Cicero : Pro Balbo

This speech was delivered for L. Cornelius Balbus, in 56 B.C.

The translation is by S. Moses & G.F.H. Sykes (c. 1900). Click on the L symbols to go to the Latin text of each section.

[1.] L   [1] If in trials the prestige of the advocates is of any avail, the cause of L. Cornelius has been defended by most honourable - if experience, by most skilful - if ability, by most eloquent - if affection, by most friendly ones ; and by men bound to L. Cornelius both by many kindly actions and the closest intimacy. What part can I, then, play ? One of so much authority as you have chosen to attribute to me ; one of moderate experience, and of ability by no means on a par with my good-will. For I see that this man is very deeply indebted to all the others by whom he has been defended ; how deeply I am indebted to him I will tell you at another time. [2] At the outset of my speech I say this, that if I have been able but poorly to recompense all those who have befriended my safety and my honour, by conferring favours in my turn, I will assuredly requite them by declaring and acknowledging their favours. In his speech of yesterday, gentlemen of the jury, how great was the power of Cn. Pompeius, how great his ability, how great his eloquence, seemed to be acknowledged not by your tacit approval, but by your openly-expressed admiration. For I have never heard any speech delivered which seemed to me to show a more exact knowledge of the law, a greater memory for precedents, a more intimate acquaintance with treaties, a more brilliant judgment regarding wars, a more impressive opinion on public affairs, a more modest estimate of the speaker himself, a more elaborate exposition of the case and the charge. [3] So that I am now assured that it is a true saying, which some men devoted to literature and philosophical studies were thought to state as a paradox, namely that all he does turns out well for the man who has thoroughly grasped in his mind all the virtues. For what greater richness, variety, fulness, could have been exhibited by L. Crassus - a man naturally gifted with singular powers of oratory - had he been pleading this case, than was exhibited by him, who could only allow to the study of this art, from his boyhood till he reached his present age, the time during which he has rested from successive wars and victories ? [4] And on this account my duty of winding up this case is made more difficult. For I have to follow a speech which has not been borne past your ears, but has rooted itself deep in the minds of you all, so that you can derive more pleasure from recalling that speech than you could, I will not say from my speech merely, but from the speech of anyone whatever.

[2.] L   But I have to consider not only Cornelius, whose wishes in his hour of danger I can in now way neglect, but Cn. Pompeius also, who has expressed a wish that I should be both the eulogist and the defender of what he did ; of his judgment and of his kindness, even as lately I appeared before you, gentlemen of the jury, in another case.

[5] Now to me indeed this seems worthy of the Republic ; this seems to me to be due to the surpassing glory of this eminent man ; this seems to me essential to the performance of your duty ; this seems to me a sufficient plea, that all should admit that Cn. Pompeius had a right to do whatever it is known that he has done. For nothing is more true than that which he himself said yesterday, that L. Cornelius was contending for all his fortunes, while he was called to account on no particular charge. For they do not assert that he obtained his citizenship in any clandestine way, or that he made any false statements regarding his family, or that he sheltered himself under any shameless falsehood, or that he crept by stealth into the censor's lists : this only is alleged against him, that he was born at Gades, and this no one denies. All the rest the accuser admits : that in Spain, when a most stubborn contest was going on, he served both in the fleet and in the army, with Q. Metellus, with C. Memmius ; that he never left Memmius from the time when Pompeius came to Spain, and first had Memmius as his quaestor; that he was besieged in Carthago Nova; that he was engaged in those desperate and important battles fought on the Sucro and Turia ; that he did not leave Pompey till the very end of the war. [6] These are the virtues of Cornelius : affection for our state, hard work and diligence, a fighting spirit, and a valour worthy of his noble general, and ambition to win rewards proportionate to his perils.

[3.] L   For all these reasons he was presented with the citizenship by Cn. Pompeius. This the accuser does not deny, but he finds fault with it, so that, in the case of Cornelius, his pleas meet with approval, yet punishment is demanded ; in the case of Pompeius, his pleas are slighted, but there is no penalty except that his reputation may suffer. Thus they wish the fortunes of a man entirely innocent, and the act of a general of the highest distinction, to be condemned together. Therefore the civil rights of Cornelius, the act of Pompey, are now challenged in the courts. You admit that this man was born in a most honourable position in his native state, and that from his earliest years, leaving all his own affairs, he was engaged in our wars under our generals, and that there is no toil, no siege, no battle, in which he has not taken a part. All this is not only most meritorious, but belongs peculiarly to Cornelius, and in this exists no ground of accusation. [7] Of what, then, is he accused ? Because Pompey presented him with the citizenship. Is this a charge that can be brought against my client? By no means, unless an honour is to be considered a disgrace. Against whom, then, can it be brought ? As a matter of fact, against no one ; and so far as concerns the contention of the accuser, against him alone who made the gift ; and if he, influenced by kindly feeling, had conferred this honour on a less suitable person nay, even if he had conferred it on a good man, but one who did not deserve such an honour - if, in short, something were alleged to have been done, not unlawful indeed, but unseemly, nevertheless, gentlemen, all such censure as this should be rejected by you. [8] But, as the case stands, what is said ? What says the accuser ? That Pompeius has done "what he had no right to do, which is a graver charge than if he said that that had been done by him which it was unseemly for him to do, for there are certain things which are unseemly, even if they be lawful ; but all that is not lawful is assuredly unseemly.

[4.] L   Am I now to hesitate, gentlemen, to argue thus that it is not right to doubt whether we are to acknowledge that, whatever it is known that Cn. Pompeius has done, was not merely lawful but also fitting ? [9] For what does this man lack, from the presence of which we should consider that this privilege was rightly conferred on him and conceded to him ? Is it experience ? Does he lack experience, whose experience of war and of the most important commands commenced in the last years of his boyhood ; most of whose contemporaries have seen camps less frequently than he has had triumphs; whose triumphs are as many as there are regions and divisions of the earth ; who can count as many victories in war as there are kinds of war in the universe ? Is it ability ? Does he lack ability, whose plans were not guided, but were followed by chances and the course of events ? in the case of whom alone there was such a rivalry between extreme good fortune and the highest worth, that, in the judgment of all, more honour was due to the man than to the Goddess { Fortuna } ? Has propriety of conduct, or uprightness, or conscientiousness, or diligence, ever been looked for in him in vain ? Whom more pure, more moderate, more just have our provinces, the free peoples, the kings, the remotest nations - I will not say seen, but even in their hopes and wishes conceived ? [10] What am I to say about his influence, which is as great as it ought to be in a man possessed of so many virtues and merits ? That an inquiry should be instituted touching an act of this man, judges, whom the senate and the people of Rome rewarded with the most splendid rank, for which he did not ask, with commands which he was even unwilling to accept, of such a nature that the point at issue is whether it was lawful for him to do what he did, or whether indeed it was - I will not say not lawful, but impious (for he is said to have so acted in violation of a treaty - that is, of the obligations and good faith of the Roman people), is it not a disgrace to the Roman people and to you ?

[5.] L   [11] When a boy, I heard this story from my father : When Q. Metellus, the son of Lucius, was defending himself against a charge of extortion, that illustrious man, to whom the safety of his country was dearer than the sight of it, who preferred leaving the state to giving up his opinions - when this man, I say, was on his defence, and his books were carried round for the items to be inspected, there was no judge among those Roman knights - all most influential men - who did not avoid looking at them, and turn away completely from them, lest any of them might chance to appear to have had any doubt about the truth or falsity of his entries in the public books. Are we, then, to examine into this decree of Cn. Pompeius published in accordance with the advice given him ? are we to compare it with statutes and treaties, and weigh every point with the harshest minuteness ? [12] They tell of a certain man at Athens who had lived a pure and venerable life among his fellow-citizens, that, when he had given evidence in open court, and, as is the custom of the Greeks, was approaching the altars to swear to the truth of his statement, all the judges with one voice exclaimed against his taking the oath. If the Greeks would not allow the good faith of a man of proved worth to seem to be secured by a religious ceremony rather than by the truthfulness of his character, shall we raise questions as to the character of Pompey, even in respect of the sacred obligations of statutes and treaties ? [13] Is it your contention that he violated the treaty knowingly, or that he did so unconsciously ? If you contend that he did so knowingly, alas for the glory of our empire ! Alas for the surpassing grandeur of the Roman people ! Alas for the fame of Cn. Pompeius, diffused so far and wide, that the home of his glory is bounded only by the limits of our national empire ! Alas for the nations, the cities, the peoples, the kings, the tetrarchs, the despots, who have been witnesses not only of Cn. Pompeius' valour in war, but also of his conscientiousness in times of peace ! Lastly, I call upon you, voiceless regions and lands at the end of the world - on you, seas, harbours, islands, and coasts ! For what shore is there, what settlement, what place in which there do not still exist the imprints both of the bravery and, in truth, of the kindliness of this man, of his resolution and of his prudence ? Will anyone dare to say that this man, endowed with almost incredible and unprecedented influence, virtue, and firmness, knowingly disregarded, violated, and broke treaties ?

[6.] L   [14] The accuser by his gesture cedes this point to me he means that Pompey did it unwittingly. As if, indeed, it is not a lighter matter, when one is engaged in such important public business and presiding over affairs of the greatest moment, to do something which one knows to be unlawful, than not to know at all what is lawful. For was this man who had carried on in Spain a very fierce and widespread war ignorant of the rights of the state of the Gaditani, or, though he knew the rights of that people, did he fail to grasp the meaning of the treaty ? Will anyone, then, dare to say that Cn. Pompeius was ignorant of that which ordinary men, men possessed of no experience in, and of no love for, war - poor clerks in short - profess to know ?

[15] For my part, I think on the contrary, judges ! While Cn. Pompeius is pre-eminent as regards every kind and variety of accomplishment, even of those which are not easily acquired without abundant leisure, his most conspicuous merit is his knowledge in regard to treaties, covenants, and terms made with peoples, kings, and foreign nations ; with all the laws, in short, of war and peace : unless perchance neither literature in his moments of repose, nor the countries themselves when he was on active service, could teach Cn. Pompeius that which our books teach us in our sheltered leisure. And now, as I think, gentlemen, my case has been fully stated, I will say more, because of the vices of the age rather than because of the nature of the trial. For this is, so to speak, the stain and blemish of this age, to bear a grudge against virtue, to wish to bruise the very flower of dignity.

[16] For if Pompeius had lived five hundred years ago ; if this man, from whom, while yet a mere youth and a Roman knight, the senate had frequently sought aid for the common safety, whose exploits, attended always with the most glorious victory on sea and land, had extended through all nations, whose three triumphs proved that the whole world was subject to our sway, whom the Roman people had distinguished with unprecedented and singular honours ; if now in our day that which he had done were said to have been done in violation of a treaty, who would listen to the charge ? Assuredly no one. For death would have killed jealousy, while his achievements would rest upon the glory of an everlasting fame. Are his high qualities, then, which if we only heard of them could not be called in question, to be railed at by the voice of detractors, because they are present to our eyes ?

[7.] L   [17] Now, for the rest of my speech, I will make no mention of Pompey ; but do you, gentlemen of the jury, keep him in your minds and memories. I will refresh your recollection of what has been said on the subject of the law, the treaty, the precedents, and the unvarying custom of the state. For neither M. Crassus, who has most minutely put the whole case before you in a manner worthy of his abilities and loyalty, nor Cn. Pompeius, whose speech was rich in all the ornaments of rhetoric, has left to me anything new or untouched on which to speak. But since, though I was unwilling to undertake it, they have both decided that this final task, so to speak, of putting as it were a finishing hand to their work should be undertaken by me, I beg of you to believe that I have undertaken this task and office rather from a desire of doing my duty than of making a speech. [18] And before I approach the question of law involved in the case of Cornelius, I think I ought to make some brief mention of a matter which concerns all of us, in order to deprecate any hostile feeling. If each of us, judges, in whatever position he was born, in whatever condition he was placed at birth, were obliged to remain in this same station of life until old age, and if all whom either good luck has raised or their own labour and industry have made famous were to be punished, this law, these conditions of life, would not seem to be more oppressive in their effect upon L. Cornelius than upon many good and worthy men. But if, however, the virtue, the ability, the culture of many who have risen from the lowest class, from the meanest grade of fortune, has procured for them not only friendships and abundance of household goods, but the highest reputation, distinctions, renown and rank, I do not understand why jealousy should seem more likely to dishonour the virtues of L. Cornelius than your justice to sustain his honour. [19] And so that which should be chiefly asked for I do not ask from you, judges, for this reason, that I may not seem to have any doubt regarding your wisdom and your kindly feeling. Still I ought to beg you not to dislike ability, not to show yourselves hostile to industry, not to think that culture should be crushed or virtue punished. This only I do request, that if you see his case to be strong and stable in itself, you will prefer that the distinctions of the man himself should aid his case rather than be a disadvantage to it.

[8.] L   The case of Cornelius, judges, has its origin in that law which Lucius Gellius and Cn. Cornelius brought forward in accordance with the will of the senate ; from which law we see that there is sufficient sanction for considering those men Roman citizens, on whom individually Cn. Pompeius conferred civic rights, in accordance with the advice given him. That these rights were conferred on L. Cornelius Pompeius in person tells you, the public records testify, the prosecutor admits ; but he denies that anyone belonging to a nation allied to us by treaty could, unless that nation had ratified the treaty, become a citizen. [20] O most brilliant expounder of the law, authority on the events of former times, improver and amender of our constitution, to attach to our treaties the penalty of depriving those bound by the treaty of all our rewards and favours ! For what more ignorant statement could have been made than this, that federate peoples must be ratifiers of the treaties ? For such a right belongs no more to federate than to all free peoples. But this whole practice, judges, depended always on this consideration and opinion, that when the Roman people had decreed anything, if the allied peoples and the Latins adopted this decree, and if that same law which we ourselves observed had settled in any people as it were on solid ground, that then that people should be bound by that law : not that in any respect our legal system should suffer, but that those peoples should enjoy either that legal principle which had been established by us, or some other advantage or benefit. [21] In the time of our ancestors C. Furius brought in a law to deal with wills, Q. Voconius one dealing with the right of women to inherit property ; innumerable other enactments were proposed concerning the rights of citizenship : the Latins adopted which of these they chose. Lastly, by the Julian law itself, the citizenship was extended to the allies and the Latins on this condition, that those peoples who had not expressed their assent to the laws should not have the citizenship. And in regard to this point there was much discussion amongst the people of Heraclea and Neapolis, since very many in those states preferred the liberty they enjoyed under their treaty to the rights of citizenship. Lastly, this is the import of that legal principle, that declaration of yours, that nations ratify their treaties by our favour, not by their own right. [22] When the Roman people has made any decree, if it is of such a nature that it seems meet that certain nations, whether united to us by treaty or free, should be permitted to decide for themselves, not about our affairs, but about their own, which legal principle they choose to adopt, then it seems the question must be raised whether they have ratified their treaties or not ; but when our state, our empire, our wars, our victories, our safety are in question, our ancestors have willed that peoples should not be regarded as having ratified their treaties.

[9.] L   And yet if our generals, if the senate, if the people of Rome may not, by offering rewards, attract from the states of our allies and friends all the best and bravest men to encounter perils for our safety, we shall often be deprived of essential services and most valuable protection in times of storm and peril. [23] But, by the immortal Gods, what kind of alliance, of friendship, of treaty is this of yours, if in its hour of danger our state must not have as its defender a Massilian, or a Gaditane, or a Saguntine ? Or if, should anyone from among these peoples have arisen who has aided our leaders by the help of his labour, who has recruited their supplies at his own personal risk, who has often contended hand to hand in battle with our enemies, who has often exposed himself to the weapons of the enemy, to struggles for life, to danger of death, it should, on no terms whatever, be possible that this man should be rewarded with the citizenship ? [24] And, indeed, it is a hardship for the Roman people not to be able to use allies endowed with surpassing valour, such as wish to associate their own dangers with ours. But for our allies themselves and those of whom we are speaking, those bound to us by treaty, it is unjust and insulting that most trusty, most intimate friends should be excluded from participation in those rewards and those distinctions, which are open to tributaries, and to enemies, and often to slaves. For we see many tributaries from Africa, Sicily, Sardinia and the other provinces on whom the citizenship has been conferred, and we know that men, our enemies, who had deserted to our generals and had been of great service to our state, have been presented with the citizenship ; in fine, we very often see slaves, whose civil lights, circumstances, and standing are meanest of all, publicly presented with their freedom - that is, with citizenship - when they have done good service to the state.

[10.] L   [25] Are these, then, the terms that you, advocate of treaties and peoples bound by treaties, impose on the Gaditani, your fellow-citizens, that that which is allowed to those whom we subdued by force of arms and reduced under our sway, aided with abundant resources by your fathers - namely that, subject to the sanction of the Roman people, they should be presented with the citizenship by the senate and our generals - shall not be granted to them {the Gaditani} ? For if they, by their decrees or laws, had ordained that none of their citizens should enter the camp of the generals of the Roman people ; that no one, on behalf of our empire, should expose himself to deadly peril or endanger his life ; that it should be permitted to us to use the auxiliary troops of the Gaditani when we pleased, but that no private man, pre-eminent in character and courage, should fight on behalf of our empire at his own risk ; we should rightly be aggrieved at this, that the auxiliaries of the Roman people were being diminished, that the courage of the bravest men was being crushed, that we were being deprived of the zealous support of men of alien birth and of foreign valour. [26] And yet, judges, there is no difference between the fact of people bound to us by treaty making these laws, that no one from their several communities shall incur danger in our wars, and the impossibility of our confirming those gifts which we have conferred on their citizens for their valiant services. For we should no more be able to employ these men as our helpers if we were to refuse to them the rewards of valour, than if it were altogether unlawful that they should be employed in our wars. For inasmuch as, since man's creation, but few have been found who, with no hope of reward held out to them, have exposed their lives to the weapons of the enemy on behalf of their own country, do you think that anyone will be found to expose himself to danger on behalf of a foreign state, when not only no reward is offered to him, but when a reward is even forbidden ?

[11.] L   [27] But while that assertion about the peoples who ratified treaties with us showed a marvellous lack of knowledge - since this right extends to all free peoples, and is not confined to those united to us by treaty - from which we must understand either that none of our allies can become a citizen, or that this right is possessed also by those bound to us by treaty ; on the other hand, this instructor of yours is ignorant of the whole body of our laws regarding change of citizenship : for this, gentlemen, depends not on the enactments of the state alone, but on the will of private persons. For by our laws, neither can anyone against his will transfer his citizenship, nor, even if he wishes it, can he avoid transferring it, provided only he is adopted by the state among whose citizens he wishes to be enrolled. So that should the Gaditani decree, with regard to any Roman citizen in particular, that he should be a citizen of Gades, our citizen would have full right to change his state, and would be prevented by no treaty from being able to become a citizen of Gades instead of a citizen of Rome. [28] No citizen of ours can, by the law of the state, be a citizen of two states : the man cannot belong to this state who has formally declared himself a citizen of another state. And it is not merely by making a formal declaration, which, in time of misfortune, we have seen most distinguished men obliged to do - such as Q. Maximus, C. Laenas, Q. Philippus at Nuceria, C. Cato at Tarraco, Q. Caepio, P. Rutilius at Smyrna - that they might become citizens of those states, though they could not lose our citizenship before in changing their state they had changed their place of abode, but also by right of subsequent return a change of citizenship can be made. For not without cause in the case of Cn. Publicius Menander, a freedman, whom, in the days of our ancestors, our ambassadors, when setting out for Greece, wished to take with them as interpreter, was it proposed to the people, that if this Publicius revisited his home and thence returned to Rome, he should none the less be a citizen. Many Roman citizens, too, in the records of the past, of their own free will, uncondemned and without detriment, left this republic and betook themselves to other states.

[12.] L   [29] But if it is lawful for a Roman citizen that one should be a Gaditane, either by exile, or by right of subsequent return, or by giving up our citizenship - to come now to the treaty, which has no bearing on the case : for we are discussing the law of citizenship, and not treaties - what is the reason why it should not be permitted to a Gaditanian citizen to become a citizen of this state ? For my part, I am very far from thinking that there is any ; for since there is a way from all states into ours, and since a road is open to our citizens to all other states, then, indeed, I think that the more closely any state is connected with us - be it by alliance, or friendship, or promise, or pledge, or treaty - the more it should be held fast by an interchange of benefits, rewards, and rights of citizenship. However, all the other states would not hesitate to admit our people to their citizenship if we had the same law as the rest : but we cannot be citizens both of this state and of any other as well ; all the other peoples may. [30] And so, in the Greek states, we see that Athenians, Rhodians, Lacedaemonians, all others from every state are enrolled, and that the same men are citizens of many states. And I have seen at Athens men unversed in the law, citizens of ours, led astray by a mistake on this point, included among the jurors and the Areopagites, having their tribe and number definitely assigned to them, who did not know that, if they had obtained civil rights there, they had lost them here, unless they recovered them by right of subsequent return. But no one having a knowledge of our custom and law, who wished to retain this citizenship, has ever formally declared his intention of entering another state.

[13.] L   But all this part of my argument and speech, gentlemen, relates to the right all have of changing their states ; it contains nothing that applies peculiarly to religious obligations or to treaties. For I am maintaining the universal proposition that there is no nation in the whole world either so much at variance with the Roman people through some ill will or disagreement, or so closely united to us by loyalty and goodwill, as to prohibit us from adopting any one of its citizens, or presenting him with the citizenship. [31] O excellent laws, settled with heaven's help by our forefathers at the very origin of the Roman race ! that no one of us can belong to more than one state (for a difference of state must necessarily involve a difference of legal system) ; that no one can against his will be driven from the citizenship, nor can be kept on the roll against his will. For this is the firmest foundation of our liberty, that each man has full control over keeping or giving up his civil rights. This, however, has undoubtedly chiefly helped to establish our empire and increase the fame of the Roman people, which Romulus, the original founder of this city, taught us by his treaty with the Sabines, namely, that this state ought to be increased by taking in even enemies. And through his influence and example a liberal distribution and sharing of the citizenship was never neglected by our ancestors. And so both many from Latium, as the Tusculans and the Lanuvians, and from the other districts whole communities, such as those of the Sabines, the Volscians, and the Hernicans, were admitted to the citizenship ; and none belonging to these states who were unwilling would have been compelled to change their citizenship, nor, should any have obtained our citizenship through the kindness of the Roman people, would their treaty have been considered to be violated.

[14.] L   [32] For there are certain treaties existing, as those of the Cenomani, the Insubres, the Helvetii, the Iapydes, as well as of some barbarians from Gaul, in whose treaties this exception has been made, that none of them shall be admitted by us as a citizen. But if this formal exception makes it unlawful, in cases where no exception has been made it must necessarily be lawful. Where, then, is it provided in the Gaditanian treaty that the Roman people shall not admit a Gaditane to the citizenship? Nowhere ! And if there were such a provision in it, the law of Gellius and Cornelius, which had distinctly conferred on Pompeius the right of bestowing the citizenship, would have made it of none effect. The treaty, he says, is excepted by the provision, "If, as a matter of fact, it is inviolable." I pardon you if you neither understand the laws of the Poeni - for you had left your state - nor have been able to examine our statutes ; for they prevented you by a public decision from becoming acquainted with them. [33] What was there in the measure proposed by the consuls Gellius and Lentulus {72 B.C.} in regard to Pompeius, by which any inviolable treaty might seem to be excepted ? For, in the first place, no treaty can be regarded as inviolable unless it be one that the people or the commons have sanctioned ; in the next place, enactments must be rendered inviolable, either by their very nature, or when, by a solemn invocation of the Deity and proclamation of the law and the penalty attached to it, the life of the man who has transgressed the law is decreed to be forfeited. What, then, of this nature have you to say regarding the treaty with the Gaditani ? Is it by reason of the decree of a death-penalty or of the solemn invocation of the Deity in a law that you assert that it is inviolable ? I assert that no proposal whatever was ever brought before the people concerning this treaty of which you speak, either in the shape of a statute or a formally appointed penalty. In regard to those, then, concerning whom, even had it been proposed that we should admit none of them as citizens, nevertheless, that which the people had afterwards decreed would have been valid, and no exception would seem to have been made by the well-known clause, "If there is anything inviolable" - if the Roman people had never made any decree at all, do you dare to say that there was anything inviolable ?

[15.] L   [34] But my speech has not for its object, judges, the invalidation of the treaty with the Gaditani. Nor is it my purpose to speak against the rights of a state which deserves so well at our hands, against the judgment of antiquity, against the decision of the senate. For formerly in the stormy times of our state, when Carthage, most powerful by sea and land, and supported by the two Spains, was threatening this empire, and when the two thunderbolts of our empire, Cn. and P. Scipio, had suddenly been extinguished and slain, L. Marcius, a centurion of the first rank, is said to have concluded a treaty with the Gaditani. And since this was upheld more by the loyalty of that people, by our justice, by its being of such long standing, than by any public obligation sanctioned by religion, some wise men, thoroughly acquainted with state law, Gaditani, in the consulship of M. Lepidus and Q. Catulus {78 B.C.}, made a demand from the senate regarding the treaty. On that occasion the treaty with the Gaditani was either renewed or concluded ; and concerning this treaty the Roman people passed no resolution, and they can in no way be bound by any religious obligation without their own consent. [35] So the state of the Gaditani obtained what it could obtain by reason of its services to our republic, by the evidence of our generals and the length of its connection with us, by the influence of Q. Catulus, a man of the highest rank, and by the decision of the senate, and by the treaty ; that which could only be sanctioned by a solemn pledge on the part of the people, it has not got, for the people never bound themselves. Nor is the case of the Gaditani weaker on that account, for it is supported by very many circumstances of the greatest importance. But assuredly there is in this no ground for your contention. For nothing can be inviolable unless it has received the approval of the whole people, or the popular assembly.

[16.] L   But if the Roman people had by their votes ratified this treaty, which they ratify by their goodwill and opinion, in consequence of the suggestions of the senate and the recommendation and decision of antiquity, what reason was there in the treaty itself why it should not be lawful for a Gaditane to be admitted to our citizenship ? For there is nothing in the treaty other than this, "that there shall be a conscientiously kept and eternal peace." What has this to do with citizenship ? That provision, too, is added which is not included in all treaties - "they must cordially aid in maintaining the dignity of the Roman people." This is the purport of this provision, that they are worst off as regards the treaty. [36] In the first place, this expression, "they must aid in maintaining," which we are wont to use in statutes rather than in treaties, applies to one who commands, not to one who supplicates. In the next place, when there is an injunction that the dignity of one of the nations is to be maintained, while no mention is made of the other, assuredly that nation is placed in the higher rank and position, the dignity of which is safeguarded by the penalties decreed under the treaty. And, as regards this point, the interpretation of the accuser deserved no answer, as he asserted that "cordially" really meant "jointly," as if, indeed, he were explaining the meaning of some ancient or unusual word. Kindly, good-natured, pleasant men are said to be cordial : "he who cordially points out the road to one who has lost his way" does so with goodwill, and not grudgingly; the word "jointly," at any rate, is assuredly not appropriate. [37] And at the same time it is absurd that it should be provided by the treaty that they should "jointly " assist in maintaining the dignity of the Roman people - that is, that the Roman people should wish its dignity to be secure. But if it, after all, were so, which it cannot be, nevertheless the stipulation would be made about our dignity, not at all about theirs. Can, then, our dignity be cordially maintained by the Gaditani if we cannot by rewards attract the Gaditani to preserve it ? Can there, in short, be any dignity if we are prevented from conferring on our generals through the Roman people the power of bestowing favours in return for distinguished services ?

[17.] L   [38] But why do I use such arguments as would seem to me to be capable of being advanced with truth if the Gaditani were pleading against me ? For I should reply to them, were they demanding the return of L. Cornelius, that the Roman people had sanctioned a law concerning the granting of the citizenship ; that nations are not usually the ratifiers of such laws ; that Cn. Pompeius conferred on this man the citizenship in accordance with the advice of the senate ; that the Gaditani can point to no definite enactment of our people ; and thus that they have nothing sacrosanct which might seem to be excepted by the law ; that, even if they had, nothing is provided for in the treaty except peace ; that this provision also has been added, that they must assist to maintain our dignity, which would certainly be lessened if it were not permitted to us to make use of the aid of their citizens in war, or if we had no power of bestowing rewards upon them. [39] But as it is, what can I say against the Gaditani when the cause which I plead is sanctioned by their goodwill, by their decision, even by an embassy from them ? Men who have turned away their hearts from the founders of their race, from their zeal for that state - ay, from all interest in, and fellow-feeling for, the Poeni - to our empire and name ; who, when mighty wars were being waged against us, shut out from their city those by whom they were being waged, pursued them with their fleets, repelled them by their personal efforts, with their wealth, with their resources ; who considered even that old semblance of a treaty made with Marcius more inviolable than any altar, and thought that by this treaty of Catulus and the sanction of the senate they were brought into closest union with us ; whose walls, shrines, and lands our ancestors fixed as the limit of our empire and of the name of the Roman people, just as Hercules made them the limits of his journeyings and labours. [40] They call to witness our dead generals, too, whose memory and fame will live for ever - the Scipiones, the Bruti, the Horatii, the Cassii, the Metelli, and Cn. Pompeius who is here with us, whom, when he was engaged far from their city in a mighty contest, they aided with supplies and money, and at this present time the Roman people itself, whom, at a time when provisions were dear, they aided with supplies of grain - that they wish this right to be established, that for themselves and their children, should any show conspicuous worth, there shouLd be a place in our camp, in the tents of our generals - in short, with our standards and in our army, and that by these steps they should even be able to rise to the citizenship.

[18.] L   [41] But if it is permitted to the Africans, to the Sardinians, to the Hispani, though mulcted in land and tribute, to obtain our citizenship by approved excellence, while this same privilege shall not be extended to the Gaditani, though they are united to us by their services, by prescriptive right, by their loyalty, by the dangers they have incurred for us, by treaty ; they will think not that they have a treaty with us, but that most unjust laws have been imposed on them by us, And the facts of the case, judges, show that these statements of mine are not hypothetical, but that I am expressing the actual sentiments of the Gaditani. I say that many years ago the Gaditani, on behalf of the state, constituted L. Cornelius their patron. I will produce the token ; I call the ambassadors ; you see most eminent and noble men sent to this trial to eulogise him, to plead against his danger; in fine, when the matter was long ago heard of in Gades, that he would be exposed to danger at the hands of that man, the Gaditani passed the most weighty decrees against that man, their own fellow-citizen. [42] Could the people of Gades more thoroughly ratify their treaty, since you are so much pleased with this word, if it ratified it, by approving by formal vote of our decrees and ordinances, than by constituting him their patron, so as to admit that he had changed his state, and to pronounce him most worthy of the honour of our citizenship ? Could it have put in a more decided expression of its opinion, than when it even stigmatised his accuser with fine and punishment ? Could it have given a clearer judgment on the case than it has done, by sending to your court a deputation of its most distinguished citizens to testify to this man's authority, to eulogise his life, to plead against his danger ? [43] For who is so mad as not to feel that this right must be upheld by the Gaditani, that the road to this most honourable reward, our citizenship, may not be barred to them for ever ; and that they have special cause for rejoicing, in that the goodwill of L. Cornelius here towards his fellows remains at Gades, that his popularity and his power of speaking in their favour are exercised in this state ? For who of us is there to whom that state is not held in higher honour by reason of this man's zeal, solicitude, and diligence?

[19.] L   I say nothing about the great distinction with which C. Caesar, when he was praetor in Spain, treated this people : how he allayed strife ; how he established their laws by their own permission ; how he effaced a long-standing barbarism from the customs and institutions of the Gaditani ; how, at the request of this man, he bestowed upon that state his keenest interest, the greatest favours in his power. I pass over many things which they obtain daily, either altogether, or at any rate more easily, by this man's efforts and zeal in their behalf. And so the chief men of his state both are present and defend him, by their love as their own fellow-citizen, by their testimony as ours, by their good offices as their most honoured patron, as he once was their most distinguished citizen, by their goodwill as a most diligent defender of their interests. [44] And lest the Gaditani themselves should think that, although they are not placed at any disadvantage, if it is permitted to their citizens to enter our state as a reward of merit, nevertheless their treaty is on a lower footing than all the rest by reason of this very circumstance, I will comfort both these distinguished men who are here present, and that state which is most loyal and friendly to us, at the same time that I remind you, judges, of what you know so well, - that there has never been any doubt whatever about the point of law regarding which this inquiry has been instituted.

[45] Whom, then, do we consider to be the most skilful explainers of treaties, the most learned in the laws of war, the most accurate investigators of the terms made with states and their position with regard to us ? Those, assuredly, who have managed governments and wars.

[20.] L   For if Scaevola, the famous augur, when his opinion was asked as to the law relating to the sale of state securities, though himself a man most learned in the law, used sometimes to refer those who came to consult him to Furius and Cascelleius, the buyers of such securities ; if we, on the question of our water at Tusculum, consulted M. Tugio rather than C. Aquilius, because constant practice devoted to one subject often prevails over both ability and skill ; who can hesitate, in matters connected with treaties and all the laws of peace and war, to prefer our generals even to the most learned lawyers ? [46] May we, then, recommend to you C. Marius, as authority for a case in point, and for that course of action which you blame ? Can you ask for anyone more influential, more consistent, more conspicuous for virtue, wisdom and conscientiousness ? He then presented with the citizenship M. Annius Appius, an Iguvian, a most valiant man, and endowed with the highest virtues ; and he also conferred the citizenship on two whole cohorts of the Camertes; though he knew the treaty with the Camertes to be the most inviolable and just of all the treaties. Can L. Cornelius be condemned, then, judges, so that the act of C. Marius shall not be condemned also ? [47] For a short time, then, let that famous man be present in your thoughts, since he cannot actually appear before you, that you may see him with your mind's eye, since you cannot see him with your bodily eyes. Let him say that he was not inexperienced in treaties, not unversed in precedents, not ignorant of war ; that he had been the pupil of Publius Africanus and had fought under him ; that he had been instructed by active service and by warlike missions ; that if he had only taken in hand as many wars as he carried through to their conclusion, if he had only served under as many consuls as the times he had been consul himself, he could have thoroughly learned and mastered all the laws of war ; that he had never doubted that he could not be hindered by any treaty from doing good service to the public interest ; that a very brave man had been chosen by him from a most closely allied and most friendly state, and that neither in the treaty with the Iguvinates nor the Camertes was any provision inserted precluding their citizens from having rewards for distinguished merit conferred on them by the Roman people.

[21.] L   [48] Accordingly, when, a few years after this gift of the citizenship, a very keen investigation into the civil rights of individuals had been made in accordance with the Licinian and Mucian law, was any one of those from the federate states who had been presented with the citizenship brought into court ? For T. Matrinius of Spoletium, who came from a Latin colony which was one of the strongest and most famous, was the only one of those whom C. Marius had presented with the citizenship who had to speak in defence of his rights. And when that eloquent man L. Antistius was prosecuting him, he did not say that the people of SpoIetium had not ratified their treaty (for he saw that peoples were wont to become ratifiers with reference to their own rights, not to ours), but that, since colonies had not been established in accordance with the provisions of the Apuleian law, by which law Saturninus proposed in the time of C. Marius that he should be able to make three men for each colony Roman citizens, this favour should not be confirmed when the right of giving it was withdrawn. [49] This charge of yours has no resemblance to that one ; but still, so great was the personal influence of C. Marius, that he defended and won that case, not by L. Crassus, his relation, a man of incredible eloquence, but himself, with a few words ; so much importance was attached to his opinion. For who could there be, judges, to wish that the right of singling out those of highest worth should be taken away from our generals, in the field or in battle, when commanding the army ; that the hope of reward should be taken away from our allies and those united to us by treaty in defending our republic ? But if the face of C. Marius, his voice, the imperious fire of his look, his recent triumphs, his mien as he stood before them then prevailed, let the authority, let the achievements, let the memory, let the undying fame, of that bravest and most illustrious of men, prevail now. Let this be the distinction between citizens who are popular and those who are brave, that the former shall enjoy their power in their lifetime, but that the authority of the latter shall be imperishable even when they are dead, if any defender of this empire can die.

[22.] L   [50] Why ? Did not Cn. Pompeius, the father, after splendid achievements in the Italian War, confer the citizenship on P. Caesius of Ravenna, one of a federate people, who is still alive, a Roman knight now, and a most excellent citizen ? Did not C. Marius confer it on two whole cohorts of the Camertes ? Did not P. Crassus, a most distinguished man, confer it on Alexas of Heraclea, a citizen of a state with which an almost unique treaty is thought to have been concluded in the times of Pyrrhus, when C. Fabricius was consul {278 B.C.} ? Did not L. Sulla confer it on Aristo of Massilia ? Nay, since we are talking of the Gaditani, did he not also confer it on nine Gaditanian householders ? Did not Q. Metellus Pius, a most just man, a man characterised by the greatest conscientiousness and propriety of conduct, confer it on Q. Fabius, a Saguntine ? Did not he who is now here present, M. Crassus, a man not only pre-eminent in influence and wisdom, but also even too sparing in bestowing the citizenship, by whom all these matters on which I am now hastily touching were elaborated in minutest detail, bestow it on a citizen of Avenio, a member of a federate state ? [51] Do you here endeavour to invalidate the favours, or rather the judgment and the action, of Cn. Pompeius, who has done what he had heard that C. Marius had done - who has done what he had heard that P. Crassus, that L. Sulla, that Q. Metellus, that M. Crassus had done - what, in fine, he had seen his own father, the model to his household, do ? Nor, in truth, did he do this in the case of L. Cornelius alone. For he presented the citizenship to Hasdrubal of Gades also, immediately after that African war, and to the Ovii of Messana, and certain inhabitants of Utica, and the Fabii of Saguntum. For those who by their own personal toil and danger defend our republic are not only worthy of all other rewards, but are also assuredly most worthy of having bestowed on them that citizenship on behalf of which they have braved dangers and weapons. And would that all those who are anywhere the champions of this empire could receive this citizenship, and that, on the other hand, the assailers of the common weal could be banished from the state ! For our greatest poet did not mean that exhortation to be Hannibal's more than any other general's. "He who strikes the foe shall be," said he, "a Carthaginian to me, whoever he may be, to whatever country he may belong." This they hold, and always have held, to be of slight importance, and so they have both enrolled among their citizens brave men from all quarters, and have very often preferred the worth of the lowly-born to the lack of energy of the noble.

[23.] L   [52] You have the interpretation put upon the law and the treaties by the greatest generals and the wisest men the men of the highest distinction. I will also give you the meaning attached to them by the judges who have been appointed to conduct this inquiry ; I will give the meaning attached to them by the whole Roman people ; I will give the most venerable and wise decision of the senate also. As the judges made no secret of, and openly talked about, what their verdict would be, when the people of Messana were agitating for the recall of M. Cassius under the Papian law, the people of Messana gave up the case though it had been taken up as a state question. Many men have been admitted to the citizenship who have been released from free and federate peoples, but no one has ever been arraigned on the ground of his exercising civil rights, either because his nation had not formally ratified their treaty, or because by the treaty his right of changing his state was barred. [53] I will even dare to assert this, that no one was ever condemned who was known to have been presented with the citizenship by a general of ours. Now learn the judgment of the Roman people, declared on many occasions, and established by fact and custom in cases of the greatest importance. Who does not know that a treaty was concluded with the Latin nation in the consulship of Sp. Cassius and Postumus Cominius {493 B.C.} ? And even lately we remember that this was to be found engraved and inscribed on a brazen column behind the rostra. How, then, was L. Cossinius of Tibur, the father of the Roman knight now alive, a most worthy and accomplished man, made a Roman citizen after the conviction of T. Caelius ? How was Titus Coponius, of the same state, also a citizen of the highest worth and distinction - you know his grandsons, T. and C. Coponius - made a Roman citizen after the conviction of C. Maso ? [54] Could a way of approach to the citizenship be opened by eloquence and ability, while it could not be opened by feats of arms and valour ? Or was it permitted to those allied to us by treaty to take spoils from us, while it was not allowed to take them from our enemies ? Or were they not allowed to obtain by fighting what they could procure by speaking ? Or was it the pleasure of our fathers that the prosecutor should be more richly rewarded than the warrior ?

[24.] L   But if our foremost men, our most influential and wisest citizens , by popular decree suffered this way of approach to the citizenship to be open to the Latins - that is, to federate peoples, by that very stringent law of Servilius, and this right was not disputed by the Licinian and Mucian law, especially when the very nature of the accusation, and its name, and its reward such that no one could obtain it except by causing misfortune to a senator, could not be very pleasing either to a senator or any honourable man - was it open to question that in a matter where the boon now in the courts was allowed validity, in the same matter the decisions of generals were of authority ? Are we, then, to think that the Latin peoples ratified either the Servilian law, or all the other laws by which the reward of the citizenship was held out to the men of Latium, in return for services of some kind or other ? [55] Learn now the decision of the senate, which has always been confirmed by the decision of the people. Our fathers, judges, wished that the rites of Ceres should be performed with the greatest scrupulousness and ceremony ; and since these rites had been introduced from Greece, they were always presided over by Greek priestesses, and all the terms used were Greek. But while they chose from Greece her who was to teach and perform this Greek worship, still they wished that a citizen should perform the rites on behalf of the citizens, that she might pray to the immortal Gods with the superior knowledge of a foreigner and an alien, but with the feelings of a native and a citizen. I see that these priestesses were generally natives of Neapolis or Velia, undoubtedly members of federate states. I pass over the older instances. I quote this, that immediately before the citizenship was conferred on the people of Velia, C. Valerius Flaccus, the praetor urbanus, in accordance with a resolution of the senate, proposed Calliphana, a woman of Velia, by name to the people for the citizenship. Are we, then, to suppose either that the Velienses were ratifiers of the proposal, or that that priestess was not made a Roman citizen, or that the treaty was violated both by the senate and by the Roman people?

[25.] L   [56] I quite understand, judges, that in a case so clear, which leaves so little room for doubt, much more has been said, and said by more men most skilled in these matters, than the occasion demanded. But this has been done, not that we might demonstrate to you by our words a matter so self-evident, but that we might discourage all the malevolent, the unfair, and the jealous ; and that the accuser might excite such feelings, that certain speeches of men who are distressed by the prosperity of others might reach even your ears and abound in the court itself. For this reason you saw those accusations mingled with the greatest skill in every part of his speech : - now about the wealth of L. Cornelius, which is not so great as to be worth envying, and which, however great it may be, is of such a nature as to seem rather to have been acquired by saving than by greed ; now about his luxury, which was not stigmatised by any specific charge of riotous living, but by a general evil report ; now about his TuscuIan mansion, he {the accuser} mentioned that it had belonged to Q. Metellus and L. Crassus, and that Crassus had bought it from a freedman, Sotericus Marcius; but that it had come into Metellus's possession out of the property of Vennonius Vindicius, he did not mention. And he also was ignorant of this, that there is no clanship in the case of lands, and that they are frequently wont to pass by purchase to strangers, often to the lowest, and do not pass by law like wards. . [57] It has also been cast up against him that he managed to become a member of the Crustuminian tribe ; but this he succeeded in obtaining as a reward under the law concerning bribery, much less odious than those by which some men obtain a praetor's vote, a magistrate's robe. And his adoption by Theophanes has been discussed, by which Cornelius obtained nothing but the right of inheriting the property of his own relations.

[26.] L   Nevertheless, it is not a very difficult matter to assuage the feelings of those who envy Cornelius himself; they envy him after the fashion of men, they backbite him in their social meetings, they carp at him in their clubs, they pull him to pieces, not with the tooth of enmity, but that of wantonness. [58] Those who are either the enemies of, or envious of, the friends of L. Cornelius are much more to be feared by him. For who was ever found to be an enemy of this man himself, or who could justly be so ? What good man did he not make his friend ? To whose fortune and high standing has he not given way ? Enjoying the intimate friendship of a most powerful man in times of great trouble and discord in our state, he has never offended any one of those who held different views or belonged to the other party, by any act, or word, or even look of his. This was either my fate or that of the republic, that on me alone fell all the downward rush of this crisis in our state. Not only did Cornelius not exult in our downfall and your degradation , but with all good offices, with tears, with assistance, with consolation he relieved all my friends in my absence. [59] And in consequence of the testimony and prayers of these, I render in return the service which he has so well deserved, and as I said at the beginning, this gratitude which is so justly his due, and I hope, judges, that, as you love and hold dear those who were foremost in maintaining my safety and my honour, so what has been done by this man, considering his powers and his position, has been pleasing, and has commended itself to you. He will not then be hard pressed by his own enemies, but by the enemies of his friends, who are numerous and powerful ; whom, indeed, Cn. Pompeius, in his eloquent and weighty speech yesterday, bade contend against himself if they pleased ; but he called on them to abandon this unequal struggle and unjust contest.

[27.] L   [60] And it will be a law just and exceedingly useful both to ourselves, judges, and to all who are associated with us in friendship, ourselves to carry on our enmities among ourselves, and to spare the friends of our enemies. And if my authority had sufficient weight with them in this matter, especially as they know that I have gained my knowledge by changes of fortune and personal experience, I would call on them to abandon these more serious dissensions also. For to contend on a matter of importance to the state, when you are defending that which you feel to be the best, I have always thought to be characteristic of brave and great men, and I have never been found wanting in regard to this task, this duty, this office. But contending is only wise so long as it serves some good purpose, or, if it does not serve, is not hurtful to the state. [61] We desired certain things, we strove for them, we tried to get them, but we failed to obtain them. Some grieved in silence ; we exhibited our grief and sorrow openly. Why should we choose rather to overthrow than to uphold that which we cannot change? The senate distinguished C. Caesar with a most honourable form of thanksgiving and one of an unprecedented number of days. And though the public resources were then much straitened, they bestowed pay on the victorious army, assigned ten legates to the general, and by the Sempronian law voted that no successor should be appointed to him. These votes I proposed and supported, for I did not think that I should consistently maintain my previous objections in preference to adapting myself to the circumstances, and to the promotion of concord in the state. Others do not think with me in this matter. It may be that they are more consistent in their opinions. I blame no one, but I do not agree with all, and I do not think that I am necessarily inconsistent if I direct my opinion in accordance with the weather of the state as if I were steering a ship. [62] But if there are any whose hatred of those against whom they have once conceived it never ends, - and some such men I see - let them fight with the leaders themselves, and not with their attendants and followers. For the former course some perchance will think obstinacy, others virtue, but the latter all will think to be injustice joined with some measure of cruelty. But if we can by no reasoning propitiate the minds of certain men, I am quite convinced that your minds, at any rate, have been propitiated, not by my oratory, but by your own good feeling.

[28.] L   [63] For what reason is there why his friendship with Caesar should not rather be considered a great credit to him than the smallest detriment ? He made his acquaintance while a youth ; he found favour with a most experienced man ; he was placed on an equal footing with the most intimate of his friends, numerous as they were. In his praetorship, in his consulship, Caesar proclaimed him his chief engineer ; he esteemed highly the man's understanding, he comprehended his loyalty, he appreciated his services and his attention. At various times this man has shared with him in many laborious enterprises, and it may be that now he shares with some advantages. Should all these things tell against him with you? I do not know what good quality is likely to serve anybody with such men. [64] But since C. Caesar is now very far away, and is now in places which with their territory bound the world, and by his achievements mark the limit of the Roman empire ; by the immortal gods, judges, do not decide that this cruel message is to be brought to him, so that he should hear that his chief engineer, his dearest and most intimate friend, not for any fault of his own, but because of his friendship with him, has been crushed by your vote. Pity the man who is contending, not in defence of any offence of his own, but of an act of this great and illustrious man ; not concerning any charge brought against himself, but at his own risk concerning a question of public right. But if Cn. Pompeius was ignorant of the law, and M. Crassus, and C. Marius, and the senate, and the Roman people, and those who have decided a similar case, and the federate peoples, and the allies, and the old Latins, consider if it be not more expedient and more honourable for you to err under the guidance of such men than to be instructed with this man as your teacher. But if you see that you have to decide on a certain clear, expedient, proved, practically settled point of law, beware of so acting as to come to any new decision regarding a matter so established by custom. [65] At the same time, judges, set before yourselves all these considerations : - first, that even after death all those illustrious men are arraigned who have conferred the citizenship on federate peoples, then the senate which decreed this, the people who confirmed it, the judges who approved of it. Then think of this, too, that such is and has been the life of Cornelius, that though all other men are tried for wrongdoing, he is brought to trial, not to be punished for his offences, but to defend the reward conferred on him for his virtues. And think of this as well, that by this trial you are deciding whether hereafter you choose the friendships of distinguished men to be a misfortune or a distinction to their fellows. And finally, judges, keep this fixed in your minds, that in this case you are about to give a decision, not about the wrong-doing of L. Cornelius, but about the well-doing of Cn. Pompeius.

Attalus' home page   |   19.12.22   |   Any comments?