This speech was delivered against P. Vatinius, who was appearing as a witness against P. Sestius, in 56 B.C.
The translation is by R. Gardner (1958). Click on the L symbols to go to the Latin text of each section.
[1.] L  If I had merely wished, Vatinius, to consider what your complete unimportance required, I should have done what my friends here earnestly desired, and, regarding you as a man whose disgraceful life and domestic disrepute would make his evidence to be accounted of no weight, I should dismiss you in silence. For none of them thought that you were either an adversary sufficiently important to be worth refutation, or a witness sufficiently conscientious to be questioned. But perhaps a little while ago I was somewhat more intemperate than I ought to have been. For because of my hatred of you - which ought to have been greater than that of all others, owing to your crime against me, but almost seems to be less - I was so carried away that, although I despised you no less than I hated you, yet I preferred to let you go in confusion rather than in contempt.  Accordingly, in case you should perhaps be surprised that I do you the honour of questioning you, when no one deems you worthy of his converse or his acquaintance, no one deems you worthy of a vote, of citizenship, or even of the light of day, I declare that nothing would have induced me to do so, except my desire to curb your violence, to crush your effrontery, and to put a check on your loquacity, by embarrassing you with a few questions. For granting that Publius Sestius had wrongly suspected you, yet you ought to have pardoned me if, when a man who had rendered me such great services was in danger, I showed myself ready to consider his difficulties and to comply with his wishes.  But yesterday you bore false witness when you declared that, far from having discussed with Albinovanus the question of accusing Sestius, you had never spoken about anything at all with him ; you lied, and, a short time ago without thinking, revealed it, when you said that Titus Claudius had communicated with you, and had sought your advice in the prosecution of Publius Sestius, and that Albinovanus, whom you had previously said you hardly knew, came to your house and had a long conversation with you; and lastly, that you sent him copies of the speeches of Publius Sestius, of which he had no knowledge, nor could he have procured them, and that they were read at the trial. Whereby on the one hand you admitted that the accusers had been instructed and suborned by you, and on the other hand you showed up your own inconsistency, in its combination of folly and perjury besides, when you said that the same man whom you had declared to be an utter stranger to you had visited you at your house, and that you had given the man, whom you had at the outset considered to be in collusion with the accused, the copies of the speeches of Sestius which he had asked for to support his accusation.
[2.] L  In disposition you are too violent and arrogant; you do not think that it is right for anyone to utter a word which does not fall on your ears as agreeable and flattering. You came here in a rage with everybody; the moment I saw you, before you opened your mouth, while Gellius, indulgent nanny of all seditious men, was giving evidence earlier, I felt it and foresaw it. For all of a sudden, like a serpent from its hiding-place, with protruding eyes, with bulging neck and swollen throat, in you came, so that I thought that I was back again [in the days of your tribunate.
 And you first reproached me with defending Cornelius], an old friend of mine, yet an intimate acquaintance of your own, although in Rome one is sometimes blamed for bringing such an accusation as you are now doing, but for defending, never. But I ask you, why was I not to defend Cornelius ? Did he carry any law in defiance of the auspices ? Did he ignore the Aelian Law or the Fufian Law ? Did he lay violent hands on a consul? Did he pack a temple with armed men? Did he throw a man who vetoed violently down the steps? Did he profane religious observances? Did he empty the Treasury? Did he plunder the State? These crimes are yours, all yours ; no one has reproached Cornelius with any such act. He was said to have read out the text of his bill. His defence, attested by his colleagues, was that he had done so, not for the sake of reading it out publicly, but for the purpose of revising it. Yet it is at least certain that he dismissed the Meeting on that day, and respected the veto of a tribune. But you, who disapprove of my defence of Cornelius - what case, or rather what face, will you present to your own advocates, when you already give them definite warning how disgraceful it will be for them if they undertake your defence, since you think that my undertaking that of Cornelius is a matter for accusation and abuse?  However, Vatinius, remember this, that a little while after my defence, which you say displeased "Good Men," I was elected consul with the complete approval of the whole Roman People, with remarkable enthusiasm of all the best men, an election more glorious than any within the memory of man; and finally, that I by living modestly have secured all that you in your immodest vaticinations often said that you hoped for.
[3.] L In answer to your taunt that I left the city, and your desire to renew the grief and sorrow of those to whom that day was the most grievous, as it was to you the gladdest of days, my only answer is this: when you and the other curses of the country were seeking an excuse to take up arms, and when you were eager, under the shelter of my name, to plunder the fortunes of the wealthy, to drain the blood of the leaders of the State, and to glut at once your cruelty and that lasting and now inveterate hatred which you cherish against honest men - then I preferred to overcome your criminal madness by giving way, rather than by resistance.  And so I beg you to pardon me, Vatinius, for having spared that country which I had preserved, and if I bear with you, who wanted to ruin and disturb the State, to bear with me, its preserver and its guardian. In the next place, you censure the departure of the man, who, you see, was recalled by the longing of all citizens, indeed by the mourning of the State herself. Oh, but you said that it was not for my sake that men made these efforts for my recall, but for "reasons of State." As if indeed any man who has entered public life with a high purpose could think anything more desirable than that he should be loved by his fellow-citizens " for the sake of the State"!  No doubt my character is harsh, I am difficult to approach, my looks are stern, my answers are haughty, my conduct is arrogant, no one missed my society, my human feelings, my counsel, my support ; and yet, if I may mention things so unimportant, in sorrow for my absence, the forum was in mourning, the Senate was dumb, all care for the liberal arts was stilled. But suppose that nothing was done for my sake ; let us admit that all those resolutions of the Senate, those orders of the People, those decrees of the whole of Italy, of every society, every association, concerning myself were made "for the sake of the State." What then, O utterly incapable as you are of judging genuine merit and true worth ! what then more honourable could have happened to me, what more desirable for an immortality of glory and everlasting perpetuation of my name, than that all my fellow-citizens should think that the welfare of the State was bound up with the welfare of my single self? I give you tit for tat.  For as you said that I was dear to the Senate and the Roman People, not so much for my own sake as for the sake of the State, so in return I say that you, foulest of men though you are, in all your horror and monstrosity, are yet an object of hatred to the State, not so much on your own account as on that of the State.
[4.] L And in order that I may come at last to you, let this be the last word about myself. What each of us says about himself is not really the question. Let good men form their judgment! that is of the greatest importance and weight.  There are two occasions suitable for testing the opinions of our fellow-citizens about us - the one has to do with public office, the other with personal position. Upon few men has office been conferred with such approval of the whole State as upon myself; no one has been restored to his position with such great public enthusiasm. But what your fellow-citizens think of you, we have seen when you sought office ; what they will do when your position is at stake - we still wait to see. However, not to compare myself with these chief men of the State who are supporting Publius Sestius by their presence, but with you, not only the most shameless [but the most contemptible] and the basest of men, I ask you yourself, however great your arrogance and however great your hatred for me, Vatinius, which of us do you think it would have been better and preferable for this State, this commonwealth, this city, these temples, the treasury, the Senate House, these men whom you see here, their goods, fortunes, children, the rest of the citizens, and lastly the shrines of the Immortal Gods, the auspices and religious observances, that he should have been born in it - you or I ? When you have answered this, either so impudently that people can hardly keep their hands off you, or so painfully that all these swellings of yours at last burst, then answer, sir, with careful recollection, the questions I shall put to you concerning yourself. [5.] L  And I will not lift the veil of utter darkness in which your early years are wrapped. For all I care you may have broken into houses in your youth with impunity, robbed your neighbours, and beaten your mother. Let the meanness of your condition have so much profit, that the baseness of your youth be hidden by your obscurity and vileness. You were a candidate for the quaestorship with Publius Sestius, when he, in all he said, kept strictly to the business in hand, while you said that you were thinking about holding a second consulship. I ask you whether you remember that when Publius Sestius was unanimously elected quaestor, then you, with difficulty, against everybody's wishes, not by the favour of the Roman People, but of a consul, just stuck on to the end.  When in your quaestorship you had drawn by lot, amid an uproar, the department of coastal duties, were you not sent by me when I was consul to Puteoli, that you might prevent the exportation of gold and silver? While thus employed, thinking that you had been sent, not as a guard to keep, but as a customs-house officer, to share out the merchandise, when you searched every house, warehouse, and ship like a thief indeed, entangled men while carrying on their business in iniquitous legal proceedings, frightened merchants when they disembarked and hindered them when they went on board, - do you remember that in a court at Puteoli violent hands were laid upon you ? do you remember that complaints from the inhabitants were brought before me as consul? After your quaestorship did you not leave for Further Spain on the staff of the governor, C. Cosconius? Although the journey to Spain is usually made by land, or, if a sea voyage is preferred, a certain route is prescribed, did you not first visit Sardinia, and then Africa? Did you not stop in the kingdom of Hiempsal, which you were not allowed to do without a decree of the Senate ? Then in that of Mastanesosus? Did you cross Mauretania on your way to the Strait? What legate have you ever known who reached that province in Spain after a route of that sort ?
 You became tribune of the plebs - for why question you about your misdeeds and shameful robberies in Spain? I ask you first in general terms what kind of iniquity and crime did you not commit during your tribunate? And I warn you from the beginning not to mix up your dirty tricks with the glorious reputation of our most distinguished men. Whatever I ask you will be something about yourself. I shall drag you from your own proper obscurity, not from the dignified company of a great man. And all my shafts will be so aimed against you that no one else will be wounded, as you are in the habit of saying, through your body'; they will remain fixed in your lungs and your vitals.
[6.] L  And, since all important things have their beginning with the Immortal Gods, I wish you to answer a few questions. You are in the habit of calling yourself a Pythagorean, and of hiding your ferocious and barbarous manners behind the name of a profound scholar: pray tell me, however much you have engaged in unknown and mysterious rites, however accustomed you may be to evoke spirits from the underworld, and to appease the infernal deities with the entrails of boys, what monstrous perversity, what madness led you to show contempt for the auspices under which this city has been founded, upon which the whole State and its authority depend, and to declare to the Senate, in the first days of your tribunate, that the pronouncements of the augurs and the pretensions of their college would be no obstacle to your undertakings?  Next I ask you, whether you kept your promise in this. Were you ever prevented from summoning a Meeting and passing a law, because you knew that announcement had been made that the heavens had been observed on that day ? And since this is the only point in which you claim to have something in common with Caesar, I will separate your case from his, not only for the sake of the State, but for Caesar also, lest a stain from your gross unworthiness should seem to tarnish his worthy name. I ask you first whether you entrust your cause to the Senate, as Caesar does ; in the second place, what is the authority of a man who defends himself by the act of another, not by his own. Next, for the truth shall at length force utterance, and I shall not hesitate to say what I think. Suppose for a moment that Caesar did break out into some excesses ; that the strain of conflict, his passion for glory, his outstanding genius, his exalted birth, did drive him into some acts which at that moment and in such a man might be tolerable, but should be wiped out of memory by his subsequent mighty achievements ; will you, you rascal, claim the same forbearance ; and shall we give ear to the voice of Vatinius, brigand and temple-robber, demanding for himself the same privileges as Caesar ?
[7.] L  Now I ask you this. You were tribune of the plebs - separate yourself from the consul - your colleagues were nine courageous men. Of these there were three whom you knew to be watching the heavens every day, whom you ridiculed, whom you declared to be private persons ; two of whom you can see sitting in Court, wearing their toga praetexta? - while you have sold the one you had had made in vain for your aedileship; the third, you know, after the troubles that beset his tribunate, enjoyed, while still young, as much authority as if he had been a consul. The six others were either entirely on your side, or kept a sort of middle course ; laws were promulgated by all, many of them, with my approval also, by my friend Gaius Cosconius, a member of this jury, successful in the aediles' election, whom you cannot see without bursting with envy.  I wish you would tell me whether any one of the whole college ventured to propose a law except yourself. What audacity was yours, what violence ! what your nine colleagues held should be regarded with awe, you alone, one sprung from the mud, the lowest of the land in every way, regarded as contemptible, trivial, ridiculous! Do you know of any tribune of the plebs since the foundation of Rome who transacted business with the commons, when it was well known that an announcement had been made that the heavens had been watched ?  I should also like you to answer this. During your tribunate of the plebs, the Aelian and Fufian Laws still existed in the State, those laws which often checked and crippled revolutionary tribunes, those laws which no one except yourself has ever ventured to resist ; laws, I may say, which the year after, while two men were seated on the rostra - I will not say consuls, but two betrayers and plagues of our country, - were destroyed in the same conflagration as the auspices, as vetoes, and as all public law : I ask you, did you ever hesitate, contrary to those laws, to transact business with the commons and summon a Meeting ? Have you ever heard that any of the most seditious tribunes of the plebs was so audacious as to summon a Meeting in defiance of the Aelian or the Fufian Law ?
[8.] L  I also ask you, whether you have tried, have ever had the wish or even the idea - for the crime is of such a kind that, if it only entered your mind, no one would fail to think you worthy of the extremest punishment - whether you ever had the idea, during your intolerable - I will not say reign as king (for that is what you like to hear) but your career as brigand, of being elected augur in place of Quintus Metellus, so that whoever saw you might be twice pierced and twice anguished, both by the loss of a brave and illustrious man, and by the elevation of an infamous scoundrel? Did you indeed think that the State had been so undermined and the constitution so shaken under your tribunate - no, that Rome had fallen into captivity and ruin, so that we could endure Vatinius as augur?  At this point I ask, if you had been elected augur as you had desired - and what an idea it was! we who hated you could scarcely control our indignation, while those whose darling you were could hardly restrain their laughter! - but I ask you, after all those other wounds, by which you thought the State was being destroyed, if you had inflicted this mortal blow also by your augurate, did you propose to decree, as all augurs since Romulus have decreed, that when Jupiter lightens it is sacrilege to transact business with the People, or, because you had always so transacted it, did you propose as augur to make a complete end of the auspices ?
[9.] L  And now, not to speak at greater length about your augurate (of which I speak reluctantly, only to recall the ruin of the State, for even you never thought that you would become augur while the city of Rome stood, not to mention the dignity of this Court) - but nevertheless to dismiss your dreams and come to your crimes, I wish you to answer me this: When Marcus Bibulus was consul - I do not say that he had sound views on constitutional matters, for fear I may offend a powerful person like yourself, who disagreed with him, but he was certainly a man who took no forward steps, nor planned any political enterprise, who only disagreed inwardly with what you did, - when Marcus Bibulus was consul, and you cast the consul into prison, and your colleagues [from their place] by Valerius' picture ordered his release, did you not make a gangway in front of the rostra by joining together the seats, through which a consul of the Roman People, a man of the greatest restraint and steadfastness, deprived of the protection of the tribunes, shut off from his friends by the excited violence of a band of scoundrels, a most disgraceful and deplorable sight, was led to prison, if not to punishment and even to death ?  I ask whether anyone before you has been so wicked as to act in such a manner, that we may know whether you are an imitator of old crimes, or an inventor of new. Further, when by these and the like designs and atrocities, committed in the name of that most merciful and excellent man, Gaius Caesar, but really by your own criminal audacity, you had driven Marcus Bibulus from the forum, the Senate House, the temples and all public places, kept him shut up in his house, and when the life of a consul was no longer protected by the prestige of his power nor by the authority of the laws, but by such defence as a door, such security as the walls of a house afforded, did you not send an usher to drag Bibulus from his house, so that a man's house, which has always been a sanctuary for a private person, might be no refuge for a consul while you were tribune of the plebs?  At the same time answer me this, you who call us tyrants, who are of one heart about the welfare of all, were you not a tribune of the plebs, but an insufferable tyrant, a nobody sprung from mud and obscurity? You who first, by abolishing the auspices, attempted to destroy this State founded upon these same auspices; who next alone trampled under foot and reckoned as nought those most holy laws, I mean the Aelian and Fufian, which endured amid the vehemence of the Gracchi, the daring of Saturninus, the turmoil under Drusus, the fervour of Sulpicius, the carnage under Cinna, and even the warfare under Sulla ; you who exposed a consul to death, imprisoned and beleaguered him in his own house, and endeavoured to drag him from under his own roof; who not only rose from poverty in the course of your office, but even now terrify us by your wealth ?
[10.] L  Were you so cruel, as to attempt to put out of the way and destroy some distinguished persons and foremost men of the State, by a proposal of yours? When you brought up before a meeting Lucius Vettius, who had confessed before the Senate that he had armed himself with the intention of murdering with his own hand Gnaeus Pompeius, our greatest and most illustrious citizen; when you placed an informer on the rostra, on that sacred spot and place, I say, consecrated by the augurs, where other tribunes of the plebs were accustomed to bring forward leading men of the State in order to ask their advice, in that same place did you not desire that Vettius an informer should lend his tongue and voice for your crime and purpose ? - and did not Lucius Vettius declare, when questioned by you at the meeting you had summoned, that the prime movers, instigators, and associates in that crime had been men on whose removal from the State, which you were then compassing, the State could not exist ? Not content with having imprisoned Marcus Bibulus, with having wished to kill him, with having robbed him of his consulship, you desired to deprive him of his country. Lucius Lucullus, of whose achievements you were bitterly jealous, no doubt because you yourself from boyhood had aspired to the honours of a general, Gaius Curio, an irreconcilable enemy of all the disloyal, a director of public policy, most outspoken in defending the common liberty, together with his son, a leader among our young men, more intimate with state affairs than might have been expected in one so young, - these men you wanted to destroy.  Lucius Domitius, whose rank and glamour dazzled your eyes, I imagine, Vatinius, whom you hated because of your general hatred of loyalists, but whom for the future you had already for some considerable time been fearing on account of the universal hopes which were and still are entertained about him ; Lucius Lentulus, one of our judges to-day, priest of Mars, you were also anxious to ruin by the information of this same Vettius because at the time he was a candidate for the consulship against your dear friend Gabinius ; and if he had won the day against that plague and scourge, a victory which your wickedness denied to him, the State would not have been overthrown. His son, too, you desired by the same information and charges to involve in his father's ruin. Lucius Paullus who was then as quaestor in charge of the province of Macedonia - what a citizen, what a man ! - who had banished by the authority of the laws two infamous traitors against their country, two enemies of their own household : this man also, born to be a saviour of Rome, you crowded into this same catalogue of Vettius' information.  Why, then, should I complain about myself ? I ought rather to thank you because you did not think that I ought to be separated from the ranks of our bravest citizens.
[11.] L But how mad you must have been, after Vettius had finished speaking as you desired and had calumniated the most illustrious men in Rome, and had come down from the rostra, to call him back suddenly, converse with him in the sight of the Roman People, and then ask him if he could name any others ! Did you not press him to name Gaius Piso, my son-in-law, who, rich though we are in an abundance of excellent young men, left none behind him equal in restraint, virtue, and filial affection; and Marcus Laterensis also, a man whose thoughts night and day were fixed on renown and on the State ? Did you not, you most infamous and abandoned of the enemies of the State, announce that you would propose that there should be a commission of inquiry about all these men of such high distinction, that Vettius should be allowed to lay information and be amply rewarded? And when these proceedings had been repudiated by the whole world, not merely in thought but in open reproaches, did you not cause this same Vettius to be strangled in prison, that there might remain no trace of his false information and that no commission to investigate that crime might be demanded against yourself ?
 You frequently claim that you have carried a law about allowing the two parties in a suit to challenge jurymen alternately. Now then, to make every one understand that you could not even do right without being guilty of wrong, I ask you this: after you had, early in your tribunate, promulgated a just law, and already passed many others, did you not wait till Gaius Antonius was prosecuted before Gnaeus Lentulus Clodianus, and as soon as he was accused, did you not immediately add to your law "that it should only apply to those who were accused after your law was passed," in order that a man of consular rank might thus, poor man, be excluded by a moment of time, and robbed of the benefit and justice of your law?  You will say that you were intimate with Quintus Maximus. An admirable excuse for your misdeed! For Maximus indeed deserves the highest praise because, after his enmity had been declared, the case undertaken and the president and jurymen chosen, he refused to allow his opponent a method of challenging the jury which would have been more to his advantage. Maximus did nothing that was unworthy either of his own virtue or of those most distinguished men, the Paulli, the Maximi and the Africani, whose glory we not only hope for - nay, rather, we already see, revived in their illustrious descendant. Yours is the treachery, yours the crime, yours the guilt of having made a proposal on the pretence of pity, and then of delaying it so as to be an opportunity for cruelty. And at the present time, Antonius has at least one consolation in his misfortune - that he has preferred to hear, rather than to see, how the portrait-busts of his father and brother were taken along with his niece and set up, not in a household, but in a gaol.
[12.] L  And since you despise the wealth of others, while you boast immoderately of your own, I wish you to answer me this question. During your tribunate of the plebs, did you not make treaties with states, with kings, with tetrarchs? Did you disburse sums from the treasury by your laws? Did you not at the same time filch shares when they were at their highest, in part from Caesar, in part from the tax-farmers themselves ? This being so, I ask you whether, after being so poor, you became rich in that very same year in which a most severe law was passed against extortion, that all may understand that you treated with contempt not only the acts of us whom you call tyrants, but also the law of your best friend, to whom you are in the habit of slandering even us, who are his greatest friends, and whom you grievously insult whenever you boast of being connected with him.
 Another thing also I should like to learn from you : what was your design, what was your intention, in being present in a dark dress at the funeral celebration given by my friend Quintus Arrius? Had you ever seen, ever heard of anyone presenting himself on such an occasion in such a costume ? What example, what custom authorised you to do so? You will say that you disapproved of the public thanksgivings that were then being held. Very well, I grant you that those thanksgivings were nothing. Do you see that I am not questioning you on the subject of that year, nor about the interests you seem to share with very high personages, but about your own misdeeds? Let us dismiss the thanksgiving from consideration. Tell me, whoever took his place at table in mourning ? A funeral celebration, certainly, is so far funereal that gladiatorial games are part of the funeral, but the banquet itself is in honour of the celebrant.
[13.] L  But I say nothing of the public funeral celebration, of the festal day with its silver, dresses, all kinds of magnificence, and decorations worth seeing. Whoever took his seat at dinner in a dark dress, when there was death in the family or domestic sorrow To whom except yourself on leaving the bath has a dark dress ever been handed ? Although so many thousands were at table, and the celebrant of the festival himself, Quintus Arrius, all in white, you betook yourself into the Temple of Castor in funeral garb, with Gaius Fibulus and your other evil spirits in black. Who then did not lament? Who did not deplore the misfortunes of the State? What else was the subject of conversation at that funeral celebration, except that this State, so great and so respected, was the victim not only of your madness, but also the butt of your ridicule ?  Were you ignorant of this custom ? Had you never seen a funeral celebration? Had you never, boy or young man, been among the cooks? Had you not satisfied that inveterate hunger of yours a little while before at a magnificent festival celebrated by a brilliant young noble, Faustus? Whom had you ever seen take his seat at a banquet in black? The master of the feast or his friends in mourning in the presence of their guests? What folly so possessed you that, unless you had done what was wrong, unless you had profaned the Temple of Castor and the name of a public festival, offended the eyes of citizens, violated old customs, and the dignity of your host, you thought that you would have given insufficient evidence that you did not regard that occasion as one of thanksgiving ? [14.] L  I ask you also about what you did when out of office, and here at any rate you will no longer be able to say that your case is linked with that of the most illustrious men. Were you not arraigned under the Licinian and Junian Law ? Did not Gaius Memmius, a praetor, summon you, in virtue of that law, to appear at the end of thirty days? When that day came, did you not do what had not only never been done before in this State, but had never been heard of within the memory of man? Did you not appeal to the tribunes of the plebs to save you from answering the charge - I have spoken too lightly, although by itself this would be strange and intolerable - but did you not appeal by name to the curse of that year, to the evil spirit of his country, to the storm that burst over the State, to Clodius who, although he could not, either by law, by custom, or by authority, obstruct your trial, had recourse to that mad violence of his, and put himself at the head of your armed bands. And as to this matter, that you may not think that I am declaiming against you instead of asking you questions, I will not burden myself with bringing evidence against you; I will reserve what I think I ought to say very soon from this same place, and instead of accusing you I will ask you questions, as I have hitherto done.  I ask you, Vatinius, whether anyone in this State, since the foundation of Rome, has ever appealed to the tribunes of the plebs to be saved from pleading. Has any accused person mounted the tribunal of his judge? and violently thrust him down from it, scattered the benches, thrown down the urns, and, in short, in order to upset a trial, committed all those excesses, which were the very reason why trials were established ? Do you not know that Memmius then took to flight ? That your accusers had to be rescued from your hands and from those of your accomplices ? That the presidents of the neighbouring courts were turned out of their seats? That in the forum, in broad daylight, in view of the Roman People, a court of law, magistrates, old customs, laws, judges, a defendant, a penalty, were set at nought? Do you not know that all this, thanks to the diligence of Gaius Memmius, has been set down in the public records and duly attested ? And I ask you this also. On being summoned, you returned from your staff-appointment (for no one must think that you wanted to shirk a trial), and repeatedly declared that, although you could have your choice, you preferred to plead your cause. How then, after refusing to use the means of escape offered by a staff-appointment, was it consistent to have sought a guilty refuge in a most dishonest appeal ?
[15.] L  And since I have mentioned your staff-appointment, I should like you to tell me by what decree of the Senate you were appointed a staff-officer. Your gesture gives me your answer: you say, in virtue of your own law. Are you then beyond all doubt a traitor to your fatherland ? Was it your object that not a trace of the Senate should be left in the state ? Did you wish to rob the Senate even of that prerogative which no one had ever denied to it, the right of appointing staff-officers by a resolution of the House? Did this Council of State appear so mean to you, the Senate so degraded, the State so wretched and prostrate, that envoys of peace and war, that ambassadors, that representatives, that directors of policy in war, that assistants in the administration of a province, should no longer, according to the custom of our ancestors, be chosen by the Senate?  You had deprived the Senate of the right of assigning provinces, of sanctioning the appointment of commanders, of administering the Treasury. These prerogatives the Roman People has never desired for itself, nor has it ever attempted to transfer to itself the control of high policy of state. Granted that something of this kind has been done in other cases : rarely, but sometimes, the People has appointed a general ; but whoever heard of the appointment of staff-officers save by decree of the Senate? Before you, no one. Immediately after you, Clodius did the same thing in the matter of two public monsters, so that still heavier curses should be invoked upon you, seeing that you have dealt a cutting blow against the State, not only by your acts but also by your example; that not content with being a scoundrel yourself you have also desired to teach others to become the same. For all these offences do you know that the Sabines, most austere of people, the Marsians and Paelignians, most heroic of men, your fellow-tribesmen, branded you as dishonoured, and that, since the foundation of Rome, you are the first member of the Sergian tribe who as lost his tribal vote ?
 And I should also like to hear from you for what reason this law against bribery, which I passed by the authority of the Senate, which I passed without violence, without neglecting the auspices, without infringing the Aelian and Fufian Laws, is not considered by you to be a law, especially when I obey your laws, however they have been passed. My law clearly forbids giving gladiatorial shows during the two years that one is a candidate for office actually or prospectively, except on a day fixed beforehand by a will ; notwithstanding, you are mad enough to venture to give one, even during your candidature. Do you think that a tribune of the plebs can be found sufficiently like that most loyal gladiator of yours, to offer an obstruction and prevent you from being accused under my law ?
[16.] L  And if you despise and regard all this as nothing, because, as you openly boast, you are convinced that, in spite of gods and men, you will obtain everything you desire through Gaius Caesar's almost incredible affection for you, have you never heard, has no one ever told you, what Caesar said about you recently when he was at Aquileia? When certain citizens were being discussed, Caesar said that he had been greatly annoyed that Gaius Alfius had been passed over, because he knew him to be a man of the highest integrity and honesty, and that he was also much vexed that a certain person who had expressed disagreement with his views had been made praetor. When some one then asked him what he thought of Vatinius, he answered that Vatinius had done nothing during his tribunate without being paid for it; that a man who thought that money was everything ought to bear the loss of office with equanimity.  But if the very man, who, for the sake of increasing his own prestige, at your risk and by no betrayal of his own duty, readily allowed you to follow your headlong course, yet thinks you utterly unworthy of any office; if your neighbours and relatives, if the members of your tribe so hate you, that they looked upon your rejection as their own triumph ; if no one sees you without a groan; if no one mentions your name without a curse ; if every one avoids you, shuns you, does not want to hear you talked of, and when they see you show their detestation of you as a bird of ill-omen ; if your kinsmen loathe you, your fellow-tribesmen curse you, your neighbours fear you, and your relatives blush for you ; lastly, if boils have left your nasty face and now take up their quarters in other parts of your body, if you are publicly hated by People, Senate, and country folk to a man; - what is the reason why you prefer the praetorship to death, especially since you wish to be a "Friend of the People," and by no other means can please the people more ?
 But in order that we may at last hear how fully you intend to answer my questions, I will conclude my examination and will end by asking you a few questions on the case itself.
[17.] L Tell me, why were you so untruthful, so inconsistent that, in this trial, you praised Titus Annius in exactly the same words as good men and good citizens have been accustomed to praise him, although recently, when brought before the People by that same loathsome fiend, you were eager to give false evidence against him ? Or shall you have the liberty to choose, the power to say what you please ? So that, when you see Clodius' hirelings and his band of criminals and scoundrels, you will say (as you have said in a meeting) that Milo besieged the State with gladiators and wild-beast fighters ; but, when you appear before judges such as these, you will not dare to abuse a citizen distinguished for valour, honour, and steadfastness.  But, since you praise Titus Annius so generously, and by your praise do not leave this illustrious man altogether unsullied, for Titus Annius prefers to be in the ranks of those whom you abuse, nevertheless, I ask you this: in their public life, Titus Annius and Publius Sestius have always acted together and shared each other's counsels ; this union is attested, not only by the opinion of loyal, but also by that of disloyal citizens, for both are accused for the same reason and on the same charge - the one being prosecuted by him whom you are never in the habit of admitting to be a greater scoundrel than yourself, the other at your instigation, but with his assistance, - none the less I ask you, then, how can you separate in your evidence two men whom you confound in the same accusation ?
The last question to which I want an answer is this. When you asserted at length that Albinovanus was acting collusively, did you not say that you had not approved of Sestius being accused of violence, and that he ought not to have been so accused ; that he should rather have been accused under any law, on any charge ; did you not also say that the cause of Milo, that heroic man, was thought to be bound up with that of Sestius ; that all that had been done by Sestius on my behalf was approved by good citizens ? I do not reproach you for the inconsistency between your speech and your evidence ; for you have given evidence at length against those measures of Sestius which you declare were approved by good citizens, and you associate with the cause and accusation of Sestius the man whom you praised so highly. But this I do ask, whether you think that Publius Sestius ought to be condemned by virtue of that law, under which you assert that he ought on no account to have been accused ; or, if you object while giving evidence to be asked your opinion, for fear that I might seem to attach any weight to it, tell me - whether you gave evidence on a charge of violence against a man who, you said, ought never to have been tried on a charge of violence.
Attalus' home page | 28.03.23 | Any comments?