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THE SPEECH OF M. T. CICERO IN DEFENCE OF MARCUS CŒLIUS. - 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 MARCUS CŒLIUS.
Marcus Cœlius was a young man of the equestrian order, and had been a sort of pupil of Cicero himself; and was a man of very considerable abilities. When a very young man, he had distinguished himself by prosecuting Caius Antonius, who had been Cicero’s colleague in his consulship; and after that, by prosecuting Lucius Atratinus for bribery and corruption. Out of revenge for this last prosecution, he was now impeached by the son of that Lucius Atratinus for public violence, in having been concerned in the murder of Dio, the chief of the Alexandrian embassy, and in an attempt to poison Clodia, the sister of Clodius. The real truth is said to have been that this prosecution was mainly instigated by Clodia, who considered herself slighted by Cœlius, who had been a lover of hers. Cœlius was a tenant of Clodius for a house on the Palatine Hill. He was acquitted, and was at all times very grateful to Cicero for his exertions. Some years afterwards he was prætor, in which capacity he recalled Milo from his banishment at Marseilles, and with Milo was murdered by the soldiery, with whom he was tampering in the hopes of being able to effect some diversion in favour of Pompey, a short time before the battle of Pharsalia.
I.If any one, O judges, were now present by any chance, ignorant of our laws, and of our judicial proceedings, and of our customs, he would in truth wonder what great atrocity there is in this particular cause of so serious a nature, as to cause this trial alone to be proceeded with during these days of festival and public games, when all other forensic business is interrupted; and he would not doubt that a criminal was being prosecuted for a crime of such enormity, that, if it were neglected, though but for a moment, the state could no longer stand upright. If the same man were to hear that there is a law which orders daily investigations to take place about seditious and wicked citizens, who may have taken arms and besieged the senate, or offered violence to the magistrates, or attacked the constitution, he would find no fault with the law, but he would inquire what is the crime which is now before the court; and when he heard that there was no crime at all, no audacity, no deed of violence which was the subject of this present action, but that a young man of eminent abilities, and industry, and popularity, is impeached by the son of that man whom he himself prosecutes and has prosecuted, and that he is attacked owing to the influence of a prostitute, he would not find fault with the filial affection of Atratinus, but he would think it right to curb the lust of the woman, and he would think you the judges a really laborious race, when you are not allowed to be at rest at a time of universal rest to every one else.
In truth, if you are willing to attend diligently, and to form a correct opinion of the whole of this cause, O judges, you will make up your minds that no one would ever have come down to the court to prefer this accusation who had the power of doing so or not, just as he pleased; and that, when he had come down, he would not have had the slightest hope of succeeding, if he had not relied on the intolerable licentiousness and exaggerated hatred of some one else. But, for my part, I can make allowance for Atratinus, a most humane and virtuous young man, and a great friend of my own; who has the excuse of filial affection, and necessity, and of youth. It he wished to accuse my client, I attribute it to his filial affection; if he was ordered to do so, I lay the blame on the necessity; if he had any hope of succeeding, I impute that to the inexperience of his boyhood. But as for the other partners in this impeachment, those I have not only no allowance to make for, but I must resist them most vigorously.
II. And, O judges, this beginning of my defence appears to me to suit most especially with the youth of Marcus Cœlius; so that I should reply first to those things which the accusers have advanced with the general view of disparaging him, and for the sake of detracting from his honour and despoiling him of his dignity. His father was cast in his teeth on various accounts,—at one time as having been a man of no great respectability himself; at another, he was said to have been treated with but little respect by his son. On the score of dignity, Marcus Cœlius, to those who know him and to the older men among us, is of himself, without speaking, himself able easily to make a very sufficient reply, and without my having any occasion to make any statement for him; but as for those to whom he is not equally well known, on account of his great age, which has now for some time hindered his mixing much with us in the forum, let them think this: that whatever dignity can exist in a Roman knight,—and certainly the very greatest may be found in that body,—has always been considered, and is to this day considered, to shine out in great lustre in the case of Marcus Cœlius; and moreover it is so considered, not only by his own relations and friends, but by every one to whom he can possibly be known on any account whatever.
And to be the son of a Roman knight ought neither to be attributed to any one as a crime, either by the present prosecutor, or before those men who are the judges, or while I am the counsel for the defence. For as to what you have said about his filial affection, or the want of it, that can only be a vague opinion of ours, but the decision as to the truth of it must certainly rest with his parent. What our opinion is, you shall hear from witnesses on their oath: what his parents feel to be the truth, the tears of his mother and her incredible sorrow, the mourning appearance of his father and his distress which you now behold, and his agony, sufficiently declare. For as to the attack made upon him, that as a young man he was not well thought of by his fellow-citizens of the same municipal town, I say that the people of Puteoli never paid greater honours to any one when he was among them than they did to Marcus Cœlius while he was absent; for though he was absent, they elected him a member of their most honourable body; and they conferred those distinctions on him without his asking for them, which they have refused to numbers when they solicited them; and they have, moreover, now sent their most chosen men, and men of our order, and Roman knights, with a deputation to attend this trial, and to bear most honourable and authoritative testimony in his favour.
I seem to myself now to have laid the foundations of my defence; and they are the firmest possible, if they rest on the judgment of his own relations and fellow-citizens. For his life could not be sufficiently recommended to you to meet with your approbation, if it displeased not only his parent, who is so excellent a man, but also so illustrious and dignified a municipality.
III. In truth, to return to myself, it is from such beginnings as his that I myself have risen to credit among men; and this forensic labour of mine, and the system of conduct which I have adopted, has made its way to the favourable opinion of men, by means of the extended commendation and favourable opinion of my own relations and friends.
For as to the attacks which have been made on him on the score of chastity, which has been harped upon by all the accusers, not by regular charges, but by outcry and abuse; Marcus Cœlius will never be indignant at that, so far as to repent of not being ugly. For those sort of reproaches are habitually heaped upon every one, whose person and appearance in youth is at all gentlemanly. But to vituperate is one thing, and to accuse is another. An accusation requires a crime in order to define the matter, to brand the man, to prove its charges by argument, and to confirm them by witnesses. But vituperation has no settled object, except insult; and if any one is attacked in that way with ill temper, it is called abuse; but if it is done with some sort of wit and mirth, it is then styled bantering. And I wondered and was indignant at that department of the accusation being given to Atratinus above all men; for it did not become him, nor did his age justify it, nor (as indeed you might have observed yourself) did the modesty of that excellent young man allow him to show to advantage in a speech on that subject. I should have preferred having one of you who are older and more robust, to undertake this part of vituperation; and we should then have been able with more freedom of speech and more vigour, and in a manner more in accordance with our usual habits, to refute the licentiousness of that vituperation. With you, O Atratinus, I will deal more gently, both because your own modesty is a check on my language, and because I am bound to have a regard to the good-will which I entertain towards you and your parent.
I wish, however, that you would keep one thing in mind, first of all, to form a correct estimate of yourself, and to learn to think yourself such a man as in truth you are; in order to keep yourself as clear of licentiousness of language as you are free from all impropriety of conduct; and secondly, to avoid alleging those things against another, which would make you blush if in reply they were falsely imputed to you. For who is there to whom such a path as that is not open? who is there who is not able to attack a man of Cœlius’s age and of Cœlius’s rank as petulantly as he pleases on that subject, even if without any real grounds for suspicion, at all events not without some apparent argument? But the people who are to blame for your undertaking that part, are they who compelled you to make these allegations. This praise belongs to your own modesty, of being, as we saw that you were, unwilling to make them; and to your genius, of making them in a courteous and polite manner.
IV. But, however, with respect to all that part of your speech, my reply in defence may be very brief. For, as far as the age of Marcus Cœlius might give room for any such suspicion, in the first place it was fortified against it by his own modesty, and in the second place by his father’s attentive care of him and rigid discipline; for, as soon as he had given him the robe of a man,—(I will say nothing here of myself; you yourselves are competent judges of what credit is due to me,—I only say that he was immediately brought by his father to me as a pupil,)—after that time no one ever saw Marcus Cœlius in that the flower of his age, that he was not either with his father, or with me, or else in that most virtuous house of Marcus Crassus, and being instructed in the most honourable branches of learning.
For as for the imputation which has been levelled against Cœlius, of having been intimate with Catiline, he ought to be wholly exempt from any such suspicion. For you all know that he was a very young man when Catiline stood for the consulship the same year that I did; and if he ever joined his party, or ever departed from mine, (though many virtuous young men did espouse the cause of that worthless and abandoned man,) then, indeed, I will allow it to be thought that Cœlius was too intimate with Catiline. But we know, and we ourselves saw after that, that he was one of his friends. Well, who denies it? But I am at this moment engaged in defending his conduct at that period of life, which is of itself unsteady and very liable to be at the mercy of the passions of others. He was continually with me while I was prætor; he knew nothing of Catiline. After that, Catiline being prætor had Africa for his province. Another year ensued, in which Catiline was prosecuted for extortions and peculation. Cœlius was still with me, and never went to him, not even as an advocate of his cause. The next year was the one in which I was a candidate for the consulship; Catiline was also a candidate. He never went over to him; he never departed from me.
V. Having then been so many years about the forum without any suspicion, and without any slur on his character, he espoused the cause of Catiline when he offered himself for the consulship a second time. How long, then, do you think that men of his age are to be kept in a state of pupilage? Formerly, we had one year established by custom, during which the arm was restrained by our robe, and during which we practised our exercises and sports in the Campus Martius in our tunics. And the very same practice prevailed in the camps and in the army, if we began to serve in campaigns at once. And at that age, unless a man protected himself by great gravity and chastity on his own part, and not only by rigid domestic discipline, but by an extraordinary degree of natural virtue, however he was looked after by his relations, he still could not escape some slur on his character. But any one who passed that beginning of his life in perfect purity, and free from all stain, never was liable to have any one speak against his fair fame and his chastity when his principles had gained strength, and when he was a man and among men.
Cœlius espoused the cause of Catiline, when he had been for several years mixing in the forum; and many of every rank and of every age did the very same thing. For that man, as I should think many of you must remember, had very many marks—not indeed fully brought out, but only in outline as it were—of the most eminent virtues. He was intimate with many thoroughly wicked men; but he pretended to be entirely devoted to the most virtuous of the citizens. He had many things about him which served to allure men to the gratification of their passions; he had also many things which acted as incentives to industry and toil. The vices of lust raged in him; but at the same time he was conspicuous for great energy and military skill. Nor do I believe that there ever existed so strange a prodigy upon the earth, made up in such a manner of the most various, and different, and inconsistent studies and desires.
VI. Who was ever more acceptable at one time to most illustrious men? who was more intimate with the very basest? What citizen was there at times who took a better part than he did? who was there at other times a fouler enemy to this state? Who was more debased in his pleasures? who was more patient in undergoing labours? who was more covetous as regards his rapacity? who more prodigal in squandering? And besides all this, there were, O judges, these marvellous qualities in that man, that he was able to embrace many men in his friendship, to preserve their regard by attention, to share with every one what he had, to assist all his friends in their necessities with money, with influence, with his personal toil, even with his own crimes and audacity, if need were; to keep his nature under restraint, and to guide it according to the requirements of the time, and to turn and twist it hither and thither; to live strictly when in company with the morose, merrily with the cheerful, seriously with the old, courteously with the young, audaciously with the criminal, and luxuriously with the profligate. When—by giving full swing to this various and multiform natural disposition of his—he had collected together every wicked and audacious man from every country, so also he retained the friendship of many gallant and virtuous men, by a certain appearance of pretended virtue. Nor would that infamous attempt to destroy this empire have ever proceeded from him, if the ferocity of so many vices had not been based on the deep-rooted foundations of affability and patience.
Let that allegation then, O judges, be disregarded by you, and let not the charge of intimacy with Catiline make any impression upon you. For it is one which only applies to him in common with many other men, and even with some very good men. Even me myself—ay, even me, I say—he once almost deceived, as he seemed to me a virtuous citizen, and desirous of the regard of every good man, and a firm and trustworthy friend; so that, in truth, I detected his wickedness with my eyes, before I did so by my opinion; I was aroused to the necessity of acting against him by force, before my suspicious were awakened. So that if Cœlius also was one of the great number of friends whom he had to boast of, there is more reason for his being vexed at having fallen into such a mistake, just as sometimes I myself repent also of having been deceived by the same person, than for his having any reason to fear the accusation of having been a friend of his.
VII. Accordingly, your speech descended from vituperations of him on the score of chastity, to endeavours to excite odium against him on account of that conspiracy. For you laid it down,—though with hesitating steps and without dwelling on it,—that he must have been an accomplice in the conspiracy, on account of his friendship with Catiline; in advancing which charge, not only the accusation itself failed to wound, but the speech of that eloquent young man lost its usual coherency. For how could Cœlius have been capable of such frenzy? What enormous depravity was there in his natural disposition, or in his habits, or what deficiency in his fortunes or prospects, to dispose him to such a crime? And lastly, when was the name of Cœlius ever heard of in connexion with any suspicion of the sort? I am saying too much about a matter about which there is not the least doubt; but I say this,—that if he had not, not merely been guiltless of any participation in the conspiracy, but been a most decided and avowed enemy of that wickedness, he would never have gone so far as to seek for an especial commendation of his youth by a prosecution of men implicated in that conspiracy.
And I know not whether I need think it equally necessary to make a reply to the charges of corruption, and to the accusations about clubs and agents (since I have lighted on these to ics). For Cœlius would never have been so insane as to accuse another man of bribery, if he had stained himself with that mean practice of corruption; nor would he seek to fix a suspicion of such conduct on another, when he wished to obtain for himself perpetual licence to commit it. Nor, if he thought there was a chance of his being put in peril but once on an accusation of corruption, would he twice over prosecute another man on the same charge. And, although his doing so is not wise, and is against my will, still it is an action of such a sort, that it is plain that a man who conducts himself so, rather thinks it open to him to attack the innocence of another, than that he has any reason to be afraid of anything on his own account.
For, as respects the charges that have been brought against him of being in debt, as regards the reproaches which have been levelled at him on the score of prodigality, and of the demands that have been made to see his accounts, just see how briefly I will reply to them. In the first place, he, who is still under the power of his father, keeps no accounts. He has never any transactions connected with borrowing or lending. As to his extravagance, there is one particular item of expense objected to him, that for his house. You say that he dwells in a house which he rents for thirty thousand sesterces.1 Now, I see by this, that Publius Clodius wants to sell his house; for it is his house that Cœlius lives in, at a rent, I suppose, of ten thousand sesterces.2 And you, O prosecutors, out of your anxiety to please him, have permitted yourselves this enormous lie to suit his purposes.
You have blamed him for dwelling in a house apart from his father, a thing which is not at all to be blamed in a man of his age. For as, labouring in the cause of the republic, he had achieved a victory which was, indeed, annoying to me, but glorious to himself; and as he was now of sufficiently mature age to stand for a magistracy, not only with the permission, but in consequence of even the advice of his father, he left his house, and as his father’s house was a long way from the forum, he hired a house on the Palatine Hill, at no very high rent, in order the more easily to be able to visit us at our houses, and to receive visits from his friends.
VIII. And while speaking on this topic, I may say what that most illustrious man, Marcus Crassus, said a little time before, when he was making a complaint of the arrival of king Ptolemæus:—
“I wish that in the Pelian grove.” NA* * *
And I might go on much further in applying this poem,
“For my wandering mistress would never” NA* * *
have given us all this trouble.
“Medea, sick at heart, wounded in the fierce love.”3
For in like manner, O judges, you will find, when I come to discuss this point, that it was this Medea of the Palatine Hill, and this migration, which has been the cause of all his misfortunes to this young man; or rather, of all the things that have been said about him.
Wherefore I, relying on your wisdom, O judges, am not afraid of those assertions which I perceived were some time back being invented, and fortified by the oration of the accusers. For they said that a senator would come forward as a witness, who would say that he had been driven away by the comitia for the election of a pontiff by Cœlius. And if he does come forward, I will ask, in the first place, why he did not at once take proceedings against him for such conduct? Secondly, if he preferred complaining of it in this way to bringing an action, why he is brought forward by you instead of coming forward by himself of his own accord? and why he has chosen to complain so long after the time, instead of immediately? If he gives me clear and shrewd answers to these questions, then I shall ask from what source this senator has burst forth? For if he has his origin and first springs, as it were, in himself, probably I shall be moved by him, as I usually am; but if he is only a little gutter drained and drawn off from the fountain head of your accusation, then I shall rejoice that, while your accusation relies on so much interest and such mighty influence, there has still been but one senator who could be found willing to gratify you.
Nor am I afraid of that other class of night witnesses. For they have asserted that there would be men who would say that their wives, when returning from supper-parties, have been roughly handled by Cœlius. They will be men of importance who will venture to say this on their oaths, as they will be forced to confess that they have never commenced taking any steps for redress for such great injuries, not even by a friendly arbitration.
IX. By this time, O judges, you are able to understand the whole nature of the attack which is made on my client, and when it is urged against him, it is your duty to repel it. For Marcus Cœlius is not accused by the same people as those by whom he is attacked. Weapons are shot at him openly, but they are supplied secretly. Nor do I say this with the object of exciting odium against those men to whom it ought even to be a subject of boasting. They are discharging their duty, they are defending their friends, they are doing what the bravest men are accustomed to do. When injured they feel pain, when angry they are carried away, when provoked they fight. But, nevertheless, it belongs to your wisdom, O judges, if brave men have a reasonable ground for attacking Marcus Cœlius, not on that account to think that you also have a reasonable ground for consulting the indignation of others rather than your own good faith. You see how vast a concourse of men is assembled in the forum, of what different classes it is composed, what different objects they have in view, and how great is the difference between them in every respect. Of all this multitude, how many do you think that there are who are in the habit of offering their services of their own accord to influential, and popular, and eloquent men, when they think they are eager about anything; and to use their exertions and to promise their evidence to oblige them? If any of this class of men have by chance thrust themselves into this trial, shut out, O judges, their covetous zeal from the consideration of your wisdom, so as to appear to provide at the same time for this man’s safety and for the religious discharge of your own obligations, and for the general welfare of all the citizens against the perilous influence of unscrupulous men.
In truth, I will lead you away from the witnesses. I will not permit the truth of this trial, which cannot by any means be altered, to depend on the inclination of the witnesses, which may so easily be modelled any way, and be bent and twisted in every direction without the slightest trouble. We will conduct our case by arguments. We will refute the charges brought against us by proofs clearer than daylight. Facts shall combat with facts, cause with cause, reason with reason.
X. Therefore, I willingly allow that part of the cause to be concluded, summed up, as it has been, with dignity and elegance by Marcus Crassus; the part, I mean, which relates to the seditions at Naples, to the expulsion of the Alexandrians from Puteoli, and to the property of Palla. I wish he had also discussed the transaction respecting Dio. And yet on that subject what is there that you can expect me to say, when the man who committed the murder is not afraid, but even confesses it? For he is a king. But the man who is said to have been the assistant and accomplice in the murder, has been acquitted by a regular trial. What sort of crime, then, is this, that the man who has committed it does not deny it,—that he who has denied it has been acquitted, and yet that a man is to be afraid of the accusation who was not only at a distance from the deed, but who has never been suspected of being even privy to it? And if the merits of his case availed Ascitius more than the odium engendered by the fact of such a crime injured him, is your abuse to injure this man, who has never once had a suspicion of the crime breathed against him, not even by the vaguest report? Oh, but Ascitius was acquitted by the prevarication of the judges. It is very easy to reply to such an assertion as that, especially for me, by whom that action is defended. But Cœlius thinks that the cause of Ascitius is a just one; at all events, whatever may be its merits, he thinks it is quite unconnected with his own. And not only Cœlius, but even other most accomplished and learned young men, devoted to the most instructive studies and to the most virtuous pursuits, Titus and Caius Coponius, who grieved above all other men for the death of Dio, being bound to him as they were by a common attachment to the pursuit of learning and science, and being also connected with him by ties of hospitality, think so too. He was living in the house of Lucius Lucceius, as you have heard; they had become mutually acquainted at Alexandria. What Caius Coponius, and what his brother, a man of the very highest respectability, think of Marcus Cœlius, you shall hear from themselves if they are produced as witnesses. So let all these topics be put aside, in order that we may at last come to those facts and charges on which the cause really depends.
XI. For I noticed, O judges, that my intimate friend, Lucius Herennius, was listened to by you most attentively. And though you were induced to pay him that attention to a great extent by his own ability, and by a sort of eloquence which pervaded his oration, still I was sometimes apprehensive lest that speech of his, which was contrived with such subtlety for the purpose of giving weight to his accusation, should slowly and imperceptibly inflame your minds. For he said a great deal about luxury, a great deal about lust, a great deal about the vices of youth, a great deal about morals. And he, who in every other action of his life had been gentle, and who has accustomed himself to behave at all times with that humane courtesy with which nearly every one is charmed, acted in this cause like a morose uncle, or censor, or lecturer. He reproached Marcus Cœlius in such a manner as no man’s father ever abused him. He delivered a long harangue about incontinence and intemperance. What are you expecting me to say, O judges? I excused you for listening to him with attention, because I myself could not avoid shuddering at so morose and savage an oration. And the first allegation was one which affected me least, namely,—that Cœlius had been intimate with my own intimate friend Bestia; that he had supped with him, had been in the habit of visiting him, had aided him when he was a candidate for the prætorship. These things do not move me at all, for they are notoriously false. In fact, he is stating that those men supped together who are either in different places, or NA* * *
Nor am I moved by that assertion either, that he said that Cœlius had been a comrade of his own in the Lupercal games. No doubt, it is a savage and purely pastoral and uncivilized sort of companionship,1 that of the Lupercal comrades, whose sylvan companies were established before the institution of civilization and of laws. Since these companions not only prosecute one another, but even in the accusation speak of the companionship as a crime, NA* * * so that they seem to be afraid, lest any one should be ignorant of it. But I will pass over these things, and reply to those which I thought of more consequence.
There was a very long reproach addressed to my client on the score of luxury; it was, however, a gentle one, and had more argument than ferocity in it; on which account it was listened to with the more attention. For while Publius Clodius, my friend, was allowing himself to be carried away by the greatest violence and impetuosity, and, being in a great state of excitement, was using the most severe language, and speaking at the top of his voice, though I had a high opinion of his eloquence, still I was not at all alarmed. For I had seen him conducting several trials without success. But I will reply to you first of all, O Balbus, with an entreaty to be allowed, without blame and without a charge of impiety, to defend a man who never refuses an invitation to supper, who uses perfumes, and who often goes to Baiæ.
XII. In truth, I have seen and heard of many men in this city, not only men who had just tasted this kind of life with the edge of their lips, and touched it, as people say, with the tips of their fingers, but men who had devoted the whole of their youth to pleasures, who have at last emerged from them, and have betaken themselves to prudent courses, and have become sensible and eminent citizens. For by the common consent of all men, some indulgence is given to this age, and nature itself suggests desires to youth; and if they break out without injuring any one else’s life, or overturning any one else’s house, they are generally accounted endurable and pardonable.
But you seemed to me to wish to bring Cœlius into some sort of odium by means of the common irregularities into which youth is apt to fall. And, therefore, all that silence with which your speech was received, was produced by the fact that, though we had but one criminal before us, we were thinking of the vices of many. It is an easy matter to declaim against luxury. The day would fail me, if I were to attempt to enumerate everything that may be said on that subject. The field of seductions, and adulteries, and wantonness, and extravagance is boundless. Even though you do not fix your eyes on any particular criminal, but only on the vices themselves, still they are capable of being made the objects of very eloquent and fluent vituperation. But it becomes your wisdom, O judges, not to be diverted from the case of the man who is on his trial before you; nor to let loose against an individual, and him too on his trial, the stings with which your severity and dignity is armed, when the accuser has sought to rouse them against the general fact of luxury, against vices in general, and the present state of morals, and the present times, while by this means the defendant is not being impeached for any crime of his own, but is having unjust odium excited against him on account of the vices of many others.
Therefore I do not venture to make the reply to your severe judgment which I ought to make. For it was my duty to plead for some sort of exemption from severe rules for youth, to claim some indulgence. I do not venture, I say, to do this. I will not have recourse to any door of escape which my client’s age might open to me; I will not mention the privileges which are allowed to all other men; I only ask that, if at this time there is a general feeling of discontent at the debts, and wantonness, and licentious conduct of the youth of the city,—and I see that such a feeling does exist to a great extent,—the offences of others, and the vices of the youth of others and of the times, may not prejudice my client. And while I ask this, I do at the same time offer no objection to being called on to reply most carefully to all the charges which are directed against him in consequence of any conduct of his own.
XIII. But there are two especial counts in the indictment. There is a charge respecting gold, and one respecting poison. And in both of them one person is concerned. Gold is said to have been taken from Clodia; poison is said to have been sought for, for the purpose of being given to Clodia. All the other statements are not charges, but are rather pieces of abuse prompted by a petulant quarrel, than adduced as a part of a criminal investigation. To call a man an adulterer, an immodest man, a pimp, is abuse, not accusation. For there is no foundation for such charges; they have nothing to rest upon; they are mere abusive expressions poured forth by an accuser in a passion, without any authority. Of these two charges I see the source, I see the author, I see the certain originator and mainspring. Gold was wanted; he received it from Clodia; he received it without any witness; he had it as long as he wanted it. I see here a great proof of some very extraordinary intimacy. Again, he wanted to kill her; he sought for poison; he tampered with every one with whom he could; he prepared it; he arranged a place; he brought it. Again, I see that a violent quarrel has sprung up between them, and engendered a furious hatred. Our whole business in this part of the case, O judges, is with Clodia, a woman not only of high rank, but also notorious; of whom I will say nothing except for the sake of repelling some accusation. But you are aware, O Cnæus Domitius, as a man of your eminent wisdom must be, that we have in this matter to deal with no one but her; for if she does not say that she lent the money to Cœlius, if she does not accuse him and say that poison was prepared by him for her, then we are acting wantonly and groundlessly, in mentioning the name of a mother of a family in a way so different from what is due to a Roman matron. But if, if you only take away that woman, there is no longer any charge against Cœlius, nor have the accusers any longer any resources by which to attack him, then what is our duty as the advocates of his cause, except to repel those who pursue him? And, indeed, I would do so still more vigorously, if I had not a quarrel with that woman’s husband—brother, I meant to say; I am always making this mistake. At present I will proceed with moderation, and go no further than my own duty to my client and the nature of the cause which I am pleading compels me. For I have never thought it my duty to engage in quarrels with any woman, especially with one whom all men have always considered everybody’s friend rather than any one’s enemy.
XIV. But still I will first put this question to her herself, whether she wishes me to deal with her strictly, and gravely, and according to old-fashioned notions of right and wrong; or indulgently, mercifully, and courteously? If I am to proceed in the old-fashioned way and manner of pleading, then I must summon up from the shades below one of those bearded old men,—not men with those little bits of imperials which she takes such a fancy to, but a man with that long shaggy beard which we see on the ancient statues and images,—to reproach the woman, and to speak in my stead, lest she by any chance should get angry with me. Let, then, some one of her own family rise up, and above all others that great blind Claudius of old time. For he will feel the least grief, inasmuch as he will not see her. And, in truth, if he can come forth from the dead, he will deal thus with her; he will say,—“Woman, what have you to do with Cœlius? What have you to do with a very young man? What have you to do with one who does not belong to you? Why have you been so intimate with him as to lend him gold, or so much an enemy of his as to fear his poison? Had you never seen that your father, had you never heard that your uncle, your grandfather, your great-grandfather, your great-great-grandfather, were all consuls? Did you not know, moreover, that you were bound in wedlock to Quintus Metellus, a most illustrious and gallant man, and most devoted to his country? who from the first moment that he put his foot over his threshold, showed himself superior to almost all citizens in virtue, and glory, and dignity. When you had become his wife, and, being previously of a most illustrious race yourself, had married into a most renowned family, why was Cœlius so intimate with you? Was he a relation? a connexion? Was he a friend of your husband? Nothing of the sort. What then was the reason, except it was some folly or lust? NA* * * Even if the images of us, the men of your family, had no influence over you, did not even my own daughter, that celebrated Quinta Claudia, admonish you to emulate the praise belonging to our house from the glory of its women? Did not that vestal virgin Claudia recur to your mind, who embraced her father while celebrating his triumph, and prevented his being dragged from his chariot by a hostile tribune of the people? Why had the vices of your brother more weight with you than the virtues of your father, of your grandfather, and others in regular descent ever since my own time; virtues exemplified not only in the men, but also in the women? Was it for this that I broke the treaty which was concluded with Pyrrhus, that you should every day make new treaties of most disgraceful love? Was it for this that I brought water into the city, that you should use it for your impious purposes? Was it for this that I made the Appian road, that you should travel along it escorted by other men besides your husband?”
XV. But why, O judges, have I brought a person on the scene, of such gravity as to make me fear that this same Appius may on a sudden turn round and begin also to accuse Cœlius with the severity which belongs to the censor? But I will look to this presently, and I will discuss it, O judges, so that I feel sure that I shall show even the most rigid scrutineers reason to approve of the habits of life of Marcus Cœlius. But you, O woman, (for now I speak to you myself, without the intervention of any imaginary character,) if you are thinking of making us approve of what you are doing, and what you are saying, and what you are charging us with, and what you are intending, and what you are seeking to achieve by this prosecution, you must give an intelligible and satisfactory account of your great familiarity, your intimate connexion, your extraordinary union with him. The accusers talk to us about lusts, and loves, and adulteries, and Baiæ, and doings on the sea-shore, and banquets, and revels, and songs, and music parties, and water parties; and intimate also that they do not mention all these things without your consent. And as for you, since, through some unbridled and headlong fury which I cannot comprehend, you have chosen these things to be brought into court, and dilated on at this trial, you must either efface the charges yourself, and show that they are without foundation, or else you must confess that no credit is to be given to any accusations which you may make, or to any evidence which you may give.
But if you wish me to deal more courteously with you, I will argue the matter thus with you. I will put away that harsh and almost boorish old man; and out of these kinsmen of yours here present I will take some one, and before all I will select your youngest brother, who is one of the best-bred men of his class, who is exceedingly fond of you, and who, on account of some childish timidity, I suppose, and some groundless fears of what may happen by night, has always, when he was but a little boy, slept with you his eldest sister. Suppose, then, that he speaks to you in this way. “What are you making this disturbance about, my sister? why are you so mad?
You saw a young man become your neighbour; his fair complexion, his height, and his countenance and eyes made an impression on you; you wished to see him oftener; you were sometimes seen in the same gardens with him, being a woman of high rank; you are unable with all your riches to detain him, the son of a thrifty and parsimonious father: he kicks, he rejects you, he does not think your presents worth so much as you require of him. Try some one else. You have gardens on the Tiber, and you carefully made them in that particular spot to which all the youth of the city comes to bathe. From that spot you may every day pick out people to suit you. Why do you annoy this one man who scorns you?”
XVI. I come now again to you, O Cœlius, in your turn; and I take upon myself the authority and strictness of a father; but I doubt which father’s character I shall select to assume. Shall I act the part of some one of Cæcilius’s1 fathers, barsh and vehement?
or that other father?—
Those are very hard-hearted fathers;
Such a father as that would say things which you would find it difficult to bear. He would say, “Why did you betake yourself to the neighbourhood of a harlot? Why did you not shun her notorious blandishments? Why did you form a connection with a woman who was nothing to you? Squander your money, throw it away; I give you leave. If you come to want, it is you yourself who will suffer for it. I shall be satisfied if I am able to spend pleasantly the small portion of my life that remains to me.” To this morose and severe old man Cœlius would reply, that he had not departed from the right path from being led away by any passion. What proof could he give? That he had been at no expense, at no loss; that he had not borrowed any money. But it was said that he had. How few people are there who can avoid such a report, in a city so prone to evil speaking! Do you wonder that the neighbour of that woman was spoken of unfavourably, when her own brother could not escape being made the subject of conversation by profligate men? But to a gentle and considerate father such as his is, whose language would be, “Has he broken the doors? they shall be mended; has he torn his garments? they shall be repaired;” the cause of his son is easily explained. For what circumstances could there be in which he would not be able easily to defend himself? I am not saying anything now against that woman: but if there were a woman totally unlike her, who made herself common to everybody; who had always some one or other openly avowed as her lover; to whose gardens, to whose house, to whose baths the lusts of every one had free access as of their own right; a woman who even kept young men, and made up for the parsimony of their fathers by her liberality; if she lived, being a widow, with freedom, being a lascivious woman, with wantonness, being a rich woman, extravagantly, and being a lustful woman, after the fashion of prostitutes; am I to think any one an adulterer who might happen to salute her with a little too much freedom?
XVII. Some one will say, “Is this then the discipline which you enforce? Is this the way you train up young men? Was this the object with which a parent recommended his son to you and delivered him to you, that he might devote his youth to love and pleasure, and that you might defend this manner of life, and these pursuits?”
If, O judges, any one was of such vigour of mind, and of a natural disposition so formed for virtue and continence, as to reject all pleasures, and to dedicate the whole course of his life to labour of body and to wholesome training of his mind; a man who took no delight in rest, or relaxation, or the pursuits of those of his own age, or games, or banquets; who thought nothing in life worth wishing for, except what was connected with glory and with dignity; that man I consider furnished and endowed with good qualities which may be called godlike. Of this class I consider were those great men, the Camilli, the Fabricii, the Curii, and all those men who have achieved such mighty exploits with inadequate means. But these examples of virtue are not only not found in our practice, but they occur but rarely, even in books. The very records which used to contain accounts of that old-fashioned strictness of morals, are worn out; and that, not only among us, who have adopted this school and system of life in reality more than in words, but also among the Greeks, most learned men, who, though they could not act in such a manner, were nevertheless at liberty to speak and write honourably and magnificently; when the habits of Greece became changed, other precepts arose and prevailed.
Therefore some of their wise men said that they did everything for the sake of pleasure; and even learned men were not ashamed of the degradation of uttering such a sentiment. Others thought that dignity ought to be united with pleasure, so as by their neatness of expression to unite things as inconsistent with one another as possible. Those who still think that the only direct road to glory is combined with toil, are left now almost solitary in their schools. For nature herself has supplied us with numerous allurements, by which virtue may be lulled asleep, and at which she may be induced to connive; nature herself has at times pointed out to youth many slippery ways, on which it is hardly possible for it to stand, or along which it can hardly advance without some slip or downfal; and has supplied also an infinite variety of exquisite delights, by which not only that tender age, but even one which is more strongly fortified, may be caught.
Wherefore, if by chance you find any one whose eyes are so well tutored as to look with scorn on the outward beauty of things; who is not captivated by any fragrance, or touch, or flavour, and who stops his ears against all the allurements of sound; I, and perhaps a few others, may think that the gods have been propitious to this man, but most people will consider that he has been treated by them as an object of their anger.
XVIII. Let this path be abandoned, deserted and uncultivated as it is, and hemmed in with hedges and brambles. Let some allowance be made for age; let youth be allowed some little freedom; let not everything be refused to pleasure; let us not require that true and proper system of life to be always predominant; let us allow desire and pleasure at times to get the upper hand of reason, as long as some sort of rule and moderation is observed in that kind of licence. Let youth have a due regard for its own chastity; let it not deprive others of theirs; let it not squander its patrimony; let it not be swallowed up by usury; let it not attack the house or the fair fame of another; let it not bring shame on the chaste, or disgrace on the upright, or infamy on the virtuous; let it abstain from alarming people by violence; from mixing in plots against people; let it keep itself from wickedness; lastly, when it has yielded for awhile to pleasures, and given up some time to the sports of it age, and to these frivolous and passing passions of youth, let it in due time recal itself to attention to its domestic affairs, to forensic employment, and to the business of the state; so that it may appear from satiety to have thrown away, and from experience to have learnt to despise, those things which it had not been able properly to estimate by its unassisted reason.
And, O judges, both within our own recollection and in the time of our fathers and ancestors, there have been many most excellent men and most illustrious citizens, who, after their youthful passions had cooled down, displayed, when they became of more mature and vigorous age, the most exalted virtues; of whom there is no need for me to name to you any particular instance; you yourselves can recollect plenty. For I should not wish to connect even the slightest error on the part of any brave and illustrious man with his greatest glory. But if I did choose to do so, then I could name many most eminent and most distinguished men, some of whom were notorious for excessive licentiousness in their early days, some for their profuse luxury, their enormous debts, their extravagance, and their debaucheries, but whose early errors were afterwards so veiled over by their numerous virtues, that every one felt at liberty to make excuses for and to defend their youth.
XIX. But in Marcus Cœlius (for I will speak with the greater confidence of his honourable pursuits, because, relying on your good sense, O judges, I am not afraid freely to confess some things respecting him) no luxury will be found; no extravagance; no debt; no lasciviousness; no devotion to banquets or to gluttony. Those vices, forsooth, of the belly and the throat, age is so far from diminishing in men, that it even increases them. And loves, and those things which are called delights, and which, when men have any strength of mind, are not usually troublesome to them for any length of time, (for they wear off early and very rapidly,) never had any firm hold on this man so as to entangle or embarrass him. You have heard him, when he was speaking in his own defence; you have heard him before now, when he was acting as prosecutor; (I say this for the sake of defending him, not by way of boasting;) you have seen, your sagacity could not help seeing, his style of eloquence, his facility, his richness of ideas and language; and in that branch of study you saw not only his genius shine forth, which frequently, even when it is not nourished by industry, still produces great effects by its own natural vigour; but there was in him (unless I am greatly deceived by reason of my favourable inclination towards him) a degree of method implanted in him by liberal tastes, and worked up by care and hard labour.
And know, O judges, that those passions which are now brought up against Cœlius as an objection to him, and these studies on which I am now enlarging, cannot easily exist in the same man; for it is impossible that a mind which is devoted to lust, which is hampered by love, by desire, by passion, often with over indulgence, sometimes too by embarrassment in pecuniary matters, can support the labours, such as they are, which we go through in speaking; not merely when actually pleading, but even in thinking. Do you suppose that there is any other reason, why, when the prizes of eloquence are so great, when the pleasure of speaking is so great, when the glory is so high, the influence derived from it so extensive, and the honour so pure, there are and always have been so few men who devote themselves to this study? All pleasures must be trampled underfoot, all pursuit of amusement must be abandoned, O judges; sports and jesting and feasting; ay, I may almost say, the conversation of one’s friends, must be shunned. And this is what deters men of this class from the labours and studies of oratory; not that their abilities are deficient, or that their early training has been neglected. Would Cœlius, if he had given himself up to a life of pleasure, while still a very young man, have instituted a prosecution against a man of consular rank? would he, if he shunned this labour, if he were captivated by and entangled in the pursuit of pleasure, take his place daily among this array of orators? would he court enmities? would he undertake prosecutions? would he incur danger to his life? would he, in the sight of all the Roman people, struggle for so many months for safety or for glory?
XX. Does, then, that neighbourhood of his intimate nothing? nor the common report of men? Does not even Baiæ itself speak pretty plainly? Indeed, they not only speak, but cry aloud; they proclaim that the lust of that one woman is so headlong, that she not only does not seek solitude, and darkness, and the usual concealments of wickedness, but even while behaving in the most shameless manner, exults in the presence of the most numerous crowd, and in the broadest daylight.
But if there be any one who thinks that youth is to be wholly interdicted from amours with courtesans, he certainly is very strict indeed. I cannot deny what he says; but still he is at variance not only with the licence of the present age, but even with the habits of our ancestors, and with what they used to consider allowable. For when was the time that men were not used to act in this manner? when was such conduct found fault with? when was it not permitted? when, in short, was the time when that which is lawful was not lawful? Here, now, I will lay down what I consider a general rule: I will name no woman in particular; I will leave the matter open for each of you to apply what I say as he pleases.
If any woman, not being married, has opened her house to the passions of everybody, and has openly established herself in the way of life of a harlot, and has been accustomed to frequent the banquets of men with whom she has no relationship; if she does so in the city, in country-houses, and in that most frequented place, Baiæ; if, in short, she behaves in such a manner, not only by her gait, but by her style of dress, and by the people who are seen attending her; and not only by the eager glances of her eyes and the freedom of her conversation, but also by embracing men, by kissing them, at water-parties and sailing-parties and banquets, so as not only to seem a harlot, but a very wanton and lascivious harlot; I ask you, O Lucius Herennius, if a young man should happen to have been with her, is he to be called an adulterer, or a lover? does he seem to have been attacking chastity, or merely to have aimed at satisfying his desires? I forget, for the present, all the injuries which you have done me, O Clodia; I banish all recollection of my own distress; I put out of consideration your cruel conduct to my relations when I was absent. You are at liberty to suppose that what I have just said was not said about you. But I ask you yourself, since the accusers say that they derived the idea of this charge from you, and that they have you yourself as a witness of its truth; I ask you, I say, if there be any woman of the sort that I have just described, a woman unlike you, a woman of the habits and profession of a harlot, does it appear an act of extraordinary baseness, or extraordinary wickedness, for a young man to have had some connexion with her? If you are not such a woman,—and I would much rather believe that you are not,—then, what is it that they impute to Cœlius? If they try to make you out to be such a woman, then why need we fear such an accusation for ourselves, if you confess that it applies to you, and despise it? Give us then a path to and a plan for our defence. For either your modesty will supply us with the defence, that nothing has been done by Marcus Cœlius with any undue wantonness; or else your impudence will give both him and every one else very great facilities for defending themselves.
XXI. But since my speech appears at last to have raised itself out of the shallows, and to have passed by the rocks, the rest of my course is made plain and easy to me. For there are two charges, both relating to one woman,—both imputing enormous wickedness; one respecting the gold which is said to have been received from Clodia, the other respecting the poison which the prosecutors accuse Cœlius of having prepared with the view of assassinating Clodia. He took gold, as you say, to give to the slaves of Lucius Lucceius, by whom Dio of Alexandria was slain, who at that time was living in Lucceius’s house. It is a great crime to intrigue against ambassadors, or to tamper with slaves to induce them to murder their master’s guest; it is a design full of wickedness, full of audacity. But with respect to that charge, I will first of all ask this—whether he told Clodia for what purpose he was then taking the gold, or whether he did not tell her? If he did not tell her, why was it that she gave it? If he did tell her, then she has implicated herself as an accomplice in the same wickedness. Did you dare to take gold out of your strong-box? Did you dare to strip that statue of yours of Venus the Plunderer of men of her ornaments? But when you knew for what an enormous crime this gold was required,—for the murder of an ambassador,—for the staining of Lucius Lucceius, a most pious and upright man, with the blot of everlasting impiety,—then your well-educated mind ought not to have been privy to so horrible an atrocity; your house, so open to all people, ought not to have been made an instrument in it. Above all, that most hospitable Venus of yours ought not to have been an assistant in it.
Balbus saw that. He said that Clodia was kept in the dark, and that Cœlius alleged to her as his reason for wanting the gold, that he wanted it for the ornamenting of his arms. If he was as intimate with Clodia as you make him out when you say so much about his amorous propensities, he, no doubt, told her what he wanted the gold for. If he was not so intimate with her, then, no doubt, she never gave it. Therefore, if Cœlius told you the truth, O you most ill-regulated woman, you knowingly gave gold to promote a crime; if he did not venture to tell you, you never gave it at all.
XXII. Why need I now bring forward arguments, of which I have a great number, to repel this accusation? I might say that the habits of Marcus Cœlius are wholly foreign to such atrocious wickedness; that it is absolutely incredible that it should never have occurred to so able and prudent a man, that a deed of such guilt was not to be entrusted to the slaves of another man, slaves of whom he had himself no knowledge. I might put these questions also to the prosecutor, in accordance with the custom of other pleaders in defence of accused persons and with my own,—where Cœlius met with the slaves of Lucceius? how he got access to them? If he negotiated with them by himself, what rashness it was! If he employed the agency of another, who was that other? I might, in the course of my speech, go through every circumstance beneath which suspicion could be supposed to lurk. No cause, no opportunity, no facility, no accomplice, no hope either of effecting or of concealing the crime, no means whatever of executing it; in short, no trace of such enormous guilt can be found connected with Cœlius. But all these topics, which belong peculiarly to the orator, and which might do some service in my hands if I were to work them up and dilate upon them in this presence, not because of any natural ability that I possess, but because of my constant practice in, and habit of, speaking, I, from a view to brevity, forbear to urge. For I have, O judges, a man whom you will willingly allow to be connected with you by the religious obligation of taking a similar oath with yourselves, Lucius Lucceius, a most religious man, and a most conscientious witness; who, if such guilt, so calculated to compromise his credit and his fortunes, had been brought into his household by Cœlius, could not have failed to hear of it, and would never have been indifferent to it, and would never have borne it. Could such a man as he,—a man of such humanity,—a man devoted to such pursuits as his, and embued with all his learning and accomplishments, have been indifferent to the imminent danger of that man to whom he had become attached on account of these very studies and pursuits? And when he would have been most indignant at learning of such a crime if it had been committed against a stranger, would he have omitted taking any notice of it when it affected his own guest? When he would have grieved if he had found out that such a deed had been perpetrated by strangers, would he have thought nothing of it when attempted by his own household? An action which he would blame if done in the fields or in public places, was he likely to think lightly of when it was begun in his own city and in his own house? What he would not have concealed if it threatened any country person with danger, can he, a learned man himself, be supposed to have kept secret when a plot was laid against a most learned man? But why, O judges, do I detain you so long? You shall have the authority and scrupulous faith of the man himself on his oath before you, and listen carefully to every word of his evidence. Read the evidence of Lucius Lucceius.
[The evidence of Lucceius is read.]
What more do you wait for? Do you think that the case itself, or even that truth of itself can utter any actual words in its own defence? This is the defence made by innocence,—this is the language of the cause itself,—this is the single, unassisted voice of truth.
In the circumstances of the crime itself there is no suspicion; in the facts of the case there is no argument. In the negotiation which is said to have been carried on, there is no trace of any conversation, of any opportunity, of either time or place. No one is named as having been a witness of it. No one is accused of having been privy to it. The whole accusation proceeds from a house that is hostile to him,—that is of infamous character, cruel, criminal, and lascivious. And that house, on the other hand, which is said to have been tampered with, with a view to this nefarious wickedness, is one full of integrity, dignity, kindness and piety. And from this last you have had read to you a most authoritative declaration under the sanction of an oath. So that the matter which you have to decide upon is one on which very little doubt can arise,—namely, whether a rash, libidinous, furious woman appears to have invented an accusation, or a dignified, and wise, and virtuous man is to be believed to have given his evidence with a scrupulous regard to truth.
XXIII. There remains the charge respecting the poison for me to consider; a charge of which I can neither discover the origin nor guess the object. For what reason was there for Cœlius desiring to give poison to that woman? Was it in order to save himself from being forced to repay the gold? Did she demand it back? Was it to save himself from being accused? Did any one impute anything to him? In short, would any one ever have mentioned him if he had not himself instituted a prosecution against somebody? Moreover, you heard Lucius Herennius say that he would never have caused annoyance to Cœlius by a single word, if he had not prosecuted his intimate friend a second time on the same charge, after he had been already acquitted once. Is it credible, then, that so enormous a crime was committed without any object? And do you not see that an accusation of the most enormous wickedness is invented against him, in order that it may appear to have been committed for the sake of facilitating the other wickedness? To whom, then, did he entrust its execution? Whom did he employ as an assistant? Who was his companion? Who was his accomplice? To whom did he entrust so foul a crime; to whom did he entrust himself and his own safety? Was it to the slaves of that woman? For that is what is imputed to him. Was he, then, so insane,—he to whom, at least, you allow the credit of good abilities, even if you refuse him all other praise in that hostile speech of yours,—as to trust his whole safety to another man’s slaves? And to what slaves? For even that makes a considerable difference? Was it to slaves whose slavery, as he was aware, was one of no ordinary condition, but who were in the habit of being treated with indulgence and freedom, and even familiarity, by their mistress? For who is there, O judges, who does not see, who is there who does not know, that in such a house as that, in which the mistress of the house lives after the fashion of a prostitute,—in which nothing is done which is fit to be mentioned out of doors,—in which debauchery, and lust, and luxury, and, in short, all sorts of unheard-of vices and wickednesses are carried on, the slaves are not slaves at all? men to whom everything is confided; by whose agency everything is done; who are occupied in the same pleasures as their mistress; who have secrets entrusted to them, and who get even some, and that no inconsiderable, share of the daily extravagance and luxury. Was Cœlius, then, not aware of this? For if he was as intimate with the woman as you try to make him out, he certainly knew that those slaves also were intimate with her. But if no such intimacy existed between him and her as is alleged by you, then how could he have arrived at such familiarity with her slaves?
XXIV. But, however, of the poison itself what account is invented? where was it got? how was it prepared? by what means? to whom was it delivered, and where? They say that he kept it at home, and that he made trial of its strength on one of his slaves whom he provided with that express object, and that his rapid death led him to think highly of the poison. O ye immortal gods! why do you at times appear to wink at the greatest crimes of men, or why do you reserve the punishment of present wickedness to a future day? For I saw, I saw, and I myself experienced that grief, the bitterest grief that I ever felt in my life, when Quintus Metellus was torn from the heart and bosom of his country, and when that man who considered himself born only for this empire, but three days after he had been in good health, flourishing in the senate-house, in the rostrum, and in the republic; while in the flower of his age, of an excellent constitution, and in the full vigour of manhood, was torn in a most unworthy manner from all good men, and from the entire state; at which time he, though dying, when on other points his senses appeared to be bewildered, retained his senses to the last as far as his recollection of the republic was concerned; and beholding me in tears, he intimated with broken and failing voice, how great a storm he saw was impending over the city,—how great a tempest was threatening the state; and frequently striking that wall which separated his house from that of Catulus, he kept on mentioning Catulus by name, and me myself, and the republic, so as to show that he was grieving, not so much because he was dying, as because both his country and I were about to be deprived of his aid and protection.
But, if no violence of sudden wickedness had carried off that great man, with what vigour would he, as a man of consular rank, have resisted that frantic cousin of his,—he, who as consul said in the hearing of the senate, at a time when he was beginning and endeavouring to give reins to his fury, that he would slay him with his own hand! And shall that woman, proceeding from this house, dare to speak of the rapidity of the operation of poison? Is she not afraid of the very house itself, lest she should make it utter some sound? Does she not dread the very walls, which are privy to her wickedness? does she not shudder at the recollection of that fatal and melancholy night?
But I will return to the accusation: but this mention of that most illustrious and most gallant man has both weakened my voice with weeping, and overcome my mind with sorrow.
XXV. But still there is no mention made of whence the poison came from, or how it was prepared. They say that it was given to Publius Licinius, a modest and virtuous young man, and an intimate friend of Cœlius. They say that an arrangement was entered into with the slaves, that they should come to the strangers’ baths; and that Licinius should come thither also, and should give them the box containing the poison. Now, here first of all I ask this question, What was the object of all this being done in that previously arranged place? Why did not the slaves come to Cœlius’s house? If that great intimacy and that excessive familiarity between Cœlius and Clodia still subsisted, what suspicion would have been excited by one of the slaves of that woman having been seen at Cœlius’s house? But if a quarrel had already sprung up between them, if the intimacy was over, and enmity had taken its place,
“Hence arose those tears.”
This is the cause of all that wickedness, and of all those crimes. Very true, says he; and when the slaves had reported to their mistress the whole transaction, and the guilty designs of Cœlius, that crafty woman enjoined her slaves to promise Cœlius everything; but in order that the poison, when it was being delivered to them by Licinius, might be clearly detected, she commanded them to appoint the strangers’ baths as the place where it was to be delivered; in order to send thither friends to lie in ambush there; and then on a sudden, when Licinius had arrived and was delivering the poison, to jump out, and arrest the man.
XXVI. But all these circumstances, O judges, furnish me with a very easy method of refuting them. For why had she appointed the public baths, of all places in the world? where I cannot find any spot which may serve as an ambush for men in their gowns. For if they were in the vestibule of the baths, they would not be lying hid at all; if they wished to enter into the inner parts of the baths, they could not conveniently do it with their shoes and garments on, and perhaps they would not be admitted; unless, perchance, by a species of barter,—instead of the proper piece of money paid for admission into the baths,—that vigorous woman had made a friend of the bathing-man. And, in truth, I was waiting eagerly to see who those virtuous men were, who would be stated to have been witnesses of this poison having been so clearly detected. For none have been named as yet. But I have no doubt that they are men of very high authority indeed, as, in the first place, they are the intimate friends of such a woman; and, in the second place, they took upon themselves that share of the business,—that, namely, of being thrust down into the baths; which she, even were she as powerful as she could possibly wish to be, could never have prevailed on any men to do, except such as were most honourable men, and men of the very greatest natural dignity. But why do I speak of the dignity of those witnesses? Learn yourselves how virtuous and how scrupulous they are. They lay in ambush in the baths. Splendid witnesses, indeed! Then they sprung out precipitately. O men entirely devoted to their dignity! For this is the story that they make up; that when Licinius had arrived, and was holding the box of poison in his hand, and was endeavouring to deliver it to them, but had not yet delivered it, then all on a sudden those splendid nameless witnesses sprung out; and that Licinius, when he had already put out his hand to give them over the box of poison, drew it back again, and, alarmed at that unexpected onset of men, took to his heels. O how great is the power of truth! which of its own power can easily defend itself against all the ingenuity, and cunning, and wisdom of men, and against the treacherous plots of all the world.
XXVII. But how destitute of all proof is the whole of the story of this poetess and inventress of many fables! How totally without any conceivable object or result is it! For what does she say? Why did so numerous a body of men, (for it is clear enough it was not a small number, as it was requisite that Licinius should be arrested with ease, and that the transaction should be more completely proved by the eyewitness of many witnesses,)—why, I say, did so numerous a body of men let Licinius escape from their hands? For why was Licinius less liable to be apprehended when he had drawn back in order not to deliver up the box, than he would have been if he had delivered it up? For those men had been placed on purpose to arrest Licinius; in order that Licinius might be caught in the very fact, either of having just delivered up the poison, or of still having it in his possession. This was the whole plan of the woman. This was the part allotted to those men who were asked to undertake it: but why it is that they sprung forth so precipitately and prematurely as you say, I do not find stated.
They had been invited for this express purpose; they had been placed with this especial object, in order to effect the undeniable detection of the poison, of the plot, and of every particular of the crime. Could they spring forward at a better time than when Licinius had arrived? when he was holding in his hand the box of poison? and if, after that box had been delivered to the slaves, the friends of the woman had on a sudden emerged from the baths and seized Licinius, he would have implored the protection of their good faith, and have denied that that box had been delivered to them by him. And how would they have reproved him? Would they have said that they had seen it? First of all, that would have been to bring the imputation of a most atrocious crime on themselves: besides, they would be saying that they had seen what, from the spot in which they had been placed, they could not possibly have seen. Therefore, they showed themselves at the very nick of time when Licinius had arrived, and was getting out the box, and was stretching out his hand, and delivering the poison. This is rather the end of a farce than of a regular comedy; in which, when a regular end cannot be invented for it, some one escapes out of some one else’s hands, the whistle1 sounds, and the curtain drops.
XXVIII. For I ask why that army under the command of the woman allowed Licinius, when embarrassed, hesitating, receding, and endeavouring to fly, to slip through their fingers? why they did not seize him? why they did not prove beyond all denial a crime of such enormous wickedness by his own confession, by the eye-witness of many people, by even the voice of the crime itself, if I may say so? Were they afraid that so many men would not be able to get the better of one, that strong men would not be able to beat a weak man, or active men to surprise one in such a fright?
No corroborative proof is to be found in the circumstances; no ground for suspicion in any part of the case, no object for or result of the crime, can be imagined. Therefore, this cause, instead of being supported by arguments, by conjecture, and by those tokens by which the truth generally has a light thrown upon it, rests wholly on the witnesses. And those witnesses, O judges, I long to see, not only without the least apprehension, but with a sort of hope of great enjoyment. My mind is exceedingly eager to behold them, first, because they are luxurious youths, the intimate friends of a rich and high-born woman; secondly, because they are gallant men, placed by their Amazonian general in ambush, and as a sort of garrison to the baths. And, when I see them, I will ask them how they lay hid, and where; whether it was a canal, or a second Trojan horse, which bore and concealed so many invincible men waging war for the sake of a woman? And this I will compel them to tell me, why so many gallant men did not either at once seize this man, who was but a single individual, and as slight and weak a man as you see, while he was standing there; or, at all events, why they did not pursue him when he fled.
And, in truth, they will never be able to get out of their perplexity, if they ever do go into that witness-box; not though they may be ever so witty and talkative at banquets, and sometimes, over their wine, even eloquent. For the forum is one thing, and the banqueting couch another. The benches of counsellors are very different from the sofas of revellers. A tribunal of judges is not particularly like a row of hard-drinkers. In short, the radiance of the sun is a very different thing from the light of lamps. So that we will soon scatter all those gentlemen’s delicate airs, all their absurdities, if they do appear. But if they will be guided by me, let them apply themselves to some other task; let them curry the favour of some one else, by some other means; let them display their capacity in other employments; let them flourish in that woman’s house in beauty, let them regulate her expenses, let them cling to her, sup with her, serve her in every possible way; but let them spare the lives and fortunes of innocent men.
XXIX. But those slaves have been emancipated, by the advice of her relations,—most highly-born and illustrious men. At last, then, we have found something which that woman is said to have done by the advice and authority of her own relations,—men of the highest respectability of character. But I wish to know what proof there is in that emancipation of slaves, so that either any charge against Cœlius can be made out of that, or any examination of the slaves themselves by means of torture prevented, or any pretext found for giving rewards to slaves who were privy to too many transactions which it is desired to keep secret? But her relations advised it. Why should not they advise it, when you yourself stated that you were reporting to them a matter which you had not received information of from others, but which had been discovered by yourself?
Here also we wonder whether any most obscene story followed the tale of that imaginary box. There is nothing which may not seem applicable to such a woman as that. The matter has been heard of, and has been the subject of universal conversation. You have long ago perceived, O judges, what I wish to say, or rather what I wish not to say. For even if such a crime was committed, it certainly was not committed by Cœlius; for what concern was it of his? It may perhaps have been committed by some young man, not so much foolish as destitute of modesty. But if it be a mere fiction, it is not indeed a very modest invention, but still it is not destitute of wit;—one which in truth the common conversation and common opinion of men would never have sealed with their approbation, if every sort of story which involved any kind of infamy did not appear consistent with and suited to that woman’s character.
The cause has now been fully stated by me, O judges, and summed up. You now understand how important an action this is which has been submitted to your decision; how serious a charge is confided to you. You are presiding over an investigation into a charge of violence;—into a law which concerns the empire, the majesty of the state, the condition of the country, and the safety of all the citizens;—a law which Quintus Catulus passed at a time when armed dissensions were dividing the people, and when the republic was almost at its last gasp;—a law which, after the flame which raged so fiercely in my consulship had been allayed, extinguished the smoking relics of the conspiracy. Under this law the youth of Marcus Cœlius is demanded, not for the sake of enduring any punishment called for by the republic, but in order to be sacrificed to the lust and profligate pleasures of a woman.
XXX. And even in this place the condemnation of Marcus Camurtius1 and Caius Cæsernius is brought up again! Oh the folly, or shall I rather say, oh the extraordinary impudence! Do you dare,—you prosecutors,—when you come from that woman’s house, to make mention of those men? Do you dare to re-awaken the recollection of so enormous a crime, which is not even now dead, but is only smothered by its antiquity? For on account of what charge, or what fault, did those men fall? Forsooth, because they endeavoured to avenge the grief and suffering of that same woman caused by the injury which they believed she had received from Vettius. Was, then, the cause of Camurtius and Cæsernius brought up again in order that the name of Vettius might be heard of in connexion with this cause, and that that farcical old story, suited to the pen of Afranius, might be rubbed up again? For though they were certainly not liable under the law concerning violence, they were still so implicated in that crime, that they seemed men who ought never to be released from the shackles of the law.
But why is Marcus Cœlius brought before this court? when no charge properly belonging to this mode of investigation is imputed to him, nor indeed anything else of such a nature that, though it may not exactly come under the provisions of any law, still calls for the exercise of your severity. His early youth was devoted to strict discipline; and to those pursuits by which we are prepared for these forensic labours,—for taking part in the administration of the republic,—for honour, and glory, and dignity NA* * * * and to those friendships with his elders, whose industry and temperance he might most desire to imitate; and to those studies of the youths of his own age: so that he appeared to be pursuing the same course of glory as the most virtuous and most highly-born of the citizens. Afterwards, when he had advanced somewhat in age and strength, he went into Africa, as a comrade of Quintus Pompeius the proconsul, one of the most temperate of men, and one of the strictest in the performance of every duty. And as his paternal property and estate lay in that province, he thought that some knowledge of its habits and feelings would be usefully acquired by him, now that he was of an age which our ancestors thought adapted for gaining that sort of information. He departed from Africa, having gained the most favourable opinion of Pompeius, as you shall learn from Pompeius’s own evidence.
He then wished, according to the old-fashioned custom, and following the example of those young men who afterwards turned out most eminent men and most illustrious citizens in the state, to signalise his industry in the eyes of the Roman people, by some very conspicuous prosecution.
XXXI. I wish indeed that his desire for glory had led him in some other direction; but the time for this complaint has passed by. He prosecuted Caius Antonius, my colleague; an unhappy man, to whom the recollection of the great service which he did the republic was no benefit, but to whom the belief of the evil which he had designed was the greatest prejudice. After that, he never was behind any of his fellows in his constant appearance in the forum, in his incessant application to business and to the causes of his friends, and in the great influence which he acquired over his relations. He achieved by his labour and diligence all those objects which they cannot attain who are other than vigilant, and sober, and industrious men. At this turning-point of his life, (for I place too much reliance on your humanity and on your good sense to conceal anything,) the fame of the young man stood trembling in the balance, owing to his new acquaintance with this woman, and his unfortunate neighbourhood to her, and his want of habituation to pleasure; for the desire of pleasure when it has been too long pent up, and repressed, and chained down in early youth, sometimes bursts forth on a sudden, and throws down every barrier. But from this course of life, and from being in this way the subject of common conversation, (though his excesses were not by any means as great as report made them out to be;)—however, from this course of life, I say, whatever it was, he soon emerged, and delivered himself wholly from it, and raised himself out of it, and he is now so far removed from the discredit of any familiarity with that woman, that he is occupied in warding off the attacks which are instigated against him by her enmity and hatred.
And in order to put a violent end to the reports which had arisen of his luxury and inactivity,—(what he did, he did in fact greatly against my will, and in spite of my strongest remonstrances, but still he did it,)—he instituted a prosecution against a friend of mine for bribery and corruption. And after he is acquitted he pursues him still, drags him back before the court, refuses to be guided by any one of us, and is far more violent than I approve of. But I am not speaking of wisdom,—which indeed does not belong to men of his age,—I am speaking of his ardent spirit, of his desire for victory, of the eagerness of his soul in the pursuit of glory. Those desires indeed in men of our age ought to have become more limited and moderate, but in young men, as in herbs, they show what ripeness of virtue and what great crops are likely to reward our industry.
In truth, youths of great ability have always required rather to be restrained from the pursuit of glory, than to be spurred on to it: more things required to be pruned away from that age,—if, indeed, it deserves distinction for ability and genius,—than to be implanted in it. If, therefore, the energy, and fierceness, and pertinacity of Cœlius appear to any one to have boiled over too much, either in respect of his voluntarily incurring, or of his mode of carrying on enmities; if even any of the most trifling particulars of his conduct in this respect seem offensive to any one; or if any one feels displeased at the magnificence of his purple robe, or at the troops of friends who escort him, or at the general splendour and brilliancy of his appearance, let him recollect that all these things will soon pass away,—that a riper age, and circumstances, and the progress of time, will soon have softened down all of them.
XXXII. Preserve, therefore, to the republic, O judges, a citizen devoted to liberal studies, and to the most virtuous party in the state, and to all good men. I promise you this,—and I give this undertaking to the republic, provided we ourselves have by our own conduct given satisfaction to the republic,—that Cœlius’s conduct will never be at variance with our own. And I promise this, not only because I rely on the intimacy that subsists between him and me, but also because he has taken upon himself already the obligation of the most stringent engagements. For a man who has ventured on such a step as that of prosecuting a man of consular rank because he says that the republic has been injured by his violence, cannot possibly behave as a turbulent citizen in the republic himself: a man who will not allow another to be at peace, even after he has been acquitted of bribery and corruption, can never himself become a briber of others with impunity.
The republic, O judges, has two prosecutions, which have been carried on by Marcus Cœlius, as pledges to secure it from any danger from him, and guarantees of his good-will and devotion. Wherefore I do pray and entreat you, O judges, after Sextus Clodius has been acquitted within these few days in this very city; a man whom you have seen for the last two years acting on all occasions as the minister or leader of sedition;—a man who has burnt sacred temples, and even the census of the Roman people, and all the public records and registers, with his own hands;1 —a man without property, without honesty, without hope, without a home, without any character or position, polluted in face, and tongue, and hand, and in every particular of his life;—a man who has degraded the monument of Catulus, who has pulled down my house, and burnt that belonging to my brother;—who on the Palatine Hill, and in the sight of all the city, stirred up the slaves to massacre and to the conflagration of the city;—I entreat you, I say, not to suffer that man to have been acquitted in this city by the influence of a woman, and at the same time to allow Marcus Cœlius to be sacrificed, in the same city, to a woman’s lusts. I entreat you never to permit the same woman, in conjunction with a man who is at the same time her brother and her husband, to save a most infamous robber, and to overwhelm a most honourable and virtuous young man.
And when you have given due consideration to the fact of his youth, then place also before your eyes, I entreat you, the old age of his miserable father whom you see before you; whose whole dependence is on this his only son; who reposes on the hopes which he has formed of him; who fears nothing but the disasters which may befal him. Support, I pray you, that old man, now a suppliant for your mercy, the slave of your power, who while he throws himself at your feet, so appeals more strongly still to your virtuous habits, and to your kind and right feelings; support him, I say, moved either by the recollection of your own parents, or by the affection with which you regard your own children, so as, while relieving the misery of another, to yield to your own pious or indulgent dispositions. Do not, O judges, cause this old man, who is already, by the silent progress of nature, declining and hastening to his end, to fall prematurely through a wound inflicted by you, before the day which his natural destiny has appointed for him. Do not overthrow this other man, now flourishing in the prime of life, now that his virtue has just taken firm root, as it were by some whirlwind or sudden tempest. Preserve the son for the father, the father for the son, lest you should appear either to have despised the old age of a man almost in despair, or on the other hand not only to have abstained from cherishing, but even to have struck down and crushed, a youth pregnant with the greatest promise. And if you do preserve him to yourselves, to his own relations, and to the republic, you will have him dedicated, devoted, and wholly bound to you and to your children, and you will enjoy, O judges in the greatest possible degree, the abundant and lasting fruits of all his exertions and labours.
[1 ]About two hundred and forty pounds.
[2 ]About eighty pounds.
[3 ]These lines are from Ennius’s tragedy of Medea, being very nearly a translation of the first lines of the Medea of Euripides.
[1 ]See Smith, Dict. Ant. p. 583, v. Lupercalia.
[1 ]Cæcilius, one of the old Roman comic writers, from one of whose plays these lines are taken.
[1 ]Scabillum is the Latin word. “Scabillum, a kind of musical instrument which by the pressure of the foot always produced the same tone. They danced to it on the stage, and it seems to have been used to denote the beginning and end of an act.”—Riddle. Lat. Dict. in voc.
[1 ]It is quite unknown to us what these allusions of Cicero to passing events refer to.
[1 ]This refers to Clodius having set on fire the temple of the Nymphs, where the registers of the censors were kept.