Cicero : Pro C.Rabirio Postumo

This speech was delivered for C. Rabirius Postumus in 54 B.C.

The translation is by N.H. Watts (1931). 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] If there is anyone, gentlemen of the jury, who thinks that Gaius Rabirius is deserving of censure for having submitted a fortune so eminently well invested and established as his own to the power and caprice of a king, ** he is at liberty to count to the support of his view not only my vote but also that of the man himself who has thus acted ; for indeed there is no one who so heartily disapproves that act as the agent thereof. Still, it is a habit of ours to gauge the wisdom of a project by its results, and while imputing foresight to the successful, to charge the unsuccessful with the lack of it. Had the king shown himself honest, Postumus would have been a monument of sagacity ; as the king has deceived him, he is pronounced the greatest of fools; in fact, it appears that wisdom to-day has come to be nothing more than guess-work.

[2] However, gentlemen, if there is anyone who thinks that Postumus's conduct - whether arising from unfounded hopes or faulty logic or, to apply the severest term possible, from pure recklessness - is deserving of rebuke, I have no objection to his so thinking ; what I do claim is that such an one, observing the relentless manner in which my client's projects have been thwarted by fortune herself, should not think it necessary to add a further bitterness to the downfall that has overtaken him. Enough to withhold the helping hand from those who have slipped through imprudence ; but to belabour them in their prostrate condition, or to add impetus to their headlong fall, is surely barbarous - the more so, gentlemen, since it is almost an instinct in the human race that members of a family which has won credit in some particular line should in that line ardently pursue distinction, seeing that the virtues of their fathers are perpetuated by the speech and recollection of the world ; so did Scipio ** emulate the military renown of Paulus ; so also did his son emulate Maximus ** ; so also Publius Decius ** was imitated by his son in the sacrificing of his life and in the very manner of his death.

[2.] L   Let us then compare, gentlemen, the great and the small. [3] In my boyhood my client's father, Gaius Curtius, ** was the gallant chief of the equestrian order and eminent among the tax-farmers; and the magnanimity that marked his business relations would not have gained such recognition from the world, had he not also been filled with a boundless philanthropy which suggested that in the acquisition of wealth he sought not so much to gratify his avarice as to find an outlet for the kindness of his heart. [4] My client was his son ; and although he had never seen his father, under the potent guidance of nature and the influence of constant talks in the household circle he was led to model himself after the parental pattern. His business interests and contracts were extensive; he held many shares in state enterprises; nations had him for creditor; his transactions covered many provinces ; he put himself at the disposal even of kings. He had previously lent large sums to this very king of Alexandria ; but in the midst of all this he never ceased enriching his friends, sending them upon commissions, bestowing shares upon them, advancing them by his wealth and supporting them by his credit. In short, by his generosity as well as by his magnanimity he reproduced the life and habits of his father.

In the meantime Ptolemy had been expelled from his kingdom, and had come to Rome - "with guileful intent," as the Sibyl said, ** and as Postumus learnt to his cost. The king was in need, and appealed to him ; and my unhappy client made him an advance - not for the first time, for he had already done so without seeing his debtor, who at that time was still in occupation of his throne. He thought the loan involved no risk, since no one doubted that the king was in process of being restored to his realm by the Senate and people of Rome. [5] But in his gifts and his loans he went rather too far, lending not his own money only but also that of his friends. A foolish thing to do: Who denies it, or who will now dare to think an act judicious which has ended in disaster ? But it is difficult, when you embark on a project with bright hopes, not to pursue it to the very end. [3.] L   His suppliant was a king; he was persistent in his application and lavish in his promises; and in the end Postumus was constrained to fear lest he might lose what he had already lent, should he impose limits to his lending. But no one was more charming than the king, no one more generously disposed than my client, with the result that he rather repented having begun the business than found it possible to break it off.

Here arises the first charge; it is alleged that the Senate has been corrupted. [6] Great heavens! Is this our much-desired strictness of the courts? Our corrupters are pleading their case ; we, the corrupted, are not pleading ours ** ! It is not for me, gentlemen, to use the present occasion for a defence of the Senate. I am, indeed, bound to defend it on all occasions - so deep is the obligation under which I stand to that order - but that is not our business to-day, nor is that matter relevant to the case of Postumus. Although money was supplied by Postumus for travelling expenses and towards providing the pomp and circumstance of a king's retinue, and although the promissory notes were made out at Gnaeus Pompeius's villa at Alba after its owner had left Rome, still it was not for the lender to inquire how the borrower spent the money he had received. His creditor was a king, not a robber; and not a king who was hostile to the people of Rome, but one for whose restoration a mandate had, as he knew, been given to a consul ** by the Senate ; not a king who had had no relations with this empire, but one with whom he had seen a treaty made on the Capitol. [7] But if it is the lender who is to blame, rather than he who has made unscrupulous use of the money that has been lent to him, then let us have sentence passed on the swordsmith and the retailer of arms rather than upon him who has used the sword to slay a fellow-citizen. Wherefore neither ought you, Gaius Memmius, ** wish to see the Senate, to maintain whose influence you have devoted yourself from youth upwards, mixed up with such a scandalous charge, nor ought I to make a defence irrelevant to our present issue. For the cause of Postumus, whatever it be, is entirely unconnected with the cause of the Senate. [8] And if I show that it is similarly unconnected with that of Gabinius, then assuredly you will not have a leg left to stand upon. [4.] L   For the question at issue to-day - the question "what has become of the money? " ** - is a sort of appendix to one which has been already decided and wherein a conviction has been given. Damages were assessed against Aulus Gabinius, but no securities were given, and the people did not realise from the sale of his property the full amount of those damages. The Julian law enacts that full restitution should be exacted from those into whose hands has passed money received from a convicted person. If this provision of the Julian law is a new one - an example of the tendency to greater strictness and severity than is found in the ancient laws - then let us also have an entirely new procedure in trials dealing with such matters. [9] But if the clause is conveyed entire and word for word not only from the Cornelian ** law but from the yet earlier Servilian law, then in the name of heaven, gentlemen, what is it that we are doing, or what is this novel principle of judicial procedure that we are foisting upon the state? The existing mode of procedure was well known to all of you, and yet, if practice is the best of teachers, there is none to whom it should be so well known as to me. I have prosecuted for extortion, I have sat as juryman, I have conducted the inquiry as praetor, I have frequently defended in such cases. There is no capacity which could afford a man an opportunity for gaining information, in which I have not acted.

Accordingly I am in a position to assert that no one was ever put upon his trial on the question "what had become of the money?" unless he had been summoned in the assessment of damages; and in such assessments ** no one was summoned save upon the depositions of witnesses or accounts of private persons or entries in municipal ledgers. [10] Consequently, when such cases were brought on, it was common for those to attend who were in some apprehension concerning themselves, and, when summoned, to contradict what had been said, if they thought fit; if however they feared to bring themselves into bad odour because the facts were fresh in mind, they chose to answer later; and by acting in this way, they very frequently gained their ends.

[5.] L   But the present procedure is entirely new and unprecedented. In the assessment the name of Postumus nowhere occurs. In the assessment, do I say ? You yourselves were lately empanelled in the case of Aulus Gabinius. Did any witness then mention Postumus? Witness, do I say ? Did the prosecutor himself? Did you, in short, in the whole course of that trial once hear the name of Postumus? [11] Postumus is then not a residuary defendant from a trial which has already been decided; no, he is a single Roman knight dragged before a court upon a charge of extortion. And on what account-books is the charge founded? On some which were not read at the trial of Gabinius. What witness supports it? One who never once summoned Postumus on that occasion. As a result of what assessment of damages? Of one in which Postumus's name was never mentioned. Under what law? Under one to which he is not amenable. **

And here, gentlemen, the matter becomes one for careful thought and for wisdom on your part ; it is what it befits you to do, not how much you may do lawfully, that you ought to keep in view. For if you ask what is lawful, you certainly have the power to remove from our society any citizen you wish. It is your voting-tablet that gives you that power; and at the same time it screens capricious misuse of that power, for no one need fear its knowledge of his guilt, should he not dread that of his own heart. ** Wherein, then, is the wisdom of the juryman shown? [12] In this, that he weighs not only what he has the power to do, but what he ought to do; and that he recollects not only how much has been placed in his hands, but also what are the limitations of his trust. You have a tablet given to you as juryman. Under what law? The Julian law dealing with extortion. And who is the defendant before the court? A Roman knight. But that order is not amenable to that law. "No," says the prosecutor, "but he is arraigned under the clause - 'what became of the money ?' " But you heard not a word against Postumus when you were empanelled upon Gabinius, not a word after Gabinius's condemnation, when you were assessing the damages against him. "But I hear much to-day," he rejoins. Postumus, then, is prosecuted under a law from the operation of which not only he himself, but his whole order, stands entirely free. **

[6.] L   [13] At this point it is not to you that I will first appeal, knights of Rome, whose prerogatives are assailed in this trial, but rather to you, senators, whose good faith towards this order is at stake - a good faith which has been displayed on many occasions in the past, and never more clearly than in the present case. For when, upon a motion being made with reference to this very inquiry by our excellent and admirable consul, Gnaeus Pompeius, a few, indeed very few, ill-natured suggestions were made that tribunes, prefects, secretaries, and all the staffs of magistrates should be amenable to this law, you - you yourselves, I say - and a full house of the Senate withstood this proposal; and although offences in many quarters had so inflamed contemporary feeling that even innocent persons were endangered, still, though you could not wholly quench the flames of hatred, you did not allow new fires to be lit beneath this order. [14] This, then, was the spirit in which the Senate acted. And you, knights of Rome, how, pray, are you to act? Glaucia, ** that shrewd but unscrupulous man, used to warn the people, when some law was being read, carefully to mark the opening phrase. If it began "Dictator, consul, praetor, master of the horse," they were to feel no concern; for they might know that it was nothing to them; but if it began "Whosoever after the passing of this law," then they were to see to it that they were not made liable to any new form of inquiry. [15] It is for you now, knights of Rome, to '' see to it." You know that, sprung as I am from your order, all my sympathies have ever been for you; not a word that I say now but springs from a deep regard and a close affection for your order. Let others attach themselves to what persons and what orders they will; it is you that I have ever cherished. I admonish you, I forewarn you, I give you full notice, while the case and its issues yet hang in the balance, I call all men and gods to witness ; while you have the power and the opportunity, beware lest you enact against yourselves and your order a burden heavier than you may be able to bear. Believe me, the insidious blight will spread - spread further than to-day you dream.

[7.] L   [16] When that powerful and illustrious tribune of the plebs, Marcus Drusus, proposed a new form of inquiry against the equestrian order, - "Should anyone receive money on account of a judicial decision," the knights of Rome openly withstood him. Why? Did they wish to be allowed so to receive money ? Far from it ; they looked upon acceptance of money in such circumstances as not merely degrading but shameful. But their line of reasoning was as follows : ** they thought that only those men should be amenable to a law who of their own free choice had followed that line of life. "The highest rung of the ladder of civic life," they reflected, "has its charm for you - the curule chair, the fasces, the supreme command, provinces, priesthoods, triumphs, and a bust to hand down one's recollection to posterity. [17] But all these are conjoined with a measure of disquiet and a more than ordinary apprehension of laws and legal proceedings. It is not that we have despised," so they argue, "the distinctions which you enjoy ; but we have pursued a life of tranquillity and retirement, which, since it is immune from office, is immune also from worry."   "Quite so," argues an opponent, "but you are a juryman just as much as I am a senator."   "True; but you sought your eminence, while mine is thrust upon me. Consequently it should be open to me either to decline to act as juryman, or to be exempt from the operation of a law to which senators are amenable."

[18] Will you, knights of Rome, abandon this privilege which you have inherited from your fathers? I warn you not to do so. Men will be wafted into these courts upon every breeze of unpopularity, nay, upon every breath of spiteful rumour, if you do not take steps to prevent it. If word were to be brought to you at this moment that suggestions were being made in the Senate that you should be made amenable to these laws, you would think it your duty to rush as one man to the Senate-house ; if a law to that end were proposed, you would fly in a body to the rostra. The Senate has decreed that you should be exempted from the operation of this law ; the people has never bound you to it ; free from it you have met together here ; see to it that you do not leave this place bound hand and foot. [19] For, should it work the downfall of Postumus, who was neither tribune nor prefect, neither friend of Gabinius nor member of the staff he took overseas with him, how are those hereafter to defend themselves who, being of your order, shall find themselves implicated with the magistrates in such matters ?

[8.] L   "You," says the prosecutor, "instigated Gabinius to restore the king." My own good faith does not allow me at this point to bear hardly upon Gabinius. From bitter enmity I took him back to my friendship ; I defended him with all my zeal ; and it is not for me to attack him in his distress. If Pompeius's influence had not reconciled me to him then, his own fallen fortunes would do so to-day. [20] Still, when you allege that it was at Postumus's instigation that Gabinius went to Alexandria, while you place no credit in the pleas urged for Gabinius, do you at the same time forget your own plea for the prosecution ? Gabinius asserted that he so acted in the interests of the state ; he was afraid of Archelaus's ** fleet ; he thought that otherwise the sea would swarm with pirates; he said, moreover, that he was legally authorised so to act. You, his opponent, deny that. I pardon your denial, the more readily because the court decided against Gabinius's assertion.

I return then to the charge and to your speech for the prosecution. What was it that you kept reiterating? [21] That ten thousand talents had been promised to Gabinius. My client obviously had to look out for an exceptionally ingratiating person to prevail upon one who is, as you make out, a thorough miser not to turn up his nose at two hundred and forty million sesterces ! Whatever may have been the intention behind Gabinius's act, the intention assuredly was his own; whatever was the idea, it was Gabinius's idea. Whether glory was his object, as he asserted, or money, as you asserted, it was for himself. It was not as Gabinius's attendant or hanger-on, nor under the authority of Gabinius, who had no hand in the business, but under that of the distinguished Publius Lentulus, who had received it from the Senate, that my client had left Rome with a definite purpose and with well-grounded hopes.

[22] But it is alleged that he was Treasurer ** to the king. Yes, indeed, and the king's prisoner too; and all but had his life taken away from him. He had to put up with much else, too, which the king's caprice and force of circumstances compelled him to put up with ; and for all this he can be censured only for the single fact - that he entered the kingdom and put himself into the power of the king. If the truth must be told, it was a foolish act. What more foolish than that a Roman knight, citizen of a state which is and always has been free above all others, should go from this city to a place where he is forced to become the obedient slave of another? [9.] L   [23] But am I to make to a man of moderate attainments like Postumus no allowances for an error into which I see that the very wisest have fallen? We are told that Plato, who was easily the wisest man in all Greece, was by the wickedness of Dionysius, tyrant of Syracuse, to whom he had entrusted himself, exposed to the gravest danger and treachery ; that the wise Callisthenes, companion of Alexander the Great, was by Alexander slain; that Demetrius, ** citizen of a free state which he had administered excellently, eminent and famous for his learning - Demetrius of Phalerum I mean - was in this same kingdom of Egypt deprived of his life by having an asp applied to his body. [24] I frankly admit that no act can be more insane than deliberately to come into a place where you are likely to lose your liberty. But the defence for the folly of this act may be found in another folly previously committed, which presents his crowning act of folly - the act, I mean, of going into the kingdom and trusting himself to the king - in the light of a wise act ; if indeed it is the act not so much of one who is invariably a fool as of one who is wise too late - that, when entangled by his own folly, he should extricate himself in whatever way he can. [25] Let it be taken, then, that this act of Postumus - the act of an optimist, say the well-disposed; of a blunderer, say the prejudiced ; of a madman, Postumus himself admits - the act, I mean, of lending his own money and that of his friends to the king, to the grave peril of his own fortunes - is irrefragably and immutably fixed and established ; still, once having embarked upon and committed himself to this course, all the rest had to be faced in order that one day he might rescue himself and his friends. Reproach him therefore as much as you will, with his constant wearing of the Greek cloak, ** and with his use of some other ornaments not commonly worn by a Roman; on every occasion of your making any such allegation, you do but repeat the self-same statement - that he rashly lent money to the king, and that he trusted his fortunes and his reputation to the royal caprice. [26] He had acted rashly, I admit ; but what was done could not be undone; and either he had to don the cloak at Alexandria, in order to wear the toga at Rome, or he had to retain the toga and fling away all his fortunes. [10.] L   I have often seen not only Roman citizens but high-born youths, and even some senators of eminent family, wearing dark tunics not in their country seats or their suburban villas, but in the populous town of Naples, as a form of foppish self-gratification. [27] In the same place many saw the great general L. Sulla wearing a cloak; and you can all see on the Capitol the statue of Lucius Scipio, who conducted the war in Asia and defeated Antiochus, wearing not only a cloak but also Greek slippers. And these men were unassailed even by popular talk, let alone by judicial proceedings. Still more easily beyond question will the plea of necessity afford a defence to Publius Rutilius Rufus ** ; he, having fallen into the hands of Mithradates at Mytilene, escaped the cruelty which the king showed to all wearers of the toga by changing his apparel. That Rutilius, then, who was to our fellow-countrymen a pattern of virtue, of old-time honour, and of wisdom, and who was moreover an ex-consul, donned slippers and a cloak and none at that time imputed the blame to the man, but all to the necessity in which he found himself; and shall Postumus be arraigned for wearing a garment in which lay his sole hope of one day recovering his fortunes ?

[28] For as soon as Postumus arrived at Alexandria, gentlemen, the king proposed to him, as the sole condition under which he might retain possession of his wealth, that he should undertake the management and as it were the stewardship of the royal revenues. This he could only do by taking up the appointment of Treasurer {dioecetes} - for this was the title used by the ruler there. The business was distasteful to Postumus, but it was absolutely out of the question for him to decline ; the title too disgusted him, but it was the title attached in that country to the function, and not an invention of his own; he detested the dress as well, but without it he could retain neither the title nor the office. So, to quote our poet ** -
        he bowed to Force,
Which ever breaks and bends the mightiest power.

[29] No, he might have died, you will say ; for that is the natural alternative. And so assuredly he would have done, if, in the embarrassed condition of his affairs, he could have done so without the deepest disgrace. [11.] L   Do not, then, hold him responsible for his hard lot; do not account the outrage done to him by the king as his crime ; do not judge of his intentions by his compulsion nor of his inclination by the force to which he bowed; unless possibly you think that men who have fallen among enemies or thieves deserve severe reproof, should they act under compulsion otherwise than they would had they been free. There is not one of us but knows, even without actual experience, the ways and manners of kings. And kings give their orders thus: "Take notice and obey my word!" and "if you do aught save my behest !" - and they threaten -
If when the morrow dawns I find you here,
You will die ! **

- phrases which we ought to read and consider not with a view to idle amusement, but that we may learn to beware and keep beyond their pale.

[30] But from this very employment a further charge proceeds. The prosecutor alleges that while Postumus was raising money for Gabinius he raised for himself ten per cent of the money requisitioned. I cannot understand the meaning of this charge ; whether he made an addition of a tenth, as our collectors do with their one-per-cent, ** or deducted that amount from the total; if an addition, then eleven thousand talents came to Gabinius. But ten thousand was not only stated in your charge, but assessed by these gentlemen. [31] There is this further point: how can we suppose that, when the burden of the tribute was already so heavy, an addition of a thousand talents could have been made to the large sum to be collected; or, on the other hand, that, when payment on so large a scale was being made to a man whom you would have us believe to be a monster of avarice, he would have consented to an abatement of a thousand talents? It was not Gabinius's way to waive his rights so far, nor was it the king's to acquiesce in such heavy impositions on his subjects. "Yes," they will say, "but there will be witnesses, the delegates from Alexandria." Well, but they have said nothing against Gabinius; they have, on the contrary, praised Gabinius. What, pray, has become of the traditions, usages, and precedents of the courts? Is it usual for a witness to make depositions against a collector of money, when he has made no deposition whatever against the man in whose name the collection was made? [32] Nay more, if evidence is commonly given against the agent by one who has said nothing against the principal, is it also given by one who has spoken favourably of him ? The case is customarily treated as if already decided and is brought to questions such as this supported by the same witnesses, who are not produced but whose statements are merely read.

[12.] L   My intimate friend here ** says that the people of Alexandria had the same reason ** for speaking approvingly of Gabinius as I had for defending him. My motive, Gaius Memmius, for defending Gabinius was that I had become reconciled to him; nor indeed have I any reason to regret that my enmities are transient while my friendships are eternal. [33] If you think that I defended him reluctantly, to avoid giving offence to Pompeius, then you know very little either of Pompeius's character or of mine. Indeed, Pompeius would never have wished me to do anything I did not want to do in order to please him, nor would I, to whom the freedom of my fellow-citizens has ever been most precious, ever have sacrificed my own. While I was Gabinius's bitterest foe, Pompeius was not the less my dearest friend ; nor, after paying to that great name the concession to which it was entitled from me, did I do aught that was insincere, lest I should, while staining myself with treachery, do wrong to the very man on whom I had bestowed kindness. By not being reconciled to my foe I did no harm to Pompeius ; if, when he had brought about a reconciliation, I had accepted it fraudulently, I should have been false, most of all indeed to myself, but next of all to him also.

[34] But I say no more about myself, but return to your Alexandrians. What brazen effrontery is theirs! The other day at Gabinius's trial, with you looking on, they were brought up at every third word; they denied that money had been given to Gabinius ; the evidence of Pompeius was repeatedly read, that the king had written to him that no money had been given to Gabinius save for military purposes. "No belief," says my friend, "was placed in them then." What next? "Now they are believed." Why? "Because now they assert what then they denied." [35] That is your way of dealing with witnesses - the same men are not believed when they deny, but believed when they assert! But if they told the truth then, when truth was written broad upon their brows, at any rate they are telling lies now. If they told lies then, let them tell us how they are wont to look when they tell the truth. We had heard of old of Alexandria; now we know it. It is the home of every sharp practice, every deceit; it is from its inhabitants that writers of farces draw all their plots. And indeed there is nothing of which I am more desirous than to see the faces of these men.

[13.] L   [36] They gave their evidence a short while ago along with us before this tribunal, and with what sublime scorn did they repudiate this charge of the ten thousand talents! You know by now the futility with which Greeks behave; it was opportunism, I suppose, that made them shrug their shoulders ** ; now, presumably, the need for opportunism has passed. But when a man has once perjured himself, he cannot in future be believed, though he swear by twice as many gods ; the more so, gentlemen, because in trials of this kind a new witness is commonly not even admissible, and the same jury as dealt with the defendant's case is retained, that the whole case may be familiar to them and no new inventions can be introduced.

[37] Those arraigned upon the question of "what has become of the money?" are usually condemned, not as a result of proceedings which have primary reference to them, but of those held upon the original defendant. Consequently had Gabinius offered securities, or had the people recovered from his property the full amount of the damages, then, however large the sum that had come to Postumus from him, none of it would have been demanded back again ; so that it may be easily understood that the only money the repayment of which is demanded in a case of this kind is such portion of the sum received by a condemned person as has been proved in the original investigation to have passed into someone's hands. But what is the present issue ? Where in the world are we? What statement or what notion could be so wrong-headed or so perverted as theirs? [38] The accusation is brought against a man who has received no money from the king, as Gabinius has been pronounced to have done, but who has actually lent large sums to the king. Well then, the king gave it to Gabinius, as he did not repay it to my client. Now tell me, since Postumus's debtor has paid money not to him but to Gabinius, is it he or Postumus that should stand his trial under the clause "what has become of the money ?" now that Gabinius has been convicted ?

[14.] L   "Oh but Postumus has the money and is concealing it" ; for there are some who talk in this strain. A strange form for self-advertisement and boastfulness to take! Though he had originally not a penny, still, if he had made money, what reason could he have had for concealment? But seeing that he had inherited two spacious and opulent estates, and had moreover increased his substance by legitimate and honourable methods, what possible motive could he have had for wishing it to be supposed that he had nothing ? [39] Are we to suppose that, when he lent the money in the hope of getting interest upon it, his idea was to amass as much wealth as possible, but that after he had recovered the amount of his loan, he wanted it to be supposed that he was a poor man ? A novel form for self-advertisement to take! "He behaved like a despot at Alexandria," says the prosecutor. On the contrary he was victimised by the most arbitrary of despotisms. He himself had to endure imprisonment, he saw his friends thrown into chains, death was ever before his eyes, and finally, naked and needy, he fled the kingdom. [40] "Yes," they say, "but in the end he realised profits in commerce ; ships belonging to him put in at Puteoli ; merchandise of his was reported and seen there. It is true that the goods invoiced were only cheap showy articles of paper, linen, and glass; many ships were packed with these, but there was one small ship the cargo of which was not revealed." That voyage to Puteoli and the rumours connected with it and the course taken by the crew and their big talk, together with the dislike shown to Postumus's name by spiteful people on account of vague impressions about his money, did for one summer - not more - fill the public ear with such topics.

[15.] L   [41] But, gentlemen, if you would know the truth, had not the generosity of Gaius Caesar, greatly displayed to all, been superlatively displayed towards my client, we should long since have lost Postumus from our public life. He it was who took upon his unaided shoulders the burdens of my client's many friends ; and those responsibilities which were cooperatively borne by many intimates while fortune smiled upon Postumus are, now that she has turned her face from him, borne in their entirety by Caesar. What you see before you, gentlemen, is a mere shadow - a mere wraith - of a Roman knight, preserved by the loyal assistance of a single friend. Nothing can be taken from him save the phantom of his former dignity, and that Gaius Caesar alone supports and maintains; yet to that dignity even in his sad plight he is still entitled in amplest measure ; unless indeed it be something that any ordinary merits can achieve - that one so great should set so great store by my client, broken down and absent as he is ; when in his own exalted fortune it is a great thing for him to regard another's; and when he is so incessantly absorbed in the proud achievements which he has performed and is still performing, that it would not be surprising that he should forget other men, or, if he should remember them, might readily give good reason for his forgetfulness. [42] Many are the great and amazing virtues which I have found in Gaius Caesar, but the generality of them are designed for display upon an ample theatre and almost before the public gaze: to select a site for a camp, to set an army in array, to storm cities, to rout hostile forces, to endure extremities of cold and stress of weather such as we can scarce support within the shelter of our city houses, to be pursuing the enemy at this very season ** when even the beasts of the field crouch in the covert of their lairs and when all wars are suspended by the general consent of nations ; - these indeed are great achievements, who denies it? But they are prompted by great rewards, and are marked down for the eternal recollection of mankind; so that it is less a matter for wonder that he should so act who has set his heart on immortality. [16.] L   [43] But here is a wondrous theme for panegyric, not lauded in the poet's verse or the historian's record, but weighed in the scales of true discernment: he found a Roman knight, his friend of old, and his affectionate and devoted admirer, slipping downward not through licentiousness, not through discreditable waste and extravagance for the gratification of his passions, but through an endeavour to increase his patrimony ; he held out to him a helping hand; he suffered him not to fall; he propped and sustained him by his purse, his fortune, and his protection; and to this day he continues so to sustain him ; he does not allow his tottering friend to fall ; the splendour of his name does not dazzle the penetrating vision of that great soul, nor the soaring height of his position and his renown obscure the prospect from the windows of his mind. [44] Grant that his substantive achievements are great, as great indeed they are; let each man agree with my estimate or not, as he will; I, amid all his power and all his success, place his generosity towards his friends and his recollection of an old friendship above all his other qualities. This charity of his, so novel in its character, so rarely displayed by men of renown and pre-eminent power, you, gentlemen, ought not merely not to despise and not to discourage, but to cherish and to foster - the more so because these days seem to have been, as it were, laid hold of ** for the purpose of undermining his position - that position from which nothing can be taken which he will not bear bravely and redeem with ease ; but if he learns that a most dear friend is robbed of his honour, then while it will be with deep indignation that he bears the loss, he will have lost something that is beyond all hope of recovery.

[17.] L   [45] The considerations I have adduced should be sufficient for minds devoid of prejudice - more than sufficient for minds as utterly free from prejudice as we confidently trust yours to be. But in order that there may be none whose suspicions or malignity or cruelty are not fully satisfied, let us assume that, as the prosecution asserts, "Postumus is hiding the money, there are royal riches lurking somewhere." Is there any member of all this great populace who would care to have the estate of Gaius Rabirius Postumus made over to him for a single sesterce ? But alas! with what a pang do I speak these words! Ah, Postumus, are you the son of Gaius Curtius, ** by choice and inclination the son of Gaius Rabirius, by nature the son of his sister? Are you the man who is so generous to all his relatives, whose goodness of heart has enriched so many, who has never squandered a single coin or expended anything upon personal gratification ? Is your property knocked down by me, Postumus, for a single sesterce? It breaks my heart, it cuts me to the quick, to be your auctioneer ! [46] And yet in his misery he even prays for condemnation at your hands ; he would have his property sold, granted that thereby every man may have his principal paid in full. He cares no more for aught save honour ; and indeed, should you choose to forget your humanity, you can take nothing from him beyond his property. That humanity, gentlemen, I beg and implore you not to forget - the more earnestly because a claim is made upon him for money with which he has nothing to do, when he cannot get repayment of his own ; compassion should hold out to him her helping hand, but hatred is being enlisted to work his downfall

[47] But now, since I have, as I trust, discharged the obligation of honour, I will now discharge the debt of tears - those tears which I saw you shed so plenteously in a own dark hours. There rises up before my eyes the vision of that night so fraught with sorrow to all I love, when you laid yourself and all your resources unreservedly at my feet, you comforted my departure with your companions, your protection, and such weight of gold as the juncture demanded; during the time of my absence you never failed my children or my wife. I might call up many restored exiles to bear witness to your generosity, conduct which I have often heard stood your father Curtius in good stead when he was on trial for his life. [48] But now everything is a source of dread ; I shudder at the unpopularity which your very goodness of heart may provoke; already the tears of so many here prove how dear you are to your own ; and as for me, my grief breaks me down and chokes the voice upon my lips. I conjure you, gentlemen, refuse to rob this excellent man, than whom no worthier has ever lived, of the name of a knight of Rome, of the enjoyment of the sunlight, and of the privilege of beholding you. He begs nothing else of you save leave to look with open countenance upon this city, and to tread this forum - for even this licence had been snatched from him by fate, had not the power of a single friend come to his assistance.


1.(↑)   Ptolemy; the circumstances are explained in § 6, 22 seq.

2.(↑)   i.e., Aemilianus, destroyer of Carthage, son of Aem. Paulus, conqueror of Macedonia.

3.(↑)   M. was the cognomen of the chief branch of the Fabian gens ; it is uncertain to which member C. refers here.

4.(↑)   The Romans believed that their armies had won victories at Veseris (310) by the self-sacrifice of the elder Decius, and at Sentinum (295) by that of his son.

5.(↑)   See § 45 note.

6.(↑)   The Sibylline Books - in which political intriguers were generally able to find what suited them - had been discovered to contain a passage permitting Ptolemy's reinstatement, but "without a multitude" (i.e., an army). Cicero in Ad fam. i. 4 and 7, writes sarcastically about this discovery.

7.(↑)   C. speaks as a senator, and unites with himself the senator-members of the jury. He means: if the Senate has been bribed, it ought to be put upon its trial.

8.(↑)   P. Lentulus.

9.(↑)   The prosecutor.

10.(↑)   Quoted from the Lex Iulia de Repetundis.

11.(↑)   Measures of Sulla (80) and of Glaucia (111) dealing with extortion.

12.(↑)   i.e., no charge of malversation is laid unless based kon evidence brought before a 'litis aestimatio'.

13.(↑)   The Lex lulia applied directly only to provincial governors, indirectly also to those who had been receivers of the proceeds of extortion,

14.(↑)   'conscientia' is used here in a double sense: (1) knowledge shared with the voting-tablets, (2) the private knowledge of a man's heart.

15.(↑)   i.e., the Lex Iulia applied directly only to provincial governors, and so not to the equites, but it applied indirectly to any through whose hands had passed money in respect of which a man had been convicted under it. It was not applicable even indirectly to Rabirius, whose name had not been mentioned in Gabinius' 'litis aestimatio'.

16.(↑) 104.

17.(↑)   The eques is made a 'iudex' against his will, and therefore ought not to be amenable to the same penalties as those who voluntarily pursue public office.

18.(↑)   Son-in-law of Ptolemy, and ruler of Egypt during P.'s absence.

19.(↑)   See § 28, where the title is explained.

20.(↑)   An Athenian who in 317 was entrusted by Cassander, King of Macedon, with the government of Athens. On the defeat of Cassander by Demetrius Poliorcetes, King of Asia, he fled to Egypt.

21.(↑)   Roman sentiment viewed renunciation of Roman dress almost as renunciation of Roman nationality.

22.(↑)   Consul, 105, Stoic and military reformer, convicted unjustly on a charge of extortion (92). Settled in the east, where Cicero visited him in 78.

23.(↑)   What poet is unknown.

24.(↑)   From Ennius's translation of Euripides, Medea, 352.

25.(↑)   i.e., the collectors employed by the publicani, who "paid themselves for the trouble of collecting by a one-per-cent in addition to the sum collected." (Long.)

26.(↑)   C. Memmius.

27.(↑)   i.e., Pompey's influence.

28.(↑)   i.e., in affected ignorance of any bribes given to Gabinius.

29.(↑)   The trial was held in January.

30.(↑)   It is suggested that this trial was carefully timed to damage Caesar's reputation.

31.(↑)   Rabirius's mother Curtia was sister to C. Rabirius, who adopted his nephew.

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