Cicero : Philippic 7

This speech was delivered against Marcus Antonius, in January 43 B.C.

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

[1.] L   [1] We are consulted, conscript fathers, on a small, but perhaps an imperative, subject; the consul makes a motion about the Appian Way and the Mint, the tribune about the Luperci. The arrangement of such matters seems an easy one, yet the mind, being in suspense because of greater cares, wanders from the question in debate. For things have been brought, conscript fathers, into the greatest peril, and almost into an extreme crisis. It is not without cause that I have always feared, and never approved, that sending of the envoys. What their return is likely to bring us I do not know; but who does not see what a supineness of mood the waiting for them induces? For there is no holding back among those who lament that, in the hope of recovering its ancient authority, the Senate is renewing its youth, that the Roman people is in alliance with this our order, that Italy co-operates, that our armies are prepared, and our commanders ready. [2] Even now they invent replies from Antonius, and defend them. Some allege that he demands the dismissal of all armies. Of a surety we have sent envoys to him, not that he should obey and give ear to the commands of this body, but that he should offer terms, impose laws, and bid us throw Italy open to foreign nations! and that too while he is himself safe, from whom greater danger is to be dreaded than from any nations.

[3] Others allege he resigns to us Hither Gaul, and demands for himself the Further. Very fine! so that from it he may attempt to march to the city, not merely legions, but even nations. Others that his demands are now wholly modest. Macedonia he calls his own entirely since his brother Gaius has been recalled from it. ** But what province is there out of which that firebrand cannot raise a conflagration ? So these same advocates, in the rôle of foresighted citizens and diligent Senators, say that I have sounded the trumpet of war : they take on themselves the defence of peace. Don't they argue thus? "Antonius should not have been provoked; he is a worthless man and a headstrong; there are many unscrupulous men besides" - those that say this can begin their count with themselves - and it is against them that they warn us to take precautions. Which course then, when you are dealing with traitorous citizens, shows the more prudent caution? to punish them when you can, or to be afraid of them? **

[2.] L   [4] And those who say this are men who, on account of their levity, were formerly called democrats {populares} ** . From this it can be understood that in their hearts they abhorred the sound constitution of the State, and were not democrats from inclination. For how does it happen that men who were democrats in the case of wrong measures, in a matter especially democratic, as tending also to the safety of the State, yet prefer to be unscrupulous rather than democratic? As for myself, though I have always been, as you know, opposed to the rashness of the crowd, this most excellent cause has made me a democrat. [5] And indeed they are called, or rather they call themselves, consulars; a name of which no man is worthy that cannot by his conduct support so honourable a title. Are you, Sir, to favour the enemy? Is he to send you letters about his hopes of success? Are you joyfully to produce them, read them aloud, even hand them to dishonest citizens to copy; are you to strengthen their spirits, to weaken the hopes and the virtue of loyal men, and yet deem yourself a consular, or a Senator, nay, even a citizen? Caius Pansa, our most gallant and excellent consul, will take in good part what I say. For with the most friendly feelings I shall say this: Even in his case, despite our close intimacy, unless he were such a consul as devoted all his vigilance, his cares, his thoughts to the safety of the State, I would not account him a consul. [6] Although from his opening manhood acquaintance, habit, association too and affinity with me in the most honourable pursuits have bound us together, and his astonishing promptitude, fully proved in the sternest perils of civil war, has shown him to be the protector, not only of my life, but also of my honour, yet, as I have said, if he were not such a consul, I would venture to say he is no consul. But I say he is not merely a consul, but also, of all those I remember, the most illustrious and loyal consul. Not that others have not been of the like virtue and inclination, but they had no such great opening for showing their inclination and virtue; [7] upon him, with his greatness of mind, strength of character and wisdom, has been brought the storm of a most perilous crisis. And a consulship is then ennobled when it is taking the helm of the State, if not at a time to be wished for, yet at an urgent time. And more urgent, conscript fathers, no time has ever been.

[3.] L   I, therefore, who have always been a promoter of peace, and to whom peace, above all domestic peace, however dear to all loyal men, has been pre-eminently dear - for the whole course of my activity has been spent in the forum, in the Senate-house, in repelling danger from my friends; from this source I have won the fullest honours, moderate wealth, and such rank as I possess - [8] I then, the nursling, so to speak, of peace, who certainly would not have been even such as I am - I arrogate nothing to myself - without domestic peace - I speak at my peril: I shrink from the thought how you will take it, conscript fathers, but, considering my unfaltering desire to maintain and to increase your dignity, I ask, I beseech you, conscript fathers, however bitter or incredible it may be to hear it said by Marcus Cicero, first to take without offence what I shall say, and not to reject it before I explain its meaning - I - I will say it again - l, who have always been the panegyrist, always the promoter of peace, refuse to support a peace with Marcus Antonius. I enter with great hope upon the rest of my speech, conscript fathers, as I have passed by amid your silence the most dangerous point.

[9] Why then do I refuse to support peace? Because it is disgraceful, because it is dangerous, because it is impossible. ** And while I explain these three propositions, I ask you, conscript fathers, to hear my words with your usual kindness.

What is more disgraceful, not only in individuals, but especially in the Senate as a body, than inconsistency, fickleness, and unsteadiness? What, moreover, is more inconsistent than suddenly to wish for the making of peace with a man whom you have just now by many decrees, not in word only, but in fact, adjudged an enemy? [10] But perhaps, when you decreed honours to Caius Caesar, honours that were indeed his desert and his due, but none the less were extraordinary and ever memorable, for the single reason that he has got together an army against Marcus Antonius, you did not then adjudge Antonius an enemy ? and Antonius was not then adjudged an enemy when by your authority the veteran soldiers that had followed Caius Caesar were commended? and you did not then adjudge Antonius an enemy when to gallant legions, because they had deserted a man who was called a consul though he was an enemy, you promised exemptions from service, money, and lands?

[4.] L   [11] Again, in the case of Brutus, a man born under some augury of his race and name for the liberation of the State, and of his army waging war with Antonius for the liberty of the Roman people, and of the most faithful and loyal province of Gaul, when you honoured them with the most generous praise, did you not then adjudge Antonius an enemy? Again, when you decreed that the consuls, one or both of them, should set out to war, what was the war if Antonius was not an enemy? [12] Why then has that bravest of men, my colleague and friend, Aulus Hirtius, the consul, set out? and in spite of what weakness, what waste of body! But the infirmity of his body did not slacken the vigour of his mind ; he thought it right, I suppose, to risk on behalf of the liberty of the Roman people the life that had been preserved through their prayers. [13] Again, when you commanded levies to be held throughout all Italy, when you withdrew all exemptions from service, was he not adjudged an enemy then? You see in the city forges of arms ; soldiers sword in hand follow the consul; they are a guard in appearance for the consul, in fact and truth for us; all men, without any excuses, with the greatest enthusiasm even, are giving in their names ; they submit to your authority. Has not Antonius been adjudged an enemy ?

[14] "But we have sent envoys." Alas, unhappy me! why am I forced to chide the Senate which I have always praised? What! do you think, conscript fathers, you have made the dispatch of envoys acceptable to the people? do you not understand, do you not hear, that it is my policy that is demanded? The day before you accepted it in a crowded session, the next day ** it was to an empty hope of peace you were cast down! Moreover, how disgraceful it is that legions ** should send envoys to the Senate, and the Senate to Antonius! And yet that is not an "embassy" ; it is a solemn warning that his doom is determined if he shall fail to obey this body. What does it matter? What the public thinks is yet the more serious thing ; for that envoys have been sent all men see ; the terms of our decree it is not all who know.

[5.] L   We must therefore maintain our consistency, our firmness, our perseverance ; we must again assume our ancient sternness, if, that is, the authority of the Senate feels the lack of honour, of good name, of reputation and dignity, things this body has been without too long. But then in our oppression we had an excuse, a poor one indeed, yet adequate; now we have none. From kingly tyranny we seemed to have been rescued ; ** afterwards we were still harder pressed by the weapons of domestic war. ** Even those we have, it is true, parried ; they must now be wrested from the grasp. If we cannot do this - I will speak as becomes a Senator and a Roman - let us die. [15] For what a disgrace will that be to the State, what a dishonour, what a stain, that Marcus Antonius should in this body give his vote on consular benches! To say nothing of the innumerable crimes of his consulship in the city, during which he has dissipated an immense sum of public moneys, has illegally restored exiles, has hawked up and down revenues, has taken provinces out of the jurisdiction of the Roman people, has assigned kingdoms for money, has imposed on the community laws by violence, has either besieged or shut out the Senate with armed men - to say nothing of these things, I say, do you not even consider this? What a foul and outrageous crime it would be that the man who has attacked Mutina, a most staunch colony of the Roman people; has besieged a general of the Roman people, a consul elect; has devastated lands - that he should be received into that body by which he has been for these very reasons so often adjudged an enemy?

[16] But enough of disgrace. I will speak next, as I have proposed, of the danger. Though we should shrink from it less than from disgrace, yet it affects the minds of the majority of men more.

[6.] L   Will you then be able to possess assured peace when you see in the community Antonius or rather Antoniuses? But perhaps you despise Lucius; I do not despise even Gaius. But, as I perceive, Lucius will be the dominant partner ; for he is the patron of the thirty-five tribes, whose votes he took away by that law ** of his under which he shared the offices with Caius Caesar; the patron of the centuries of Roman knights, whom also he wished to be without votes; the patron of those that had been military tribunes; the patron of the Exchange {Janus Medius}. ** [17] Who will be able to bear up against this man's power, above all when he shall have also planted these same clients on the land? Who ever had as clients all the tribes? the Roman knights? the military tribunes? Do you imagine that the power of the Gracchi was greater than this gladiator's will be? whom I have called a gladiator, not in the sense in which Marcus Antonius is often so called, but in the sense of those that speak plain Latin. He fought in Asia as a murmillo. Having dressed up a comrade and friend in the trappings of a Thracian ** he cut that wretched man's throat as he was flying, but received himself, however, a tidy wound, as a scar shows. [18] If he cut a friend's throat, what will he do, when he gets the chance, to an enemy? If he did that for sport, what do you think he will do for the sake of loot? Will he not again place rascals on the jury-panels? will he not again canvass those hungry for land; will he not bewail those evicted? But as to Marcus Antonius, will he not be the man to whom in every commotion rushes a throng of profligate citizens? Let it be granted there is no one else but those now with him, and those that here openly support him, will these not be numerous enough, especially when our supporters among honest citizens have been dispersed, while his will be in attendance on his nod? For my part, I am afraid that, if to-day there shall be any mistake in our counsels, in a short time they will appear too many for us. [19] I do not refuse peace, but war clothed with the name of peace I dread much. Wherefore, if we wish to enjoy peace, we must wage war; if we reject war we shall never enjoy peace.

[7.] L   But it is your task, conscript fathers, sitting here in council to provide for the future as far ahead as possible. It is for that reason we have been posted on guard here in this watch-tower, as it were, that by our vigilance and foresight we might relieve the Roman people from fear. It is disgraceful that the world's supreme deliberative body should, especially in so patent a case, be understood to have failed in counsel. [20] We have such consuls, such keenness of the Roman people, such agreement of Italy, such commanders, such armies, that the State cannot suffer any calamity without the fault of the Senate. For my part, I shall not fail: I shall warn, predict, denounce, call ever on Gods and men to witness my sentiments; and I will not only guarantee my good faith, which perhaps may seem enough, but in a leading citizen is not enough: I will guarantee my care, counsel, and vigilance.

[8.] L   [21] I have spoken of the danger; I will show that peace cannot even be patched up, for this is the last of my three propositions.

What peace can there be, in the first place, between Marcus Antonius and the Senate? With what aspect can he regard you? With what eyes can you in your turn regard him? Who of you will not hate him? whom of you will he not hate? Come, is it only he who hates you, and you him?

What! will the besiegers of Mutina, those that held levies in Gaul, that threaten your fortunes, ever be your friends, or you theirs? Or will he take to his arms the Roman knights? for their feelings and opinion of Antonius have been unrevealed! The men who in densest ranks took their stand on the steps of Concord ; who called on us to recover our liberty; who demanded arms, military garb, war; who summoned me together with the Roman people to a public meeting - will these men love Antonius, and will Antonius keep a peace with these ?

[22] For what am I to say of the entire Roman people, who in a full and a packed forum with one mind and voice twice summoned me to address them, and displayed the utmost desire to recover their liberty ? So, whereas previously to have the Roman people on our side was the object of our prayers, we now have them as leaders. What hope then is there of any possible peace between the Roman people and the besiegers of Mutina, the men who attack a general and army of the Roman people? [23] Will there be peace with the municipia, whose great enthusiasm is recognised in the making of decrees, the supply of soldiers, and the promises of money, so that in each several town you do not fail to find a Senate of the Roman people? ** The people of Firmum should be commended by resolutions of this our body: they led the way in promising money; we ought to acknowledge with honour the conduct of the Marrucinians, who determined that those should be branded with ignominy who evaded military service. These things will soon be done all over Italy. Great will be the peace between Antonius and these men, between these too and Antonius! What greater discord can there be? and in discord peace between citizens cannot anyhow exist. [24] To say nothing of the many, there is Lucius Visidius, a Roman knight, a man especially accomplished and honourable, and as a citizen always admirable, whose watch and ward for my safety I recognised in my consulship: he not only encouraged his neighbours to become soldiers, but also assisted them with his own resources; to such a man, I say, whom we should commend by decree of the Senate, can Antonius ever be reconciled or to Caius Caesar who kept him from the city? or to Decimus Brutus who kept him out of Gaul? [25] Oh, but will he himself abate his anger, and show mercy to the province of Gaul by which he has been cast out and repudiated? You, conscript fathers, will see, unless you show foresight, a world full of hatreds, full of discords, and from these spring civil wars. Do not then wish for what cannot be, and take care in Heaven's name, conscript fathers, that you do not, in the hope of present peace, lose the peace that will endure.

[9.] L   [26] What is the object of my whole speech here? for we do not yet know what the envoys have effected. But by now we ought to be aroused, alert, ready, armed in spirit, so as not to be beguiled by some bland or submissive reply, or by a pretence of equity. He must concede all we have forbidden or enjoined before he makes any demand ; cease to attack Brutus and his army and to waste the cities and territory of the Province of Gaul; give the envoys means of access to Brutus; draw off his own army to this side of the river Rubicon, and not move it nearer the city than two hundred miles; and be under the government of the Senate and Roman people. If he shall do this we shall be able to discuss matters afresh; if he shall prove disobedient to the Senate, the Senate will not have declared war against him, he will have declared it against the Roman people.

[27] But you, conscript fathers, I remind of this: what is at stake is the liberty of the Roman people, which has been entrusted to your charge; the life and fortunes of every loyal citizen against which Antonius has long aimed an infinite avarice combined with monstrous cruelty ; your own authority which you will find destroyed unless you maintain it now; take heed you do not let loose a savage and pestilent beast now you have him confined and chained. You personally, Pansa, I remind - though you need no counsel, for you are the surest of counsellors, still even the most competent helmsmen often do receive advice in great storms from passengers - do not allow those resources, those magnificent resources that you possess, to fall away to nothing. You have such an opportunity as no one has had at any time. By the help of this firm attitude of the Senate, this zeal of the equestrian order, this eagerness of the Roman people, you have it in your power to free the State for all time from fear and from peril. On the motion submitted I agree with Publius Servilius.


1.   Caius had been illegally allotted Mac. on Nov. 28, 44 B.C. (Phil. iii. 10), and was recalled in consequence of the decree of Dec. (ibid. 15). The assignment to Marcus on June 1 was therefore claimed as having again become valid.

2.   C. means that, in the case of traitors, punishment is better than precautions.

3.   i.e. popularity-hunters, the cives populares of Phil. i. 15. C. is alluding to the friends of A. in the Senate.

4.   This passage was quoted by Pitt in the House of Commons on Feb. 3, 1800, with the substitution of "infida" for "turpis": Cobbett's Parl. Hist. 34. 1349.

5.   Jan. 4, the last day of the debate, when the fifth Phil. was delivered. The Senate had previously supported C. (Phil. vi. 3).

6.   Nothing is known of this embassy from A.'s legions.

7.   By the death of Caesar.

8.   By Antonius' presence in Rome.

9.   Giving J. Caesar the right of nominating the magistrates.

10.   For this description of L. cf. PA. vi. 5.

11.   A Thrax was a kind of light-armed gladiator generally matched with a myrmillo (as to whom cf. n. 1, p. 276): cf. Aus. Idyl. 12: Quis myrmilloni committiur aequimanus ? Thrax.

12.   i.e. there is a Parliament in every borough.

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