Cicero : De Domo Sua

Sections 1-53

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

The translation is by N.H. Watts (1928). Click on the L symbols to go to the Latin text of each section. Click on ** to go to the translator's footnotes.

[1.] L   [1] Members of the pontifical college : among the many divinely-inspired expedients of government established by our ancestors, there is none more striking than that whereby they expressed their intention that the worship of the gods and the vital interests of the state should be entrusted to the direction of the same individuals, ** to the end that citizens of the highest distinction and the brightest fame might achieve the welfare of religion by a wise administration of the state, and of the state by a sage interpretation of religion. And if, on any occasion in the past, a case of high importance has been submitted to the discretion and arbitrament of the priests of the Roman people, surely the importance of the case now before you justifies the belief that to the wisdom and impartiality of your decision the whole prestige of the state, the wellbeing of all her citizens, their lives, their liberty, their altars, their hearths, their household gods, their property, their fortunes, and their dwellings, are unreservedly entrusted. [2] You on this day are called upon to decide whether from this time forward you desire that mad and unprincipled magistrates should be stripped of the protection afforded them by wicked and dastardly citizens, or actually armed with the awful sanction of the immortal gods. For if that plague-spot and devouring flame of the republic should succeed in defending by means of divine religion his iniquitous and ruinous tribunate, which he can defend on no ground of human justice, then we shall have to look around for a new ritual, new mediators.between ourselves and the power of heaven, and new interpreters of the divine will But if, on the other hand, your authority and wisdom is applied to the cancelling of what the madness of villains has achieved, now in the crushing of constitutional government, now in its desertion, and now in its betrayal, then we shall have good reason to give well-deserved approbation to the prudence of our ancestors in electing to the priestly offices the men of highest distinction. [3] But since that madman has thought that by pouring abuse upon all political courses recently advocated by me in the senate he could win some access to your ears, I shall depart in my speech from a natural arrangement; and shall reply, I will not say to the speech of my infuriated opponent, for a speech is beyond his capacity, but to his scurrility, his practice in which has been reinforced not only by an intolerable impudence, but also by a long-continued impunity.

[2.] L   And first I ask you, Clodius, infatuate lunatic that you are, what Nemesis of your crimes and enormities is it which is so powerfully deluding you to believe that upright men such as these, who bear up the state not merely by their wise deliberations, but by the very impressiveness of their external majesty, are incensed with me, because in a statement of my opinion I identified the welfare of the state with the bestowal of honour upon Gnaeus Pompeius, and that they are likely to hold at this time views on essential matters of religion different from those which they held in my absence? [4] "At that time," he says, "you held a commanding position in the eyes of the pontiffs ; but now that you have passed to the popular side, ** you must be held to have degraded yourself." Is it indeed so? Would you wrest from their proper dwelling those qualities which are the besetting sins of the ignorant mob, fickleness, I mean, and inconstancy, and a mind mutable as the weather, and would you attach them to men whose high seriousness bids them shrink from inconstancy, and who are deterred from capricious changes of view by the strict and precise ordinances of religion, by the precept of history, and by the study of approved literary record? "Are you the man," so my opponent addresses me, "indispensable to the senate, mourned by patriots, yearned for by the republic, whose restoration we thought would mean the restoration of senatorial authority, and yet whose first act on your return was to betray it? " I defer the treatment of my own expressed opinion until I have replied to your impudent assertions.

[3.] L   [5] Was this then, O fatal scourge of the state, was this the citizen whose retirement from his home and his country, to prevent an armed conflict between patriots and traitors, you endeavoured to procure by the power of the sword, by the menace of an army, by the guilt of the consuls, ** by the threats of desperadoes, by a levy of slaves, by a blockade of the temples, by a seizure of the forum, and by the stifling of the senate, and yet whom you yourself avow to have been longed for, summoned, and recalled for the preservation of the state by the senate, by all men of sound views, and by an united Italy? "But," you object, "you did wrong in coming to the senate assembled on the Capitol on that day of riot." ** [6] No, I reply, so far was I from attending the senate, that I shut myself up at home while the period of turbulence lasted, when it was a matter of general knowledge that the slaves, whom you had for a long time past equipped for the murder of patriots, had come armed with you to the Capitol, in company with your infamous crew of rascals and fellow-criminals. I do not mind telling you that on receipt of this news I remained at home instead of giving you and your gladiators a chance of reopening the slaughter. But when I was informed that the Roman people had been induced by their fears and by the scarcity of provisions to gather on the Capitol, while your instruments in crime had either lost their swords or been robbed of them, and had scattered in a panic, I came, with no forces and no armed retinue, but with a mere handful of friends. [7] Would you have me refuse to come, when I was being summoned to the senate by the consul Publius Lentulus, who had done signal service to myself and to the state, and by Quintus Metellus, who, though he was my opponent and your cousin, had postponed our differences and your prayers to the claims of my safety and dignity, and when so vast a throng of citizens were calling upon me by name to express my gratitude for the favour they had but recently conferred upon me, and when, above all, it was ascertained that you had taken yourself off with your band of renegades? Have you the effrontery to apply in this place the term "enemy of the Capitol" to me, who was the guardian and defender of the Capitol and all the temples, because I came to the Capitol when two consuls were holding a meeting of the senate there? Are there certain conjunctures when it is a misdemeanour to attend the senate, or did the nature of the matter under debate make it incumbent upon me to repudiate the matter and censure the debaters?

[4.] L   [8] I assert, in the first place, that it is always the duty of a conscientious senator to attend the senate, nor do I hold with those who elect not to attend the senate in person when times are adverse, failing to realise that by their ill-considered obstinacy they do but play into the hands of those whose purpose they desire to baulk. But, it may be urged, members have often held aloof from attendance through apprehension, and a feeling that their presence in the senate was not compatible with safety. I pass no censure upon such, nor do I inquire into the reality of their fears. I hold that no man can dictate to another when he shall or shall not feel fear. Do you ask the reason for my own fearlessness? It was because it was known that you had left the scene. There were several good citizens who held that they could not safely appear in the senate; why then could I not hold the same view? "Why did they remain, when I personally had made up my mind that continued existence as a citizen was absolutely unsafe for me? Are others permitted, and rightly permitted, to find no cause for personal apprehension in what brings fear to me, and am I alone to be compelled to fear vicariously for others as well as individually for myself ?

[9] Again, if in the statement of my opinion I included no condemnation of the two consuls, ** am I for that reason deserving of censure? Was it for me to select as objects of my strictures those statesmen whose measure had saved me, unsentenced as I was, and a benefactor of the state, from undergoing a penalty that attaches only to condemned criminals ? The marvellous zeal they displayed for my preservation made it incumbent not only upon me but upon all patriots to bear with their shortcomings, and was I of all men, who owed to them my restoration to my old proud position, to lend the weight of my counsel to the repudiation of their salutary policy ? But what was the opinion which I did express? It was, in the first place, the opinion which popular discussion had for long past embedded in our minds; in the second place, it was the opinion which had been weighed in the senate during the previous days; and, in the third place, it was the opinion which a full meeting of the senate had adopted at the time when it expressed itself in agreement with me. Consequently, the matter which I introduced was neither unforeseen nor novel, and if the pronouncement was at fault, it is the fault rather of him who gave it expression than of all those who gave it their approbation. [10] It may be objected that the freedom of the senate's judgement was hampered by intimidation ; but if you represent that those who had retired from the scene of action were actuated by fear, at least grant that fear had no influence with those who stood their ground. But if no freedom of vote was possible without those who were at the time absent, I would point out that the motion for the introduction of a formal resolution was only made when all were present; and it was the whole senate that obstinately demanded it. [5.] L   But since I am its originator and author, what ground of censure, I ask, can be found in the actual pronouncement ? Was the occasion not such as to justify our embarking upon a new policy ? Was my rôle upon that occasion not that of a protagonist? Or ought we to have looked rather to another quarter for safety ? What more justifying occasion could there have been than a famine, than faction, than the projects of you and your adherents, who thought that now that an opportunity was offered to you of inflaming the minds of the ignorant mob, you might make the price of grain a pretext for renewing the robbery which spelt ruin for them ? [11] The reason for the famine was ** partly that the corn-growing provinces had no corn; partly that it had been exported to other countries, the demands of the dealers being, as we are asked to believe, extortionate ; partly that it was being kept stored in custody, in order that its alleviating effect in the actual throes of famine might be more gratifying ; it was to be produced as an unlooked-for surprise. The situation did not repose on vague rumour, but on a very present and palpable danger; it existed, not in conjectural prophecy, but within our own actual range of vision and experience. When prices were rising so steadily, that we began to fear not mere dearness but actual destitution and famine, the mob flocked to the temple of Concord, whither the consul Metellus was summoning the senate. If this was a genuine result of resentment at the famine, at least the consuls could have taken the matter up, at least the senate could have initiated some measures. But if it was occasioned by the price of corn, and if it was you who were the goad and the instigator of agitation, was it not right that we should all make it our object to remove from ou all that might act as fuel to your recklessness ? [12] If, again, both of these combined were the cause, and if, when men were already goaded by the pangs of hunger, you were found to make the ulcer swell, did not this call for a yet more drastic remedy, calculated to heal the innate as well as the adventitious disease? This, then, was the situation, - high prices in the present and the prospect of famine in the immediate future; then, as though these were not sufficient evil, stone-throwing began. If this was a mere spontaneous expression of popular indignation, it would be bad enough; if it was instigated by Publius Clodius, it would be no greater crime than what experience has led us to expect from a mischievous character; but if both influences were present, if the occasion was such as naturally to stir the animosity of the mob, and if at the same time ring-leaders of sedition were waiting armed for their opportunity, do you not think that the very voice of the state implored the aid of the consul and the protection of the senate? As a matter of fact, it is obvious that both causes were responsible : the oppressive prices of grain and the great scarcity of provisions, which made men apprehensive not merely now of a long period of dearness, but of absolute famine, are denied by none; and that this was the pretext for pursuing his incendiarism, murder, and rapine which that enemy of peace and tranquillity was ready to grasp at, I would not have you, gentlemen, even suspect, unless you shall see it with your eyes. [13] Who are the men whom the consul Quintus Metellus, your cousin, publicly named in the senate as having stoned, and even stabbed him? Lucius Sergius and Marcus Lollius. Who is this Lollius? He is a man who, not even now as he sits among you, is without his weapon, and who, when you were tribune of the plebs (I waive my own position), demanded the surrender of Gnaeus Pompeius for execution. Who is Sergius? The squire of Catiline, the bodyguard of yourself, the standard-bearer of civil strife, the rallying-point of the shopkeepers ; he is a convicted law-breaker, an assassin, a stoner, a pillager of the forum, a blockader of the senate-house. Seeing that it was with these men and such as these as your lieutenants that, at a time of high prices, you were plotting a sudden onset upon the consuls, the senate, and the property and fortunes of the rich, alleging as a pretext the cause of the destitute and the ignorant, seeing that tranquillity offered you no loophole of safety, and seeing that you, with your desperate subordinates, had at your back armies of rascals whom you had already told off to their several functions, was it not the duty of the senate to take measures to prevent your laying the torch of ruin to all that fuel that stood ready to burst into the flames of civil strife ?

[6.] L   [14] The occasion, then, was such as to justify a new policy : consider now whether mine was not the rôle almost of a protagonist. In connexion with the incident of the stone-throwing, whose name was mentioned by your minion Sergius, or by Lollius, or by those other scourges ? Who did they say should make himself responsible for the price of grain ? Was it not myself? Again, was it not from me that your nocturnal troupe of partisans (personally coached by yourself) demanded corn? As if I, forsooth, had been placed in charge of supplies, or had made a corner in wheat, or had any authority at all in that direction by any powers either of control or of jurisdiction. And yet, with his whole mind bent on slaughter, he had proclaimed my name to his partisans, and openly hinted it to the ignorant mob. When a crowded senate, with his voice alone opposing, had passed in the temple of Jupiter Best and Greatest a decree for the restoration of my position, suddenly upon that very day the extreme expensiveness of corn gave way to an unexpected cheapness [15] Some asserted (and I agree with them) that the immortal gods had given a clear intimation of their approval of my restoration, while there were many who applied to the result an inferential train of reasoning as follows: since, they argued, all hope of peace and tranquillity lay in my return, whereas my departure had meant a daily apprehension of turmoil, it was the almost total vanishing of the fear of war which was responsible for the change in prices; and since on my return they had again become more oppressive, it was to me, whose arrival loyal citizens had constantly asserted would produce cheapness, that they appealed to influence them. [7.] L   The upshot of the matter is, that it was not merely your partisans who, acting on your suggestion, named me, but, after the defeat and scattering of your forces, it was the whole Roman people, who had gathered to the Capitol, who, since on that day I was in poor health, expressly demanded my presence in the senate. [16] My arrival was eagerly anticipated ; and after several speeches had been made I was called upon to speak. The policy which I proposed was one that was highly salutary to the state and most necessary for myself. I was asked to procure plentiful supplies of corn, and a decrease in its price; but whether I had any powers in the matter or not was never taken into account. I was besieged by the urgent complaints of patriots ; but it was the sarcasms of the disloyal that I found hard to bear. I entrusted the settlement of the demand to a friend who was wealthier than myself, not from a desire to shelve the responsibility upon one who had deserved so well of me, - rather would I have sunk beneath the burden myself, - but because I saw that Gnaeus Pompeius, by his loyalty, wisdom, courage, influence, and, last but not least, by his proverbial felicity, would realise with the greatest ease the hopes which we and all had reposed in him. [17] So, whether it be a happy result of my return bestowed by the immortal gods upon the Roman people, that even as at my retirement scarcity of provisions, famine, devastation, slaughter, conflagrations, robberies, impunity for criminals, exile, terror, and faction were rife, so on my return fertility, plenty, hope of tranquillity, security of mind, justice, constitutional government, popular concord, and senatorial authority seemed to be reinstalled with me; or whether I personally on my arrival was in duty bound to devote all my ingenuity, influence, and energy to securing some requital for the Roman people for all their kindness ; whichever be the case, I do now guarantee, promise, and vow - I make no larger assertion, I assert only what is enough for the present time - that, so far as concerns the price of grain, the state will never arrive at that crisis to which it appeared to be tending.

[8.] L   [18] Is it then in respect of this service, for which I was primarily responsible, that fault is found with that declaration of my policy ? That the task was one of supreme importance and of supreme peril, not only by reason of the actual famine, but also by reason of the workers of murder, arson, and spoliation, is denied by none, since to the factors that produced the high prices was added that keen observer of the universal distress, who never failed to kindle the torches of his wickedness at the miseries of the state. He denies the propriety of decreeing any extraordinary function to an individual. I will not answer this plea of yours as I would if any other were the pleader; I will not point out that the extraordinary commissions on land and sea which have been entrusted to Gnaeus Pompeius surpass all others in number, in hazardousness, and in importance, and that if anyone regrets these commissions ** he regrets the success of the Roman people.

[19] I do not use this argument with you, though it is a line that I can well adopt in my speech to gentlemen here who oppose the bestowal of extraordinary commissions upon any one, though they allow that if any special position must be conferred upon an individual, Gnaeus Pompeius is the man upon whom above all they would confer it, and state that it is a principle of action with them, since the commission has been given to Pompeius, to lend it a dignity and a support which are demanded by the merits of its holder. The opinions of these men I am prevented from approving owing to the triumphs of Gnaeus Pompeius, by which that great man, summoned by an extraordinary mandate to the defence of his country, added lustre to the name and honour to the empire of the Roman people; though I do approve their consistency, a consistency of which I too have been called upon to avail myself, and which enabled our great general to carry out the extraordinary command which was given to him in the war against Mithridates and Tigranes. [20] With these I have at all events some common ground whereon to dispute; but what impudence can rival yours when you dare to assert that no extraordinary powers should be given to anyone? You, by an iniquitous law, holding no inquiry, and involving the Roman people in your criminal act, outlawed Ptolemy, the king of Cyprus, ** who was brother to the king of Alexandria, and who held his kingdom upon a title equally good ; you inflicted the patronage of this empire upon the realm, the property, and the fortunes of one with whose father, grandfather, and ancestors we had been on terms of alliance and friendship; and after all this, you gave to Marcus Cato ** supervision of the removal of is money, and the management of the war against him, should he defend his rights. [21] "Ah!" you will say, "but what a magnificent man! The soul of uprightness, of sagacity, of fortitude, and of patriotism, whose virtues, principles, and whole philosophy of life give him a surpassing and almost unique title to fame!" I grant it, but where is the relevancy of all this, since you assert, as you do, that it is wrong for any extraordinary public command to be given to any one? [9.] L   But in this act it is only your inconsistency ** of which I disapprove; by express nomination you, in your proposal, conferred an extraordinary distinction and command upon him whom you desired, not by so doing to promote to the position which his merits deserved, but to put out of the way, in order to give you a free hand for your misdeeds, him whom you had exposed to the attacks of your partisans of the type of Sergius, Lollius, and Titius, and your other princes of fire and slaughter, him who, as you asserted, had been an executioner of citizens, an instigator to the death of men against whom no verdict had been passed, and a supporter of cruelty. And so devoid of self-control were you, that you were unable to conceal your criminal methods. [22] At a mass meeting you recited a letter which you said had been sent to you by Caesar. The letter opened "my dear Pulcher," and you even adduced as a proof of his affection the fact that he employed your surname only, without the addition of "proconsul" or "tribune of the plebs." There followed, so you pretend, congratulations on your having disencumbered your tribunate of Marcus Cato, and on having deprived him for the future of all opportunity of speaking his mind on the subject of extraordinary commands. Either Caesar never sent you this letter, or, if he did send it, he did not wish it to be recited at a mass meeting. But whether he sent it or whether it is a mere fiction of your own, the fact remains that your recitation of it was a revelation of your motive in so distinguishing Cato. [23] But I will deal no further with Cato ; for his splendid qualities, his great merits, and the loyalty and self-control with which he executed his commission, seemed to cast into the shade the unscrupulousness of your measure and of your policy. But what follows? Who ever committed the rich and fertile province of Syria, the administration of a war with peaceable tribes, the funds which he stole, though they had been set apart for the purchase of holdings in accordance with the measures of his friend Caesar, and an unlimited command, to the man who was of all men ever born the most vile, the most wicked, the most polluted? It was to such an one that you first assigned Cilicia; then you altered your bargain, and transferred Cilicia, again by an extraordinary bestowal, upon a praetor ; while to Gabinius you gave, at an enhanced price, Syria by express nomination. Again, did you not expressly surrender free peoples bound hand and foot, though they had been given their liberty by many decrees of the senate and also by a recent measure of his own son-in-law, ** to Lucius Piso, the most savage, cruel, and hypocritical of men, who was deeply branded with the stains of all manner of wickedness and lust? And though he had already paid you full wage for services rendered and the full price for the province in my blood, did you not, in spite of this, share with him the contents of the public chest? [24] Can this indeed be true? Was the assignment of the consular provinces, which Gaius Gracchus, the unique example of an extreme democrat, not only did not take away from the senate, but even enacted by legislation that they were year by year to be assigned through the senate, annulled by you after it had been decreed by the senate in accordance with the Sempronian law; and were those provinces given by express nomination, extraordinarily and without the lot, not to consuls, but to public pests? And are we to be censured by you for having nominated to the control of a vital matter of state policy, which seemed insoluble, a great man who had repeatedly in the past been chosen to cope with the gravest crises of the state ?

[10.] L   And what is the upshot of it all? Had you been able, amid all the gloom and blinding clouds and storms that then enveloped the state, when you had hurled the senate from the helm, sent the democracy by the board, and yourself, like a pirate chief, with your abominable crew of robbers, sailed forth with every stitch of canvas filled, - had you been able then to carry out your proposals, determinations, promises, and bargainings, what spot on the round world would have been untroubled by the symbols of extraordinary power and by the plenipotentiaries of Clodius ?

[25] But the resentment of Gnaeus Pompeius, - and, though it is in his hearing, I shall speak frankly what I have felt and what I still feel, whatever may be the sentiments with which he listens to me, - the resentment of Gnaeus Pompeius, I say, which had lain too long dormant in the deep recesses of his mind, was roused at length, and came suddenly to the aid of the republic, and bade her, cowed, enfeebled, and cringing though she was, to entertain some hope of regaining her freedom and her ancient pride. Was it wrong to give an extraordinary supervision over the corn-supply to this great man ? ** You, forsooth, passed a law ** by which you made over all supplies both public and private, all the corn-supplying provinces, all the contractors, and all the keys of the granaries to Sextus Clodius, a man deep in destitution and crime, a foul glutton who sampled your debaucheries for you, who shared your blood, ** and who by his tongue had estranged even your sister from you, - a law whose first-fruits were high prices, and whose aftermath was famine. Hunger, incendiarism, murder, and pillaging hung over us; your reckless policy was a menace to the fortunes and property of all [26] And the unconscionable scoundrel actually grumbles that the administration of supplies has been snatched from the filthy maw of Sextus Clodius, and that in her gravest peril the republic has implored the aid of a man who, she remembers, has often preserved and glorified her. Clodius is opposed to the passing of any extraordinary measure. What! you slayer of father, brother, and sister! ** Was not the measure which you say you passed concerning myself an extraordinary measure? Had you any right to pass, I will not say a law, but an iniquitous piece of party legislation, to work the downfall of a citizen who had recently by the unanimous verdict of gods and men been declared the saviour of the state, and who, as you yourself admit, so far from having been condemned, had not even been arraigned, amid the mourning of the senate and the grief of all true patriots, while the prayers of all Italy were disdained, and while the republic lay crushed and paralysed ? And had I no right, on the supplication of the Roman people, the demand of the senate, and the urgent appeal of the crisis through which the state was passing, to declare my policy for the salvation of the Roman people? [27] And if in this declaration I enhanced the dignity of Gnaeus Pompeius conjointly with the public weal, I should surely deserve approbation, if it were seen that the man to whose greatness I gave my vote was one who had furthered and promoted my own welfare. [11.] L   Let my enemies once and for all resign the hope that now after my restoration I can be undermined by the same engines which they used to shatter me when as yet I was unassailed. For what bond between any friends of consular rank was ever closer in this state than that which bound Gnaeus Pompeius and myself one to the other? Who has ever dwelt upon his merits in more laudatory terms before the Roman people, or more frequently before the senate ? What toil, what rivalry, what controversy has ever been so formidable that I have shrunk from facing it, when his prestige was at stake? And, on his side, what opportunity of conferring distinction upon myself, of advertising my glory, or of repaying my kindly feelings towards him, has he ever omitted ? [28] There are men whom I could name who, by baseless insinuations and false charges, have undermined our close sympathy, our union for the wise administration of the state, and our delightful partnership in all the round of life's duties. At one minute thcy would warn him to be apprehensive and guarded against me ; at another they would say in my hearing that his bitter enmity was directed solely against myself; and the result was that I, for my part, was unable to claim from him with sufficient confidence what I was entitled to claim, while he, with his views jaundiced by a host of suspicions wickedly suggested by certain individuals, was backward in entering into such unreserved engagements with me as my situation required. [29] I have paid a bitter penalty for my delusion, gentlemen ; my folly has brought me not sorrow alone, but shame, for although my connexion with that gallant and distinguished man was occasioned, not by any unforeseen conjuncture in my affairs, but by activities which I had undertaken and premeditated long before, I yet allowed myself to be severed from that noble friendship, nor did I realise whom I was resisting, in the belief that they were declared enemies, or whom I was refusing to trust, in the belief that their friendship was an ambuscade. Accordingly, let them finally resign their efforts to play upon my pride with their old phrases: "What is our friend's notion? Does he fail to recognise the extent of his influence, the greatness of his achievements, the splendour which has attended his restoration? Why does he contribute to the fame of one who has left him in the lurch? " [30] But I do not consider that I was then left in the lurch, though I do consider that I was all but betrayed; nor do I think that I am called upon to disclose the nature, methods, and agents of the measures taken to thwart me during that public conflagration. If it was expedient for the state that I, and I alone, should drain on behalf of all the cup of humiliation and ruin, then it is also expedient that I should cover with the veil of silence the identity of those by whose treachery that cup was mixed. But there is one fact which it would be ingratitude to conceal, and consequently I shall most joyfully avow that Gnaeus Pompeius by his zeal and influence, and each individual of you by his resources, his assiduity, his prayers, and last and chiefest by the risks that he faced, laboured to procure my restoration. [12.] L   Night and day, Publius Lentulus, your every thought was for my safety, yet you formed no plan to which he did not contribute something ; his was the fortifying influence that enabled you to initiate, his the unfailing sympathy that enabled you to execute, his the stalwart support that enabled you to effect your purposes. He it was that made overtures to municipalities and colonies ; he it was who implored the aid of united Italy, which pined for me ; he was the prime mover of the project in the senate, and he too it was who, at the close of his speech on the motion, added an appeal to the Roman people for my restoration. [31] In view of this, we will allow you ** to drop the argument you employed, when you urged that after I had propounded my corn policy the Pontifical College had altered their attitude ; as though, indeed, their sentiments regarding Gnaeus Pompeius were different from mine, or as though they did not know what it was necessary for me to do, so as to act up to the anticipations of the Roman people, the obligations which Gnaeus Pompeius had conferred upon me, or the requirements of my situation ; or, again, as if any member of the College whose susceptibilities were offended by my opinions (and I am convinced that none were so offended) would be likely for that reason to arrive at a different decision, as pontiff upon religion, and as citizen upon politics, from that which was forced upon him by the laws of ritual and the welfare of the community.

[32] I realise, gentlemen, that I have dwelt upon matters extraneous to the point at issue at greater length than the general feeling, or indeed my own inclination, would approve ; but I desired to be absolved of blame in your eyes, and, at the same time, the attentive hearing you have been good enough to lend me has induced me to extend the scope of my speech. I will, however, make amends for this by the brevity I shall observe in my treatment of the matter which is actually submitted to you for inquiry ; and since this is divided between a religious issue and a political issue, I shall pass over the section dealing with religion, which is much more diffuse than the other, and deal with the political issue.

[33] For what act could be so presumptuous as to endeavour to instruct the Pontifical College in religion, in our relation to the divine powers, in ritual, or in sacrifice ; or so foolish, as to recount to you discoveries that have been made in your own books; or so officious, as to wish to know matters whereon our ancestors desired that you should be the sole referees and the sole experts? [13.] L   I assert that it was impossible, according to public equity and the constitution enjoyed by the state, for any citizen, without a trial, to have such disaster inflicted upon him as that in question; that this right existed in this state even in the days of the kings, that it has been bequeathed to us by our ancestors, and is, finally, the peculiar mark of a free community, - the right, I mean, in accordance with which it is unlawful for any abatement of civic privilege or private property to be made without a verdict of senate, of people, or of the courts constituted to deal with each type of offence. [34] Do you observe that I am not trying to annul all your proceedings root and branch? that I am not, in face of obvious realities, trying to prove that you have never once acted in accordance with right, or that you never were tribune of the plebs, or that you are to-day a patrician? It is the Pontifical College that I am addressing, and the augurs are present ** ; the very atmosphere which I breathe is one of public equity.

What, gentlemen, is the law relating to adoption ? Clearly that the adoption of children should be permissible to those who are no longer capable of begetting children, and who, when they were in their prime, put their capacity for parenthood to the test. What pleas, then, what considerations of family, of credit, or of religion justify an adoption in any individual case, - this is the question commonly asked by the Pontifical College. Which of these was looked for in your case? A man twenty years of age or even less adopts a senator. Is it because he desires a child? But he is in a position to beget one. He has a wife; he will still rear children by her; and the father, by the act of adoption, will disinherit his son. Again, why should the religious traditions of the Clodii be extinguished, so far as you can extinguish them ? ** On this inquiry the whole attention of the pontiffs should have been centred when you were adopted, [35] unless, indeed, the information they looked for from you was whether you wished to throw the state into the turmoil of civil strife, and whether your reason for being adopted was not that you might become the son of your adopter, but that, by becoming tribune of the plebs, ** you might turn the state upside down. No doubt you replied that such was your desire. The Pontifical College thought your reason a just one, and gave their sanction. The age of the adopting party was never inquired into, as it was in the case of Gnaeus Aufidius and Marcus Pupius, who, as I recollect, in extreme old age, respectively adopted Orestes and Piso, and these adoptions, as in countless other cases, were followed by the adopted party inheriting the name, the wealth, and the family rites of his adopter. You are not a Fonteius, as you should be by rights, nor have you become the heir of your father by adoption, nor have you entered upon the rites of the family into which you have been adopted, to take the place of the paternal rites you have resigned. So, with the subversion of sacred rites, the pollution of families, of that which you have left as well as of that which you have contaminated, and with the scouting of the legally prescribed terms of wardship and inheritance among our citizens, you have set nature at defiance, and have become the son of a man whose father you might have been, on the score of your relative ages.

[14.] L   [36] Speaking as I do in the presence of the Pontifical College, I assert that your adoption did not take place in accordance with pontifical rules: firstly, because your relative ages are such that your adopter might, in respect of this, have stood to you in the relation of a son, or in the relation in which he actually did stand to you ** ; and secondly, because the reason why a sufficient cause for the adoption is customarily required is that the adopter may be one who seeks to gain by the statutory and pontifical laws what he can no longer gain in the course of nature, and that the method of adoption may be such that neither the dignity of the families nor the sanctity of religion suffers any detraction ; but the chief reason is, to preclude the employment of chicanery, fraud, or subterfuge, and to enable this artificial expedient of adoption to reproduce as nearly as possible the responsibilities of actual parenthood. [37] What more striking example of evasion than that a beardless stripling, married and in excellent health, should come before you and say that he wishes to adopt as his son a senator of the Roman people, and that all should be perfectly aware of and awake to the fact that the motive of the adoption was not that the adopted party might become the son of the adopter, but that he might leave the patrician body and so be in a position to become tribune of the plebs? And he took no trouble to conceal his motive ; for no sooner had he been adopted than he was emancipated, that he might not continue to be the son of his adopter. What, then, was the adopter's motive? Do but once sanction this form of adoption, and you will find in a very short while that all family religion, for the protection of which you are responsible, will die out, and not a patrician will be left. For why should a man acquiesce in his ineligibility to election as tribune of the plebs, in limited chances of successful candidature for the consulship, ** and in his inability, owing to the fact that such a position is not open to a patrician, to be appointed to a priesthood, ** when he has a possibility of removing that inability ? Similar adoptions will take place in future whenever circumstances render it more advantageous to a man to be a plebeian ; [38] and the result will be that in a short time the Roman people will have no Rex Sacrorum {"King of Rites"}, ** no flamens, ** no Salii, ** and it will lose half its remaining priests, and will be without any authoritative conveners for the Centuriate and Curiate assemblies ** ; while, if patrician magistrates are not elected, the auspices of the Roman people will inevitably vanish, for there will be no interrex, ** inasmuch as that officer is bound to be a patrician and to be appointed by patricians. I have stated in the presence of the pontiffs that your adoption was sanctioned by no decree of this College, was entered upon in defiance of all pontifical regulations, and must be held to be null and void; and you must realise that, your adoption invalidated, your whole tribunate falls to the ground.

[15.] L   [39] I proceed now to the augurs, into whose books, such of them at least as are secret, I forbear to pry. I am not curious to inquire into augural regulations. There are some, however, of which I share the knowledge with the populace, which have often been revealed, in answer to inquiry, in mass meetings, and with these I am familiar. These assert that proceedings in assembly are sacrilegious when observation of the heavens is in progress. Have you the audacity to deny that such observation was in progress on the day when, as is asserted, the law dealing with your case was passed in the Curiate assembly ? We have with us to-day Marcus Bibulus, ** a gentleman of exceptional uprightness, firmness of will, and seriousness of purpose; he, as consul, had, I affirm, on that very day undertaken observation of the heavens. ''Do you then," asks Clodius, " invalidate the gallant Caesar's proceedings ?" By no means; for none of them any longer affect my interests, with the exception of those measures of his which were aimed with hostile intent against my own person. [40] But it was you who treated the auspices, which I do but lightly touch upon, in this way. It was you who, in your already tottering and emasculated tribunate, suddenly stood forth as the protector of the auspices; you who brought Marcus Bibulus and the augurs before the mass meeting ; it was in reply to your inquiries that the augurs answered that proceedings in assembly are sacrilegious when observation of the heavens is in progress; it was your question that Marcus Bibulus met by an assertion that he had observed the heavens, and also stated at a mass meeting, before which he was brought by your brother Appius, that you were not a tribune at all, inasmuch as you had been adopted in defiance of the auspices. You, finally, were responsible for all the agitation of the ensuing months in favour of the repeal by the senate of the whole of Gaius Caesar's proceedings, on the ground that they had been carried out in defiance of the same auspices ; and you said that, in the event of their repeal, you would bring me back to the city shoulder-high as the city's preserver. What lunacy in the fellow! Why, his own tribunate held him fettered to Caesar's measures! ** [41] If the pontiffs use the law of ritual, and the augurs the sanctity of the auspices, wherewith to overthrow your entire tribunate, for what more do you look? Is there anything in public equity or statutory law which is more self-evident ? [16.] L   It was perhaps at the sixth hour of the day that, in a trial where I was defending my colleague Gaius Antonius, ** I complained of certain political abuses, which I thought affected my unhappy client's case. These complaints were reported by scoundrels to certain worthy gentlemen ** in terms very far removed from those which I had used. At the ninth hour on that same day your adoption took place. If an interval of three hours is sufficient, in the case of an adoption, to correspond to the three weeks that must elapse in all other legislation, ** then I make no word of protest. But if that interval is of universal compulsion, I would point out that the senate pronounced that the laws of Marcus Drusus were not binding upon the people, because they were passed in defiance of the Lex Caecilia Didia. [42] Perhaps by this time you realise that by every description of law, the laws of ritual, of the auspices, and of the constitution, you were never tribune of the plebs. But I waive all this, not without good reason. For I note that certain very eminent men, leading spirits in the state, have on several occasions pronounced that you would have been within your rights in bringing the matter before an assembly of the people; and these also have asserted, with reference to myself, that though the introduction of your measure marked the obsequies of the dead republic, yet nevertheless that death was legally inflicted, painful and distressing though it was. In that the measure you had passed was directed against a citizen and a benefactor of the state, you had, in their opinion, signed the state's death-warrant ; but in that it was passed without violence to the auspices, you had not transgressed the law. So I think that we may be permitted to allow the validity of those enactments on which your tribunate is based, and which have won for it the sanction of such good judges.

[43] But let us freely grant that your tribunate was as securely grounded upon equity and law as was that of Publius Servilius himself, who is present, a man of universal distinction and honour. Still, on what equitable principle, what tradition, or what precedent, did you base the express measure you passed concerning the civil status of an uncondemned citizen? [17.] L   Those laws the violation of which involves a curse, as well as the Twelve Tables, ** forbid the passing of measures which assail private individuals ; for such a measure is a "privilege." ** No one has ever passed such measures; for no act could be more cruel, more mischievous, more abhorrent to the sense of our community. What is the most notable title possessed by the unhappy word proscription, and by all the anguish which accompanied the régime of Sulla, to be perpetuated in the annals of savagery? Surely the fact that, without a trial, penalties were enacted against expressly named Roman citizens. [44] Will you then, gentlemen, by the official pronouncement of your verdict in open court, grant to a tribune of the plebs the power of proscribing whom he wishes? For what else, I ask, if not proscription, do these words involve: "That it may please you, and that you may command, that Marcus Tullius be no more a citizen, and that his goods be mine" ? For this was the effect, if not the actual phrase, of his enactment. Is this a resolution of the people, this a law, this a bill? Can you endure, can the state tolerate this, that the mere stroke of a pen should suffice to erase the name of a citizen from the roll? For myself, I have already played out my part; I fear no more violence, no more assaults ; I have glutted the intent of envy ; I have appeased the hatred of the malevolent; I have gorged to repletion the treachery and wickedness of traitors; and, lastly, my cause, which profligate citizens thought was set as a mark for their rancour to shoot at, has now had verdict pronounced upon it by all cities, all classes, and all gods and men. [45] It is for you, gentlemen, to take such measures for yourselves, your children, and your fellow-citizens, as shall be in keeping with your dignity and your wisdom. For on the one hand, the popular courts established by our ancestors are carefully regulated, first to prevent personal penalties being inflicted conjointly with financial penalties, secondly to prevent the accusation of anyone without notice being given, but demanding that the magistrate shall lay his accusation thrice, with an interval of a day between each accusation, before he inflicts a fine or gives his verdict, while the fourth accusation shall convey an intimation that the trial will take place three days from the day on which it is laid ; and, on the other hand, defendants are conceded many opportunities of procuring sympathy and arousing favour; the populace is always susceptible of entreaty, and it is easy to make interest with a view to acquittal; and finally, if the day named is cancelled by reason of unfavourable, auspices or on any other pretext, the whole process and the trial itself are also cancelled. Seeing that these regulations apply in a case where there is a formal charge, an accuser, and witnesses, what can be more outrageous than that hirelings, assassins, ne'er-do-wells, and scoundrels should give a vote upon the civil status, the children, and the whole fortunes of one who has not been ordered to come up for trial nor arraigned nor accused, and that this vote should be held to be a law?

[18.] L   [46] And if so great were his powers against me, though I was protected by official position, a great reputation, a good cause, and considerations of public weal, whose property, lastly, was not coveted, and whose sole embarrassment was the perturbed conditions and general downward tendency of the times, what is likely to be the fate of those who have passed lives secluded from the honours that the people can bestow and from a dazzling popularity, but whose wealth is considerable enough to be lusted after by too many of our spendthrift and penniless nobility ? [47] Once grant this licence to a tribune of the plebs, and if you will but take a mental survey of our rising generation, and especially of those whose evil ambitions lead them even now to cast greedy eyes upon the tribunician power, I do most solemnly warn you that whole boards of tribunes of the plebs will appear, ready to conspire with such men for the property of wealthy persons, especially when their hoped-for booty is destined for the mob and there is a prospect of a general bounty.

But what did the expert and astute formulator of laws enact? ** "That it may please you, that you may command, that Marcus Tullius be interdicted from fire and water?" A cruel, a shocking measure this, and one not to be tolerated, be the citizen who is its victim never so far gone in crime! But the actual phrase was not "that he be interdicted."   How then did it run? "That an interdict have been passed upon him." O abominable and monstrous wickedness! Behold! Clodius ** has formulated a law for you in phrase more vile than his own vile tongue, for he enacts that an interdict have been passed upon one upon whom an interdict has not been passed! I ask your kind pardon, my good Sextus, since you have lately turned logician, and are smacking your lips over your performances in this direction as well as in others, but is it possible to propose to the assembly, or to ratify in any form of words, or to corroborate by vote, an enactment enjoining the existence of a state of affairs which does not exist? [48] This was the man, fouler than all two-footed or even all four-footed creatures, whom you employed as secretary, expert adviser, and righthand man, for the destruction of the republic ; and yet you were not so senseless and so infatuated as not to know that it was Clodius' part to act in defiance of the laws, and the business of others to formulate them. But you had no power of command over any of these, or indeed over any others, who had any vestige of self-respect ; you were unable to employ either as legal secretaries or as architects ** those whom others were accustomed so to employ ; you could not consult the pontiff whom you desired ; and, finally, even in the distribution of your booty you could find no agent, and no sponsor, outside the muster of your gladiators, and none save a thief and an assassin to put your proscriptive measure to the vote.

[19.] L   [49] So when, in the heyday of your affluence and power, you were flitting, a public prostitute, through the midst of the forum, your fine friends, who owed solely to their friendship with you their safety and their wealth, were so disgusted that they even lost the votes of your Palatine tribe ; while those who were engaged in lawsuits, whether as accusers or accused, suffered an adverse verdict if you interceded on their behalf. And finally, your neophyte Ligus, whose signature and subservience were at your disposal for a consideration, disappointed in the will of his brother, Marcus Papirius, and unsuccessful in his litigation, expressed a desire to avenge his brother's death. He laid a charge against Sextus Propertius ; but, fellow-victim as he was of the unscrupulous ascendancy of another, he did not dare to pursue his action, as he feared to be arraigned for bad faith. [50] We have been speaking of this law on the assumption that its proposal was in order, and yet whoever touched it even remotely with the tip of a finger, with a single word, a single penny of perquisite, ** or a single vote, whatever point of it he approached, retired from the encounter discomfited and baffled.

But what if your proscription was made in such terms that it destroys itself? It runs, "inasmuch as Marcus Tullius has adduced a spurious decree of the senate." ** Well, if he did adduce a spurious decree, then your bill stands ; if not, it is nullified. Do you think that the senate has not stated with sufficient clearness that so far from having falsified the authority of that order, I was actually the one man who obeyed the senate with a scrupulousness unknown since the city's foundation? By how many methods can I demonstrate that the measure of yours which you call a law was none at all? Furthermore, even though you did pass a measure dealing with several matters by a single casting of lots, ** do you in spite of this think that you, a man stained with ever form of crime and debauchery, could win, with such men as Decumus and Clodius to back you, what the exemplary Marcus Drusus failed in many of his enactments to win, even with the expert advice of Marcus Scaurus and Lucius Crassus ? [51] In your measure you forbade that anyone should give me shelter, not that I should leave the city ; for not even you could assert that I had no right to be at Rome. [20.] L   For what could you say ? That I had been condemned ? Assuredly not that. Banished, then? How could that have been permissible? But the law did not even contain a clause ordering me to leave ; penalties are enacted against all who harboured me, and these penalties were universally set at naught; there is no mention anywhere of my being turned out. But, granting that you are right in this, what of your supervision of public constructions ? ** What of your posting of your name? Do you think that these amount to anything short of the plundering of my property ? This is quite apart from the fact that even your appointing yourself to an administrative office was prohibited by the law of Licinius. ** Again, to come to the actual plea you are now offering to the pontiffs, that you have consecrated my house, that you have erected a monument in my private apartment, and dedicated a statue, and that you have done all this on the strength of one puny bill, - do you think that this plea is inseparable from and identical with your measure dealing expressly with myself? [52] Yes, they were as inseparable, no doubt, as were the measures which, on another occasion, you embodied in the same law, enacting that the king of Cyprus, whose ancestors were always friends and allies of this people, should be disposed of, with all his property, by the auctioneer, and that the exiles should be restored to Byzantium. "But," he objects, "I entrusted the execution of the measures to the same person." But supposing he had entrusted to one individual the duties, first of dunning for silver 'Ark-bearers' { cistophori } ** in Asia, then of going to Spain, had then allowed him to stand for the consulship after his departure for Rome, and, after his election, had given him the province of Syria; would all these be a single matter, just because the law in which they were embodied had reference to a single person? [53] If the Roman people had been consulted upon the subject at the time, instead of everything being done through the medium of slaves and robbers, is it not conceivable that, while accepting the measure dealing with the king of Cyprus, the people might have rejected that which dealt with the Byzantine exiles ? ** What other force or significance, pray, has the Lex Caecilia Didia but this, that the people may not be called upon, by voting on several matters in gross, either to accept what it dislikes, or refuse what it wants ?

Furthermore, if you employed force to carry your measure, is it, in spite of this, a law? Do you think that the result of any operation which might has effected can be thought to be founded upon right? Or if at the actual voting, when the city was in your hands, there was throwing of stones, but no actual fighting, could you on that account have brought about the ruin and destruction of the state, without a resort to extreme violence? **

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1.(↑)   This seems to suggest that membership of the Pontifical College was confined to senators, but all the information we possess goes to prove the contrary; see De har. resp. Chap. VII.; Ad Att. iv. 2.

2.(↑)   Perhaps the "popular" act referred to was C.'s proposal that, in view of the acute shortage of food, Pompey should be given control of the corn-supply for five years.

3.(↑)   Piso and Gabinius.

4.(↑)   i.e. the day of the "food riots" which gave rise to C.'s proposal mentioned in note on Chap. II. above.

5.(↑)   P. Lentulus and Q. Metellus Nepos.

6.(↑)   These words are not in the original, but are inserted to make the connexion clear.

7.(↑)   The commissions were: (1) against the pirates, by Lex Gabinia, 67; and (2) against Mithridates, by Lex Manilia, 66.

8.(↑)   Cyprus had been bequeathed to Rome under the will of Ptolemy Auletes, king of Egypt, but had never been formally annexed, and had until fifty-eight been ruled by the brother of dx d A. Clodius was prompted both by avarice (for the island was wealthy) and by a desire to remove a troublesome opponent, to send Cato to reduce it. The king committed suicide on Cato's arrival, and his property was confiscated.

9.(↑)   Committed suicide after Utica, 46; for twenty years an uncompromising opponent of monarchical tendencies.

10.(↑)   i.e. in having conferred an extraordinary command upon Cato, while professing disapproval of such commands on principle.

11.(↑)   Caesar, whose wife Calpurnia was Piso's daughter.

12.(↑)   Cic's first act on his return was to support a proposal giving Pompey the organization of com supplies for five years.

13.(↑)   For the gratuitous distribution of corn to the poor. Clodius was thus the prime source of what was later the most demoralizing element in the life of the Imperial city.

14.(↑)   This may mean no more than "kinsman," but it is a strange phrase.

15.(↑)   Rhetorical exaggeration.

16.(↑)   C. is addressing Clodius; see Chap. II.

17.(↑)   Or, possibly, "there are augurs present"; for we do not know whether the augurs, as a body, attended the meetings of the pontiffs.

18.(↑)   The Romans attached great importance to the maintenance of the sacra gentilicia, as symbolizing the continuity of the family, and the departure from, or admission into, the family circle of any person was held to constitute a danger to their sanctity.

19.(↑)   A patrician could become trib. plebis only by being adopted into a plebeian family.

20.(↑)   C. hints at immoral relations.

21.(↑)   By the Licinian Rogations (367 B.C.) one consul must be a plebeian.

22.(↑)   i.e. those open to plebeians only.

23.(↑)   See De har. resp. Chap. VII. n.

24.(↑)   Special priests of special deities.

25.(↑)   The ancient college of priests of Mars.

26.(↑)   Not true to the Roman constitution of Cic.'s day ; he is appealing to an earlier usage in order to show Clodius' proceedings in a more unfavourable light.

27.(↑)   Patrician nominated to hold consular elections, when a consul had died or resigned.

28.(↑)   Consul with Caesar 59.

29.(↑)   There is evidently a gap in the mss. in this sentence, but the connexion seems clear; it was lunacy in C. to rescind Caesar's acts when one of those acts was his own election as tribune.

30.(↑)   Consul with Cic. 63; defended by Cic. on a charge of extortion 59.

31.(↑)   Probably Caesar is meant here, and in § 42 below, "quosdam clarissimos viros."

32.(↑)   By lex Caecilia et Didia 98, which enacted that a measure must be published (promulgari) three nundinae, before the voting-day. The same period applied to adoptions,

33.(↑)   The earliest code of Roman law (450).

34.(↑)   Our language possessing no word for 'privilegium', I venture to use the derivative, of which the Oxford Dictionary quotes a 16th century example in this sense: "1548 Elvot Dict. Privilegium, 'a lawe concernying priuate persons, also a priuate or speciall lawe, a priuilege.' "

35.(↑)   The argument of this paragraph rests upon a frivolous cavil against Clodius' use of the perfect instead of the present tense.

36.(↑)   Sextus ; see De har. resp. Chap. VI.

37.(↑)   Of the temple of Liberty, built on the site of C.'s house.

38.(↑)   I reproduce literally this illogical expression.

39.(↑)   Presumably the decree dealing with the Catilinarian conspirators.

40.(↑)   The lex Caecilia et Didia (see Chap. XVI.) forbade the inclusion of separate measures in a single bill.

41.(↑)   Clodius was probably appointed to superintend the construction of the building to be erected on the site of Cic.'s house.

42.(↑)   By which the proposer of a law instituting any office was debarred from holding that office.

43.(↑)   Coins of Pergamum, of a sacred Ark with figures.

44.(↑)   "As if the affairs of Cyprus and Ptolemy were not a sufficient employment, he (Clodius) ordered him (Cato) to restore the Byzantine exiles." (Plut. Cato Minor, 34.)

45.(↑)   C. means: "Though only stones were thrown and there was no hand-to-hand fighting, can you argue that you attained your end without violence?"

Following sections (54-104) →

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