Cicero : Philippic 6

This speech was delivered against Marcus Antonius, in September 44 B.C.

The translation is by W.C.A. Ker (1926). Click on the L symbols to go to the Latin text of each section. Click on ** to go to the translator's footnotes.

[1.] L   [1] I think, Romans, rumours have reached you of what has been transacted in the Senate, and what each individual opinion was: for the matter discussed ever since the Kalends of January has just been concluded, with less severity than should have been, yet not altogether remissly. War has been postponed, but its cause not removed. Wherefore in regard to the question which Publius Apuleius, a man allied to me by many kindly offices and the closest intimacy, and your very good friend, has addressed to me, I will make a reply that will enable you to understand those matters at which you were not present.

The reason that first prompted our most gallant and excellent consuls on the Kalends of January to submit a motion on the general aspect of State affairs was the decree the Senate made on the 20th of December ** at my instigation. [2] On that day, Romans, the foundations of the commonwealth were first laid; for the Senate, after a long interval, became so entirely free that you were at length free. At that time, indeed, even had that day been fated to bring an end to my life, I had earned a recompense sufficiently great when you all with one mind and voice shouted that the State had been a second time saved by me. Encouraged by this weighty and remarkable judgment of yours, I came into the Senate on the Kalends of January bearing in mind the character imposed on me by you, which I had to sustain. Seeing, as I did, a wicked war waged against the State, I thought that no time should be lost in following up Marcus Antonius, and I proposed that the man who, with the utmost audacity, after the commission of many previous criminal acts, was at this time attacking a general of the Roman people, and besieging your most loyal and brave colony, should be attacked in war ; I voted for a state of tumult being decreed; I said the Senate should decree that a closing of the courts be declared, that military garb be assumed, so that all men, if they saw all the symbols of a very serious war adopted by the Senate, might with greater zeal address themselves to the avenging of the injuries of the State. [3] Accordingly this view, Romans, so fully prevailed for three days that, although there was no division, yet, saving a few, all appeared likely to assent to my opinion. But to-day, because of some expectation or other presented to it, ** the Senate was more lenient; for the majority supported the view that we should ascertain through envoys how far the authority of the Senate and your unanimous support would prevail with Antonius.

[2.] L   I gather, Romans, that this view is repudiated by you; and not without reason. For to whom should we send envoys? To that man who, after dissipating and squandering public moneys, after imposing laws on the State by violence and in the face of the auspices, after dispersing a public meeting, after besieging the Senate, summoned legions from Brundisium to oppose the commonwealth, and, when he had been deserted by those legions, burst into Gaul with a band of brigands, is attacking Brutus and besieging Mutina? What communion can you have with this gladiator, either as regards conditions of peace, or equity, or any embassy at all? [4] And yet, Romans, this is not an embassy, but a threat of war if he does not obey; for such is the decree, just as if ambassadors were being sent to a Hannibal. For they are sent to intimate to him not to blockade a consul elect, not to besiege Mutina, not to lay waste the province, not to hold levies, but to submit to the government of the Senate and the Roman people. He will readily no doubt obey this intimation, so as to submit to the conscript fathers and your government - a man who has never governed himself! For what has that man ever done on his own initiative? He has always been dragged where lust, where humour, where frenzy, where intoxication, has dragged him; two different classes of men have always held him in their grip, pimps and brigands; he so enjoys lecheries at home and murders in the forum that he would sooner obey a most avaricious woman ** than the Senate and the Roman people.

[3.] L   [5] Accordingly, what I did just now in the Senate I will do before you. I bear witness, I give notice, I predict beforehand that Marcus Antonius will perform none of the commands the envoys bring, that he will devastate the land, besiege Mutina, hold levies in what way he can. For he is a man that has always held in contempt the opinion and the authority of the Senate, and always your wishes and power. Or is he the man to carry out the recent decree that he should draw off his army to this side of the boundary of Gaul, the river Rubicon, provided he did not march it nearer the city than two hundred miles? He the man to obey this warning? he to allow himself to be circumscribed by the river Rubicon ** and two hundred miles? [6] Antonius is not such a man; for if he were, he would not by his action have compelled the Senate to warn him, as if he were a Hannibal at the beginning of the Punic war, not to blockade a Saguntum. And his being called off from Mutina only to be kept away from the city like a destructive fire - what a disgrace, what an opinion of the Senate, does this involve! And again, as to the Senate's charge to the envoys to go to Decimus Brutus and his soldiers, and to assure them that their eminent services and good-will towards the State are pleasing to the Senate and to the Roman people, and that their actions will redound to their glory and great honour? - do you think Antonius will suffer the envoys to enter Mutina? to depart in safety? He will never suffer it, believe me; I know his violence, I know his impudence, I know his audacity. [7] In truth we ought not to think of him as of a human being, but as a most outrageous beast.

In the circumstances, the Senate's decree is not altogether remiss; the embassy has some element of severity ; would that it involved no delay! For as in the conduct of most things slowness and procrastination are hateful, so this war especially asks for speed. We must relieve Decimus Brutus; all our forces must be collected from all quarters; we cannot without crime lose a single hour in the rescue of so good a citizen. [8] If he had considered Antonius to be a consul, and Gaul Antonius' province, could he not have handed over the legions and the province to Antonius, have returned home, triumphed, and been the first to give his vote in this our body until he took up his office? What difficulty was there? [9] But as he remembered he was a Brutus, and one born to the service of your liberty, not of his own ease, what else did he do but - almost by his own body - bar Antonius from Gaul? Should envoys or rather legions have been sent this man?

But let us waive the past; let the envoys hasten, as I see they will do; do you get ready the garb of war. For it has been so decreed that, if he does not bow to the authority of the Senate, we must come to the garb of war. We shall; he will not bow, and we shall lament the loss of so many days for action.

[4.] L   I am not afraid, Romans, when Antonius hears that I have in the Senate and at a public meeting given my assurance that he will never put himself under the government of the Senate, that, in order to refute me, and convict me of want of foresight, he will change his ways and obey the Senate. He will never do it; he will not grudge me this honour; he will prefer that you should deem me wise than that you should think him modest. [10] Besides, even if he were willing himself, do we think his brother Lucius would ever suffer it? Recently indeed he is said - at Tibur, I think - when Antonius appeared to him to be weakening, to have threatened his brother with death, Will the commands of the Senate and the words of the envoys be really listened to by this murmillo ** from Asia? For he cannot be separated from his brother, especially as he carries such weight. For he is an Africanus ** among them ; he is held of more account than Lucius Trebellius, of more account than Titus Plancus. . . . a noble youth. ** As to Plancus, who, after being condemned unanimously and with your loudest applause, somehow or other threw himself among the crowd, ** and returned so sorrowful that he seemed to have been tugged back, and not to have returned - Antonius so despises him asif he had been interdicted water and fire ; ** sometimes he says that a man who set fire to the Senate-house ** should have no place in the Senate. [11] For as to Trebellius, he now loves him well: he hated him when he opposed the cancellation of debts; but now he is the apple of his eye ever since he has seen that Trebellius himself cannot without cancellation of debts save himself. For I think, Romans, you have heard - you might even have seen - that Trebellius' sureties and creditors are holding meetings every day. O Faithful ! ** - for this surname Trebellius has, I think, assumed - what greater proof of faith can there be than in cheating your creditors, flying from your house, because of debt resorting to arms? Where is the praise he won at a triumph and often at the Games? ** where is the aedileship conferred with the greatest enthusiasm of good men? Who is there that does not think this man acted well by chance, wickedly by his own depravity ?

[5.] L   [12] But I return to your love and your darling, Lucius Antonius, who has taken all of you under his charge. Do you deny it? is there any of you that has no tribe? Assuredly no one. And yet the thirty-five tribes have adopted him as their patron. Do you again shout "No"? Look at that gilt equestrian statue on the left: what is its inscription ? "The thirty-five tribes to their patron." The Roman people's patron then is Lucius Antonius. May evil plagues fall on him! for I agree with your shouts. To say nothing of this brigand who no one would choose as a client, who at any time has been so powerful, so illustrious in achievement as to dare to call himself the patron of the Roman people, the conqueror and lord of all nations? [13] In the forum we see the statue of Lucius Antonius, as we see that of Quintus Tremulus who conquered the Hernicans in front of the Temple of Castor. What incredible impudence! Has he taken so much on himself because at Mylasa as a murmillo ** he cut the throat of a Thracian gladiator, his own comrade? How could we have borne with him if he had fought in this forum before your eyes?

But this is one statue ; a second has been erected by the knights with public horses ** : they also add the inscription "To our patron." Whom has that order ever adopted as its patron? if anyone, they should have adopted me. But I say nothing of myself; what censor? what general has it adopted? "He divided lands among them." How mean the receivers! how unscrupulous the giver!

[14] Those who had been military tribunes twice in the army of Caesar erected another. What class of men is that? There were many in many legions during so many years. Amongst them he has also divided the Semurian land. The Campus Martius remained, but he fled with his brother too soon. But this assignment of lands, Romans, has been abrogated on the proposal of Lucius Caesar, a most illustrious man and distinguished Senator; for, agreeing with his motion, we have annulled the acts of the septemvirs; ** the favours of Nucula ** are at a discount; Antonius' patronage market is flat. For the occupiers will depart with equanimity; they have gone to no expense ; have not yet stocked the land, some because they had no confidence, some because they had no money. [15] But one statue takes the palm: if the times had been better, I could not without a laugh have quoted: "From the Exchange {Janus Medius} to Lucius Antonius its patron." So? The Exchange is part of the clientele of Lucius Antonius? Who in that Exchange has ever been discovered to debit Lucius Antonius with a thousand sesterces?

[6.] L   But I have spoken enough on trifles: let us return to our subject and to the war; though it was not inapposite that you should recognise certain characters, to enable you in your minds to consider with whom you were at war.

I urge you, Romans, even though a different course had been wiser, yet to wait with equanimity for the return of the envoys. Our cause has lost promptitude of action, yet some good has accrued to our cause. [16] For when the envoys report - as they certainly will report - that Antonius is not under your government and that of the Senate, who will be so unworthy a citizen as to think that man should be regarded as a fellow-citizen? For now there are some, few indeed, yet more than becomes the State, that speak thus: "Shall we not even wait for the envoys?" Assuredly events themselves will wrest from them that catchword and pretence of clemency. On that account - to confess it to you, Romans - I was less earnest, less insistent to-day, that the Senate should agree with me and decree a state of tumult, and order the assumption of military garb; I preferred that twenty days hence my opinion should be commended by all rather than abused to-day by a few. [17] Wherefore, Romans, await the return of the envoys and swallow down your annoyance of a few days. When they return, if they shall bring peace, then you may consider me to have been a partial witness; if war, foreseeing. Should I not be foreseeing for my fellow-citizens? should I not day and night study your liberty, and the safety of the State? For what do I not owe you, Romans, I, a man of no lineage, whom you have preferred for all honours before the noblest men? Am I ungrateful? Who is less so than I, who, after my honours have been won, have spent the same labour in the forum as when I was seeking them? Inexperienced in State affairs? Who is more versed than I? who now for the twentieth year am waging war against disloyal citizens.

[7.] L   [18] Wherefore, Romans, with advice to the extent of my power, with toil almost beyond my power, I will stand sentry and keep watch on your behalf. For who is the citizen, and that too of such position as it has been your pleasure that I should hold, so forgetful of your kindness, so unmindful of his country, so unfriendly to his own dignity, as not to be stirred, not to be fired by such unanimity on your part? Many great public meetings have I held as consul, at many have I been present; none so great have I ever seen as yours to-day. You all have one opinion, one object, to avert from the State the attacks of Marcus Antonius, to quench his frenzy, to crush his audacity. All orders wish the same: to the same object are bent the municipia, the colonies, the whole of Italy. Thus you have made the Senate, already firm in its own determination, firmer by your support. [19] The time has come, citizens, later altogether than befitted the Roman people, yet one so ripe that it cannot now be delayed an hour. There has befallen a calamity, ordained, so to speak, by Fate, which we have borne as we could; if any shall come now it will be of our own choice. That the Roman people should be slaves is contrary to divine law; the immortal Gods have willed it to rule all nations. Matters have been brought to the utmost crisis; the issue is liberty. You must either win victory, Romans, which assuredly you will achieve by your loyalty and such unanimity; or do anything rather than be slaves, Other nations can endure slavery; the assured possession of the Roman people is liberty.


1.   The date of the third Philippic.

2.   Appian (B.C. 3. 51) states that the Senate was influenced by pity.

3.   His wife Fulvia.

4.   A river N. of Ariminum, dividing Cis. Gaul from Italia proper.

5.   See note on Phil. v. 20.

6.   i.e, a great man. P. Scipio Africanus was the conqueror of Hannibal.

7.   The reading here is hopelessly lost.

8.   Of recalled exiles.

9.   The severest form of banishment, making a man an outlaw.

10.   P. had been convicted of complicity in the riot that followed the funeral of Cicero's enemy, P. Clodius, in which the Senate-house was burnt. He had been recalled from banishment by J. Caesar.

11.   Cf. Phil. xiii. 12, where T. is called Fidei patronus. A cognomen is a name added to mark some personal quality.

12.   Because he had opposed the cancellation of debts. His presence during some other man's triumph, or at the Games, seems to have been applauded.

13.   See note on Phil. v. 20. The subject is also mentioned in Phil. iii. 12 and vii. 6.

14.   i.e. furnished by the State.

15.   A commission for the division of lands in the Leontine territory and in Campania among the veterans. Their acts were annulled, their appointment having been procured by violence: cf Phil. xi. 6. 13.

16.   A septemvir; cf. Phil. viii, 9. 26.

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