Scholia Bobiensia, a commentary on the speeches of Cicero

The Scholia Bobiensia is an anonymous ancient commentary on the speeches of Cicero. It has been preserved on a palimpsest that was written at the famous monastery of Bobbio. Only a fraction of the commentary has survived, and like most palimpsests, there are frequent gaps in the text. Some of the gaps are there because the commentator was fond of quoting technical terms in Greek, which puzzled the Latin-speaking scribe. However, the commentary is valuable because it has preserved fragments of three speeches, which otherwise have been lost. The complete Latin text of the Scholia is available on this site.

Excerpts from the Scholia are translated here, including all the surviving introductions to the speeches. The numbers in red are the page numbers from the edition by T.Stangl (1912). Quotations from Cicero are in italics, and Greek phrases are shown in dark red. See key to translations for an explanation of the format of the translation.

In defence of Sulla
Against P.Clodius and Curio
About the king of Alexandria
In defence of Flaccus
When he gave thanks to the senate
When he gave thanks to the people
In defence of Milo
In defence of Sestius
In defence of Plancius
About the debts of Milo
In defence of Archias


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[78]   {Sull_17}   L  On the contrary, this man was so inactive that he spent the whole time at Neapolis.
It might have appeared that P.Sulla withdrew from everyone's sight and left the city of Rome, because he acknowledged his guilt after his wrongdoing had been detected. Therefore the orator changes it into a proof of {Sulla's} sense of honour, by saying that he wanted to be out of the sight of his fellow-citizens, because he was ashamed that in any part of his life his honour should be stained and his dignity should be impaired. It does not worry us that Cicero speaks about Sulla, as if he was free to remain at Rome even after being convicted of bribery; because he was allowed to do so by the Lex Calpurnia. In earlier times, men who were convicted of this crime under the Lex Cornelia were punished by a ban on holding magistracies for ten years. Somewhat later, the Lex Calpurnia imposed a stricter punishment, of a fine and life-time ban from holding office; [79]   L  but those who were convicted were still allowed to remain at Rome. Later again, after the conviction of Sulla and Autronius, the consuls C.Antonius and Cicero introduced an even stricter punishment for bribery, that on top of the penalties stipulated by previous laws, {those who were convicted} should be sent into exile.

* * *

[80]   {Sull_23}   L  M.Cato the censor and Tiberius Coruncanius came from the town of Tusculum; also Manius Curius, who triumphed over the Samnites, seems to have been born in the Sabine region. While he was sitting there by his stove, [81]   L  he rejected the gold, which the enemy offered to him. He said that it was his particular desire, not that he should have abundant riches, but that he should rule over his wealthy enemies.

* * *

[81]   {Sull_26}   L  The orator launches into this topic wonderfully, as he stresses his own good repute and the many benefits he has conferred on the state, saying that after enduring so many dangers he could have honourably withdrawn from all toils, but his spirit was so devoted to his country that he could never grow old in idleness. And here, in my opinion, he has imitated C.Gracchus; for Gracchus said about the laws that he proposed, to quote his own words: "I was born into a distinguished family, but I lost my brother on your account, and now no-one survives from the family of P.Africanus and Ti.Gracchus except myself and my son. Therefore, if I spoke to you and asked you to permit me to take a rest for the time being, so that our family would not be utterly destroyed and at least some offspring of our family would survive, perhaps you would willingly allow me to do so."

* * *


[85]   L  The Greeks call [this kind of speech praising and blaming], because it consists mainly of praise and censure. Cicero is not accusing C.Curio or P.Clodius of a crime, but because they had been involved in an ill-tempered dispute in the senate, Cicero decided to write this speech. It is clearly full of sarcasm and wit, by which he defames their characters and condemns their vices in the strongest possible terms.

The beginning of this dispute is said to have arisen from the trial of P.Clodius. Clodius was accused, with Pompeia the wife of C.Caesar, of committing sacrilege in the house of Caesar, who at that time was both pontifex maximus and praetor, during the religious rites of the Bona Dea, which are performed by the Vestal virgins and the the most respected matrons in secret, when no men are allowed to be present. Clodius escaped from the house, but the affair became very notorious and brought the religious rites into disrepute, so that the senate was forced to pass a decree, that the consuls should investigate most thoroughly, whether any offence had been committed against the religion of the state. And also C.Caesar, the pontifex maximus, seemed to have made a judgement on the affair, by divorcing his wife as a result of it. Afterwards, P.Clodius was brought to trial on a charge of sacrilege; he was accused by L.Lentulus and defended by C.Curio, the father. For at that time there were three men of the Curio family, who all achieved distinction, and they are still mentioned in {history} books. Curio, the grandfather, defended Servius Fulvius on a charge of sacrilege; this C.Curio, the father, defended P.Clodius; and thirdly Curio, the tribune of the plebs, died in the Pompeian civil war in Africa, when he was fighting on behalf of Caesar, but was cut down by the cavalry of king Juba. But that is enough about the Curio family.

There were many lengthy disputes before the trial took place, and a turbulent mob helped Clodius to resist coming to court, with violence and rioting. The instigator of this trouble was Q. Fufius Calenus, a tribune of the plebs, who is frequently mentioned by Cicero in his Philippic speeches. But almost the entire senate stood in defence of the sanctity of religion against the threat of sacrilege, and in the end a jury was chosen. At first, the jurors asked the senate for protection, so that they could safely pass judgement on Clodius, who was a very powerful man. But in fact many witnesses gave damaging evidence against Clodius, and among them was Cicero himself. When he was asked, he said that Clodius had come to greet him on the same day that Clodius maintained that he had been staying at Interamna, which is a distance of 90 miles away from Rome; and this was Clodius' alibi to prove that he could not have committed the crime of sacrilege in Rome.

At the end of the trial, Clodius was found guilty by 25 jurors; however, the vote turned out to be in his favour, because 31 of the jurors voted that he should be acquitted. From that time onwards, Clodius began to be a deadly enemy of Cicero; and during the same year, while he held the office [86]   L  of quaestor, he spoke against Cicero in many assemblies of the people. He even announced threateningly that he would seek to be transferred to a plebeian family, so that he could become tribune of the plebs. Cicero replied to these threats in this outspoken and vigorous speech [by disparaging the characters] of both Clodius and Curio.


I decided, senators, not to say anything about Clodius, either amongst you or in any other place, for as long as he was under trial.
He seems to make [this introduction] as a sign of his dignity and moderation, but he bitterly insists that, although Clodius was acquitted, he really did commit sacrilege. By stating that he gently and patiently showed forbearance to P.Clodius while Clodius was under trial, he undoubtedly confirms the reliability of his own evidence, and shows that everything he said about him was true, because he refused to criticise him during the time of the trial.

And he alleged in crazy harangues.
He deliberately and pointedly calls Clodius crazy, in order to increase the suspicion that Clodius committed sacrilege, because he was deranged by nature.

He denounced both me and the republic.
This enhances Cicero's reputation and strongly condemns Clodius. It increases Cicero's glory, because he cannot be separated from the republic; and it adds to the infamy of Clodius, because by becoming an enemy of Cicero he has become an enemy of the state.

That I was doing nothing to increase the other's risk.
He ensures that he is not considered to have lied, when he gave evidence.

But if they decided that no man appeared to have gone, where he went.
There is a depth of bitterness in this phrase, in which he censures the shameless character of P.Clodius. By saying that "no man appeared to have gone, where he went", he suggests that the jurors who acquitted him with their votes meant to say, not that the charge of sacrilege could not be proved, but that they did not consider Clodius to be a man.

So that he escaped naked from the trial, as if from a shipwreck.
In this passage he denounces the disgraceful behaviour of the jurors, who acquitted {Clodius} with their votes. According to some, they received {a bribe} of 300,000 {sestertii}; according to others, it was 400,000 {sestertii}.

That we promise him a special {command} in Syria.
[87]   L  As we said in the introduction, at that time Clodius was quaestor. Therefore he says that Clodius, giving way to greed, intended to take for himself the wealthiest provinces, as if he could obtain from the senate {a country} that he hoped to ransack.

He should seem to offer his creditors the promise of a province.
In this passage, he suggests that {Clodius} was heavily in debt.

They add to a great pile of debt.
. . . which could not be paid off, except by ransacking all the provinces.

A rather timid creditor {of Clodius} groaned deeply.
Do not ask what is the name of the man, whom Cicero seems to mention here. Cicero is imagining, without referring to anyone in particular, how the difficulty of recovering their money would alarm {Clodius'} creditors, who were worried that it would be a long time before he returned.

He states that he will be present in Rome for the consular elections.
This is extremely sarcastic, because Cicero says on many occasions that the candidates' money had been purloined by Clodius.

He arrived at the treasury {aerarium} so early, that there were not even any scribes there.
Provinces used to be allotted to the quaestors and the scribes at the treasury, so that everyone knew which province they were going to, and with which governor. Cicero suggests that {Clodius} was prompted by greed to rush to the treasury so early, that he arrived there even before the scribes.

Who is an expert on all the sacrifices.
In order to hint at sacrilege, he makes the sense ambiguous, and changes it from a comment on religion to an accusation.

When he said that he wanted to cross over to the plebs, but in fact he desperately wanted to cross over the straits.
Because patricians were not allowed to become tribunes of the plebs, Clodius announced that he would move over to a plebeian family, so that by using the power of a tribune he could take revenge on his enemies. However, when Cicero says "straits", he means the straits between Sicily and Italy; it was in Sicily that Clodius was hoping to serve as quaestor, under C.Vergilius.

He did not despise talkative Sicily.
He seems to call Sicily talkative, because the Sicilians had accused many {of their governors} of extortion, and in particular, as we know, C.Verres.

[88]   L  There were so few there, that you would have thought that he had summoned them, not to an assembly, but as sponsors.
As Cicero said earlier, Clodius was deeply in debt. Anyone who took out a loan used to name sponsors as a guarantee that the debt would be repaid. But here Cicero wishes to show how untrustworthy Clodius was, and therefore he says that such a small number had come to the rostra, that it was as if he had called together those who were acting as his sponsors. {Clodius} had deceived many people, when he persuaded them to risk being his sponsors.

Whose guarantees are always said to be revoked.
He says that his guarantees are cancelled by the judgement of the praetor. In this passage, he refers to men who are unreasonably afraid to offer themselves as security for Clodius when he takes out loans, although they have observed often enough that his sponsors are freed from their liability, when they prove that that they have been tricked by his deceptions.

Firstly, this strict and old-fashioned man criticises those who stay at Baiae in the month of April.
At the beginning of spring, many people used to gather at the waters in Campania, in order to restore their health. Therefore Cicero [ironically] depicts the character of Clodius, as if he was a man of old-fashioned strictness and self-restraint, who disapproved not only of pleasure and luxury, but also of health cures; although Clodius was in fact unrestrained in his pursuit of all kinds of wantonness. And this would be a reference to Cicero's own estate at Puteoli, in which he used to stay for leisure. Therefore he rebuts Clodius' shameless criticism of his morals, without appearing arrogant or excessively prone to luxury.

He would not permit elderly men to stay even on their own estates, in order to restore their health, when there was no business at Rome.
This is a multi-layered and abundant defence, on the proposition that no blame should be attached to the behaviour of those who visit the health-giving waters at a certain time of year:

He was so blind, that it was obvious that he had seen, what he was not supposed to see.
This is [playing on a name], because Clodius was descended from the family of Appius Caecus {"the blind"}. In order to show how headstrong and reckless Clodius was, Cicero recalls the infamous story of how he desecrated [89]   L  the secret rites of the Bona Dea, which men were not allowed to see, and suggests that he is beginning to pay the penalty for his crime, by foreseeing nothing of what he should say.

The patron of his lusts.
{He means} C.Curio, who during Sulla's proscription had bought an estate in Campania, which had previously belonged to C.Marius, who came from Arpinum, like Cicero. By this example, Cicero easily clears himself from the accusation, that he should be blamed for doing something, which was never thought improper in his fellow townsman and ex-consul, C.Marius.

It is not surprising that we seem rustic to him, who {wears} a long-sleeved tunic, etc.
This reply is a mixture of clever wit and harsh sarcasm, with a [comparison by definitions]. He defines country and city manners in such a way, that he endows himself with a character of upright virtue, and Clodius with evidence of decadence and disgrace.

You, who wore a woman's dress.
Clodius was said to have disguised himself in a woman's dress, in order to gain entry to the house of C.Caesar, where he desecrated the rites of the goddess. This is described [as a depiction of character], to reveal all the facets of his immorality.

Since he wore a calautica.
'Calautica' is the name of a kind of [decoration], with which women covered their heads. Afranius mentions it in his Cousins: "with head-bands and calauticae". Therefore a certain kind of shameful decadence is indicated by this disgraceful costume. In the histories of the period, the incident is related as follows. In the house of C.Caesar, the pontifex maximus, who was also praetor at the time, a solemn sacrifice was made for the public welfare. Because a man dressed as a woman had entered {the building}, the sacrifice was repeated. The matter was referred to the senate, and the senators decreed that there should be an investigation into the incident, which amounted to sacrilege. P.Clodius Pulcher was charged with the crime by L.Lentulus, who was afterwards consul with C.Marcellus; and the accusation was supported by C. and L. Lentulus. Aurelia, the mother of Caesar, appeared as a witness at the trial. In her evidence, she said that she had ordered Clodius to leave the house; and this was confirmed by Julia, the sister of Caesar. However, Clodius was later acquitted.

I think that, when you were given a mirror, you realised that you were far from beautiful.
Cicero amusingly reveals both how Clodius had disgraced his whole family, and the effeminacy of his character, as he looks in the mirror, which is most often used by women to take care of their appearance. Therefore he both condemns his decadence, and shows how inferior he is to his ancestors. Pulcher {"beautiful"} was a famous cognomen of the Claudian family. [90]   L  In ancient times, the first of the family to be called Pulcher was P.Claudius, the son of Appius Caecus. This P.Claudius, when he was consul, fought against the Carthaginian fleet at Drepana despite adverse omens, and in the battle 120 Roman ships were lost. As a result, he was charged with treason by Pullius and Fundanius, tribunes of the plebs. When an assembly was held to vote on the case, and the centuries were summoned, there was a sudden storm and the assembly was abandoned. Afterwards the tribunes intervened to prevent the same accusers from charging the same man with treason twice during that one year of office. Therefore the charge was changed, and the same accusers proposed that he should be fined; the people found him guilty, and he was fined 120,000 asses.

'But I was acquitted', he says. Yes, but in a novel way, because damages were awarded against him, even though he was acquitted.
[Disparagement]. The orator turns {Clodius'} victory in the trial into a cause of dishonour, by making this unexpected kind of reply. Damages were reckoned against convicted men, when the size of their fine was calculated. Because Clodius was acquitted, not by proving his innocence, but by bribing the jurors, therefore Cicero says that damages were reckoned against him even though he was acquitted. In other words, he was not given a fine, but he did have to pay out the money, which he gave to the jurors to secure his acquittal.

As if I am unhappy that 25 jurors believed me, when the 31 other jurors did not believe you, but were given wealthy agents by you.
Notice how elegantly the orator plays on the ambivalence of the words. Clodius prided himself on his victory, because he seemed to have been acquitted by the majority of the jurors, but Cicero, in order to support the trustworthiness of his own evidence, says that 25 of the jurors believed him - those jurors, that is, who voted to condemn the defendant. However even the others, who voted in favour of the defendant, did not really believe Clodius. They sought protection from the senate, and demanded that suitable agents should be appointed to hold the sum of money, so that they would not be cheated of the expected reward, which the defendant had promised to them. In this way, even the votes of those jurors who seemed to uphold Clodius' honour, are turned into discredit by Cicero. He says that some of the jurors found Clodius guilty of sacrilege; but the other jurors were more concerned with their private gain than with public religion. And here he says, [against expectation], that the jurors demanded protection from the senate, not in order to pass judgement resolutely and without interference, but to ensure that the defendant did not cheat them of the money, which he had promised if he was acquitted.

The divorce of the pontifex maximus.
He furnishes arguments, by which it could easily be proved that P.Clodius was guilty of sacrilege:

When Cicero talks about illicit sexual intercourse, he seems to mean incest, which was notoriously rumoured to have taken place between {Clodius and} his sister Clodia.

You were only four votes short of being ruined.
To prevent Clodius from putting on a show of innocence because he had been acquitted, {Cicero} compares the numbers and shows that almost the same proportion {of jurors} had found him guilty of sacrilege. He had been saved, not by his own virtue, but by good luck and a tiny number of votes.

For L.Cotta . . .
He proposed the Lex Aurelia, a judicial law that deprived the senators of their control of the law courts, and divided the juries between them and the Roman [equites and] tribuni aerarii in such a way, that the senators were outnumbered by the other jurors.

That afterwards he could not be a juror, under the terms of the Lex Aurelia.
What Cicero says is almost incredible, that Clodius should openly declare that he would recover the money, which he had used to buy the jurors' votes and avoid conviction. What could be more stupid than to admit by this declaration that he would have been convicted, if he had not bribed the jurors? But it is possible that Clodius did say it, with this meaning: he wished to suggest that he was innocent, but he had been victimised by the ruling elite and his powerful opponents, so that he had to give money to the jurors, as the only way of escaping from the clutches of those who wanted to see him destroyed. Therefore, [in anticipation], Cicero says that the jurors would refuse to return the money, because if they did, they could no longer be appointed as jurors under the terms of the Lex Aurelia. They would be barred, either because by returning the money they admitted that they had been bribed, or because, after being deprived of the three or four hundred {sestertii} that they had received from the defendant, they would be reduced to poverty, and no longer [have enough property to qualify as jurors . . .]

[An unknown number of pages are missing here]


. . . that would be embarrassing for private citizens.

To seize, to rob.
{Cicero} uses strong and derogatory words. He does not say, "to demand his inheritance, to obtain his rights." Instead, to arouse the greatest sense of shame in his audience, [92]   L  he says, "to seize, to rob;" these words speak not of law, but of crime, which should deter them from rapacity.

If indeed we have become so eager for money, so watchful, so greedy.
He seems to be speaking in general terms, saying that even if we are greedy in our personal financial affairs, we ought not to show such a lust for money in public business. But in fact there is no doubt that he is describing the character of M.Crassus. Apart from the references to him in histories, and apart from the manner of his death - into which he almost rushed headlong, when he crossed the Euphrates in his desire to loot the wealthiest cities of Parthia - Cicero also writes about him in the third book of his 'De Officiis'. I will repeat Cicero's words here, so as to make it clear exactly what he thought about the character of Crassus. This is what he says, as I recall {Off_3'75}: Suppose, then, that a good man had such power that at a snap of his fingers his name could steal into rich men's wills, he would not avail himself of that power - no, not even though he could be perfectly sure that no one would ever suspect it. Then he adds: Suppose, on the other hand, that one were to offer a Marcus Crassus the power, by the mere snapping of his fingers, to get himself named as heir, when he was not really an heir, he would, I warrant you, dance in the forum.

But which are our decisions.
This was not the first time that Crassus had tried to get a decision about the inheritance of Egypt; it had been debated many times before. The first time that the question was raised, was when the money seems to have been demanded from the Tyrians, and brought to Rome, soon after it had been deposited there by king Alexas. {Cicero} therefore has to confront this claim, and refute it. In setting out his argument, Cicero makes an excellent [compound distinction], which he begins to develop with these words:

{Our decisions} ought to be very restrained, because this is the height of power, to be able to decide ourselves about our own affairs.
The orator means that is was almost shameless, for the senate to want to decide about its own interests, because it is only natural, that no-one can judge fairly when they are thinking about their own profit, which most men strive to gain even by dishonest means.

Out of so great an inheritance, we only recognised the name.
He quickly makes the argument in his favour, that somehow it had been decided . . .

[12 pages missing]

. . . that the man, who mentioned the money, should think that war ought to be waged.

So there is a just cause for war, in the same way that, as Crassus mentioned, there was in the war against Jugurtha.
It is well known that, after the death of Micipsa king of Numidia, his kingdom was divided into three, between Adherbal, Hiempsal and Jugurtha; but Jugurtha killed the other two, [93]   L  partly by violence and partly by treachery. This was the main cause of the outbreak of war between him and the Roman people. After he had heavily defeated many of their generals, he was eventually conquered by the general C.Marius.

I will not permit our empire to proclaim, 'If you do not give me anything, I will regard you as an enemy; but if you do give me something, I will regard you as a friend and ally.'
He continues to call for decency, and asserts that the Roman people ought not to trade in royal titles; so that by warning the senate that it might appear to be behaving disgracefully, he could suggest that the best course of action was the one that was most honourable.

When that king was killed, this boy was in Egypt.
[Conjecture from a summary of appearances]. This is deduced from a discussion of probability, which depends first of all on a division of this type, {into the topics} of free will and ability [intention and capability]. He mentions that he was a boy, which refers to his will: Ptolemaeus could not have been guilty of such deadly hatred, because his youth and immaturity would have prevented him from persisting in such a course of action. And he mentions that he was in Syria, which refers to his ability: because he was abroad, he did not have the opportunity to kill the man, whom he was alleged to have slain.

And I see that it is generally agreed, that the king with his own hands murdered his sister the queen, who was loved and welcomed by the people; then he was killed in a riot by a mob.
He makes a convincing case by a strong accumulation of proofs [overwhelming proof]. He proves that this murder was committed by the people of Alexandria, rather than by order of Ptolemaeus. Note how he gradually increases the evidence, which reinforces the suspicion that the cause was an uprising of the people. He begins in this way: "And I see that it is generally agreed," so that there should be no doubt about the truth, if it was generally agreed. Then he continues: "his sister the queen," so that the crime of murdering a sister should be made even more shocking to everyone by causing the death of a queen. After this he adds: "who was loved . . . "

[The rest of the commentary on this speech is lost.]


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[94]   {4}   L  You, the fifty leaders of that rank, will judge what is your joint opinion.
The Lex Aurelia stipulated that a third of the jurors should be selected from senators, and two-thirds from tribuni aerarii and equites, who were men of the same rank.

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[95]   L  He preferred to call them strangled.
Cicero suggests that the prosecutor, Decimus Laelius, had chosen to use this word {strangled} in a deliberate and rhetorical way, in order to renew memories of the men, who had been condemned to die with Lentulus in prison, on the evidence of the letter.

What did my friend Caetra intend?
He was one of the supporters of the prosecutor, Decimus Laelius.

And what did Decianus . . ?
Another supporter of the prosecution. He was the son of Apuleius Decianus, who had recently been condemned. When the elder Decianus was tribune of the plebs, he tried to avenge {the deaths of} Apuleius Saturninus and C.Servilius Glaucia, and was guilty of many wicked and violent actions. Afterwards he was prosecuted and condemned. Then he went to Pontus, and joined to Mithridates. Therefore the orator refers to the family's disgrace, in order to suggest that the son was imitating his father, and was acting in the interests of {his country's} enemies.

Would that it was all my own doing! So mostly the senate . . .
The is an excellent reply [with prayer and alteration]. Before he appeals to the authority of the senate, by whose decree the associates of Catilina were punished, he makes a kind of prayer, as if it would have been glorious to admit that he was responsible for their punishment. He gives even more strength to the appeal, by claiming that the admission itself would have been worthy of praise.

Immortal gods, I say! Lentulus . . .

[Four pages missing.]

. . . is evidence that it was. But let us not pass over the origins of this state { Magnesia } without some comment. In very ancient times it was called Tantalis. This settlement was swallowed up by an opening in the ground, and later {another} town was placed there, which was called Sipylus. Many other places have been submerged by sea floods, such as Leucadia, Antirrhio, the Hellespont and the two Bospori; the Euxine Sea destroyed Pyrrha and Antissa, by lake Maeotis; the Corinthian Gulf overwhelmed Helice and Bura. In a rhetorical fashion, Cicero emphasises this state's staunch support of the Romans, but belittle its resources - its tiny walls and the small number of citizens - with which it managed to repel the huge forces of king Mithridates. He suggests the town was stronger in faithfulness and devotion [96]   L  than in material assets. This is an expression of praise [expression of praise].

But if even the luxury of Asia {could not tempt him} when he was at the most impressionable age.
This is a proof of his good character, because he was not corrupted even by the variety of pleasures offered by Asia. There is a similar remark in {Cicero's} defence of L.Murena. But I think that it is even more worthy of note, how eloquently he makes the transition between these passages. They are connected in such a way, that each step of his career is mentioned along with evidence and proof of his upright character. He has said that Flaccus did not yield to luxury in Asia; then in the following passage he says:

At this time, he joined the army of his uncle C.Flaccus.
and adds immediately afterwards:

As military tribune, he accompanied P.Servilius, a most worthy and respected citizen.
This praise of P.Servilius provides good evidence that Flaccus was leading an honourable life. Then, when he goes on to mention his time as quaestor, he adds:

Receiving their full approval, he was elected quaestor.
All this list of Flaccus' magistracies hangs together in such a way, that the praise of his preceding magistracy adds weight to the following one. None of them seems to have commended without reason, when they are all shown to have something of merit.

M.Piso, who would himself have earned the surname of Frugi {"man of integrity"}, if he had not inherited it.
The orator carefully commends all those who supervised Flaccus in his early magistracies with [an expression] of praise, to embellish the reputation of Flaccus. He suggests that it is sufficient proof of his innocence, that such eminent men found no fault with him. As for Piso: many man from this family had the surname "Frugi", but the first one to be given the name was L.Piso, who passed a law about extortion and was a deadly enemy of C.Gracchus. A speech of Gracchus against this Piso still survives; it is full of insults, rather than accusations.

This man undertook a new war and brought it to a {successful} conclusion.
Q.Metellus undertook the administration of the province of Crete, despite the opposition of his colleague Q.Hortensius. After completing the war there, he earned the surname Creticus in recognition of his virtuous conduct, as we said above. Before Metellus, M.Antonius had been put in charge of the coastal regions to hunt down the pirates, but he died before completing his mission.

[97]   L  He is handed over not to witnesses from Asia, but to the comrades of the prosecutor.
He carefully detracts from the credibility of the province, which could ruin Flaccus, by referring to the comrades of the prosecutor. For it would have almost no credibility, if the prosecutor was supported by his comrades, who connived in his falsehoods; but on the other hand it would be very convincing if the whole province joined in the accusation.

{At this point, the commentary moves on to the surviving portion of the speech in defence of Flaccus.}

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[108]   L  The {order of} Cicero's speeches suggests that after the preceding commentary, we should consider the speech which is called: "If P.Clodius investigated him about the laws;" this speech seems to have been discovered after {Cicero's} death. But since we have many later speeches, in which Cicero says almost the same things, I have decided to exclude this speech from the commentary. Nothing of importance will have been missed, because all these events will doubtless be dealt with in the other speeches. Cicero spoke on many further occasions about his consulate, his exile, and {the crimes of} Clodius. Therefore let us consider . . .

[12 pages missing.]

[RedSen_15]   . . . he was not deceived by the pretences of Piso; {Cicero} knew his real character well, through his son-in-law C.Piso, who was from the same family. But the people {of Rome} were completely deceived. They trusted in his appearance rather than his achievements, and elected him consul. The statement that his mother's family came from Transalpine { Gaul } is repeated at great length in the speech, which {Cicero} made against Piso {e.g. Pis_62}. Cicero tries to suggest that the people elected { Piso } not by careful judgement, but by mistake.

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[110]   L  . . . is similar to the above. After M.Tullius had been restored {from exile}, he realised that there was a common source of the benefit which had been conferred on him with almost universal agreement. Therefore, when he had given thanks to the senate, he thought that he ought also to give thanks to the people, and he proceeded to an assembly, where he said almost the same things to the people, as he had already said to the senators. In my opinion, he did this mostly for his own glory, so that it should be thought that he had been restored with the agreement of all classes, and no part of the people had been opposed to his honour. Thereby he could more reasonably boast that he had been judged indispensible for the protection of his country. And here he fills his delivery with a declamatory quality, as he both reminds them of the benefits that he has bestowed on them, and uses the strength of his complaints to stir up ill feeling against his enemies, either because they were the instigators of his exile, or because they waited a long time before allowing him to be restored.

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[111]   L  . . . on either side a heated quarrel arose between the slaves, until swords were drawn, so that P.Clodius was driven by fear to take refuge in a small inn at Bovillae. There the slaves of Milo pursued and killed him, not of their own accord - as Tullius was forced to say in this speech, to exonerate his client - but on the orders of their master, who wished for this above all else. When news of this crime reached Rome, there was strong resentment against Milo. The body {of Clodius}, a noble senator and a popular man, was brought back to the city and placed in the Curia Hostilia, which was then burnt down by the turbulent and sordid mob, who had profited greatly from P.Clodius' life in the past, [112]   L  and now were enraged by his death. While these mass demonstrations against Milo were taking place, the senate was summoned to meet, and decreed that the murder on the Appian Way was against the interests of the state.

Cn.Pompeius, who was then consul for the third time without a colleague, passed a law that there should be a special court to investigate the murder. At first, the jurors sat in the temple of Saturnus. Cicero took on the defence of the case, not only because of the strong debt that he owed {to Milo}, but also because he rejoiced in the death of his enemy, which was {an answer} to his prayers. But the situation was dangerous; the murder had been admitted; the people were angry and rioting; and the consul Pompeius, sitting nearby, was clearly intent on the conviction of Milo. It was impossible to deliver a proper defence, and Tullius himself was forced by fear to withdraw {from the trial}. There is in existence an alternative version of the defence of Milo, in which everything is abrupt and unpolished and clumsy, and you can see that it is full of terror. Cicero wrote the present version of the speech later, with proper effort and greater care, when he had recovered his courage and felt safe again. When the manner of this defence was being discussed - in what way and according to what plan the argument for Milo should be conducted - M.Brutus thought that the speech in his defence should be in opposition, which is called by us "in mitigation". But Cicero though that this was inappropriate, and he preferred to use a form of counter-accusation, that is . . .

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[118]   {Mil_16}   L  When P.Africanus, while he was lying at home.
As I have already said in my commentary on the previous speech, P.Scipio Aemilianus was about to strenuously defend the cause of the Latins, because of their alliance, against the triumvir C.Gracchus and his colleagues, arguing that the land {of the Latins} should not be split up into allotments. But he was carried off by a sudden death at home, and some suspicion {of guilt} fell on C.Gracchus himself and his wife Sempronia. Scipio was fifty-six years old when he died, and traces of bruising were found on his throat. A speech of C.Laelius Sapiens in praise of Scipio has survived, and it seems that this is the speech that Q.Fabius Maximus used in his funeral oration in praise of Scipio. These words appear in the final part of the speech: "We can never thank the immortal gods sufficiently, that a man of such spirit and genius was born in this particular city; nor can we ever sufficiently express how terrible and bitter it is, that he died (?) in that way and perished at that time, when - if he had survived - he could have been of most benefit to you, my fellow-citizens, and to everyone who cares for the welfare of this republic."

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[125]   L  P.Sestius was very well-disposed towards Cicero . . . among the tribunes of the plebs, when P.Lentulus Spinther and Q.Metellus Nepos were consuls. Therefore he obstinately devoted himself to the support of the party, which was working for the honourable restoration of M.Tullius. But P.Clodius resisted their attempts and collected a gang of violent supporters, to prevent them from being able to recall Cicero. As a result there was fighting, in which P.Sestius was seriously and almost fatally wounded. This forced Sestius to assemble a band of armed gladiators for his own protection, just as Milo had already done. By this means he was able to carry through the proposal which he had introduced for {the recall of} Tullius. After Cicero had returned from exile, P.Clodius instigated a prosecution for violent conduct against Sestius; he incited P.Albinovanus to be the principal accuser, with P.Vatinius as a witness. The core of their accusation was that Sestius had gone beyond the bounds of civil politics, because he had carried his motion by armed force, not by fair means. Cicero answered with a defence of this kind, which had a two-fold character, [of counter-accusation and counter-argument]. The one argument is relative: that it was right and reasonable for P.Sestius to have the protection of armed men, so that he could repel the attacks which Clodius' men had started to make on him. The other argument is in mitigation, that he was supporting a just cause which was essential for the wellbeing of the state, and so he ought to go unpunished, even if he did have a gang of armed men, because he wanted to restore the benefactor and saviour of the state, with the full agreement of everyone.

Many speakers defended Sestius in this case; among them were Q.Hortensius, M.Crassus and L.Licinius Calvus, who divided the parts of the defence between them, and concentrated on those parts in their speeches. Therefore Cicero spoke thoroughly about those matters that he had to explain, and did not, as most people think, stray outside the bounds of the case. Although we know that . . . either out of anger or out of grief, Cicero used to exaggerate his sufferings almost beyond what the circumstances required, the long description of a very turbulent time, which fills up much of this book, does seem to be quite relevant to the current case. His purpose was to reveal the seditious and violent actions of P.Clodius at that time, and not only the wrongs that Cicero suffered, [126]   L  but also the benefits that the state received as a result of his restoration; so that it might seem right and necessary for P.Sestius to have had a band of armed men. This created a strong argument that Sestius should be freed from the disgrace of the present accusation. In the course of the speech we will pass over many matters, which we have already discussed in the commentary on the previous speech, because of the similarity of their themes. Therefore you should not expect that, when we come across such matters, we will repeat what we have already said.

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[152]   L  In the consulship of . . . and Appius Claudius he also delivered this speech in defence of Cn.Plancius, who was accused of forming an illegal association under the Lex Licinia. This law, which was passed by M.Licinius Crassus when he was consul with Cn.Pompeius Magnus, set up very strict investigations into candidates, who had procured {such associations} to distribute money to their fellow tribesmen, and thereby to share the common support of bought votes. In order to suppress this abuse, Crassus passed the law to create a much more risky form of trial, in which the defendants were accused before nominated jurors. In other words, the prosecutor could nominate tribes, of which the defendant could reject only one. The jurors were selected from the remaining tribes, and were likely to be very unsympathetic towards the defendant, because the prosecutor had chosen them to suit his purposes, by nominating those tribes, that he expected to be most hostile {towards the defendant}. But Cn.Plancius [153]   L  was connected to M.Tullius by a very close and loyal friendship, which had confirmed by his great kindnesses. When Cicero left the city after being banished 'from fire and water' by the law of his enemy P.Clodius, he proceeded to Macedonia. Most men did nothing to help him, because they were so afraid of the power of Clodius, but the quaestor Cn.Plancius supported him with extreme kindness and loyalty. In that year Plancius held the office of quaestor in Macedonia, under the praetor L.Apuleius; and while Cicero was at Thessalonica, Plancius helped to protect him from any threat of treachery. Therefore, after he had been restored Cicero recorded his gratitude to Plancius, amongst others, in the two speeches that he made in the assembly and in the senate.

This legal case arose from the elections for aediles, in which Plancius was elected, but among the unsuccessful candidates was Juventius Laterensis, a senator from a patrician family who was notable for his eloquence as well as his noble birth. It was Laterensis who now prosecuted Plancius for forming an illegal association - a detested crime and dangerous for defendants, because of the nominated jurors about whom we spoke before. Cicero's defence rests principally on [conjecture]: the orator maintains that Plancius {won the election} not by distributing bribes, but by the uprightness of his character and his distinguished achievements.

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[167]   {Planc_85}   L  You said that you had not sent home any letters with accounts of your exploits; because my letter, which I sent to someone, had harmed me.
All this refers not to the defendant, but to Cicero himself, in response to the taunts of Laterensis. I know that he means the letter, as large as a full book, that Cicero sent to Pompeius about his achievements as consul. The letter seems to have been written in a rather arrogant way, so that Pompeius was considerably annoyed, because in his pompous boasting Cicero was suggesting that he was superior to all other famous leaders. Cicero tries to defend himself by saying that he informed Cn.Pompeius about the preservation of his homeland, and that he did not unreasonably boast about his own exploits. But in reality the letter did harm Cicero; because it had the effect, that Pompeius offered him no protection against the attacks of Clodius.

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[169]   L  [ T.Annius Milo, Q.Metellus Scipio ] and Hypsaeus [all sought to be elected consul in the same year] when P.Clodius Pulcher, the enemy of Milo, was a candidate for praetor. Clodius opposed the candidacy of Milo, and used many different corrupt practices to disrupt the elections; with the intention that Hypsaeus and Scipio should be appointed consuls, and Milo should be unsuccessful. At this time a meeting of the senate was held, at which P.Clodius made an aggressive and abusive speech, attacking not only Milo, but also M.Tullius. Clodius said that {Cicero} was corrupting the elections, because he had become very powerful as a result of his many achievements as a statesman; he alleged that armed gangs had threatened violence; and lastly he claimed that Milo had declared much smaller debts than he actually owed. According to the usual custom, Milo had declared that the total of his debts was six million sestertii. Clodius stated with great emphasis that {Milo} should not be allowed [to stand for the consulship], because he was likely to ransack the state treasuries to meet his large debts. But his accusations were rebutted in a speech by M.Cicero, who strongly supported Milo, in particular because he recalled that Milo as tribune of the plebs had helped him to regain his position in the state. How much Cicero hated P.Clodius, is obvious from the speeches in which he strongly denounced his life and morals. This speech is full of the insults, which they traded with each other. Before I start the commentary, I will explain the title, because I think it will be useful for readers [170]   L  to properly understand the title. The full title is: "An investigation about the debts of Milo." However, there were several different types of investigation, as follows:

[Two pages missing.]

. . . boldly trusting.
He turns the [statement] against Clodius, implying that humble obsequiousness of this kind could more accurately and convincingly be attributed to Clodius, who had discarded all the dignity of his rank when he abjectly begged Pompeius to receive him back into favour.

He is not ashamed? What would shame a man, who not only does not blush, but has not even got a proper face?
This is a vitriolic attack, in which he seeks to denounce not only Clodius' shamelessness, but also his notorious immorality or the ugliness of his face, because Clodius is said to have had an unpleasant appearance.

This is what the poor, the trouble-makers said: 'What a (?) useless man!'
He reports the words of the rumour-mongers, who had praised Clodius for his great powers of determination, when he boldly opposed Pompeius, but later held him in contempt, when he humbled himself to achieve a reconciliation.

To speak disparagingly of, or rather to restrict the leading citizen to his home by violence and fear.
[171]   L  [In correction.] As a type of [correction] he withdraws a word, in order to correct it. It is well known that P.Clodius plotted against Pompeius. Cicero mentions this in several earlier speeches, and states it most fully and plainly in his speech in defence of Milo.

That he would have to rewrite the tablets which he keeps in his entrance hall.
After Cicero was forced into exile, Clodius composed a sort of catalogue of the charges against him, and inscribed it on tablets which he set up in the entrance hall of his house. It is these tablets which Cicero seems to be talking about here, and he suggests that because they are untrue and misleading, they should be considered as worthless; and he has no reason to worry about the accusations, because his honesty had been vindicated by decrees of the senate, showing that he deserved to be restored {from exile}.

I think that you had three complaints about Milo: about his debts, about violence, and about electoral corruption. But you forgot to mention the desecration of religious rites, and the depraved fornication.
After making a [categorisation] into the same types of complaint, that Clodius had used against Milo, the orator adds these two extra categories, which obviously apply to his enemy {Clodius} . . .

[Four pages missing.]

. . . opponents.
Now he moves onto a different theme: whether Milo attempted to use violence. He rebuts this accusation in a similar way, by turning all the suspicion and reproach back onto Clodius. The [arguments] are presented in such a way, as to clear Milo of guilt and embarrass his opponent.

That the saviour of the city should be expelled from it.
This is a most eloquent and strongly-worded harangue, as I said above, which accuses P.Clodius of violence; and indeed he never appears to have behaved in a peaceful or restrained fashion. But next . . . [when he begins to speak about Clodius' year as tribune] how subtly and expertly Cicero mentions his own exile! He does not mention it specifically or openly, but alludes to it by this general phrase. When he wants to say something in praise of himself, he says: "That the citizen, who is the author and guardian of the city's safety, peace, dignity and faith, should be expelled from it." Because this was [boastful] Cicero refers to it [by suggestion] as if he was talking about someone else; and thus he avoids the impression of being arrogant and boastful.

[172]   L  He should be forced to remain within the walls {of his own home}.
Clodius seems to have plotted {to kill} Cn.Pompeius; therefore Cicero continues in a rhetorical fashion with praise of Pompeius, as follows:

Who set the bounds of the Roman empire, not at some region in the world, but in the heights of the sky.
{Cicero} added this [for emphasis], both to flatter Pompeius and to denounce Clodius as a public enemy, who would try to deprive the state of a man who was so useful to it.

Nor was he a cause of fear, when we withdrew.
He is clearly speaking about his exile, which he preferred to call a withdrawal rather than a punishment. Similarly, in his other speeches he preferred to give the impression that he had decided to leave, not because of fear or any recognition of guilt, but rather because he wanted to avoid an outbreak of armed violence in the state.

You brought these men from the Apennines to slaughter the citizens.
In all of this he is speaking {of Clodius} as an ally of Catilina, and therefore he mentions the Apennines, which {Catilina} had recently occupied with an army.

They struck both of the consuls with stones.
The consuls were Cn.Domitius Calvinus and M.Valerius Messalla. The main reason that the meeting of the senate had been summoned, was that P.Clodius had sent a gang of ruffians, to disrupt the elections for new consuls, in which Milo was a candidate.

You who, while many were watching, struck your head and slapped your thighs.
The behaviour of a crazy man . . .

[Two pages missing.]

. . . names.

Wherever he goes, he brings blame upon defendants and jurymen.
As to defendants, the meaning is as follows: by speaking incompetently, he puts them in danger of being condemned. As to jurymen, we should understand it as follows: the prosecutions cause them disrepute and disgrace, because they are thought to have been swayed by bribes. Clodius had falsely asserted that the jurymen ought to be paid for their votes, when in fact he intended to pilfer the money for himself.

And you are not - as is your habit - postponing your {election} as praetor for another year.
He explains this more fully in his defence of Milo { Mil_24 }. Clodius had been a candidate in the elections for praetor, but when he realised that the elections would be delayed so much, that he would not be able to enter office on 1st January, he decided to withdraw his candidacy. Therefore, Cicero pretends that everyone was amazed that Clodius was not postponing his election as praetor in the current year also, just as he had already done in the previous year. {In these years} the elections were often disrupted by disputes between the magistrates

[173]   L  Nor will you be able to give the vote to those, to whom you have promised it.
[Menacingly] he threatens and proclaims that he will stay to oppose Clodius' plans, and will not go off as an envoy with Pompeius. P.Clodius seems to have proposed a law to give voting rights to freedmen, so that they would be included in the census with an equal status {to other citizens}.

Nor that abominable liberty.
The same law is mentioned in the speech in defence of Milo: "Whether [those supporters] of yours {take} from us all - I do not dare to say the rest. Imagine what might be the outcome of this law, when it is dangerous even to speak against it." It was expected that [Clodius would pass] a law when he was praetor [to free] the slaves [of families].

Who can forget what you were like as a youth?
This is a [questioning] that is full of bitterness and contempt; it describes Clodius' character and reveals his morals. {Cicero} suggests that Clodius should be more despised than feared, because he is soiled with so many filthy vices. The rest does not need an explanation, because we have already spoken about it in the preceding comments.

And then again the pirates released you for a ransom - what else can I call those men, who let you go free after receiving a bribe?
He talks [metaphorically] about the jurors, who received a bribe to acquit Clodius when he was accused of sacrilege, as if they were pirates.

[At least 16 pages are missing.]

[174]   L  . . . of nature - unless perhaps you think that a man's reputation depends on his appearance and shape, and not on his character.
[Definition from the opposite.] He declares that a man's worth should be judged not from the appearance of his body, but from the quality of his character.

Then you had some terrors, which stuck out like complete horns.
[A metaphor] in which he describes P.Clodius as similar to a wild beast. Also, [as a metaphor]at the end of the [digression] he represents him with horns, which he once seemed to possess, but has now lost. The meaning of course is that Clodius should be despised rather than feared.

They did not {live to} see that the men, whom they had expelled, were restored to the state.
He quotes the examples of C.Gracchus and L.Saturninus, of whom the former was killed on the Aventine hill, and the latter was brought down from the Capitol with the praetor Glaucia and put to death. He means that after their deaths, P.Popilius, who had been forced to leave {Rome} by Gracchus, and Q.Metellus Numidicus, who had gone into exile to avoid the violence of L.Apuleius, were both restored to the state. Therefore Cicero boasts of his own good fortune, because he was restored while his enemy Clodius was still alive.

I yielded to the armed force either of your urban mob, or (as was believed at the time) of someone else.
The bitterness of the quarrel . . .

[18 lines missing.]

. . . the uncertain belief that he had been received back into favour. But Tullius describes this carefully, in a very rhetorical way, so that no-one should think that Pompeius acknowledged {Clodius} as a good citizen, when he put an end to his quarrel with him. Cicero calls {Pompeius} "a very cautious man," whose safety depended not so much on Clodius' trustworthiness and innocence - which was non-existent - as on his own foresight, when he avoided being trapped by Clodius' plots.

End of: ["About the debts of Milo"]


[175]   L  . . . he particularly devoted himself to the study of poetry, and as it seems was pre-eminent in this form of literature. Therefore he was on friendly terms with some famous men, as M.Tullius states in the course of this speech. [ . . . (?) when he came back with Lucullus, he went to live] in Heracleia, which was then an allied state, and was enrolled as a Heracleian citizen. Then the consuls Silvanus and Carbo passed a law, that that anyone who belonged to an allied people could obtain Roman citizenship, if only he was living in Italy at the time that the law was passed, and if he made an application to the praetor within sixty days. Licinius Archias was unable to provide the necessary evidence that he was entitled to Roman citizenship, because he was unable to prove that he had been enrolled as a citizen of Heracleia, after the records office of that city was burnt down during the civil war, and he had not declared his property in the census. Therefore he was prosecuted under the Lex Papia, which had been passed to detain those who falsely and illegally claimed Roman citizenship. {Cicero's} argument proceeds from conjecture, as to whether Archias was enrolled as a citizen of Heracleia, and whether he had done everything which was required of claimants from allied peoples. It lacks proof on many points, but depends on the evidence of the people of Heracleia and particularly - the theme that permeates the whole speech - on his reputation as a talented poet and a charming scholar. Apart from this conjecture, there is an argument that the excellence of his character would justify him being admitted as a Roman citizen, even if he had not been enrolled already.

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