This speech was delivered for the poet A. Licinius Archias, in 62 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  Gentlemen of the jury: Whatever talent I possess (and I realise its limitations), whatever be my oratorical experience (and I do not deny that my practice herein has been not inconsiderable), whatever knowledge of the theoretical side of my profession I may have derived from a devoted literary apprenticeship (and I admit that at no period of my life has the acquisition of such knowledge been repellent to me), - to any advantage that may be derived from all these my friend Aulus Licinius ** has a pre-eminent claim, which belongs to him almost of right. For if I strain my mental vision far into the past, and strive to recall the most remote memories of my boyhood, the impression which such a survey leaves with me is that it was he who first fitted my back for its burden and my feet for their destined path. If this voice of mine, trained by his precepts and his exhortation, has on some few occasions proved of service, it is my client who has put into my hands the means of succouring others and perhaps saving some, and it is to his cause, therefore, that any power of help or protection, which it lies with me to exert, should be applied.  My remarks may cause surprise; for it may be urged that the genius of the defendant is exercised in a sphere which bears no connexion with my own study and practice of oratory. But I would point out in reply that I myself have never concentrated my energies upon my professional interests to the exclusion of all others. Indeed, the subtle bond of a mutual relationship links together all arts which have any bearing upon the common life of mankind.
[2.] L  It may, however, be a matter for surprise in some quarters that in an inquiry dealing with statute law, in a public trial held before a specially selected praetor of the Roman people and a jury of high dignity, in the presence of a crowded audience of citizens, my speech should be made in a style out of keeping not merely with the conventions of the bar, but also with forensic language. But I crave your indulgence, an indulgence which will, I trust, cause you no inconvenience, and which is peculiarly applicable to the nature of my client's case; and I would ask you to allow me, speaking as I am on behalf of a distinguished poet and a consummate scholar, before a cultivated audience, an enlightened jury, and the praetor whom we see occupying the tribunal, to enlarge somewhat upon enlightened and cultivated pursuits, and to employ what is perhaps a novel and unconventional line of defence to suit the character of one whose studious seclusion has made him a stranger to the anxious perils of the courts.  Let me but assure myself that you grant me this kind concession, and I will engage to convince you of the propriety, not only of refusing to exclude my client from the civic roll, since he is a citizen, but even of adding his name to that roll, supposing that he were not.
[3.] L As soon as Archias had left behind him his boyhood, and those influences which mould and elevate the boyish mind, he applied himself to the pursuit of a literary career. First at Antioch, ** where he had been born of noble parents, a place which in those days was a renowned and populous city, the seat of brilliant scholarship and artistic refinement, his intellectual pre-eminence rapidly gained for him a commanding position among his contemporaries. During his subsequent travels through Greece and the rest of Asia, his arrival created such a stir that the hope of seeing him went beyond the rumour of his genius, and the hope was continually surpassed by the wonder of his actual presence.
 In Southern Italy at that time the arts and studies of Greece had great vogue, and excited more ardent interest in the towns of Latium also than even to-day; while here at Rome, too, owing to the rest from civil strife, they were not neglected. Accordingly, at Tarentum, at Rhegium, at Neapolis, he was presented with civic rights and other distinctions, and all that could discern true genius elected him to the circle of their acquaintance and hospitality. So, when the voice of fame had made him well known to men whom he had never met, he came to Rome, where Marius and Catulus were consuls. ** He was fortunate to find in the occupation of that office two men, one of whom could provide him with a magnificent theme for his pen, and another whose achievements could supply him with a theme, and who could also lend him an appreciative hearing. Immediately upon his arrival, and even before he had assumed the garb of manhood, ** the Luculli welcomed Archias to their home. Moreover, it speaks well for my client's inborn goodness, as well as for his genius as a poet, that the home, which was the earliest resort of his youth, has given an affectionate shelter to his declining years.  He enjoyed at this time the warm friendship of Metellus, the hero of Numidia, and of his son Pius; he read his works to Marcus Aemilius ; the doors of Quintus Catulus and his son were ever open to him ; Lucius Crassus cultivated his acquaintance; he was bound by ties of close intimacy to the Luculli, Drusus, the Octavii, Cato, and the whole family of Hortensius ; in a word, so honoured a position did he hold, that he was courted not only by those who wished to enjoy the elevating influences of hearing his poems, but also by those who perhaps feigned a desire for such enjoyment.
[4.] L After a lapse of some few years he went to Sicily with Marcus Lucullus, and, returning with him from that province, came to Heraclea. ** Full civic privileges had been accorded to this town by the terms of its treaty with Rome, and Archias expressed a wish to be enrolled among its citizens. His personal qualities would have been sufficient recommendation, even had Lucullus not thrown the influence of his own popularity into the scale, and his wish was readily agreed by the inhabitants.  He was granted the franchise by the terms of the law of Silvanus and Carbo, ** which enacts "that all who have been admitted to citizenship in federate townships must have been resident in Italy at the time of the passing of the law, and must have reported themselves to the praetor within sixty days." My client had for many years resided at Rome, and reported himself duly to the praetor Quintus Metellus, who was his personal friend.
 If the validity of Archias' enfranchisement and his compliance with the law are the only points at issue, I now close the case for the defence. For can you, Gratius, ** disprove either of these facts? Will you deny the enrolment at Heraclea at the time in question? We have here in court an influential witness of incorruptible honour, Marcus Lucullus, who is ready to state not that he thinks but that he knows, not that he heard but that he saw, not that he merely was present at the event but that he was the agent of it. We have here a distinguished body of representatives from Heraclea, who have come to Rome expressly for this trial to present their city's official evidence of my client's enrolment. And after all this my opponent asks that the archives of Heraclea should be brought into court, when it is a matter of universal knowledge that those archives were destroyed in the burning of the record-office during the Italian war. ** It is absurd to ignore the evidence which lies to our hand, and to demand evidence which cannot possibly be produced; to shut the ears to the record of living men, and to insist that a written record should be forthcoming. You have the statement of a noble gentleman, whose word is his bond. You have the sworn and trustworthy declaration of an incorruptible municipality. There can be no tampering with these ; yet you wave them aside, and demand documentary evidence, though in the same breath you admit its corruptibility.  Or do you deny that my client resided at Rome, when for so many years before he was admitted to the franchise he had made Rome the depositary of all his possessions and all his hopes ? Or did he fail to report himself? No; he did report himself; and, what is more, out of all the declarations made at that time before the board of praetors, his alone was supported by documents which possess all the weight of official sanction.
[5.] L For though the citizen-rolls of Appius, ** so it was alleged, had been carelessly kept, and though the authenticity of all such documents had been impaired by the frivolity of Gabinius, so long as his reputation survived, and by his downfall, after his conviction, yet Metellus, that most conscientious and discreet of men, displayed in regard to them such scrupulous accuracy that he came to Lucius Lentulus the praetor, and a jury, and professed himself deeply embarrassed by the erasure of a single entry. These, then, are the rolls ; and here no erasure is to be seen in the entry of Aulus Licinius' name.  This being so, what grounds have you for questioning his enfranchisement, especially as his name is to be found on the roll of other cities as well as Heraclea? Citizens of the ancient Greek states ** often went out of their way to associate with themselves in their civic privileges undistinguished men, of unimportant attainments, or of no attainments at all; and you would have me believe that the citizens of Rhegium or Locri, Neapolis or Tarentum, withheld from a brilliant genius like my client an honour which was commonly bestowed by them on play-actors. ** Others have found some way of creeping into the rolls of the cities I have mentioned, not merely after they had received the citizenship, but even after the passing of the law of Papius ** ; my client does not even avail himself of the presence of his name on these lists in which he is enrolled, because he has always desired to belong to Heraclea ; and shall he therefore be rejected?  You say you look in vain for his name upon our census-rolls. Yes; it is, I suppose, a close secret that at the time of the last census he was with the army on the staff of the gallant general Lucius Lucullus; at the time of the census before that he was again with Lucullus, who was quaestor in Asia, while in the first year ** when censors, in the persons of Julius and Crassus, were appointed after his admission to the franchise, no census of any section of the people was held. But, since the census-roll is no proof of a man's civil status, and since the appearance of his name there does but indicate that when the census was taken he lived as a citizen, let me further point out that at that time my client, whom you assert to have had, even in his own view, no rights as a Roman citizen, had frequently made his will according to Roman law, had entered upon legacies left to him by Roman citizens, and had been recommended to the treasury for reward by Lucius Lucullus as proconsul. [6.] L Upon you lies the burden of proof, if proof you can offer; for my client will never be refuted by an appeal to any judgement which either he himself or his friends have passed upon him.
 You will no doubt ask me, Gratius, to account for the deep interest I feel in my friend. It is because he provides refreshment for my spirit after the clamour of the courts, and repose for senses jaded by their vulgar wrangling. Do you think that I could find inspiration for my daily speeches on so manifold a variety of topics, did I not cultivate my mind with study, or that my mind could endure so great a strain, did not study too provide it with relaxation? I am a votary of literature, and make the confession unashamed ; shame belongs rather to the bookish recluse, who knows not how to apply his reading to the good of his fellows, or to manifest its fruits to the eyes of all. But what shame should be mine, gentlemen, who have made it a rule of my life for all these years never to allow the attractions of a cloistered ease or the seductions of pleasure or the enticements of repose to prevent me from aiding any man in the hour of his need?  How then can I justly be blamed or censured, if it shall be found that I have devoted to literature a portion of my leisure hours no longer than others without blame devote to the pursuit of material gain, to the celebration of festivals or games, to pleasure and the repose of mind and body, to protracted ** banqueting, or perhaps to the gaming-board ** or to ball-playing? I have the better right to indulgence herein, because my devotion to letters strengthens my oratorical powers, and these, such as they are, have never failed my friends in their hour of peril. Yet insignificant though these powers may seem to be, I fully realise from what source I draw all that is highest in them.  Had I not persuaded myself from my youth up, thanks to the moral lessons derived from a wide reading, that nothing is to be greatly sought after in this life save glory and honour, and that in their quest all bodily pains and all dangers of death or exile should be lightly accounted, I should never have borne for the safety of you all the brunt of many a bitter encounter, or bared my breast to the daily onsets of abandoned persons. All literature, all philosophy, all history, abounds with incentives to noble action, incentives which would be buried in black darkness were the light of the written word not flashed upon them. How many pictures of high endeavour the great authors of Greece and Rome have drawn for our use, and bequeathed to us, not only for our contemplation, but for our emulation! These I have held ever before my eyes throughout my public career, and have guided the workings of my brain and my soul by meditating upon patterns of excellence.
[7.] L  "But," an objector may ask, "were these great men, whose virtues are perpetuated in literature, themselves adepts in the learning which you describe in such fulsome terms?" It would be difficult to make a sweeping and categorical reply, but at the same time I have my answer ready. Many there have been, no doubt, exceptionally endowed in temperament and character, who, without any aid from culture, but only by a heaven-born light within their own souls, have been self-schooled in restraint and fortitude; I would even go so far as to say that natural gifts without education have more often attained to glory and virtue than education without natural gifts. Yet I do at the same time assert that when to a lofty and brilliant character is applied the moulding influence of abstract studies, the result is often inscrutably and unapproachably noble.  Such a character our fathers were privileged to behold in the divine figure of Scipio Africanus **; such were those patterns of continence and self-control, Gaius Laelius and Lucius Furius; such was the brave and venerable Marcus Cato, the most accomplished man of his day. These surely would never have devoted themselves to literary pursuits, had they not been aided thereby in the appreciation and pursuit of merit. But let us for the moment waive these solid advantages ; let us assume that entertainment is the sole end of reading ; even so, I think you would hold that no mental employment is so broadening to the sympathies or so enlightening to the understanding. Other pursuits belong not to all times, all ages, all conditions ; but this gives stimulus ** to our youth and diversion to our old age; this adds a charm to success, and offers a haven of consolation to failure. In the home it delights, in the world it hampers not. Through the night-watches, on all our journeying, and in our hours of country ease, it is our unfailing companion.
 But it might happen that we ourselves were without literary tastes or attainments ; yet even so, it would be incumbent upon us to reverence their manifestation in others. [8.] L Was there a man among us so boorish or so insensible that the recent death of Roscius ** did not stir his deepest emotions ? He died full of years, and yet we all felt that an artist of such grace and brilliance deserved immunity from our mortal lot. Merely by the motions of his body he had won all our hearts; and shall those hearts be insensible to the inscrutable motions of the soul and the agile play of genius?  How often, gentlemen, have I seen my friend Archias, - I shall presume upon your kindness, since I see you give so careful a hearing to my unconventional digression, - how often, I say, have I seen him, without writing a single letter, extemporising quantities of excellent verse dealing with current topics! How often have I seen him, when recalled, repeat his original matter with an entire change of word and phrase! To his finished and studied work I have known such approval accorded that his glory rivalled that of the great writers of antiquity. Does not such a man deserve my affection and admiration ? Should I not count it my duty to strain every nerve in his defence? And yet we have it on the highest and most learned authority that while other arts are matters of science and formula and technique, poetry depends solely upon an inborn faculty, is evoked by a purely mental activity, and is infused with a strange supernal inspiration. Rightly, then, did our great Ennius ** call poets " holy," for they seem recommended to us by the benign bestowal of God.  Holy then, gentlemen, in your enlightened eyes let the name of poet be, inviolate hitherto by the most benighted of races! The very rocks of the wilderness give back a sympathetic echo to the voice; savage beasts have sometimes been charmed into stillness by song; ** and shall we, who are nurtured upon all that is highest, be deaf to the appeal of poetry? Colophon asserts that Homer ** is her citizen, Chios claims him for her own, Salamis appropriates him, while Smyrna is so confident that he belongs to her that she has even dedicated a shrine to him in her town; and many other cities besides engage in mutual strife for his possession.
[9.] L These peoples, then, are ambitious to claim, even after his death, one who was an alien, merely because he was a poet; and shall a living poet be repudiated by us, though he is ours both by inclination and by the laws? Shall we do so, in spite of the fact that a short while ago he bent all the energies of his genius to celebrating the fame and glory of the Roman people? For in his youth he wrote on the Cimbrian ** campaign, thereby winning the approbation of the great Gaius Marius himself, who was generally considered to be insensible to such refinements.  For indeed there is no man to whom the Muses are so distasteful that he will not be glad to entrust to poetry the eternal emblazonment of his achievements. It is related that the great Athenian hero, Themistocles, when asked what recital or what voice he loved best to hear, replied, "That which bears most eloquent testimony to my prowess." On a like foundation rested the deep attachment felt by Marius towards Lucius Plotius, ** whose genius he thought well qualified to perpetuate his exploits.  Again, my client has treated in its entirety the great and difficult theme of the war with Mithridates, pursuing all its diverse operations by land and sea, and his work sheds lustre not only on the gallant and renowned Lucius Lucullus, but also upon the fame of the Roman people. For it was the Roman people who, with Lucullus at their head, opened up the Pontus, fortified as it was not only by the resources of its monarch, but also by an advantageous situation. It was an army of the Roman people, which, under the same commander, routed with a moderate force the innumerable hordes of Armenia. And it is to the Roman people, still under the directing skill of Lucullus, that the credit belongs of having torn away and saved the friendly city of Cyzicus from all the assaults of the king, and from being swallowed up in the ravaging jaws of war. To us shall it ever be imputed with praise that under Lucullus again we crushed a hostile fleet, slew its admirals, and fought that astonishing naval battle at Tenedos. ** Ours, inalienably ours, are the trophies, memorials, and triumphs of that campaign ; and it is the glories of the Roman people which are sounded abroad by the genius of those who laud exploits such as these.
 Our great Ennius enjoyed the close affection of the elder Africanus, and so a marble statue of him is reputed to have been placed even in the tomb of the Scipios. ** Yet we may be sure that the panegyric he bestowed upon his patron lends adornment not only to its theme, but also to the name of the Roman people. He exalted to heaven the Cato whose great-grandson is now with us; and great glory is added thereby to the name of the Roman people. The rule holds good in every case; the glory of universal Rome borrows an added lustre from those works which distinguish the bearers of the great names of Maximus, ** Marcellus, or Fulvius. [10.] L For this reason our ancestors admitted their author, a citizen of Rudiae, ** to the franchise; and shall we eject from our franchise one for whom many states have striven, and whom Heraclea has gained, and constituted her citizen by due process of law ?
 For if anyone thinks that the glory won by the writing of Greek verse is naturally less than that accorded to the poet who writes in Latin, he is entirely in the wrong. Greek literature is read in nearly every nation under heaven, while the vogue of Latin is confined to its own boundaries, and they are, we must grant, narrow. Seeing, therefore, that the activities of our race know no barrier save the limits of the round earth, we ought to be ambitious that whithersoever our arms have penetrated there also our fame and glory should extend; for the reason that literature exalts the nation whose high deeds it sings, and at the same time there can be no doubt that those who stake their lives to fight in honour's cause find therein a lofty incentive to peril and endeavour.  We read that Alexander the Great carried in his train numbers of epic poets and historians. And yet, standing before the tomb of Achilles at Sigeum, ** he exclaimed, - "Fortunate youth, to have found in Homer an herald of your valour!" Well might he so exclaim, for had the Iliad never existed, the same mound which covered Achilles' bones would also have overwhelmed his memory. Again, did not he to whom our own age has accorded the title of Great, ** whose successes have been commensurate with his high qualities, present with the citizenship before a mass meeting of his troops Theophanes of Mytilene, the historian of his campaigns? Were not our brave fellows, soldiers and peasants though they were, so smitten with the glamour of renown that they loudly applauded the act, feeling that they too had a share in the glory that had been shed upon their leader?  Accordingly, if Archias were not legally a Roman citizen already, it would have been beyond his power, presumably, to win the gift of citizenship from some military commander. Sulla, no doubt, who gave it so freely to Spaniards and Gauls, would have refused it to the request of my client. It will be remembered that once at a public meeting some poetaster from the crowd handed up to that great man a paper containing an epigram upon him, improvised in somewhat unmetrical elegiacs. Sulla immediately ordered a reward to be paid him out of the proceeds of the sale which he was then holding, but added the stipulation that he should never write again. He accounted the diligent efforts of a poet worthy of some reward, bad though that poet was; and think you he would not have eagerly sought out my client, whose literary powers were so magnificent, and whose pen was so ready?  Again, could not his own credit or the influence of the Luculli have gained him his desire from Quintus Metellus Pius, who was his intimate friend, and who had presented the citizenship to not a few? And it must be remembered that so ambitious was Metellus to have his deeds immortalised that he even deigned to lend a hearing to poets from Corduba, ** overladen and exotic though their style might be.
[11.] L Ambition is an universal factor in life, and the nobler a man is, the more susceptible. is he to the lure of fame. We should not disclaim this human weakness, which indeed is patent to all; we should rather admit it unabashed. Why, upon the very books in which they bid us scorn ambition philosophers inscribe their names! They seek advertisement and publicity for themselves on the very page whereon they pour contempt upon advertisement and publicity.  That gallant officer and gentleman, Decimus Brutus, adorned the vestibules of the temples and monuments which he raised with the poems of his friend Accius ; more, the great Fulvius, who took Ennius with him upon his Aetolian campaign, had no misgivings in dedicating to the Muses the spoils of the god of war. Surely, then, in a city where honour has been paid to the name of poet and the shrines of the Muses by generals who have only just put down their weapons, it would ill befit a jury of peaceful citizens to disdain to pay respect to the Muses by extending protection to their bard.
 And the more to incline you so to do, gentlemen of the jury, I will now proceed to open to you my heart, and confess to you my own passion, if I may so describe it, for fame, a passion over-keen perhaps, but assuredly honourable. The measures which I, jointly with you, undertook in my consulship for the safety of the empire, the lives of our citizens, and the common weal of the state, have been taken by my client as the subject of a poem which he has begun; he read this to me, and the work struck me as at once so forcible and so interesting, that I encouraged him to complete it. For magnanimity looks for no other recognition of its toils and dangers save praise and glory ; once rob it of that, gentlemen, and in this brief and transitory pilgrimage of life what further incentive have we to high endeavour?  If the soul were haunted by no presage of futurity, if the scope of her imaginings were bounded by the limits set to human existence, surely never then would she break herself by bitter toil, rack herself by sleepless solicitude, or struggle so often for very life itself. But deep in every noble heart dwells a power which plies night and day the goad of glory, and bids us see to it that the remembrance of our names should not pass away with life, but should endure throughout all the ages of the future.
[12.] L  Are we to show so poor a spirit to the world, we, who are exposed to all the perils and toils that beset a public career, as to think that, after having lived out our allotted span without ever drawing the breath of peace and repose, all is to die along with us? Many great men have been studious to leave behind them statues and portraits, likenesses not of the soul, but of the body; and how much more anxious should we be to bequeath an effigy of our minds and characters, wrought and elaborated by supreme talent? For my part, in the very enactment of my exploits, I felt that I was sowing broadcast to reap an undying memory throughout the whole world. It may be that after death I shall be insensible to it. It may be that, as philosophers have held, some part of my being shall yet be conscious of it. Be that as it may, now at any rate I find satisfaction in the thought and in the hope.
 Wherefore, gentlemen, protect, I beg of you, a man whose honour you see to be attested both by the high position of his friends, and the durability of their friendship, whose genius you can estimate at its true worth by the fact that genius itself has set a premium upon it, and the righteousness of whose cause is established by the support of the law, the authority of a municipality, the evidence of Lucullus, and the citizen-rolls of Metellus. Throughout his career he has shed glory upon you, upon your generals, and upon the history of the Roman people; he is engaged upon a work which promises to be a glorious and undying testimony to those public perils which we have recently faced together; and he belongs to a profession which has been universally held inviolable, both in act and word. I implore you therefore, gentlemen, if such high talent deserves any commendation from men, nay more, from heaven, let him rest in the assurance of your protection, and let it be seen that so far from being assailed by your displeasure, he has been assisted by your humanity.
 I am sure that my statement of the case, brief and straightforward as I, true to my practice, have made it, has appealed to every one of you; and I hope that my departure from the practice and the conventions of the courts, and my digression upon the subject of my client's genius, and, in general terms, upon the art which he follows, has been welcomed by you in as generous a spirit as I am assured it has been welcomed by him who presides over this tribunal. **
1.(↑) Cic. uses his client's Roman name, to produce a favourable effect. Why A. adopted the praenomen Aulus is uncertain; Licinius was the name of the clan (gens) to which the Luculli belonged.
2.(↑) The capital of Syria.
3.(↑) 102 B.C.
4.(↑) The toga praetexta was worn until the age of seventeen by Roman youths; the terms of Roman life are applied to Archias for effect. See note on Chap. I.
5.(↑) A Greek city in Lucania.
6.(↑) Lex Plautia Papiria.
7.(↑) The prosecutor, otherwise unknown.
8.(↑) Social War, 90-88 B.C.
9.(↑) Probably the father of P. Clodius, who was later Cicero's enemy.
10.(↑) i.e, of Magna Graecia, as is clear from the context.
11.(↑) In Republican times the actor's profession was considered beneath Roman dignity.
12.(↑) An act for the expulsion of aliens, passed about 65.
13.(↑) 89 B.C.
14.(↑) Lit. "that begin early."
15.(↑) Dicing was disreputable, and forbidden by law; cp. Hor. Od. iii. 24. 58.
16.(↑) i.e. Minor; the leader of the famous Scipionic circle, and the chief promoter of Greek culture at Rome in the latter half of the second century B.C.
17.(↑) Or, reading alunt, "strength"; or, reading agunt, "employment."
18.(↑) The great comedian of the Roman stage.
19.(↑) The father of Roman poetry; born at Rudiae in Calabria, 239 B.C.
20.(↑) The references are to Amphion, to the sound of whose lyre the walls of Thebes arose, and to Orpheus.
21.(↑) A rivalry expressed in the well-known epigram :
"Seven cities contend for the birth of Homer:
Smyrna, Rhodes, Colophon, Salamis, Chios, Argos and Athens."
22.(↑) Marius defeated the Cimbri at Vercellae, 102 B.C.
23.(↑) The first Roman to teach rhetoric at Rome.
24.(↑) 73 B.C., against Mithridates.
25.(↑) See Livy xxxviii. 56; remains of the tomb are still to be seen on the Via Appia.
26.(↑) Q. Fabius Maximus (Cunctator).
27.(↑) See note on Chap. VIII.
28.(↑) At west entrance of Hellespont, south shore.
30.(↑) Centre of Roman culture; mod. Cordova.
31.(↑) Tradition says that this was Cicero's brother Quintus.
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