Cicero : De Lege Manilia (de Imperio Cn. Pompei)

This speech was delivered in favour of the Lex Manilia, in 66 B.C.

The translation is by H.G. Hodge (1927). 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] Although it has at all times given me an especial pleasure to behold your crowded assembly, and this place in particular has seemed to me to afford the amplest scope for action, the fairest stage for eloquence, none the less, fellow-citizens, this approach to fame, which the best have ever found most widely open, has hitherto been barred to me, not certainly by any wish of mine, but by that scheme of life which, from my earliest years, I had laid down for myself. For previously, seeing that I was debarred by my youth from aspiring to this proud position and was resolved to bring here nothing but the mature outcome of my talent, the finished product of my industry, I considered that my every hour should be devoted to my friends in their hours of peril. [2] And so, while this platform has never been without fit champions of your cause, the disinterested and blameless employment of my labours in private lawsuits has been crowned by the dignity which your verdict has conferred. For when, owing to the postponement of the elections, ** my name was thrice proclaimed as heading the poll for the praetorship by the vote of each century in turn, I could not fail to understand, gentlemen, what verdict you were passing upon myself, and what course you were recommending to others. And now, since I possess such a measure of influence as, by conferring office upon me, you have intended should be mine, and such a degree of skill in public speaking as an almost daily practice in pleading can bestow through his experience in the courts upon one anxious to learn, then assuredly any influence that may be mine I will exercise among those to whom I owe it, and any attainments I can achieve as an orator I will display most chiefly to those whose verdict has pronounced that oratory, too, is deserving of reward.

[3] And I realise that I am especially entitled to congratulate myself upon the fact, that, unaccustomed as I am to the style of oratory that becomes this platform, the cause I have to plead is such as could leave no one at a loss for words. For it is mine to speak of the unique and extraordinary merits of Gnaeus Pompeius, and a speech upon that topic is harder to end than to begin ; so that my task as a speaker lies in the search not for material but for moderation.

[2.] L   [4] To start, then, with the cause that is responsible for the whole situation - a serious and dangerous war is being waged against your tributaries and your allies by two mighty kings, Mithridates and Tigranes, who are led, the one by his impunity, the other by his exasperation, to suppose that an opportunity is offered them to lay hold on Asia. ** Every day letters arrive from Asia for my good friends the Roman knights who are concerned for the great sums they have invested in the farming of your revenues ; and on the strength of my close connexion with that order they have represented to me the position of the public interests and the danger of their private fortunes: how that in Bithynia, ** [5] now a province of yours, many villages have been burnt to the ground ; the kingdom of Ariobarzanes which borders on your tributary states, is entirely in the hands of the enemy ; Lucius Lucullus, despite great achievements, is retiring from the campaign ; his successor is not adequately equipped for the conduct of so great a war: one man is universally desired and demanded by citizens and allies alike as the commander for this war ; one and the same commander is feared by the enemy, and they fear none but him.

[6] You see what the situation is : now consider what is to be done. I think it best to deal first with the nature of the war, next with its magnitude and lastly with the choice of a commander.

The nature of the war is such as is most calculated to rouse and fire your hearts with the determination to carry it through; for it involves the glory of Rome, which has come down to you from your forefathers great in everything but greatest of all in war: it involves the safety of your allies and friends, in whose defence your forefathers undertook many great and serious wars: it involves the most assured and the most considerable sources of the public revenue, the loss of which would cause you to look in vain for the ornaments of peace or the munitions of war: it involves the property of many citizens whose interests you are bound to consult both for their own sake and for that of the commonwealth. [3.] L   [7] And since you have ever been, beyond other nations, seekers after glory and greedy of renown, I call upon you to wipe out that stain incurred in the first Mithridatic war which is now so deeply ingrained and has so long been left upon the honour of the Roman people ; in that he who, upon a single day throughout the whole of Asia and in many states, by a single message and by one dispatch marked out our citizens for butchery and slaughter, has hitherto not only failed to pay any penalty adequate to his crime but has remained on the throne for two-and-twenty years from that date, a king who is not content with lurking in the fastnesses of Pontus or Cappadocia but issues out from his hereditary kingdom and flaunts himself in your tributary states, aye, for all Asia to behold. [8] For hitherto our generals have maintained the conflict with this monarch in such a way as to bring home the trappings of victory over him, not victory itself. One triumph over Mithridates was celebrated by Lucius Sulla and another triumph by Lucius Murena, brave men and great generals both, but their triumphs left Mithridates beaten and conquered - yet still upon his throne! None the less those generals deserve praise for what they did, pardon for what they left undone, since both were recalled to Italy from the war, Sulla by a crisis at home and Murena by Sulla.

[4.] L   [9] Mithridates, however, devoted all the period which followed not to effacing the memory of the late war but to preparing for a new one. For thereupon he built and fitted out mighty fleets and raised enormous armies from whatever nations he could under pretence of attacking his neighbours on the Bosphorus, and sent envoys as far as Spain with letters to the general with whom we were then at war, ** in order that the war by land and sea might be conducted by two hostile armies acting in concert on two fronts at the opposite ends of the earth, and that you might have to fight for your supremacy with the distraction of a twofold attack. [10] But the danger in the West from Sertorius in Spain, which was much the more serious and substantial, was removed by the inspired strategy and extraordinary valour of Gnaeus Pompeius ; while on the Eastern front the conduct of the campaign by that fine general, Lucius Lucullus, suggests that the great and glorious achievements with which it began were due more to his good qualities than to his good luck, and the recent events with which it ended to no fault of his but to ill-fortune. As for Lucullus, I will speak of him anon, and when I do so you will see that no word of mine, gentlemen, either robs him of his true glory or flatters him with false. [11] As for the honour and glory of your empire, since that was the theme with which my speech began, consider with what feelings it should inspire you.

[5.] L   Our forefathers often undertook wars to defend our merchants or ship-masters against any highhanded treatment : ** what, then, should be your feelings when, by a single order and at a single moment, so many thousands of Roman citizens have been put to death? Because their envoys had been somewhat disrespectfully addressed, your ancestors decided on the extinction of Corinth, ** the light of Greece: will you allow to go unpunished the king who imprisoned, scourged, and put to death by every kind of torture a Roman envoy ** of consular rank ? They would not brook any restriction on the liberty of Roman citizens: will you pass over the loss of their lives? They avenged the verbal infringement of an envoy's privilege : ** will you leave unnoticed the death by every kind of torture of your envoy? [12] See to it that, as it was the proudest achievement of your forefathers to bequeath to you so glorious an empire, so it be not your deepest shame to be powerless to protect and maintain that heritage.

Again, when your allies' safety is in a perilous and critical position, what, pray, should be your feelings? King Ariobarzanes, the ally and friend of Rome, has been driven from his kingdom: Asia is threatened by two kings who are the sworn enemies of your allies and friends as well as of yourselves; and it is to you that every state in Greece and Asia is, by the magnitude of its peril, forced to look for help: to demand from you one particular general (especially as you have sent someone else ** ) they neither dare nor do they think that they could do so without extreme danger. [13] They see and feel, even as you do yourselves, that there is one man who possesses in all respects the highest qualifications and that he is near at hand, wherefore they are the sorrier to be without him : the fact of his arrival, his reputation alone, although it is for a naval war that he has come, they feel to have checked and restrained the onslaughts of their foes. They, then, debarred from speaking openly, mutely beseech you to regard them, like your allies in other provinces, as worthy that their safety should be entrusted to this great man, and all the more because the usual governors whom we send to administer the province are of a type that makes their arrival in an allied city differ but little from an assault by the enemy, even though they defend it from the enemy himself ; whereas this man, as formerly they heard and now see with their eyes, is so moderate, so merciful, and so humane that those are accounted the most fortunate in whose midst his stay is most prolonged.

[6.] L   [14] If then it was for their allies' sake that our forefathers, though unprovoked by any injury to themselves, waged war with Antiochus, with Philip, with the Aetolian League ** and with Carthage, ** how great should be your zeal, when challenged by injury, to defend at one and the same time the safety of your allies and the honour of your empire, especially when your chief sources of revenue are involved! For while the revenues of our other provinces, gentlemen, are barely sufficient to make it worth our while to defend them, Asia is so rich and fertile as easily to surpass all other countries in the productiveness of her soil, the variety of her crops, the extent of her pastures and the volume of her exports. This province, gentlemen, if you wish to retain what makes either war possible or peace honourable, it is your duty to defend not only from disaster but from fear of disaster. [15] For in most cases it is at the moment when disaster occurs that loss is sustained ; but in the case of revenue it is not only the occurrence of a calamity but the mere dread that brings disaster; for when the enemy's forces are near at hand, even though they have not crossed the frontier, the pastures are deserted, the fields left untilled and the sea-borne trade comes to an end. Consequently neither from customs duties, tithes nor grazing dues can the revenues be maintained ; and so a single rumour of danger, a single alarm of war, often means the loss of a whole year's income. [16] What, pray, do you suppose to be the state of mind either of those who pay us the taxes or of those who farm and collect them, when two kings with mighty armies are near at hand; when a single cavalry raid can in an instant carry off the revenue of a whole year ; when the tax-farmers feel that there is the gravest risk in keeping the large staffs which they maintain on the pastures and the corn lands, at the harbours and the coastguard stations ? Do you imagine that you can enjoy these advantages unless you preserve those from whom you derive them and keep them free not only, as I said before, from disaster but from fear of disaster ?

[7.] L   [17] There is still another point which, when starting out to discuss the nature of the war, I decided to keep to the end - a point of which you must not lose sight: I mean the fact that there are many Roman citizens whose property is affected by this war; and wise men like yourselves know that their interests demand your careful consideration. For in the first place the honourable and distinguished men who farm our revenues have transferred their business and their resources to that province, and their interests and fortunes ought, on personal grounds, to be your concern. For if we have always held that our revenues are the sinews of the commonwealth, then we shall assuredly be right in saying that the class which farms those revenues is the mainstay of the other classes. [18] Moreover, of those other classes there are men of energy and industry who are some of them personally engaged in business in Asia, and you ought to consult their interests in their absence ; while others of them have vast sums invested in that province. Your humanity therefore enjoins that you should save this large body of citizens from ruin, and your wisdom shows you that the State cannot but be involved in the ruin of many of its citizens. For in the first place the subsequent recovery of our taxes through victory makes but little difference once the tax-farmers are lost; for the individuals in question will lack the power to buy the contract owing to their ruin and any others the inclination owing to their fear. [19] In the second place we ought assuredly to remember the lesson which we learned from this same Mithridates at the beginning of the Asiatic war, since we were taught it through disaster. For, coinciding with the loss by many people of large fortunes in Asia, we know that there was a collapse of credit at Rome owing to suspension of payment. ** It is, indeed, impossible for many individuals in a single State to lose their property and fortunes without involving still greater numbers in their own ruin. Do you defend the commonwealth from this danger; and believe me when I tell you - what you see for yourselves - that this system of credit and finance which operates at Rome, in the forum, is bound up in, and depends on capital invested in Asia; the loss of the one inevitably undermines the other and causes its collapse. Bethink you, therefore, whether you should hesitate to throw yourselves with the utmost enthusiasm into a war to defend the honour of your name, the wellbeing of your allies, the most important of your revenues and - a thing in which the commonwealth is closely concerned - the fortunes of so many citizens.

[8.] L   [20] Having spoken about the nature of the war, I will now say a few words about its magnitude. For it may be urged that while the war is by its nature so necessary that we must engage in it, it is not of such magnitude that we need greatly fear it ; and in this connexion my chief task lies in persuading you not to underestimate those facts for which you need to make most careful provision. Now in order to make it plain that I ascribe to Lucius Lucullus that meed of praise which is due to a gallant soldier, a wise man and a great general, I assert that at the time of his arrival the forces at the disposal of Mithridates were enormous, furnished and equipped in every respect; that the king in person with a mighty host had laid siege to Cyzicus, the most distinguished and loyal city in Asia, and had made furious assaults upon it; and that Lucius Lucullus, by his valour, perseverance, and skill, relieved the same from the desperate perils of the siege. [21] By this same general also the mighty and well-equipped fleet which, under Sertorian leadership and fired with all the zeal of resentment, was bearing down upon Italy, was defeated and sunk; moreover, in the course of many battles he annihilated great hosts of the enemy and opened a way for our legions into Pontus, every approach to which had hitherto been closed to the Roman people. Sinope and Amisus, which contained the king's palaces and were filled to overflowing with every kind of provision, as well as countless other cities of Pontus and Cappadocia, capitulated to him on his mere approach and arrival; while the king, stripped of the kingdom that had been his father's and grandfather's before him, betook himself as a suppliant to foreign courts and foreign nations ; and all this was accomplished without danger to the allies of Rome or loss to her revenues. This, I imagine, is praise enough and such as will satisfy you, gentlemen, that no like eulogy has been passed upon Lucullus from this platform by any of those who take exception to the measure which I advocate.

[9.] L   [22] Perhaps I shall now be asked: ''How, in view of all this, can what is left of the war be of any magnitude ? " Let me tell you, gentlemen, for the question appears not unreasonable. In the first place the flight of Mithridates from his kingdom reminds us of the way in which Medea in the legend fled long ago from that same Pontus : the story goes that in her flight she scattered the limbs of her brother along the track which her father would follow in pursuit, in order that his pursuit might be checked by a father's grief as he collected the scattered remains. In the same way Mithridates left behind him in Pontus as he fled the whole of his vast store of gold and silver and all his treasures - both those which he had inherited and those which he had himself accumulated in his kingdom as the spoils of all Asia taken during the former war. While our soldiers were too carefully engaged in collecting all this, the king himself slipped through their hands. And so, in the eagerness of pursuit, Aeetes ** was delayed by his sorrow, our troops by their joy. [23] Mithridates meanwhile, a panic-stricken fugitive, found a welcome with Tigranes, king of Armenia, who comforted his despair, raised his drooping spirits and restored his ruined fortunes. On the arrival of Lucullus and his troops in Armenia, yet other nations rose against our general; for fear had fallen upon those peoples whom Rome had never intended to attack in war or even to disturb: besides which, a strong and fanatical belief had become general among the barbarous nations that our army had been directed to those regions in order to loot a very wealthy and much-venerated temple. In this way many great peoples were roused to action by a new feeling of terror and alarm. Our own army, moreover, despite their capture of a city from the kingdom of Tigranes and their successes in battle, began to feel the extreme remoteness of their position and to long for home. [24] Now I do not propose to say more about that: for the end of it was that our soldiers were more anxious for an early return from these regions than for a further advance. Mithridates meanwhile had rallied his own following and was aided by large bodies of foreign auxiliaries from many kings and peoples. For we recognise how very generally it happens that the fallen fortunes of kings easily attract the pity of many able to help them, and especially of those who are either kings themselves or the dwellers in a kingdom, as they are likely to hold the name of king in the greatest awe and veneration. [25] The result was that he seemed able to accomplish more after his defeat than ever he dared hope before it. For on his return to his kingdom, not satisfied at having, beyond all his hopes, reached that land once more after being driven out of it, he attacked our army, despite its reputation and its victories. At this point, gentlemen, allow me to use the licence customary with poets writing of Roman history and to pass over our disaster, of which the magnitude was such that it was no messenger from the battle but the rumour of the countryside which brought the tidings of it to the generals ears. [26] Here in the very hour of disaster and of a most serious reverse, because you thought that, out of deference to old precedent, some limit should be set to his long tenure of command, Lucullus - a man who might perhaps have been able in some measure to repair these losses - was by your orders compelled to disband a part of his troops, who had served their time, and to hand over a part to Manius Glabrio. There is much that I leave out on purpose: you must supply the omission for yourselves and realise what magnitude this war must have attained when it is waged in concert by two most powerful kings, renewed by tribes in ferment, taken up by fresh nations and entrusted, after the defeat of the old army, to a new Roman general.

[10.] L   [27] I think I have said enough to show why this war is by its nature necessary and in its magnitude dangerous: it remains, I think, to speak of the choice of a general to direct the war and of his appointment to a command of such importance.

I only wish, gentlemen, that you had so large a supply of brave and upright men as to make it difficult for you now to decide whom to put in charge of these great issues and of this great war! But as it is, since Gnaeus Pompeius stands alone as one whose merit has surpassed in glory not only his contemporaries but even the annals of the past, what consideration exists such as to cause anyone to hesitate at this juncture? [28] For I consider that a perfect general must possess four attributes - knowledge of warfare, ability, prestige, and luck. Who, then, ever possessed or had reason to possess more knowledge of warfare than Pompeius - a man who left school and the studies of boyhood to join his father's army and study war in a serious campaign against formidable foes ** ; who when hardly more than a boy served as a soldier in an army commanded by a great general, and in early manhood was himself a general in command of a large army ; who has done battle more often with his country's enemies than any other man has quarrelled with his own, fought more campaigns than other men have read of, discharged more public offices than other men have coveted ; who, in his youth, learned the lessons of warfare not from the instructions of others but from the commands he held himself, not by reverses jn war but by victories, not through campaigns but through triumphs? In short, what manner of warfare can there be in which the vicissitudes of his country have not afforded him experience ? The civil war, the wars in Africa, Transalpine Gaul and Spain, the Slave war and the Naval war, ** wars different in type and locality and against foes as different, not only carried on by himself unaided but carried to a conclusion, make it manifest that there is no item within the sphere of military experience which can be beyond the know ledge of Pompeius.

[11.] L   [29] Moreover, to the ability of Gnaeus Pompeius what words can be found to do justice? What tribute can anyone pay other than what would be unworthy of him, stale to you and familiar to everybody? For the qualities proper to a general are not only those which are commonly supposed to be so - application to duty, courage in danger, thoroughness in operation, rapidity in execution, wisdom in strategy - qualities which are possessed in greater measure by Pompeius alone than by all other generals whom we have seen or heard of. [30] Italy ** is my witness, which, as the great conqueror, Lucius Sulla himself admitted, was set free by the able co-operation of Pompeius. Sicily ** is my witness, which, beset on every side with numerous perils, was released not by the terror of his arms but by the swiftness of his strategy. Africa ** is my witness, which, overwhelmed by great hosts of the enemy, was drenched with the blood of the same. Gaul ** is my witness, through which a way was opened into Spain for our legions by the utter destruction of the Gauls. Spain ** is my witness, which many a time beheld countless foes by him conquered and laid low. Italy ** is my witness again and again, which, when in the throes of the shameful and perilous Slave war, sought aid from him though far away and saw that war reduced and brought low by the expectation of his coming, dead and buried on his arrival. [31] Nay, every region is my witness and every foreign nation and people, and lastly every sea, ** both in its whole expanse and in the separate creeks and harbours of its coasts. For what position on the whole sea-board during those years was either so strongly defended as to be secure or so well hidden as to escape notice ? Who sailed the seas without exposing himself to the risk either of death or of slavery, sailing as he did either in the winter or when the sea was infested with pirates ? Who ever supposed that a war of such dimensions, so inglorious and so long-standing, so widespread and so extensive, could be brought to an end either by any number of generals in a single year or by a single general in any number of years? [32] What province did you keep free from the pirates during those years? What source of revenue was secure for you? What ally did you protect? To whom did your navy prove a defence? How many islands do you suppose were deserted, how many of your allies' cities either abandoned through fear or captured by the pirates ?

[12.] L   But why do I remind you of events in distant places? Time was, long since, when it was Rome's peculiar boast that the wars she fought were far from home and that the outposts of her empire were defending the prosperity of her allies, not the homes of her own citizens. Need I mention that the sea during those wars was closed to our allies, when your own armies never made the crossing from Brundisium save in the depth of winter? Need I lament the capture of envoys on their way to Rome from foreign countries, when ransom has been paid for the ambassadors of Rome? Need I mention that the sea was unsafe for merchantmen, when twelve lictors have fallen into the hands of pirates? [33] Need I record the capture of the noble cities of Cnidus and Colophon and Samos and of countless others, when you well know that your own harbours and those, too, through which you draw the very breath of your life, have been in the hands of the pirates? Are you indeed unaware that the famous port of Caieta, when crowded with shipping, was plundered by the pirates under the eyes of the praetor, and that from Misenum the children of the very man who had previously fought there against the pirates ** were kidnapped by the pirates? Why should I lament the reverse at Ostia, that shameful blot upon our commonwealth, when almost before your own eyes the very fleet which had been entrusted to the command of a Roman consul was captured and destroyed by the pirates? Great Heavens! Is it possible that the incredible, the superhuman genius of a single man has in so short a time illumined the darkness which beset his country, that you, who but lately saw with your eyes a hostile fleet before the Port of Tiber, now hear the news that there is not a pirate ship within the Portal of Ocean? [34] The rapidity with which this feat was accomplished you all know, but I cannot omit to mention it in my speech. For who, however eager for the transaction of business or the pursuit of gain, has ever succeeded in visiting so many places in so short a time or in accomplishing such long journeys at the same speed with which, under the leadership of Pompeius, that mighty armament swept over the seas? Pompeius, though the sea was still unfit for navigation, visited Sicily, explored Africa, sailed to Sardinia and, by means of strong garrisons and fleets, made secure those three sources of our country's corn supply. [35] After that he returned to Italy, secured the two provinces of Spain together with Transalpine Gaul, dispatched ships to the coast of the Illyrian Sea, to Achaea and the whole of Greece, and so provided the two seas of Italy with mighty fleets and strong garrisons ; while he himself, within forty-nine days of starting from Brundisium, added all Cilicia to the Roman Empire. All the pirates, wherever they were, were either captured and put to death or they surrendered to his power and authority and to his alone. Again, when the pirates of Crete sent envoys to him as far as Pamphylia to plead their cause, he did not rob them of the hope that he would accept their surrender but demanded hostages. And so this war, so great and so protracted, so far and so widely extended, a war which pressed so heavily upon all nations and peoples, was by Gnaeus Pompeius organised at the end of winter, started at the beginning of spring, and finished by the middle of summer.

[13.] L   [36] Such is his superhuman and unbelievable genius as a commander. As for his other qualities of which I began to speak a little while since, how great and how numerous they are! For in a general of the highest and most perfect type we must not look for military genius alone. For there are many notable qualities which support and go with it. First, how great is the integrity needed by a general ; and again, what self-control in every department ; what trustworthiness, what condescension ; what a brain and what a heart! Let us briefly review these qualities as they are found in Gnaeus Pompeius. For they are all to be found in him, gentlemen, and in the highest degree, though they may be recognised and appreciated better when contrasted with those of other men than when regarded simply by themselves. [37] For what general can we hold in any sort of esteem when in his army the appointment of centurions is for sale and has been sold? How can we attribute a great and lofty conception of patriotism to the sort of man who has been induced, by his ambition to become a governor, to divide among the magistrates the money issued to him from the treasury for the conduct of a campaign or, by his avarice, to leave it on interest at Rome? Your groans, gentlemen, show that you recognise the men who have done these things : for my part, I mention no names, so that no one can feel resentment against me unless he would admit that the cap fits. Who then does not know how great is the ruin which, owing to this avarice on the part of our generals, is caused by our armies in every place to which they go? [38] Think of the tours which of late years our generals have made in Italy itself through the lands and the towns of Roman citizens, and then you will more easily judge what, it seems, are their practices among foreign peoples. Which do you think have been more frequently destroyed during late years - the cities of your enemies by your soldiers' arms or the territories of your friends by their winter quarters? No commander can control an army who does not control himself, nor can he be a strict judge if he is unwilling that others should judge him strictly. [39] Are we surprised, then, to find Pompeius so far superior to other commanders, when they tell of his arrival in Asia with his legions that no one who had laid down his arms suffered injury either from any act of violence done by that great army or even from its passage ? And further, the way in which our soldiers behave in winter quarters is shown by the tidings and the letters which reach us daily: so far from any man being compelled to incur expense on a soldier's account, no man is allowed to do so even if he would. For our forefathers desired that the roofs of their allies and friends should be a shelter against the winter, not a refuge for avarice.

[14.] L   [40] And further, consider the moderation which he displays in other ways as well. Where do you suppose he found the secret of that great rapidity of his, that amazing speed of movement? For it was not in his case the unusual strength of his oarsmen or any undiscovered secret of navigation or some new wind that bore him so swiftly to the ends of the earth : it was rather that those things which delay most other men did not keep him back. Avarice did not entice him from his appointed course to plunder of any kind, nor appetite to indulgence, nor pleasant prospects to enjoyment, nor the fame of any city to sight-seeing, nor, indeed, even toil to the taking of rest ; and finally, the statues and pictures and other treasures of Greek towns which most men think themselves entitled to carry off, he did not think fit even to look at. [41] Now, therefore, everyone in those regions regards Gnaeus Pompeius not as an emissary from this city but as an angel from heaven : now at last they begin to believe that there once existed Romans of like self-control, though foreign nations were beginning to think such a thing incredible, a mere mistaken legend: now does the brightness of your empire begin to shed the light of hope upon those races: now they begin to realise that their forefathers were not without reason in preferring, at a time when we had magistrates of like moderation, to serve Rome rather than to rule others. Moreover, it is said that he is so easy of access to ordinary people, so open to hear their complaints of wrongs done them by others, that he whose greatness surpasses that of princes appears in accessibility the equal of the lowest. [42] His powers in counsel, the weight and eloquence of his oratory, which is characterised by the dignity appropriate to a commander, you have often had occasion, gentlemen, to judge for yourselves in this very place. As for his word of honour, how greatly, think you, must it be valued by his allies, when all his enemies, of whatever race, have adjudged it inviolable? Then, too, such is his humanity that it were hard to say whether his enemies have more feared his valour when fighting against him or welcomed his clemency when vanquished. And will any man hesitate to transfer the conduct of this great war to the man who seems to have been sent into the world by Providence to bring to a conclusion all the wars of our time ?

[15.] L   [43] Now prestige also is of great importance in the conduct of wars and in the exercise of a military command ; and no one doubts, I am sure, that the commander I have mentioned is pre-eminent in this direction too. Who, indeed, is unaware how enormously important to the conduct of a campaign is the opinion held about our generals by the enemy and by the allies? For we know that in such crises people are led to feel fear or scorn, love or hatred, by fancy and rumour as much as by any process of reasoning. What name, then, in the whole world has ever been more famous? Whose achievements are comparable to his? On whom beside have you ever bestowed that which above all else confers prestige, namely, such great and signal proofs of your esteem? [44] Think you indeed that there was anywhere a coast so desolate that no tidings reached it of that great day on which the entire Roman People, thronging into the forum and filling every temple that commands a view of this platform, demanded the appointment of Gnaeus Pompeius alone to be their general in a world-war? And so, without going on to prove by the examples of other men how great is the influence of prestige in war, let me quote Pompeius once again as an example of every form of distinction: on the day on which you appointed him to take command in the Naval war, his name alone and the hopes which it inspired caused a sudden fall in the price of wheat, after a time of extreme dearth and scarcity in the corn supply, to as low a level as could possibly have been reached after a long period of peace and agricultural prosperity. [45] And now, after the disaster in Pontus resulting from the battle to which I reluctantly referred a short time ago, since our allies were panic-stricken, the enemy fortified in resource and resolution, and the province possessed of no adequate garrison, you would have lost Asia, gentlemen, unless, at the critical moment, the good fortune of Rome had providentially directed Gnaeus Pompeius to the spot. His arrival restrained Mithridates, who was elated by the unusual experience of victory, and checked Tigranes, who was threatening Asia with great forces. Who, then, will be found to doubt what his valour will accomplish when his prestige has accomplished so much, or how easily he will secure the safety of our allies and our revenues by the armies under his command when he has secured their defence merely by the reputation of his name?

[16.] L   [46] Again, how great is the prestige of Pompeius among the enemies of Rome is shown by the fact that within so short a space of time, he alone received the surrender of them all, coming as they did from regions so distant and so far apart; moreover, although there was a Roman general with his army in Crete, ** to find Pompeius the Cretan envoys went almost to the ends of the earth, and said that it was to him that all the states of Crete wished to make their surrender. What? Did not this very Mithridates send an envoy to Spain, once more to Gnaeus Pompeius? (For as an envoy Pompeius always regarded him ; though people who were annoyed at his being sent expressly to Pompeius chose to regard him as a spy rather than an envoy.) And so you are now in a position to make up your minds how great, think you, will be the effect upon the kings in question, how great upon foreign nations, of a prestige like this, heightened by many sub sequent achievements and by signal proofs of your esteem.

[47] It remains for me to speak - though guardedly and briefly, as is fitting when men discuss a prerogative of the gods - on the subject of good luck, which no man may claim as his own, but which we may remember and record in the case of another. For in my opinion Quintus Fabius the Great, Marcellus, Scipio, Marius, ** and other great generals were entrusted with commands and armies not only because of their merits but not infrequently because of their good fortune. For some great men have undoubtedly been helped to the attainment of honour, glory, and success, by a kind of Heaven-sent fortune. And as for the good luck of the man whom we are now discussing, I shall speak of it with such reserve as to convey the impression that, without claiming good fortune as his prerogative, I am both mindful of the past and hopeful for the future, and to avoid appearing by what I say either to show ingratitude or to cause offence to the immortal gods. [48] And so I do not intend to proclaim his great achievements in peace and war, by land and sea, nor the great good luck that has attended them, in that his wishes have always secured the assent of his fellow-citizens, the acceptance of his allies, the obedience of his enemies, and even the compliance of wind and weather ; but this I will briefly assert, that no one has ever been so presumptuous that he dared hope in his heart for such great and such constant favours from Heaven as those which Heaven has bestowed upon Gnaeus Pompeius. That this good luck may always and especially be his, gentlemen, should be, as it is, your earnest hope, both for his own sake and equally for the sake of our commonwealth and our empire. [49] Wherefore, since this war is both of such importance that it cannot be neglected and of such magnitude that it must be conducted with the utmost care ; and since you have it in your power to put in command of it one who possesses remarkable knowledge of warfare, exceptional capacity, brilliant prestige, and unusual good fortune, do you hesitate, gentlemen, to employ for the protection and advancement of the State, this great blessing which Heaven has bestowed and conferred upon you?

[17.] L   [50] If, indeed, Pompeius were at this time in Rome and a private citizen, you would still be bound to select him and send him to this great war. But as it is, when his other great qualifications are coupled with the advantage that he is on the very spot, that he has an army of his own, and that he can immediately take over other armies from those that have them, what are we waiting for ? Why should we not follow the guidance of Heaven and entrust this Mithridatic war as well to the same man to whom other issues have been entrusted to the great advantage of the State?

[51] But it will be said that this view is opposed by no less distinguished a patriot than Quintus Catulus, who enjoys the most honourable proofs of your esteem, and, moreover, by a man endowed with the highest gifts of position and fortune, character and intellect, Quintus Hortensius. ** I admit that the opinion of those men has had on many occasions and ought to have the greatest weight with you; but in the case before us, although you will find that the opinions of some brave and illustrious men are ranged against me, we can set opinions on one side and arrive at the truth by a consideration of the actual facts, and the more easily because even my opponents admit the truth of all that I have said hitherto, namely, that the war is a necessary one and a great one, and that Pompeius alone is possessed of all the highest qualifications. [52] What then says Hortensius ? That if one man is to be put in supreme command, the right man is Pompeius; but that supreme command ought not to be given to one man. That line of argument is now out of date, refuted not so much by words as by the event. For it was you yourself, Quintus Hortensius, who, with all your consummate eloquence and unrivalled fluency, both denounced that courageous man, Aulus Gabinius, in a weighty and brilliant speech before the Senate, when he had introduced a measure for the appointment of a single commander against the pirates ; and also from this platform you spoke at length against the same measure. [53] Now I ask you in Heaven's name - if on that occasion the Roman People had thought more of your opinion than of their own welfare and their true interests, should we to-day be in possession of our present glory and our worldwide empire? Or could our empire be said to have existed at a time when Roman envoys, quaestors, and praetors were taken prisoners; when we were de barred from communication both private and public with any one of our provinces ; when every sea was so completely closed to us that we were actually unable to transact either our private or our public business overseas ?

[18.] L   [54] Was there ever a state in times past - I do not mean Athens, whose sea power is said to have been quite extensive, nor Carthage, strong as she was in her navy and in sea-warfare, nor Rhodes, the skill and reputation of whose seamen has survived to our own times - but was there ever in the past, I say, a state so weak, an island so small as to be unable by her own resources to defend her own harbours, her fields and a portion of the sea and of the coast? And yet it is an absolute fact that for some years consecutively before the law of Gabinius the great People of Rome, who down to our own times kept their reputation as invincible on the sea, were deprived of a great, nay, of much the greatest part of what belonged not only to their interests but also to their position as an imperial power. [55] We, whose forefathers overcame at sea King Antiochus and Perses, ** who defeated in every naval engagement a people so experienced and so well equipped in naval requirements as the Carthaginians, we, I say, were on no occasion able to hold our own against the pirates. We who in former days, besides keeping the whole of Italy safe, were able to guarantee the safety of all our allies in the farthest coasts by the prestige of our empire - in the days when, for instance, the island of Delos, ** though set so far away from Rome in the Aegean sea, and visited by all men from every country with their merchandise and their cargoes, packed though the island was with riches, small though it was and defenceless, had nothing to fear - we, I repeat, were kept from making use not only of our provinces, the sea-coasts of Italy and our own harbours, but even of the Appian Way! And yet at such a time the magistrates of Rome were not ashamed to mount this very platform, though our forefathers had left it to us adorned with naval trophies and the spoils of conquered fleets! ** [19.] L   [56] The Roman People realise your good intentions, Quintus Hortensius, and those of others who supported your view, in expressing your sentiments ; but that did not prevent this same Roman People from being guided by their own resentment rather than by your opinion where the common weal was at stake. And the result was that one law, one man, and one year not only set you free from that distress and that reproach, but also brought it to pass that you seemed at last in very truth to be holding empire over all nations and peoples by land and sea. [57] And this in my opinion makes still more ungracious the opposition which has hitherto been offered (whether to spite Gabinius or Pompeius, or, as is nearer the truth, both of them) to the urgent request of Pompeius that Gabinius should serve as his legate. ** Is it that he who demands to have the man of his choice as his lieutenant for this great war is not a fit person to gain his request, though other generals have, in order to pillage the allies and despoil the provinces, taken with them as their legates those whom they have chosen; or that the very man by whose law the safety and honour of the Roman People and of all nations was established, ought himself to have no share in the glory of the general and the army sent into the field by his advice and at his peril? [58] Or again, while Gaius Falcidius, Quintus Metellus, Quintus Caelius Latinensis and Gnaeus Lentulus (all of whom I mention with respect) were able to serve as legates to a general the year after they had been tribunes of the plebs, is such scruple to be shown only with regard to Gabinius, who, in the case of this war which is carried on under the Gabinian law, and of this general and army which, through your vote, he sent into the field himself, was even entitled to special privilege? I hope that the consuls will bring the question of his appointment before the Senate: if they hesitate or demur, I protest that I will do so myself; ** and neither shall I be prevented by the malicious ruling of any magistrate from maintaining, in reliance upon your support, the right and privilege conferred by you, nor will I brook any interference save a veto; and the very tribunes who threaten to apply it will, I think, reflect more than once how far they may go. In my personal opinion, gentlemen, Aulus Gabinius alone is associated with Pompeius in the achievements of the Maritime war; in that the one, by means of your vote, entrusted to a single commander the conduct of that war and the other brought to a conclusion the war whose conduct had been entrusted to him.

[20.] L   [59] It remains, I think, that I should speak of the opinion expressed by Quintus Catulus. When he asked you on whom you would set your hopes if anything should happen to Gnaeus Pompeius, in the event of your staking everything upon him, he received a great tribute to his own high character and position when almost with one accord you all asserted that you would set your hopes upon himself. For he is indeed a man of such capacity that, whatever were the magnitude or the difficulty of an undertaking, his wisdom could direct it, his uprightness secure it and his ability bring it to a conclusion. But in this particular instance I most vehemently disagree with him; because the more uncertain and the more ephemeral human life is, the greater is the obligation upon the State to take advantage of the ability of a great man during his lifetime while Heaven allows it. [60] But, I am told, "Let no innovation be made contrary to usage and the principles of our forefathers." I forbear to mention here that our forefathers always bowed to precedent in peace but to expediency in war, always meeting fresh emergencies with fresh developments of policy: I forbear to mention that two mighty wars, those against Carthage and against Spain, were brought to an end by a single commander and that the two most powerful cities, Carthage and Numantia, which more than any others constituted a menace to our empire, were both alike destroyed by Scipio. ** I forbear to remind you that, more recently, you and your fathers decided that the hopes of this empire should be reposed in Gaius Marius alone, and that he should direct successive wars against Jugurtha, the Cimbrians, and the Teutones. [61] As for Gnaeus Pompeius, in whose case Quintus Catulus desires that no new precedent should be established, call to mind how many new precedents have already been established in his case with the entire approval of Quintus Catulus.

[21.] L   What so novel as that a mere youth, holding no office, should raise an army at a time of crisis in the State? Yet he did raise one. Or that he should command it? Yet he did command it. Or that he should achieve a great success under his own direction? Yet he did achieve it. What so contrary to custom as that one who was little more than a youth and far too young to hold senatorial rank should be given a military command and be entrusted with the province of Sicily and Africa and the conduct of a campaign there? He displayed in the performance of these duties remarkable integrity, dignity and capacity: the campaign in Africa, a very serious one, he brought to an end and led his army home victorious. What, indeed, so unheard of as that a Roman knight should hold a triumph ? Yet even that the Roman People not merely witnessed but thought fit to attend, and to join in celebrating it with universal enthusiasm. [62] What so unprecedented as that, though there were available two distinguished and valiant consuls, a Roman knight should be sent in place of a consul to a great and perilous war? Yet he was sent. And on that occasion, though there were not a few in the Senate who said it was not right to send a private citizen in the place of a consul, Lucius Philippus is said to have remarked: "I give my vote to send him not in place of a consul {proconsul} but in place of both consuls !" So great were the hopes reposed in him of a successful administration, that the function of two consuls was entrusted to the capacity of one youth. What so unparalleled as that he should be exempted from the laws by a decree of the Senate and be made a consul before he would have been entitled by the laws to hold any lower office? What so incredible as that a second triumph should be awarded by a decree of the Senate to a Roman knight? All the departures from precedent which, since history began, have been made in individual cases, are less in number than these which our own eyes have seen in the case of this one individual. [63] And all these important and striking innovations were brought about in favour of Pompeius on the initiative of Quintus Catulus and the other honourable men of the same rank.

[22.] L   Let them beware therefore lest it be unjust and unendurable that, as concerns the high deserts of Gnaeus Pompeius, their authoritative judgement has been approved by you, but that your judgement about the same man and the authority of the Roman People should be disapproved by them - and that, too, when now in the case of Pompeius the Roman People is able of its own right to defend its own authority against all the world, inasmuch as, despite the outcry raised by the same people then as now, you chose Pompeius as the one man above all others whom to invest with the conduct of the Pirate war. [64] If you did this inadvisedly and with too little care for the interests of the country, those men are right in trying to temper your enthusiasm by their counsel; but if it was you, rather, who at that time had a clear eye for the needs of the country, you who, in their despite and by yourselves alone, brought honour to our empire and safety to the world, these great ones should at last admit that they and all other men must bow to the authority of the Roman People.

Moreover, in this war against an Asiatic monarch, not only those military qualities are needed which are so peculiarly to be found in Gnaeus Pompeius, but other great and numerous moral qualities as well. It is difficult for a general of ours to be engaged in Asia, Cilicia, and Syria and the kingdoms of the interior without entertaining a thought save of the enemy and of glory. Again, even though there be those to whom a sense of decency and self-control teaches some degree of moderation, no one credits them with such qualities owing to the rapacity of so many others. [65] Words cannot express, gentlemen, how bitterly we are hated among foreign nations owing to the wanton and outrageous conduct of the men whom of late years we have sent to govern them. For in those countries what temple do you suppose has been held sacred by our officers, what state inviolable, what home sufficiently guarded by its closed doors? Why, they look about for rich and flourishing cities that they may find an occasion of a war against them to satisfy their lust for plunder. [66] I would gladly discuss the matter personally with eminent and distinguished men like Quintus Catulus and Quintus Hortensius ; for they know the sufferings of our allies, they see their ruin and they hear their groans. Do you imagine that when you send an army, it is to defend our allies and attack the enemy - or to use the enemy as an excuse for attacking your allies and friends? What state in Asia is sufficient to contain the arrogance and insolence of one military tribune, not to say of a general or his legate ? **

[23.] L   Wherefore, even if you possess a general who seems capable of vanquishing the royal army in a pitched battle, still, unless he be also capable of withholding his hands, his eyes, his thoughts from the wealth of our allies, from their wives and children, from the adornments of temples and of cities, from the gold and treasure of kings, he will not be a suitable man to be sent to the war against an Asiatic monarch. [67] Do you imagine that any state has been "pacified" and still remains wealthy, that any state is wealthy and seems to some men "pacified" ** ? The coastal regions, gentlemen, were led to ask for the appointment of Gnaeus Pompeius not only by his reputation as a soldier but also by his power of self-control; for they saw that the governors, all but a few, were making fortunes every year out of the public funds, and that we were achieving nothing by our so-called fleets save that we seemed by our defeats to be incurring yet deeper disgrace. The avarice that to-day inspires a governor's departure for his province, the sacrifices and the bargaining that it entails, are, it would seem, unknown to those who think that supreme command ought not to be given to one man: as though indeed it were not obvious that Pompeius owes his greatness not to his own merits alone but also to the demerits of other men. [68] Then hesitate no longer to entrust supreme command to this one man, the only general found in all these years whose allies rejoice to receive him and his army into their cities.

But if you think, gentlemen, that my cause needs the support of authority, you have the authority of one who is thoroughly experienced in all manner of wars and important affairs, even Publius Servilius, whose achievements by land and sea are so conspicuously great that no man's authority ought to carry greater weight with you when deliberating on a question of war. You have the authority of Gaius Curio, raised by your favour to the highest offices, distinguished at once by his splendid achievements and by his consummate ability and foresight. You have the authority of Gnaeus Lentulus, in whom you have all had occasion to appreciate, as befitting the high offices which you have bestowed upon him, the highest degree of wisdom and dignity ; and of Gaius Cassius, who is so remarkable for the uprightness, the nobility, and the firmness of his character. Behold, then, what answer the authority of these men enables us to make to the arguments of those who oppose us !

[24.] L   [69] Since this is so, Gaius Manilius, in the first place I applaud and most heartily commend this your law, your purpose and your proposal; and in the second I exhort you, with the authority of the Roman People behind you, to stand by that proposal undeterred by the violence or the threats of any man. In the first place I realise that you possess in yourself enough of spirit and of resolution, and in the second, seeing how great and enthusiastic is this multitude which we here behold assembled a second time to confer a fresh appointment on Pompeius, what doubt can we entertain either of the proposal itself or of our ability to carry it through? For my own part, whatever of devotion, wisdom, energy, or talent I possess, whatever I can achieve by virtue of the praetorship which the favour of the Roman People has conferred upon me, or by virtue of my own influence, loyalty, and determination, all this I promise and devote to you and to the Roman People for the achievement of our purpose ; [70] and I call all the gods to witness - most especially the guardians of this hallowed spot who clearly see into the hearts of all who enter upon public life - that I am acting thus neither in deference to any man's request nor with any idea of winning for myself by my support of this cause the favour of Gnaeus Pompeius, nor in the hope of gaining for myself from any man's high position either protection from dangers or aids to advancement; for dangers, so far as a man may guarantee, I shall readily repel in the security of innocence, and advancement will come to me, if such is your good pleasure, not through the favour of any one man nor through speeches delivered from this platform, but as the reward of a life now as ever devoted to hard work. [71] Wherefore any effort I may have made in this cause, gentlemen, I protest has been made in the cause of my country ; and far from seeming to have sought any popularity for myself, I am aware of having even incurred many enmities, some overt and some secret, which I might have avoided, though not without some detriment to you. But I have made up my mind that, invested as I am with this high office and enjoying the great reward of your goodwill, it is my duty to place your wishes, the honour of the State, and the well-being of our provinces and allies above any advantages and interests of my own.


1.(↑)   Praetors were elected by the Comitia Centuriata. Cicero received the votes of all the centuries and was thus elected first: the voting for the other vacancies was still going on when the interruption (probably by violence) took place.

2.(↑)   i.e. the Roman province of Asia, which at this time consisted of Phrygia, Mysia, Caria, and Lydia.

3.(↑)   Bithynia was bequeathed to Rome in 75 B.C.

4.(↑)   i.e. Sertorius.

5.(↑)   Against the Illyrian pirates, 229 B.C.

6.(↑)   In 146 B.C.

7.(↑)   Manius Aquilius.

8.(↑)   e.g. by the Achaean League which insulted the Roman envoys, 147 B.C.

9.(↑)   i.e. Glabrio.

10.(↑)   At the beginning of the second century B.C.

11.(↑)   The first Punic War, 264-241 B.C.

12.(↑)   In 88 B.C.

13.(↑)   Father of Medea.

14.(↑)   i.e, in the Marsian war, 89 and 88 B.C.

15.(↑)   The war against the pirates, 67 B.C.

16.(↑)   In 83 B.C.

17.(↑)   In 81 B.C., when Pompeius recovered Sicily from the Marian general Carbo.

18.(↑)   In 81 B.C., when Pompeius defeated at Utica a combination between the Marian generals and the king of Numidia.

19.(↑)   In 76 B.C., when he cleared from the passes of the Alps the Gauls who supported Sertorius.

20.(↑)   In 72 B.C. he ended the war against Sertorius.

21.(↑)   In 71 B.C. he defeated Spartacus.

22.(↑)   In 67 B.C. he destroyed the pirates.

23.(↑)   Probably Marcus Antonius, the orator (see the Pro Cluentio, § 140), who defeated the pirates in 103 B.C. and whose daughter (liberi!) was kidnapped and held to ransom.

24.(↑)   i.e. Quintus Metellus, with whom Pompeius had an undignified quarrel over this incident.

25.(↑)   Quintus Fabius Cunctator, who saved Rome from Hannibal; Marcus Claudius Marcellus, the conqueror of Syracuse in 212 B.C.; Scipio Aemilianus the younger, who destroyed Carthage in 146 B.C. and Numantia in 133 B.C. ; Gaius Marius, who defeated Jugurtha in 106 B.C. and the Cimbri and Teutones in 101 B.C.

26.(↑)   Quintus Hortensius was Cicero's great rival as an orator and pleader. They appeared on opposite sides at the trial of Verres, 70 B.C., after which Cicero was acknowledged to be supreme.

27.(↑)   Antiochus was defeated in 190 B.C. and Perses in 168.

28.(↑)   Delos owed its commercial importance to its situation as a "half-way house" between Europe and Asia, its excellent harbour and the security offered by its temple. It became still more important when Corinth was destroyed by the Romans in 146 B.C.

29.(↑)   The Rostrum was so called because it was adorned with the "beaks" of ships captured in the war against Antium in 338 B.C.

30.(↑)   Gabinius, as the proposer of the Lex Gabinia to which, as the Lex Manilia had not yet been passed, Pompeius owed his imperium, was debarred by law from holding any office created by his own proposal.

31.(↑)   As praetor, Cicero had the right to bring a motion before the Senate; but this was subject to the veto of an equal or superior magistrate.

32.(↑)   See note on § 47.

33.(↑)   A Roman official when travelling through his province was attended by a retinue propanonate to his rank: the retinue, as well as the official, had to be entertained by the provincials.

34.(↑)   'Pacata' is a sarcastic euphemism: the provincial governor never thought a state was sufficiently reduced until he had stripped it bare. 'Istis' ("yonder men") is rhetorical, as though the speaker were pointing to his opponents.

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