say, I arrived outside the walls. I avoided entering the city which was of all others the most friendly to me, and which would have allowed itself to be destroyed before it would have permitted me to be torn from its embrace. I went to the villa of Marcus Lænius Flaccus; and though he had every sort of fear before his eyes,—though he was threatened with confiscation of his property, and exile, and death,—yet he chose to encounter all these things, if they were to happen, rather than abandon the design of protecting my life. I, placed by his hands and by those of his father, a most sensible and virtuous man, and by those of his brother and both his sons, in a safe and trustworthy ship, and being escorted by their prayers and vows for my return, departed thence to go to Dyrrachium, which was devoted to my interests. And when I had come thither, I ascertained—as indeed I had heard before—that Greece was full of wicked and abandoned men, whose impious weapons and destructive firebrands my consulship had wrested from their hands. And before they could hear that I had arrived in those districts, and although they were many days’ journey from them, I proceeded into Macedonia to Plancius. But as soon as ever Plancius heard that I had crossed the sea,—(listen, listen, I say, and take notice, O Laterensis, that you may know how much I owe to Plancius, and that you may confess at last that what I am doing I am doing out of proper gratitude and piously; and that the trouble which he took for my safety, if it is not to do him any good, ought at all events not to be any injury to him,)—as soon, I say, as he heard that I had arrived at Dyrrachium, he immediately came to me himself, without his lictors, without any of the insignia of his office, and with his robe changed for one of mourning.
Oh, how bitter to me, O judges, is the recollection of that time and place, when he fell on my neck, when he embraced me, and bedewed me with his tears, and was unable to speak for grief! O circumstance cruel to be heard of, and impious to be beheld! O all the remainder of those days and nights during which he never left me, until he had conducted me to Thessalonica, and to his official house as quæstor! Here I will say nothing at present about the prætor of Macedonia, beyond this, that he was always a most excellent citizen, and a friend to me; but that he felt the same fear that the rest did; and that Cnæus Plancius was the only man—I will not say, who had no such fear—but who, even if those things were to happen which were dreaded, was willing to encounter and endure them in my company and for my sake. For even when Lucius Tubero, my intimate friend, who had been lieutenant to my brother, had come to me on his return from Asia, and had revealed to me in the most friendly spirit the treacherous designs which he heard were formed against me by the banished conspirators, and when I was preparing therefore to go into Asia on account of the connexion subsisting between that province and my brother and myself, he would not allow me to depart. He, Plancius, I say, detained me by force and by a close embrace, and for many months never departed from me, discarding his character as a quæstor and assuming that of my companion.
XLII. O what miserable nights of watching did you pass, O Cnæus Plancius! O what tearful vigils! O what bitter nights! O what a miserable task was that which you undertook of protecting my life! if I, now that I am alive, am unable to be of any service to you, though perhaps I might have been of some if I had been dead. For I recollect, I well recollect, and I never shall forget, that night when I, miserable man that I was, and led on by ungrounded hopes, made you who were watching over me, and sitting by me, and lamenting, some vain and empty promises. I promised that, if I were restored to my country, then I would in person show my gratitude; but, if chance deprived me of life, or if any greater violence prevented my return, then I undertook that these men, these whom we see here, (for what others could I then be thinking of?) would make you a fitting return on my behalf, for all your exertions. Why do you fix your eyes upon me now? Why do you claim the performance of my promise? Why do you implore my observance of good faith? I was not promising you at that time anything from my own resources, but from the good-will of these men towards me. I saw that these men were mourning for me; that they were groaning for me; that they were willing to do battle in defence of my rights and safety, even at the hazard of their own lives; I, as well as you, was hearing every day of the regret, and grief, and complaints of these men; and now I fear that I may be able to make you no other return beyond tears, of which you yourself shed plenty for my distresses. For what can I do more than grieve? more than weep? more than consider your safety bound up with my own? The same men who gave me safety are the only men who have the power to give it to you. But I (rise up and stand forward, I beg you,) will cling to you and embrace you; and I will profess myself, not only one who prays to the judges to protect your fortunes, but one who will be your companion and partner in them. And, as I hope, no one will be of so cruel and inhuman a disposition, nor so unmindful—I will not say of the services which I have done the good, but of the services which the good have done me—as to tear away and separate the saviour of my very existence as a citizen from me. I beg of you, O judges, to save a man who has been, not loaded with kindnesses by me, but the guardian of my safety. I am not striving in his behalf with wealth, and authority, and influence; but with prayers, and tears, and appeals to your mercy. And his unhappy and most virtuous father, whom you see before you, joins his entreaties to mine; we, being as it were two parents of his, pray your mercy for our one son.
Do not, O judges, I entreat you in the name of yourselves, of your fortunes, and of your children, give joy to my enemies, especially to those whom I have made my enemies by labouring for your safety, by allowing them to boast that you have by this time forgotten me, and that you have shown yourselves enemies to the safety of the man by whom my safety was ensured. Do not crush my spirit not only with grief, but also with fear that your kind regard for myself is altered; allow me to pay the man from you, that which I repeatedly promised him because I relied on you.
And you, O Caius Flavius,1 you I beg and entreat,—you who were the partner of my counsels during my consulship, and the sharer of my dangers, and my assistant in the exploits which I performed; and who have at all times wished me to be not only safe, but prosperous also and flourishing,—I entreat you, I say, to preserve for me, by the instrumentality of these men, that man to whom it is owing that you see me preserved to them and to you. It is not only my own tears, but yours also, O Flavius, and yours too, O judges, that hinder me from saying more: and by them I—though I am in a state of great apprehension—am induced to hope that you will show yourselves the same men with reference to the saving of Plancius that you did in my case; since by those tears which I now behold, I am reminded of those which you so repeatedly and abundantly shed for my sake.
[1 ]Aulus Plotius was, however, the other ædile elect, as Plancius’s colleague.
[1 ]“In some Italian towns there was a præfectus juri dicundo. He was in the place of, and not coexistent with, duumviri. The duumviri were originally chosen by the people, but the præfectus was appointed annually in Rome, and sent to the town called a præfectura, which might be either a municipium or a colonia; for it was only in the matter of the præfectus that a town called a præfectura differed from other Italian towns. Arpinum is called both a municipium and a præfectura.”—Smith, Dict. Ant. p. 259, v. Colonia, q. v.
[1 ]The Latin word is sodalitium. “Especially a feasting club; at these parties conspiracies were frequently hatched, and so they obtained a bad name. Cic. Planc. 15.”—Riddle, Lat. Dict. in voc. “Lex Licinia was specially directed against the offence of sodalitium, or the wholesale bribery of a tribe by gifts and treating.”—Smith, Dict. Ant. p. 36, v. Ambitus.
[1 ]Cicero, in his oration against Rullus, shows that the votes were given twice over at elections for magistrates, the comitia tributa being twice held for that object.
[1 ]Orellius and all editors consider this passage corrupt, and correct it in different ways.
[1 ]This is a fragment of Attius from his play of Philoctetes; see also the oration for Sextus, cap. xlviii.
[1 ]The decree for Cicero’s return was passed in a temple built by Marius, and called on that account Marius’s Monument, and this was a circumstance that had specially delighted Cicero, as being in accordance with a dream of his when he first left Rome, in which he fancied that Marius had appeared to him, and had ordered his lictor to conduct him to his monument, telling him that he should find safety there. Vide Cic. de Divin. i. 28.
[1 ]Vacca was a town in Spain which had a reputation for a very bad style of oratory, as also had Corduba.
[1 ]Caius Flavius was one of the prætors of the year, and, as such, president of this court.