Front Page Titles (by Subject) THE SPEECH OF M. T. CICERO IN DEFENCE OF CAIUS RABIRIUS, ACCUSED OF TREASON. - Orations vol. 2: Three Orations on the Agrarian Law, the four against Cataline, the Orations for Rabirius Murena, Sylla, Archias, Flaccus, Scaurus, etc
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THE SPEECH OF M. T. CICERO IN DEFENCE OF CAIUS RABIRIUS, ACCUSED OF TREASON. - Marcus Tullius Cicero, Orations vol. 2: Three Orations on the Agrarian Law, the four against Cataline, the Orations for Rabirius Murena, Sylla, Archias, Flaccus, Scaurus, etc 
The Orations of Marcus Tullius Cicero, trans. C.D. Yonge (London: G. Bell and Sons, 1913-21). Vol. 2.
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THE SPEECH OF M. T. CICERO IN DEFENCE OF CAIUS RABIRIUS, ACCUSED OF TREASON.
In the year a. u. c. 654, Lucius Saturninus, a tribune of the people, had been slain, in obedience to a decree of the senate, entrusting the safety of the republic to the consuls Caius Marius and Lucius Valerius Flaccus. Julius Cæsar now suborned Titus Labienus, one of the present tribunes, to prosecute Rabirius, as being the person who had slain him, (the object of Cæsar and his party being to put an end to, or at least a check upon, that prerogative of the senate by which, in a case of tumult, they could arm the city at once, by the customary vote, “Videant consules nequid respublica detrimenti capiat;” in obedience to which vote many seditious citizens had at different times been put to death without any trial, and this privilege of the senate had been a constant subject of complaint to the tribunes.) Julius Cæsar procured himself to be appointed one of the duumviri, or two judges, who were to try the cause. Hortensius defended Rabirius, and proved that, though it would have been perfectly legal for Rabirius to slay Saturninus, still in point of fact he had nothing to do with his death, as he had been slain by a slave, who for the action had been emancipated by the people. Cæsar, however, condemned Rabirius, who appealed to the people. And it was on the trial of this appeal that the following oration was delivered. Labienus would not allow Cicero to exceed half-an-hour in his defence; and, to raise the greater indignation against Rabirius, he exposed the picture of Saturninus in the rostra, as of one who had fallen a martyr to the liberties of the people.
When, after the defence was over, the people were proceeding to vote, there was reason to apprehend some violence or foul play from the intrigues of the tribune. Accordingly Metellus, who was augur and also prætor that year, contrived to dissolve the assembly before they came to a vote; and the troubles that ensued in the latter part of the year prevented any further attention being paid to the matter.
I. Although, O Romans, it is not my custom at the beginning of a speech to give any reason why I am defending each particular defendant, because I have always considered that the mere fact of the danger of any citizen was quite sufficient reason for my considering myself connected with him, still, in this instance, when I come forward to defend the life, and character, and all the fortunes of Caius Rabirius, I think I ought to give a reason for my undertaking this duty; because the very same reason which has appeared to me a most adequate one to prompt me to undertake his defence, ought also to appear to you sufficient to induce you to acquit him. For the ancientness of my friendship with him, and the dignity of the man, and a regard for humanity, and the uninterrupted practice of my life, have instigated me to defend Caius Rabirius; and also the safety of the republic, my duty as consul, the very fact of my being consul, since when I was made consul the safety of the republic, and also that of each individual citizen in it was entrusted to me, compel me to do so with the greatest zeal. For it is not the actual offence, nor any desire to deprive Caius Rabirius in particular of life, nor is it any old, well grounded, serious enmity on the part of any citizen, which has brought him into this peril of his life. But the true design of this prosecution is, that that great aid which the majesty of the state and our dominion enjoys, and which has been handed down to us from our ancestors, may be banished from the republic; that the authority of the senate, and the absolute power of the consul, and the unanimity of all good men, may henceforth be of no avail against any mischief or ruin designed to the state; and therefore, as a handle for the destruction of all these weighty obstacles, the old age, and infirmity, and solitary condition of one man is attacked.
Wherefore, if it is the part of a virtuous consul when he sees all the bulwarks of the republic undermined and weakened, to come to the assistance of his country; to bring succour to the safety and fortunes of all men; to implore the good faith of the citizens; to think his own safety of secondary consideration when put in competition with the common safety of all; it is the part also of virtuous and fearless citizens, such as you have shown yourself in all the emergencies of the republic, to block up all the avenues of sedition, to fortify the bulwarks of the state, to think that the supreme power is vested in the consuls, the supreme wisdom in the senate; and to judge the man who acts in obedience to them, worthy of praise and honour, rather than of condemnation and punishment. Wherefore the labour in defending this man falls principally to my share; but the zeal for his preservation ought to be equally felt by me and by you.
II. For you ought to think, O Romans, that, in the memory of man, no affair more important, more full of peril to you, more necessary to be carefully watched by you, has ever been undertaken by a tribune of the people, nor opposed by a consul, nor brought before the Roman people. For there is nothing less at stake, O Romans, in this trial, there is no other object aimed at, than the preventing any public council from being active for the future in the republic, any union from being formed of good men against the frenzy and insanity of wicked citizens; any refuge, any protection, any safety from existing at the most critical extremity of the republic.
And, as this is the case, in the first place, (as is most necessary to be done, in such a contest for a man’s life and reputation, and all his fortunes,) I entreat pardon and indulgence from the excellent and mighty Jupiter, and from all the other immortal gods and goddesses; by whose aid and protection this republic is governed much more than by any reason or wisdom of man. And I pray of them to grant that this day may have dawned for the salvation of this man, and for the welfare of the republic. And, in the second place, I beg and entreat you, O Romans,—you whose power comes nearest to the divine authority of the immortal gods,—that since at one and the same time the life of Caius Rabirius, a most unhappy and most innocent man, and the safety of the republic is entrusted to your hands and to your votes, you will display that mercy, as far as regards the fortunes of the individual, and that wisdom in what concerns the safety of the republic, which you are accustomed to exercise.
Now, since, O Titus Labienus, you have sought to cramp my industry by a narrow space of time, and have denied the usual length of a defence which I was prepared to use, confining me to a single half-hour, I will comply with the conditions laid down by the accuser, (which is a most scandalous thing to have to do,) and yield to the power of our enemy, (which is a most miserable fate for a man to be compelled to,) although in prescribing to me this half-hour you have left me only the part of an advocate, and have ignored my right as consul; because, though this time will be nearly sufficient for me to make our defence in, it will not allow time enough for preferring the complaints which we are entitled to prefer. Unless, perhaps, you think it necessary for me to reply to you at some length about the sacred places and groves which you have said were violated by my client; though in making this accusation you never said anything more than that this charge had been made against Caius Rabirius by Caius Macer. And with respect to this matter I marvel that you recollect what his enemy Macer accused Caius Rabirius of, and forget what impartial judges decided on their oaths.
III. Must I needs make a long speech on the topics of peculation, or of burning the registers? of which charge Caius Curtius, a relation of Caius Rabirius, was most honourably acquitted, as was due to his virtue, by a most illustrious bench of judges. But Rabirius himself not only was never prosecuted on either of these charges, but never fell under any the very slightest suspicion of them; nor was any such idea ever breathed by any one. Or must I be careful to reply to what has been said touching his sister’s son? who, you said, had been murdered by him, as he sought an excuse for putting off the trial on the pretext of a domestic calamity. For what is more natural than that his sister’s husband should be dearer to him than his sister’s son? and so much dearer, that he would deprive the one of life in a most cruel manner, in order to gain a two days’ adjournment of his trial for the other? Or need I say much respecting the detention of another man’s slaves contrary to the Fabian law, or of the scourging and putting to death of Roman citizens, contrary to the Porcian law, when Caius Rabirius is honoured with the zeal displayed in his behalf by all Apulia, and by the eminent good-will of the state of Campania; and when not only individuals, but I may almost say whole nations, have flocked hither to deliver him from danger, brought up from a greater distance than his name as a neighbour of theirs on their borders required? For why need I prepare a long speech on that point, when it is set down in the count which assesses the damages, that he had regard to neither his own chastity nor to that of others? Moreover, I suspect that it was on that account that I was limited by Labienus to half an hour, in order that I might not be able to say much on this question of chastity. Therefore, you perceive that this half-hour is too long for me to discuss those charges which especially require the care of an advocate.
That other part, about the death of Saturninus, you wished to be too short and narrow for my requirements; and it is one which requires and stands in need, not so much of the ingenuity of an orator, as of the authority of a consul. For as for the trial for treason, which, when you accuse me, you say has been put an end to by me, that is a charge against me, and not against Rabirius. And I wish, O Romans, that I was the first, or the only person, who had abolished that in this republic. I wish that that, which he brings forward as a charge against me, might be an evidence of my peculiar glory. For what can be desired by any one which I should prefer to being said in my consulship to have banished the executioner from the forum, and the gallows from the Campus? But that credit belongs, in the first instance, O Romans, to our ancestors, who, after the kings had been expelled, did not choose to retain any vestige of kingly cruelty among a free people; and in the second instance, to many gallant men, who thought it fit that your liberty should not be an unpopular thing from the severity of the punishments with which it was protected, but that it should be defended by the lenity of the laws.
IV. Which, then, of us, O Labienus, is attached to the best interests of the people? you who think that an executioner and chains ought to be put in operation against Roman citizens in the very assembly of the people; who order a gallows to be planted and erected for the execution of citizens in the Campus Martius, in the comitia centuriata, in a place hallowed by the auspices; or I, who forbid the assembly to be polluted by the contagion of an executioner—who think that the forum of the Roman people ought to be purified from all such traces of nefarious wickedness—who urge that the assembly ought to be kept pure, the campus holy, the person of every Roman citizen inviolate, and the rights of liberty unimpaired? Of a truth, the tribune of the people is very much devoted to the interests of the people,—is a guardian and defender of its privileges and liberties! The Porcian law forbade a rod to be laid on the person of any Roman citizen. This merciful man has brought back the scourge. The Porcian law protected the freedom of the citizens against the lictor. Labienus, that friend of the people, has handed them over to the executioner. Caius Gracchus passed a law that no trial should take place affecting the life of a Roman citizen without your orders. This friend of the people has compelled the duumvirs (without any order of yours being issued on the subject) not only to try a Roman citizen, but to condemn a Roman citizen to death without hearing him in his own defence. Do you dare to make mention to me of the Porcian law, or of Caius Gracchus, or of the liberty of these men, or of any single man who has really been a friend of the people, after having attempted to violate the liberty of this people, to tempt their merciful disposition, and to change the customs, not only with unusual punishments, but with a perfectly unheard-of cruelty of language? For these expressions of yours, which you, O merciful and people-loving man, are so fond of, “Go, lictor, bind his hands,” are not only not quite in character with this liberty and this merciful disposition, but they are not suited to the times even of Romulus or of Numa Pompilius. Those are the songs suited to the torments in use in the time of Tarquin, that most haughty and inhuman monarch; but you, O merciful man, O friend of the people, delight to rehearse, “Cover his head—hang him to the ill-omened tree,”—words, O Romans, which in this republic have long since been buried in the darkness of antiquity, and have been overwhelmed by the light of liberty
V. If, then, this had been a popular sort of proceeding,—if it had had the least particle of equity or justice in it, would Caius Gracchus have passed it over? Forsooth, I suppose, the death of your uncle was a greater affliction to you, than the loss of his brother was to Caius Gracchus. And the death of that uncle whom you never saw is more painful to you, than the death of that brother, with whom he lived on the terms of the most cordial affection, was to him. . . . . . . . And you avenge the death of your uncle just as he would have wished to avenge the death of his brother, if he had been inclined to act on your principles. And that great Labienus, your illustrious uncle, whoever he was, left quite as great a regret behind him in the bosoms of the Roman people, as Tiberius Gracchus left? Was your piety greater than that of Gracchus? or your courage? or your wisdom? or your wealth? or your influence? or your eloquence? And yet all those qualities, if he had had ever so little of them, would have been thought great in him in comparison of your qualifications. But as Caius Gracchus surpassed every one in all these particulars, how great do you suppose must be the distance which is interposed between him and you? But Gracchus would rather have died a thousand times by the most painful of deaths, than have allowed the executioner to stand in that assembly—a man whom the laws of the censors considered ought not only to be ejected out of the forum, but even to be deprived of the sight of the sky, of the breath of the atmosphere, and of a home in the city. This man dares to call himself a friend of the people, and me an enemy to your interests; when he has hunted out all the cruelties of punishments and of harsh language, not only as supplied by your recollection, and by that of your fathers, but from all the records of our annals, and all the histories of the kings; and I, with all my power, and all my ingenuity, and all my eloquence, and all my energy, have opposed and resisted his cruelty. Unless, perhaps, you are fond of such a condition of existence as even slaves would not be able by any possibility to bear, if they had not the hope of liberty held out to them. The ignominy of a public trial is a miserable thing,—the deprivation of a man’s property by way of penalty is a miserable thing,—exile is a miserable thing; but still, in all these disasters some trace of liberty remains to one. Even if death be threatened, we may die free men; but the executioner, and the veiling of the head, and the mere name of the gibbet, should be far removed, not only from the persons of Roman citizens,—from their thoughts, and eyes, and ears. For not only the actual fact and endurance of all these things, but the bare possibility of being exposed to them,—the expectation, the mere mention of them even,—is unworthy of a Roman citizen and of a free man. Does not the kindness of their masters at one touch deliver our slaves from the fear of all these punishments; and shall neither our exploits, nor the purity of our past life, nor the honours which you have conferred on us, save us from the scourge, from the hangman’s hook, and even from the dread of the gibbet? Wherefore I confess, and even, O Titus Labienus, I avow and openly allege that you have been driven from that cruel, unreasonable, (I will not say tribunitian, but) tyrannical persecution, by my counsel, by my virtue, and by my influence. And although in that prosecution you neglected all the precedents of our ancestors, all the laws, all the authority of the senate, all religious feeling, and even the public observance due to the auspices, still you shall hear nothing of all this from me, now that I have so little time to speak in. We shall have abundant opportunity hereafter for a discussion on those points.
VI. At present we will speak of the accusation touching the death of Saturninus, and of the death of your most illustrious uncle. You say in impeachment of my client, that Lucius Saturninus was slain by Caius Rabirius. And Rabirius has already proved that to be false by the evidence of many men, when Quintus Hortensius defended him at great length. But I, if I had to begin the defence anew, would brave this charge, would acknowledge its truth, would avow it. I only wish that the state of my client’s cause would give me the opportunity of making this statement,—that Lucius Saturninus, the enemy of the Roman people, was slain by the hand of Caius Rabirius. That outcry has no effect on me, but it rather consoles me, as it shows that there are some citizens ignorant of the facts of the case, but not many. Never, believe me, never would the Roman people, which is silent around me, have made me consul, if it had supposed that I was going to be disturbed by your clamour. How much less is your noise now! Repress your murmurs, the evidence of your folly, and the proof of the scantiness of your numbers. I would, I say, willingly confess, if I could with truth, or even if the cause were not already discussed, that Lucius Saturninus was slain by the hand of Caius Rabirius; and I should think it a most glorious deed. But since I cannot do that, I will confess this, which will have less weight with regard to our credit, but not less with regard to the accusation—I confess that Caius Rabirius took up arms for the purpose of slaying Saturninus. What is the matter, Labienus? What more weighty confession do you expect from me; or what greater charge did you expect me to furnish against him? Unless you think that there is any difference between him who slew the man, and him who was in arms for the purpose of slaying him. If it was wrong for Saturninus to be slain, then arms cannot have been taken up against Saturninus without guilt;—if you admit that arms were lawfully taken up,—then you must inevitably confess that he was rightly slain.
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VII. A resolution of the senate is passed, that Caius Marius and Lucius Valerius, the consuls, shall employ the tribunes of the people and the prætors as they think fit; and shall take care that the empire and majesty of the Roman people be preserved. They do employ all the tribunes of the people except Saturninus, and all the prætors except glaucia; they bid every one who desires the safety of the republic to take arms and to follow them. Every one obeys. Arms are distributed from the sacred buildings and from the public armouries to the Roman people, Caius Marius the consul distributing them. Here now, to say nothing of other points, I ask you yourself, O Labienus, when Saturninus in arms was in possession of the Capitol; when Glaucia, and Caius Saufeius, and even that Gracchus1 just escaped from chains and the gaol, were with him; I will add, too, since you wish me to do so, Quintus Labienus, your own uncle; but in the forum were Caius Marius and Lucius Valerius Flaccus the consuls, behind them all the senate, and that senate, too, whom even you yourselves (who try to render the conscript fathers of the present day unpopular, in order the more easily to diminish the power of the senate) are accustomed to extol; when the equestrian order—what men the Roman knights, O ye immortal gods, then were!—when they supported, as they did in the time of our fathers, a great portion of the republic, and the whole dignity of the courts of justice; when all men, of all ranks, who thought their own safety involved in the safety of the republic, had taken arms;—what, then, was Caius Rabirius to do? I ask you yourself, I say, O Labienus,—when the consuls, in pursuance of the resolution of the senate, had summoned the citizens to arms; when Marcus Æmilius, the chief of the senate, stood in arms in the assembly; who, though he could scarcely walk, thought the lameness of his feet not an impediment to his pursuit of enemies, but only to his flight from them; when, lastly, Quintus Scævola, worn out as he was with old age, enfeebled by disease, lame, and crippled, and powerless in all his limbs, leaning on his spear, displayed at the same time the vigour of his mind and the weakness of his body; when Lucius Metellus, Sergius Galba, Caius Serranus, Publius Rutilius, Caius Fimbria, Quintus Catulus, and all the men of consular rank who were then in existence, had taken arms in defence of the common safety; when all the prætors, all the nobles and youth of the city, united together, Cnæus and Lucius Domitius, Lucius Crassus, Quintus Mucius, Caius Claudius, Marcus Drusus; when all the Octavii, Metelli, Julii, Cassii, Catos and Pompeii; when Lucius Philippus, Lucius Scipio, when Marcus Lepidus, when Decimus Brutus, when this very man himself, Servilius, under whom you, O Labienus, have served as your general; when this Quintus Catulus, whom we see here, then a very young man; when this Caius Curio; when, in short, every illustrious man in the city was with the consuls;—what then did it become Caius Rabirius to do? Was he to lie hid, shut up, and concealed in some dark place, and to hide his cowardice under the protection of darkness and walls? Or was he to go into the Capitol, and there join himself to your uncle, and with the rest of those who were fleeing to death, on account of the infamy of their lives? Or was he to unite with Marius, Scarius, Catulus, Metellus, Scævola,—in short, with all virtuous men, in a community not only of safety, but also of danger?
VIII. Even you yourself, O Labienus, what would you do in such a crisis? When your general system of indolence was compelling you to flight and lurking-places, while the villany and frenzy of Lucius Saturninus was inviting you to the Capitol, while the consuls were summoning you to uphold the safety and liberty of your country; which authority, which invitation, which party would you prefer to follow, whose command would you select to obey? My uncle says he was with Saturninus. What if he was? Whom was your father with?—What if he was? Where were your relations, Roman knights?—What if he was? What was the conduct of all your prefecture, and district, and neighbourhood?—What if he was? What was the conduct of the whole Picene district; did they follow the frenzy of the tribune, or the authority of the consul? In truth, I affirm this; that that which you confess of your uncle, no man has ever yet confessed with respect to himself. No one, I say, has been found so profligate, so abandoned, so entirely destitute, not only of all honesty, but of every resemblance of and pretence to honesty, as to confess that he was in the Capitol with Saturninus. But your uncle was. Let him have been; and let him have been, though not compelled by the desperate condition of his own affairs, or by any domestic distresses and embarrassments. Suppose it was his intimacy with Lucius Saturninus that induced him to prefer his friendship to his country,—was that a reason for Caius Rabirius also deserting the republic? for his not appearing in that armed multitude of good men? for his refusing obedience to the invitation and command of the consul? But we see that in the nature of things he must have adopted one of these three lines of conduct: he must either have been with Saturninus, or with the good men, or he must have been lying in bed:—to lie hid was a state equal to the most infamous death; to be with Saturninus was the act of insanity and wickedness. Virtue, and honour, and shame, compelled him to range himself on the side of the consuls. Do you, therefore, accuse Caius Rabirius on this account, that he was with those men whom he would have been utterly mad to have opposed, utterly infamous if he had deserted them?
IX. But Caius Decianus, whom you often mention, was condemned, because, when he was accusing, with the earnest approval of all good men, a man notorious for every description of infamy, Publius Furius, he dared to complain in the assembly of the death of Saturninus. And Sextus Titius was condemned for having an image of Lucius Saturninus in his house. The Roman knights laid it down by that decision that that man was a worthless citizen, and one who ought not to be allowed to remain in the state, who either by keeping his image sought, to do credit to the death of a man who was seditious to such a degree as to become an enemy to the republic, or who sought by pity to excite the regrets of ignorant men, or who showed his own inclination to imitate such villany. Therefore it does seem a marvellous thing to me, where you, O Labienus, found this image which you have. For after Sextus Titius was condemned, no one could be found who would dare to have it in his possession. But if you had heard of that, or if, from your age, you could have known it, you certainly would never have brought that image, which, even when concealed in his house, had brought ruin and exile on Sextus Titius, into the rostrum, and into the assembly of the people; nor would you ever have driven your designs on those rocks on which you had seen the ship of Sextus Titius dashed to pieces, and the fortunes of Caius Decianus hopelessly wrecked. But in all these matters you are erring out of ignorance. For you have undertaken the advocacy of a cause which is older than your own recollections; a cause which was dead before you were born; that cause in which you yourself would have been, if your age had allowed you to be so, you are bringing before this court. Do you not understand, in the first place, what sort of men, what sort of citizens they were whom, now that they are dead, you are accusing of the greatest wickedness? Are you not aware, how many of those who are still alive, you, by the same accusation, are bringing into peril of their lives? For if Caius Rabirius committed a capital crime in having borne arms against Lucius Saturninus, yet the age which he was then of might furnish him with some excuse by which to secure himself from danger. But how are we to defend Quintus Catulus, the father of this Catulus, a man in whom the very highest wisdom, eminent virtue, and singular humanity were combined? and Marcus Scaurus, a man of great gravity, wisdom, and prudence? or the two Mucii, or Lucius Crassus, or Marcus Antonius, who was at that time outside the city with a guard? all men than whom there was no one of greater wisdom or ability in the whole city; or how are we to defend the other men of equal dignity, the guardians and counsellors of the republic, who behaved in the same way, now that they are dead? What are we to say about those most honourable men and most excellent citizens, the Roman knights, who then combined with the senate in defence of the safety of the republic? What are we to say of the ærarian tribunes,1 and of the men of all the other orders in the state, who then took up arms in defence of the common liberties of all?
X. But why do I speak of all those men who obeyed the command of the consuls? What is to become of the reputation of the consuls themselves? Are we to condemn Lucius Flaccus, a man always most diligent in the service of the republic, and in the discharge of his duty as a magistrate, and in his priesthood, and in the religious ceremonies over which he presided, as guilty of nefarious wickedness and parricide, now that he is dead? And are we to unite with him in this stigma and infamy, after death, the name of even Caius Marius? Are we, I say, to condemn Caius Marius now that he is dead, as guilty of nefarious wickedness and parricide, whom we may rightly entitle the father of his country, the parent of your liberties, and of this republic? In truth, if Titus Labienus thought himself entitled to erect a gibbet in the Campus Martius for Caius Rabirius, because he took up arms, what punishment ought to be devised for the man who invited him to do so? And if a promise was given to Saturninus, as is constantly asserted by you, it was not Caius Rabirius, but Caius Marius who gave it; and it was he too who violated it, if indeed it was broken at all. But what promise, O Labienus, could be given except by a resolution of the senate? Are you so complete a stranger in this city, are you so ignorant of our constitution and of our customs, as to be ignorant of this? Are we to think that you are living as a foreigner in a strange town, not bearing office in your own native city?—“Well,” says he, “but what harm can all this now do Caius Marius, since he has no longer any feeling or any life?” Is it so? Would Caius Marius have spent his life in such labours and such dangers, if he had no hopes and no ideas of any glory which was to extend beyond the limits of his own life? No doubt, when he had routed the countless armies of the enemy in Italy, and when he had delivered the city from siege, he thought that all his achievements would perish with himself. Such is not the truth, O Romans. Nor is there any one among us who exerts himself amid the dangers of the republic with virtue and glory, who is not induced to do so by the hope he entertains of receiving his reward from posterity—therefore, while there are many reasons why I think that the souls of good men are divine and undying, this is the greatest argument of all to my mind, that the more virtuous and wise each individual is, the more thoroughly does his mind look forward to the future, so as to seem, in fact, to regard nothing except what is eternal. Wherefore, I call to witness the souls of Caius Marius and of the other wise men and gallant citizens which seem to me to have emigrated from life among men to the holy habitations and sacred character of the gods, that I think it my duty to contend for their fame, and glory, and memory, no less than for the shrines and temples of my native land; and that if I had to take up arms in defence of their credit, I should take them up no less zealously than they took them up in defence of the common safety. In truth, O Romans, nature has given us but a limited space to live in, but an endless period of glory.
XI. Wherefore, if we pay due honour to those who have already died, we shall leave to ourselves a more favourable condition after death. But if, O Labienus, you neglect those whom we are unable any longer to behold, do not you think that at least you ought to consult the interests of these men whom you see before you? I say that there is no one of all those men who were at Rome on that day, which day you are now bringing as it were before the court,—that there was no one of the youth of Rome, who did not take arms and follow the consuls; all those men, whose conduct you can form a conjecture about from their age, are now impeached by you of a capital crime, by your attack upon Caius Rabirius. But it was Rabirius who slew Saturninus. I wish that he had done so. I should not be deprecating punishment for him; I should demand a reward for him. In truth, if his freedom was given to Scæva, a slave of Quintus Croto, who did slay Lucius Saturninus, what reward ought to have been given to a Roman knight in a similar case? And if Caius Marius, because he had caused drains to be cut, by which water was supplied to the temple of the excellent and mighty Jupiter, and because on the Capitoline Hill NA* * *
XII.1NA* * * Therefore the senate, in its investigation into that cause, when I was pleading before it, was neither more diligent nor more severe than all of you were, when you by your dispositions, by your hands, and by your voices, declared your rejection of that distribution of the whole world, and of that very district of Campania.
I also proclaim, and assert, and denounce the same things which he does who is the originator of this trial. There is no king remaining, no nation, no people, whom you can fear. There is no foreign or external evil which can insinuate itself into this republic. If you wish this state to be immortal, if you wish your empire to be eternal, if you wish your glory to continue everlasting, then it is our own passions, it is the turbulence and desire of revolution engendered among our own citizens, it is intestine evil, it is domestic treason that must be guarded against. And your ancestors have left you a great protection against these evils in these words of the consul, “Whoever wishes the republic to be safe.” Protect the legitimate use of these words, O Romans. Do not by your decision take the republic out of my hands; and do not take from the republic its hope of liberty, its hope of safety, its hope of dignity. What should I do, if Titus Labienus were to make a slaughter of the citizens, like Lucius Saturninus? if he were to break open the prison? if he had occupied the Capitol with armed men? I should do what Caius Marius did. I should refer the matter to the senate; I should exhort you to defend the republic. I myself in arms should, with your aid, resist the armed enemy. Now, when there is no suspicion of arms, when I see no weapons, when there is no violence, or slaughter, or occupation of the Capitol and citadel, but only a mischievous prosecution, a cruel trial, a business undertaken by a tribune of the people contrary to the interests of the republic, I have not thought that I ought to summon you to arms, but that it was sufficient to exhort you to give your votes against those who are attacking your majesty. Therefore now I entreat, and beg, and implore all of you, not, as is the old custom, NA* * * * * * *
NA* * * is afraid.—He who has received on his front all these scars, marks of his valour, in the cause of the republic, fears to receive any wound on his reputation. He, whom no attack of an enemy could ever move from his post, now is frightened at this onset of his fellow-citizens, to which he must necessarily yield. Nor does he now ask of you an opportunity of living happily, but only one of dying honourably. He is anxious now, not to enjoy his own home, but not to be deprived of his family tomb. He now begs and prays for nothing else at your hands, beyond your abstaining from depriving him of his legitimate funeral rites, and of the privilego of dying at home. He entreats you to allow him, who has never feared any danger of death in his country’s cause, in that country to die.
I have spoken now to the extent of the time allowed me by the tribune of the people. I beg and entreat of you to think this defence which I have made faithful as far as the danger of my friend is concerned, and as far as the safety of the republic is at stake, suited to the dignity, and to the duty of the consul.
[1 ]This was a man of the name of Equitius Tismo, whom Saturninus gave out to be a son of Tiberius Gracchus. When Marius shut up the prisoners who had surrendered in the Curia Hostilia, and the people stripped off the roof, and threw the tiles down on them, this pseudo Gracchus was slain among the others.
[1 ]“The tribuni ærarii, who constituted an order in the latter days of the republic, and who were, in fact, the representatives of the most respectable plebeians, were originally heads of tribes, who acted as general inspectors and collectors of the æs militare for the payment of the troops.” “The charge of the treasury was originally entrusted to the quæstors and their assistants, the tribuni ærarii.” “Niebuhr supposes that the tribuni ærarii, who occur down to the end of the republic, were only the successors of the tribunes of the tribes.” Vide Smith, Dict. Ant pp. 19, 20, 987, vv. Ærarii, Ærarium, Tribunus.
[1 ]All the last chapter was discovered by Niebuhr in the Vatican, and edited by him; it was discovered in a very corrupt and mutilated state, but it is translated as he edited it with his own supplementary additions, and completion of half legible words.