The Orations, Volume 3 - Cicero - ebook

Cicero is considered one of Rome's greatest orators and prose stylists. His works rank among the most influential in European culture, and today still constitute one of the most important bodies of primary material for the writing and revision of Roman history. This is volume three out of four with his brilliant orations.

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The Orations


Volume 3






The Orations 3, Cicero

Jazzybee Verlag Jürgen Beck

86450 Altenmünster, Loschberg 9



ISBN: 9783849651664


Translated by Charles Duke Yonge (1812 – 1891))























Cicero, soon after his consulship, had purchased the house of Marcus Crassus on the Palatine Hill, which adjoined that in which he had always lived with his father; it was one of the finest houses in Rome, and cost him nearly thirty thousand pounds, and was joined to the colonnade or portico called by the name of Catulus, who had built it out of the Cimbric spoils on that area where Flaccus formerly lived, whose house had been demolished by public authority for his seditious union with Caius Gracchus.

As soon as Clodius had carried his decree against Cicero after his flight, he immediately began plundering and destroying all his houses; the consuls, Piso and Gabinius, divided the greater part of his furniture and of the ornaments of his house and villa between them; and, in the hope of making the loss of his house at Rome irretrievable, Clodius consecrated the area on which it stood to the service of religion, building on it a temple to Liberty, and he pulled down the adjoining portico of Catulus in order to rebuild it of the same order as the temple. The law being that a consecration, legally performed, made the thing consecrated inapplicable ever after to any private use.

The affair was to be determined by the college of priests, who were the judges in all cases relating to religion; since the senate could only make a provisional decree, that, if the priests discharged the ground from the service of religion, then in that case the consuls should rebuild the house at the public charge. The cause now came before the priests on the last day of September. Cicero endeavoured, in the first place, to disabuse their minds of any enmity to him which might have been instilled into their minds by Clodius on account of his late conduct with respect to Pompey. (For there had been a great scarcity at Rome, partly occasioned by the great multitudes that had come from all parts of Italy on Cicero’s account; and Cicero had supported a resolution of the senate by which Pompey was entreated to undertake the province of restoring plenty to the city, and to this end the consuls had been ordered to draw up a law by which the whole administration of the corn and provisions of the republic was granted to Pompey for five years. And in consequence of Cicero’s advocacy of the measure Clodius endeavoured to excite odium against him, as having deserted the cause of the senate to pay court to Pompey; though the measure had been very successful, as the credit of Pompey’s name immediately reduced the price of provisions in the markets.)

As, however, the main question turned upon the legality of the consecration, Cicero applies to establish the fact of its illegality by proving that Clodius could not legally consecrate anything, as his election to the tribunate was illegal; since his adoption into a plebeian family, or at least into that particular family into which he had been adopted, was in violation and defiance of all the laws made for such cases; if his adoption was illegal, clearly he could not have legally been elected tribune, nor have legally done any action as tribune.

The priests decided that if he who performed the office of consecration had not been legally authorized to do so, then the area in question might without any scruple of religion be restored to Cicero. The point of law they left to the senate, who, after many interruptions from Clodius and Serranus, passed a decree that Cicero’s damage should be made good to him, and his houses rebuilt at the public charge.

Cicero himself thought very highly of this speech, and published it immediately; and says, in one of his letters to Atticus, (iv. 2,) that “if ever he was great in speaking, he was so especially now, as his indignation and the greatness of the injury done to him gave him especial energy and force of oratory.”

Some critics, but apparently without any good reason, have doubted the genuineness of this oration.

I. Many things, O priests, have been devised and established with divine wisdom by our ancestors; but no action of theirs was ever more wise than their determination that the same men should superintend both what relates to the religious worship due to the immortal gods, and also what concerns the highest interests of the state, so that they might preserve the republic as the most honourable and eminent of the citizens, by governing it well, and as priests by wisely interpreting the requirements of religion. But if there has ever been a time when an important cause has depended on the decision and power of the priests of the Roman people, this indeed is that cause; being such that the dignity of the whole republic, the safety of all the citizens, their lives, their liberties, their altars, their hearths, their household gods, their properties and condition as citizens, and their homes, all appear to be committed and entrusted to your wisdom, integrity, and power. You have got to decide this day whether you prefer for the future to deprive frantic and profligate magistrates of the protection of wicked and unprincipled citizens, or even to arm them with the cloak of religion and of the respect due to the immortal gods. For if that pest and conflagration of the republic succeeds in defending his own mischievous and fatal tribunate by appeals to divine religion, when he cannot maintain it by any considerations of human equity, then we must seek for other ceremonies, for other ministers of the immortal gods, for other interpreters of the requirements of religion. But if those things which were done by the madness of wicked men in the republic at a time when it was oppressed by one party, deserted by another, and betrayed by a third, are annulled by your authority and your wisdom, O priests, then we shall have cause rightly and deservedly to praise the wisdom of our ancestors in selecting the most honourable men of the state for the priesthood.

But since that madman has thought that he should find a ready road to your attention by blaming the sentiments that I in the last few days have expressed in the senate concerning the republic, I will deviate from the natural arrangement of my speech, and I will make a reply to what I will not call the speech of that furious fellow, (for that is more than he is capable of,) but to his abuse, that being an employment which he has fortified himself in the practice of by his own intolerable bad temper, and by the length of time that he has been allowed to indulge it with impunity.

II. And in the first place, I ask you this, O you insane and frantic man, what excessive punishment for your wickednesses and crimes is it that distracts you so as to make you think that these men—men of their high character, who support the dignity of the republic, not only by their wisdom, but also by their dignified appearance—are angry with me, because in delivering my opinion I connected the safety of the citizens with the honour of Cnæus Pompeius, and that they are likely at this present time to have different feelings with respect to the general interests of religion from those which they entertained when I was absent? “Oh,” says he, “you had the advantage before the priests, but now you must inevitably get worst off since you have had recourse to the people.” Is it so? Will you transfer that which is the greatest defect in the ignorant multitude,—namely, its fickleness and inconstancy, and change of opinion, as frequent as the changes of the weather, to these men, whose gravity protects them from inconsistency, while their fixed and definite principles of religion, and the antiquity of precedents, and the authority of written records and monuments, effectually deters them from all capricious change of sentiment? “Are you,” says he, “the man whom the senate was unable to do without? whom the good lamented? whom the republic regretted? by whose restoration we expected that the authority of the senate was restored? and who destroyed that authority the very first thing you did?” I am not at present speaking of my own matters; I will first of all reply to your impudence.

III. Did you then, O you deadly pest of the republic, by means of the sword and arms, by the terror of an armed force, by the wickedness of the consuls, and the threats of most audacious men,—by enlisting slaves, by besieging the temples, by occupying the forum, by oppressing the senate, contrive to compel the departure of that citizen from his home and from his country, in order to prevent actual battles between the virtuous and wicked citizens,—though you now confess that he was regretted and sent for back and recalled by the senate, by all good men, and by the whole of Italy, as the only means of preserving the republic? “But on that day of disturbance you ought not,” says he, “to have come into the senate, you ought not to have entered the Capitol.” But I did not come, and I kept in my own house as long as that disturbance lasted; while it was notorious that your slaves had come with you armed into the Capitol, ready for plunder and for the massacre of all good men, with all that band of wicked and profligate partisans of yours. And when this was reported to me, I know that I remained at home, and would not give you and your gladiators power of renewing the massacre. After news was brought to me that the Roman people had assembled at the Capitol, on account of their fear for, and difficulty of procuring corn, and that the ministers of your crimes had been frightened and had fled, some having dropped their swords, and some having had them taken from them, I came forward not only without any armed band, but with only a very few friends. Should I, when Publius Lentulus the consul, who had conferred the greatest benefits on me and on the republic,—when Quintus Metellus, your brother, O Metellus, who, though he had been my enemy, had still preferred my safety and dignity to any desire to keep alive our quarrel, and to your entreaties that he would do so, sent for me to the senate,—when that great multitude of citizens, who had lately shown such zeal in my behalf, entreated me by name to show my gratitude to them,—should I, I say, have declined to come forward, especially when it was notorious that you with your band of runaway slaves had already left the place? Have you dared to call me—me, the guardian and defender of the Capitol and of every temple—the enemy of the Capitol, because, when the two consuls were holding the senate in the Capitol, I came thither? Is there any time at which it can be discreditable to have attended the senate? or was that business which was then being transacted of such a nature that I was bound to repudiate the affair itself, and to condemn those who were promoting it?

IV. In the first place, I say that it is the duty of a virtuous senator at all times to attend the senate; and I do not agree with those who determine that they themselves will not come to the senate at unfavourable seasons, and who do not understand that this excessive obstinacy of theirs is exceedingly pleasant and acceptable to those men whose wishes they intend to counteract. “But some departed out of fear, because they thought that they could not remain with safety in the senate.” I do not name them, nor do I ask whether they had any real reason for fearing anything. I imagine that every one had a right to form his own opinion as to what grounds he had for fear. Do you ask why I was not afraid? Why, because it was known that you had gone away. Do you ask why, when some good men thought that they could not remain with safety in the senate, I did not think so too? or why, when I thought that it was impossible for me to remain in the city at all with safety, they did not think so too? Are then others to be allowed, and rightly enough, to have no fear for themselves at a time when I am in danger; and yet am I bound to be afraid not only when I am myself in peril, but when others are also?

Or am I to be blamed because I did not express an opinion condemnatory of both the consuls? Ought I then to condemn those men, of all men in the world, by whose law it was brought about that I, who had never been condemned and who had deserved well of the republic, should be saved from enduring the punishment of condemned criminals? Was I, of all men in the world, I who had been restored to my former dignity by their means, to denounce by my expressed opinion the admirable sentiments of those men, who, even if they had been in error, ought to have been borne with by me and by all good men, on account of their exceeding good-will displayed in ensuring my preservation? And what were the opinions which I delivered? In the first place, that one which the common conversation of the people had already previously fixed in our minds; in the second place, that one which had been discussed in the senate on the preceding days; and thirdly, that which the senate in a very full house adopted, expressing its agreement with me; so that no sudden or novel proposition was brought forward by me, and moreover, if there be any fault in the opinion, it is not more the fault of the individual who advanced it than of all those men who approved of it. “But the decision of the senate was not free, because of the fear in which they were.” If you make out that they who left it were in fear, at least grant that they who remained were not alarmed. But if no free decision could be come to without the presence of those men who were absent at that time, I say that the motion about framing a resolution of the senate began to be made when every one was present; it was carried by acclamation by the entire senate.

V. But I ask, since I am the prime mover in and the chief cause of this vote, what fault is found with the vote itself? Was there not good reason for adopting an unprecedented plan? Was not I as much concerned as any one in that matter? or, had we any other resource? What circumstances, what reasons could there be of greater consequence than famine? than sedition? than the designs of you and your partisans? who thought that, if an opportunity was given them of inflaming the minds of the ignorant, you, under the pretence afforded by the scarcity of provisions, would be able to renew your wicked and fatal practices.

As for corn, some of the countries which usually supply it had not got it; some had sent it into other countries, I imagine because of the great variety of sellers; and some were keeping it back, shut up in their stores, in order suddenly to send it, so that the supply might be more acceptable if they seemed to come to our aid when we were in a state of actual famine. The matter was not one of uncertain opinions, it was a case of actually existing danger, present to our eyes; it was not one which we were looking forward to in conjecture, but one which we were actually beholding by present experience. For when the scarcity was getting more severe, so that it was actually want and famine that was dreaded, and not mere dearness of price, there was a rush towards the Temple of Concord, when the consul Metellus summoned the senate to meet in that place. And if that was the genuine effect of the grief of men suffering under famine, certainly the consuls had good reason to undertake the affair, certainly the senate had good reason to adopt some determination or other.

But if the scarcity was the pretext, and if you in reality were the exciter and kindler of sedition, ought we not all to have striven to take away all shadow of pretext for your madness? What, if both these causes existed,—if there was both famine to excite men, and you too like a nail working into this ulcer? was there not all the more need to apply some remedy, which might put an end to both the evil caused by nature, and to the other mischief imported into the case? There was then both present dearness and impending famine; that is not enough; men were attacked with stones. If that arose from the indignation of the common people, without any one having stirred them up, it is a great misfortune; but if it was caused by the instigation of Publius Clodius, it is only the habitual wickedness of a wicked man: if both these causes existed,—if there was both a fact sufficient of itself to excite the feelings of the multitude, and if there were leaders of sedition ready and forearmed; then, does it not seem natural for the republic to have had recourse to the protection of the consul and the loyalty of the senate? But it is quite plain that one of these causes did exist; that there was a difficulty of obtaining provisions, and an extreme scarcity of corn, so that men were afraid not only of a continuance of high prices, but of actual famine. No one denies it. But I do not wish you, O priests, to suspect that that enemy of all tranquillity and peace was likely to seize on this as a pretext for conflagration, and massacre, and rapine, unless you see it proved.

Who are the men who were openly named in the senate by Quintus Metellus,—your brother, O Metellus,—the consul, by whom he said that he had been attacked with stones and actually hit? He named Lucius Sergius and Marcus Lollius. Who is that Lollius? A man who is not even at this moment by your side without his sword; who, while you were tribune of the people, demanded (I will say nothing of his designs against myself) to have the murder of Cnæus Pompeius entrusted to him. Who is Sergius? The armour-bearer of Catiline, your own body-guard, the standard-bearer of sedition, the exciter of the shopkeepers, a man who has been convicted of assault, an assassin, a stoner of men, a man who has depopulated the forum, and blockaded the senate-house. With these leaders and others like them, when you, at the time when provisions were dear, under pretence of espousing the cause of the poor and ignorant, were preparing for sudden attacks on the consuls, on the senate, on the property and fortunes of the rich; when it was impossible for you to find safety if affairs remained in a tranquil state; when, the leaders being all desperate men, you had your bands of profligates regularly enrolled and distributed into decuries,—did it not behove the senate to take good care that that fatal firebrand did not fall upon these vast materials for sedition?

VI. There was, therefore, good cause for adopting an unusual determination. See now whether or not I was the person who had the principal share in it. Who was it whom that friend of yours, Sergius, whom Lollius, whom the other rascals named when they were throwing the stones? who was it that they said ought to provide them with corn? was it not I? What was it that that nocturnal mob of boys which had been trained by you kept demanding? They were demanding corn of me; as if I superintended the corn-market; or as if I were keeping back any corn in store; or as if, in fact, I had any management of, or influence whatever in, any affairs of that class at all. But the fellow who was thirsting for slaughter had published my name to the artisans, and to the ignorant mob. When the senate, in a very full house assembled in the temple of the all-good and all-powerful Jupiter, had passed a decree touching my dignity with only one dissentient voice, on a sudden, on that very day, a most unexpected cheapness followed a time when corn had been excessively dear. Some said, (and I myself am of that opinion,) that the immortal gods had shown their approbation of my return by this exercise of their power. But some traced that fact back, connecting it with this argument and opinion,—that, as all hopes of tranquillity and concord appeared to depend on my return, and as there was an incessant dread of sedition connected with my absence, so now that all fear of contest was almost at an end, they thought that the state of the corn-market was altered; and, because it again had become more unmanageable after my return, then corn was demanded of me, on whose arrival virtuous men were in the habit of saying that there would be cheapness.

VII. Lastly, my name was pronounced not only by your band of artisans at your instigation, but even after your forces had been routed and scattered, I was summoned by name to the senate by the whole Roman people, who at that time were assembled around the Capitol, though on that day I was far from well. Being expected, I came. After many opinions had been already pronounced, I was asked mine. I delivered one very advantageous to the republic, and at the same time necessary for my own interests. Abundance of corn and cheapness of price was demanded of me; as if I had any influence in producing such a state of things as that. Things were in a very different condition. I was pressed by eager expostulation from many good men. I was unable to support the abuse of the wicked. I proposed to entrust the business to an influential friend, not in order to impose a burden on one to whom I was under such heavy obligations, (for I would rather have sunk under it myself than done that,) but because I saw, what every one else saw, that, whatever we promised in behalf of Cnæus Pompeius, he would most easily accomplish by his integrity, wisdom, virtue, and authority, and by his invariable good-fortune. Therefore, whether the immortal gods give this to the Roman people as the fruit of my return, that, as on my departure there ensued a want of corn, and famine, and devastation, and bloodshed, and conflagration, and pillage, and impunity for all crimes, and flight, and terror, and discord, so my return is followed by fertility of the lands, by abundant harvests, by hopes of tranquillity, by peaceful dispositions on the part of the citizens, by a restoration of the courts of justice and of the laws, while unanimity on the part of the people and the authority of the senate seem to have been brought back in my company; or, if the fact is that I, on my arrival, was bound, in return for such kindness, to do something for the Roman people by my prudence, authority and diligence; then I do promise, and undertake, and pledge myself to do it. I say no more. This I say, which is sufficient for the present occasion, that the republic shall not, on any pretence connected with the price of corn, fall into that danger into which some people endeavoured to bring it.

VIII. Are then my sentiments found fault with in this business which fell especially to my share? I rescued affairs of the greatest consequence from the mischief of the most imminent danger; and I saved not only it, but you also, from massacre, and conflagration, and devastation. No one denies this; as to the pretext of dearness there was added that spy of the general misery, who always lit the firebrand of his guilt in the misfortunes of the republic.

He says that nothing ought to have been decreed irregularly to any one. I do not at present make the same reply to you that I make to the rest,—That many wars, and these wars of the greatest danger and of the greatest importance, both by land and sea, have been entrusted to Cnæus Pompeius out of the regular order. And if any one repents of those measures, he must also repent of the victory of the Roman people. I do not deal with you in this manner. I can address this argument to those men, who state that if any matter must be entrusted to one individual, then they would rather entrust it to Cnæus Pompeius than to any one, but that they make a rule of never entrusting anything to any one in an irregular manner; still, after it has been entrusted to Pompeius, that they then vindicate and uphold the measure, as is due to the dignity of the man. From praising the sentiments of these men I am hindered by the triumphs of Cnæus Pompeius, by which he (though it was quite out of the regular order of things that he was summoned to defend his country) increased the reputation of the Roman people, and crowned their empire with honour. At the same time I praise their firmness, which is a virtue which I have need to avail myself of, since it was on my proposition that he was appointed, quite out of the regular routine, to conduct the war against Mithridates and Tigranes. But still there are some points which I can argue with them; but still, how great is your impudence, when you dare to say that nothing ought to be given to any one out of the regular routine! You who, when, by an iniquitous law, for some unknown cause you had confiscated the property of Ptolemy, King of Cyprus, the brother of the King of Alexandria, who was reigning by the same right as he was, and had involved the Roman people in the crime,—when you had sent a band of robbers from this empire to ravage his kingdom, and goods, and property, though there had been a long alliance and friendship between us and his father, and grandfather, and still more remote ancestors,—appointed Marcus Cato to superintend the carrying away of his money, and the managing the war if any individual was found hardy enough to defend his own property. Will you say, “Yes, but what a man Cato was! A most religious, most prudent, most gallant man; the firmest friend to the republic, a citizen of a most marvellous and almost unique virtue, and wisdom, and purity of life.” Very fine, but what is all that to you, when you say that it is untrue that any one ought to be appointed to any public duty out of the regular course?

IX. And in this matter I am only convicting you of inconsistency; who in the case of this very Cato, whom you did not so much promote out of regard for his dignity, as get out of the way lest he might hinder your wickedness,—whom you had exposed to your Sergii, and Lollii, and Titii, and your other leaders in massacre and conflagration,—whom you yourself had called the executioner of the citizens, the chief murderer of men who had never been condemned, the very fountain of cruelty,—you still by your motion conferred this honour and command on him out of the regular course, and behaved with such violence, that you were wholly unable to disguise your object and the system of wickedness which you had laid down for yourself.

You read letters in the assembly which you said had been sent to you by Caius Cæsar. “Cæsar to Pulcher.” And when you proceeded to argue that this was a proof of intimacy, because he only used the names of himself and you, and did not add “proconsul,” or “tribune of the people,” and then began to congratulate you that you had got Marcus Cato out of the way of your tribuneship for the remainder of the time, and that you had also taken away for the future the power of giving extraordinary commissions;—letters which he never sent to you at all, or which, if he did send them, he certainly never meant to be read in the public assembly;—at all events, whether he sent them or whether you forged them, your intention with respect to the honours conferred upon Cato was revealed by the reading of those letters. But, however, I will say no more about Cato, whose eminent virtue, and dignity, and integrity, and moderation in that business which he executed, appear like a screen to veil the iniquity of your law and of your argument. What more need I say? Who was it who gave to the most infamous man that has ever existed, to the most wicked and polluted of all men, that rich and fertile Syria? Who gave him a war to carry on against nations who were in a state of profound peace? Who gave him the money which was destined for the purchase of lands, and which had been taken by violence out of the fruits of the achievements of Cæsar? Who gave him an unlimited command? Ref. 002 And, indeed, when you had given him Cilicia, you altered the terms of your bargain with him, and you transferred Cilicia to the prætor, again quite out of the regular course. And then, when the bribe had been increased, you gave Syria to Gabinius—expressly naming him. What more? Did you not, naming him expressly, deliver over, bound and fettered, to Lucius Piso, the foulest, the most cruel, the most treacherous of men, the most infamous of all men, as stigmatised for every sort of wickedness and lust, free nations, who had been declared free by numerous resolutions of the senate, and even by a recent law of your own son-in-law? Did not you, after the recompense for your service and the bribe of a province had been paid by him at my expense, still divide the treasury with him? Is it so? Did you annul the arrangement of the consular provinces, which Caius Gracchus, than whom there hardly ever lived a man more devoted to the people, not only abstained from taking from the senate, but even passed a solemn law to establish the principle that they were to be settled every year by the senate;—did you, I say, disturb that arrangement, and that too after it had been formally settled according to the Sempronian law? You gave the provinces, in an irregular manner, without casting lots, not to the consuls, but to the pests of the republic, expressly naming them. And shall we be found fault with, because we have appointed a most illustrious man, who has often been selected before on occasions of the greatest danger to the republic, (expressly naming him,) to superintend a matter of the most urgent importance, and which was previously in an almost desperate condition?

X. What more shall I say? If, then, amid the darkness and impenetrable clouds and storms which were then lowering above the republic, when you had driven the senate from the helm and turned the people out of the ship, and while you yourself, like a captain of pirates, were hastening on with all your sails set, with your most infamous band of robbers; if at that time you had been able to carry the resolutions which you proposed, and published, and brought forward, and sold, what place in the whole world would have been free from the extraordinary magistrates and commanders invested with their power by the great Clodius?

But at last the indignation of Cnæus Pompeius, (I will say, even in his hearing, what I have felt, and still do feel, whatever may be the way in which he takes it,)—the indignation, I say, of Cnæus Pompeius, which had been too long concealed and slumbering, being at last aroused, came on a sudden to the aid of the republic, and raised the city crushed with misfortunes, dumb, weakened, and broken-spirited through fear, to some hope of recovering its liberty and former dignity. And was this man not to be appointed to superintend the providing the city with corn? You, forsooth, by your law abandoned all the corn, whether belonging to private individuals or to the state, all the provinces which supply corn, and all the contractors, and all the keys of the granaries, to that most impure of gluttons, the taster of your lusts, to that most needy and most impious man, Sextus Clodius, the companion of your family, who by his tongue alienated even your sister from you. And it was by this action of yours that dearness was first produced, and afterwards scarcity. Famine, conflagration, bloodshed, and pillage were impending. Your insane frenzy was threatening the fortunes and property of every man. That ill-omened pest of the state even complains that the corn should have been taken out of the impure mouth of Sextus Clodius, and that the republic in its extremest peril should have implored the aid of that man by whom it recollected that it had often been preserved, and had its power extended. Clodius thinks that nothing ought to be done out of the regular course. What! what sort of law is it that you say that you passed about me, you parricide, you fratricide, you murderer of your sister; did you not pass that out of the regular course? Was it lawful for you to pass, I will not say a law, but a wicked private bill, concerning the ruin of a citizen, the preserver of the republic, as all gods and men have long since agreed to call him, and, as you yourself confess, when he was not only uncondemned but even unimpeached, amid the mourning of the senate and the lamentation of all good men, rejecting the prayers of all Italy, while the republic lay oppressed and captive at your feet? And was it not lawful for me, when the Roman people implored me, when the senate requested me, when the critical state of the republic demanded it of me, to deliver an opinion concerning the safety of the Roman people? And if by that opinion the dignity of Cnæus Pompeius was increased, in connexion with the common advantage, certainly I ought to be praised if I seemed to have given my vote for honour of that man who had brought his influence to aid in the ensuring of my safety.

XI. Let men cease—cease, I say, from hoping that now that I have been restored, I can be undermined by the same contrivances by which they formerly smote me when I was flourishing. For what pair of men of consular dignity were ever more united in friendship in this state than Cnæus Pompeius and I? Who has ever spoken more honourably or more repeatedly of his dignity before the Roman people or to the senate than I have? What labour was there so great, or what enmity so formidable, or what contest so arduous, that I was unwilling to encounter it for the sake of his dignity? and what honour that could be paid me by him, what panegyric of my glory, what recompense for my goodwill was ever omitted by him? This union of ours, this unanimity and concert in managing the affairs of the republic successfully, this most delightful agreement in life and all its duties, certain men, by false reports of conversations and false accusations, broke, interrupted; going to him, and warning him to be afraid of me, to guard against me, and at the same time telling me that he was hostile to me above all men: so that I had not sufficient confidence to ask of him what it was desirable for me to ask, nor did he, having been made sore by the jealousies and wickedness of certain individuals, promise me with sufficient freedom what my necessities required. A great price has been paid for my error, O priests, so that I am not only grieved for my folly, but ashamed of it too; since, though it was not some sudden and accidental occasion, but many labours of long standing, encountered and undertaken long before, which had united me with a most gallant and most illustrious man, I still suffered myself to be led away to abandon such a friendship, and did not perceive who they were whom it became me either to oppose as open enemies, or to distrust as treacherous friends. Let them now at length cease to try and excite me with the same language as before: “What is that man about? Does not he know how great his influence is, what great achievements he has performed, with what great honour he has been restored? Why does he do honour to the man by whom he was deserted?” But I neither think that I was deserted at that time, but rather surrendered; nor do I think it needful for me to explain what at the time of that unhappiness to the republic was done against me, nor how, nor by whose instrumentality it was done. If it was beneficial to the republic that I alone, as the victim offered for the general safety, should quaff that most unworthy cup of calamity, it may be useful also for me to conceal and be silent respecting the men by whose wickedness it was brought about. But yet it is the part of an ungrateful man to be silent. Therefore I will most willingly proclaim that Cnæus Pompeius laboured with all his zeal and influence as much as any one of you, and with all his means, and labour, and by entreaty, and even at his own personal risk, to promote my safety.

XII. This man, O Publius Lentulus, was present at all your counsels, while you were thinking of nothing day and night except my safety. He cooperated with you as a most influential adviser in planning the conduct to be pursued, as a most faithful ally in preparing for it, and as a most fearless assistant in executing it. It was he who visited all the municipalities and colonies; it was he who implored the assistance of all Italy, which was eager to afford it; it was he who in the senate was the first person to deliver his opinion, and when he had delivered it there, he then also entreated the Roman people to preserve me. Wherefore, you may desist from that language which you have been using, namely, that the dispositions of the priests were changed after my delivering the opinion which I did about the corn. As if they had any different opinion from what I myself had about Cnæus Pompeius, or as if they were ignorant what I ought to do either with regard to the expectation of the Roman people, or to the services which I have received from Cnæus Pompeius, or to my own circumstances and condition; or as if even, if my sentiments had perchance been offensive to any one of the priests, though I know for a certainty that the contrary was the case, any priest was on that account going to decide about religion, or any citizen about the republic, in any other manner than the laws respecting religious ceremonies compelled the one, or the interests and safety of the republic compelled the other.

I am aware, O priests, that I have said more things which are foreign to this cause, than either your opinion is likely to approve of, or than my own inclination prompted. But I was anxious to be acquitted in your eyes; and, further, your kindness in listening to me with attention carried me on to say more than I had intended. But I will make amends for this by the brevity of that part of the speech which relates to the actual matter now brought under your examination; and as the affair is divided into two heads,—one relating to the laws of religion, and the other to the laws of the state,—I will pass over the question of religion, which would take a longer time to discuss, and speak to the point of what is the law of the state. For what can be so arrogant as for a layman to endeavour to lecture the college of priests about religion, about divine affairs, and ceremonies, and sacrifices; or so foolish as for a man, if he has found anything of consequence in your books, to take up time in detailing it to you; or so superfluous, as to seek to acquire learning on those points concerning which our ancestors have laid down the principle that you alone have knowledge, and that you alone ought to be consulted?

XIII. I say that it was not possible, according to our common rights, and according to those laws which are in force in this city, for any citizen to be exposed to such disaster as mine without a formal trial. I say that this was the law in this state even at the time when the kings existed; I say that this was the principle handed down to us from our ancestors; I say, moreover, that this is the inalienable characteristic of a free state,—that no infringement on the liberties or property of a citizen can take place without the formal decision of the senate, or of the people, or of those persons who have been appointed as judges in each separate matter. Do you not see that I am destroying all your proceedings by the roots? that I am arguing, what is manifest, that you did nothing whatever according to law,—that you were not a tribune of the people at all? I say this, that you are a patrician. I say so before the priests; the augurs are present. I take my stand on the common public law. What, O priests, is the law concerning adoption? Why, that he may adopt children who is no longer able to have children himself, and who failed in having them when he was of an age to expect it. What reason, then, any one has for adopting children, what considerations of family or dignity are involved, what principles of religion are concerned, are questions which are accustomed to be put to the college of priests. What if all these circumstances are found to exist in that adoption? The person who adopts him is twenty years old; a minor adopts a senator. Does he do so for the sake of having children? He is of an age to have them of his own. He has a wife; he has actually got children of his own. The father, then, will be disinheriting his own son. What? why should all the sacred rites of the Clodian family perish, as far as it depends on you? And that must have been the idea of all the priests when you were adopted. Unless, perchance, the question was put to you in this way,—whether you were intending to disturb the republic by seditions, and whether you wished to be adopted with that object, not in order to become that man’s son, but only in order to be made a tribune of the people, and by that means utterly to overthrow the state? You answered, I presume, that your object was only to be made a tribune. That appeared to the priests to be a sufficient reason. They approved of it. No questions were asked about the age of the man who was adopting you; as was done in the case of Cuæus Aufidius and Marcus Pupius, each of whom, within our recollection, when extremely old, adopted as sons, the one Orestes, and the other Piso. And these adoptions, like others, more than I can count, were followed by the inheritance of the name and property and sacred rites of the family. You are not Fonteius, as you ought to be, nor the heir of your new father; nor, though you have lost your right to the sacred ceremonies of your own family, have you availed yourself of those which belong to you by adoption. And so, having thrown the ceremonies of religion into confusion,—having polluted both families, both the one which you have abandoned and the one which you have entered,—having violated the legitimate practices of the Romans with respect to guardianships and inheritances, you have been made, contrary to all the requirements of religion, the son of that man of whom you were old enough to be the father.

XIV. I am speaking before the priests; I say that that adoption did not take place according to the sacerdotal law. In the first place, because your respective ages are such that the man who has adopted you as your father might, as far as his age went, have been your son; in the second place, because a question is usually put as to the reason for the adoption, in order that the adopter may be a person who is seeking by regular and sacerdotal law that which by the ordinary process of nature he is no longer able to obtain; and that he may adopt a son in such a manner, as to in nowise impair the dignity of the families or the reverence belonging to their sacred ceremonies; and, above all things, that no false pretence, or fraud, or trickery, may creep in; so that this fictitious adoption of a son may appear to imitate as far as possible the real case of children being born to a man. But what greater false pretence can there be than for a beardless young man, a vigorous man and a husband, to come forward, and to say that he wishes to adopt as his own son a senator of the Roman people, and for all men to know and see that this senator is adopted, not in order to become really the son of the plebeian, but merely in order that he may quit the patrician body, and be made a tribune of the people? And all that without any disguise. For in this case the adopted son was immediately emancipated, lest he should really have become the son of him who adopted him. Why then is he adopted at all? Only approve of this sort of adoption, and in a moment the sacred ceremonies of every family, of which you ought to be the guardians, will be abolished, and not one patrician will be left. For why should any one be willing to be incapable of being made a tribune of the people? to have his power of standing for the consulship narrowed? and, while he might arrive at the priesthood, not to arrive at it because there is not a vacancy at the moment for a patrician? Ref. 003 Whenever anything happens to any one to make it more convenient for him to be a plebeian, he will be adopted in the same manner as Clodius. And so in a short time the Roman people will neither have a king Ref. 004 of the sacrifices, nor flamines, Ref. 005 nor Salii, Ref. 006 nor one half of the rest of the priests, nor any one who has a right to open the comitia centuriata, or curiata; and the auspices of the Roman people must come to an end if no patrician magistrates are created, as there will be no interrex, Ref. 007 for he must be a patrician, and must be nominated by a patrician. I said before the priests, that that adoption had not been approved by any decree of this college; that it had been executed contrary to every provision of the sacerdotal law; that it ought to be considered as no adoption at all; and if there is an end to that, you see at once that there is an end likewise of the whole of your tribuneship.

XV. I come now to the augurs—and if they have any secret books I do not inquire into them; I am not very curious about inquiring into the principles of the augurs. I know, what I have learnt in common with all the people, what answers they have frequently given in the public assemblies. They say that it is contrary to divine law for any public business to be brought before the people when any proper officer is observing the heavens. Will you venture to deny that, on the day when the Lex curiata Ref. 008 concerning you is said to have been passed, the magistrates were observing the heavens? A man is here present in court, of the most eminent wisdom, and dignity, and authority, Marcus Bibulus. I assert that on that very day he, as consul, was observing the heavens. “What then,” you will say, “are then the acts of Caius Cæsar, that most admirable citizen, invalid in your opinion?” By no means; for there is not one of them which concerns me in the least, nor anything else except these weapons which by that man’s proceedings are hurled at me. But the matter of the auspices, which I am now touching on with extreme brevity, has been handled in this manner by you. You, when your tribuneship was in danger and was falling to pieces as it were, all of a sudden came forward as a patron of the auspices; you brought forward Marcus Bibulus and the augurs into the assembly; you questioned the augurs, and they replied that when any magistrate was observing the heavens, no business could be transacted in the assembly of the people. You questioned Marcus Bibulus, and he told you in reply that he had been observing the heavens; and he also said in the public assembly, when he was brought forward there by your brother Appius, that you were no tribune of the people at all, because you had been adopted contrary to the auspices. In the succeeding months your language constantly was, that everything which Caius Cæsar had done ought to be rescinded by the senate, because they had been done in disregard of the auspices; and if they were rescinded, you said that you would bring me back on your own shoulders into the city as the guardian of the city. See now, O priests, the insanity of the man, when by means of his tribuneship he was connected to such an extent with the acts of Cæsar. If the priests deciding according to the law relating to sacrifices, and the augurs according to the religious observance due to the auspices, upset your whole tribuneship, what more do you ask? do you want some still more evident argument drawn from the rights of the people and the laws?

XVI. It was perhaps about the sixth hour when I complained in the court of justice (when I was defending Caius Antonius, my colleague,) of some things in the republic which appeared to me to relate to the cause of that unhappy man. What I said was reported by some wicked men to some very eminent citizens in language very different from that which I had employed. At the ninth hour on that very same day you were adopted. If, while in all other laws there ought to be an interval of three days, it is sufficient in a law respecting an adoption that there should be one of three hours, I have nothing to object to. But if the same forms are to be observed,—if the senate decreed that the people was not bound by the laws of Marcus Drusus, which had been passed contrary to the provisions of the Cæcilian Ref. 009 and Didian laws,—you must see that by every description of right which prevails with regard to sacred things, to the auspices, or to the laws, you were not elected tribune of the people. And it is not without reason that I say no more on this point, for I see that some most eminent men, the chief men of the city, have given their decision on different occasions, that you could legally proceed with matters which came before the common people; who said too, with reference to my own case, though they said that the republic was murdered and buried by your motion, still that that burial, miserable and bitter as it was, was all according to law: they said that in carrying such a motion as you had carried concerning me a citizen, and one who had deserved well of the republic, you had inflicted a deadly wound on the republic; but, inasmuch as you had carried it with all due reverence for the auspices, they said that you had acted legally. Wherefore we, I imagine, may be allowed to abstain from attacking those actions by which they were induced to approve of the establishment of your tribuneship.

Suppose, however, that you were as rightly and legally tribune as Rullus himself, who is here present, a man most illustrious and honourable on every account; still, by what law, or in accordance with what precedent or what custom, did you pass a law affecting, by name, the civil rights of a citizen who had not been condemned?

XVII. The sacred laws,—the laws of the Twelve Tables, forbid bills to be brought in affecting individuals only; for such a bill is a privilegium. No one has ever carried such a bill. There is nothing more cruel, nothing more mischievous, nothing which this city can less tolerate. What was it in that miserable proscription, and all the other miseries of Sylla’s time, which was the most remarkable thing which will prevent the cruelties then practised from being ever forgotten? I imagine it was the fact that punishments were at that time proclaimed on Roman citizens by name without any trial. Will you, then, O priests, by this decision, and by your authority, give a tribune of the people power to proscribe whomsoever he chooses? For I ask what else proscribing is, excepting proposing such a law as this, “That you will decide and order that Marcus Tullius shall no longer be in the city, and that his property may become mine?” For this is the effect of what he carried, though the language is somewhat different. Is this a resolution of the people? Is this a law? Is this a motion? Can you endure this? Can the city endure that a single citizen should be removed out of the city by a single line? I, indeed, have now endured my share. I have no more violence to fear; I am in dread of no further attacks. I have satisfied the hostility of those who envied me; I have appeased the hatred of wicked men; I have satiated even the treachery and wickedness of traitors; and, what is more, by this time every city, all ranks of men, all gods and men have expressed their opinion on my case, which appeared to those profligate men to be exposed above all others as a mark for unpopularity. You now, O priests, are bound, as becomes your authority and your wisdom, to have regard in your decision to your own interests, and to those of your children, and to the welfare of the rest of the citizens.

For as the forms of proceeding before the people have been appointed by our ancestors to be so moderate,—so that in the first place no punishment affecting a man’s status as a citizen can be joined to any pecuniary fine; in the next place, that no one can be accused except on a day previously appointed; again, that the prosecutor must accuse him before the magistrate three times, a day being allowed to intervene between each hearing, before the magistrate can inflict any fine or give any decision; and when there is a fourth hearing for the accusation appointed after seventeen Ref. 010 days, on a day appointed, on which the judge shall give his decision; and when many other concessions have been granted to the defendants to give them an opportunity of appeasing the prosecutor, or of exciting pity; and besides this, the people is a people inclined to listen to entreaties, and very apt to give their votes for a defendant’s safety; and, beyond all this, if anything prevents the cause from being proceeded with on that day, either because of the auspices, or on any other plea or excuse, then there is an end to the whole cause and to the whole business.

XVIII. As these things, then, are so, where is the accusation, where is the prosecutor, where are the witnesses? What is more scandalous, than when a man has neither been ordered to appear, nor summoned, nor accused, for hired men, assassins, needy and profligate citizens, to give a vote touching his status as a citizen, his children, and all his fortune, and then to think that vote a law? But if he was able to do this in my case, I being a man protected by the honours which I had attained, by the justice of my cause, and by the republic; and being not so rich as to make my money an object to my enemies, and who had nothing which could be injurious to me, except the great changes which were taking place in the affairs of the state, and the critical condition of the times; what is likely to happen to those men whose way of life is removed from popular honours, and from all that renown which gives influence, and whose riches are so great that too many men, needy, extravagant, and even of noble birth, covet them? Grant this licence to a tribune of the people, and then for a moment contemplate in your minds the youth of the city, and especially those men who seem now to be anxiously coveting the tribunitian power. There will be found, by Jove! whole colleges of tribunes of the people, if this law is once established, and they will all conspire against the property of all the richest men, when a booty so especially popular and the hope of great acquisitions is thus held out to them.

But what vote is it that this skilful and experienced lawgiver has carried? “May you be willing and may you command that Marcus Tullius be interdicted from water and fire.” A cruel vote, a nefarious vote, one not to be endured even in the case of the very wickedest citizen, without a trial. He did not propose a vote, “That he be interdicted.” What then? “That he has been interdicted.” O horrible, O prodigious, O what wickedness! Did Clodius frame this law, more infamous than even his own tongue?—that it has been interdicted to a person to whom it has not been interdicted? My good friend Sextus, by your leave, tell me now, since you are a logician and are devoted to this science, is it possible for a proposition to be made to the people, or to be established by any form of words, or to be confirmed by any votes, making that to have been done which has not been done? And have you ruined the public, with the man who drew this law for your adviser, and counsellor, and minister, a fellow more impure, not only than any biped, but even than any quadruped? And you were not so foolish or so mad as to be ignorant that this man who violated the laws was Clodius; but that there were other men who were accustomed to frame laws: but you had not the least power over any one of them, or over any one else who had any character to lose; nor could you employ the same framers of laws, or the same architects for your works, as the others; nor could you obtain the aid of any priest you chose. Lastly, you were not able to discover, not even when you were dividing your plunder, any purchaser, or any one to share your plunder with you, out of your own band of gladiators, nor any one to support that proscription of yours with his vote except some thief or assassin.

XIX. Therefore, when you, flourishing and powerful, were triumphing in the middle of your mob, those friends of yours, safe and happy in having you for their only friend, who had entrusted their fate to the people, were repelled Ref. 011 in such a way that they lost the support of even that Palatine Ref. 012 tribe of yours. They who came before a court of justice, whether as prosecutors or as defendants were condemned, though you endeavoured to beg them off. Lastly, even that new recruit, Ligur, your venal backer and seconder, when he had been disgraced by being passed over in the will of Marcus Papirius his brother, who expressed his opinion of him by that action, said that he desired to have a legal investigation into the circumstances of his death, and accused Sextus Propertius as accessory to it. He did not venture to accuse his partners of a crime in which they had no concern, and to endeavour to procure their condemnation, lest he himself should have been convicted of bringing false accusations.

We are speaking, then, of this law which appears to have been legally brought forward, while yet every one that has had anything to do with any part of it, either by hand, voice, vote, or by sharing in the plunder, wherever he has been, has come off rejected and convicted.

What shall we say if the proscription is framed in such terms that it repels itself? For it is, “Because Marcus Tullius has forged a decree of the senate.” If, then, he did forge a decree of the senate, the law was proposed; but if he did not forge one, no proposition has been made at all. Does it or does it not appear sufficiently decided by the senate that I did not falsely allege the authority of that order, but that I, of all the men that have ever lived since the foundation of the city, have been the most diligent in my obedience to the senate? In how many ways do I not prove that that which you call a law is no law at all? What shall we say if you brought many different matters before the people at one and the same time? Do you still think that what Marcus Drusus, that admirable man, could not obtain in most of his laws,—that what Marcus Scaurus and Lucius Crassus, men of consular rank, could not obtain, you can obtain through the agency of the Decumi and Clodii, the ministers of all your debaucheries and crimes? You carried a proposition respecting me, that I should not be received anywhere,—not that I should depart, when you yourself were not able to say that it was unlawful for me to remain in Rome.