Cicero : De Haruspicum Responso

This speech was delivered in the senate, concerning the interpretation of a response given by the haruspices, in 56 B.C.

The translation is by N.H. Watts (1928). Click on the L symbols to go to the Latin text of each section. Click on ** to go to the translator's footnotes.

[1.] L   [1] Conscript fathers: Yesterday, ** under the influence of the profound emotions inspired in me by your lofty demeanour and by the concourse of Roman knights, to whom you had vouchsafed an audience, I considered it to be my duty to repress. the shameless impudence displayed by Publius Clodius in endeavouring to obstruct the business dealing with the collectors of revenue by his fatuous questions in espousing the cause of Publius Tullio the Syrian, and in displaying his wares, before your very eyes, to this man, to whom he had sold himself body and soul. In pursuit of this end, I menaced him with the threat of action at law, and so checked forthwith his extravagant exultation ; indeed, two words had not escaped me before I had silenced his contumacious outburst. [2] But he was not altogether silenced ; for, totally regardless of the character of our consuls, he suddenly flung himself pale and fuming from the senate-house, crying empty threats that broke into stuttering upon his lips, and imprecating upon us the terrors of the régime of Piso and Gabinius. Making as though to follow him as he departed, I was deeply gratified by your rising to a man from your seats, while the collectors prepared to accompany me. But on a sudden, dumfounded, pale, and speechless, with the scowl dying from his brow, he halted; then he cast a backward glance, and as his gaze fell upon the consul Gnaeus Lentulus, he fell to the ground almost on the threshold of the senate-house, overcome, no doubt, by the recollection of his beloved Gabinius and by yearning for his lost Piso. How can I describe his unbridled and headstrong infatuation? Can any expressions I have at my command wound him more trenchantly than those whereby, at the actual time, Publius Servilius, that exemplary gentleman, summarily demolished and made an end of him? But even were I able to match his unrivalled and well-nigh superhuman energy and seriousness, I have no doubt that the missiles directed against Clodius by an enemy would seem blunter and less weighty than those discharged by his father's colleague. **

[2.] L   [3] I wish, however, to demonstrate the propriety of my conduct for the benefit of those who considered that under the stress of resentment and indignation I went yesterday to perhaps greater lengths than those to which a wise man by his reasoned principles might have been called upon to go. Nothing that I did was done in anger or upon uncontrolled impulse ; there was nothing that I had not long pondered and rehearsed some considerable time before. For I, conscript fathers, have always avowed my hostility to two men, who, though it was in their duty to defend, and in their power to preserve the republic and myself, and though they were summoned to the responsibilities of the consulship by the very external emblems of that lofty position, and to the cause of my protection not only by your authority but by your prayers, first deserted their trust, then betrayed, and finally assailed it, and designed to use the profits of their traitorous trafficking to effect my utter humiliation and annihilation along with that of the state ; and who, to their own profit, visited upon all my houses and estates those inflictions, in the shape of destruction, fire, demolition, harrying and rapine, which they were unable, by their leadership and their blood-stained and fatal tenure of power, to ward from the walls of our allies, or launch against the cities of our foemen. [4] With these furies and fire-brands, yes, with these pernicious portents who brought all but pestilence upon this empire, I do admit that I have entered upon implacable warfare: a war, albeit, which is itself not bitter enough to satisfy my resentment and that of those belonging to me, though it satisfies your own and that of all sound patriots.

[3.] L   But for Clodius my hatred is no greater to-day than it was on that day when I discovered that he had burnt his fingers in the fires of awful rites, and had been dismissed in his woman's garb from the house of the pontifex maximus which he had made the scene of vile adultery. ** It was then, then I say, that I marked and anticipated long before its arrival the fierce hurricane that was being roused, the furious tempest that was brewing to imperil the state. I saw that criminality so savage and effrontery so monstrous, displayed by a maddened and exasperated young nobleman, could not be kept within the limits of a peaceful existence ; but that one day, if it were allowed to go unchecked, the plague would break forth, fraught with ruin to the community. [5] True, indeed, that as regards myself there was little addition afterwards to his hate; he did nothing through hatred of me, but through hatred of austerity, of dignity, of the republic ; it was not me he attacked, so much as the senate, the Roman knights, the general body of patriots, and the whole of Italy ; in fact the crimes he committed against me were no more shocking than those which he committed against the immortal gods. Them indeed he assailed with an impiety hitherto unknown; but his animosity against me was no greater than that which would have actuated his friend Catiline, had he triumphed. Consequently I never thought myself called upon to accuse him, any more than to accuse that blockhead whom we should be at a loss how to classify, were it not that he characterised himself for us by his name of Ligur. ** For what need that I should vent my spleen upon such brute cattle as Clodius, who had browsed to his own bane upon the fodder and acorns of my enemies? If he has realised the nature of the sin that has enthralled him, I cannot doubt that he is the most wretched of men ; but if he is blind to this, he may attempt to defend himself by pleading congenital dulness of wit. [6] There is this too: the universal anticipation seems to have marked him down and allotted him as a victim to Titus Annius, ** that bravest and most renowned of men; and it would be most improper, in view of the fact that it is to his efforts that I myself owe the recovery of my position and my security, for me to filch from him a glory which is already his by promise and destiny. [4.] L   For indeed, even as the great Publius Scipio appears to me to have been destined from birth to work the doom and destruction of Carthage, which he alone, after many generals had besieged, attacked, shaken, and all but captured it, overthrew by what seemed a direct mission of fate, so Titus Annius seems to have been designed from birth and presented to the state as a heaven-sent gift, for the purpose of foiling, abolishing, and utterly extirpating that pestilence. He alone knows the proper method of not merely defeating but also of fettering an armed citizen, who intimidated some by stones or steel, who penned others in their houses, and who terrified with fire and slaughter the whole city, the senate-house, and all the temples. [7] Never of my own free will shall I deprive so noble a gentleman, whose services to the state and to myself are so eminent, of the man he accuses, above all when he is one whose enmity he not merely braved, but even coveted, in the cause of my restoration. ** But if even now, hampered though he be by manifold legal liabilities, enmeshed in the hatred of all loyal men, racked by the anticipation of a retribution that cannot now be long deferred, he shall still, though with many misgivings, be yet borne onward, and if, in spite of all his embarrassments, he shall yet try to assail me, I will stand my ground, and with Milo's permission, perhaps even with his assistance, I shall baffle his endeavours, even as yesterday, when he hurled unspoken threats at me as I stood speaking, I cowed him by my first syllables of reference to the law and legal proceedings. He sat down; I spoke no further word. Had he given me notice of prosecution, as he had threatened that he would, I would have contrived to make the praetor summon him on the spot for the third day from that. ** So let him be guided by the reflection, if he is content with the crimes he has already committed, that he has already been marked down for Milo; and that, if he launches any missile against me, I shall at once have resort to the weapon of law and legal proceedings.

[8] Now a short while ago, conscript fathers, he held a mass meeting, the proceedings of which were fully reported to me. Let me first give you an account of the topics discussed and the resolutions passed; then, when you have laughed at the fellow's effrontery, I will proceed to give you a detailed narrative of the meeting. [5.] L   Religious observances and rites, conscript fathers, were the matters which Clodius, if you please, laid before his mass meeting ; yes, Publius Clodius complained of the neglect, the violation, the desecration, of rites and sanctities! It is not surprising that to you this should seem a fit subject for laughter; why, his own meeting laughed at the thought that a fellow who, as he himself often brags, was paralysed by a hundred decrees of the senate, all of them pronounced against him for sacrilege, who had made the sacred banquet of the Good Goddess the scene of his adultery, and who had polluted rites, which it is a crime for a man's eyes to gaze upon even inadvertently, not only by his male presence, but by shocking licentiousness, should protest at a mass meeting against a want of regard for religion. [9] So now we look forward with keen anticipation to his next meeting on the subject of chastity. Chased from altars of the deepest sanctity, he raises his voice in protest on behalf of rites and sanctities ; and surely it would be an act only in keeping with such conduct that he should come forth from his sister's chamber to champion honour and chastity. He read to the meeting that response recently delivered by the soothsayers with regard to the strange noise that was heard, wherein the statement you yourselves have heard was comprised with many others, to the effect that "sacred and hallowed sites were being turned to secular purposes." In the course of his argument he asserted that my house had been consecrated by that most scrupulous of priests, Publius Clodius. [10] I am glad to have been given an opportunity, which is not only appropriate but quite irresistible, of speaking on the general theme of this prodigy, which I am inclined to believe is the most solemn that has been announced to this order for many years past; for you will find that this prodigy sod. the response occasioned thereby are nothing but a warning to us, uttered almost by the voice of Jupiter Best and Greatest, concerning Clodius' mad wickedness and the terrible dangers that threaten us. [11] But first I will extricate my house from its alleged sanctity, if I can do so truly, and so as to leave no shadow of doubt in anyone ; but if any should feel at the end that he still has the most minute misgiving, I shall not merely be content, but I shall even be delighted, to comply with the portents of the immortal gods and the obligations which they impose.

[6.] L   But, I would ask you, what house is there in all this great city which is so utterly void and free of this suspicion of sanctity as is my own? It is true that your houses, conscript fathers, and those of the general body of citizens are, in the vast majority of cases, free from sanctity, but mine is the only house in this city which has been absolved therefrom by every variety of judicial decision. I appeal to you, Lentulus, and to you, Philippus. As a result of this response of the soothsayers the senate decreed that a vote of this body should be taken on the subject of hallowed and consecrated sites. But can you possibly take a vote upon my house, which, as I have already said, is the only one in this city which has been absolved from all sanctity by every variety of judicial decision? In the first place my enemy himself, in that dark and stormy night of the state, never wrote a single letter attach ing sanctity to that house, though with that pen that he dipped in the vile effrontery of Sextus Clodius ** he had exhausted the whole catalogue of crimes; in the second place, the Roman people, whose authority is universal and paramount, decreed by the votes of all ages and orders given in the comitia centuriata that the legal standing of this house should remain as it had always been ; [12] and finally you, conscript fathers, decreed that the question of the sanctity of my house should be referred to the Pontifical College, not that there was any doubt about the matter, but in order that an interdict might be put upon this fury's utterance, should he remain any longer in this city which he was bent upon destroying. What sanctity can be so potent, that amid all our doubts and gravest scruples the plain pronouncement of Publius Servilius alone or of Marcus Lucullus cannot absolve us therefrom? In all matters of public rites, of the great games {ludi maximi, of the ceremonies of the household gods and of Vesta the Mother, and even of that sacrifice ** which is offered up for the welfare of the Roman people, a sacrifice which since Rome was founded has never been violated save by the wickedness of this spotless protector of sanctities, the decision of three pontifices has always been considered by the Roman people, by the senate, and by the immortal gods themselves, to be sufficiently sacred, venerable, and binding. But my house has been unanimously absolved from all sanctity by Publius Lentulus, consul and pontiff, by Publius Servilius, Marcus Lucullus, Quintus Metellus, Manius Glabrio, Marcus Messalla, Lucius Lentulus the flamen of Mars, Publius Galba, Quintus Metellus Scipio, Gaius Fannius, Marcus Lepidus, Lucius Claudius the King of Rites, ** Marcus Scaurus, Marcus Crassus, Gaius Curio, Sextus Caesar flamen of Quirinus, ** Quintus Cornelius, Publius Albinovanus, Quintus Terentius, sub-pontiffs, after two separate hearings of the case, in the presence of a vast throng of wise and influential citizens.

[7.] L   [13] I assert that never, since religion, which is coeval with the city itself, was established, has so numerous a meeting of the College pronounced upon any matter, no, not even upon the lives of Vestal Virgins. It is, no doubt, important for the proper investigation of a crime that the inquiry should be attended by as many persons as possible; for pontifical pronouncements are of such a nature that the powers of their College are as great as those of our juries. But while the interpretation of a point in religion can be validly given by a single expert pontiff, the application of this principle to a capital trial would involve harshness and injustice. You will thus find, however, that the meetings of the Pontifical College that gave judgement upon my house were more numerously attended than any of those that dealt with the ritual of the Vestals. On the following day a crowded senate decreed upon your suggestion, Lentulus, who were consul-elect, and upon the motion of the consuls Publius Lentulus and Quintus Metellus, all the pontiffs who were members of this order being present, and after others, who held high offices of the Roman people, had discussed the judgement of the College at some length, that the pontifical pronouncement had absolved my house from sanctity ; and the formulated decree was subscribed to by all those I have mentioned. [14] And is it to be concluded that the soothsayers alluded to this consecrated site rather than to any other, though it alone of all private sites possesses the peculiar privilege of having been declared, by the overseers of consecration themselves, free from consecration ? Give upon this matter the true vote which is demanded of you by that decree of the senate. Either the inquiry will rest with you, who were the first to pronounce an opinion concerning this house, and who declared it to be totally absolved of sanctity ; or the decision will belong to the senate, which has already given its decision in full house, with but one dissentient voice - that of yonder hierophant; or, which is bound in any case to occur, the question will be referred to the pontiffs, to whose authority, loyalty, and wisdom our ancestors entrusted all matters of religion and of private and public observance. And what verdict can they give other than that which they have already given? There are many houses in this city, conscript fathers, nearly all of them, I imagine, held upon incontrovertible legal title, but held upon private title, hereditary title, title of possession, of purchase, or of distraint. ** But I deny that there is any other house which is protected at once by an incontestable private title, and also by every important public title either of divine or of human origin, [15] seeing that it, in the first place, is erected at the public expense by authority of the senate, and seeing that, secondly, it has been fortified and barricaded by senatorial decrees to withstand the lawless assaults of this gladiator. [8.] L   Last year, in the first place, the duty of securing freedom for me to build without molestation was assigned to the same magistrates ** to whom the well-being of the whole community is usually entrusted in supreme crises ; and, in the second place, in view of the fact that Clodius had attempted to devastate my dwelling with stones, fire, and the sword, the senate decreed that the guilty persons should be amenable to the law of assault, which is enacted against those who have assailed the republic at large. Yes, it was upon our motion, O bravest and best of all consuls in human memory, that the senate again in full concourse decreed that whosoever should lay violent hands upon my house should be guilty of an act against the state. [16] I assert that there is no public work, no monument, and no temple concerning which so many senatorial decrees have been registered as my house, the only house since the foundation of the city which the senate has thought fit should be erected from the public treasury, absolved by the pontiffs, protected by the magistrates, and avenged by the juries. In recognition of his signal services to the republic Publius Valerius ** was presented by the state with a house upon the Velian hill, but my house upon the Palatine was restored by the state ; he was furnished with a site, but I was furnished with walls and roof as well; he was given a house to defend by his own efforts and upon his own private title, mine was to be defended as a matter of public interest by all the magistrates. Had I to thank myself for this, or had I received it from any other source, I should not thus proclaim it to you, lest I should seem over-boastful ; but as it is, since it is to you that I owe this gift, and since his tongue is now assailing what his hand before overthrew, though it has since been restored by your hands to me and to my children, it is not of my own deeds but of yours that I am speaking, and I have no fear lest my present eulogy of your kindness should seem prompted rather by self-satisfaction than by gratitude. [17] And yet if, after having faced such bitter toils for the welfare of the community, a sense of resentment, as I refuted the slanders of the unscrupulous, should lead me so far to forget myself as to boast, who would not pardon me? Yesterday I marked one that muttered beneath his breath ; and I was told that he murmured that I was intolerable, because, when this same loathsome traitor asked me to what state I belonged, I answered, amid the plaudits of yourselves and of the Roman knights, "To a state which could not exist without me." My reply drew a groan from the man, I believe. And what other reply could I have given ? I put the question to that very man who finds me intolerable. Should I have replied that I was a citizen of Rome? I should have answered to the letter of his question. Ought I to have remained speechless? It would have signified surrender. Is there any man, whose weighty activities have gained him enemies, who can reply with adequate impressiveness to the insults of an opponent without glorifying himself? But Clodius himself, when challenged, not only makes any reply that occurs to him, but is only too relieved that he has friends ready to prompt him how to answer.

[9.] L   [18] But since the question affecting myself has been satisfactorily disposed of, let us now consider what the soothsayers say. For I must admit that I have been deeply impressed both by the awe-inspiring nature of the prodigy and the solemnity of its interpretation, and the firm and unwavering utterances of the soothsayers; and indeed, though I may perhaps appear to some to be a greater student of literature than others whose lives are as full of distractions as my own, my natural bent does not lead me to find any pleasure in, or indeed any use whatsoever for, such literature as tends to discourage and withdraw our minds from religion. In the first place, speaking for myself, I look for authority and guidance in religious observance to our ancestors, whose wisdom seems to me to have been so unquestionable that those who are able, I will not say to reach the level of, but only to have gained an insight into, their sagacity, themselves possess sagacity which is sufficient, and more than sufficient. In their view, all prescribed and liturgical ceremonies depended upon the Pontificate, and all regulations determining auspicious action upon augury ; they thought that the ancient prophecies of the oracle of Apollo were comprised in the books of the seers, and all interpretations of prodigies in the lore of the Etruscans ; and indeed the efficacy of this last is shown by the fact that even in our memory unmistakable predictions were given shortly before each event, first of the calamitous outbreak of the Italian war, later of the perilous days of Sulla and Cinna that so nearly proved fatal, and more recently still, of the conspiracy to burn and destroy the city. [19] In the second place, such leisure as I have had has enabled me to learn that wise and inspired men have uttered numerous maxims and left behind them numerous writings dealing with the deity of the immortal gods; and though I realize that these works are inspired of heaven, still their nature is such that our ancestors seem to have taught the writers rather than learned from them. ** And, indeed, who is so witless that, when he gazes up into heaven, he fails to see that gods exist, and imagines that chance is responsible for the creations of an intelligence so transcendent that scarce can the highest artistry do justice to the immutable dispositions of the universe ? Or who, once convinced that divinity does exist, can fail at the same time to be convinced that it is by its power that this great empire has been created, extended, and sustained ? However good be our conceit of ourselves, conscript fathers, we have excelled neither Spain in population, nor Gaul in vigour, nor Carthage in versatility, nor Greece in art, nor indeed Italy and Latium itself in the innate sensibility characteristic of this land and its peoples ; but in piety, in devotion to religion, and in that special wisdom which consists in the recognition of the truth that the world is swayed and directed by divine disposal, we have excelled every race and every nation.

[10.] L   [20] Wherefore, to speak at no further length upon a matter that admits of no doubt, give me your attention, and apply your minds, and not your ears alone, to this sentence in the pronouncement of the soothsayers: ''Inasmuch as a rumbling and a noise have been heard in the Latin Lands." ** I will dispense with the soothsayers; I will dispense with the lore which, as popular rumour has it, was committed to Etruria by the immortal gods; for cannot we ourselves be our own soothsayers? "In the immediate outskirts of the city there has been heard a subterranean rumbling and an awful noise as of arms." Who, even from among those giants who, as the poets tell us, waged war against the immortal gods, is so impious as not to confess that in this strange and dire upheaval the gods are prophesying and predicting some mighty destiny for the Roman people? "Arrears of sacrifice are due to Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune, Earth, and to the gods of heaven" : that is how the pronouncement in connexion with this event runs. [21] I am told here the names of the gods whose dishonour imposes upon us the duty of expiation, but I have yet to learn in what human misdoings this dishonour consists. "The games have been performed with laxity, and have been desecrated." What games? I appeal to you, Lentulus, for to your sacred office belong the processional chariots and cars, the preliminary chant, the games, and the libations and banquets attached thereto, and to you, pontiffs, to whom all faults of ceremonial omission and commission are reported by the sacred stewards of Jupiter Best and Greatest, and upon whose judgement those ceremonies are recommenced and repeated. What are these games that have been performed with laxity, and when or by what crime have they been desecrated? You will answer on behalf of yourselves and your colleagues, and indeed of the whole Pontifical College, that there has been no oversight due to anyone's neglect, no desecration due to anyone's crime; all the prescriptions and regulations of the games have been observed with irreproachable scruple and punctilious ceremony.

[11.] L   [22] What games, then, are these which the soothsayers assert to have been performed with laxity and to have been desecrated ? They are the games of which the immortal gods themselves and the great Idaean Mother ** willed that you, you, Gnaeus Lentulus, whose grandsire's grandsire with his own hands welcomed her, should be a spectator. For had you not on that day chosen to view the games of the Great Mother, it is my belief that we should not have been permitted to survive and raise our present protest. For innumerable bands of slaves that had been mustered by this scrupulous aedile ** from every quarter of the city, and had been incited for the occasion, were suddenly let loose upon us from every archway and entry, and at a given signal burst on to the stage. Then it was that you, yes, you, Lentulus, showed the same courage as your great-grandfather showed of old in a private capacity ; it was you, your name, your authority, your utterance, your majestic presence, and your resolute vigour, in support of which the senate and the knights of Rome and all true patriots rose to their feet, when Clodius exposed that senate and that Roman people to the mercies of a mob of jeering slaves, imprisoned and rendered powerless as they were in the tightly packed seats of the auditorium, and hampered by the confusion of the narrow exits. [23] What? If the dancer has stood still, or if the flute-player has suddenly become mute, if the boy whose father and mother are alive has not kept to his chariot or has let the rein slip, if the aedile made a mistake in the formula or in the handling of the sacred vessel, then the games have not been duly performed, expiation is offered for the mistakes, and the feelings of the immortal gods are appeased by a recommencement of the games; and when the spirit of the games has been changed from joy to terror, when they have been not merely interrupted, but irreparably ruined, and when its dates, for the whole state, have become, not festal, but fatal, through the wickedness of one who wished to turn merry-making to mourning, shall we have any doubt what games are those which this noise declares to have been desecrated ? ** [24] Further, if we will only call to mind the traditions we have received concerning our several deities, we shall surely remember to have heard that this Great Mother, whose games have been polluted, desecrated, and even made an occasion of massacre and fatality to the community, yes, that even she walks abroad through our fields and woods to the accompaniment of strange murmurs and rumblings. [12.] L   Surely, then, it is none other than she who has manifested these intimations of guilt and displayed these signals of danger to the Roman people.

For why enlarge upon those games, ** which our ancestors decreed should be performed and celebrated on the Palatine before the temple and under the very eyes of the Great Mother upon the days known as Megalesia; games which are by tradition and by usage pious, solemn, and venerable beyond all others; games whereat the elder Publius Africanus, when consul for the second time, gave the first view to the senate before the people had assembled ; and all this, that these same games might be desecrated by this loathsome blight? Yes! games where any freeman who came as spectator or even out of piety was mishandled, where no matron dared approach, for fear of violence from the throngs of slaves. So these games, the sanctity whereof is so deep that it has been summoned from distant lands and planted in this city, the only games which are not even called by a Latin name, that. their very title might indicate the domestication of a foreign cult, adopted in honour of the Great Mother, these games, I say, were performed by slaves, viewed by slaves, and were indeed converted under Clodius' aedileship into a Megalesia of slaves. [25] O immortal gods! how could ye speak with us more clearly, if ye were with us and moving in our midst? Ye have signified and ye openly declare that the games have been desecrated. What greater example of pollution, dishonour, distortion, and confusion can be quoted, than that the whole of our slave population, liberated by permission of a magistrate, should have been let loose upon one stage and given control of another, with the result that the audience of one was exposed to the mercy of slaves, while that of the other was composed of slaves alone? Had a swarm of bees come upon the stage or into the auditorium at the games, we should think it necessary to summon soothsayers from Etruria ; and do we feel no alarm when not a man of us but sees such numerous swarms of slaves launched suddenly upon the Roman people packed within the walls of a building ? Indeed, were a swarm of bees actually in question, the soothsayers might perchance warn us, after reference to their Etrurian books, to beware of our slave population. [26] Were this warning manifested to us by some alien and allegorical portent we should take precautions accordingly ; and, when the portent is itself what it portends, and when an event is at once an augury of peril and a peril in itself, are we not terrified ? Was it after this fashion that your father held the Megalesia, or your uncle? Does Clodius actually call my attention to his birth, though he has preferred, in his performance of the games, to model himself upon Athenio or Spartacus, ** rather than upon a Gaius or an Appius of those whose name he bears ? When they held the games, they bade slaves depart from the auditorium ; you let slaves loose upon one auditorium, and ejected freemen from the other. Those who of old were separated from the free upon a herald's proclamation, at your games separated the free from themselves not by proclamation but by force. [13.] L   Did not even this ever occur to you, priest of the Sibyl that you are, that it was from your books that our ancestors derived this rite ? - if, indeed, those books can be called yours, which you search with impious purpose, peruse with jaundiced vision, and handle with contaminated fingers. [27] And it was upon the representations of this prophetess that once, when Italy was worn out by the Carthaginian war and harassed by Hannibal, our ancestors appropriated these rites from Phrygia and established them at Rome. They were welcomed by the man who was judged to be the most exemplary among the Roman people, Publius Scipio, and by the woman who was held to be the chastest of the matrons, Quinta Claudia, whose antique severity your sister is considered to have reproduced to admiration. And did not the association of your ancestors with these rites, or the priestly office from which this cult receives its exclusive authority, or the curule aedileship which has ever been its chief protection, prevail upon you to forbear from desecrating by every enormity, staining by every indignity, and stigmatising by every crime, games of the most hallowed sanctity ? [28] But why should this excite my surprise, when I remember that you were induced by a bribe actually to devastate Pessinus, ** the very seat and dwelling-place of the Mother of the gods; that to Brogitarus ** the Gallograecian, an impious and abandoned man, whose emissaries, when you were tribune, used to distribute money to your gangs in the temple of Castor, you sold the whole region of Pessinus with its shrine; that you dragged its priest from the very altars and sacred couches; that you overthrew everything that had at all times been held in deep devotion by past generations, by Persians, by Syrians, and by all kings who have ever held rule in Europe and in Asia, and to which even our own ancestors attributed such sanctity that, though we had at our disposal the city and Italy, both rich in sacred places, our generals made vows to this goddess in their greatest and most perilous wars, vows which they discharged in Pessinus itself, laying their offerings before the principal altar of the shrine in that place. [29] And though this shrine was devotedly watched over with characteristic piety by Deiotarus, whose unflinching loyalty to our empire and ardent attachment to our authority has been absolutely peerless, you adjudicated it and delivered it over to Brogitarus, as I have already mentioned, for a money payment. Moreover, though this Deiotarus has repeatedly been adjudged by the senate to be worthy of the title of king, and though he has been distinguished by the recommendations of our most brilliant generals, you actually order that he shall share that title with Brogitarus. The former, however, owes his kingly title, through us, to the senatorial pronouncement, while Brogitarus owes his, through you, to the price which he paid you. ** . . . I shall believe the other to be a king when he has found the means to pay you what you advanced him under a note of hand. Deiotarus has many kingly qualities, but in nothing has he shown his character more than in his refusal to give you a single penny ; in not repudiating that clause in your law which agreed with the senate's pronouncement in according him the name of king ; in his recovery of Pessinus, which you had wickedly desecrated and deprived of its priest and its rite, that he might maintain it in its time-honoured cult ; in his not permitting ceremonies which were the bequest of an unbroken past to be polluted by Brogitarus ; and in preferring that his son-in-law ** should lose your bounty rather than that this shrine should lose its immemorial sanctity. But, to return to these responses of the soothsayers, the first clause of which deals with the games, who is there who will not admit that it is the games administered by Clodius to which the declaration and response exclusively refer ?

[30] There follows the question of consecrated sites, the violation of which is an offence against religion. [14.] L   O miracle of shamelessness! Have you the face to bring my house into the discussion? Rather resign your own house, to the consuls, or to the senate, or to the College of Pontiffs, as you please. Mine, at all events, has been exonerated by pronouncements of all these three, as I have already shown. But in the house which you are enabled to occupy by your bare-faced murder of that excellent gentleman and Roman knight, Quintus Seius, stood, so I assert, a shrine and altars. I will demonstrate this beyond all doubt by reference to the registers of the censors and the recollection of many persons. [31] Do ** but let this question be discussed (and in accordance with the decree of the senate which has been recently passed the matter must inevitably come up before you), and I am prepared to say somewhat concerning inviolable sites. When I have finished speaking about our house (I call it yours, but the shrine which it holds is built into it in such a way that, while another constructed it, all you can do is to demolish it), then I shall see whether it is necessary for me to make any further reference to other houses as well. Now there are many who hold that I am responsible for the fact that the sanctuary ** in the temple of Earth was exposed to public view. It is said that this exposure took place recently, and I myself recollect it. Now it is said that the most sacred part and the spot which is most hallowed is within the limits of a private vestibule. Many considerations weigh with me: first, the temple of Earth comes within the sphere of my administration ; next, the man who did destroy that sanctuary ** was in the habit of asserting that my house, which had been exonerated by the pronouncement of the pontiffs, had been adjudged in his brother's favour. I am also influenced, in the present dearness of corn, failure of crops, and scarcity of provisions, by my devotion to the cult of Earth, the more so because we are told that this prodigy points to arrears of sacrifice being due to Earth. [32] I may perhaps be speaking in an old-fashioned strain ; but though not a written law of the civil code, it is none the less a legal ordinance of nature and of the equity which is shared by all nations, that mortals can take by right of usufruct ** nothing that belongs to the immortal gods. [15.] L   But, neglecting antiquity as we do, shall we also neglect what takes place as never before, what goes on now before our eyes? Surely there can be none of us who does not know that in these very days Lucius Piso has destroyed a magnificent and venerable shrine of Diana, situated on the lesser Caelian. ** There are those here whose dwellings adjoin the site ; and moreover there are many members of this order who have performed the annual sacrifices of their clan in this very shrine, which was the place appointed for such. And do we ask what sites are those of which the immortal gods feel themselves deprived? Do we ask what is the meaning or theme of their utterance? Are we ignorant that Sextus Serranus has undermined, or walled up, or overthrown, or even defiled with the lowest infamy, shrines of the deepest sanctity ?

[33] Could you, Sir, attach inviolability to my house? What reflection could you have acted upon, you, who had abandoned all reflection? What agency of yours effected this, when you had been an agent but for its destruction? Where was the voice that declared its sanctity, when yours had but given the word for its conflagration? Or where the law that enacted it, when you had indicted none such, even in the days of your impunity ? Where was the sacrificial couch? You had employed it but for adultery. Where the image ? One that you had filched from a harlot's tomb and planted upon a great general's monument. ** What other inviolability does my house possess, save that it adjoins the walls of an impure and sacrilegious man? Wherefore, that none of my dear ones may be able inadvertently to look through the windows of your house, and see you performing those rites of yours, I will raise its stories higher, not that I may look down upon you, but that you may not gaze upon the city which you desired to destroy.

[16.] L   [34] Let us now consider the remaining answers of the soothsayers. "Ambassadors have been slain contrary to law human and divine." What is the meaning of this? I see that it is popularly referred to the Alexandrian legates ** ; and I do not gainsay the opinion. For I hold that ambassadorial rights, fortified as they are by human protection, are also reinforced by divine ordinance. But I ask him who, when tribune, let loose a flood of informers from prison upon the forum, him at whose mandate alone the dagger and the poisoned draught go about their work, him who made out the notes of hand with Hermarchus the Chian, whether he has any knowledge of the fact that Theodosius, ** the bitterest of all the enemies of Hermarchus, was stabbed with a dagger when acting as the ambassador of a free community to the senate. I am perfectly sure that this act was no less shameful in the eyes of the immortal gods than the murder of the Alexandrians. [35] Not that I now impute all these crimes solely to you. We should have better assurance of well-being if none save you were tainted : but there are others; and this fact, which increases your confidence, makes us, almost justly, less confident. Is it not an acknowledged fact that one Plator, a noble and a celebrity in his own land, came from Orestis, a free district of Macedonia, to Thessalonica upon a mission to our "imperator", ** as he calls himself? Or that Clodius, failing to extort from him a sum of money, threw him into prison, and dispatched thither his physician that he might most abominably and brutally open the veins of an ambassador, who was our independent ally and friend? He would not stain his axes with the blood of outrage ; but he defiled the name of the Roman people with outrage so foul, that there are no means of expiating it save by the condign punishment of the perpetrator. What manner of men are we to think are his executioners, when he employs even his physicians not to save life, but to take it ?

[17.] L   [36] But let us read on and see what follows. "Fealty and oath has been neglected." The meaning of this clause, if taken independently, I find difficulty in explaining, but the context leads me to suspect that the reference is to the perjury which is universally admitted to have been practised by jurymen of yours, ** who once would have had their money wrested from them by force had they not appealed to the protection of the senate. And the reason for my suspicion that it is to this that the response refers is that this, as I hold, is the most glaring and outstanding instance of perjury of which this state has record, and that, in spite of this, no charge of perjury is laid against yourself by those with whom you conspired. **

[37] I see that this further addition has been made to the response of the soothsayers: "Ancient and secret sacrifices have been performed with laxity, and have been desecrated." Is it the soothsayers who utter these words, or the gods of our ancestors and of our households? For we are to believe that there are many on whom suspicion of this misdemeanour may fall But on whom could it fall save on Clodius alone? Is it stated ambiguously what rites are those that have been desecrated ? What statement could be clearer, more peremptory, or more impressive ? '' Ancient and secret." Why, when that grave and eloquent orator Lentulus accused you, there were no words of which he made more frequent use than these which are now quoted from the Etruscan books, and interpreted as pointing directly at you. And indeed what sacrifice is so ancient as that which we received from our kings, and which is coeval with our city ? Or what so secret as that which fences itself against the eyes not only of the inquisitive, but even of the idle, and to which access is debarred. not merely from wickedness, but even from inadvertency ? A sacrifice, too, which none in all history violated before Publius Clodius, none ever approached, none made light of ; a sacrifice from the sight of which no man but shrank with horror; a sacrifice performed by Vestal Virgins on behalf of the Roman people, performed in the house of a magistrate and with the most exact ceremonial, in honour of a goddess whose very name men are not permitted to know, whom Clodius addresses as "Good" on the ground that she has forgiven his fearful wickedness. [18.] L   No, believe me, she has not forgiven you ; unless, indeed, you imagine yourself forgiven because your judges, having shaken the last penny from your pockets, sent you forth acquitted by their verdict, though condemned by that of the world at large, or because you did not suffer loss of sight, which sacrilege against that rite is popularly held to involve. [38] But what man before you had deliberately looked upon those rites, so that we might be informed as to what penalty was the natural consequence of such a crime? Or could blinded sight be a sterner retribution upon you than your blind lust? Is even this lost upon you, that your ancestor's sightless eyes were more desirable possessions than your sister's "wells of fire ** " ? In your case, if you will mark my words closely, you will find that it is human, and not divine, retribution that has hitherto been lacking. It was by mortals that you were defended in this loathsome business, from mortals that your deep guilt and degradation drew praise, mortals who gave you a verdict of acquittal though you all but avowed your sin, mortals who expressed no resentment at the affront which your adultery had inflicted upon them, mortals who put into your hands weapons to be used either against me, or, later, against our invincible fellow-citizen ** ; mortals, I grant you freely, have done you benefits that could not be exceeded. [39] But what punishment could be visited upon a man by the immortal gods severer than madness and infatuation? Unless, indeed, you can think that those tragic heroes you see upon the stage, tortured and worn by the anguish of physical wounds, are meeting a direr visitation of divine anger than those who are represented to us raving. The shrieks and groans of Philoctetes, heart-rending though they be, do not speak such wretchedness as the exulting cries of Athamas ** or the remorse of long-lived matricides. When you utter your frenzied phrases at mob-meetings, when you overturn the houses of citizens, when you drive honest men with stones from the forum, when you hurl blazing torches on your neighbours' roofs, when you set fire to sacred buildings, when you stir up slaves, when you throw sacrifices and games into turmoil, when you know no distinction between wife and sister, when you bethink you not what bed-chamber you enter, then, then it is that you rave in delirium, and undergo the only punishments determined by the immortal gods to requite the wickedness of men. The very frailty of our physical structure exposes it to many disasters ; and, indeed, often the structure is even destroyed by the slightest of influences ; but it is against the minds of the wicked that the darts of the gods are launched. Wherefore you are more wretched when your eyes only serve to hurry you into all manner of crime than if you had no eyes at all.

[19.] L   [40] But since we have now said enough with regard to the misdoings alleged by the soothsayers to have been committed, let us see what is the warning which these soothsayers assert is given to us by the immortal gods. The warning is this: "Let not death and danger be wrought for the fathers and for statesmen by reason of the discord and division of the nobles, and let them not be bereft of divine power; and let the state lapse not to the rule of one." ** I have quoted the sentence of the soothsayers to the letter, inserting not a syllable of my own. Well, who is fomenting discord among the nobles? Clodius again, and he is enabled to do this not by any powers of intellect or political skill, but by a spirit of delusion which is upon us; he has been quick to recognise this spirit, and indeed its presence was palpable. For the very fact that not even Clodius assails the republic openly only makes her degradation the more humiliating ; were he to do so, she would at least seem to fall honourably, even as the brave warrior who, doing battle with a foeman no less brave, takes all his wounds in front. [41] The stability of the community was shattered by Tiberius Gracchus, so distinguished by strength of character, by eloquence, and by reputation, that, save for his desertion of the senatorial cause, he had swerved not in the least degree from the eminent and remarkable qualities of his father and his grandfather Africanus. His policy was followed by Gaius Gracchus, whose genius, eloquence, vigour, and impressive utterances only inspired patriots with regret that such superb endowments were not applied to better purposes and ambitions. Saturninus ** himself was so unrestrained, and almost unbalanced, that he wielded an extraordinary influence, and was a consummate exciter and inflamer of the unschooled mind. What need to speak of Sulpicius, ** whose oratorical style was marked by such weight, charm, and terseness, that his words could lead even the wise astray, and undermine the loyalty even of the loyal? To grapple with such men as these, to join issue with them daily for our country's sake, was a task which the statesmen of the day found wholly burdensome ; and yet the very fact of its being burdensome lent it a certain dignity.

[20.] L   [42] But as for this fellow upon whom even I myself am now spending so many words, what is he, O gods! What power does he possess, what influence does he exert, in virtue of which this great state may be said, should it fall (which heaven forfend !), at least to have been overthrown by a Man? After his father's death he surrendered the early years of his callow youth to the evil passions of wealthy debauchees, and when he had sated their incontinence he wallowed in domestic adultery in defiance of natural kinship. In due course, with the growth of physical vigour, he entered upon provincial duties and a military career, and incidentally endured the insults of pirates and glutted the lusts even of Cilicians and barbarians. Then, after having endeavoured, with abominable wickedness, to sap the loyalty of the army of Lucius Lucullus, ** he fled thence and came to Rome, where, shortly after his arrival, he compounded with his kinsfolk, whom he had threatened with arraignment, and received a bribe from Catiline to join him in a nefarious collusion. He then proceeded with Murena to Gaul, and in this province he forged dead men's wills, murdered wards, and formed many criminal compacts and associations. Returning from that province, he harvested into his own pockets all the rich and fruitful profits of the campus; yet we find this idol of the people unscrupulously defrauding the people, and this humane gentleman heartlessly butchering at his own house the distributors ** of all the tribes. [43] Then began that quaestorship, so fraught with disaster to the republic, to the ceremonies and observances of religion, to your authority, and to the public administration of justice ; during his tenure of this he abused gods and men, honour, chastity, the senate's authority, equity, right, the constitution, and the courts. This position - O the misery of the times in which we live, and the folly of our discords ! - this position was the first step taken by Clodius in his political career, the first rung of the ladder of demagogic self-glorification. Tiberius Gracchus had been a party to the signing of the treaty at Numantia while acting as quaestor to the consul Mancinus; and the unpopularity he gained from this, together with the uncompromising attitude of the senate in withholding their assent from this treaty, inspired him with resentment and apprehension, a combination of circumstances which compelled that gallant and distinguished man to sever himself from the lofty policy of the fathers. Gaius Gracchus, on the other hand, was stirred by his brother's death, his natural affections, his grief, and his indomitable spirit, to wreak vengeance for the shedding of the blood of his house. Saturninus, as we know, became a democrat {popularis} from indignation at the act of the senate, which, under the stress of a temporary dearness of corn, took from him, as quaestor, his administration of supplies, and transferred it to Marcus Scaurus ; while Sulpicius, whose resistance to the illegal candidature for the consulship of Gaius Julius ** had at the outset been fully justified, was ultimately carried by the breeze of popular support to greater lengths than he had purposed to go.

[21.] L   [44] The courses which all these adopted were determined by reasons, not indeed such as to justify those courses - for no reason can ever justify disservice to the state, - but at all events cogent reasons, combined with sentiments of high-spirited resentment; but Publius Clodius suddenly emerged from his saffron robe, his frontlet, his womanish slippers and purple hose, his breast-band, his psaltery, and his monstrous debaucheries - a fully-fledged demagogue. Had it been others than women who had caught him in this finery, had not the good offices of maid-servants permitted him to depart from a place which it was impious for him to have approached, the Roman people would now be without their demagogue, and the state without such a model of civic virtue. Thanks to the infatuation of our present civil strife, which is the subject of the warning recently given us by the immortal gods through these very prodigies now in question, the one man who had no business to become tribune of the plebs has been snatched from the patrician body. [45] The strenuous, concerted, and unanimous opposition and resistance which had been offered in the previous year by his cousin Metellus and a senate which was even then united, and which was supported by a speech which Gnaeus Pompeius, leader of the senate, delivered, was, after the split among the nobles, which is what we are now warned against, so utterly disintegrated and altered that what Clodius' cousin, when consul, had striven to prevent, and what his distinguished kinsman and comrade, ** who had not approved that he should be put on his trial, had opposed, was during the feud between our leaders brought about by that consul ** who might have been expected to be Clodius' worst foe, while he also said that the authority upon which he had acted was such that none could be dissatisfied with it. ** A torch foul and fraught with sorrow was hurled at the state; it was aimed at your authority, at the dignity of the highest orders, the union of all patriots, in a word, at the whole fabric of our society. These at all events were the ultimate aim, when the incendiarism of the times vented their fury upon me, who was the detecter of all these. ** I met the flame; I blazed alone for my country ; but nevertheless those flames hedged you about on all sides, and I was but the first victim whom you saw smitten and smoking to save you. [22.] L   [46] And so far from our discords being allayed, hatred even waxed strong against those by whom it was thought we were being championed. And now, behold, I have been restored, and my restoration has been due to the proposals of these same men, and to the lead given by Pompeius, who, when Italy longed for me, when you demanded me, and when the Roman people earned for me, roused all of them, not only by his authority but even by his entreaties, to procure my deliverance. Now at length let there be an end to our discords ; let us find repose from our protracted quarrels. But that same breeder of pestilence will not permit this; his mass meetings, his subversive and turbulent activities, are but the means whereby he sells himself now to this party and now to that ; but with and through it all, no one counts praise from Clodius any addition to his praise; they do but rejoice to hear him vilify those whom they dislike. And indeed it is not him I wonder at; for how else could he act? I wonder rather at these sage and serious persons: first, that they tolerate that any man of renown who has often done high service to the republic should be assailed by the utterance of a vile scoundrel; secondly, that they should think it possible that the slanders of an abandoned profligate (and indeed it would be small gain to themselves if it did so) should impair any man's credit and reputation ; and lastly, that they do not realise (though I think they are beginning to suspect it) that his irrational and desultory attacks may recoil upon their own heads. [47] And one fruit of this unreasonable estrangement between party and party is that those darts which, though painful in all conscience, yet lost somewhat of their sting when they were fixed in me alone, are now fixed in the republic. Again, had not Clodius at the outset surrendered himself to men whose sympathies, as he thought, were alienated from your authority ; did he not, expert judge of character that he is, exalt their praises to heaven; did he not threaten that Gaius Caesar's army - herein he tried to deceive us, but none refuted him - that this army would be let loose by him upon the senate-house prepared for hostile action ; did he not brag that his proceedings were abetted by Gnaeus Pompeius and instigated by Marcus Crassus; did he not assert (the only assertion he made which was not a lie) that the consuls had made common cause with him, - could he ever have harassed me so unmercifully, and the state so abominably ?

[23.] L   [48] Then again, when he saw that you were relieved of your apprehensions of massacre, that your authority was raising its head above the waves of servitude, and that yearning memories of me were stirring afresh in men's hearts, he suddenly began, like the arrant swindler that he is, to display his wares to you; then he asserted both in this house and at mass meetings that the Julian laws ** had been carried in defiance of the auspices; among these was the law carried in the curiate assembly which comprised all the acts of his tribunate, though he was so blinded by frenzy that he never remarked this. He brought forward that gallant gentleman Marcus Bibulus, ** and asked him whether he had been assiduous in observing the sky, while Caesar was introducing his laws. Bibulus replied in the affirmative. He questioned the augurs as to whether legislation so carried had been validly carried ; they replied that there was a flaw in the process. The fellow was looked upon with favour by certain men of sound views who had done me good service, but who, as I think, were blind to his recklessness. He went to yet further lengths; he began to attack Gnaeus Pompeius himself, the inspirer, as he was in the habit of proclaiming, of his policy ; he began to ingratiate himself with not a few. [49] Then indeed he was fired with a hope that, since by an impious crime he had humiliated the civilian queller of intestine war, he could assail him too, yes, him who had waged triumphant war against foreign foes; then that crime-stained dagger ** that so nearly achieved the extinction of this empire was found upon him in the temple of Castor; then that great man, against whom no hostile city had barred her gates for long, he who by his energy and valour had burst his way through every breach, however narrow, and scaled every wall, however high, was actually besieged in his own house, and by the course he chose to pursue absolved me from the reproach of cowardice which had been fastened upon me by many who were unacquainted with the facts. For if Gnaeus Pompeius, the bravest of all men born, found it not so much ignominious as miserable not to look upon the daylight, while Clodius was tribune of the plebs, to resign his public activities, and to endure Clodius' threats, when he said in mass meetings that he intended to build a second portico in the Carinae ** to correspond with that on the Palatine, then surely, though it was a grievous personal blow for me to be banished from my home, yet at the same time, inasmuch as it was a course that accorded with the interest of the republic, it was glorious.

[24.] L   [50] So now you see the fellow roused by the mischievous dissensions of the nobles from the long prostration and impotence to which his own conduct had brought him, though at the outset the first essays of his madness were nourished upon the differences of those ** who at the time seemed to be out of sympathy with you. The remaining acts of his tribunate, when it had begun to rush headlong upon ruin, were defended, even after he was tribune no longer, by the belittlers and opponents ** of those whom I have just mentioned ; they opposed the removal from the state of the state's curse, they opposed his arraignment, even his reduction to private status. Is it possible that certain men, excellent in all else, could have brought themselves to hug to their hearts that envenomed and pestilential viper? What, I should like to know, was the bait whereby they were deceived? "It is my wish," says one and another, "that Pompeius should have his detractors at mass meetings." What! could he suffer detraction from the vilification of Clodius ? It is my hope that that great man, to whom I am so deeply indebted for my restoration, may understand this in the sense in which it is said ; I, at all events, shall say only what I feel. I do declare that it was when Clodius extolled Pompeius with his highest congratulations, then, so it seemed to me, he was detracting from his splendid reputation. [51] I ask you, was the fame of Gaius Marius brighter when Gaius Glaucia ** was panegyrising him, or when he later vented his wrath upon him in abuse? What! did that madman, who had for long been blindly rushing upon doom and retribution, show in any viler or more detestable light when he was accusing Gnaeus Pompeius than when he was abusing the senate general ? What surprises me in this is that this latter act of Clodius should not be viewed with disgust by such good patriots, since they find their indignation gratified by the former. But that excellent gentlemen may cease to feel delight at such behaviour, let them read the proceedings of that mass meeting of Clodius of which I speak, in which he compliments, or shall I rather say defames, Pompeius. At all events, he congratulates him, asserting that he is the only member of the community who is worthy of the empire's glory, intimating his own deep attachment and his reconciliation with him. [52] What may be the meaning of this I cannot divine, but my conviction is that if Clodius were a friend to Pompeius he would not have congratulated him. For if he had been Pompeius' bitterest foe, what could he have said that would have more directly tended to impair his reputation ? I would ask those who felt delight at Clodius' hostility to Pompeius, and who were thereby misled into shutting their eyes to his innumerable wickednesses, even on some occasions hailing with their own applause his acts of incorrigible and headstrong recklessness, to note how rapid was his change of face. At this present moment he is congratulating Pompeius ; but he is bitterly attacking those whose favour he was but now courting. If he finds the road to reconciliation with Pompeius thrown open to him, how do you think he will act, when he is so glad to worm himself into a reconciliation which is purely supposititious? **

[25.] L   [53] To what other dissensions among the nobles am I to think that a pointed allusion is being made by the immortal gods? For, indeed, in this particular clause there is no express mention either of Publius Clodius nor of any of his associates or advisers. But the Etruscan books ** employ certain definite terms which are peculiarly applicable to this type of citizen. As you will shortly hear, they apply the epithets "baser," "rejected" to those who are desperate both in purpose and in purse, and are in both alienated from the cause of the common welfare. Wherefore, when the immortal gods warn us against the dissensions of the nobles, they are prophesying to us with regard to quarrels which concern our most distinguished and meritorious citizens; and when they foreshadow danger and death to our highest, they grant security to Clodius, who is as far removed from the highest as he is from the chaste and the scrupulous. [54] It is upon you, O brightest and best of our citizens, that Heaven sees that the duty devolves of taking measures and provisions for your own safety. The murder of our highest is portended ; and there is a further reference to what must inevitably follow the destruction of our nobility ; we are warned, that is to say, "that the state lapse not to the rule of one." Did not a divine behest direct us to this apprehension, we should none the less be forcibly driven upon it by our own powers of perception and inference; for indeed it is a commonplace that dissension between men of renown and authority can have no other issue save a general cataclysm, or, failing that, the despotic domination of the triumphant person. A quarrel arose between that renowned citizen Marius and that noble and gallant consul Lucius Sulla ; each of these successively fell vanquished, and yet each was no sooner the vanquisher than he became a despot. Cinna fell out with his colleague Octavius ; upon each of these prosperity bestowed a tyrant's power, adversity death. Once again Sulla prevailed; and then beyond all doubt he wielded a king's power, albeit he had restored the republic. [55] At the present time hatred does more than merely rankle; it is engrained and inured in the souls of our proudest ; there is discord in high places, and there are those who are ready to clutch the opportunity. Those who are opposed by a superiority of power are yet alert to catch at the skirts of some happy chance or random conjuncture of events; while those who enjoy an undisputed pre-eminence are as often as not apprehensive of the purposes and meditations of their rivals. Let us sweep this spirit of discord from our society ; then forthwith will al] these terrors which cast their shadow upon us be abolished, and then will yonder serpent, who now lurks here, and now comes forth from his lair and darts thither, be crushed and pounded to his death.

[26.] L   And indeed we are warned from the same source "that the republic be not harmed by secret designs." What designs can be more secret than his, who dared to say at a mass meeting that a cessation of public business should be proclaimed, that the administration of justice should be arrested, that the treasury should be closed, and that the courts should be done away with? What indeed, unless we are to believe that the idea of so wholesale an inundation and destruction of our society could have flashed unpremeditated upon his thoughts as he stood upon the rostra? I grant you that wine, debauchery, slumber, and a recklessness utterly devoid of reflection and of reason, are the very stuff of his life ; but the cessation of public business which he suggests can only have been hatched and plotted in the watches of the night, and by more heads than one. Do not forget, conscript fathers, that our ears have been affronted by his outrageous words, and that it is by making us familiar with their sound that he has paved the road that is to end in our doom.

[56] There follows the injunction, "Let not honour be increased for the baser and the rejected." Let us consider this word "rejected" ; later I will demonstrate to you who are meant by "the baser." Meanwhile, however, it may be taken for granted that the word is most appropriately used of one who is beyond all rivalry and all question the basest of mortals. Who, then, are "the rejected" ? Not, surely, those whose failure to gain promotion on any occasion has been due to a flaw in their citizenship, not in their character ; for this indeed is a misfortune which has frequently happened to many citizens of undoubted excellence and uprightness. The "rejected" are rather those who are prepared to go to any lengths, who provide gladiatorial entertainments in defiance of the laws, who offer bare-faced bribes, and who on every occasion are rejected not merely by those unconnected with themselves, but by their kinsfolk, their neighbours, their tribesmen, and their fellow-citizens both in the city and in the provinces ; it is these whose honour we are warned not to increase. We must, of course, be grateful for the admonition, but nevertheless the Roman people itself has spontaneously, and independently of any warning of soothsayers, taken measures to cope with this evil. ** [57] It is against "the baser" that you must be on your guard ; there is a great host of them, but Clodius is prince and master of them all; and indeed, if some poet of surpassing genius were desirous of presenting to us an individual defiled by all the vices that imagination and ingenuity could suggest, I am sure that he could devise no infamy that was not to be found in Clodius, and that many sins that are ineradicably embedded in his soul would be overlooked. [27.] L   Our parents, the immortal gods, our fatherland, - to all these nature binds us at the hour of our birth ; for at that one time we are accepted by the first as participants in the light of day, we are endowed by the second with the breath of the heaven above us, and we are enrolled into the citizenship and freedom of a fixed home. Clodius by adopting the name of Fonteius has wiped out the name, the religion, the memory, and the clan of his parents ; by his inexpiable crime he has trampled upon the fires of the gods, their thrones, their tables, their enshrined and mystic hearths, and their secret rites, which are forbidden not merely to the gaze but even to the hearing of males; and he has burned the temple of the very goddesses whose gifts are employed to quench ordinary conflagrations. ** [58] And what of his dealings with his fatherland? In the first place, by armed violence and by menaces he banished from the city and from all the protection his country could have afforded him a citizen whom you repeatedly pronounced to be that country's preserver; then, having worked the downfall of one ** whom I have always described as the senate's friend, and whom he asserted to be its leader, he overturned the senate itself by fire and massacre ; he abolished two laws, the Aelian and the Fufian, ** which were of supreme service to the state; he swept away the censorship, he removed the right of veto, he annulled the auspices, he equipped the consuls, who were his partners in crime, with funds, provinces, and an army ; native governors who were kings he sold, those who were not he so entitled; he drove Gnaeus Pompeius to his house by force of arms, he overturned the monuments of generals, ** he demolished the houses of his enemies, upon your monuments he inscribed his own name. ** The catalogue of the crimes which he let loose upon his country is without end. And what of the individual citizens whom he has done to death, of the allies whom he has sundered from us, the generals whom he has betrayed, the armies with which he has tampered? [59] More than all this, how shocking are the crimes which he has committed against himself and against his own! Who has ever used a hostile camp with less consideration than he has used to all his physical organs ? What ship that plies at the public ferry has ever been so free to common traffic as was his youth? What debauchee ever wallowed so dissolutely with strumpets as he has with his sisters ? Finally, what Charybdis so monstrous has the imagination of poets been able to depict, or capable of gulping down such oceans as the vast booty of Byzantines and Brogitaruses which he has engulfed? Or what Scylla in fiction was ever ringed by dogs with such craning necks and such famished jaws as those which you see him employing - creatures like Gellius, Clodius, ** and Titius - to crunch the very prows {rostra} ** themselves ?

[60] Act, therefore, upon the final clause in the response of the soothsayers, which bids you "change not the condition of the republic." And indeed scarcely, though we prop the tottering structure upon this side and upon that, scarcely, I say, will the support given by our united shoulders enable it to cohere. [28.] L   There was a time when the fabric of our state was so firm and sound that it could survive the scouting of the senate and even outrage done to its citizens. It cannot so survive to-day. The treasury is non-existent, those who have contracted for the revenues ** get no profit therefrom, the prestige of our highest lies in the dust, the unity of the orders is shattered, the courts are no more, the right of voting is assigned to a selected few, the moral support of patriots will soon cease to be ever ready to answer the least call of our order, and the day is at hand when you will look in vain for a citizen who will dare to brave hatred in his country's cause. [61] This being so, it is by unity of will alone that we can maintain the present condition of the state, such as itis. Amelioration is something that we cannot even pray for, so long as Clodius goes unpunished ; and in degeneration we can but descend one step - to destruction or to slavery ; and it is to prevent our being pushed down to this level that the immortal gods give us this warning, since human devices have for long now been impotent. I, indeed, should never have undertaken to speak upon so grave and serious a matter - not that it lay beyond my duty or my power to sustain my present rôle and character, honoured, as I have been, with the offices which are at the bestowal of the Roman people, and with many distinctions conferred by you, but in the universal silence I might easily have kept silence myself - had it not been that I have all this time been pleading the cause, not of my own dignity, but of the religion of the state. My words, perchance, have been over many, but the opinions which those words express are those of the soothsayers, to whom the prodigies announced to us should not be referred at all, unless we are to look upon it as a solemn duty to lay their responses to heart. [62] And if other manifestations, less impressive, perhaps, though more widely bruited, have not failed to move us, shall not the feelings of all of us be stirred by the actual voice of the immortal gods? For you must not think that that can happen which you often see represented upon the stage, - that some god can float down from heaven and mingle in the gatherings of men, walk abroad upon the earth, and hold converse with humanity. Reflect upon the nature of the sound which the Latins reported ; recall, too, the portent which has not yet been officially notified, the awful earthquake, accompanied by many strange and fearful circumstances, which is reported to have occurred at about the same time at Potentia in Picenum ; then surely you will dread this menace which we see looming upon us.

[63] And indeed it is as a voice, nay, an eloquent appeal, of the immortal gods that this must be viewed, when the world with its seas and lands shudders with a weird motion, and by a sound beyond experience and beyond belief conveys to us tidings of the future. In such circumstances it is our duty to hold services of reparation and supplication, as we are bidden. But while prayers are the easy resource of those who generously point out to us the path of safety, it is for us to mitigate our own mutual animosities and discords.


1.(↑)   At a debate in the Senate, of which we know nothing save what we are told here.

2.(↑)   P. Servilius Isauricus, consul with Ap. Clodius Pulcher 79.

3.(↑)   Clodius' violation of the rites of Bona Dea, to which reference is made throughout this speech.

4.(↑)   Aelius Ligur, who opposed the motion for Cic.'s return; also means 'Ligurian', the Ligurians being proverbial for deceit.

5.(↑)   Milo ; see 'In senatu', Chap. VIII, note.

6.(↑)   Clodius was killed by Milo three years after the date of this speech. This passage may be read as a prophecy of this, but it more probably refers to a prosecution of Clodius by Milo.

7.(↑)   "The shortest term of notice allowed by the law" (Long).

8.(↑)   See 'De domo sua', Chap. XVIII.

9.(↑)   To Bona Dea.

10.(↑)   A religious official who inherited the sacred functions of the king.

11.(↑)   The Sabine god of war, whose worship was especially connected with the Quirinal.

12.(↑)   i.e. by assignment to a creditor on the part of an insolvent debtor.

13.(↑)   The consuls.

14.(↑)   Consul in the first year of the republic 509

15.(↑)   As there was no early philosophic writing in Latin, this must refer to the Greek philosophers. If it does so refer, the statement here made becomes startling !

16.(↑)   It is uncertain where these were; Manutius says "in the suburbs." The adjective in this pecular form seems not to be found except in this speech.

17.(↑)   A deity worshipped in Phrygia as Cybele, identified with Cretan Rhea; her cult was introduced into Rome (204) by P. Scipio Africanus. The Megalesia were held in her honour (Apr. 4-9).

18.(↑)   Clodius.

19.(↑)   i.e. "flaws in matters of form invalidate the proceedings, much more a general disturbance."

20.(↑)   'Illis' here is difficult. It suggests a mention of some games other than the Megalesia, and Livy says that it was in connexion with the Ludi Romani that P. Scipio made these arrangements (xxxiv. 54).

21.(↑)   Athenio, leader of slave war in Sicily 104; Spartacus, leader of gladiatorial revolt in Campania 73.

22.(↑)   In Phrygia.

23.(↑)   Son-in-law of Deiotarus, tetrarch of Galatia.

24.(↑)   The Latin can also bear the meaning "Brogitarus has been dunned through you for a debt"; this double meaning cannot be brought out in translation.

25.(↑)   See note on § 28..

26.(↑)   C. here addresses the Senate; in the next sentence he turns again to Clodius. Long says here, "There is no difficulty in translating the rest of the chapter, but it is unintelligible." I fear I can do no more than endorse

27.(↑)   'Magmentarium', a rare and archaic word connected with 'mactus', 'mactare'.

28.(↑)   i.e. acquisition of ownership by long use or possession.

29.(↑)   Part of the Caelian Hill, sometimes called "Caelius Minor" (Mart. xii. 8).

30.(↑)   See 'De domo sua', Chap. XLIII.

31.(↑)   Assassinated through the intrigues of Ptolemy.

32.(↑)   We know nothing of these legati save what we are told here.

33.(↑)   Piso; he "had certainly been saluted as Imperator by his soldiers, but the senate had not recognized him as such" (Klotz).

34.(↑)   i.e. the jury who sat when Clodius was prosecuted for impiety in the Bona Dea affair.

35.(↑)   Showing, i.e, that Clodius had bribed and paid. But 'tamen' in the Latin adds to the obscurity.

36.(↑)   Cic. nicknamed Clodia by the Homeric epithet 'Boōpis, "ox-eyed " (Ad Att. ii. 9). See also note on Ap. Claudius Caecus, 'De domo sua', Chap. XL.

37.(↑)   Pompey.

38.(↑)   A character in Greek tragedies now lost. He was stricken with madness by Hera, and killed his son Learchus.

39.(↑)   The text in the manuscripts is hopelessly garbled; a possible reconstruction is translated here.

40.(↑)   Adherent of Marius ; trib. plebis 100.

41.(↑)   P. S. Rufus, trib. plebis 88, one of the most powerful orators of his day.

42.(↑)   When campaigning against Tigranes in Armenia 68.

43.(↑)   Persons employed by candidates to distribute bribes at the elections.

44.(↑)   G. J. Caesar Strabo stood for the consulship before he had been praetor, 88; see note on Sulpicius, Chap: XIX. above.

45.(↑)   Pompey, whose son married a niece of Clodius, and who had deprecated action against Clodius in the Bona Dea affair.

46.(↑)   Caesar.

47.(↑)   i.e. Caesar alleged that he was acting at Pompey's instigation.

48.(↑)   Alluding to Catiline's conspiracy.

49.(↑)   Those enacted in Caesar's consulship 59.

50.(↑)   Consul with Caesar 59.

51.(↑)   We learn from Pro Milone, Chap. VII., that a slave of Clodius had been arrested while carrying a dagger with which to assassinate Pompey.

52.(↑)   A district between the Caelian and the Esquiline, now S. Pietro in Vincoli. Pompey had a house there, and Clodius threatened to treat this house as he had treated C.'s.

53.(↑)   Caesar, Pompey, and Crassus.

54.(↑)   Bibulus, Cato, and Domitius.

55.(↑)   Supporter of Marius with Saturninus.

56.(↑)   With regard to the relations between rhe | and Clodius, it should be remembered that Clodius, though nominally the instrument of both Pompey and Caesar, had probably been privately commissioned by the latter, now in Gaul, to exasperate Pompey by any means in his power.

57.(↑)   Containing the formulae on which the haruspices based their interpretations.

58. Presumably by restoring Cicero from exile, and so baffling Clodius.

59.(↑)   We learn from 'Pro Milone', Chap. XXVII., that Clodius burned a shrine of the nymphs; this incident seems to be referred to here, and probably it was a shrine of the Naiads.

60.(↑)   Pompey.

61.(↑)   See 'In senatu', Chap. V. with note.

62.(↑)   Q. Catulus ; see 'De domo sua', Chap. XXXVIII.

63.(↑)   See 'De domo sua', Chap. XXX.

64.(↑)   Sex. Clodius ; see Chap. VI.

65.(↑)   It is impossible to indicate the play upon the two uses of rostra - (1) prows, (2) platform in forum decorated with prows. "Scylla devoured only the men, not the ships; your creatures devour (i.e. make havoc of) not only the sailors on the ship of state, but even the ship itself."

66.(↑)   The publicani, who bought from the state the right of collecting the revenues in certain provinces, and made what they could out of the deal.

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