Cicero : Pro C.Rabirio Perduellionis Reo

This speech was delivered for C. Rabirius, who was charged with treason in 63 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 is not my habit, fellow-citizens, to begin a speech by explaining the reason why I am defending a particular individual - for I have felt that, in the case of any citizen, the peril in which he stands is enough to constitute a true bond between us - none the less, in defending, as I now am, the life, the honour and the fortunes of Gaius Rabirius, I consider it my duty to lay before you an explanation of my services to him; because the reasons which make me feel it my duty to defend him ought also to make you feel it yours to acquit him. [2] For my part, then, while the friendship which I have long enjoyed with my client, the high position which he occupies and the practice which I have followed all my life incline me to defend him, considerations of the public welfare, my duty as a consul, ** nay, the very office of consul which, together with the public welfare, you have committed to my charge, compel me to exert in his defence the utmost zeal. For it is not guilt attaching to his misdemeanour nor odium incurred by his life nor even a deep and natural resentment long felt against him by private citizens ** which have brought Gaius Rabirius to trial for his life: it is rather an attempt to abolish from the constitution that chief support of our imperial dignity handed down to us by our forefathers, to make the authority of the Senate, the power of the consuls, the concerted action of good citizens impotent henceforward to combat the curse and bane of our country, which, in the process of overturning those institutions, has prompted this attack upon my client - old, infirm, and friendless as he is. [3] Wherefore if it is the duty of a good consul, when he sees everything on which the state depends being shaken and uprooted, to come to the rescue of the country, to aid in securing the welfare and the fortunes of the public, to plead for the loyal support of the citizens, and to set the public welfare before his own; it is also the duty of good and courageous citizens, such as you have shown yourselves to be at every crisis in our history, to block all the approaches of revolution, to strengthen the bulwarks of the Republic and to hold supreme the executive power of the consuls, the deliberative power of the Senate, and by your verdict to declare that he who has followed their guidance deserves praise and honour rather than condemnation and punishment. [4] Therefore, while the task of defending Rabirius falls primarily to me, an earnest desire to save him will be your duty as much as mine.

[2.] L   For you should realise, gentlemen, that never within the memory of man has any project more important, more dangerous, more in need that all of you should guard against it, been undertaken by a tribune of the people, resisted by a consul, and referred to the Roman people. For this case, gentlemen, is nothing less than an attempt to secure that there be henceforward no general council in the state, no concerted action of good citizens against the frenzy and audacity of wicked men, no refuge for the Republic in emergencies, no security for its welfare. [5] Since this is so, I, as in duty bound where a man's life and honour and all his fortunes are at stake, first beg of most high and mighty Jupiter and all the other immortal gods and goddesses by whose help and assistance the Republic is directed rather than by the counsel and deliberation of man, to grant me their grace and favour ; and I pray that by their will this day that has dawned may see the salvation of my client and the establishment of our constitution. And next I beg and beseech you, gentlemen, whose power is second only to that of divine Providence, to remember that to your hands and to your votes are committed at one and the same time the life of the hapless and innocent Gaius Rabirius and the welfare of the Republic; and accordingly to display your usual clemency in dealing with the fortunes of the prisoner, your usual wisdom in securing the well-being of the Republic.

[6] And now, Titus Labienus, since you have put a check on my industry by shortening the time at my disposal and have cut down the appropriate and customary period for the defence to the narrow limits of a single half-hour, ** I must submit to injustice in yielding to the terms of the prosecution and to misfortune in deferring to the prerogative of an enemy. In thus confining me to half an hour, you have left me my part as an advocate but have robbed me of my part as a consul ; for the time at my disposal, though almost long enough for my defence, will be too short for my protest. [7] Or perhaps you expect me to reply at length to the charge of violating holy places and groves which you have brought against my client ; though you had not a word to say in support of it except that this charge was brought against him by Gaius Macer. And in this connexion I am amazed that you should have remembered the charge which his enemy Gaius Macer brought against my client and forgotten the verdict which impartial judges returned upon their oath. [3.] L   [8] Or am I to produce a long speech upon the charge of peculation or of the burning of public records? Of this charge Gaius Curtius, a relative of Gaius Rabirius, was, by an illustrious bench of judges and as was to be expected from his character, most honourably acquitted ; while as for Rabirius himself, so far from his having been brought to trial on these charges, not a word has ever been said to cause the slightest suspicion to attach to him. Or must I be careful to reply about his sister's son, whom you say my client murdered with a view to using the death of a member of the family as a plea for the stay of proceedings ? ** What? Is it likely that he would have been fonder of his sister's husband ** than of her son, and so much fonder that he would have cruelly murdered the son in order to provide the husband with a postponement of his trial merely for two days ? Or is there much left for me to say about his having infringed the Fabian law by detaining another man's slaves, or the Porcian law by scourging or killing Roman citizens, when all Apulia honours him with so much enthusiasm and Campania with such remarkable goodwill ** ; when, to avert his peril, not only individuals but whole districts, almost, have assembled, actuated by an interest too widespread to be attributed to mere neighbourly feeling ? Or why should I prepare a long speech in answer to the point which was laboured on that same occasion when it was proposed to fine Rabirius ** - I mean the statement that he had respected neither his own chastity nor that of others? [9] Actually, I suspect that the reason why Labienus cut down my time to half an hour was to prevent my enlarging on the topic of chastity ! And so, as for the charges which demand my labours as an advocate, you realise that the half hour which you have allowed me has proved more than long enough : it was the other part of my speech dealing with the death of Saturninus, that you desired should be reduced and curtailed ; and that part stands in crying need, not of a pleader's skill but of a consul's intervention.

[10] Now as for your constant allegation that I have abolished the procedure for High Treason, that is a charge against me, not against Rabirius. Nay, gentlemen, would that it were I who was either the first or the only man to have abolished it from our country! I would that, though Labienus makes it a charge against me, I might appropriate it as evidence of my glory. For what is so greatly to be desired that I should prefer it to the claim of having in my consulship abolished the executioner from the forum, the cross from the Campus ** ? But that glory, gentlemen, belongs in the first place to our forefathers who, when they drove out the kings, retained among a free people no trace of their cruel ways ; and in the second place to many brave men who intended that your liberty should not be made offensive by savage punishments but safeguarded only by mild laws.

[4.] L   [11] Which, then, of us two, Labienus, is the people's friend? You, who think it right to threaten Roman citizens even in the midst of their assembly with the executioner and with bonds ; who, on the Campus Martius, at the Assembly of the Centuries, ** in that holy place, give orders for the construction and erection of a cross for the punishment of citizens ; or I, who refuse to allow the assembly to be defiled by contact with the executioner; who assert that the forum of the Roman people must be purified from those traces of hideous crime, who urge against you the need to keep the assembly undefiled, the Campus holy, the person of every Roman citizen inviolable, the rights of a free people unimpaired ? [12] What a friend of the people is our tribune, what a guardian and defender of its rights and liberties ! The Porcian law forbade the rod to be used on the person of any Roman citizen : this merciful man has reintroduced the scourge. The Porcian law wrested the liberty of the citizens from the lictor : Labienus, the friend of the people, has handed it over to the executioner. Gaius Gracchus carried a law forbidding sentence to be passed on the life of a Roman citizen without your consent: this friend of the people has illegally secured without your consent, not indeed that the Duumvirs should put a Roman citizen on trial, but actually that they should condemn him to death without his case being heard. [13] Do you really dare to talk to me of the Porcian law or the law of Gaius Gracchus ** or of any other friend of the people, after having attempted, not merely by the use of unwonted punishments but by the unparalleled cruelty of your language, to violate the liberty of this people, to put their clemency to the test, to alter their traditions? For those phrases of yours which, being a merciful man and a friend of the people, you are so fond of, such as "Lictor, go bind his hands," are foreign not only to Roman liberty and clemency but even to Romulus ** or Numa Pompilius : Tarquinius, haughtiest and most cruel of tyrants, provides your torture-chamber with those mottoes which, like the gentle soul, the people's friend that you are, you delight to record, such as "Veil his head, hang him to the tree of shame." Such phrases, I say, have long since disappeared from our state, overwhelmed not only by the shadows of antiquity but by the light of Liberty.

[5.] L   [14] Again, if your favourite procedure were in the people's interest, if it contained any measure of justice or of right, would Gaius Gracchus have neglected it? Doubtless you felt a deeper grief at the death of your uncle ** than Gaius Gracchus at that of his brother; ** and to you the death of this uncle whom you had never seen was more painful than was to Gracchus the death of the brother with whom he had lived on such affectionate terms ; and you are avenging your uncle in the same way as he would have sought to requite the death of his brother if he had consented to act on your principles; and this uncle of yours, this Labienus, whoever he was, left behind him among the Roman people a regret no less deep than Tiberius Gracchus had left. Or had you a greater sense of duty than Gracchus? Or greater courage? Or greater resource ? Or greater wealth? Or a greater position? Or greater eloquence? Had these attributes been found in him only to a very slight degree, they would pass as great indeed when compared with your abilities! [15] But inasmuch as Gaius Gracchus possessed all those attributes to a greater degree than any other man, how great a gulf do you then suppose to be fixed between you and him? And yet Gaius Gracchus would have died a thousand cruel deaths rather than that the executioner should stand in an assembly of his; while the censors' regulations ** are so framed as to cut off such a man not merely from using the forum but from beholding our horizon, breathing our air or living in our city. Is this the man who dares to style himself a friend of the people and me an enemy of your interests, though he has hunted out all these cruel punishments, this cruel language, not from what you and your fathers can remember but from the records of the Annals, the Archives of the Kings ; ** while I, with all my resources, by all my counsels, by my every word and deed, have combated and resisted his savagery ? Unless perchance you wish your prospect to be one which would be utterly intolerable to slaves if some hope of liberty were not held out to them. [16] How grievous a thing it is to be disgraced by a public court ; how grievous to suffer a fine, how grievous to suffer banishment ; and yet in the midst of any such disaster some trace of liberty is left to us. Even if we are threatened with death, we may die free men. But the executioner, the veiling of the head, and the very word "cross" should be far removed not only from the person of a Roman citizen but from his thoughts, his eyes and his ears. For it is not only the actual occurrence of these things or the endurance of them, but liability to them, the expectation, nay, the mere mention of them, that is unworthy of a Roman citizen and a free man. Or shall it be said that while a kind master, by a single act of manumission, frees a slave from the fear of all these punishments, we are not to be freed from scourgings, from the executioner's hook, ** nor even from the dread of the cross by our achievements, by the lives we have led or even by the honours you have bestowed upon us? [17] So, then, I admit, nay, Labienus, I avow and I boast, that it is by my counsel, my determination, my influence that you have been forced to abandon a procedure which is cruel, savage, and more suited to a tyrant than a tribune. And although in seeking to impose this procedure you have set aside all precedent, all laws, all the authority of the Senate, all scruples imposed by religion, all constitutional observance of the auspices, still not a word of all that shall you hear from me in the short time that is at my disposal. We shall have an unrestricted opportunity later for discussing those points. **

[6.] L   [18] For the present let me deal with the charge relating to Saturninus and the death of your illustrious uncle. You maintain that Gaius Rabirius killed Lucius Saturninus, a charge which Gaius Rabirius has previously, on the evidence of many witnesses in the course of his most ample defence by Quintus Hortensius, proved to be false. But for my part, if I were undertaking his defence anew, I would brave this charge: I would admit it, I would plead guilty to it! Would that my case gave me the chance to proclaim that my client's was the hand that struck down that public enemy, Saturninus! The outcry that I hear does not perturb me, nay, it consoles me ; for it shows there are some uninstructed citizens but not many. Never, believe me, would the Roman people, who stand here in silence, have made me consul, did they suppose that I should be disconcerted by your outcry. How much diminished is your clamour now ! Nay, you repress the murmurs which would denounce your folly and reveal your isolation. [19] Gladly, I say, would I admit - if I could do so with truth or even if I were opening the defence anew - that it was my client's hand which struck down Saturninus, and I should consider it a most glorious achievement; but since I am debarred from so doing, I will admit what is less relevant to his credit but equally relevant to the charge against him. I admit that Gaius Rabirius took arms for the purpose of killing Saturninus. Well, Labienus, what more important admission on my part, what weightier charge against my client are you expecting me to make, unless, perhaps, you imagine that there is some difference between him who killed a man and him who was armed for the purpose of killing a man? If the killing of Saturninus was a crime, the taking of arms against Saturninus cannot but have been a wrongful act : if you agree that the taking of arms was lawful, you must also agree that the killing was lawful.

{ One page is lacking in the oldest manuscript. }

[7.] L   [20] The Senate passed a decree ** that the consuls, Gaius Marius and Lucius Valerius, should summon such tribunes of the people and praetors as they thought fit, and should take measures to preserve the imperial majesty of the Roman people. They summoned all the tribunes except Saturninus, all the praetors except Glaucia: those who desired the safety of the Republic they ordered to take arms and follow them. Everyone obeyed. Arms were taken from the public buildings and arsenals and, under the direction of the consul, Gaius Marius, distributed to the Roman people. ** Now, at this point I confine myself to putting to you personally, Labienus, one question : seeing that Saturninus was in armed possession of the Capitol and with him Gaius Glaucia, Gaius Saufeius, yes, and the ex-convict and gaol-bird Gracchus, ** and, as you insist upon it, I will add that your uncle Quintus Labienus was there too; while in the forum were the consuls, Gaius Marius and Lucius Valerius Flaccus, followed by the entire Senate (such a Senate, moreover, as even you, in order to increase your chance of slandering the present Senate, are wont to praise) seeing that the order of Knights - and what Knights they were, by Heaven ! - which in those days played an important part in politics and was invested with the entire dignity of the law courts, ** had taken up arms, and so indeed had all men of every order who held that their own well-being was bound up with the wellbeing of the Republic ; what, I ask you, was Rabirius to do? [21] Once again, I ask you personally, Labienus: seeing that it was the consuls who, acting on a decree of the Senate, had issued the call to arms; that Marcus =Scaurus=Aemilius, ** the president of the Senate, had taken his stand in the Assembly with arms in his hand (for though he could hardly set foot to the ground, he thought that his lameness would be no hindrance to him in pursuit but only in flight) and that Quintus Scaevola, ** hampered though he was by old age, incurably ill, disabled, crippled, and infirm in every limb, was displaying as he leaned upon his spear at once his mental vigour and his bodily weakness: seeing that Lucius Metellus, Servius Galba, Gaius Serranus, Publius Rutilius, Gaius Fimbria, Quintus Catulus and all the men at that time of consular rank had taken arms to defend the common safety : seeing that all the praetors and all the nobles of military age were hastening to join them, including Gnaeus and Lucius Domitius, Lucius Crassus, Quintus Mucius, Gaius Claudius and Marcus Drusus: seeing that all who bore the names of Octavius, Metellus, Julius, Cassius, Cato, or Pompeius; that Lucius Philippus and Lucius Scipio ; that Marcus Lepidus and Decimus Brutus; that Publius Servilius, here, the very man under whose command you served, Labienus; ** that Quintus Catulus, here, who was then quite a young man; that Gaius Curio, here, and indeed every man of distinction, was with the consuls ; what, I ask you, was the right course for Gaius Rabirius? Was he to remain hidden in close concealment, shielding his cowardice behind the protecting walls of his house or the darkness of night? Was he to make his way into the Capitol and there herd with your uncle and others who were seeking to find in death a refuge from the dishonour of their lives? Or was he to unite with Marius, Scaurus, Catulus, Metellus, and Scaevola, in fact with all good citizens, in a communion not only of safety but also of peril ?

[8.] L   [22] And you, yourself, Labienus - what should you have been doing in such a time of crisis? When the promptings of indolence were driving you to flight and concealment, when the wickedness and madness of Lucius Saturninus were inviting you to the Capitol, when the consuls were calling you to the defence of your country and to freedom, whose authority, whose voice, whose party should you have preferred to follow, whose orders to obey? "My uncle," he says, "was with Saturninus." Well, and with whom was your father? What of the Knights, your kinsmen ? What of all the men of your prefecture, your district, your neighbourhood? Did the whole of Picenum follow the madness of a tribune or the authority of the Senate? [23] For my part I maintain that what you are now proclaiming about your uncle, no one has ever yet admitted about himself : no one, I say, has yet been found so worthless, so abandoned, so bereft of decent feeling, nay, of any pretence to such feeling, as to admit that he was in the Capitol with Saturninus. But you say, your uncle was there. Well, suppose he was; and suppose he was there, not because his ruined fortunes and his private calamities left him no choice, but because his intimacy with Saturninus led him to put his friend before his country - was that therefore a reason why Gaius Rabirius should desert the Republic, why he should not take his place in that host of good citizens assembled under arms, why he should not obey the command and the authority of the consuls? [24] As a matter of fact, the circumstances clearly gave him three choices : either to join Saturninus, or to join the good citizens or to hide. To hide was as bad as to die a shameful death: to join Saturninus was an act of madness and of crime: virtue and honour and decency demanded that he should join the consuls. Do you then make it a charge against Rabirius that he joined those whom he would have been mad to oppose, infamous to abandon?

[9.] L   But take the case of Gaius Decianus, whom you are so fond of quoting : ** he was condemned because - while with the entire approval of all good citizens he was accusing Publius Furius, a man notorious for every kind of infamy - he dared to lament in the course of his speech the death of Saturninus. And Sextus Titius also was condemned for having a portrait of Saturninus in his house. The Roman Knights by their verdict on that occasion branded as a worthless citizen, unfit to remain in the citizen body, anyone who, by keeping the portrait ** of a man whose sedition made him a public enemy, either did honour to his death or, by exciting the pity of the uninstructed, caused them to regret him or showed an inclination on his own part to imitate such villainy. [25] And so I find it difficult to imagine where you, Labienus, found the portrait which you have here. For since the condemnation of Sextus Titius no one has been found with the courage to have such a thing in his possession. Had you been told of this incident or been old enough to know about it, I am sure you would never have paraded on the platform of a public assembly a portrait like that, which, when merely placed in his house, brought ruin and exile on Sextus Titius, and you would never have driven your bark upon those rocks on which you had seen the ship of Sextus Titius dashed in pieces and the fortunes of Gaius Decianus completely wrecked.

But throughout this whole case, ignorance is your stumbling-block. For in bringing into court a cause which was dead before you were born, a cause in which you would certainly have been involved if you had been old enough, [26] do you not realise in the first place who are the men, how distinguished the citizens, whom you are accusing, now that they are dead, of a monstrous crime ; and again, how many still alive you are bringing by this same charge into the utmost peril of their lives? For if Gaius Rabirius incurred the guilt of a capital crime in taking up arms against Lucius Saturninus, yet he at all events might hope to urge in extenuation his youth at the time ; but as for Quintus Catulus, the father of our Catulus, in whom were combined great wisdom, high character, and unequalled humanity ; as for Marcus Scaurus, whose dignity, judgement, and far-sightedness were famous; as for the two Scaevolas, ** as for Lucius Crassus and Marcus Antonius who at the time was stationed on guard outside the city, ** all of them preeminently the leading men in the country both in judgement and ability ; and as for other men of equal eminence, the guardians and the rulers of the state - how shall we defend them now that they are dead ? [27] What shall we say of the Roman Knights, most honourable men and best of citizens, who on that occasion combined with the Senate in defence of the Republic; or of the tribuni aerarii ** and the men of all other classes who on that occasion took up arms to defend the common liberty ?

[10.] L   But why do I speak of all those who obeyed the authority of the consuls? What will befall the reputation of the consuls themselves? Shall Lucius Flaccus, ** who always showed the most scrupulous care both in his political career and in the conduct of the civil and religious offices of which he was in charge, be condemned, now that he is dead, as guilty of the hideous crime of murder? Shall the name of Gaius Marius also be branded with the infamy of that killing? Shall Gaius Marius whom we may in very truth entitle the father of his country, the parent, I say, of your liberties and of our state, be condemned by us, now that he is dead, as guilty of the hideous crime of murder ?

[28] Indeed, if Titus Labienus has thought fit to erect a cross on the Campus Martius for Gaius Rabirius because he took up arms, what punishment shall be devised for the man who summoned him to arms ? And if, as you are so fond of asserting, a promise of safety was given to Saturninus, it was not Rabirius but Marius who gave it ; and Marius, too, who broke it if it was not kept. How could such a promise have been given, Labienus, without a decree of the Senate? ** Are you such a stranger to this city, so ignorant of our traditions and our custom, as not to know this, till we get the impression that you are a visitor in a foreign country, not a magistrate in your own? [29] "What harm," says he, "can all this do to Gaius Marius now, since he is dead and cannot feel?" But is that true? Would Gaius Marius have lived a life of so much toil and danger if he had had no hope, no thought, of winning for himself a glory more lasting than his mortal life? Nay, I suppose that when, on the soil of Italy, ** he had routed the countless hosts of the enemy and delivered the city from a siege, he imagined that all his achievements would perish with himself! It is not true, gentlemen: there is not one of us who, in the hours of his country's peril, is led to play his part with credit and with valour save by the hope that posterity will reward him. And so among the many reasons which lead us to think that the souls of good men are divine and immortal, the chief is this, that the spirits of our best and wisest men look forward to the future with a gaze fixed only on eternity. [30] Therefore do I call to witness the souls of Gaius Marius and all other wise and good citizens, whom I believe to have left behind the life of men and passed to the holy and sacred estate of the gods, that I feel it my duty to contend no less in defence of their honour, their glory and their memory than I would for the temples and shrines of my country ; and that if I needed to take arms to defend their renown, I would do so not less vigorously than they did when they took up arms to defend the common liberty. Narrow indeed, gentlemen, are the bounds within which Nature has confined our lives, but those of our glory are infinite. [11.] L   And so it follows that in doing honour to those who have passed away, we shall thereby be making our own prospect in death more favourable.

But even if you are regardless, Labienus, of those whom we can see no longer, do you hold that nothing should be done for those whom you do see? [31] I declare that of all those who were in Rome on that day - the day that you are now haling to judgement - not one who was of age failed to take arms and follow the consuls. Every one of those at whose conduct on that occasion you can arrive by a computation of their age, is, in the person of Gaius Rabirius, by you impeached upon a capital charge. You say that Gaius Rabirius killed Saturninus. Would that he had! I should not then be trying to save him from punishment but should be claiming his reward. Indeed, if Scaeva, the slave of Quintus Croton, who did kill Lucius Saturninus, was granted his freedom, what reward could have been fittingly bestowed upon a Roman Knight? And if Gaius Marius, for having given orders to cut the pipes which supplied water to the Temple and shrine of most High and Mighty Jupiter, and for having, on the Capitoline Hill . . . **

{ The following Fragments were first published by Niebuhr, who discovered them in a palimpsest ms. in the Vatican Library. }

[12.] L   . . . [32] And so, in its handling of that case at my instance, the Senate was not more particular or more severe than were all of you when by your attitude, your hands, and your voices you refused to accept the proposal to divide the world, nay, you refused to accept the actual territory of Campania. ** . . .

[33] That which I cry aloud, I proclaim, I publish abroad is the same as does he who is responsible for this trial: ** no king is left, no nation, no tribe to cause you fear: there is no evil from outside, of other's causing, that can make its way into our country : if you desire that country to be immortal, if you desire our empire to be eternal and our glory everlasting, it is against our own passions that we must be on our guard, against men of violence and revolutionaries, against evils from within, against plots devised at home. [34] But against these evils your forefathers have left you a great protection in the consuls power to pronounce the words "Let those who desire the safety of the Republic. . . ." **

Cherish this pronouncement, gentlemen, and never by a verdict of yours take from me . . . nor snatch from the Republic its hopes of freedom, of safety, and of honour.

[35] What should I do if Titus Labienus, like Lucius Saturninus, caused a massacre of the citizens, broke from prison, ** seized the Capitol with an armed force ? I should do as Gaius Marius did. I should bring a motion before the Senate, exhort you to defend the Republic and take arms myself to oppose, with your help, an armed enemy. But as it is, since there is no thought of arms, no weapon to be seen, no violence, no slaughter, no siege of the fortress of the Capitol, but a baleful prosecution, an envenomed trial - the whole amounting to an attack upon the Republic by a tribune - I felt my duty to lie not in summoning you to take up arms but in exhorting you to give your votes against this assault upon your sovereign majesty. And so I now beg you, beseech you, and exhort you all: not thus is it our custom, when . . .

[13.] L   [36] . . . is afraid: he who, facing the foe, has received these scars, these marks of valour, in his country's cause, trembles lest he receive any wound upon his honour. He whom the assaults of the enemy have never succeeded in dislodging from his post, now trembles at the onset of his fellow-citizens before which he cannot but give way. [37] Nor does he ask you now to grant him a happy life but only an honourable death: his endeavour is less to secure that he may enjoy his home, than that he may not be deprived of burial with his fathers. That is now his one petition, his sole prayer, save also this, that you do not deprive him of lawful obsequies and the right to die at home: that you suffer him to die within that country for whose sake he has never shunned any peril of death.

[38] I have now spoken as long as I am allowed by the tribune. I hope and pray that you will regard this my speech for the defence as having fulfilled my duty both as an advocate to the requirements of my friend and as a consul to the welfare of my country.


1.   Cicero was consul in the year of this trial, 63 B.C.

2.   This may refer merely to the resentment felt against him by Labienus owing to the death of his uncle or, as Mommsen thinks, to other deeds of violence committed by Rabirius. (Compare § 7 and 8 below.)

3.   Labienus could do this through his right as a tribune to veto any public proceeding.

4.   It was still held by Ulpian (third century A.D.) that this circumstance excused a man from performing any public act.

5.   i.e. the Curtius mentioned above : it is not possible to say what this trial was about.

6.   It is probable that Rabirius had estates in both districts.

7.   A tribune could hale an offender before the Assembly (Comitia Tributa) whose judicial powers were, however, limited to the infliction of a fine.

8.   Crucifixion always took place outside the City on the Campus Martius.

9.   The Comitia Centuriata, owing to its military origin, met on the Campus Martius.

10.   Gaius Gracchus, one of the greatest of Roman democrats, was killed in 121 B.C. owing to his attempt to carry out the reforms proposed by his brother, Tiberius, who had been killed in similar circumstances twelve years earlier.

11.   Romulus and Numa Pompilius were the first two kings of Rome and were regarded as the founders respectively of the City and of its religious institutions. Tarquinius, the last, was surnamed Superbus and finally expelled in 510 B.C. for his tyranny.

12.   i.e. Quintus Labienus. The word 'vester' suggests that T. Labienus was supported in the prosecution by one or more of his cousins: 'vester' was not used for 'tuus' till long after Cicero's time.

13.   i.e. Tiberius Gracchus.

14.   The censors, as superintendents of the Public Works, assigned quarters to the "public slaves," who included the executioners.

15.   It is impossible to say what "Chronicles" are referred to: the "Archives" must have been forgeries.

16.   It was fastened in the necks of condemned criminals in order to drag them along.

17.   This may hint either at a further hearing of Rabirius's case or at Cicero's intention to bring Labienus to trial subsequently.

18.   i.e, the Senatus Consultum Ultimum.

19.   It is probable that private citizens were not allowed to keep arms.

20.   His real name was Equitius.

21.   The Order of Knights was given this privilege by Gaius Gracchus in 123 B.C. and deprived of it by Sulla in 81 B.C.

22.   Marcus Aemilius Scaurus, a leader of the senatorial party much admired by Cicero, is said to have supplanted Saturninus in some government appointment and thereby to have thrown him into the arms of the extremists.

23.   Quintus Mucius Scaevola, surnamed the augur, to distinguish him from his kinsman the pontifex maximus. Both were great jurists.

24.   In a campaign against the pirates of the south-west coasts of Asia Minor.

25.   Nothing else is known of him save that Valerius Maximus describes him as well known for his integrity : perhaps that was why Labienus so often quoted him as an authority.

26.   An imago was, properly speaking, the cast of a man's face, his death-mask.

27.   See footnotes to § 21.

28.   Marcus Antonius, a famous orator, was stationed outside the city to prevent the country people coming to the rescue of Saturninus.

29.   Who they were or how they came to constitute an ordo is not known: under the law of Cotta, 70 B.C., they shared with senators and knights the right to sit on juries.

30.   'The colleague of Marius in the consulship for 100 B.C.

31.   No such decree would have been necessary, as all such powers were already bestowed on the consuls by the Senatus Consultum Ultimum.

32.   Refers to the defeat of the Cimbri by Marius at Vercellae, 101 B.C.

33.   Here occurs a lacuna in the manuscripts.

34.   This refers to the recent proposal of Rullus to invest a commission of ten (from whose number Pompeius was expressly excluded) with extraordinary powers to purchase land in Italy, and particularly in Campania, for the settlement of colonies, the money to be provided by the recent conquests in Asia. The opposition of the Senate, voiced by Cicero, had resulted in its withdrawal.

35.   This may mean either Labienus or Caesar.

36.   This power was based on the Senatus Consultum Ultimum.

37.   This may be a reference to the pseudo-Gracchus, who was imprisoned by Marius but released by the mob.

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