Front Page Titles (by Subject) THE SPEECH OF M. T. CICERO IN DEFENCE OF PUBLIUS SEXTIUS. - Orations vol. 3: Containing the Orations for his House, Plancius, Sextius, Coelius, Milo, Ligarius, etc.
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THE SPEECH OF M. T. CICERO IN DEFENCE OF PUBLIUS SEXTIUS. - Marcus Tullius Cicero, Orations vol. 3: Containing the Orations for his House, Plancius, Sextius, Coelius, Milo, Ligarius, etc. 
The Orations of Marcus Tullius Cicero, trans. C.D. Yonge (London: G. Bell and Sons, 1913-21). Vol. 3.
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THE SPEECH OF M. T. CICERO IN DEFENCE OF PUBLIUS SEXTIUS.
Publius Sextius, when tribune of the people, had been one of those who had exerted themselves most strenuously to promote Cicero’s recal, and had shown himself most devoted to his interest, though some coolness had sprung up between them afterwards, owing to Sextius’s thinking that Cicero was not sufficiently sensible of his obligations to him. Having, however, become very obnoxious to all the friends of Catiline’s party, Clodius instigated Marcus Tullius Albonovanus to prosecute him on an accusation of having been guilty of violence and breaches of the peace during his tribunate; and they both expected that Cicero would be neuter in the cause; but he went of his own accord to Sextius, and offered to undertake his defence. Pompeius attended this trial as a friend to Sextius, but Cæsar sent his friend Vatinius to give evidence against him. (See the next speech.)
This speech was delivered a. u. c. 698.
Sextius was unanimously acquitted.
I.If any one in times past, O judges, was used to wonder what was the reason why in a republic of such power, and in an empire of such dignity, there were not found any great number of citizens endowed with so fearless and magnanimous a spirit, as to dare to expose themselves and their personal safety to danger on behalf of the constitution of the state and of the general liberty; from henceforward he must wonder if he ever sees any virtuous or intrepid citizens, rather than if he occasionally finds one timid, and caring more for his own interests than for those of the republic. For without calling to mind and considering the case of each separate individual, you can see at one survey those men who joined the senate and all virtuous citizens in raising up our afflicted country, and delivering it from a horde of domestic robbers, now with sad countenances and mourning garments struggling as defendants for their freedom, for their characters, for their rights as citizens, for their fortunes, and for their children; and those who have polluted, and attacked, and thrown into confusion, and overturned all divine and human laws going about the city merry and joyful, and, while they are without any provocation, contriving danger for the bravest and best of the citizens, in no fear whatever for themselves.
And though there is much that is scandalous in such a state of things, yet is there nothing more intolerable than that they now seek to employ not their bands of robbers, not men desperate through want and wickedness, but you yourselves, the best men in the city, for the purpose of bringing us and other most virtuous men into danger. And they now think that, as they were unable to destroy them by stones, and swords, and firebrands, by violence, and personal force, and armed bands, they will be able to effect their purpose through the instrumentality of your authority, your integrity, and your judicial decisions.
But, O judges, since I am compelled now to exert that voice in order to ward off danger from them, which I had hoped to be able to devote to returning thanks to, and to commemorating the kindness of those men who have conferred the greatest services on me, I entreat you to allow that voice to be useful to them to whose exertions it is owing that it has been restored at all to myself, and to you and to the Roman people.
II. And although the case of Publius Sextius has been summed up by Quintus Hortensius, that most illustrious and most eloquent man; and though nothing has been omitted by him which he could possibly urge either in the way of complaint over the condition of the republic, or of argument for the defendant; still I will come forward also to speak for him, lest my exertions in defence should appear to be wanting to that man to whom it is owing that they are not wanting to every one of the citizens. And I consider, O judges, that in this case, and now speaking as I am at the close of it, the part which belongs to me is to argue the matter on grounds of affection, rather than to defend my client by an appeal to the strict law; to employ complaints rather than eloquence, and to display my grief rather than my ability. And, therefore, if I plead with more vehemence or more freedom than those who have spoken before me, I beg of you to listen to my speech with much indulgence, and to make all the allowance for it that you think is due to pious grief and just indignation. For no man’s grief can be more intimately connected with his duty than this present grief of mine, being caused as it is by the peril of a man who has done me the greatest possible services. Nor is any indignation more praiseworthy than that with which I am inflamed by the wickedness of those men, who have thought it their business to declare war against all the defenders of my safety. But since his other counsel have spoken of each separate charge, I will speak of the entire state of the case as affecting Publius Sextius, of his conduct throughout his life, of his natural disposition, of his habits, of his incredible affection for all good men, of his zeal for the preservation of the general safety and tranquillity; and I will endeavour—if it be only possible for me to succeed—to prevent anything, in all this miscellaneous and general defence, from appearing omitted by me which has any connexion either with this investigation before you, or with the defendant, or with the republic.
And since the tribuneship of Publius Sextius was placed by fortune itself in the most critical period of the state, and amid the ruins of the overthrown and prostrate republic, I will not approach those most important and serious topics before I have first shown you by what beginnings, and on what foundations, the great glory was built up which he gained under the most trying circumstances.
III. Publius Sextius, O judges, was born (as most of you know) of a wise, and conscientious, and strict father, who after he had been appointed as the first tribune of the people among a number of most noble men, and in a prosperous time of the republic, was not so eager to obtain the other honours of the state as to seem worthy of them. By the advice of that father, he married the daughter of a most honourable and thoroughly tried man, Caius Albinus, by whom he had this boy whom you see here, and a daughter who is now married. My client was so highly esteemed by these two men of the highest class of old-fashioned virtue, that he was beyond all things beloved by and agreeable to both of them. The death of his daughter took away from Albinus the name of his father-in-law, but it did not take away the affection and good-will engendered by that connexion. And to this very day he is very fond of him, as you may judge by his constant attendance here, and by his anxiety for him, and by his frequent solicitations to you on his behalf. He married a second wife, while his father was still alive, the daughter of a most virtuous but most unfortunate man, Caius1 Scipio. And with respect to this man, the piety of Publius was shown in a most remarkable way, and one acceptable to all men, for he immediately went to Massilia2 to see and comfort his father-in-law, cast out as he was by the waves of the republic, lying in a foreign land, a man who ought to have stood in the foot-steps of his ancestors. And he conducted his daughter to him, in order to induce him, by that unexpected sight and embrace, to lay aside, if not all, at least some part of his sorrow; and as long as he lived he supported with the most unceasing attentions the sorrow of the father and the desolate condition of his daughter.
I might here say a great deal about his liberality, his attention to his domestic duties, his conduct as military tribune, and his great moderation in his province in the discharge of the duty of that magistracy; but I keep always in my view the dignity of the republic, which summons me to the consideration of herself, and exhorts me to pass over these minor points.
My client, O judges, was indeed, by lot, the quæstor of Caius Antonius, my colleague, but by his sharing in all my counsels he was in effect mine. I am prevented by scruples concerning the pledge of confidence, as I interpret it, under which such duties are performed, from explaining to you how much information he brought to me, and what great foresight he displayed. And of Antonius I will only say this one thing; that, in that time of exceeding fear and danger to the state, he never once attempted either to remove by any denial or to allay by any concealment the general apprehensions of all men, or the especial suspicion conceived by some persons with respect to himself. And if you were accustomed with truth, while I was occupied in supporting and restraining that colleague of mine, to praise my indulgence to him, united as it was with the greatest watchfulness over the interests of the republic, almost equal praise ought to be given to Publius Sextius, who kept such a watch on his own consul that he seemed to him to be a good quæstor, and to all of you to be a most excellent citizen.
IV. Moreover, when that conspiracy had burst forth from its hiding place and from darkness, and stalked about in arms through the city, he came with the army to Capua; which city we suspected, on account of its exceeding resources and advantages in time of war, was likely to have attempts made on it by that impious and wicked band. And he drove Marcus Aulanus, a military tribune devoted to Antonius, headlong out of Capua; a profligate man, and one who without much disguise had mixed in the intrigues of the conspiracy at Pisaurum, and in other parts of the Gallic territory. He also took care to get rid of Caius Marcellus out of that city, after he had not only come to Capua, but, as if from a fondness for warlike arms, had frequently visited a very numerous troop of gladiators. On which account that illustrious body of Roman settlers which is at Capua, which, on account of the way in which I preserved the safety of that city during my consulship, has adopted me as their only patron, returned the greatest thanks to this Publius Sextius, when he was at my house; and at this very time those same men, changing only their name, and appearing as colonists, and decurions,—most gallant and virtuous men that they are!—come forward to give evidence, and to declare the services done to them by Publius Sextius, and to inform you of their public vote according to which they entreat you to protect him from danger.
Read, I beg, O Publius Sextius, what the decurions1 of Capua decreed, in order that your childish voice may be able to give some hint to our adversaries what it appears likely to be able to do when it has acquired strength.
[The decree of the decurions is read.]
I am not having a decree read which has been dictated by any obligations of neighbourhood, or clientship, or relation of public hospitality, or which was passed because of a canvass for it, or because of the recommendation of some powerful man. I am reciting to you the expression of a recollection of dangers which have been passed through, the declaration of a most honourable service done to a people, a present return of kindness, and a testimony of past events. And at that very time when Sextius had released Capua from fear, and the senate and all good men, by the detection and crushing of all domestic enemies, had, under my guidance, delivered the city from the greatest dangers, I sent letters to summon him from Capua with that army which he had at that time with him. And the moment he had read the letters, he flew to the city with inconceivable rapidity. And in order that you may thoroughly call to mind the atrocity of those times, listen to the letters, and stir up your memories to a contemplation of the time that is gone by.
[The letters of Cicero, the consul, are read.]
V. By this arrival of Publius Sextius, the attacks and attempts of the new tribunes of the people, who then, in the last days of my consulship, were endeavouring to give me trouble on account of the deeds which I had performed, and all the over violent designs of the conspiracy, were checked. And after it was perceived that, while Cato, as tribune of the people, a most fearless and excellent citizen, defended the republic, the senate and the Roman people by themselves, without any assistance from the military, could easily uphold both their own majesty and the dignity of those men who had defended the general safety at their own personal risk, Sextius with that army of his followed Antonius with the greatest possible rapidity. Here why need I mention by what conduct he stirred up the consul to act with energy? or how many motives for exertion he suggested to that man, desirous, perhaps, of victory, but still too much afraid of the common dangers and chances of warfare and of battle? That would be a very long story; but thus much I will say briefly. If the courage of Marcus Petreius had not been most admirable; if his virtue in state affairs had not been faultless; if his influence among the soldiers had not been overpowering; if his experience in military affairs had not been most surprising; and if, above all, Publius Sextius had not cooperated with him in exciting, encouraging, reproving, and spurring on Antonius,—winter would have overtaken them before the end of that war, and Catiline, when he had emerged from those frosts and snows of the Apennines, and, having the whole summer before him, had begun to plunder the roads of Italy and the folds of the shepherds, would never have been destroyed without enormous bloodshed, and most miserable devastation extending over the whole of Italy.
These then were the feelings which Publius Sextius brought to his tribuneship; that I may forbear to speak of his quæstorship, and come at last to things nearer to ourselves. Although I must not omit to speak of that singular integrity of his in the province, of which I lately saw traces in Macedonia, not lightly imprinted to celebrate something for a short time, but fixed in the everlasting recollection of that province. But, however, we will pass over all these things, though not without turning back and fixing one last look upon them.
VI. Let us come with eager zeal and rapid course to his tribuneship, since that has been for some time inviting us to contemplate it, and since it occupies a large portion of my speech. And that tribuneship has already been spoken of by Quintus Hortensius in such a way that his speech not only appears to contain a complete defence to every count of the accusation, but would even be worth recollecting as laying down admirable rules for the principles and system on which a man ought to proceed in discharging the duties of a public office. But still, since the entire tribuneship of Publius Sextius did nothing but uphold my name and my cause, I think it necessary for me, O judges, if not to discuss the whole matter with precision, at all events to speak of it in a tone of lamentation.
And if while speaking on this subject I were inclined to inveigh against some men with something like severity, who would not make allowance for my attacking those men with some freedom of expression, by whose wickedness and frenzy I had myself been injured? But I will proceed with moderation, and I will be guided rather by what is suitable to the present time, than to my indignation. If there be any people who secretly are vexed at my safety, let them conceal themselves; if there be any who have at any time done anything against me, and who now are silent and quiet, let us also forget it; if there be any who are puffed up to behave insolently, and who still wish to attack me, we will bear with them as far as they can be borne with; nor shall my language offend any one, except those who so put themselves in my way that I shall appear not to have attacked them but to have run accidentally against them.
But it is necessary, before I begin to speak of the tribuneship of Publius Sextius, to lay before you all the circumstances of the shipwreck of the republic the preceding year; to the repairing which, and to the restoration of the general safety, all the words, and actions, and thoughts of Publius Sextius will be found to have been devoted.
VII. That year, the whole republic being in a state of great commotion, and many people being in just fear, had been like a bow bent against me alone, as men ignorant of state affairs used commonly to say; but in reality against the whole republic, by the transference to the common people of a furious and profligate man, angry with me, but a far more zealous enemy to tranquillity and the general safety. This man, that most illustrious of citizens, and, though many tried to alienate him from me, most friendly to me, Cnæus Pompeius, had bound by every sort of security, and promise, and oath to do nothing during his tribuneship contrary to my interest. But that wicked man, sprung as it were from the very dregs of every sort of wickedness, thought that he should not be doing enough in the way of violating his engagements, unless he terrified the man who was so eager to guard against danger for another, by personal danger to himself. This foul and savage brute, hampered as he was by the auspices, tied down by the precedents of our ancestors, fettered by the bonds of holy laws, was on a sudden released by the consul,1 who, as I imagine, was either won over by entreaties, or, as many people thought, influenced by hostility to me, and who at all events was ignorant and unsuspicious of the impending crimes and misfortunes. And that tribune of the people, if he was successful in his design of throwing the republic into confusion, did not owe it to any energy of his own. For what energy could there be in the life of a man maddened by the infamy of his brother, by his own adultery with his sister, and by every sort of unheard-of licentiousness?
But that, forsooth, did seem like a fortune appointed for the republic by fate itself, that that blind and senseless tribune of the people should find two—must I call them consuls? must I honour by this name the overthrowers of this empire, the betrayers of your dignity, the enemies of all good men? men who thought that they had been adorned with those fasces, and with all the other insignia of supreme honour and command, for the purpose of destroying the senate, of crushing the equestrian order, and extinguishing all the rights and established principles of our ancestors. And, I beg you in the name of the immortal gods, if you do not yet wish to recal their wickedness and the wounds which they have burnt into the republic, still turn your recollection to their countenances and their gait. Their actions will more easily present themselves to your minds if you bring their faces before your eyes.
VIII. The one reeking with perfumes, with curled hair, looking with disdain on the agents of his debaucheries, and the old plagues of his youthful age, formerly when tossed and driven about by the troops1 of usurers, lest in that Scyllæan state of debt he should be dashed up against the Mænian2 column, fled into the harbour of the tribuneship. He despised the Roman knights; he threatened the senate; he sold himself to the artisans, and proclaimed openly that they had saved him from being prosecuted for bribery; and he was used to say, moreover, that he hoped to obtain a province from them, even though it were against the will of the senate; and if he did not get a province, he did not think it possible for him to remain in safety. The other, O ye good gods! how horrible was his approach, how savage, how terrible was he to look at! You would say that you were beholding some one of those bearded men,—an example of the old empire, an image of antiquity, a prop of the republic. His garments were rough, made of this purple worn by the common people you see around us, nearly brown; his hair so rough that at Capua, in which he, for the sake of becoming entitled to have an image of himself, was exercising the authority of a decemvir, it seemed as if he would require the whole Seplasia3 to make it decent. Why need I speak of his eyebrow? which at that time did not seem to men to be an ordinary brow, but a pledge of the safety of the republic. For such great gravity was in his eye, such a contraction was there of his forehead, that the whole republic appeared to be resting on that brow, as the heavens do on Atlas. This was the common conversation of every one: “He is, however, a great and firm support to the republic; we have some one to oppose to that pollution, to that mud; I declare solemnly by his mere look he will check the licentiousness and levity of his colleague; the senate will have some one this year whom it can follow; good men will not be in want of an adviser and a leader this year.” And men congratulated me most especially, because I was likely to have not only a friend and connexion, but also a fearless and dignified consul as an ally against a frantic and audacious tribune of the people.
IX. And as to one of them, no one was mistaken in him; for who could suppose it possible for a man rising suddenly from the long darkness of brothels and scenes of debauchery in which he had lain, to hold the helm of so vast an empire, and to undertake the guidance of the republic in so important a voyage, amid such threatening waves?—a man worn out with wine and gluttony, and lewdness and adultery?—a man who, beyond his hopes, had been placed in the highest rank through the influence of others, when his drunken eyes were unable not merely to gaze on the impending storm, but even to stand any unusual glare of light? But the other did deceive many men in every point; for he was recommended to men’s favourable opinion by the fact of his high birth, which is of itself a very powerful recommendation, for all virtuous men naturally look with favour on noble birth, both because it is advantageous for the republic that nobly-born men should be worthy of their ancestors, and because the recollection of men who are illustrious, and who have deserved well of the republic, has its influence over us even after they are dead. And because men saw him always morose, always taciturn, always neglectful of his appearance and coarse-looking, and because his name was such that frugality appeared a quality innate in his family, they favoured him, and rejoiced, and in their hopes called him a man fashioned after the model of the integrity of his ancestors, forgetting the family of his mother. But I, (I will tell the plain truth, O judges,)—I myself never thought that there could be so much wickedness, audacity, and cruelty in any man as, to my own cost and that of the republic, I have experienced that there was in him. I knew the man was worthless, inconsistent, and that it was a pure mistake that made men think well of him, deceived by the appearance of his youth. His disposition, in truth, was concealed by his countenance, and his vices within walls; but this sort of disguise is never continued, nor so well maintained that it cannot be seen through by inquisitive eyes.
X. We saw the course of his life, his indolence and sloth; those who were in the least acquainted with him saw his secret licentiousness. Moreover, he gave us, by his conversation, plenty of handles to enable us to grasp and comprehend his inmost feelings. Being a very learned man, he used to praise philosophers,—I don’t know which, and indeed he could not tell their names himself;—but still he used to praise those above all others who were said to be beyond all the rest the admirers and panegyrists of pleasures: of what sort of pleasure,—of pleasure enjoyed at what times and in what manner, he never inquired; but the name itself he devoured with all the energy of his mind and body. And he used to say that those same philosophers were right when they said that wise men do everything for the sake of themselves; that no man in his senses has any business to trouble himself about the government of the republic; that nothing is better than a life of ease, full of and loaded with all sorts of pleasures: and he used to say that those men who said that men ought to regard their own dignity, and to consult the interests of the republic, and to have a regard in every action of life to duty and not to advantage, that men ought to undergo dangers on behalf of their country, and to encounter wounds and to seek even death for its sake, were crazy and mad. And from these incessant and daily conversations of his, and because I saw who the men were with whom he lived in the more retired part of his house, and because his house itself (as I may say) smoked so as to emit a steam from his discourse, and to show what he was about, I made up my mind that nothing good was to be looked for from such a trifler; but at the same time certainly that no evil need be feared. But the fact is, O judges, that, if you give a sword to a little child, or to a powerless and decrepit old man, he himself by his own violence cannot injure any one, but still if the sword touches the naked body of even the strongest man, it is possible that he may be wounded by the mere sharpness and power of the weapon; in like manner, when the consulship had been given as a sword to enervated and worn-out men, who, of their own strength, would never be able to wound any one, they, armed with the name of supreme command, murdered the republic. They openly made a treaty with the tribune of the people, to receive from him whatever provinces they chose, and an army, and as much money as they chose, on this condition,—that they themselves were the first to hand over the afflicted republic in fetters to the tribune. And they thought that that treaty could be ratified in my blood. And when this matter was divulged, (for such enormous wickedness could not be dissembled or hidden for any length of time,) motions are proposed at one and the same time by the same tribune, concerning my destruction and concerning the provinces of the consuls, allotting them to each of them by name.
XI. On this, the senate being anxious, you knights being in a state of great excitement, all Italy being agitated,—in short, all citizens of every sort and of every rank, thought that they must seek help for the republic from the consuls and from the supreme power, while they were the only men, besides that frantic tribune,—those two whirlwinds (so to say) of the republic,—who not only did not come to the assistance of their falling country, but who even grieved that it was falling so slowly. They were every day solicited both by the complaints of all good men, and by the direct entreaties of the senate, to undertake my cause, to act on my behalf, and to bring some proposition before the senate. They attacked all the most eminent men of that body, not only refusing their request, but even laughing at it. But when on a sudden an incredible multitude from the whole city, and from all Italy, had assembled at the Capitol, they all decided that they should put on mourning garments and defend me in every possible way by their private resources, since the republic was destitute for the time of its public leaders. At the same time the senate was assembled in the temple of Concord, a temple which of itself recalled the recollection of my consulship, when the whole body in tears addressed this curled consul with entreaties; for the other rough and fierce-looking one was keeping himself at home on purpose. With what haughtiness did that filthy fellow, that pest of the republic, reject the prayers of that most honourable body, and the tears of the most illustrious citizens! How did that glutton and devourer of his country scorn me! For why should I say devourer of his patrimony, which he lost while engaged in some sort of trade?
You, I say,—you, O Roman knights,—you and all virtuous men changed your garments, and in the cause of my safety threw yourselves at the feet of that most profligate debauchee. You and your prayers were alike trampled on by that robber. A man of extraordinary integrity, magnanimity, wisdom, and firmness, Lucius Ninnius, made a motion to the senate concerning the republic, and the senate, in a full house, passed a resolution that they should change their garments for my safety.
XII. Alas for that day, O judges, fatal to the senate, and to all good men! grievous to the republic! bitter for me as far as my domestic grief was concerned, but glorious as relates to my fame in the eyes of posterity! For what, since the first beginning of human memory, can any one produce more splendid than for all good men by their own tacit agreement as individuals, and for the whole senate by public resolution, to have changed their garments and put on mourning for the sake of a single citizen? And that change of dress was not adopted at that time for the sake of averting a calamity from me by entreaty, but to show their grief at that which had befallen me. For to whom could they address their entreaties, when all were in mourning alike, and when the fact of a man’s not having changed his dress was a sufficient proof of his being an ill-disposed person? After this change of garments had taken place, and while the city was in such grief, I say nothing of what that tribune, that plunderer of all things both human and divine, proceeded to do; a fellow who ordered all the most noble youths, and the most honourable Roman knights who were eager to entreat him to ensure my safety, to attend at his house, and who then exposed them to the swords and stones of his troop of artisans. I am speaking now of the consuls, on whose good faith the republic had a right to rely. Frightened out of his wits, he flies from the senate with a mind and countenance less agitated than it would have been a few years before, if he had fallen in with a crowd of his creditors. He convenes an assembly. He, the consul, addresses them in such a speech as even Catiline himself, if he had been victorious, would never have delivered. He said “that men were greatly mistaken if they thought that the senate had any power in the republic; and that the Roman knights should suffer severely for that day on which, in my consulship, they had appeared with their swords on the Capitoline Hill: that the time had come for those who had been in fear” (he evidently meant the conspirators) “to avenge themselves.” If he had said no more than this, he would have been worthy of the last extremity of punishment; for a mischievous speech of a consul can of itself undermine the republic. But see now what he did. In that assembly he banished Lucius Lamia, who was exceedingly attached to me on account of the exceeding intimacy which subsisted between me and his brother and his father, and who was also willing to encounter even death itself for the sake of the republic; and issued an edict that he should remove two hundred miles from the city because he had dared to address solicitations to him on behalf of a citizen,—of a citizen who had deserved well of the state, and who was his own friend,—and on behalf of the republic.
XIII. What can you do with this man? or for what punishment can you reserve this profligate citizen,—I should rather say this impious enemy? who, to pass over other particulars of his character, and other actions which belong to him in common with his infamous and savage colleague, has this one thing to boast of peculiar to himself, that he expelled from the city and banished (I will not say a Roman knight, I will not say a most accomplished and virtuous man, I will not say a citizen deeply attached to the republic, I will not say a man who was only joining his own lamentations for the calamity of his friend and of the republic to those of the senate and of all good men; it is enough to say that)—he, the consul, banished a Roman citizen without any trial, by his own simple edict. The Latin allies had never anything worse to submit to than (and it was a case of very rare occurrence) the being ordered by the consul to depart from the city. And they had the power then of returning to their own cities, to their own household gods; and in that general disaster no peculiar ignominy was attached by name to any single individual. But what is the case here? Is the consul to banish, by his edict, Roman citizens from their household gods? is he to expel them from their country? is he to select whom he pleases? to condemn and banish men by name? If he had supposed that you, who are now sitting here, would continue to exist in the republic,—if he had supposed that any image of the courts of justice would remain, or that there would be the least vestige of the old constitution left in the state, would he even have dared to wipe the senate out of the republic in this way? to reject the prayers of the Roman knights? in short, to overturn the rights and liberties of all the citizens, by new and unheard-of edicts?
Although you are listening to me, O judges, with the greatest attention, and with exceeding kindness, still I fear that some of you may, perchance, marvel why I am so prolix, and what is my object in tracing things back so far, or what connexion the offences of those men who harassed the republic before the tribuneship of Publius Sextius have with his cause now. But my desire is to show that all the counsels of Publius Sextius, and the whole object of his tribuneship, was to remedy the misfortunes of the afflicted and ruined republic as far as was in his power. And pardon me, if in laying open those wounds I appear to say rather too much about myself; for you and all good men decided that that disaster which befel me was the heaviest possible blow to the republic. And Publius Sextius is now on his trial, not on his own account, but on mine; for as he devoted all the powers of his tribuneship to the promotion of my safety, it is inevitable that I should look upon my own cause in past time as united with the defence which I am now making for him.
XIV. The senate then was in grief; the city wore an appearance of mourning, its garments having been changed in accordance with the public resolution of the senate. There was no municipal town in all Italy, no colony, no prefecture, no company of men concerned in farming the public revenues, no guild or council,—no public body, in short, of any kind whatever,—which had not passed most honourable resolutions concerning my safety, when all on a sudden the two consuls issue an edict that the senators are to return to their former dress. What consul ever prohibited the senate from obeying its own decrees? What tyrant ever forbade men who were miserable to mourn? Is it a small thing, O Piso,—for I will say nothing about Gabinius,—that you have deceived men to such a degree as to disregard the authority of the senate? to despise the advice of every virtuous man? to betray the republic? to crush a citizen of consular rank? that you must dare also to issue an edict that men are not to mourn for a disaster affecting me, and themselves, and the republic, and are not to show their grief by changing their garments? Whether that change of garment was assumed as a token of grief, or as a form of solicitation, who ever was so cruel before as to forbid any one mourning for himself, or entreating for others? What? Are not men accustomed of their own accord to change their garments on the occasion of danger to their friends? Is there no one who will change it ever for you, O Piso? will not even those men do so whom you have appointed as your lieutenants, not only without any resolution of the senate to authorize such a step, but even in defiance of a vote of that body? Shall, then, whoever pleases mourn for the misfortune of a desperate man, of a traitor to the commonwealth, and shall not the senate be allowed to mourn for the danger of a citizen, strong above all men in the good-will of all virtuous men, who has deserved admirably well of his country, which he has saved, especially when with his danger is combined danger to the whole state?
Those same consuls, (if, indeed, it is proper to call those men consuls who, every one thinks, deserve not only to be eradicated from men’s memories, but to have their names erased from the consular registers,) after the treaty about the provinces had been ratified, being brought forward to the assembly in the Flaminian Circus by that fury and pest of his country, amid universal grief on the part of all of you, gave their verbal sanction and formal decision in approval of all the things which that fellow had then uttered against me and against the republic.
XV. In the presence and sight of these same consuls, a law was passed that the auspices were to have no validity; that no one was to interrupt any proceeding by declaring that he was taking them; that no one was to have the power of arresting a law by his veto; that it should be lawful to pass a law on all days of festival; that the Ælian1 and Fufian laws should have no validity. And who is there who can fail to see that by that one motion, the entire constitution was destroyed? In the presence and sight of these same consuls, a levy of slaves was held before the tribunal of Aurelius, under pretence of filling up the guilds, when men were enrolled according to their streets, and divided into decuries, and stirred up to violence, and battle, and slaughter, and plunder. It was while these same men were consuls, that arms were openly carried into the temple of Castor, and the steps of the temple were pulled up; armed men occupied the forum and the assemblies of the people; slaughters and stonings of people took place; there was no senate, no magistrates were left; one man by arms and piratical violence seized on all the power of all the magistrates, not by any power of his own, but, having bribed the two consuls to desert the republic by the treaty respecting the provinces, he insulted every one, domineered over every one, made promises to some, held down many by terror and fear, and gained over more by hope and promises.
And when such was the state of all things, O judges,—when the senate had no leaders, or traitors, or I should rather say open enemies, in the place of leaders,—when the equestrian order was being put on its trial by the consuls,—when the authority of all Italy was trampled on,—when some men were banished by name, others frightened away by terror and danger,—when the temples were full of arms, and the forum of armed men; and when those facts were not concealed by the silence of the consuls, but were openly approved of by them by their speeches and their formal decision,—when we all of us saw the city not yet perhaps razed and destroyed, but at all events already stormed and in the power of the enemy,—nevertheless, relying on the exceeding zeal of the virtuous part of the citizens, we would have resisted, O judges, even these enormous evils.
XVI. But there were other grounds for fear, and other reasons for anxiety and suspicion, O judges, which influenced me at that time. For I will explain to you this day, O judges, all the principles of my conduct and of my designs; and I will not be wanting to your great desire of hearing the truth, nor to this multitude, the greatest which, within my recollection, has ever appeared in any court of justice. For if I, in so good a cause,—when supported so zealously by the senate, and by such an inconceivable unanimity on the part of all virtuous men, ready to act in my behalf, and when all Italy was stirred up and braced for the contest,—yielded to the fury of a tribune of the people, one of the most despicable of men; if I was afraid of the trifling but audacious characters of those most contemptible consuls, then I should be forced to confess that I was too timid, that I was a man of no courage, of no decision, and of no wisdom. For what was there in the case of Quintus Metellus similar to mine? Although all good men considered that he had right on his side, yet the senate did not espouse his cause by any public resolution, nor did any separate body of men by any private vote, nor had all Italy undertaken the advocacy of his cause by their decrees. For he had shown greater regard for some sort of private credit of his own, than for the manifest welfare of the republic, when he alone had refused to swear to a law which had been passed by means of violence; and lastly, his great bravery appeared to be exercised with this qualification, that his own credit for consistency was not to be sacrificed to his affection for his country. But he had to contend against the invincible army of Caius Marius; he had for an enemy Caius Marius, the preserver of his country, now for the sixth time administering the affairs of the republic as consul. He had to contend against Lucius Saturninus, now for a second time tribune of the people; a vigilant man, and one who in a popular cause conducted himself, if not with moderation, at all events with due regard to the prejudices of the people, and in a very disinterested spirit. He yielded, lest, being conquered by brave men, he should fall disgracefully, or lest, if conqueror himself, he should deprive the republic of many gallant citizens.
But my cause was embraced openly by the senate, with the greatest energy by the equestrian order, by all Italy by means of public resolutions, and by all good men with the greatest earnestness, as if it were their own personal quarrel. I had performed achievements with regard to which I had not been the sole originator of them, but the leader of the universal inclination of all the citizens; and which were designed to promote not my own single glory, but the common safety of all the citizens—I may almost say of all nations. And I had performed them in such a manner that all men were bound at all times to uphold and defend my conduct.
XVII. And I had to contend not against a victorious army, but against a lot of hired artisans, men excited with the hope of plundering the city. I had for an enemy,—not Caius Marius, the terror of our enemies, the hope and support of his country,—but two ill-omened monsters, whom want, and the immensity of their debts, and fickleness, and a wicked disposition, had delivered over to the tribune of the people as his slaves. Nor had I to contend against Saturninus, who was seeking to satisfy his own indignation with great earnestness of mind, because he knew that the superintendence of the import of provisions had been, as an intentional insult, transferred from him while he was quæstor at Ostia to the chief man both of the senate and of the city, Marcus Scaurus. But I had to struggle with the debauched favourite of wealthy buffoons, with the adulterer of his sister, with the very highpriest of lewdness, with a poisoner, with a forger of wills, with an assassin, with a robber; and if—as was very easy to be done, as ought to have been done, and as many most virtuous and brave citizens entreated me to do—I had overcome those men by force and arms, I had no reason to fear that any one would reprove me for having repelled force by force, or grieve for the death of those abandoned citizens, or, as I should rather call them, domestic enemies. But these were the things which had weight with me. That Fury was in the habit of crying out in all the assemblies, that all the things which he was doing to the prejudice of my safety, he was doing with the approval of Cnæus Pompeius, a most illustrious man, and both then and now a most intimate friend of mine as far as he was able to show himself such. Marcus Crassus, a most gallant man, with whom I had every imaginable intimacy of friendship, was announced by that same pest to be most hostile to my fortunes. Caius Cæsar, who had no right to be alienated from me as far as any action of mine could have deserved such feelings on his part, was constantly stated by the same man in his daily harangues to be a most determined enemy to my safety.
These three men he said he was going to avail himself of as his advisers in forming all his plans, and as his assistants in all his actions: of whom he said that one had the most numerous army in Italy; and that the other two, who were private men at that time, could easily get an army a piece [Editor: gap] they chose, and that they would do so. And while he menaced me, he threatened me, not with a judicial decision of the people, nor with any legal or legitimate sort of contest, nor with any discussion or regular trial of our dispute, but with violence, and arms, and armies, and generals, and camps.
XVIII. What then? Did the harangue of an enemy, especially so foolish a one as that, and aimed as it was so wickedly against the most illustrious men, move me? No. It was not his speech, but the silence of those men against whom that most infamous speech was directed that influenced me. For they—although the real cause of their silence was quite a different one—appeared, nevertheless, to men who were afraid of everything, by their very silence to speak, and by their forbearing to deny his assertions, to confess them.
But they, being then under the influence of excessive fear, because they thought that those actions and all the events of the preceding year were being undermined by the prætors, and annulled by the senate and by the chief men of the city, were unwilling to alienate a popular tribune of the people from their interests, and were in the habit of saying that their own dangers touched them more nearly than mine. But still Crassus said that my cause ought to be undertaken by the consuls, and Pompeius implored the aid of their good faith; and he said that he, though a private individual, would not desert the cause which was taken up by public authority. And as he was most anxious for my welfare, and eager beyond measure for the preservation of the republic, certain men, trained for that purpose, warned him to be more careful; and said that a plot was laid against his life, to be carried into execution in my house; and they kept this suspicion alive in him, some by letters, some by messengers, some by coming and talking to him about it; so that he, though most certainly he had no fear of me, yet thought it necessary to guard against them, lest they should attempt anything against him and lay the blame on me. But Cæsar himself, who those men, ignorant of the truth, thought was angry with me most especially, was at the gates, was in military command; his army was in Italy, and in that army he had appointed to a command the brother of that very tribune of the people, my enemy.
XIX. When I saw all this (for there was no secret about it), that the senate, without which the constitution could not stand, was entirely abolished out of the city; that the consuls, whose duty it was to be the leaders of the public counsels, had so managed matters that by their means the great public council was entirely destroyed; that those men who had the greatest influence were held up to every assembly, (falsely indeed, but still in a way calculated to strike my friends with great fear,) as the great approvers of my ruin; that assemblies were held every day in opposition to one; that no one ever uttered a word in defence of me or of the republic; that the standards of the legions were believed to be unfurled against your lives and properties, (falsely indeed, but still they were believed to be so;) that the veteran troops of the conspirators, and that ill-omened army of Catiline, once routed and defeated, was now recruited under a new leader, and under the existing unexpected change of circumstances;—when I saw all these things, what was I to do, O judges? For I know well that at that time it was not your zeal that was wanting to me, but more nearly my energy that was wanting to second your zeal. Was I, a private individual, to struggle in arms against a tribune of the people? No doubt the good would have defeated the wicked; the brave would have defeated the inactive; he would have been slain who could by no other remedy be prevented from being the ruin of the republic. What would have happened next? What would have become of the remains of his party? What would have been the end? Was there any doubt that the blood of the tribune, especially when not shed in consequence of any public resolution, would have had the consuls for its avengers? especially when we recollect that that fellow had said in the public assembly that I must either perish once or be victorious twice. What was the meaning of my having to conquer twice? Why, no doubt, that after I had struggled against that most senseless tribune of the people, I should have to struggle with the consuls and with all those who would avenge him. But for myself,—if I alone was to have perished, and if that incurable and deadly wound would not also have been inevitably inflicted on the republic, with which he threatened it,—I should have preferred at that time, O judges, to perish once rather than conquer twice. For that second struggle would have been such, that whether we were conquered or conquerors, we should have been alike unable to preserve the republic. What would have happened if in the first struggle, being overcome by the violence of the tribune, I had fallen in the forum, with many virtuous citizens? The consuls, I imagine, would have convened the senate, which they had already expunged from the state; they would summon men to arms who had decided that the republic should not be upheld, no not even by a change of garments; they would, no doubt, have been sure to revolt from the tribune of the people after my death, who had intended the same hour to be that of my ruin and of their own reward!
XX. That one thing remained for me which, perhaps, some men of bold, and energetic, and magnanimous mind will say,—“You should have struggled, you should have resisted, you should have fought to the death.” With respect to which idea, I call you to witness, you my country, and you, O household gods, and gods of my country, that it was for the sake of your abodes and temples, that it was on account of the safety of my own fellow-citizens, which has always been dearer to me than my own life, that I avoided combat and bloodshed. In truth, O judges, if it had happened to me when I was sailing in some ship with my friends, that many pirates coming from many parts threatened to overwhelm that vessel with their fleets, unless they surrendered me alone to them; if the crew had refused to do so, and had preferred rather to perish with me than to surrender me to the enemy, I should have thrown myself into the sea in order to save the rest, rather than bring those who were so devoted to me, if not to certain death, at all events into great danger of their lives.
But when, after the helm had been wrested from the senate, so many armed fleets appeared ready to attack the vessel of the republic, tossed about on the deep by the tempests of sedition and discord, unless I alone were surrendered; when proscription, and plunder, and massacre were threatened: when some stood aloof from defending me from suspicion that their doing so might bring themselves into danger, and some were prompted by their long-standing hatred of all good men, and some envied me, and some thought that I was in their way, and some wished to revenge some grief or other which they had suffered, and some were influenced by hatred of the republic itself, and of the present state and tranquillity of good men, and on account of all these numerous and various causes were demanding me alone to be given up to them,—was I to fight against them, to the extreme, I will not say destruction, but danger at all events, of you and your children, rather than by myself encounter and endure on behalf of all, that evil which was impending over all?
XXI. No doubt the wicked would have been defeated. Still they would have been citizens, and they would have been defeated by that man as a private individual, who as consul, without any appeal to arms, had preserved the republic. But suppose the good men had been defeated, what would have remained? Do not you see that the state would have fallen into the hands of the slaves? Was even I, myself, as some people think, to encounter death with entire equanimity? What? Was I at that time seeking to avoid death? or was there anything which I could think more desirable for myself? or at the very time that I was accomplishing these great exploits amid that multitude of wicked men, were not death and exile constantly present to my eyes? Were not these very events, even at the moment of my performance of those exploits, prophesied as it were by me as parts of my destiny? Or was life worth preserving at a time when all my family and friends were in such grief, when there was such confusion, such misery, such destruction of everything which either nature or fortune had given me? Was I so stupid? so ignorant of affairs? so destitute of all sense and all ability? Had I heard nothing? Had I seen nothing? Had I learnt nothing myself by reading or by inquiry? Was I ignorant that the duration of life is brief, that of glory everlasting? that, as death was appointed for all men, it was desirable that life, which must some day or other be given up to necessity, should appear to have been made a present of to one’s country rather than reserved for the claim of nature? Was I ignorant that there had been this dispute between the wisest men, that some said that the souls and senses of men were extinguished by death; but that others thought that the minds of wise and brave men were then in the greatest degree sensible and vigorous when they had departed from the body? And one of these alternatives would seem to show, that to be deprived of feeling was not a thing to be avoided; the other alternative must evidently be very desirable, to become possessed of a more perfect sensation.
Lastly, as I had always considered everything with reference to what was becoming, and had never thought anything in life desirable if unaccompanied by propriety, was I, a man of consular rank, who had performed such great deeds, likely to be afraid of death, which even Athenian maidens, daughters I fancy of king Erectheus, are said to have despised in the cause of their country? Especially when I was a member of that city from which Mucius went forth when he penetrated, by himself, into the camp of king Porsena, and endeavoured to slay him, at the imminent risk of his own life; from which, in the first instance, Decius the father, and many years afterwards his son, endowed with his father’s virtue, went forth when, while their armies were drawn up in battle array, they devoted themselves and their own lives to ensure the safety and victory of the Roman army; from which a countless host of others besides have gone forth, and with the greatest equanimity have encountered death, some for the sake of gaining glory, and some with the object of encountering disgrace; and while I, myself, remember that in this city the father of this Marcus Crassus, a most gallant man, put himself to death with that same hand with which he had often scattered death among the enemy, that he might not live to see his enemy victorious.
XXII. Influenced by these and many other considerations, I saw that, if my death were the destruction of the common cause of the state, no one would ever live who would venture to undertake the defence of the safety of the republic against wicked citizens. Therefore, I feared that the result would be, not only if I were put to death by violence, but even if I died from natural causes, that the example of a man labouring for the preservation of the republic would perish with me. For if, while all good men were so eager for it, I were not restored by the senate and people of Rome, (and most unquestionably that could never have happened if I had been killed first,) who would ever dare afterwards to encounter the very slightest unpopularity for the sake of having anything to do with the affairs of the republic? I, therefore, saved the republic, O judges, by my departure. At the expense of my own grief and misery I averted slaughter, and devastation, and conflagration, and plunder, from you and from your children. And I, by myself, twice saved the republic; once with glory, once with misery. That I will never so far deny that I have the feelings of a man as to boast that I felt no grief when I was deprived of my most excellent brother, of my most beloved children, of my most faithful wife, of the sight of you, my fellow-citizens, of my country, and of my rank as a senator. If those had been my feelings, what obligation would you be under to me, if for your sake I had only abandoned those things which I considered of no value? This, in my opinion, ought to be considered by you a most certain token of my exceeding devotion to my country, that, though I could not be absent from her without the deepest grief, yet I preferred to endure this grief, rather than to allow her to be destroyed by wicked citizens.
I recollected, O judges, that that godlike man, sprung from the same district as myself for the preservation of this empire, Caius Marius, in extreme old age, when he had escaped from violence little short of a pitched battle, first of all hid his aged body up to his neck in the marshes, and from thence crossed over in a very little boat to the most desolate regions of Africa, avoiding all harbours and all inhabited countries. And he preserved his own life, that he might not fall unavenged, for the most uncertain hopes, but still for his country. Should not I, who (as many men in the senate said during my absence) had the safety of the republic bound up with my life, and who on that account was, by the public order of the senate, recommended by the letters of the consuls to the protection of foreign nations,—should not I, I say, have been betraying the republic if I had neglected the preservation of my own life? In the city now, since I have been restored, there lives in my person an example of the public good faith, an instance of its being worth men’s while to defend the republic. And if this example is preserved for ever, who is there who can fail to see that this city will be immortal?
XXIII. For the foreign wars waged against us by foreign kings, countries, and nations, have long been so completely put down, that we are treating them, to our own great credit, as people whom we can allow to remain at peace. Moreover, it has not been a common thing for unpopularity to attach itself to any one of the citizens on account of any warlike triumphs. We often have to resist domestic evils, and the counsels of audacious citizens; and it is indispensable to retain in the republic a remedy for these dangers; all which, O judges, you would have lost if the power of declaring its grief at my position had been taken from the senate and people of Rome by my death. Wherefore, I warn you, O young men, and I enjoin you by the right which belongs to me to do so, you who have a regard for propriety, for the republic, and for glory, not to be slow, if at any time any necessity summons you to defend the republic against worthless citizens, and not, from any recollection of what has happened to me, to shun bold counsels. In the first place, there is no danger of any one ever falling in with such consuls as these, especially if these are requited as they deserve. In the second place, there never will again, I hope, be an instance of any wicked man saying that he is attacking the republic with the approval and assistance of virtuous citizens, while they keep silence; nor of such a man’s threatening citizens in the garb of peace with the terrors of an armed soldiery; nor will there be any excuse for a general stationed with his army at the gates, allowing the terror of his name to be used as an instrument for opposing and alarming the citizens. For the senate will never be so oppressed as to have no power of even entreating or lamenting; the equestrian order will never be bound hand and foot so completely as to allow Roman knights to be banished by the consul. But yet even after all these things had happened, and many other more important events also, which I pass over designedly, still you see that, after a short interval of suffering, I was recalled to the enjoyment of my former dignity by the voice of the republic.
XXIV. But to return to that point which is the one which I have particularly proposed to myself to establish in this speech; namely, that the republic was afflicted and oppressed by every sort of calamity that year owing to the wickedness of the consuls. First of all, on that very day which was fatal to me and grievous to all good men, when I had torn myself from the embrace of my country and from your sight, O fellow-citizens, and when from fear of danger to you, not to myself, I had yielded to the frenzy, and wickedness, and treachery, and arms, and threats of one man, and had abandoned my country, which was the dearest of all things to me, out of affection for my country herself; when not only men but the very houses and temples of the city were lamenting that misfortune which befel me,—so horrible, so lamentable, and so sudden; when no one of you could bear the sight of the forum, or of the senate house, or of the light of day; on that very day, do I say? at that very hour, at that very same moment, at that very instant of ruin to me and to the republic, their provinces were decreed to Gabinius and to Piso. O ye immortal gods, guardians and preservers of this city and empire, what monsters of wickedness, what crimes have you beheld in the republic! That citizen was expelled who, in compliance with the authority of the senate, had defended the republic with the cooperation of all good men, and he was expelled, not because of any other charge being brought against him, but expressly because he had done so. And he was expelled without any trial, by violence, by stones, by arms, by bodies of slaves excited to sedition. A law was passed after the forum had been desolated and abandoned, and given over to assassins and to slaves; a law to prevent the passing of which the senate had changed its dress and gone into mourning. The city being in this state of confusion, the consuls did not allow even one night to elapse between my misfortune and their acquisition of plunder. Instantly, the moment that I was struck down, they flew to drink my blood, and, while the republic was still breathing, to carry off and divide my spoils. I say nothing of their mutual congratulations, of their banquets, of their division of the treasury, of their liberality, of their hopes, of their promises, of their booty, of the joy of a few amid the universal mourning. My wife was attacked; my children sought for in order to be murdered; my son-in-law,—ay, my son-in-law, Piso, was rejected as a suppliant by Piso the consul, after he had thrown himself at his feet; my property was plundered and carried off to the houses of the consuls; my house was burnt on the Palatine Hill; the consuls passed the time in revels and joy. But even if they were rejoiced at my distress, they ought to have been moved at the dangers of the city.
XXV. But, however, to give up dwelling on my own case, recollect the rest of the calamities of that year. For by that means you will most easily perceive what a rigorous application of all sorts of remedies the republic required from the next magistrates, and what a multitude of laws wanted remedying, both such as had been passed, and such as had been only proposed. For some were passed while those consuls (shall I say, were silent respecting them? Ay, rather while they) actually approved of them; laws, that the notice of the censors and the most important decisions of the most holy magistrates should be abolished; that not only those ancient guilds which had existed before should be restored in defiance of the resolution of the senate, but that innumerable new ones should be established by one gladiator; that by abandoning the collection of the half as, and third of an as, nearly one-fifth part of our revenues should be destroyed; that Syria should be given to Gabinius instead of Cilicia, which he had bargained for, if he succeeded in betraying the republic; that one glutton should have the power of deliberating twice over about the same thing, and that he might propose a new law for the purpose of changing his province, after one law had been actually passed on that subject.
XXVI. I say nothing about that law which at one swoop destroyed all religious observances, all the privileges attached to the auspices, to the civil magistrates, and all the enactments which refer to the common law, and to the time of proposing laws; I say nothing about all the internal misfortunes which afflicted us; we saw even foreign nations shaken by the insanity of that year.
By a law proposed by a tribune of the people, the priest of the Mighty Mother at Pessinus was expelled and stripped of his priesthood; and that shrine of the most holy and most ancient of all religious ceremonies was sold for a large sum to Brogitarus, a profligate man, and unworthy of any such sacred character; especially as he had desired it not for the purpose of doing honour to the goddess, but only of profaning her temple. People were styled kings by the people, who would never have even asked for such a title from the senate: condemned exiles were brought back to Byzantium at the very time when citizens, who had not been condemned, were being driven from the city. King Ptolemæus, who, if he had not as yet been himself styled an ally by the senate, was at all events the brother of that king, who, while his cause was identical with his, had long since received that honour from the senate; and was of the same family, sprung from the same ancestors as his brother, and had the same claims from the antiquity of his alliance; who, lastly, was a king, and if not yet an ally, still most certainly not an enemy; was enjoying the kingdom which had belonged to his father and his grandfather in peace and quiet, relying on the sovereign power of the Roman people, in a condition of royal ease and tranquillity. While he was never thinking of any such thing, never suspecting any such thing, a motion was made and put to the vote of the same troop of labourers and artisans, that he, while sitting on his throne, with his purple, and sceptre, and all the other ensigns of royal authority, should be placed at the mercy of a public crier;—a motion was made, I say, that the Roman people, which has been in the habit of restoring their kingdoms even to those kings whom they have subdued in war, should order that a king who was a friend of the nation, who was not even said to have done them any injury, who had never had any claim preferred against him or any demand for the restitution of anything, should have all his property confiscated and sold with his own person and liberty.
XXVII. That year was a year of many cruel, of many shameful, of many turbulent proceedings; but I know not whether I ought not deservedly to call this the nearest in iniquity to that crime which their wickedness committed against me. Our ancestors determined that that celebrated Antiochus called the Great, after he had been subdued in a long and arduous struggle by land and seas, should be king over the districts within Mount Taurus. They gave Asia, of which they deprived him, to Attalus, that he should be king over that district. With Tigranes, king of the Armenians, we waged a serious war of very long duration; he having, I may almost say, challenged us, by inflicting wanton injuries on our allies. He was not only a vigorous enemy of his own power and on his own account, but he also defended with all his resources, and protected in his territory, that most active enemy of this empire, Mithridates, after he had been driven from Pontus; and after he had been defeated by Lucullus, that most excellent man and most consummate general, he still remained in his former mind, and kept up a hostile feeling against us with the remainder of his army. And yet this man did Cnæus Pompeius—after he had seen him in his camp as a suppliant and in an abject condition—raise up, and placed on his head again the royal crown which he himself had taken off, and, having imposed certain conditions on him, ordered to continue king. And he thought it no less glorious for himself and for this empire, that the king should be known to be restored by him, than if he had kept him in bonds. Therefore, Tigranes—who was himself an enemy of the Roman people, and who received our most active enemy in his territories, who struggled against us, who fought pitched battles with us, and who compelled us to combat almost for our very existence and supremacy—is a king to this day, and has obtained by his entreaties the name of a friend and ally, which he had previously forfeited by his hostile and warlike conduct.
That unhappy king of Cyprus—who was always our ally, always our friend, concerning whom no single unfavourable suspicion was ever reported to the senate or to our commanders in those parts—has now, as they say, while alive and beholding the light, been seized and sold with all his means of support, and all his royal apparel. Here is a good reason for other kings thinking their own fortunes stable, when by this example, handed down to recollection from that fatal year, they see that one tribune and six hundred journeymen have power to despoil them of all their fortunes, and strip them of their whole kingdom!
XXVIII. But they even designed to stain the character of Marcus Cato by that transaction; ignorant of the extent of such a man’s wisdom, and integrity, and magnanimity, and virtue; which is tranquil during a terrible tempest, and shines amid the darkness, and, though driven from its proper position,1 still remains, and clings to his country, and shines at all times by its own unassisted light, and is never tarnished by the dirt or disgrace of others. Their object was, not to do honour to Marcus Cato, but to banish him. They did not think that they were entrusting that commission to him, but imposing it on him; and said openly in the assembly, that they had cut Marcus Cato’s tongue out, which had always spoken so freely against all extraordinary commissions. They will feel, I trust, in a short time, that that freedom of his still continues; and even, if that be possible, that it exists in a still greater degree from this circumstance, that Marcus Cato, even when he despaired of being any longer able to do any good by his authority, still with his voice and with every expression of indignation struggled against those consuls, and, after my departure, weeping for my misfortune and for that of the republic, attacked Piso in such language, that he made that most abandoned and most shameless man almost repent of his bargain about the province.
Why, then, did he obey the law?—as if he had not already sworn to obey other laws also, which he considered to have been unjustly passed! He does not give in to such rash counsels, as to think himself at liberty to deprive the republic of his services as a citizen, when he can do no good to the republic. While I was consul, and when he was tribune of the people elect, he voluntarily exposed his own life to danger; he delivered that opinion, the unpopularity of which he saw would be so great as to imperil his life. He spoke with vehemence; he acted with energy; what he felt he stated in the most open manner. He was the leader, and the adviser, and main advocate of those measures,—not that he did not see his own danger, but in such a storm as that which was threatening to overwhelm the republic, he thought that he ought not to think of anything but the dangers of his country.
XXIX. His tribuneship followed. Why need I speak of his extraordinary magnanimity, and of his incredible virtue? You remember that day on which, when the temple was occupied by his colleague,1 and while we were all alarmed for the life of that good man and that great citizen, he himself came most courageously into the temple, stilled the clamours of the men by his authority, and checked the violence of the wicked by his intrepidity. Then, indeed, he encountered danger, but he encountered it for an adequate reason; and how great that motion was, it is not necessary for me to say at present. But if he had not obeyed that most wicked motion with respect to the affairs of Cyprus, the same disgrace would nevertheless have attached to the republic. For after the kingdom had been confiscated, the motion was made about Cato, mentioning him expressly by name. And suppose he had refused to obey it, can you doubt that violence would have been used towards him, since in that case all the acts of that year would have seemed to be undermined by that one man?
And he saw this also: since the stain attached to the republic of having confiscated that kingdom, a stain which no one could efface; he thought it more advantageous, that whatever good could arise to the republic out of those evils, should be secured by him rather than by others. And if, by any means whatever, he had been expelled out of the city at that time, he would have borne it easily. In truth, could he,—who in the former year had absented himself from the senate, though, if he had come thither, he would have been able to have me as the partner of all his counsels which concerned the government of the state,—could he, I say, have continued with equanimity in this city then, after I had been expelled, and with me the whole senate too, and when his own opinions had been condemned? But he yielded to the same time to which we did; to the same frenzy, to the same consuls, to the same threats, and plots, and dangers that we did ourselves. We, indeed, suffered the greatest misfortune of the two, but his indignation and grief of mind was not less than our own.
XXX. It is the consuls who ought to complain of these numerous and enormous injuries done to our allies, and to kings, and to free states. Kings and foreign nations have always been under the protection of that magistracy. But have any words of the consuls been heard on the subject? Although, indeed, who would listen to them if they wanted to complain ever so much? Could they make any complaint about the king of Cyprus, who not only did not defend me while I was still standing,—me, a fellow-citizen, who had no charge brought against me, who was attacked only as a screen to conceal the attacks intended for my country,—but who did not even protect me after I had fallen? I had yielded, if you assert that the common people was alienated from me, (which it was not,) to unpopularity; if you think that everything was thrown into confusion, to the times; if violence was at the bottom of it, to arms; if there was a confederacy against me, to a bargain made by the magistrates; if there was danger to all the citizens, then I had yielded to the one great consideration, the safety of the republic. Why, when a motion was brought forward concerning the status of a citizen, (I do not say what sort of citizen,) and the confiscation of his property; when it was enacted by the sacred laws and by the laws of the Twelve Tables, that it was not lawful to decree a privilegium against any one, nor to make any motion affecting a man’s rights as a citizen;—why, I say, was the voice of the consuls never heard? Why was the rule established that year,—as far as those two pests of this empire could effect its establishment,—that any citizen might lawfully be driven out of the city by name, by the mob of artisans in a state of excitement, and by the contrivance of a tribune of the people? But what measures were proposed that year? what promises were made to many? what engagements were committed to writing? what hopes were entertained? what designs formed?—What shall I say? what spot on the whole surface of the globe was not allotted to some one or other? what public business was there, which could be thought of, or wished for, or imagined, of which the management was not already given and assigned to somebody? what description of command, what province, what contrivance for finding out or amassing money, was overlooked? what district or territory in the whole earth was there of any tolerable extent, in which some kingdom or other was not marked out for somebody? and what king was there who did not think that year, either that he could buy what he had not, or else that he must ransom what he had? Who was there who asked for any province, or for any money, or for any appointment as lieutenant or as ambassador from the senate? If men had been condemned for acts of violence, restitution of their fines was made to them; by every means the way to the consulship was smoothed for that priest who was so devoted to the people. The good groaned at these things; the wicked cherished hopes; the tribune of the people was active; the consuls were assisting him.
XXXI. About this time, a little later than he himself would approve, Cnæus Pompeius, greatly against the will of those men who by their own contrivances and by false alarms had turned away the inclination of that most virtuous and gallant man from the defence of my safety, awakened again that habit which he had of devotion to the cause of the good government of the republic, which had been, I will not say lulled asleep, but a little checked and blasted by some sort of suspicion. That man, who by his virtuous valour had subdued the most wicked of citizens, and the most active of foreign enemies, and the mightiest nations, and kings, and savage and hitherto unheard-of tribes, and a countless host of pirates, and also the slaves; who, having put a happy end to every war by land and sea, had made the boundaries of the empire of the Roman people coequal with the extent of the world; would not allow that republic to be overturned by the wickedness of a few men, which he himself had repeatedly saved, not only by his counsels, but even by his own blood; he came to the succour of the public cause; he resisted the remainder of those men’s measures by his authority; he addressed to the authorities complaints as to what had already happened. Some inclination towards a better state of things appeared to arise. The senate, in a full house, passed a decree respecting my return, on the first of June, without a single dissentient voice, on the motion of Lucius Ninnius, whose good faith and virtue never wavered in my cause. Somebody of the name of Ligus, some obscure fellow, some contemptible addition to my enemies, interposed his veto. The affair and our cause were now in such a state that we seemed to look up, and to be coming to life again. Whoever had had the slightest participation in the wickedness of Clodius as connected with my sufferings, wherever he came, or in whatever trial he appeared, was sure to be condemned. Not a man was found who would admit that he had given a vote against me. My brother had departed from Asia, with every appearance of mourning, but with far deeper grief at his heart. As he came towards the city, the whole city went forth to meet him with tears and groans. The senate was speaking with unusual freedom. The Roman knights were constantly meeting. That excellent man Piso, my son-in-law,1 who was not allowed time to receive the reward of his affection, either from me or from the Roman people, kept beseeching his relation to give him back his father-in-law. The senate refused to entertain any proposition whatever till the consuls had made a motion concerning me.
XXXII. And as the facts of the case were now notorious, and as the consuls, by their bargain respecting the provinces, had parted with all their freedom of action, and when they were asked in the senate to deliver their opinions respecting me as private men,1 said that they were afraid of that law of Clodius: as those men could not stand this state of things any longer, they formed a plan to murder Cnæus Pompeius; and when that was detected, and when the assassins had been taken with the arms in their hands, he remained shut up in his own house as long as my enemy continued tribune. Eight tribunes supported a motion for my return; from which it was understood that my friends had increased in my absence, and that, too, while I was in a situation in which some whom I had thought to be my friends were not able to show2 it; but the fact was that they had always the same inclination, but not always the same freedom of action; for of the nine tribunes who were at that time in my interest, one, while I was absent, dropped off from me, who took his surname from the images of the Ælii, though he looks more as if he belonged to their nation than to their family.3
Accordingly, in this year, when the new magistrates had been elected, when all good men turned their hopes towards them and began to found expectations of a better state of things on their honesty, Publius Lentulus, as the chief, took up my cause with his authority and by the open declaration of his sentiments, in spite of the resistance of Piso and Gabimus; and when eight tribunes made a motion in my behalf, he spoke in favour of it in a speech very honourable to me. And though he thought that it would redound greatly to his glory, and would secure him gratitude as having performed a most important service to the state, if that cause was not as yet proceeded with, but was reserved entire for his consulship, still he preferred having my business settled at once by others, to having it accomplished after delay by himself.
XXXIII. In the meantime Publius Sextius, O judges, the tribune elect, undertook a journey to Caius Cæsar, for the sake of my safety. What he effected, how much real good he did, has nothing to do with the matter. I think, indeed, if Cæsar was, as I believe him to have been, well-inclined towards us, that Sextius did me no good at all; if Cæsar was a little angry with me, he did not do much good; but still you see the unwearied activity and loyalty of the man.
I now come to the tribuneship of Sextius; for he undertook this journey for the sake of the republic when he was only tribune elect. He thought that it concerned the unanimity of the citizens, and the facility of accomplishing what he had at heart, to show that Cæsar’s mind was not averse to the business.
That year passed away. Men seemed to breathe, not from having actually attained their wishes, but from their hopes of recovering the republic. Two vultures in the robe of war1 went forth with evil omens and the execrations of the citizens. I only wish that everything had happened to them which men then prayed might happen; and then we should not have lost the province of Macedonia, nor our cavalry, and those gallant cohorts in Syria. The tribunes of the people enter on their office, who had all pledged themselves to bring forward a motion concerning me. The chief of them is bought over by my enemies, whom men, laughing at him amid their indignation, were used to call Gracchus; since it was the fate of the city, that even that weasel escaped out of the brambles should attempt to gnaw a hole in the republic. But the other fellow, Serranus,—not the Serranus2 from the plough, but the one from the deserted granary of Gavius Olelus, where you might count3 the grains,—being inserted among the Atilii Calatini, on a sudden, after the names had been entered on the tablets, withdrew his name from the list.
The first of January arrives; you are better acquainted with what ensued than I am; however, I say what I have heard. You know what a numerous attendance of the senate there was, what expectation of the people, what a concourse of deputies from all Italy; how great too was the virtue and activity and authority of Publius Lentulus, the consul; and also how very moderate towards me was the behaviour of his colleague, who, though he said that he had taken a dislike to me on account of a disagreement between us on the affairs of the republic, still said that he would give it up to the conscript fathers and to the critical times of the republic.
XXXIV. Then Lucius Cotta, being asked his opinion first, said what was most worthy of the republic,—that nothing had been done respecting me justly, nothing according to the usages of our ancestors, nothing according to the laws; that no one could be removed out of the city without a regular trial; that it not only was illegal for any law to be passed, but that no decision even could be come to, except at the comitia centuriata; that that was all violence, a flame arising from the confusion of the republic, and the agitated state of the times, when all rights and all courts of justice were destroyed; that when a great revolution was impending, I turned aside a little, and out of hope of future tranquillity, had shunned the present waves and tempests. Wherefore, as I had when absent delivered the republic from no less serious dangers than I had previously when present, he said that it was fitting that I should not only be restored, but also complimented by the senate. He also discussed many other points with great wisdom, arguing that that most insane and profligate enemy of modesty and chastity had framed the law which he had enacted concerning me, in such a manner, in such language, and with such statements of fact, that even if it had been legally proposed and carried, still it could not have had any force. Wherefore he said, that as I was not away because of any law, I ought to be recalled not by a law, but by the authority of the senate.
There was no one who did not say that this opinion was most sound. But Cnæus Pompeius, who was asked his opinion after him, having expressed his approval of the opinion of Cotta, and praised it, said that he, for the sake of my tranquillity, in order that I might be in no subsequent danger from any popular disturbance, voted that the kindness of the Roman people should be added to the authority of the senate in my behalf. When all had vied with one another, each one speaking about my safety in a more dignified and complimentary manner than the other, and when in fact a unanimous vote was just taking place, up rose, as you know, Atilius Gavianus; and he did not dare to interpose his veto, although he had been bought for that purpose, but he asked a night to deliberate on the matter. Then ensued a great outcry of the senate, and loud complaints and entreaties: his father-in-law threw himself at his feet. He pledged himself to cause no delay the next day. He was believed. The senate broke up. In the meantime that deliberate gentleman, in the course of the long night that intervened, got his wages doubled. Only a very few days followed during the whole month of January on which it was lawful for a senate to be held; but still nothing was discussed except my business.
XXXV. While the senate was being hindered by every sort of delay, and mockery, and false pretence, there came at last the day appointed for the discussion of my case, the twenty-fifth of January. The chief proposer of the motion, a man most friendly to me, Quintus Fabricius, occupied the temple some time before daybreak. On that day Sextius was quite quiet, the very man who is now on his trial for violence. He, the advocate and defender of my cause, takes no step at all, but waits to see the manœuvres of my enemies. What next? How do these men conduct themselves by whose contrivance Publius Sextius is now put upon his trial? As they had occupied the forum, and the place for the comitia, and the senate-house, at an early period of the night, with a number of armed men and slaves, they fall on Fabricius, lay violent hands on him, slay some men, and wound many. They drive away by force Marcus Cispius, a most gallant and virtuous man and a tribune of the people, as he was coming into the forum; they make a great slaughter in the forum; and all of them, with drawn and bloody swords, looked about with their eyes for, and demanded with their cries, my brother, a most virtuous man, a most brave one, and one most devoted to me. And he willingly, such was his grief, and so great his regret for me, would have exposed his body to their weapons, not with a view of resisting them, but with the object of meeting death, if he had not preserved his life in the hope of my return. However, he endured some violence from those wicked robbers; and as he had come down for the purpose of begging the safety of his brother from the Roman people, having been driven from the rostra, he lay down in the place of the comitia, and covered himself with the corpses of slaves and freedmen, and defended his life that day by the protection which night and flight afforded him, not by that of the laws or courts of justice. You recollect, O judges, that on that day the Tiber was filled with the corpses of the citizens; that the sewers were choked up; that blood was wiped up out of the forum with sponges; so that all men thought that such a vast number and such a magnificent show of gladiators could not have been provided by any private individual, or plebeian, but must be the exhibition of some patrician and man of prætorian rank.
XXXVI. Neither before this time, nor even on this most turbulent day itself, was there any word of accusation uttered against Sextius. But there was great violence used in the forum. No doubt of that. When was there ever greater? We have often seen men pelted with stones; not so often, but still too often, have we seen swords: but such great slaughter as this,—such vast heaps of corpses piled up, who ever beheld in the forum, except, perhaps, on that miserable day of Cinna and Octavius? With what animosity did the parties fight! For, indeed, seditious disturbances often arise from the pertinacity or firmness with which some magistrate has exercised his veto, or from the fault and wickedness of some proposer of a law, having held out hopes of great advantage or great bribes to the ignorant; they arise from the rivalry of the magistrates; they arise gradually from clamour at first, and afterwards from some division of the assembly: it is unwillingly, and slowly, and seldom that acts of violence are resorted to. But who ever heard before of a sedition in the night, when not a word had been spoken, when no assembly had been summoned, and when no law had been read? Is it probable that a Roman citizen, or that any free man, should have descended with a sword into the forum before daybreak, in order to prevent a law from being passed respecting me, unless he were one of those men who have been fattened up this long time on the blood of the republic by that destructive and wicked citizen?
Here now I ask the prosecutor himself, who complains that Sextius used to keep a great multitude and a large guard about him during his tribuneship, whether he had them with him on that day? Certainly, most undeniably, he had not; and therefore the party of the republic was defeated; and it was defeated, not by unfavourable auspices, not by any exercise of the veto, not by the suffrages of any assembly, but by violence, by force of arms, by bloodshed. For if the prætor had given notice to Fabricius, and had said that he was observing the auspices, the republic would have received a blow, but still one which it could have lamented. If his colleague had interrupted Fabricius with his veto, he would have injured the republic, but still he would have injured the republic in a legal and regular manner. Are you to send raw gladiators, got together in expectation of the ædileship, with a pack of assassins let loose out of the gaols, into the forum before dawn? Are you to drive the magistrates down from the temple? Are you to cause a great massacre? to desolate the forum? and then, when you have carried everything by violence and arms, to accuse a man who has protected himself with a guard, not for the purpose of opposing you, but of defending his own life?
XXXVII. But not even since that time has Sextius endeavoured to take care to be able, being defended by his people around him, to discharge the duties of his magistracy in the forum, and to conduct the affairs of the republic in safety. Therefore, relying on the sacred nature of his office as tribune, as he considered that he was armed by sacred laws, not only against violence and weapons, but also against words and interruption in speaking, he came into the temple of Castor,—he gave notice to the consul that he could not proceed because he was observing the auspices; when on a sudden that band of Clodius, which had already been repeatedly victorious in the slaughter of citizens, raises an outcry, hurries forward, attacks him. Some fall with their swords on the tribune unarmed and unprovided, and some with pieces of fences and with clubs; and he at length, having received many wounds, and been weakened and disabled by the injuries which he had received from these men, fell down in an almost lifeless state, and was only saved from actual death by their believing that he was dead. For when they saw him lying on the ground with numberless wounds and gashes, scarcely breathing, pale and exhausted, they at last left off wounding him, more because they were tired, and because they were mistaken, thinking him dying, than from any feelings of pity or moderation.
And now Sextius is on his trial for violence! Why is this? Because he is alive. But that is no fault of his. One last blow was wanting; and if that had been added, he would have yielded up his last breath. Accuse Lentidius; he did not wound him in the right place; accuse Sabinius, that fellow from Reate, and ask why he was so prompt to cry out that the man was dead. But why accuse Sextius himself? Was not there enough of him for their swords? Did he resist? Did he not stand to be killed as gladiators are often ordered to do?
XXXVIII. Is this of itself a proof of violence, not to be able to die? Or this, that a tribune of the people profaned a temple with blood? Or this, that when he had been carried away, and had begun to come to himself, he did not order himself to be carried back again? Where is the crime for which you blame him? Or this I ask, O judges, if on that day that family of Clodius had done what it wished,—if Publius Sextius, who was left for dead, had really been slain, would you have had recourse to arms? Would you have roused yourselves up to the courage of your fathers, and to the valour of your ancestors? Would you at last have endeavoured to wrest the republic out of the hands of that deadly robber? Or would you even then have remained quiet, and dawdled, and been afraid, when you saw the republic overwhelmed and taken possession of by the most impious assassins and by slaves? If then you would have avenged his death, if you had any idea of continuing free men, and of retaining the constitution, do you think that you ought to hesitate as to what you ought to say, and feel, and think, and decide as to his virtue now that he is alive?
But even those very parricides, whose unbridled frenzy is nourished by long impunity, were thrown into such consternation by the violence of their deed, that if the belief of the death of Sextius had lasted a little longer, they would have done as they were thinking of, and have slain their own friend Gracchus, for the sake of attributing the crime to us. That clown, however, being rather wary, (for those wicked men could not conceal their design,) perceived that his own blood was sought for for the purpose of extinguishing the unpopularity of this atrocity of Clodius, and got hold of a cloak belonging to a mule-driver, in which he had originally come to Rome to the comitia, and put a mower’s basket on his head, and when some were asking for Numerius, and some for Quintius, he was saved by the mistake of the double name. And you are all aware that he was in danger until it was ascertained that Sextius was alive; and if that had not been discovered a little sooner than I could have wished, they would not, indeed, have been able to transfer the odium of the death of their hired tool to those on whom they expected to shift it; but they would have diminished the infamy of their abominable wickedness by one crime which every one would have been glad of. And if Publius Sextius had then yielded up, in the temple of Castor, that life which he hardly retained, I have no doubt that, if only the senate had continued to exist, and if the majesty of the Roman people had ever recovered, a statue would at some future time have been erected to him in the forum, as to a man who had been slain in the cause of the republic.
1 Nor, indeed, would any one of those men to whom you see that statues after their death have been erected by our ancestors in that place in the rostra, deserve to be thought more of than Publius Sextius, either as respects the cruelty of their death, or their attachment to the republic: if, when he had undertaken the cause of a citizen oppressed by undeserved misfortune,—the cause of a friend,—the cause of a man who had done great services to the republic,—the cause of the senate, the cause of Italy, the cause of the republic; and when, in obedience to the requirements of religion and to the auspices, he had given notice to the magistrates of what omens he had observed, he had been slain by those impious pests of their country in the light of day, openly, within the sight of gods and men, in a most holy temple, in a most holy cause, and while invested with a most holy magistracy. Will any one, then, say that the life of that man ought to be stripped of its proper dignity and honour, when you would have thought his death entitled to the honour of an everlasting monument?
XXXIX. “You brought,” says he, “you levied, you got together a band of men.” What was he going to do with them? To besiege the senate? to expel citizens who had not been condemned? to plunder men’s property? to set fire to buildings? to plunder private houses? to burn the temples of the immortal gods? to expel the tribunes of the people from the rostra by force of arms? to sell whatever provinces he pleased to whomsoever he pleased? to give men the title of king? to restore to free cities, by means of our lieutenants and ambassadors, men who had been condemned for capital offences? to blockade the chief man of the state in his house with armed bands? It was to effect all these objects, I suppose, which could never possibly be attained unless the republic were overwhelmed by armed men, that Publius Sextius got together his multitude of men, and his troops, as you call them. But the pear was not yet ripe. The circumstances of the case did not as yet invite good men to have recourse to such means for their protection. We were defeated, not, indeed, by that body alone, but still not entirely without its agency. You were all mourning in silence.
The forum had been taken in the preceding year; the temple of Castor having been occupied by runaway slaves, as if it had been a fortress! not a word was said against such conduct. Everything was done by the clamour, and impetuosity, and violence, and assaults of men desperate through indigence and through their natural audacity. And you endured that it should be so. The magistrates were driven from the temples; others were altogether cut off from all approach to them or to the forum. No one offered any resistance. Gladiators were taken out of the prætor’s train and introduced into the senate, and confessed that they had been thrown into prison by Milo, that they had been released by Serranus. Yet no mention was made of these things. The forum was strewed with the corpses of Roman citizens, murdered in a nocturnal massacre. There not only was no new sort of investigation into such events instituted, but even the old courts of justice were abolished. You saw a tribune of the people lying down, stricken to the ground with more than twenty wounds, and almost dead; the house of another tribune of the people, a man of god-like virtue, (for I will say what I think myself, and what all men agree with me in thinking,) a man of most eminent, unheard-of, unprecedented greatness of mind, and wisdom, and integrity, was attacked with fire and sword by the army of Clodius.
XL. And while speaking on this topic you praise Milo, and you praise him deservedly. For what man have we ever seen of more admirable virtue? a man who, without any expectation of reward beyond this, which is now thought an old-fashioned and contemptible thing,—namely, the esteem of the good, has voluntarily encountered every sort of danger, and the most arduous labours, and the most severe contests, and the most bitter enmities? who appears to me to be the only citizen who has shown not only by words but by actions what ought to be done, and what was necessary to be done, in the republic by the leading men; that such men’s duty was to resist the wickedness of audacious men, men who would overturn the republic, by means of the laws, and of the courts of justice; but that if the laws were inefficient, if there were no courts of justice, if the republic was seized and held in subjection by the violence and conspiracy and armed force of audacious men, then that it was absolutely necessary for our lives and liberties to be defended by armed guards and by troops. To think in this way is a sign of prudence; to act in accordance with such sentiments is a proof of bravery; to think rightly, and to act bravely at the same time, is a proof of perfect and consummate virtue.
Milo, as tribune of the people, entered on the administration of the affairs of the republic: and I will dilate yet further in his praise; not because he is more anxious to be praised than to be respected, or because I have any particular wish to give him this reward of praise in his presence, especially as I cannot find words equal to his exploits; but because I think that if I prove that the conduct of Milo has been approved of by the voice of the prosecutor, you will think with reference to this accusation, that the cause of Sextius stands on the same ground. Titus Annius, then, entered on the administration of the affairs of the republic with the feeling that he wished to restore to his country a citizen who had been undeservedly driven from it. The case was a plain one; his conduct was consistent, supported by the unanimous consent and concord of every one. He had his colleagues for assistants, the greatest possible zeal in his favour of one of the consuls, and the disposition of the other was nearly friendly. Of the prætors, one was unfavourable; the enthusiasm of the senate in the cause was extraordinary, the feelings of all the Roman knights were roused to further it, Italy was on the tiptoe of expectation. There were only two enemies who had been brought over to create obstacles; and if those despicable and contemptible men could not support the weight of so important a business, he saw that he should not be able by any means to accomplish the object which he had undertaken to effect. He laboured with all his influence, with all his prudence,—he laboured by means of the cooperation of the highest order in the state,—he laboured, exciting others by the example of the virtuous and brave citizens,—he meditated with incessant diligence on what conduct was worthy of the republic and of himself, on his own station and character, on what hopes he ought to entertain, on what return he ought to make to his ancestors for what he had received from them.
XLI. That gladiator saw that he could not be a match for such wisdom as that of Milo, if he proceeded according to ordinary usage. He resorted to arms, to firebrands, to daily slaughter, to conflagration and plunder, with his army. He began to attack his house, to meet him on his journeys, to provoke him by violence, to try and alarm him. He had but little effect on a man of consummate wisdom and consummate firmness; but although indignation of mind, and an innate love of liberty, and prompt and excellent valour, encouraged that gallant man to break down and repel violence by violence, especially now that violence was so repeatedly offered, still so great was the moderation of the man, and so excessive his prudence, that he restrained his indignation, and would not avenge himself by the same conduct as that by which he had been provoked; but he resolved rather to entangle in the toils of the law that fellow who was exulting and dancing in triumph over all the murders which he had committed in the republic. He came down to the court to accuse him. Who ever did so, so peculiarly for the sake of the republic? having no private enmity of his own to urge him on, having no reward in prospect, being persuaded by no entreaty on the part of any one, nor even by any general expectation that he was going to take such a step. The fellow’s courage was shaken. For when such a man as Milo was the prosecutor, he had no hope of such an infamous tribunal as his former one. See now the prætor, the consul, and the tribune of the people, propose new edicts of a new sort: “That no one be brought before the court as a defendant; that no one be summoned before the judges; that no investigations take place; that no one be allowed to make any mention to any one, of judges, or courts of justice.” What was a man to do who was born for virtue, and dignity, and glory, when the violence of wicked men was fortified in this way, by the destruction of all laws and courts of justice? Was a tribune of the people to place his life at the mercy of a private individual? was a most virtuous man to hold his life at the will of a most thoroughly wicked one? or, was he to abandon the cause which he had undertaken? was he to keep at home? He thought it would be a base thing to be defeated, or to be frightened from his purpose. In truth, he thought it for the advantage of the republic, since he was not able to employ the laws against him, that he should not show any fear of his violence, with respect either to personal peril to himself, or to the danger of the republic.
XLII. How, then, can you accuse Sextius with reference to this fact of his having provided himself with a guard, when at the same time you praise Milo? Is it legal for that man to provide himself with a guard who is defending his own house, who is repelling fire and sword from his altars and his fire-side, who seeks to be allowed to present himself with safety in the forum, in the temples of the gods, and in the senate-house; but do you think that man who is warned by the wounds which he sees every day over his whole person, to defend his head, and his neck, and his throat, and his sides, by some protection or other, deserving to be prosecuted for violence? For who of you, O judges, is ignorant that the nature of things has been such, that at one time men, before there was any natural or civil law fully laid down, wandered in a straggling and disorderly manner over the country, and had just that property which they could either seize or keep by their own personal strength and vigour, by means of wounds and bloodshed? Those men, therefore, who showed themselves to be the most eminent for virtue and wisdom, they, having considered the character of men’s aptitude for instruction and of their natural disposition, collected into one place those who were previously scattered abroad, and brought them over from their former savage way of life to justice and mildness of manners. Then came those constitutions, devised for the utility of man, which we call commonwealths; then came collections of men, which were subsequently called states, then men surrounded with walls sets of houses joined together, which we now call cities; and divine and human laws began to be recognised.
And there is no point in which there is so much difference between this manner of life, polished by civilization, and that savage one, as in the fact of law being the ruling principle of the one, and violence of the other. If we do not choose to be guided by one, we must adopt the other. Do we wish violence to be put an end to? Law must inevitably prevail; that is to say, courts of justice must; for in them all law and justice are comprehended. Do we disapprove of courts of justice, or are they destroyed or suspended? In a moment violence must be supreme. Everybody sees this. Milo saw it, and acted in such a manner as to try the power of law and to banish violence. He wished to avail himself of the one, in order that courage and virtue might defeat audacity; he had recourse to the other from compulsion, in order to prevent virtue and courage from being defeated by audacity. And the principle of conduct of Publius Sextius was the same, if not in prosecuting Clodius, (for, it does not follow that exactly the same details of conduct are to be pursued by every one,) still at all events in the necessity of defending his safety, and in preparing a defence against force and personal violence.
XLIII. O ye immortal gods! what an end do you show to us? what hope of the republic do you hold out to us? How few men will be found of such virtue and courage as to embrace the cause of the republic when it is the justest of causes? and to consult the interests of the virtuous part of the community? and to seek no glory but that which is solid and genuine? when he knows that, of those two monsters so nearly fatal to the republic, Gabinius and Piso, one is every day amassing a countless sum of gold from the peaceful and opulent treasuries of Syria; and is waging war on quiet tribes, in order to pour into the deep and bottomless gulf of his lusts their ancient and hitherto untasted and undiminished riches; and is building in a most conspicuous place a villa of such a size, that that villa, of which that very man, when tribune of the people, once unfolded a picture in the assembly of the people, in order (virtuous man and free from all taint of covetousness that he was) to excite odium against a most virtuous and brave citizen, appears now little more than a hut by the side of it. The other man first of all sold peace for an enormous sum to the Thracians and Dardani. Then, in order that they might be able to make up the money which they were to pay him, he gave up Macedonia to them to ravage and plunder. Moreover, he distributed the property of their creditors, Roman citizens, among their Greek debtors; he exacted immense sums from the people of Dyrrachium, he plundered the Thessalians, he exacted a fixed sum of money from the Achæans every year; and, above all, in no public or consecrated place has he left one statue, or picture, or ornament. Who, I say, will embrace the cause of the republic when he knows all this, and when he sees that these men are so triumphant, who deserve most richly, according to every law in existence, every sort of penalty, and every extremity of punishment? and that these two men whom you see here are brought to trial? I say nothing of Numerius, and Serranus, and Ælius, the mere dregs of the sedition of Clodius; but still, even these go triumphantly about, as you behold; nor, as long as ever you are in a state of apprehension for yourselves, will they ever be alarmed for themselves.
XLIV. For why need I speak of the ædile himself, who has even commenced legal proceedings against Milo, and instituted a prosecution against him for violence? Not that Milo will ever be induced by any injury to himself to repent that he behaved with such virtue, and with such firmness of mind towards the republic; but what will be the thoughts of the young men who see all these things? The man who has attacked and destroyed and burnt the public monuments, and the sacred buildings, and the houses of his enemies; who was constantly escorted by assassins, fenced round by armed guards, and surrounded by a band of informers, of whom there is far too great a plenty; who stirred up even a foreign band of wicked men, and bought a lot of slaves ready for bloodshed, and who in his tribuneship poured the whole contents of the prisons into the forum, now struts about as an ædile, and accuses the man who did to some extent check his exulting frenzy. And the man who has hitherto defended himself in such a manner, that, as a private individual he has been defending his own household gods, and in his public capacity the privileges of his tribuneship and the auspices, has been prevented by the authority of the senate from prosecuting that man with moderation by whom he himself has been prosecuted in a most nefarious manner.
This, in truth, is the question which you put to me earnestly and most repeatedly while pleading in behalf of the prosecution,—namely, what I mean by the race of best men? For this is what you said. You ask a question which it is very desirable for the youth of the city to learn, and not very difficult for me to explain; and with respect to it, I will, O judges, say a few words. And, as I think, what I say will not be wholly unconnected with the advantage of those who hear me, nor with my duty, nor with the very case which we are arguing, of Publius Sextius.
XLV. There have always in this city been two kinds of men who have been ambitious of being concerned in affairs of state, and of arriving at distinction by such a course; and of these two kinds one wish to be considered popular men, and the others wish both to be, and to be considered, of the party of the best men in the state. Those whose object it was that whatever they did and whatever they said should be agreeable to the multitude, were the popular party; but those who conducted themselves in such a way as to induce all the best men to approve of their counsels, were considered of the best party.1
Who then are they? Every good man. If you ask what are their numbers, they are innumerable. For if they were not, we could not stand. They are the chief men of the public council; they are those who follow their school; they are the men of the highest orders of the state, to whom the senate-house is open; they are the citizens of the municipal towns, and Roman citizens who dwell in the country; they are men engaged in business; there are even some freedmen of the best party. The number, as I have said, of this party is widely scattered in various directions; but the entire body (to prevent all mistakes) can be described and defined in a few words. All men belong to the best party, who are not guilty of any crime, nor wicked by nature, nor madmen, nor men embarrassed by domestic difficulties. Let it be laid down, then, that these men (this race, as you call them) are all those who are honest, and in their senses, and who are well off in their domestic circumstances. Those who are guided by their wishes, who consult their interests and opinions in the management of the republic, are the partisans of the best men, and are themselves accounted best men, most wise and most illustrious citizens, and chief men in the state.
What, then, is the object proposed to themselves by these directors of the republic, which they are bound to keep their eyes fixed upon, and towards which they ought to direct their course? That which is most excellent and most desirable to all men in their senses, and to all good and happy men,—ease conjoined with dignity. Those who seek this are all best men; those who effect it are considered the chief leaders in and the preservers of their states. For men ought not to be so elated by the dignity of the affairs which they have undertaken to manage, as to have no regard to their ease; nor ought they to dwell with fondness on any sort of ease which is inconsistent with dignity.
XLVI. And of this easy dignity these are the foundations, these are the component parts, which ought to be upheld by the chief men, and to be defended even at the hazard of their lives: religious observances, the auspices, the civil power of magistrates, the authority of the senate, the laws, the usages of one’s ancestors, the courts of justice, the jurisdiction of the judges, good faith, the provinces, the allies, the glory of the empire, the whole affairs of the army, the treasury. To be the defender and advocate of all these things, numerous and important as they are, is a task to employ great courage, great ability, and great firmness. In truth, in such a vast number of citizens, there is a great multitude of those men, who either, from fear of punishment, because they are conscious of their own misdeeds, are anxious for fresh changes and revolutions in the republic; or who, on account of some innate insanity of mind, feed upon the discords and seditions of the citizens; or else who, on account of the embarrassment of their estates and circumstances, had rather burn in one vast common conflagration, than in one which consumed only themselves. And when these men have found instigators, leaders in and promoters of their own objects and vices, their waves are stirred up in the republic, so that those men must watch who have demanded for themselves the helm of the country, and they must strive with all their skill and with all their diligence, in order that they may be able to preserve these things which I have just now called its foundations and component parts, and so keep in their course and reach that harbour of ease and dignity.
If, O judges, I were to deny that this path is rugged and difficult, and full of danger and snares, I should speak falsely; especially as I have not only always been aware that it was so, but have been alive to its perils and labours more than any other man.
XLVII. The republic is attacked by greater forces and more numerous bodies than those by which it is defended; because audacious and abandoned men are impelled on by a nod, and are even of their own accord excited by nature to be enemies to the republic. And somehow or other good men are slower in action, and overlooking the first beginnings of things, are at last aroused by necessity itself; so that sometimes through their very delays and tardiness of movement, while they wish to retain their ease even without dignity, they, of their own accord, lose both. But those who are desirous to be defenders of the republic, if they be fickle men, soon give up the task; if they be at all timid men, they abandon it; and those alone remain and endure everything for the sake of the republic, who are such men as your father was, O Marcus Scaurus, who resisted all seditious men, from the time of Caius Gracchus to that of Quintus Varius, whom no violence, no threats, and no unpopularity ever shook; or such as Quintus Metellus, the uncle of your mother; who, when as censor he had branded a man most flourishing in the popular esteem, Lucius Saturninus, and when he had expunged a pretended Gracchus from the list of the citizens, in spite of the violence of an excited mob, and when he alone had refused to swear obedience to a law which he considered had not been legally enacted, preferred to abandon the city rather than his opinion; or, (to leave off quoting ancient examples, of which there is an abundance worthy of the glory of this empire, while yet I avoid naming any one who is now alive,) such as Quintus Catulus lately was, whom neither the tempest of danger nor the breeze of honour could ever move from his straight course, either by hope or fear.
XLVIII. Imitate those men, I beg you in the name of the immortal gods, ye who seek for dignity, and praise, and glory. These examples are honourable; these are godlike; these are immortal; these are celebrated in fame, and are committed to the eternal recollection of our annals, and are handed down to posterity. It is a labour, I do not deny it. The dangers are great, I admit it,—
“The path of virtuous men is full of snares.”
That is a most true saying.
The poet says further,—
The same poet says in another place, (a sentence which wicked citizens are inclined to catch at,) “Let them hate me, as long as they fear.” For he gave those admirable precepts to the young men. But nevertheless this path and this system of undertaking public affairs was formerly more formidable, as in many particulars the desire of the multitude and the whim of the people were at variance with the interests of the republic. A law for the establishment of the ballot was brought forward by Lucius Cassius. The people thought that its liberties were at stake; the chief men of the state dissented, and in a matter affecting the safety of the nobles, they feared the rashness of the multitude, and the licentiousness of the ballot. Tiberius Gracchus brought forward an Agrarian law. It was very acceptable to the people; the fortunes of the poorer classes appeared likely to be established by it. The nobles strove against it, because they saw that discord was excited by it; and because, as the object of it was to deprive the wealthy men of their ancient possessions, they thought that by it the republic was being deprived of its defenders. Caius Gracchus brought forward a law respecting corn. It was a very pleasing proposal to the common people at Rome; for food was to be supplied to them in abundance without any trouble. The good resisted it, because they thought that its effect would be to lead the common people away from industry to idleness, and because the treasury was likely to be drained by such a measure.
XLIX. There have been also many cases within our own recollection, which I pass over on purpose, in which the desire of the people has been at variance with the wisdom of the nobles. At present there is no subject on which the people need disagree with its chosen magistrates and with the nobles; it is not demanding anything, nor is it eager for a revolution, and it is fond of its own tranquillity, and pleased with the dignity and worth of every eminent man, and with the glory of the whole republic. Therefore seditious and turbulent men, because they cannot at present stir up the Roman people by any bribery, since the common people, having gone through some most violent seditions and discords, appear for the most for ease and tranquillity, now hold packed assemblies, and do not concern themselves about saying or proposing what those men who are present in the assembly may like to hear, but they contrive by bribery and corruption that whatever they say may appear to be what those men wish to hear.
Do you think that the Gracchi, or that Saturninus, or that any one of those ancient men who were considered devoted to the interests of the people, had ever any hired fellows in their assemblies? No one of those men ever stooped to such a course. For the mere liberality of their proposed laws, and the hope of the advantage which was held out to them, excited the multitude sufficiently without any bribery. Therefore, in those times, those men who set up for friends of the people, were hindered in their plans by wise and honourable men, but they were great men in the opinion of the populace, and received every sort of honour from them. They were applauded in the theatre; they gained whatever they sought for by their suffrages; men loved their names, their language, their countenances, their very gait. But those who opposed this class of men were accounted wise and great men; they had great influence in the senate, great influence among all good men; but they were unpopular with the multitude; their inclinations were frequently thwarted by the suffrages of the populace; and if any one of them at any time received any applause in the theatre, he began to be afraid that he had done something wrong; but at the same time, if there was anything of more than ordinary importance under discussion, then that same populace was chiefly influenced by the authority of those men.
L. Now, unless I am mistaken, the state is in such a condition, that if you take away the artisans who are hired to support the party of these wicked men, everybody in the republic appears to be of the same opinion. In truth, there are three places in which the opinion and inclination of the Roman people may be ascertained in the greatest degree; the assembly, the comitia, and the meetings at the games and at exhibitions of gladiators. What assembly has there been of late years, which has not been a packed and bribed one, but a genuine one, in which the unanimity of the Roman people has not been very perceivable? Many assemblies were held concerning me by that most wicked gladiator, to which no one ever went who was unbribed, no one who was an honest man; no good man could endure to behold that ill-omened countenance, or to listen to that frantic voice. Those assemblies were, I admit that those assemblies of abandoned men were necessarily turbulent. Publius Lentulus, too, held an assembly, also about my affairs. There was a vast flocking to it of the whole Roman people; all ranks of society, all Italy stood side by side in that assembly. He argued my cause with the greatest authority, and the greatest fluency of language, amid such silent attention and such visible approbation from every one, that nothing so pleasing appeared ever to have fallen on the ears of the Roman people. Cnæus Pompeius was brought forward by him, who displayed himself then not only as the main author of my safety, but even as a suppliant to the Roman people. His oration also was one of great weight, and was pleasing to the assembly. And I assert that no opinion of his ever carried more authority with it; and that no eloquence of his was ever more agreeable. With what silent attention were the other chief men of the city listened to while speaking in my behalf; whom I do not mention in this place, only lest my speech, if I say too little of any one, should seem ungrateful, and, if I were to say enough of each individual, interminable.
Turn now to the harangue of that same enemy of mine concerning me, the same person of whom those great men had been speaking, delivered in the Campus Martius, to a genuine assembly of the people. Who was there who (I will not say approved of it, but who) did not think it a most scandalous thing that he should be allowed to live and breathe at all, much less to speak? Who was there who did not think that the republic was polluted by his voice, and that he himself, if he only listened to him, was implicated in his wickedness?
LI. I come now to the comitia, whether those for electing magistrates or for enacting laws. We often see many laws passed. I say nothing of those which are passed in such a manner that scarcely five men, and those only of the lowest class, can be found to give a vote for them. He says that at the time of that ruin of the republic he carried a law respecting me, whom he called a tyrant, and the destroyer of liberty. Who is there who will confess that he gave a vote when this law was passed against me? But when, in compliance with the same resolution of the senate, a law was passed about me in the comitia centuriata, who is there who does not profess that then he was present, and that he gave a vote in favour of my safety? Which cause, then, is the one which ought to appear popular? that in which everything that is honourable in the city, and every age, and every rank of men agree? or that to the carrying of which some excited Furies fly as if hastening to banquet on the funeral of the republic?
Suppose Gellius is present anywhere, a man unworthy of his brother, who is a most illustrious citizen, and has been a most excellent consul, and of the equestrian order, of which he retains the name, though he has squandered the fortune which entitled him to it;1 will his presence make an assembly a popular one? For, to be sure, he is a man quite devoted to the Roman people. I never saw one more so. Why, even when, in his youth, he might have shared to some extent in the credit arising from the ample honours of that most admirable man, Lucius Philippus, his step-father, he was so far from being fond of the people, that he devoured the whole of his property by himself. Afterwards, from having been a profligate and licentious young man, after he had brought down his paternal property from the easy circumstances in which stupid people take delight, to the strict rule of philosophers, he wished to be considered a man of Greek learning, and a quiet scholar, and on a sudden devoted himself to the study of literature. But his old Greeks did not do him much good; his slaves who read to him, and his books, were often pledged for wine; his appetite was as insatiable as ever; but his resources fell short enough. Therefore he was perpetually occupied with thoughts of revolution; he was growing old and weary of the peace and tranquillity of the republic.
LII. Has there ever been any sedition of which he has not been a prime mover? Has there ever been any seditious man with whom he has not been intimate? Has there ever been any turbulent assembly of which he has not been an exciter? Has he ever spoken well of any good man? Spoken well, do I say? Ay, rather, is there any brave and good citizen whom he has not attacked in the most wanton manner? A fellow who—not, I fancy, out of any desire, but merely in order to seem a favourer of the common people—took a freedwoman for his wife. He voted concerning me; he was present at the assembly; he was present at all the banquets and mutual congratulations of that parricidal crew. However, he avenged me well when he kissed my enemies with that impure mouth of his. For, just as if it were owing to me that he has lost his property, he is an enemy to me on that very account, because he has nothing left. Have I, O Gellius, taken your patrimony from you, or have you devoured it? What? Were you, you gulf and whirlpool of your patrimony, were you gormandising at my risk, when you wished to prevent me from remaining any longer in the city, because as consul I had defended the republic against you and your associates? There is not one of your family who can bear the sight of you. All men avoid your approach, your conversation, your society. Postumius, the son of your sister, a young man of great prudence and high character, with the judgment of an old man, branded you, when amid a great number of guardians he did not appoint you as one of the guardians of his children.
But I have been carried away by indignation on my own account and on that of the republic, (and I do not know which of us two he hates most,) to say more than I need have said against that most frantic and impoverished glutton. I return to my original subject; that, when the proceedings were being carried on against me, while the city was taken and oppressed, Gellius, and Firmius, and Titius, all Furies of the same class, were the chiefs and leaders of those mercenary bands, while the proposer of the law himself was in no respect free from being implicated in their baseness, and audacity, and iniquity. But when the law was passed for my restoration to my dignity, no one thought that either infirm health or old age supplied him with any reasonable excuse for being absent; there was no one who did not consider that by his vote he was recalling not only me, but also the republic at the same time to its ancient position.
LIII. Let us now consider the comitia held for the election of magistrates. There was lately a college of tribunes, among whom three were considered not at all attached to the party of the people; but three were supposed to be most violently so. Of those who were not considered friends of the people, and who were unable to stand before a packed and bribed assembly of that sort, I see that two have been made prætors by the Roman people; and, as far as I have been able to understand, by the conversation of the common people and by their votes, the Roman people openly alleged that the consistent and illustrious courage exhibited by Cnæus Domitius in his tribuneship, and the good faith and fortitude of Quintus Ancharius, would have been pleasing to them for the mere good-will which it proved, even if they had not been able to effect anything. We see, now, what is the opinion which is entertained of Caius Fannius; and what the opinion of the Roman people is likely to be when he seeks for honours, ought to be doubtful to no one. What more shall I say? How did those two friends of the people fare? One, who however had put some restraint on himself, had proposed no law; he had merely entertained very different sentiments respecting the republic from those which men expected of him, as he had been a virtuous and innocent man, and one at all times esteemed by virtuous men; but as in his tribuneship he had shown himself very little able to comprehend what was approved by the genuine body of the people, and because he imagined that that was the Roman people which attended those assemblies, he did not attain that honour at which he would easily have arrived, if he had not hunted so much after popularity.
The other, who was so frantic in his desire for popularity, that he thought neither the auspices, nor the Ælian law, nor the authority of the senate, nor the consul, nor his colleagues, nor the estimation of good men, of any importance at all, stood for the ædileship along with some virtuous men of the highest character, but still not men in the first rank for riches and personal influence; and did not get the vote of even his own tribe. He lost also the vote of the Palatine tribe, by the assistance of which it used to be said that all those pests were able to annoy the Roman people; and, indeed, (as was very acceptable to all good men,) he got nothing but repulses at that comitia. You see, therefore, that the very people itself—if I may use such an expression—is not for a seeker after popularity, since it so vehemently rejects those men who are accounted popular characters, and considers those men the most worthy of honour who are the most opposed to that class of men.
LIV. Let us now come to the games. For the way in which I see your attention given to me, and your eyes directed towards me, makes me think that I may be allowed now to speak in a lighter tone. At times the intimations of opinion which take place in assemblies and comitia are to be depended on; at times they are worthless and corrupt. The crowd of spectators in the theatre and at the gladiatorial games, are said at all times to pour forth their purchased applauses in small and scanty proportion at the caprice of a few directors. But it is easy, when that is the case, to see how it is done, and by whom, and what the entire people are doing. Why need I tell you now what men, or what description of citizens, receive the greatest applause? There is not one of you who is ignorant of this. However, let this be a matter of slight consequence, not that it really is, since it is given to every virtuous man; but, if it be a matter of slight consequence, it is so only to a wise man. But to him who depends on the most trivial circumstances, who (as these men say themselves) is fettered and guided by popular rumour and popular favour, it is inevitable that applause must appear immortality, and hissing death.
I, then, ask you, above all men, O Scaurus,—you who have exhibited the most splendid and magnificent games of all men,—whether any one of those popular characters was ever a spectator of your games? whether any one of them ever trusted himself to the theatre and to the Roman people? That very chief buffoon of all, that man who was not only spectator, but at the same time actor and spouter,—that man who filled up all his sister’s interludes, who is introduced into companies of women as a singing-girl,—neither ventured to go to see your games in that furious tribuneship of his, nor any other games either, except those from which he had some difficulty in escaping with his life. Once altogether, I say, did that popular man venture to trust himself among the spectators of the games; when in the temple of Honour and Virtue honour was paid to virtue, and when the monument of Caius Marius, the preserver of this empire, had afforded a place in which the citizens could provide for the safety of a man who was a fellow-citizen of his own municipal town, and a defender of the republic.
LV. And at that time it was shown plainly enough, with reference to both parties, what were the real feelings of the Roman people; in the first place, when, after having heard the resolution of the senate, universal applause was given to the proposer of the law, and to the senate as a body, though it was not present; and secondly, when every individual senator, as he returned from the senate to see the games, was received with loud clapping of hands. But, when the consul himself, who was exhibiting the games, took his seat, then the people stood up, thanking him with extended hands, and with tears of joy declared their good-will towards and pity for me. But, when that furious enemy of mine, with his senseless and frantic mind, arrived, the Roman people could hardly restrain itself; the men could hardly abstain from wreaking their hatred on his foul and wicked person. Words, indeed, and menacing gestures of the hands, and loud outcries in the way of abuse and of curses on him, were universal.
But why need I speak of the disposition and courage of the Roman people, looking back on their liberty after their long slavery, as shown by their conduct towards that man, whom, though he was at that time standing for the ædileship, even the actors did not spare to his face. For as the play being exhibited was one of Roman life,—“The Pretender,”1 I believe,—the whole troop of actors, speaking in most splendid concert, and looking in the face of this profligate man, laid the greatest emphasis on the words, “To such a life as yours,” and, “The continued course and end of your wicked life.” He sat frightened out of his wits; and he, who formerly used to pack the assemblies which he summoned with bands of noisy buffoons, was now driven away by the voices of these same players.
And since I have mentioned the games, I will not omit that circumstance, that amid the great variety of sentences and apophthegms which occur in that play, there was not one passage in which any expression of the poet had any bearing on our times, which either escaped the notice of the main body of the people, or on which particular emphasis was not laid by the actor. And I entreat you, while speaking on this topic, O judges, not to think that I am led by any levity of disposition to an unusual description of oratory, if in a court of justice I speak of poets, and actors, and games.
LVI. I am not, O judges, so ignorant of the forms of proceeding in trials, I am not so inexperienced in speaking, as to hunt for topics of every sort, and to gather and taste every sort of flower from every quarter. I know what is due to your dignity, and to my duty as counsel for the defence, and to this court, and to the character of Publius Sextius, and to the magnitude of his danger, and to my own age and to my own honour. But I have considered that while speaking on this point, it was desirable to explain to the youth of the city who were the best men. And in explaining that point, it was necessary to show that those men are not all friends of the people who are thought to be so. And that I can do most easily, if I represent to them the genuine and unbribed opinion of the Roman people, and the real inmost feelings of the citizens.
How was it that,—when the news of that resolution of the senate which was passed in the temple of Virtue was fresh, and was brought to the people while engaged in beholding the games, and to the actors on the stage, in a very full house,—that consummate actor, a man, in truth, who always performs the best part in the republic as he does on the stage, weeping both from recent joy and also from a mixture of grief and regret for me, pleaded my cause before the Roman people in much more impressive language than I could possibly have pleaded for myself? For he gave a representation of the genius of the great poet whose play was being acted, not merely by his art as an actor, but by his real grief. “What, shall he who with a constant mind assisted and supported the state; who has always stood on the side of the Greeks NA* * *” He said that I had always stood on your side; he pointed to your ranks; he was encored by every body. “Who, in a critical state of affairs, did not hesitate to expose his life, did not spare his own person or privileges NA* * *.” What shouts were raised as he recited these passages! when, omitting all consideration of his acting, the people applauded the words of the poet and the zeal of the actor, and the encouragement of their expectations respecting me. “A most excellent friend, in a most important war NA* * *:” for the actor added that of himself, from his friendly inclination towards me; and perhaps men applauded it on account of their regret for me: “A man endowed with the highest ability.”
LVII. Then came those words, in the same play, with what groans on the part of the Roman people were they accompanied when the actor repeated them! “Oh, my father NA* * *.” He thought me,—me I say, deserving to be lamented as his father, whom Quintus Catulus, and whom many other men had repeatedly styled in the senate the Father of my country. With what great weeping for my ruin and for the conflagration of my property were his words accompanied, when he deplored his father driven away, his country afflicted, his house burnt and destroyed. He acted in such a manner, when, after having dilated on his former fortune, he turned his description in this way, “All these things have I seen destroyed by fire NA* * *,” as to rouse the tears of even my enemies and my enviers. O ye immortal gods! what did he do next? in what way did he pronounce the next words? which indeed seem to me to have been acted and written in such a manner, that they might appropriately have been uttered even by Catulus himself, if he had come to life again; for he was accustomed at times to reprove and attack the precipitate counsels of the people, and the blunders of the senate as well, with great freedom. “O ungrateful Argives; empty-headed Greeks; forgetful of kindness!” That, indeed, was not true; for they were not ungrateful, but miserable in not being allowed to secure the safety of that man from whom they had received their own: nor was any body ever more grateful to another than all of them were to me. But still what that most eloquent poet wrote was applicable to me; and that not only best but also boldest of actors applied it to me, when he pointed at all orders of citizens, and accused the senate, the Roman knights, and the whole Roman people: “You allow him to be banished, you have voted for his being driven away, you endure his being driven away.” I myself only know by report what indications every one then gave of their feelings on that occasion, and how universally the whole Roman people declared their inclinations towards a man who had never sought to curry favour with the people; but they can judge more accurately of that who were present.
LVIII. And since my speech has carried me on to this point, the actor bewailed my misfortune so repeatedly, while he was pleading my cause so mournfully, that his beautiful voice was hindered by his tears. Nor were the poets, whose genius I have always had an affection for, wanting to my necessities at that time, and the Roman people approved of their words, not only with their applause, but even with their groans. Ought then Æsop or Accius to have said these things on my behalf if the Roman people had been free, or ought they to have left them to the chief men of the state to say? In the Brutus, I was mentioned by name: “Tullius, who had established the liberty of the citizens.” It was encored again and again. Did the Roman people appear to be giving slight indications that it had been established by me and by the senate, though profligate citizens accused us as having destroyed it? But above all other times the sentiments of the entire Roman people were declared at the exhibition of the gladiatorial games. For they were the gift of Scipio, worthy both of him and Quintus Metellus, in whose honour they were given. And they are a spectacle of that sort which is attended by immense numbers and by every class of men, and with which the multitude is delighted above all things. Into that crowd of spectators came Publius Sextius as tribune of the people, when during his whole period of office he had been nothing whatever but serving my cause; and he went among the people, not from any personal desire of applause, but that our enemies might themselves see the inclinations of the universal people. He came, as you know, to the Mænian pillar, and such great applause ensued, from all the places for beholding the spectacle all the way from the Capitol, and such universal clapping of hands from every seat, that it was said that there had never been, in any cause whatever, greater or more manifest unanimity on the part of the Roman people. Where at that time were those regulators of the assemblies, those masters of the laws, those expellers of citizens? Or have these wicked men any peculiar people of their own to whom we have given offence, and by whom we are hated?
LIX. I think, indeed, that there never was a time when the people were assembled in greater crowds, than that time of those gladiatorial games; neither at any assembly, nor even at any comitia. What then did this innumerable multitude of men, this extraordinary indication of the will of the entire Roman people, without the slightest disagreement, on those very days when it was thought that my cause was going to be decided, declare, except that the safety and dignity of the best citizens was dear to the entire Roman people? But that tribune of the people, who was accustomed to put questions to the assembly, not according to the usual custom of his father, or his grandfather, or his great grandfather, or of any of his ancestors, but like a Greek schoolmaster, “Did they wish me to return?” and when an outcry was raised against it by the faint voices of his hirelings, he said that the Roman people affirmed that they had no such wish,—he, though he used to go and see the gladiators every day, was never seen when he did come. He used to emerge on a sudden after he had crept along under the benches, so that he seemed as if he were going to say, “Mother, I call you.”1 And so that dark way by which he used to come to see the games was called the Appian Road. But still, the moment the people got sight of him, not only the gladiators, but the very horses of the gladiators, were frightened at the sudden hisses that ensued. Do you not see, then, what a great difference there is between the Roman people and an assembly? Do you not see that the masters of the assemblies are the object of the hatred of the Roman people? and that those who are not permitted to appear without insult in the assembly of artisans, are honoured by every possible mark of respect by the Roman people?
Do you speak to me of Marcus Atilius Regulus, who of his own accord preferred returning to Carthage to execution, to remaining at Rome without those prisoners by whom he had been sent to the Senate, and then do you deny that I ought to be anxious for a recal procured by means of trained households of slaves and bands of armed men?
LX. Certainly, I suppose I was anxious for violence, who, as long as there was any violence going on, did nothing whatever, and who could not possibly have been undermined and injured if it had not been for violence. Was I to regret such a recal as this, which was so honourable to me that I am almost afraid of seeming to have left the city from a covetousness of glory, in order to return in such a manner? For what citizen except me did the senate ever recommend to the protection of foreign nations? For whose safety except mine did the senate ever publicly return thanks to the allies of the Roman people? I am the only person concerning whom the conscript fathers ever decreed that whoever went in command to any of the provinces, whoever were quæstors or lieutenants, were to take care of my safety and my life. Mine is the only cause since the foundation of the city in which every one who had any regard for the safety of the republic was summoned to Rome from every part of Italy, by letters written by the consuls in obedience to a resolution of the senate. That which the senate never once decreed at a time of peril to the entire republic, they thought it necessary to decree for the preservation of my individual safety. Who was ever more regretted in the senate house? who was ever more lamented in the forum? who was ever so much missed in the courts of justice? At, and in consequence of my departure, every place immediately became deserted, melancholy, mute, full of grief and lamentation. What spot is there in all Italy in which there is not imprinted on the public monuments some proof of the zeal of the people for my safety, some testimony to my worth?
LXI. For why should I mention those resolutions of the senate, of more than human kindness towards me? Either that which was passed in the temple of the all-good and all-powerful Jupiter, when that man, who has marked by three triumphs that he has added himself three countries and nations to this empire, read a long written speech in support of his opinion, and bore his testimony to the fact that I alone had preserved the country; and the senate in the fullest possible house adopted his opinion so entirely that only one enemy of mine dissented from it, and the decree, as supported by Pompeius, was recorded in the public registers for the eternal recollection of posterity? Or that which was passed the next day in the senate-house, at the suggestion of the Roman people themselves, and of those men who had come up from the municipal towns, to the effect that no one was to observe the heavens, that no one was to cause any delay whatever; that if any one did so, he should be considered at once as one who wished to overturn the republic, and the senate would be very much offended, and that a motion should be immediately made respecting his conduct? And when the senate, meeting in great numbers, had checked the wickedness and audacity of some of those men by its authority and dignity, it added this clause moreover, that if within the next five days in which my affairs could be discussed, they were not brought to a termination, I was to return to my country and be restored to all my former dignities.
LXII. The senate decreed at the same time that thanks should be given to those men who had come up from all parts of Italy for the sake of my safety; and that they should be requested to come again when the consideration of the subject was renewed. And there was such a rivalry between all people to show their zeal for my safety, that the very men to whom entreaties were addressed in my behalf by that senate, did also themselves address entreaties to the senate respecting me; and, accordingly, in all those transactions but one man alone was found who openly dissented from this earnest unanimity of all good men, so that even Quintus Metellus, the consul, who had been in a very great degree an enemy to me in the violent party contests which had arisen about political affairs, himself made a motion in favour of my safety. And when he, being roused up by the exceeding authority of Publius Servilius, and also by a certain energy which gave weight to his eloquence, when he had invoked all the Metelli from the shades below, and had diverted the thoughts of his relation from the piratical attempts of Clodius to the dignity of that family by which they were connected together; and when he had brought him back to the recollection of their great domestic example and to the fate (shall I call it glorious, or melancholy?) of that great man Metellus Numidicus; then, I say, that illustrious man,—that genuine Metellus wept, and gave himself up from that moment to Publius Servilius even before he had come to the end of his speech. Nor could he, as a man of the same illustrious family, withstand that godlike dignity of eloquence so pregnant with the virtues of old time, and, though I was absent, he still became reconciled to me from that moment.
And certainly, if it be the case that illustrious men retain any sense or feeling after death, then he did a thing which was most acceptable to all the Metelli, and, above all, to that bravest of men and best of citizens, his own brother, the companion of all my labours, and dangers, and counsels.
LXIII. But who is there who is ignorant of what a triumphant return mine was? how the people of Brundusium held out to me on my arrival the right hand, as it were, of all Italy, and of my country herself; and when the same day, the fifth of August, was the day of my arrival, and also the birthday of my dearest daughter, whom I then beheld for the first time after our long regret for one another, and our mourning; and was also the day consecrated as the day of the foundation of that very colony of Brundusium; and also the anniversary of the dedication of the temple of Salus, as you know. And when I had been received into the joyful house of those most excellent and learned men, Lænius Flaccus and his father and brother, which had received me with tears the year before, when I was leaving Italy, and had defended me not without risk and danger to itself; and when along my whole road all the cities of Italy seemed to be keeping the days of my arrival as days of festivity; and the roads themselves were filled with a multitude of deputies sent from all quarters; and there was a vast throng of men crowding towards the city, full of exultation and congratulation to me; and my whole path up from the gate of the city, my ascent to the Capitol, and my return to my house, was of such a nature, that amid my excessive joy I grieved also that so grateful a city should be so miserable and so ill-treated.
You now, then, have an answer to the question which you put to me—who were the best men? They are not a race, as you termed them; an expression which I recognised at once, for it was one invented by that man by whom, above all others, Publius Sextius sees himself opposed,—by that man who has wished the whole of this race of Romans destroyed and slaughtered,—who has constantly reproached and constantly attacked Caius Cæsar, a very mild-tempered man and very averse to bloodshed, asserting that he, as long as that race lived, would never be free from anxiety. He gained nothing by his attacks on the whole body, but he never ceased to urge the point against me. He attacked me first of all by the instrumentality of the informer Vettius, to whom he put questions in the assembly, concerning me, and concerning the most illustrious men in the state. But while doing this, he joined those citizens in the same danger with me, bringing forward the same accusations against them, so as to deserve great gratitude from me for connecting me with the most honourable and bravest of men.
LXIV. But afterwards he in a most wicked manner contrived all sorts of plots against me, for no provocation which I had given him, except inasmuch as I was anxious to please all virtuous men. He was every day mentioning some fault of mine to those men whom he could get to listen to him; he warned the man who was of all others the most friendly to me, Cnæus Pompeius, to beware of entering my house, and to be on his guard against me; he united himself with my chief enemy, in such a manner that he said, with respect to that proscription of mine which Sextus Clodius, a fellow thoroughly worthy of his associates, promoted, that he was the tablet on which it was written, and that he himself was the writer. And he alone of our whole order openly exulted at my departure and at your grief. And I, for my part, O judges, though he was every day attacking me, never said one word against him; nor did I think, while I was being attacked by every sort of engine and weapon of violence, and an army, and a mob, that it was suited to my dignity to complain of one archer more.
He says that my acts displease him. Who doubts that? when he despises that law which expressly forbids any one to exhibit shows of gladiators within two years of his having stood, or being about to stand, for any office. And in that, O judges, I cannot sufficiently marvel at his rashness. He acts most openly against the law; and he does so, who is a man who is neither able to slip out of the consequences of a trial by his pleasant manner, nor to struggle out of them by his popularity, nor to break down the laws and courts of justice by his wealth and influence. What can induce the fellow to be so intemperate? I imagine it is out of his excessive covetousness of popularity, that he bought that troop of gladiators, so beautiful, noble, and magnificent. He knew the inclination of the people, he saw that great clamours and gatherings of the people would ensue. And elated with this expectation, and burning with a desire of glory, he could not restrain himself from bringing forward those gladiators, of whom he himself was the finest specimen. If that were the motive for his violation of the law, and if he were prompted by zeal to please the people on account of the recent kindness of the Roman people to himself, still no one would pardon him; but as the fact is that this band did not consist of men picked out of those who were for sale, but of men bought out of gaols, and adorned with gladiatorial names, while he drew lots to see whom he would call Samnites, and whom Challengers, who could avoid having fears as to what might be the end of such licentiousness and such undisguised contempt for the laws?
But he brings forward two arguments in his defence. First of all, “I exhibit,” says he, “men fighting with beasts, and the law only speaks of gladiators.” A very clever idea! Listen now to a statement which is still more ingenious. He says that he has not exhibited gladiators, but one single gladiator; and that he has limited the whole of his ædileship to this one exhibition. A fine ædileship truly. One lion, two hundred men who fight with beasts. However, let him urge this defence. I wish him to feel confidence in his case; for he is in the habit of appealing to the tribunes of the people, and to use violent means to upset those tribunals in which he has not confidence. And I do not so much wonder that he despises my law, as having been framed by a man whom he considers his enemy, as at his having made up his mind to regard no law whatever which has been passed by a consul. He despises the Cæcilian Didian law, and the Licinian Junian law. Does he also deny that the law of Caius Cæsar,—who he is in the habit of boasting has been adorned and strengthened and armed by his law, and by his kindness, respecting extortion and corruption,—is a law? And do they complain that there are other men, too, who wish to rescind the acts of Cæsar, while this most excellent law is neglected by his father-in-law and by this slave?
LXV. And the prosecutor has dared, while pleading in this cause, to exhort you, O judges, to show at last some severity, and at length to apply some healing measures to the republic. But that is not a remedy when the knife is applied to some sound and healthy part of the body; that is the act of an executioner, and mere inhumanity. Those are the men who really apply healing remedies to the republic, who cut out some pestilence as if it were a wen on the person of the state.
But in order that my speech may have some termination, and that I may cease speaking before you are weary of listening to me with attention, I will finish my argument about the party of the best men, and about their leaders, and about those who are the chief defenders of the republic. I will stir you up, O young men, especially you who are of noble birth, to the imitation of your ancestors, and I will exhort you who have the opportunity of arriving at high rank by the exercise of genius and virtue, to adopt that line of conduct by which many new men have become crowned with honour and glory. This, believe me, is the only path to praise, and dignity, and honour,—to be praised and beloved by men who are wise and good, and endowed with good dispositions by nature; to become acquainted with the constitution of the state, as it has been most wisely established by our ancestors, who, when they could no longer endure the power of a king, created annual magistrates on the principle of making the senate the perpetual supreme council of the republic, and of allowing men to be elected into that body by the whole people, and of opening the road to that supreme order to the industry and virtue of all the citizens. They established the senate as the guardian, and president, and protector of the republic; they chose the magistrates to depend on the authority of this order, and to be as it were the ministers of this most dignified council; and they contrived that the senate itself should be strengthened by the high respectability of those ranks which came nearest to it, and so be able to defend and promote the liberties and interests of the common people.
LXVI. Those who defend these institutions with all their might are the best men, of whatever rank they are; and they who chiefly support all these offices and the republic on their necks as it were, are accounted the chiefs of the party of the best men,—the chief advisers and preservers of the state. I confess that there are, as I have said before, many adversaries and enemies to, and enviers of this class of men, that there are many dangers in their path, that many injuries are heaped upon them, that many labours have necessarily to be experienced and undergone by them. But all my speech is addressed to virtue, and not to sloth; to dignity, and not to luxury; to those men who look upon themselves as born for their country, for their fellow-citizens, for praise, for glory, not for sleep, for banquets, and soft delights. For if there be any men who are influenced wholly by pleasures, and who have given themselves entirely up to the seductions of vices and to the gratification of their desires, let them abandon all desire for honours; let them abstain from meddling with the republic; let them be satisfied with enjoying their ease, and owing it to the labour of virtuous and brave men.
But they who desire the good report of good men, which is the only thing which is really entitled to be called glory, ought to seek ease and pleasures for others and not for themselves. They must toil for the common advantage; they must incur enmities, and often encounter tempests, for the sake of the republic; they must combat with many audacious and wicked men.—sometimes even with men of great influence. This is what we have heard of the sentiments and actions of the most illustrious men; this is what tradition reports of them, and what we have read: nor do we ever see those men loaded with praise who from time to time have stirred up the minds of men to sedition, or who by bribery have corrupted the inclinations of the ignorant, or who have brought brave and illustrious men, who have deserved well of the republic, into odium and unpopularity. Our countrymen have always thought such men as those contemptible, and audacious, and wicked, and mischievous citizens. But they who have checked the violence and the attempts of those men; they who by their authority, by their integrity, by their firmness, and by their magnanimity have resisted the designs of audacious men, have been at all times considered wise and good men, the chiefs, and leaders, and advisers of this order, of this dignified body, and of the empire.
LXVII. And let no one, on account of what has happened to me, or perhaps to one or two others besides, fear to adopt this plan of life. One man in this state, whom I can mention, a man who had done great services to the republic, Lucius Opimius, did fall in a most shameful manner. And if his grave is a deserted one on the shore of Dyrrachium, he has a most superb monument in our forum. And the Roman people itself at all times delivered him from danger, though he was exceedingly unpopular with the mob on account of the death of Caius Gracchus; and it was a storm coming from another quarter—from an iniquitous judicial decision—which crushed that illustrious citizen. But the other men who have done good service to the state, have either, if for a while they have been stricken by any sudden violence, or tempest of popular odium, been restored again, and recalled by the people of its own accord, or else they have passed their whole lives without any such injuries or attacks. But they who have disregarded the wisdom of the senate, and the authority of good men, and the established rules of our ancestors, and have sought to become agreeable to an ignorant and excited multitude, have nearly all suffered just retribution and made atonement to the republic, either by instant death, or shameful exile.
But if, even among the Athenians, a nation of Greeks, far removed from the serious wisdom of our ancestors, there were not wanting men to defend the republic against the rashness of the people;—though every one who ever did so was sure to be banished from the city;—if the great Themistocles, the preserver of his country, was not deterred from defending the republic, either by the calamity of Miltiades, who had saved that state only a little before, or by the banishment of Aristides, who is said to have been the greatest of all men: and if, after his time, many illustrious men of the same state, whom it is unnecessary for me to mention by name, in spite of the numerous instances of the popular ill-temper and fickleness which they had before them, still defended that republic of theirs; what ought we to do, who, in the first place, have been born in that city which appears to me to be the very birth-place of wisdom and dignity and magnanimity; and who, in the second place, are raised on such a pinnacle of glory that all human things may well appear insignificant by the side of it; and who, lastly, have undertaken to uphold that republic, which is one of such dignity, that to slay a man who is defending it is no less a crime than to attack it and to endeavour to seize the supreme power?
LXVIII. Those Greeks whom I have just mentioned, having been unjustly condemned and banished by their fellow-citizens, still, because they deserved well of their state, enjoy such renown at this present time, not in Greece alone, but among ourselves also, and in other lands, that no one ever mentions the names of those men by whom they were oppressed, and that every one prefers their disasters to the superior power of their enemies. Who of the Carthaginians was superior to Hannibal in wisdom, and valour, and actual achievements? a man who single-handed fought for so many years for empire and for glory with such numbers of our generals. His own fellow-citizens banished him from the city; but we see that he, though our enemy, is celebrated in the writings and recollection of our citizens.
Let us then imitate our Bruti, our Camilli, and Ahalæ, our Decii, our Curius, and Fabricius, and Maximus, our Scipios, our Lentuli, our Æmilii, and countless others, who have given liberty to this republic; all of whom I consider deserving of being ranked among the company and number of the immortal gods. Let us love our country, let us obey the senate, let us consult the interests of the good; let us disregard present rewards, and fix our eyes on the glory which we shall receive from posterity. Let us think that the most desirable conduct, which is the most upright; let us hope for whatever we choose, but bear whatever befals us; let us consider, lastly, that the bodies of brave men and great citizens are mortal, but that the impulses of the mind and the glory of virtue are everlasting. And let us not, if we see that this opinion is consecrated by the most holy example of the great Hercules, whose body indeed has been burnt, but whose life and virtue are said to have received instant immortality, think any the less that they who by their counsels and labours have either increased the greatness, or defended the safety, or preserved the existence of this great republic, have acquired everlasting glory.
LXIX. But suddenly, O judges, while speaking of the dignity and renown of those valiant and most illustrious citizens, and while I was preparing to say still more on that subject, I have been checked in the onward progress of my speech by the sight of these men. I see Publius Sextius, the defender and upholder and chief maintainer of my safety, and of your authority, and of the cause of the commonwealth, on his trial as a criminal; I see his young son, present here before you, gazing on me with tearful eyes; I see Milo, the vindicator of your liberty, the guardian of my safety, the support and defence of the afflicted republic, the extinguisher of the piratical attempts of our domestic enemies, the repressor of daily bloodshed, the defender alike of the temples of the gods and of the houses of individuals, the bulwark of the senate-house, in mourning apparel, and under a prosecution. I see Publius Lentulus, to whose father I pay my salutations as the protecting deity and parent of my fortune and my name, and of my brother, and of all my hopes and property, in the miserable garb and squalid condition of an impeached man: I see the man who in the course of last year received the robe of manhood by the will of his father, and the purple robe by the deliberate choice1 of the people, now, in this year, in the same robe seeking to avert by his entreaties the sudden infliction of this most iniquitous decree, supplicating you on behalf of his most gallant father, and your most illustrious citizen.
And these mourning robes of so many and of such illustrious citizens, and these signs of grief, and these tokens of abasement, have all been put on for my single sake; because they defended me, because they grieve for my misfortune and for my grief, because, in compliance with the entreaties of all of you, they restored me to my mourning country, to the senate who demanded me back, and to Italy who entreated my recal. What great wickedness is imputed to me? What great crime did I commit on that day; on that day, I say, when I laid before you the proofs against, and the letters and confessions of those men who were seeking the general destruction; when I obeyed your commands? But, if it be a wicked thing to love one’s country, still I have suffered punishment enough; my house has been pulled down, my property has been pillaged; my children have been scattered abroad, my wife has been insulted, my most excellent brother, a man of incredible affection and unheard-of devotion to me, has fallen, with all the emblems of most bitter grief, at the feet of my bitterest enemies; I have been driven from my altars, from my hearth, from my household gods; I have been separated from my friends and torn from my country, which (to say the very least) I had most undoubtedly shielded; I have endured the cruelty of my enemies, the wickedness of faithless men, and the dishonesty of envious ones.
If this is not enough, because all this appears to be defaced by my return; it were better—it were far better, I say, for me, O judges, to fall back again into the same misfortune as before, than to bring such calamity on my defenders and preservers. Would it be possible for me to remain in this city after those men have been driven away from it, who alone enabled me again to enjoy this city? I cannot do so—it will not be possible for me, O judges,—nor shall this boy, who now, by his tears, shows how great his filial affection is, ever behold me in safety if he loses the presence of his father on account of his kindness to me; nor shall he, as often as he sees me, groan, and say that he beholds a man who has been the ruin of himself and of his father. I, in every fortune, whatever may befal me, will cling to you; nor shall any fortune ever separate me from those men whom you, O judges, behold in mourning apparel for my sake. Nor shall those nations to whom the senate recommended me, and to whom it gave thanks for their treatment of me, ever see this man as an exile on account of his conduct to me, without seeing me as his companion.
But the immortal gods, who received me on my arrival in their temples, accompanied by these men and by Publius Lentulus the consul, and the republic itself, than which there is nothing more holy, have entrusted these things, O judges, to your power. You are able by your decision to encourage the minds of all virtuous men, and to check the designs of the wicked; you are able by your decision to avail yourselves of the services of the virtuous citizens, to strengthen me, and to renew the republic. Wherefore, I beseech and entreat you, if you wish for my safety, to save those men by whose instrumentality you have recovered me.
[1 ]Caius Scipio, surnamed Asiaticus, was proscribed by Sylla and compelled to retire to Marseilles for safety.
[2 ]Now Marseilles.
[1 ]It has been said before that decuriones was the name of the senators of a senate of a colony.
[1 ]There is great reason to think that there is some corruption here.
[1 ]The text here is very corrupt. The Latin is “puteali et fœneratorum gregibus inflatus atque perculsus.” The puteal was the puteal Libonis, mentioned in Horace, the enclosure surrounding a well erected by Scribonius Libo to preserve the memory of a chapel which had been struck by lightning, and it was a common place of meeting for usurers.
[2 ]See vol. i. p. 123, note.
[3 ]“Seplasia was the name of the forum at Capua, where the perfumers carried on their trade.”—Nizol.
[1 ]“The Lex Ælia and Lex Fufia were passed about the end of the sixth century, and gave all magistrates the power of dissolving the comitia by obnuntiatio i. e. by observing the omens, and declaring them unfavourable.”—Smith, Dict. Ant. p. 560.
[1 ]Clodius had an old grudge against Ptolemæus king of Cyprus for refusing to ransom him once when he was taken prisoner by pirates;and now, having proposed a law to reduce his kingdom to the state of a province, and to confiscate all his property, he got the execution of the decree given to Cato, partly to throw discredit on Cato, and partly to oblige him to acknowledge the validity of his acts by submitting to bear a part in them: and Cato was much pleased at the commission. Ptolemæus, as soon as he had heard of the law and of Cato’s approach, poisoned himself in despair.
[1 ]Metellus Celer.
[1 ]He was dead.
[1 ]The text here seems undoubtedly corrupt.
[2 ]Here also the text is probably very corrupt.
[3 ]Æiius was of Ligurian family originally, and the Ligurians were not very famous for their good faith.
[1 ]The Latin word is paludati. “The paludamentum always denotes the cloak worn by a Roman general commanding an army, and by his principal officers, in contradistinction to the sagum of the common soldiers, and to the toga or robe of peace.”—Smith, Dict. Ant. p. 713, v. Paludamentum.
[2 ]A name of Cincinnatus, given to him also by Virgil:—“Velte sulco Serrane serentem.”—Æn. vi. 845.
[3 ]There is probably some corruption here in the text. “Calata comitia, a kind of comitia for the consecration of a priest; hence calatis granis for comitiis, facete. Cic.”—Riddle, Lat. Dict. in voc. Calo. There seems a sort of pun on Calatus and Calatinus.
[1 ]The man’s real name was Numerius Quinctius, who had assumed the name of Gracchus, to which he had no right, in order to make himself popular with the multitude; who perhaps, on that account elected him tribune.
[1 ]It is quite impossible to give Cicero’s meaning here in any translation. The Latin word he uses is optimates, which when spoken generally means the nobles and the aristocratic party; but all through this passage he connects it with optimus, best, most virtuous.
[1 ]It is not quite certain what was the amount of property requisite as the qualification for a knight; most probably, it was 400,000 ases, or pounds weight, of copper. But whatever it was, a knight who had squandered his property, so as not to have the requisite qualification, was liable to be struck out of the body by the censors.
[1 ]This was a play of Afranius, on the subject of the pretended madness of Junius Brutus, the expeller of the Tarquins.
[1 ]These words, quoted also by Horace, are from Pacuvius’s play of Ilione, the mother of Polydorus, and are put into the mouth of the shade of the murdered Polydorus.
[1 ]Publius Lentulus had been named one of the college of augurs, in spite of his youth, which was a legal disqualification for such an office, in compliment to his father.