Cicero : De Domo Sua

Sections 54-104

This speech was addressed to the pontifices, concerning Cicero's house in Rome that had been demolished, in 57 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.

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[21.] L   [54] Presumably you were not preparing violence when at the tribunal of Aurelius ** you were openly enrolling not only free men but even slaves, whom you had summoned from every quarter in the city ; when you issued proclamations ordering that the shops should be closed, you were not calling upon the ignorant mob to have recourse to force, but to honest gentlemen to show restraint and prudence. When you were storing weapons at the temple of Castor, you were merely contriving means to prevent violent proceedings ; when you tore up and carted away the steps of that temple, you did but debar presumptuous characters from access and ascent thereto, so that you might have freedom for your own law-abiding proceedings; by ordering those who, at a gathering of patriots, had passed resolutions in favour of my restitution, to present themselves, and by scattering their adherents by blows, weapons, and stones, you no doubt displayed your strong dislike of violence. [55] But surely all this reckless violence of one insane tribune of the plebs could easily have been overpowered and broken by the bravery or superior numbers of honest men. I suppose that when Syria was being given to Gabinius and Macedonia to Piso, in both cases with unlimited authority and vast sums of money, that they might give you perfect freedom of action, might further your schemes, might provide you with retainers, troops, their own centurions of tried loyalty, money, and whole households of slaves, that by their shameless harangues they might relieve you of your embarrassments, mock at the authority of the senate, menace Roman knights with death and outlawry, terrify me with threats, call down murder and strife upon my head, use their friends to fill my house, thronged, as it was, by patriotic citizens, with the fear of proscription, denude me of my troops of high-minded followers, despoil me of the protection of the senate, and forbid that august order not merely to fight on my behalf, but even to change their garments as a symbol of grief and supplication, - I suppose not even this constituted violence?

[22.] L   [56] And I, - what position did I relinquish ? "What timidity was found, - I will not say in me; let us grant that I am naturally timorous, - but what of those many thousands of gallant gentlemen, what of our Roman knights ? What of the senate? What of the whole body of patriots? If no violence had been employed, why was it that they escorted me forth with tears instead of barring my way with execrations or deserting me in anger? [57] Or had I misgivings of my ability to withstand the danger face to face, if proceedings were taken against me in the traditional and established method ? Which had I the better reason to fear? A trial, supposing that a charge were laid against me? Or, instead of a trial, a law touching myself alone? A trial, indeed? No doubt my case was so bad, and my powers so mean, that I could not have made a clear statement of circumstances the details of which were at the time not generally known. ** Was it because I could not have made a good case for myself, when, as a matter of fact, my case was so good that its own unsupported merits were enough to justify, not only itself, but even me, though I was absent? If I had remained, would the senate, or all the orders of the state, or all those who rallied from the whole of Italy to procure my recall, have worked less fervently to retain and preserve me in a cause so popular that, as even this enemy of his country querulously admits, the whole world was summoning me with ardent expectation to resume my former proud position? [58] Or, on the other hand, while I had no danger to apprehend from a trial, did I dread legislation against my person, for fear lest no veto might be interposed if it should be proposed to inflict a fine upon me, being at the time present? But was I so destitute of aid from friends, or was the republic so devoid of magistrates ? Or supposing that the tribes had been summoned to vote, would they have sanctioned proscription against any citizen whatsoever, far less against me, to whom they were so deeply obliged for their preservation ? Or, if I had been present, would your troop of veteran conspirators, your needy and desperate soldiery, and your retinue of recruits furnished by those abandoned consuls, have kept their hands from my person, seeing that, though I had retired before the wicked brutality of all of them, even when I was far away I could not glut their souls by any grief of mine?

[23.] L   [59] For what harm had you suffered at the hands of my unhappy wife, whom you had harassed, plundered, and tortured by every artifice of brutality ? Or from my daughter, whose ceaseless tears and drab clothes of mourning filled you with joy, though there was not an eye or heart in all the world else that could view them unmoved ? Or from my little son, who, as long as I was absent from him, was never seen save weeping and prostrated ? What had he done, that you should have desired so often to lay plots against his life? What had you suffered from my brother? Some time after my retirement he had come from his province, counting life not worth living except on the terms of my restoration ; his desolation, that baffled all belief and beggared all experience, was an object of pity to every mortal soul; but how often did he escape by an hair's breadth from your swords and your clutches! [60] But why disclose the savagery you displayed towards me and my dear ones, when you have waged a bitter and sacrilegious war, instinct with the extremity of hatred, against my very walls, roofs, pillars, and door-posts ? For I refuse to believe that, after my retirement, when you had devoured with greedy anticipation the fortunes of all the wealthy, the produce of all the provinces, and the possessions of tetrarchs and kings, you were blinded by a lust for my plate and my furniture; I cannot think that that Campanian ** consul and his dancer colleague, to the former of whom you had consigned all Achaea, Thessaly, Boeotia, Greece, Macedonia, all Barbary, and the property of Roman citizens, and to the latter's plundering hands Syria, Babylon, and Persia, peoples utterly loyal and entirely peaceable, - I cannot think that they were so covetous of my portals, my columns, and my doors. [61] Why, the troops and retainers of Catiline never thought that they could sate their hunger upon the masonry and tiles of my dwelling ; but as in the case of the cities of our foes, and not all our foes, but those against whom we have started bitter and internecine warfare, it is our practice to raze them to the ground, with the end not of booty but of revenge, because we bold that some sediment of war lingers even in the buildings and abodes of those whose savagery has inflamed our minds against them, so also . . . **

[24.] L   [62] No measure had been passed bearing on myself; I had not been called upon to appear; I had not failed to answer any summons. Even in your judgement I was a citizen untainted, when my house on the Palatine and my country mansion at Tusculum were being made over one to each of the two consuls (the nominal consuls, that is to say), when the marble columns were being taken down from my apartments and handed over to the consul's mother-in-law, while to the consul's estate adjoining were transferred not merely the furniture or ornaments of the mansion, but even the very trees, while the mansion itself was razed to the foundations as a sacrifice not to the greed of booty - for what did it amount to as booty ? - but to merciless hatred. My house on the Palatine was ablaze, by no mere accident, but by deliberate arson ; the consuls were feasting and enjoying the congratulations of their fellow-conspirators, one of them asserting that he had been Catiline's minion, and the other that he was cousin to Cethegus. [63] This was the savagery, gentlemen, this the criminality, this the recklessness, which I warded from the heads of all patriots by the shield of my body; I in my person met the full onset of civil strife, all the pent-up lawlessness of traitors, which for long had smouldered with a secret rankling hate, and which, now that it had found leaders so shameless, was bursting from its concealment. Against me alone by the hands of the tribunes were hurled the brands of the consuls; in me were fixed all the impious shafts of conspiracy which I had once blunted. If I had done as many gallant gentlemen urged, and had chosen to meet violence in the field, either I should have proved victorious at the cost of a tremendous carnage of men who, though traitors, were yet citizens, or all patriots would have been exterminated (and they could have prayed for no better fate), and I, and the republic with me, should have been laid low. [64] I saw, while the senate and the Roman people yet lived, the prospect of a speedy and honourable return; and I thought it inconceivable that it would any longer be illegal for me to exist in the republic which I myself had saved. But if it were still to be illegal, I had heard and had read how distinguished compatriots of ours had dashed into the thick of the foe upon indubitable death in order to save the army ; and was I, when the safety of the whole state was to be won, to shrink from playing this part under better conditions than the Decii ** enjoyed, inasmuch as while they could not even hear of the fame they had won, I might have been in a position to be even the spectator of my own renown?

[25.] L   It was the check, then, that I gave to your ** mad career which rendered all your attacks fruitless; for my bitter calamities had stemmed the full shock of all the forces of wickedness; and in so shocking an outrage, so dire a fall, there was no room for any new phase of brutality. [65] Cato had been my closest adherent. What line of conduct were you to pursue? It was not to be thought of that you should affront all those against whom you felt animosity. What then could you do? Get him out of the way by sending him to collect money from Cyprus? But your booty would be as good as lost to you. Well, you will be at no loss to find more ; but he must at all costs be removed from the scene. So the hated Marcus Cato is banished to Cyprus under show of having a favour bestowed upon him. There were two, of whom traitors could not endure the sight, and these were driven forth, one ** by the conferring of a distinction which was a deep insult, the other ** by the infliction upon him of a disaster which was to his eternal credit. [66] And that you ** may realise that it is not persons but high qualities that inspire his consistent hatred, I would remind you that, as soon as I had been expelled and Cato removed, he turned round upon the very man ** whose agency and assistance in mass meetings had enabled him, as he himself admitted, to carry out all his projects in the past, and still continued to enable him ; on the other hand, he did not think it likely that Gnaeus Pompeius, whom every one judged, as he saw, to be far the most powerful man in the state, would long continue to condone his reckless proceedings. Clodius by a plot had seduced from his tutelage an enemy captive, the son of a friendly king, ** and by this outrage had challenged that gallant gentleman; and then he deemed that he could sustain a conflict with him by means of the same forces which I had refused to use in a struggle that would have involved peril to patriots. At the outset, indeed, he was backed by the consuls ; but later Gabinius broke his engagement, though Piso remained loyal to him. [67] You have seen the carnage, the stone-throwing, and the banishments for which he was responsible; you know how easily, even after he had been deserted by the leading stalwarts among his followers, he forbade Gnaeus Pompeius access to the forum and the senate-house by his arms and his daily ambushes, and penned him in his own house; and upon this knowledge you are able to base an estimate of the formidable nature of his assaults when they were united and in the ascendant, seeing that even when they were disunited and crushed Pompeius was terrified by them.

[26.] L   [68] It was because he was aware of this, as he stated in the speech which he delivered on the Kalends of January, that Lucius Cotta, ** a man of supreme tact and a devoted friend of the state, of myself, and of the truth, disapproved of legislation which should bring about my return. He asserted that I had studied the welfare of the republic, had yielded to the storm, had proved a better friend to you and to the community at large than to myself, and that my banishment had been brought about by armed violence, and by a reign of strife and massacre that had been purposely stimulated. It was impossible, he asserted, to pass a measure concerning my civil status ; not a line had been legally formulated so as to possess validity ; the whole process had been against the constitution and against precedent, ill-considered, seditious, over-bearing, infatuated. He pointed out that if Clodius' measure were a law, it would be illegal for the consuls to bring the question before the senate or for him to express an opinion upon it; and seeing that both of these were being done, a resolution that a law should be introduced dealing with my case would be ill-advised, since the measure which was null and void might be pronounced to be a legal enactment. No policy could have been more just, more dignified, more wise, or more beneficial to the republic. A brand was set on the man's unbridled wickedness, and all possibility of a repetition of the mischief was removed from the state for evermore. [69] That the law was not valid, but was rather a piece of inflammatory opportunism, an interdict of wickedness spoken by the lips of frenzy, was not lost upon Gnaeus Pompeius, who stated his views in terms highly complimentary to myself, nor upon you, gentlemen, who defended me by your expressed opinions and your moral influence ; but you took precautions against any future outburst of popular resentment against me, if at any time it should be considered that my restoration had not been sanctioned by the popular will. It was with the same idea that the senate adopted the motion of the gallant Marcus Bibulus that you should pronounce upon the question of my house, not that it had any doubt that Clodius' proceedings had been utterly unconstitutional, sacrilegious, and disorderly, but because in times that were so prolific of traitors they wished to prevent anyone from standing forth one day and saying that some vestige of sanctity still hovered about my house. For the senate never pronounced any opinion in my case without at the same time adjudging that Clodius' law was null and void, since by the terms of his law they were forbidden to pronounce an opinion. [70] This fact did not escape the notice of that well-matched pair, Piso and Gabinius; being scrupulous observers of laws and. decisions, they declared, when daily urged by a full senate to propose a measure dealing with me, that, though the proposal had their approval, they were prevented by Clodius' law from supporting it. That was true; they were prevented, but it was by the law which this same Clodius had carried dealing with Macedonia and Syria. [27.] L   But the former law you, Publius Lentulus, judged never to be a law at all, either when you were consul or when you were a private citizen. For as consul-elect you repeatedly spoke on motions concerning me proposed by the tribunes of the plebs; from the Kalends of January until your aim had been successful achieved, you introduced, promulgated, and carried motions dealing with me; none of which could you legally have done, were Clodius' enactment valid. Furthermore, the measure which was pronounced to be valid by Piso and Gabinius, who had no connexion at all with Publius Clodius, was pronounced to be null and void by your colleague, the distinguished Quintus Metellus, Publius Clodius' cousin, when in conjunction with you he brought a motion in my case before the senate. [71] But what respect for laws in general was displayed by those who were so meticulous in dealing with the laws of Clodius? The senate, indeed, whose decision on a question of legal validity outweighs every other, was never consulted in my case without pronouncing against the validity of Clodius' law, a fact which you too, Lentulus, must have observed in the deliberation upon the law dealing with me which you introduced. For your law enacted not that I should be permitted to come to Rome, but that I should come ; for you did not wish to enact that it should be lawful for me to do that which was already lawful, but that my position in the state should suggest that I had been ordered back by the Roman people rather than restored to active political life.

[72] And was it such a man as I am, O baneful prodigy that you are, whom you dared to describe as an exile, branded as you were with crimes and enormities so heinous that you made every spot you approached like a place of banishment? For what is an exile? In itself the name implies misfortune, not disgrace. When, then, does it convey disgrace? It conveys an actual disgrace when it comes as a retribution for misdoing, and a disgrace in the eyes of society as well when it is the punishment that follows upon an adverse verdict. Is it then as a result of my misdoing that I incur the name, or by the issue of an action at law? Misdoing of mine? To-day neither will you, whom your minions dub "Catiline in Luck," dare to use this word, nor will any of those who used it in the past. Not merely is there no one so ill-instructed as to apply the word "misdoing" to the achievements of my consulship, but there is no one so ill-disposed to his country as to refuse to admit that it was by my counsels that that country was preserved.

[28.] L   [73] For what public deliberative body is there, important or unimportant, in the whole world, whose verdict upon my achievements has not been such as to meet my highest desires and my proudest ambitions ? The supreme deliberative body of the Roman people, and indeed of all peoples, nations, and kings, is the senate; and the senate decreed that all who had the safety of the republic at heart should rally to my sole defence, and intimated that the state could not have survived had I not existed, and would be annihilated should I not be restored. [74] Immediately below this exalted body is the equestrian order; and all the companies for the collection of all the public revenues which this order contained passed resolutions concerning my consulship and my achievements which were most laudatory and enthusiastic. The secretaries, who assist us in the charge of public accounts and records, endeavoured to express in unmistakable terms their judgement and conclusion upon my services to the state. There is no guild in this city, no community, whether of the villages ** or the highlands ** (for it was the will of our ancestors that the city proletariate too should have its committees and councils of a kind), which did not register most complimentary decrees dealing not only with my restoration but also with my merits. [75] Why should I enlarge upon the heaven-inspired and never-to-be-forgotten decrees of the municipalities and colonies, and indeed of the whole of Italy, - a ladder, for so I account them, whereby not merely did I return to my country, but climbed to heaven? But what a day was that, Publius Lentulus, when the Roman people itself saw you proposing a measure dealing with me, and when it realised my ** greatness and my ** eminent merits? For it is generally recognised that at no previous meeting of the assembly had the Campus Martius ever shone with so brilliant a concourse of all ranks, all ages, and all orders of men. I forbear to mention the unanimity of judgement and opinion with regard to my services displayed by communities, tribes, provinces, kings, and, in a word, by all the world, and pass to my arrival at and entry into the city. What was its character? Did my country welcome me as she was bound to welcome the light of her salvation returned and restored to her; or did she welcome me as a cruel tyrant, to use the term applied to me by you cronies of Catiline? [76] Why, that day, and that alone, whereon the Roman people graced my return by their thronging and enraptured escort from the gate to the Capitol and thence to my house, was a source of such deep gratification to me, that it may well seem that instead of quelling your lawless depravity I ought to have encouraged it. Thus my misfortune, if misfortune it must be called, has silenced all slander of this kind, so that no one any more is so hardy as to cast aspersions on my consulship, sealed as it is with the approval of so many authoritative and distinguished judgements, testimonies, and official pronouncements. [29.] L   But if in all your campaign of scurrility not merely do you fail to fasten any reproach upon me, but even shed lustre upon my fame, what thing more senseless than you are can exist or be conceived? For in a single abusive utterance you twice admit that it was I who saved my country: first, when I had performed a deed which all admit deserved a place on the deathless record of history, if it may so be, whereas you expressed an opinion that it should be visited with death; and secondly, when I met with my own body the infuriated onset against law-abiding citizens of you and many beside you, that I might not, by having resort to arms, endanger a state which unarmed I had preserved.

[77] So far so good; it was for no misdoing that I suffered retribution. Then perhaps it was the result of an action at law. But of what action? Who has ever brought me to book under any law? Who has applied for a writ against me or named a day for trial? But can a man uncondemned undergo a penalty which is the sequel only of a condemnation ? Is such a thing compatible with the tribunate or with democracy ? And yet what act of yours can you point to as democratic, save your performance of sacrifice on the people's behalf? ** But inasmuch as it is a right which we have received by the tradition of our ancestors that no Roman citizen should be able to lose his freedom or his citizenship save by a deliberate act on his part, a fact that you might have been enabled to learn in your own case (for I suppose, even though your adoption was utterly illegal at every point, you were nevertheless asked whether it was with your full consent that Publius Fonteius received powers of life and death over you as over a son), - inasmuch as this is so, supposing that you had returned the answer "no" or given no answer at all to that question, would the decree have been ratified all the same if the thirty parishes { curiae } ** had voted for it? Most assuredly it would not. Why so? Because our ancestors, who were democratic not from pose or hypocrisy, but genuinely and wisely, ordained it as a right that no Roman citizen should be able to lose his freedom against his will. [78] Moreover their intent was that, even if the Commission of Ten ** had given an unjust decision affecting the liberty of anyone, a man might still, in this kind of case alone, bring up again for decision, as often as he wished, a case on which a verdict had already been given; but no one by any decree of the people will ever lose his liberty against his will.

[30.] L   Those again who, being Roman citizens, ** migrated to Latin colonies, could not become Latins unless they deliberately chose to do so, and sent in their names for enrolment. Those who had been condemned on capital charges did not lose citizenship of this state until they had been accepted as citizens of the state whither they had gone in order to "turn," that is to say change, their soil. And that this might be practicable, they had resort not to deprivation of citizenship, but to interdiction from hospitality, water, and fire. [79] On a motion made by the dictator Lucius Sulla before the Assembly of the Centuries the Roman people deprived certain municipalities of the citizenship, depriving them at the same time of territories. The deprivation of territory was ratified, for that came within the scope of the popular jurisdiction ; but the deprivation of citizenship remained valid for not even as long as Sulla's armed régime was in power. Lucius Sulla, after his triumphant restoration of the republic, was unable through the assembly of the Centuries to wrest their citizenship from the people of Volaterrae, though they were at the time under arms, so that to-day that people are not merely citizens, but are on the first footing of citizenship, and are in equal enjoyment of the franchise with ourselves ; and was Publius Clodius able, after subverting the republic, to rob of his citizenship a man of consular rank, by the mere summoning of a meeting, and the hiring of gangs, not merely of ne'er-do-wells but even of slaves, with Fidulius as their ring-leader, who states that on that day he was not at Rome? [80] But if he was not at Rome, what greater audacity than yours to have had his name engraved ** ? What more desperate plight than to have been unable even by lying to draft a more reputable promoter of your measure? But if he was the first to give his vote, as indeed is easily conceivable, seeing that, being without a roof to cover him, he had spent the night in the forum, why should he not swear that he was at Gades, ** when you on one occasion endeavoured to prove that you were at Interamna ** ? And is this the right which you, pillar of our democracy, think should be the bulwark of our citizenship and our freedom, the right of each one of us to lose our franchise, if, when the tribune of the plebs asks, "Is it your will and command ?" a hundred men of Fidulius' stamp say that it is their will and command? If this is so, then there was no true democratic spirit in our ancestors, who laid down laws of franchise and freedom with the intent that neither phases of lawlessness, nor ascendancy of magistrates, nor verdicts recorded, nor even the authority of the whole Roman people, paramount in all else, should avail to under mine them. [81] Yet even you, the spoiler of men's civic rights, carried a measure for the redressing of public wrongs to the particular gratification of some fellow or other of Anagnia ** named Menulla, who in gratitude for this measure set up a statue to you in my house, so that the very place which you had so deeply wronged was a standing refutation of your law and the inscription below the statue; and this act was a far deeper mortification to the people of Anagnia than were the crimes which that gladiator had wrought at Anagnia. [31.] L   But supposing that that actual bill of yours, of which Fidulius disclaims all knowledge, though you, in order to dignify the proceedings of your egregious tribunate by the support of an influential individual, lay claim to him as prime mover, has no such clause in it, - [82] supposing that, in spite of your claim, you carried no motion to oust me, not merely from my place as a citizen, but from the position in which I have been placed by the distinctions which the Roman people have conferred upon me, - will you nevertheless sully by your utterances one whom you see to have been honoured, after the profane wickedness of past consuls, ** by so many pronouncements of the senate, the Roman people, and the whole of Italy, and to whom not even in my absence could you deny the title of senator under the terms of your law ? For on what occasion had you carried a motion that I should be debarred from fire and water? This was a motion that Gaius Gracchus carried against Publius Popilius, ** and Saturninus against Metellus, ** turbulent individuals, that is to say, against upright and gallant citizens; but their measures were not that an interdict should have been passed, which would have been an impossible measure, but that it should be passed. Where was your clause to forbid the censor from choosing me to fill the place in the senate which I myself had vacated? Clauses affecting this are included in all measures of outlawry, even when that penalty follows upon the adverse finding of a court. [83] Inquire of Clodius, ** who draws up your laws for you; bid him appear. He is skulking away out of sight; but do but order search to be made for him, and the fellow will be discovered secreting himself shamefacedly at your sister's house. But if no one in his senses ever applied the name of exile to your father, who was a splendid citizen, indeed, and utterly unlike you and your brother, and who, when the tribune of the plebs promulgated a measure dealing with him, refused to answer the charge owing to the lawlessness that prevailed in those days when Cinna ruled, ** and was deprived of his command, - if in his case a legally-inflicted penalty carried with it no stigma, because it was enacted in turbulent times, could there have been any penalty after conviction, above all one not enacted even in the actual bill, in my case, who had never been cited to appear on a fixed day, who was never defendant in a suit, and never summoned to appear by a tribune of the plebs?

[32.] L   [84] And pray note the contrast between the scandalous injustice of your father's fate and the circumstances of my own career. That excellent citizen, your father, who was himself the son of a renowned gentleman, - if he, with his austere character, were alive to-day, you would certainly not be alive, - was passed over in the reading of the list of senators by the censor Lucius Philippus, who was his own nephew. For he could allege no reason why ratification should be withheld from enactments which had been passed at a crisis in public affairs when, though the times were what they were, he had wished to be censor himself; whereas in my case, Lucius Cotta, an ex-censor, declared under oath in the senate that if he had been censor during the period of my absence, he would have duly read my name among those of the other senators.

[85] Who substituted another name on the list of jurymen for my own? Who was there among my friends who made his will at the time of my retirement, and did not make exactly the same bequest to me as he would have done if I had still been on the scene? What citizen was there, nay, what member of an allied community, who hesitated to give me shelter and assistance in defiance of your law? Last of all, the whole senate, long before the passing of any measure dealing with me, resolved that a vote of thanks be accorded to those states which had given shelter to Marcus Tullius, - was that all? By no means - "a citizen who," so the resolution proceeded, "has deserved highly of the republic." And is yours, pestilential citizen that you are, the sole voice to deny citizenship after his restoration to a man who, even when an outcast, was ever accounted by the whole senate as not merely a citizen, but even a citizen of distinction? [86] And yet, as the records of the Roman people and their ancient annals tell us, Kaeso Quinctius ** and Marcus Furius Camillus ** and Gaius Servilius Ahala, ** though they had deserved highly of the republic, bowed before the animosity and violence of a populace that had been roused against them ; condemned by the Assembly of the Centuries, they fled into exile, but once again the same populace, with its wrath appeased, recalled them to their previous dignity. But if the fall of these men, condemned though they were, so far from impairing the glory of their famous names, even gave them added lustre, - for though we should rather pray to finish life's course free from sorrow and injustice, it is still a greater title to an immortality of renown that one's absence should be felt by one's fellow-citizens than that one should have been altogether immune from outrage, - shall I, who went forth at the bidding of no people's verdict, but amid the enthusiastic opinions of all, find that my restoration is to be occupied as a vantage-ground for malicious and accusatory tongues ? [87] In pursuing his lofty policy Publius Popilius showed himself invariably courageous and steadfast; but nothing in all his career so illumines his merits as his actual downfall. For who at this time would remember the services he conferred upon the state, had he not been banished by traitors and restored by the efforts of patriots? As a military commander Quintus Metellus was brilliant, as a censor he was exemplary, earnestness was the note of his whole career; yet what has perpetuated this hero's renown to eternal recollection has been his fall.

[33.] L   These great men were banished unjustly, though not illegally; their return was permitted by the death of their opponents, and was enacted by bills of the tribunes, not by senatorial authority, nor by the assembly of the centuries, nor the decrees of Italy, nor the yearning of their compatriots ; and if the wrongs done them by their enemies were no slur upon them, do you think that I, who went forth unstained, taking the republic with me, and who returned at the height of my prestige, while you yet lived, with one of your cousins, a consul, supporting my restoration, and your brother, a praetor, acquiescing in it, can justly find in your crime my own disgrace? [88] Had the Roman people been wrought upon by anger or jealousy to eject me from the state, and had they been later brought to a better frame of mind by a recollection of my benefits to the republic, so as by my recall to pass censure upon their own ill-considered injustice, even so I am quite sure that no one would be so stupid as not to consider that such expression of the popular will should redound rather to the enhancement of my reputation than to my discredit. But since, as things are, there is not a man on earth who has summoned me to submit myself to a verdict of the people and since, not having been accused, it has been impossible for me to be condemned, and since, lastly, the conditions even of my banishment have not been such that I could not have won the day if I had contended the matter, but on the contrary I have always been championed, exalted, and distinguished by the Roman people, what grounds can anyone have for claiming precedence for himself over me in the popular estimation? [89] Or do you count that body to be the Roman people, which is formed of those who are hired for pay, who are goaded on to employ violence against the magistrates, to blockade the senate, and to fix their daily hopes upon slaughter, fire, and robbery? But even such a body as this you were unable to assemble without closing the shops, and had appointed as ring-leaders over it men of the stamp of Lentidius, Lollius, Plaguleius, and Sergius. To think that the pride and majesty of the Roman people, dreaded by kings, foreign tribes, and nations at the end of the earth, should be represented by a mob of men mustered from slaves, hirelings, criminals, and desperadoes! [90] This was the Roman people whose beauty and brilliance met your gaze in the Campus on that day when even you found licence to speak against the authority and the ideals of the senate and of an united Italy! This the people, master of kings, victor and ruler over all nations, which you, villain, surveyed on that proud day when all the leading men of the state, and all people of all ranks and ages of life, gave a vote which they held to be a vote upon the welfare not of a citizen but of the civic body ; when, in a word, not the shops alone, but whole country towns were closed, that the world might gather at the Campus.

[34.] L   [91] This is the people who, had there been any consuls at that time in the state, or even had there been no consuls at all, would have enabled me without effort to withstand your headstrong frenzy and profane wickedness. But without a bodyguard of the people I was reluctant to undertake the people's cause against armed lawlessness; not that I disapproved of the extreme of lawlessness employed in the case of Tiberius Gracchus by the gallant Publius Scipio, ** when he acted in a private capacity; on that occasion Publius Mucius the consul, who was considered to have been somewhat lacking in energy when the deed was in contemplation, when it had been accomplished immediately defended Scipio's action by several decrees in the senate, and even complimented him upon it; but in my case I had the prospect of an armed struggle with the consuls had you been slain, or, had you survived, with you and them combined. [92] At that time there were many other dangers as well to be apprehended. Upon slaves, in all solemnity I say it, would have fallen the government of the state, so bitter was the hatred against men of sound views which possessed unscrupulous persons, and which had been seared into their abominable minds as a result of that now long-past conspiracy. **

In this connexion you go so far as to bid me cease from boasting ; you declare that the assertions I am in the habit of making concerning myself are intolerable, and, with a pretty turn of wit, you come forward with an elegant and humorous jest to the effect that I am accustomed to call myself Jupiter, and also to assert that Minerva ** is my sister. My insolence in calling myself Jupiter is not so great as my ignorance in thinking that Minerva is Jupiter's sister. But I at least do claim virginity for my sister; you have not permitted your sister to be a virgin. But I would warn you against the practice of applying the name of Jupiter to yourself, since in your case, as in his, you may use the term of sister and that of wife with regard to the same lady.

[35.] L   [93] And since you blame me for being too boastful in sounding my own praises, who, I would ask you, has ever heard me speak of myself, save under the constraint of an inevitable necessity ? For if, when crimes of theft, corruption, and passion are imputed to me, I am in the habit of replying that it was by my forethought, at my risk, and through my exertions that my country was saved, it must be considered that I am not so much boasting of my own exploits, as stating facts in answer to charges. But if, until the recent hard crisis through which the state has passed, no crime has been imputed to me save one isolated act of cruelty, when I warded destruction from our country, which, I ask, was the more dignified course ? - to make no reply at all to these aspersions, or to make answer to them with a bowed head? [94] But I have always thought it to be in the interest of the state that I should maintain by every word of mine the splendour and magnificence of the noble deed I had achieved for my country's well-being by the union of patriots and through the support of the senate, especially in view of the fact that I was the only citizen to whom it was permitted to say on oath, in the hearing of the Roman people, that it was through my efforts that this city and this republic still stood. The malignant imputations of cruelty have by now been hushed, because it is seen that I have been yearned for, demanded, and appealed to by the ardent longing of all citizens, not as a cruel tyrant, but as a tender parent. [95] But a new imputation has arisen in its place. My retirement is cast in my teeth; and to this charge I cannot reply without highly exalting my own merits. For what, gentlemen, must I say ? That consciousness of misdoing urged me into exile? But the charge that was laid at my door, so far from being a misdoing, was the grandest deed in the history of the human race. That I dreaded prosecution before the people? But such a prosecution was never even contemplated, and had it taken place I should have emerged from it with my reputation doubly enhanced. Shall I then say that the patriotic party failed in my protection ? It would be false. [36.] L   Or that I feared death ? That would be cowardly. I must say, then, what I would not say save under compulsion, - for any self-congratulatory remarks I have ever uttered have been made rather to repel insinuations than to claim credit for myself, - I say, then, and with all the emphasis I can use, [96] that when, under the leadership of a tribune of the plebs and with the support of the consuls, with the senate humiliated, the Roman knighthood cowed, and the whole community agitated and distraught, the carefully stimulated lawlessness of desperadoes and conspirators was launch ing an assault not so much upon myself as upon all good patriots through me, I saw that, should I prove victorious, some frail vestiges of a republic would yet remain, but, should I be defeated, it would become utterly extinct. Having come to this conclusion, I was heart-broken at the prospect of separation from my unhappy wife, of the destitution of my beloved children, of the blow that would fall upon my excellent and affectionate brother who was far away, and of the unforeseen wreck of a family whose sense of security had been so complete; but all these possibilities came second in my thoughts to the lives of my fellow-citizens, and I thought it better that the state should falter through the retirement of one, than that it should fall through the destruction of all. I hoped, and my hopes have been realised, that if brave men yet survived, my humiliation might be retrieved ; but if I should perish, and the patriotic party with me, I saw no prospect of a resurrection for the republic. [97] Bitter beyond all belief, gentlemen, was the anguish that I felt. I do not gainsay this, nor do I arrogate to myself that philosophic spirit, the absence of which was a disappointment to many who said that I betrayed an excessive discomfiture and prostration of mind. But, torn as I was by so many conflicting reflexions, which I pass over because even at this time I cannot dwell upon them without tears, could I have disowned my humanity, and repudiated those natural sentiments which are common to us all? In that case, I could not now describe my action as praiseworthy or say that I was the source of any benefit to the republic, if I had but abandoned, for the republic's sake, what I felt no pang at losing; I should hold that such mental apathy, like the physical apathy which does not feel the sting of fire, was brute insensibility rather than bravery. [37.] L   [98] To undergo such deep grief of heart, and to endure in loneliness all the suffering of the conquered inhabitants of a captured city that survives her capture, to see oneself torn from the clasp of one's kin, dwelling shattered, property plundered, and, bitterest of all, country forfeited for country's sake ; to be deprived of the proudest bestowals of the Roman people, to be sent hurtling down from the pinnacle of majesty, to see foes in the garb of office demanding the funeral dues even before the lamentations for death have arisen ; to endure to be a broken-hearted eyewitness of all this, in order to save the lives of compatriots, facing it not with the philosophy of those to whom nothing matters, but with the deep love for your dear ones and yourself which is imperative to our universal humanity ; - this, indeed, is a glory transcending, nay, divine. For he who for the sake of the common weal abandons with indifference that which he has never held dear or delightful gives proof of no exceptional unselfishness in the state's interests ; but the man who, for the common weal, relinquishes that, the severance from which racks his heart with bitter grief, he is the true lover of his country, whose well-being he places before the demands of private affection. [99] So, even though that plague and tormentor be mortified even to bursting, he shall hear this from me, since he has challenged me to it, - twice have I saved the state: first, when as consul in the garb of peace I overcame armed forces, and next, when as a private citizen I gave ground before armed consuls. From both occasions I have reaped a rich harvest: from the former, in that I saw both the senate and all good patriots with official garb discarded, by senatorial order, for my preservation ; from the latter, in that the senate, the Roman people, and the whole human race testified by official and unofficial pronouncements that, unless I should be restored, the republic could not be saved.

[100] But the reality of this restoration depends, gentlemen, upon your verdict. For if you reinstall me in my house, an end to which throughout all my case your inclinations, counsels, influence, and resolutions have always tended, then I fully realize that my restitution will be absolute. But if my house, so far from being restored to me, even serves my enemy as a memorial of my humiliation, of his own wickedness, and of the public disaster, who will look upon this as a restoration, and not rather an unending punishment? My house, gentlemen, stands full in view of well-nigh the whole city ; and if it abides in the city, not as the city's monument, but as her sepulchre, inscribed with an enemy's name, then I must migrate elsewhere rather than dwell in a city where I witness the erection of trophies over myself and over the republic.

[38.] L   [101] Or could my heart be so dulled to all feeling, or my eyes so lost to all sense of shame, as to endure to gaze upon my house overturned in the very city whose saviour I was so often pronounced to be by the senate, in agreement with the whole community, - overturned by no private enemy of mine, but by a public foe, who had also raised another edifice upon its site in full view of all citizens, that so the tears of all true patriots might know no respite? Spurius Maelius ** aimed at the tyranny, and his house was levelled with the ground ; and since the Roman people pronounced that Maelius' penalty was on a level with his offence, the justice of the punishment was acknowledged by the very name Aequimaelium {"Level of Maelius"}, ** which was applied to the site. For the same reason Spurius Cassius' ** house was razed, and a temple erected to Tellus {"Earth"} upon the spot. On Vaccus' ** Meads stood the house of Marcus Vaccus, which was confiscated and razed, so that the very name of the place emblazoned the ignominy of his name to all posterity. Marcus Manlius, ** after having repelled the assault of the Gauls upon the approach to the Capitol, was not content with the fame of the service he had rendered; he was judged to have aimed at the tyranny, and therefore his house was razed, and the site planted with two copses, as you see it to this day. And shall I encounter and endure the selfsame penalty which our ancestors considered to be the severest that could be enacted against criminal and sacrilegious citizens, with the result that in the eyes of our future generations I shall be thought to have been not the queller of conspiracy and crime, but its promoter and chief agent? [102] Will the prestige of the Roman people, while the senate yet lives, and while you direct its public counsels, be able to survive the stain of ignominy and inconsistency that will attach to it, when it becomes known that the house of Marcus Tullius Cicero was associated with that of Fulvius Flaccus ** in suffering a fate which perpetuated the memory of a publicly enacted penalty? Marcus Flaccus was put to death by a resolution of the senate because in conjunction with Gaius Gracchus he had acted counter to the welfare of the state; his house was razed and the site confiscated; and shortly afterwards Quintus Catulus erected a portico there from the spoils taken from the Cimbri. And when that flaming fury of his country had, under the direction of Piso and Gabinius, captured and seized the city, which he held in his grip, at one and the same time he erased the memorial of a distinguished hero who was dead, and united my house in the same fate with that of Flaccus; with the result that, having crushed the senate, he visited one whom the conscript fathers had pronounced to be the guardian of his country with the self-same punishment that the senate had inflicted upon the subverter of the community.

[39.] L   [103] And will you brook that this portico should stand on the Palatine, yes, in the city's fairest spot, to be an ineradicable memorial to all future generations of all races of a tribune's recklessness, a consul's wickedness, the barbarity of conspirators, the ruin of the republic, and of my own grief ? - a portico which, out of the affection you bear, and have ever borne, to the state, you would yearn to shatter, not alone by your votes, but, if need were, with your very hands, were it not that some perchance find misgivings roused within them because of the superstitious dedication of this most spotless of priests. [104] What a situation, calculated to arouse the unquenchable laughter of the frivolous, but which the serious cannot hear of without the deepest mortification! Has Publius Clodius, who robbed the house of the pontifex maximus of its sanctity, conferred sanctity upon mine? Is this the man whom you, who are the overseers of ritual and sacrifice, have as the guide and director of the state religion ? O immortal gods (for I desire that what I say should reach your ears), is it indeed Publius Clodius who makes your sacrifices his care, who quakes before your power, and who thinks that all human affairs are swayed by the observance paid to you? Surely the fellow does but mock at the authority of all the great men here present ; surely he does but do outrage, gentlemen, to your august presence. What word of religion can fall or slip inadvertently from his lips, those same lips wherewith he has so abominably and outrageously polluted religion, in that he accused the senate of being too austere in its decrees upon religion?

Following sections (105-147)


46.(↑)   See Ad Quir., Chap. V. n.

47.(↑)   Nothing can be made of the text as it stands, but the sense is tolerably clear.

48.(↑)   Piso ; see In senatu, Chap. VII. n.

49.(↑)   The completion of the comparison is missing in the MSS.

50.(↑)   At the battles of Veseris (340) and Sentinum (295).

51.(↑)   C. here turns to Clodius.

52.(↑)   Cato.

53.(↑)   Himself.

54.(↑)   C. again addresses the Pontifices.

55.(↑)   Pompey.

56.(↑)   The son of Tigranes, brought to Rome by Pompey ; see Plut. Pompey, xlviii.

57.(↑)   Consul 65 B.C., censor 63 B.C. ; see Chap. XXXVII.

58.(↑)   Manutius says that by these are meant the inhabitants of the villages in the Ager Romanus, who were reckoned among the city tribes.

59.(↑)   This may mean the dwellers on the hills (in Rome); but these were mostly inhabited by the rich.

60.(↑)   Or, reading esset, "its own."

61.(↑)   An ironical reference to the participation of Clodius, disguised as a woman, in the rites of Bona Dea (for whom see Dict. Class. Ant.).

62.(↑)   ae Comitia Curiata, by whom adoptions must be sanctioned.

63.(↑)   Sc. Stlitibus Iudicandis, a standing board of plebeian lawyers, which dealt with cases involving citizenship.

64.(↑)   This chapter is difficult to follow, but seems to pursue the point that neither Cicero nor any other Roman could lose liberty or citizenship save by his own act.

65.(↑)   The name of the first voter in the tribus praerogativa (see Dict. sub verb.) was engraved at the top of the bronze tablet on which a law was inscribed.

66.(↑)   Mod. Cadiz, always used to signify remoteness; cp. Hor. Od. ii. 6. 1.

67.(↑)   E. of Latium, mod. Terni.

68.(↑)   In Latium, mod. Anagni; nothing is known of the affair alluded to.

69.(↑)   i.e. Piso and Gabinius.

70.(↑)   See Ad Quirites, Chap. III. n.

71.(↑)   See Pro Plancio, Chap. XXVIII. n.

72.(↑)   Sextus.

73.(↑)   86-81.

74.(↑)   Son of Cincinnatus, Livy iii. 2.

75.(↑)   Livy v. 32.

76.(↑)   Livy iv. 14.

77.(↑)   Who led the attack on Tib. Gracchus 133.

78.(↑)   i.e. of Catiline.

79.(↑)   To whom C. had a special devotion. "Taking a statue of Minerva, which he had long kept in his house. . ., [he] carried it to the Capitol, and dedicated it there with this inscription, 'To Minerva, the Protectress of Rome.' " Plutarch, Cicero (trans. Langhorne).

80.(↑)   At a time of famine (440) bought corn from Etruria,

81.(↑)   A purely fanciful etymology.

82.(↑)   Proposed a law (486) giving plebeians the right to occupy public lands. Put to death on the same charge as Sp. Maelius (Livy ii. 41).

83.(↑)   A native of Fundi in Latium, who had a house in Rome. In 330 roused his fellow-citizens to war against Rome, and being taken prisoner was put to death (Livy viii. 19).

84.(↑)   Livy vi. 20.

85.(↑)   M. Fulvius Flaccus, consul 125, tribune 122, slain with C. Gracchus 121.

Following sections (105-147) →

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