Cicero : De Domo Sua

Sections 105-147

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.

    ← Previous sections (54-104)

[40.] L   [105] Look, gentlemen, upon this model of religious scrupulosity, and if you think it advisable, act as good priests should, and admonish him that there are limits to scrupulosity ; that it is not right to be too superstitious. Where was the necessity, fanatic that you are, of being so haggishly superstitious as to attend a sacrifice that was taking place at another man's house? What was the stupendous insanity that led you to think that the gods could not be satisfactorily appeased unless you too should mix yourself up in women's celebrations? Your ancestors were assiduous in their performance of private rites and their surveillance of state priesthoods, but of whom of them have you heard that he intruded at the celebration of the sacrifice to the Bona Dea? Of no one, not even of him who was stricken blind. ** This enables us to realise how wrong are many popular theories about life. The man who had never knowingly looked upon sin was deprived of his eyesight ; while this fellow, who violated the sacred rites not only by looking upon them, but by monstrous lewdness and debauchery, finds that retribution for the sin of his bodily eye takes wholly the shape of blindness of the understanding. Dealing as you are with an agent so highly moral, so scrupulous, so upright, and so conscientious, can your hearts, gentlemen, fail to be stirred when you hear him say that with his own hands he has overthrown the house of an exemplary citizen, and that with his own hands he has consecrated it ?

[106] And what a consecration was that? "But," he objects, "I had carried a motion giving me legal powers." What! Had you failed to insert the saving clause that if anything illegal was proposed, it should be held that it had not been proposed? Will you then, gentlemen, decide that it is legal that the dwellings, altars, hearths, and household gods of each one of you should be placed at the tender mercies of a tribune's caprice, and that it is right to inflict upon the house of one who has been assaulted through deliberately incited agents, and stricken down by violence, not mere destruction, which might argue the momentary madness aroused by a sudden tempest, but the entail, immutable through all future time, of an irredeemable sanctity ?

[41.] L   [107] I, gentlemen, have always understood that in the contraction of religious obligations the main task is to interpret what is the apparent will of the immortal gods ; and a right fulfilment of duty to the gods is impossible without a disinterested conviction as to their designs and purposes, combined with a belief that they grant no petitions which are unjust or unseemly. Even when he held everything in the hollow of his hand, that plague-spot could find no human soul who would accept proprietorship, trusteeship, or even the gift of my house. Fired as he was by lust for the site and for the house, and having for this reason alone conceived the desire of using that fatal bill of his to install himself as owner in my property, the worthy gentleman, in spite of all, in the midst of his reckless career, had not the courage to enter upon possession of my house, which had kindled his covetousness; and think you that the immortal gods desired to bestow their presence upon the house, stricken and shattered as it was by the sacrilegious piracy of an abandoned scoundrel, belonging to one by whose energy and wisdom they still possessed their own temples? [108] In all this vast people, save only for the polluted and blood-stained crew of Publius Clodius, no citizen was found to lay a finger upon any particle of my property, or who did not defend me at that crisis, as his means allowed. But of all those who defiled themselves by touching booty, partnership, or sale, none has been able to escape the penalty either of a public or of a private trial. No one, I say, laid a finger upon any particle of my property ake was not pronounced by the universal verdict to be an utter villain, and is it to be thought that out of this property the immortal gods had set their hearts upon my house? Did your darling Liberty drive out my household gods and the spirits of my family, that she might establish herself in what was virtually a captive's dwelling?

[109] What is more sacred, what more inviolably hedged about by every kind of sanctity, than the home of every individual citizen? Within its circle are his altars, his hearths, his household gods, his religion, his observances, his ritual; it is a sanctuary so holy in the eyes of all, that it were sacrilege to tear an owner therefrom. [42.] L   All the more, then, should we remove out of your hearing the madness of this reprobate, who has not merely undermined, in defiance of religion, that which our ancestors desired religion should guard and sanctify to our use, but has actually employed the plea of religion under which to overturn it.

[110] But who is your goddess? A "Benign Goddess" she must needs be, since it was you who enshrined her. "Liberty," replies Clodius. What! Have you installed at my house her whom you have ousted from the whole city ? You denied freedom of action to your colleagues who were entrusted with supreme authority ; you allowed none to have free access to the temple of Castor ; you ordered, in the hearing of the Roman people, this distinguished gentleman, ** of the highest birth, on whom the people had bestowed its loftiest honours, a pontiff and an ex-consul, a man of singular kindliness and irreproachability, whose gaze I cannot sufficiently wonder how you can have the face to meet, to be trampled upon by your lackeys; you hustled me forth uncondemned by means of arbitrary measures directed expressly against myself; you kept the first gentleman in the world ** penned up in his house; you occupied the forum with armed troops of desperate men; and were you the man to set up an image of Liberty in a house which was itself a standing indictment of your brutal despotism and the piteous degradation of the Roman people? [111] Was it for Liberty to drive from his house him of all men whose existence was the only thing that prevented the state from falling utterly under the power of slaves? [43.] L   But where did you find your Liberty? After making careful inquiry, I learn that rumour has it that she was a certain courtesan of Tanagra, a marble statue of whom stood upon a tomb not far from that city. A certain nobleman, ** not unconnected with our punctilious priest of Liberty, had carried this statue off to adorn the entertainment he intended to give as aedile; for indeed he had made up his mind to surpass all his predecessors in the magnificence of his exhibition. So, with true economy, and for the greater glory of the Roman people, he carried off to his house all the statues, pictures, and ornaments that still remained in shrines and public buildings throughout the whole of Greece and the islands. [112] Realising, however, that, if he renounced the aedileship, there was a chance of his being returned praetor by Lucius Piso the consul, if only it might turn out that there was a rival candidate with the same initial letter as himself, ** he invested the funds set aside for his aedileship partly by storing them in his coffers, and partly by spending them on his park; he took the statue of the courtesan from its pedestal and presented it to Clodius, that it might symbolise the "liberty" of Clodius and his like rather than that of the state. Would anyone dare to desecrate this goddess, a courtesan's likeness, which had decked a tomb, been removed by a thief, and set up by a sacrilegious hand? Shall it be such an one as she who drives me from my house? Shall she, the avengeress of a stricken state, be adorned with the spoils of the republic ? Shall she find a place in a memorial raised to be a witness to the eternal disgrace of the senate's degradation? [113] O Quintus Catulus ! ** - shall I address the father first, or his son ** ? I will address the son, for his memory is more recent, and he was more closely connected with my own achievements, - were you so wide of the mark, in thinking that I should win great and daily greater rewards in my public life? You said that it was a shocking thing that there should be two consuls in this state who were foes to the republic; but there were not lacking those who were ready to hand over the senate bound to a reckless tribune, to issue peremptory manifestoes forbidding the conscript fathers to intercede on my behalf by appeals to the people, who looked on calmly while my house was shattered and plundered, and who, finally, ordered that the charred wreckage of my property should be transferred to their own houses. I pass now to the father. [114] You, Quintus Catulus, since Marcus Fulvius had been your brother's father-in-law, chose his house to be the shrine of your spoils, with the intent that the memory of anyone who should adopt a policy ruinous to the republic should be utterly erased from the vision and the minds of men. Had anyone told you, as you were building that portico, that a time would come when your monument would be demolished and overthrown by a tribune of the plebs who had ignored the majesty of the senate and the opinions of all good citizens, and that the consuls would not merely look on at, but even assist in, the work, and that the house of a citizen who, as consul, had defended the republic with the senate's support would be associated with yours in this fate, would you not have answered that that result would be impossible, unless the whole fabric of our society were at the same time overthrown ?

[44.] L   [115] But observe how the man's intolerable effrontery is joined to a spirit of over-reaching and unbridled covetousness. Did he ever dream of memorials or of any kind of sanctity? His ideal was to live in an unhampered sumptuousness, and to unite two great and noble mansions. ** At the very moment when my retirement had robbed him of a pretext for murdering me, he pressed Quintus Seius to sell him his house ; when Seius refused to do so, he first threatened that he would obstruct his lights ; but Postumus ** still swore that his house would never belong to Clodius while he himself was yet alive. The owner's words gave our astute young friend a suggestion as to what course he must pursue; he barefacedly poisoned Seius, and put him out of the way; and then, when all other bidders were wearied out, bought the house at a price half as high again as its true value. [116] Well, how does this incident bear upon the point at issue? Nearly the whole site of my house is still unconsecrated ; for scarce a tenth part of the building has been added to Catulus' portico. The reason was that Clodius wished to extend his own promenade, and raise his own shrine with the lady of Tanagra doing duty for Liberty - liberty, incidentally, having been crushed. He had set his heart upon building upon the Palatine a paved portico three hundred feet long with apartments opening from it and commanding a magnificent view, possessing a spacious colonnade and other such accessories, with the intent to surpass all other men's houses in roominess and imposing appearance. And though our scrupulous friend was at once the purchaser and the seller of my house, yet he did not dare, in the deep gloom that reigned, to attach his own name to the purchase. He put forward the notorious Seato, whose virtues, no doubt, had brought him into destitution, with the result that a man who, in his birthplace among the Marsi, had no longer a roof to retire to that he might shelter from the rain, now alleged that he had bought the noblest house upon the Palatine. The more low-lying part of the house he made over, not to his own family of Fonteius, but to that of Clodius, which he had relinquished ; but of the many who bore the name of Clodius none applied for a place on the list of assignees who was not over his ears in poverty or crime. [45.] L   And will you, gentlemen, set the seal of your sanction upon intentions, impudence, effrontery, and covetousness, so shifting and so unparalleled in any walk of life ?

[117] "But," interposes Clodius, "a pontiff was present." Seeing that it is before the pontiffs that the case is being tried, are you not ashamed to say that a pontiff, and not the College of Pontiffs, was present, especially as your powers as tribune allowed you to order, and even to compel, ** their presence? Very well, you did not call in the College. And of the College, who, pray, was present? You needed such moral support as can be found in all these gentlemen, though at the same time individual dignity is enhanced by age and distinction; you needed, too, knowledge, and though this has been attained by all, it is nevertheless undoubted that length of years lends added skill. [118] Who, then, was present ? "My wife's brother," ** he replies. If it is moral weight for which we are looking, he is not yet of an age to have gained this ; still, however considerable be the moral weight which that young man possesses, the close connexion with Clodius which his marriage involves must lead us to disparage that weight in our minds. But if knowledge is the object of our search, who was possessed of less technical qualifications than one who had only entered the College during the few previous days? Moreover, he was yet more closely bound to you by recent kindness, since he saw that he, your wife's brother, had been preferred to your own brother by blood ; though with regard to this you have taken all precautions that your brother may have no power to accuse you. Do you, then, apply the name of dedication to a ceremony to which you were unable to invite either the College of Pontiffs, or any single pontiff who had had distinctions of the Roman people conferred upon him, or even any young man who possessed any knowledge, though the College contained many who were your intimate friends? And his presence, if he was present at all, was due to your insistence, our sister's prayers, your mother's compulsion. [119] Bethink you, then, gentlemen, how you decide in my case upon the well-being of all; will you conclude that the mere word of a pontiff, who has but laid his hand upon the door-post and pronounced a formula, avails to consecrate the house of any individual, or have your dedications, and the sanctity of your temples and your shrines, been designed by our ancestors for the honour of the immortal gods, without entailing any detriment to our citizens? There has been found a tribune of the plebs, who, with the forces of the consuls marshalled in his support, launched the full fury of his madness upon a citizen whom the republic, with her own hands, upraised from his prostration.

[46.] L   [120] Well then, tell me this. Suppose a man like Clodius - and indeed there will in future be no lack of would-be imitators of him - has brutally assailed one who bears no resemblance to myself, in that he has laid the state under no such heavy debt, and has employed a pontiff to dedicate his house, will you decide with the full weight of your authority that such proceedings must be ratified? You object, gentlemen, by asking, "What pontiff will such a man find ?"   I reply by asking, "Is it not possible for the same man to be at once pontiff and tribune of the plebs ?" The renowned Marcus Drusus, when tribune of the plebs, was also pontiff. If he, therefore, had laid his hands upon the door-post of the house of Quintus Caepio, his enemy, and had spoken a brief formula, would Caepio's house have been duly dedicated? [121] I say nothing about the prerogatives of pontiffs, or the forms of the actual ceremony of dedication, or of sanctity, and all the ritual attached to it ; I will not attempt to hide my ignorance of all this ; indeed, even were I not ignorant, I should conceal my knowledge, lest I should seem to others pedantic, and to you even interfering ; though it is true that there are many details of your lore that often leak out, and even penetrate to our ears. I think I have heard it said that in the dedication of a temple the hand should be laid upon the door-post; for the door-post is at the place of access to the temple by the folding doors. But no one has ever, in process of dedication, laid a hand upon the door-post of a promenade ; and if you have dedicated any statue or altar that it may contain, it can be removed from its position without sacrilege. But you, Clodius, cannot assert as much in the present case, for you have told us that a pontiff did lay his hand upon the door-post.

[122] And yet why do I speak of the ceremony of dedication, or enter upon a controversy regarding your rights and the sanctity which I have set myself to refute? [47.] L   For my own part, even were I to confess that everything had been duly performed by the prescribed formula and the ancient and traditional observances, I should nevertheless defend myself by appealing to the rights of the republic. Otherwise, could the resurgent republic have power to survive your proceedings, in having, after the retirement of a citizen by whose unaided efforts the senate and all loyal men had declared that the state had been protected from harm, crushed and overpowered the commonwealth by your abominable depredations in common with the two reprobate consuls, and in having employed some pontiff to dedicate the house of one who had refused to allow the country which he had preserved to perish on his account ? [123] Do but throw open the door to this kind of consecration, gentlemen, and you will never find an issue from our universal plight. Shall the sacred name of religion lend authority to an outrage if a pontiff has laid his hand upon a door-post, and misapplied to the undoing of citizens a form of words designed for the worship of the immortal gods; and shall that name fail to lend its authority if a tribune of the plebs has used a formula no less time-honoured and of equal solemnity to devote to the gods the property of any one? And yet our fathers could remember how Gaius Atinius, ** with brazier duly placed upon the rostra and with flute-player in attendance, so devoted the property of Quintus Metellus, ** who, in his capacity of censor, had ejected him from the senate, - your grandfather, Quintus Metellus, and yours, Publius Servilius, and your great-grandfather, Publius Scipio. And what was the result? Were these mad proceedings, inspired by several examples afforded by our earliest history, detrimental to that great and renowned gentleman Metellus? [124] Assuredly not. We have see the censor Gnaeus Lentulus treated in the same manner by a tribune of the plebs; and was that tribune able by so doing to put any religious embarrassment upon the property of Lentulus? But why mention other instances? It was you - you, I say - who, with muffled head, in the presence of the meeting you had summoned, with the brazier in position, consecrated the property of your friend Gabinius, to whom you had made a present of all the realms of Syria, Arabia, and Persia. If none of your actions was valid in that case, what validity could there have been in your actions with regard to my property ? And if your actions in his case still hold good, why is it that, in spite of all, that prodigal, having glutted his appetite along with you upon the blood of the republic, rears a villa in Tusculum up to the skies out of the bowels of the treasury, while I, who refused to allow the entire city to share a like fate, have not been permitted even to look upon the ruins of mine?

[48.] L   [125] I leave Gabinius and pass to another question. Did not Lucius Ninnius, ** the bravest and best of men, take his cue from you when he consecrated your property? If you assert that his proceedings, so nearly affecting you as they do, should be held to be ineffective, you created in your memorable tribunate a precedent, to which you take exception when it is applied against you, but which you apply against others to their undoing. If your consecration possesses legal validity, what of your own property can be held to be unconsecrated ? Or are we to consider that, while a consecration has no binding force, a dedication is inviolably sacred? What then was the efficacy of your employment of a flute-player as witness on that occasion, of your brazier, your prayers, and your time-honoured formula? Why did you desire to lie, to deceive, and to misapply the majesty of the immortal gods to the intimidation of men? If that act holds good, - I waive your proceedings against Gabinius, - there can be no doubt that your house and anything else that you possess has been devoted to Ceres ; but if it was a mere farce, what can be more loathsome than your defilement of all sanctities either by falsehood or by immorality? [126] "I am ready to confess now," he says, "that in the case of Gabinius I acted impiously." Yes, for you realise that the penalty you enacted against another has recoiled upon your own head. But, embodiment in human form, as you are, of all crime and enormity, do you claim validity in my case for an act to which you disallow it in the case of Gabinius, whose immoral boyhood, whose licentious youth, whose ignominy and destitution in subsequent life, and whose rapacity as consul we have witnessed, and who would suffer no more than his deserts even were your own disaster to fall upon him ; and do you assign greater weight to an act which you performed in the presence of a single youth than to that which was performed in the presence of a whole meeting ? [127] "A dedication," he asserts, "has a grave binding force." [49.] L   The pronouncement of a veritable Numa Pompilius, is it not? Lay his words to heart, gentlemen of the Pontifical College, and you too, flamens; and do you also, Rex Sacrorum {"King of Rites"}, ** learn of this scion of your family (he has relinquished your family, but still learn of him) - learn of this devotee of religious observances all religion's every law. But, I ask you, do we not inquire with regard to a ceremony of dedication who is the dedicator, and what and how he dedicates ? Or would you so far subvert and confound these principles as to assert that agent, object, and form of dedication are all alike matters of choice? Who were you, the dedicator? Where was your title, your legal authority, your precedent, your jurisdiction ? On what occasion had the Roman people given you superintendence of this business? For I note that there is an ancient law enacted by a tribune to forbid the consecration without popular mandate of any building, land, or altar; and at that time Quintus Papirius, who proposed this law, ** never dreamed or suspected that a situation would arise involving danger of consecration to the dwellings or properties of uncondemned citizens. As a matter of fact, such a situation was inconceivable ; no one had ever done such a thing; and he had no reason to include a prohibition which would seem to be not so much a deterrent as a suggestion. [128] But since the buildings which it was customary to consecrate were not private dwellings, but those to which the name sacred is applied, and since the consecration of land, which the law envisaged, was not the consecration of our estates by anyone who wished, but that performed by a general upon lands conquered from an enemy, and since the altars commonly set up were such as lent a sanctity to the place wherein they had been consecrated, Papirius forbade such consecrations, unless the people had first given a mandate for them. ** If you interpret the terms of the law to refer to our houses and lands, I do not join issue with you; I merely ask what legislation permitted you to consecrate my house, whence you derived the necessary authority, and on what ground of right you acted. And I am not now dealing with religion, but with the property of us all; not with the rights of the pontiffs, but with the rights of the people. [50.] L   The law of Papirius forbids the consecration of a building without a mandate from the people. Let it by all means be conceded that this refers to our private houses and not to the public temples. Still, show us one single reference to consecration in your actual law, if law it can be called, and not rather an expression of your wickedness and cruelty. [129] But if at that time of shipwreck for the state you could have recollected everything, or if your secretary, when society was ablaze, had not been drawing up notes of hand with Byzantine exiles and the emissaries of Brogitarus, ** but had been compiling for you your decrees, or more truly monstrosities, with mind undistracted, you might then have met every requirement, if not actually, at least with the proper legal terms. But, all at the same time, securities for money were being taken, engagements for provinces were being compounded, royal titles were being offered for sale, a busy telling-off of all the slaves to their beats in the several quarters of the whole city was in progress, opponents were being reconciled to you, new commands were being apportioned to your stalwarts, the poison was being prepared for poor Quintus Seius, schemes were being set on foot for the murder of Gnaeus Pompeius, the bulwark and protector of the empire, for the annihilation of the senate, the perpetual mortification of loyal men, the capture of the republic through the treachery of the consuls, and its enslavement to tribunician lawlessness. In the midst of so many absorbing interests, especially in view of the blind recklessness of your mood, it is not surprising that there was much that both he and you overlooked.

[130] But mark how forcible a cogency is possessed in such a matter as this by the law of Papirius, a cogency not inspired, as is that which you assert, by a mood of passionate wickedness. Quintus Marcius ** the censor had had a statue of Concord made, and had set it up publicly. This statue was transferred to the senate-house by his successor Gaius Cassius, ** who consulted your College as to whether they thought that there was any reason to prevent his dedicating both statue and senate-house to Concord. [51.] L   Compare, I beg of you, gentlemen, character with character, period with period, and circumstances with circumstances. Cassius was a censor of the highest morality and dignity ; Clodius is a tribune of the plebs, unparalleled in criminal effrontery. In the former case the times were peaceful, established upon popular liberty and senatorial direction ; your days, on the other hand, Clodius, were marked by the crushing of the liberty of the Roman people and the extinction of the senate's authority. His act breathed a spirit of justice, sagacity, and high-mindedness ; he was a censor, holding an office which (though you have abolished all this) our ancestors desired should have control over senators and their rank; and he wished to dedicate a statue of Concord in the senate-house, and to dedicate the senate-house itself to this goddess. [131] His wish was a lofty one, and worthy of all praise; for he thought that in imposing the sanctity of Concord upon the very home and shrine of public deliberations, he was inculcating the lesson that declarations of policy should be untainted by the controversies of partisanship. You, on the other hand, though by the sword, by threats, by manifestos, by party legislation, by attending troops of ruffians, by the menace and terror of an absent army, and by the conspiracy and impious compact of the consuls, you held the state in the grip of a humiliating despotism, you set up a statue of Liberty, by way not so much of making a hypocritical pretence of religion, as of laughing in your sleeve at your own lack of compunction. Cassius placed his statue in the senate-house, the dedication of which involved embarrassment to none; you set up a likeness, not of a people's liberty, but of its licence, in the blood, nay, well-nigh in the very bones of a citizen who had done signal service to the republic. Yet he submitted his dedication to the sacred College ; and to whom did you submit yours? [132] If, in the sphere of your family worship, you had cherished any project, or had been called upon to make any expiation or innovation, you would still have adhered to the immemorial practice of the rest of the world, and have laid the question before a pontiff; and did you think that there was no need for any reference to the priests of the state, when by an impious and unheard-of process you were inaugurating a new shrine upon the most renowned spot in the city? At least, if you did not think it necessary to call in the College of Pontiffs, did you consider that there was no individual of their number, pre-eminent as they are in age, distinction, and dignity, to whom you might appropriately impart your project of dedication? But it was not contempt, but rather fear of their lofty qualities, that deterred you. [52.] L   Or would you have the face to inquire of Publius Servilius or of Marcus Lucullus, on whose advice and authority I, as consul, snatched the republic out of your clutches and your very jaws, by what form of words or ceremony - I mention this only at the outset - you could consecrate the house of a citizen, and furthermore of a citizen to whom the leader of the senate, after him all the orders in the state, after them the whole of Italy, and next all the races of the earth, had given testimony that it was he who preserved this city and this empire ? [133] What would you say, O abominable and mischievous plague-spot of the state? "You are here, Lucullus, and you, Servilius, are here, to dictate the responses to me, and to lay your hands upon the doorpost, while I dedicate the house of Cicero! " Your effrontery and shamelessness are no doubt without any parallel, but even your gaze, countenance, and utterance would have faltered, cowed as you would have been by the solemn pronouncements of the men who by their dignity upheld the character of the Roman people and the majesty of their empire, and who would have declared it to be impious to participate in your folly, and to gloat over the treacherous overthrow of their country. [134] Realising this, you forthwith betook yourself to your kinsman by marriage, not that you had fixed your choice upon him, but because all the world beside had deserted him. Yet I cannot believe that he, if he really be descended from those who, as legend relates, were instructed in sacred rites by Hercules ** after he had performed his labours, was so hardhearted towards a brave man in his hour of distress as to entomb ** with his own hands the head of a living and breathing man. No, but either he said and did nothing whatsoever, and suffered retribution for his mother's indiscretion ** by playing a dumb part and merely lending his name to the crime that was being committed, or, supposing that he did stammer out a few broken words, and did lay a quaking hand upon the door-post, we may be quite sure that nothing was done properly or correctly or according to the prescribed tradition. He had seen how Murena, his stepfather, when consul-elect, in company with the Allobrogians, laid before me in my consulship information with regard to the threatened overthrow of society ; from his lips he had heard how I had twice been responsible for the preservation of his life, first when a separate danger menaced him personally, and again when he was involved with the whole community. [135] Who is there, then, who can bring himself to think that this novice in the pontificate, presiding at the first religious ceremony and uttering the first religious formula since his induction to the priesthood, did not find his tongue grow dumb, his hand become palsied, and his mind unnerved and faltering for terror, especially when he looked upon none of his numerous colleagues, no Rex Sacrorum {"King of Rites"}, no flamen, no pontiff, and when he was reluctantly constrained to become a party to another's guilt, and endured a grievous penalty for the sin of his abandoned kinswoman ?

[53.] L   [136] But let me return to the official rules that govern dedicatory ceremonies, rules which the pontiffs themselves have invariably adapted not merely to their own ritual, but also to the decrees of the people. You will find in your records that the censor Gaius Cassius submitted to the Pontifical College his project for the dedication of a statue to Concord, and that the reply made to him by the pontifex maximus, Marcus Aemilius, on behalf of the College was, that they did not think that the dedication could be correctly carried out, unless the Roman people should give him express authority in the matter, so that it should be at their mandate that be acted. Again, when Licinia, a Vestal Virgin of noble birth, distinguished by the most sacred of priestly offices, dedicated an altar, an oratory, and a sacred couch under the Rock ** in the consulship ** of Titus Flaminius and Quintus Metellus, ** did not Sextus Julius the praetor, on the senate's authority, refer the question to the decision of this College? On that occasion Publius Scaevola, the pontifex maximus, answered on behalf of the College that "that which Licinia, daughter of Gaius, had dedicated in a public place was not deemed by them to be sacred." You will have no difficulty in realising, by an examination of the senate's actual decree, how sternly and how punctiliously they dealt with the affair.

{ The Decree of the Senate is read. }

[137] You observe, do you not, that herein the city praetor has the function assigned to him of seeing that no sanctity attached to what had been dedicated, and that any letters that had been engraved or inscribed thereon should be erased. The times are indeed changed, and moral standards with them! Then a censor, a pattern of uprightness, was forbidden by the pontiffs to dedicate in a consecrated temple an image of Concord, and on a later occasion the senate, prompted by the authority of the pontiffs, determined that an altar which had already been consecrated at a revered spot must be removed, and did not permit a single letter upon what had been dedicated to stand as a witness. You, on the other hand, the storm upon which your country is tossed, the raging whirlwind that robs us of peace and repose, did you dream that, at a time when the state was suffering shipwreck, when a cloud of gloom was shed about us, when the Roman people were sunk beneath the waves, and when the senate was overthrown and cast overboard, your acts of pulling down and building up, of polluting all religion, and yet defiling your deeds by the name of religion, of planting a monument of the extinction of the republic in the dwelling of him who by his labours had preserved the city at the risk of his life, and of removing the name of Quintus Catulus, and inscribing in its place a stigma that spells the grief of loyal men, ** - did you dream that the republic would tolerate such acts longer than while it remained banished with me and expelled from these walls ? [138] But if, gentlemen, the agent of the dedication was unauthorised, and its object an improper object, what need for me to demonstrate the third point which I had in view, namely, that the dedication was not performed in accordance with those usages and formulas which are demanded by ritual? [54.] L   I said at the outset that I should base no assertion upon my own knowledge, upon religious observance, or upon the secret regulations of the pontiffs. The arguments dealing with the rules of dedication which I have hitherto adduced have been culled from no esoteric treatise; they are drawn from a common stock, from open proceedings of magistrates in which they have deferred to the College, from senatorial decrees, and from the statutes. As to the questions that remain, the correct words to be uttered, responses to be dictated, and objects to be touched or held, these are your own intimate concern. [139] Were it beyond all doubt that all these details had been carefully observed in accordance with the knowledge of Tiberius Coruncanius, ** who is said to have been the most expert of pontiffs; or if the famous Horatius Pulvillus, ** who, though many men were moved by jealousy to interfere with his actions on false pleas of religious hindrances, still stood his ground and with unfaltering resolution dedicated the Capitol, had presided over a dedication like that of Clodius, even so there could be no valid sanctity conferred where the circumstances were criminal; allow not, then, validity to the alleged proceedings of an ignorant youth, a novice in the priesthood, who was influenced by a sister's prayers and a mother's threats, who acted without knowledge, without consent, without colleagues, without books, with none to support you, none to bake the cakes of sacrifice, ** but surreptitiously, and with mind and tongue that wavered; more especially, seeing that that polluted and unnatural foe of all things holy, who had shocked propriety by often behaving as a woman among men and as a man among women, was managing the business with such feverish and disorderly haste, that he too worked with faltering purpose and stammering tongue.

[55.] L   [140] Information was carried to you, gentlemen, and later it became a subject of universal comment, how Clodius, with a distorted formula, and amid inauspicious omens, constantly correcting himself, with a fearful and faltering hesitation, pronounced phrases and performed rites entirely different from those contained in your treatises of ritual. And indeed it is little to be wondered at that, in wickedness so outrageous and so infatuated, not effrontery itself should have had scope to quell his terrors. For truly if no robber, who, after desecrating temples, had later been prompted by dreams or scruples to consecrate some altar upon a desolate shore, was ever so barbarous and so inhuman as not to shudder in spirit, when compelled to appease by his prayers the godhead whom his crime had assailed, how great, think you, must have been the disquiet of mind suffered by that robber of all temples, houses, and indeed of the whole city, when, to avert the consequences of so many misdeeds, he consecrated a single altar,- and consecrated that sacrilegiously? [141] For all that the pride of his new-won mastery had puffed up his soul, for all that he stood sheathed in incredible hardihood, yet in performance he could not but make many slips and blunders, especially as the pontiff who directed him was constrained to dictate a ritual which as yet he himself had not learned. Great is the power that resides in the dispensation of the immortal gods, yes, and in the republic itself. The immortal gods, when they saw the guardian and champion of their temples outrageously expelled, refused to remove themselves from those temples into his house. They therefore wrought upon his insensate mind with panic and apprehension. As for the republic, though it had shared my banishment, its phantom yet loomed before the eyes of its suppressor, and was even then demanding me (yes ! and itself) back from his fiery and irrepressible fury. What wonder, then, that with fear hounding him, with infatuation inspiring him, and with crime hurrying him upon his ruin, he was unable to carry out the prescribed ritual, or to pronounce a single word of the accustomed formula ?

[56.] L   [142] Since this is so, gentlemen, divert your minds at last from the minutiae of my argument to a broad survey of that republic, the responsibilities of which many gallant heroes have in the past helped you to bear, but which at the present juncture you have supported solely upon your own backs. It is to you that the perpetual authority of the senate, to which you yourselves have always throughout my case given a magnificent lead, it is to you that the magnanimous demonstrations of Italy and the united support of the municipia, it is to you that the Campus and the unopposed voice of all the Centuries, who have had you for their mentors and directors, it is to you that all associations, all classes, in a word, all whose welfare has been realised or is in prospect of realisation, think that all their good wishes and favourable opinions towards my merits have been, not committed merely, but commended. [143] Finally, the immortal gods themselves, who watch over this city and this empire, seem to have submitted to the jurisdiction and discretion of their priests the full rewards of my restoration and the acclamations that accompanied it, solely in order that it might be manifest to all nations and to all future generations that my restitution to the republic was due to divine providence. Herein, gentlemen, consists a true return and a true restoration, - to possess once more house, home, altars, hearths, and household gods ; and though with impious hands he has torn down the roofs and resting-places of those gods, and though, as if this were a city he had captured under the consuls' leadership, he has thought it his duty to single out for destruction the house of its most ardent champion, nevertheless the gods of my household and my family will find that by your aid they are once again restored with me to my home.

[57.] L   [144] Wherefore I beseech and supplicate you, God of the Capitol, to whom the Roman people has given the name of Best by reason of the blessings you have vouchsafed, and of Greatest by reason of your might, and you, Queen Juno, and you, guardian of our city, Minerva, ** who have always shown yourself the helper of my designs and the witness of my devotion; and you too, who above all sought for and demanded my return, for the recovery of whose abode I have set myself this present encounter, the ancestral gods of the household and the family, who preside over this city and this republic, I implore you, from whose temples and shrines I warded those pestilential and impious flames; and you, Vesta our Mother, whose chaste priestesses I have protected from the madness, frenzy, and wickedness of men, and whose undying fire I have not suffered to be quenched in the blood of citizens, nor to be commingled with the whole city's conflagration ; [145] that if, when the state so nearly met her doom, I offered my own head to the reckless weapons of the ungodly on behalf of your rites and temples, and if later, when, by reason of my opposition, the destruction of all true patriots was aimed at, I called you to witness, commended to you myself and mine, and vowed to you my life and myself, engaging that if, both at that very time and before in my consulship, I had forgone all my privileges, profits, and rewards, and toiled with all my pains, thoughts, and vigilance, for no other end than the welfare of my fellow-citizens, I might then one day be permitted to look with joy upon the republic restored ; but that if my measures availed nothing for my country's good, I might be torn from my dear ones, and be bowed beneath an unending sorrow ; then this dedication of my life I shall not consider to have been indubitably accepted until the day whereon I find myself restored to my dwelling. [146] For as it is, gentlemen, I am deprived not alone of my house, which is the subject of your inquiry, but of the whole city, to which, on a superficial view, I have been restored. For the chiefest and most frequented districts of the city are confronted by the vision of what I will not describe as a memorial, but rather as a scar upon our country. And since you realise, as you must, that I must needs shun and avoid the sight of this more than death, forbear, I beg of you, to decree that he, whose restoration you hoped would mean the restoration of the republic, should be deprived not only of the external trappings of dignity, but even of the enjoyment of living in the city which is his home.

[58.] L   It is not the plundering of my property nor the demolition of my house nor the ravaging of my estates nor the booty that the consuls have so pitilessly taken from my fortunes that greatly moves me; these I have always accounted transient and fleeting, the bestowal not of virtue and genius but of chance and circumstance ; and it is not so much opportunities for acquiring and amassing these that I have thought desirable, but rather philosophy in their enjoyment and steadfastness in their loss. For truly our power to dispose of our private goods extends as a rule for no longer than our power to enjoy them ; and the inheritance we shall leave to our children will be bounteous enough, if it consists but of their ancestral name and their father's memory ; but the house which has been wrested from me by crime, seized by brigandage, and built over by lawlessness masquerading as religion, even more wickedly than it was overthrown, cannot be lost to me without the infliction of the direst disgrace upon the state, and the deepest grief and ignominy upon myself. [147] If, therefore, you conceive that my restoration is a source of pleasure and gratification to the immortal gods, to the senate, to the Roman people, to all Italy, to the provinces, to foreign nations, and to your own selves, who have always been first and most influential in working for my welfare, I beg and implore you, pontiffs, as I have been restored by your influence, enthusiasm, and suffrages, so now also, since it is the will of the senate, let it be your hands that install me in my own home.


86.(↑)   Appius Claudius Caecus (censor 312) who became blind in old age.

87.(↑)   It is uncertain to whom this refers.

88.(↑)   Pompey.

89.(↑)   Appius Clodius, brother of Publius.

90.(↑)   Making it easier to tamper with the voting-tablets, whereon the names of candidates were written in abbreviated form.

91.(↑)   Consul with Marius 102, and co-operator with him in the conquest of the Cimbri and Teutones. From the spoils of this campaign he built on the Capitol a portico, which Clodius had destroyed. See Chap. XLIV.

92.(↑)   Consul 78 ; leader of the senatorial party.

93.(↑)   i.e. Cic.'s house to that of Seius.

94.(↑)   i.e, Q. Seius Postumus.

95.(↑)   We know nothing of this alleged power of the tribunes.

96.(↑)   L. Pinarius Natta.

97.(↑)   C. A. Labeo, trib. plebis 133.

98.(↑)   Sc. Macedonicus.

99.(↑)   See In senatu, Chap. II.

100.(↑)   L. Claudius ; see De har. resp. Chap. VI. n.

101.(↑)   Nothing is known of this law.

102.(↑)   The point of this argument is very obscure.

103.(↑)   See De har. resp. Chap. XIII. n.

104.(↑)   164.

105.(↑)   C. C. Longinus, censor 154.

106.(↑)   For descent of the Pinarii from H. see Livy i. 7.

107.(↑)   By asserting the "dedication" of C.'s house he makes it (though the phrase is startling) C.'s "tomb." 'Caput' is used in a double sense =(1) "head," literally, (2) "status as a citizen," metaphorically.

108.(↑)   I cannot discover to what C. alludes.

109.(↑)   A rock on the slope of the Aventine, where there was a temple of Bona Dea; see Ovid, Fasti, v. 148.

110.(↑)   123.

111.(↑)   Sc. Balearicus.

112.(↑)   Nothing can be made of the text here; I give the general sense.

113.(↑)   The first plebeian to be Pontifex Maximus, about 254.

114.(↑)   See Livy ii. 8. In the first year of the republic he was in the act of dedicating the Capitol ("postem iam tenenti"), when his enemies announced to him the death of his son. "He was only so far distracted by the intelligence, as to order that the body should be buried."

115.(↑)   Lit. 'moulder';   "so called," says Varro, "because they moulded the cakes" {fictores dicti a fingendis libis}.

116.(↑)   C. appeals to Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva as the special deities of the Capitol. The two last had "side-chapels" in the temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus.

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