Cicero : Post Reditum in Senatu

This speech was delivered in the senate after Cicero's return from exile, in 57 B.C.

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

[1.] L   [1] Conscript fathers : Should the expression of my gratitude prove to be inadequate to the unforgettable services performed by you to my brother, to myself, and to our children, I earnestly beg that you will impute such inadequacy rather to the multitude of your own kindnesses than to any lack of feeling in myself. For where shall we find such fecundity of mind, where such exuberance of language, where an eloquence of so miraculous an inspiration, as to be able, I will not say fully to express all the benefits you have conferred upon us, but even to enumerate them in a cursory review ? My brother was the apple of my eye, and you have restored him to me; he loved me dearly, and you have given me back to him. You have reunited parents with children and children with parents; you have given back to us honour, position, wealth, a broad field of public activity. You have given back to us that sweetest of all human possessions, our country ; last and greatest, you have given back to us ourselves. [2] But if we owe the deepest affection of our hearts to our parents, since it is from them that we have received our lives, our heritage, our liberty, and our citizenship; to the immortal gods, since it is by their grace that we enjoy these blessings and others with which they have endowed us; to the people of Rome, since it is to their promotion that we owe our place in their most august assembly, on the loftiest stage of dignity, and in that chamber which is the bulwark of the whole world ; to this body whom I have the honour of addressing, ** since they have often complimented us by their most generous decrees: surely, then, incalculable and immeasurable must be our debt to you, who by an unique and united display of devotion have, by one single act and at one single moment, restored to us the affection of our parents and the gifts of the gods, the distinctions conferred upon me by the Roman people, and the many testimonials bestowed upon me by you. So it comes about that, while our debt to you is considerable, to the Roman people great, and to our parents infinite, while to the immortal gods we owe everything, whereas hitherto we have been debtors to each of these in regard to what each has given us, to you it is that we owe it to-day that we find ourselves once more in possession of the whole.

[2.] L   [3] For these reasons, conscript fathers, we feel that, in a sense, you have procured for us immortality, a boon to which it is unlawful for mortal men even to aspire. For when shall a time ever come, when the glorious memory of the benefits which you have conferred upon us shall die? In the very midst of the incidents to which I refer, you were hedged about and straitly beset by the threats and terrors of armed violence; yet, notwithstanding, I had not been long an exile before your unanimous voice recalled me, on the motion of the gallant and upright Lucius Ninnius, than whom that baleful year found no trustier champion of my safety, and none that would have shown himself more dauntless, had it been determined to have resort to arms. Hindered from passing a measure for my recall by a tribune of the plebs ** who, being unable of himself to mutilate the constitution, skulked behind the effrontery of another, you were never silent in my cause, but without intermission importuned for my preservation the consuls ** who had bargained it away. [4] To our interest and to your influence, therefore, was it due that the very year which I would rather have seen prove fatal to myself than to my country, found among its tribunes eight men who were ready to initiate a measure for my recall, and to bring that measure repeatedly before you. For the consuls, scrupulous in their observance of the letter of the constitution, were prevented from doing so, not by the law which had been passed in reference to me, but by that law which affected themselves. This measure was moved by an opponent of mine, and it enacted that I should not return to Rome until those who had so nearly annihilated our world should have returned to life. ** This proposal of his involved him in a twofold admission: first, that he regretted their death, and second, that the state would be in great peril, if the resurrection of her enemies and assassins should not synchronise with the recall of myself. In the very year that followed my retirement, when the leading citizen ** of the State betook himself for safety to the shelter of his house rather than to that afforded by the laws, when the state was without consuls, and was bereaved not only of her permanent parents ** but also of her annual guardians, when you were prohibited from expressing your opinions, and when the leading clause of the bill of outlawry against me was being publicly read; at such a time you never wavered in your determination to identify my safety with that of the state at large. [3.] L   [5] But when, thanks to the unsurpassed and unexampled courage of Publius Lentulus, our consul ** you caught on the Kalends of January the first faint gleam of dawn after the mists and gloom which had enwrapped the state throughout the previous year; when the noble and upright Quintus Metellus had put his unbounded prestige, and nearly all the tribunes their valour and loyalty, at the service of the state ; when Gnaeus Pompeius, whose courage, fame, and achievements are unapproached in the records of any nation or any age, thought that he could safely venture into the senate ; with such unanimity did you support my restoration that, though I was absent in body, my influence bad already gained full restitution. [6] In this month at last you were enabled to judge of the contrast between myself and my opponents. I resigned my safety that the state might not on my account be drenched with the blood of its citizens ; they considered that my return should be barred, not by the votes of the Roman people, but by rivers of blood. Hence it was that from that time citizens, allies, even kings, waited upon you in vain; your juries pronounced no verdicts, your assemblies recorded no votes, your House lent the weight of its authority to no measures; you beheld a forum that was dumb, a senate-house that had lost its tongue, a state that was voiceless and humbled to the dust. [7] At such a time as this, when the man who, backed by your authority, had withstood fire and slaughter, had departed from you, you saw men flitting hither and thither about the city with swords and brands, you saw the houses of magistrates beset, the temples of the gods set on fire, the rods of a great man and a renowned consul ** broken, and the inviolable person of a gallant and honourable tribune ** of the plebs not merely defiled by the violation of a touch, but wounded with the sword and done to death. In the consternation which this bloodshed aroused, some of the magistrates, either through fear of death or despair of the state, abated somewhat of their zeal for my cause ; but the remainder were men whom neither threats nor violence, neither hopes nor fears, neither promises nor menaces nor weapons nor brands, could wean from their adherence to the authority of your order, the honour of the Roman people, or the restoration of my fortunes.

[4.] L   [8] First and foremost, Publius Lentulus, parent and guardian deity of my life, my fortunes, my memory, and my good name, realised that, could he but succeed in giving me back to myself, to my dear ones, to you, and to the state, his courage would be thereby exemplified, his affection demonstrated, and his consulship made illustrious. From the day of his election to that office, he unflinchingly expressed himself on the subject of my restoration in a manner worthy of himself and of the republic. When a tribune of the plebs imposed his veto upon him, and when that astounding clause of the law was being publicly read, forbidding anyone "to move, decree, discuss, allude to, vote upon, or witness the drafting of, a measure to this end," he treated the whole document not as a law, but (as I have already called it) as a proscription ; since according to its terms a citizen whose services to the state had been pre-eminent, and whom it mentioned by name, had been torn without trial from that state, and the senate with him. But after entering upon his term of office, he made it his first, nay, his one and only object to preserve me, and so to render inviolate to future generations your prestige and your authority. [9] Immortal gods! how beneficently did you ordain that in that year Publius Lentulus should be consul of the Roman people! How yet more beneficently, had he been consul in the previous year! I should not then have needed the healing hand of a consul, for I should not have been stricken down by the wound a consul dealt. Quintus Catulus, who was not only a man of great wisdom, but an excellent patriot and gentleman, once remarked to me that rarely had there been one wicked consul, but never two, save in the dark days of Cinna ** ; and he often asserted that, for that reason, my position would be unassailable, so long as the state had even a single consul. The truth of his words would have been unimpaired to this day, if only his statement that the coincidence of two wicked consuls was an unparalleled phenomenon could have remained for ever by experience. Can you doubt what the attitude of Quintus Metellus, had he been consul at that time, would have been, as regards the preservation of my safety, seeing, as you do, that he was a prime mover and supporter of my restoration? [10] But the consuls then in office were men whose minds, narrow, cringing, and depraved, were so choked and darkened with refuse that they could not endure the sight, nor elevate themselves to the burden, or even the comprehension, of the bare name of consul, its splendid distinction, and the magnificence of its sway. Consuls do I call them? Nay, rather traffickers of the provinces, hucksters of your good name. One of them, before many witnesses, begged of me the life of Catiline, whose minion he was; the other that of Cethegus, his cousin. History shows us no such abandoned wretches; they were brigands rather than consuls ; for though my cause was the cause of the state and of an ex-consul, not merely did they desert me, but betrayed and attacked me, and used their best endeavours to deprive me of all assistance I might have obtained from themselves, from you, and from all other classes of the community. As regards one ** of the two, however, neither I nor anyone else was under any illusion. [5.] L   [11] For who could hope for any good thing from one who, in his earliest youth, had degraded himself to pander openly and indiscriminately to the lowest of human passions; who had been unable to protect his chastity from the licentious assaults of impurity ; who, having applied himself as busily to the exhaustion of his private resources as later to that of the state's, supported his destitution and extravagance by turning his house into a brothel, and who, had he not flown for refuge to the sanctuary of the tribunate, would have been unable to escape either the multitude of his creditors or the proscription of his fortunes? Had he not, as tribune, succeeded in carrying through his bill dealing with the war against the pirates, ** there can be no doubt that the stress of his own poverty and profligacy would have compelled him to turn pirate himself, a calling which he would have pursued with less damage to the state than he inflicted upon it when he moved, a vile traitor and robber, within the city walls. He sat and looked calmly on when a tribune ** of the plebs enacted a law "that the auspices should be ignored, that no augural declaration should prevent the assembly or the elections, that none might lay his veto upon the measure," and, finally, "that the law of Aelius and Fufius," ** designed by our ancestors to be a sure shield for the constitution against tribunician assaults, "should be held a dead letter." [12] He it was, too, who not long afterwards, when a countless throng of patriots from the Capitol approached him with humble deference and in the guise of mourning, and when young men of the highest rank and the whole body of Roman knights flung themselves before the feet of a shameless procurer, brazenly, like the curled debauchee he was, treated with contempt not merely the tears of his fellow-citizens, but even the prayers of his country. And, not content with this, he actually went up to a mass meeting, and expressed himself in terms which his favourite Catiline, could he have returned to life, would not have dared to employ. He swore that he would wreak vengeance upon the Roman knights for the events of the fifth of December ** in the year of my consulship, and for that punishment that was exacted upon the slopes of the Capitol. Nor did he stop short at words, but actually arraigned some, when he could serve his ends by so doing, and peremptorily ordered Lucius Lamia, a universally respected Roman knight, whose friendship with me made him a staunch adherent of my safety, and whose consideration for his own fortunes made him an ardent supporter of the state, to leave the city. When you had decreed that mourning should be worn, and had to a man acted upon that decree, as all good patriots had already done, then he, reeking with unguents, and wearing the robe of office, ** which all the praetors and aediles had by then discarded, mocked at your garb, which testified to the grief of a grateful country. Also he did a thing which no despot has ever dared to do; he had not a word to say against your lamenting your calamity in private, but he published an edict that you should not openly bewail the misfortunes of your fatherland.

[6.] L   [13] Dignified, indeed, was the figure he presented when, in the Flaminian Circus, ** he was first introduced as consul to a meeting of the people, not by a tribune of the plebs, but by a past master in piracy and brigandage; when, heavy with wine, somnolence, and debauchery, with hair well-oiled and neatly braided, with drooping eyes and slobbering mouth, he announced with tipsy mutterings, and an air of sage sententiousness, that he was gravely displeased at the punishment of uncondemned citizens. Where has this mouthpiece of wisdom so long been hiding his light ? Why has this curled dancer suffered his sublime virtues to lie for so long eclipsed by a life of junketings and debauchery ? The other, Caesoninus Calventius, ** has been engaged from his youth in public affairs, though he has had nothing, save an hypocritical assumption of austerity, to recommend him, neither mental vigour, nor eloquence, nor military skill nor an interest in the study of mankind, nor liberal culture. Had you chanced to see in passing that unkempt, boorish, sullen figure, you might have judged him to be uncouth and churlish, but scarcely a libertine or a renegade. [14] To hold converse with such a man as this, or with a post in the forum, would be all one in your eyes; you would call him stupid, insipid, tongue-tied, a dull and brutish clod, a Cappadocian ** plucked from some slave-dealer's stock-in-trade. But now see our friend at home! see him profligate, filthy, and intemperate! the ministers to his lust not admitted by the front door, but skulking in by a secret postern! But when he developed an enthusiasm for the humanities, when this monster of animalism turned philosopher by the aid of miserable Greeks, then he became an Epicurean ** ; not that he became a whole-hearted votary of that rule of life, whatever it is; no, the one word pleasure was quite enough to convert him. He chooses for his mentors not those dull dotards who devote entire days to discussions upon duty or virtue, who preach industry and toil and the glory of risking life for one's country ; he chooses rather those who argue that no hour should be devoid of its pleasure, and that every physical member should ever be partaking of some delightful form of indulgence. [15] These he employs as his superintendents of carnality ; these are his detectives and sleuth-hounds in every form of licentiousness; these are the stewards and caterers of his banquet; these are the dispensers and assessors of his pleasures, who lay down the law for him, and pass Judgement upon the allotment that must be made to each several vice. Fortified by this mental equipment, he has held this sage commonwealth in such disdain as to think that all his wicked profligacy can pass unnoticed, if only he brings that brazen countenance into the forum. [7.] L   He succeeded in hoodwinking you and the Roman people, not by those well-worn instruments of deception, wisdom, and eloquence, but by a knitted forehead and a disdainful air ; but me he could not hoodwink ; for I was connected by marriage ** with the Pisos, and knew how far the Transalpine strain which he inherited from his mother had distinguished him from the family type. [16] Did you dare, Lucius Piso, bold of eye rather than of mind, fortified by insolence rather than innocence, relying on high disdain rather than high deeds (for I cannot accuse you of such), to unite your ingenuity with Aulus Gabinius for my downfall ? Did the perfume of his unguents, the vinous reeking of his breath, the brand of the curling-iron upon his brow, never suggest to you the thought that your actual resemblance to him in character would make it impossible for you any longer to avail yourself of any covering for your own brow ** in order to dissemble your heinous wickedness? Did you dare to co-operate with him to barter away, by means of an agreement concerning the assignation of provinces, the dignity of a consul, the security of the state, the authority of the senate, and the property of a benefactor of his country? It was in your consulship, by your edicts, and in virtue of the powers which reposed in you, that the senate of the Roman people was forbidden to aid the commonwealth even by the garb of mourning, let alone by their moral influence and the expression of their opinion. [17] Did you think you were consul of Capua (as indeed you were ** at this time), a city wherein arrogance had once her dwelling, or of Rome, a state wherein all consuls before you have bowed to the will of the senate? When you were introduced in the Flaminian Circus with your noble partner, did you dare to assert that you had always been of a compassionate nature? - an expression wherein you clearly intimated that the senate and all good patriots had been hard-hearted men when they cleansed their country of a plague-spot. ** You compassionate! I was your connexion by marriage; at your election you had appointed me to be first overseer ** of the tribe which opened the voting ; on the Kalends of January you called upon me to speak third in the senate ; and yet you handed me over bound to the enemies of the republic; with arrogant and heartless words you drove from my feet my son-in-law, your own flesh and blood, and my daughter, who was bound to you by ties of marriage; and it was you, too, paragon of tenderness and compassion, who, when I, and the state with me, had been struck down by the blow, not of a tribune, but of a consul, were so flown with insolence and sin that you allowed not a single hour to elapse between my ruin and our rapine, not even waiting for the sighs and lamentations of the city to die down into silence. [18] The decease of the state had not yet been noised abroad, when the funeral expenses ** were already being paid out to you. At one and the same moment my house was being plundered, was ablaze ; the contents of that on the Palatine were being made over to the consul, ** my neighbour, and those of my villa at Tusculum to the other consul ** also my neighbour; while, by a measure which was voted upon by the same gangs that had served you before, and introduced by the same gladiator, when the forum was empty and deserted not merely by men of sound views but even by free men, and when the Roman people were in the dark as to what was going forward, and when the senate was crushed and humiliated, two abominable and lawless consuls were being presented with the treasury, the provinces, the legions, and the posts of supreme command.

[8.] L   It was you, the consuls ** of to-day, who by your courage propped the edifice of the state which our consuls of yesterday had so nearly brought tumbling about our ears ; and it was the unflinching and unflagging loyalty of the praetors and the tribunes of the plebs that supported you in those efforts. [19] What can I say of that splendid gentleman, Titus Annius ** Who could ever adequately describe so admirable a patriot? Realising that that unprincipled citizen, whom it would be truer to call that foe whom the state nourished in her own house, must be broken by process of law, if legal action could be taken ; but that otherwise, if legal processes themselves should be blocked and rendered unavailing by turbulence, effrontery must be overcome by courage, recklessness by resolution, desperation by circumspection, violence by armed resistance, and, in a word, force by force ; he first impeached him on a charge of assault. When he saw that the object of his impeachment had abolished all judicial proceedings, he used all his efforts to prevent violence becoming a means to omnipotence. He demonstrated that neither temples nor forum nor senate-house could be protected against intestine brigandage without the highest courage and plentiful resources of men and money ; and he was the first who, after my departure, relieved patriots of their apprehensions, rascals of their hopes, this order of its fears, and the state from despotism. [20] This policy found an adherent of no less courage, spirit, and loyalty in Publius Sestius, ** who, in the cause of my safety, your authority, and the security of the commonwealth, thought it his duty to shirk no unpopularity, no violence, no assaults, and no peril of life. When the cause of the senate was being attacked in meetings held by inflammatory demagogues, he pleaded in its behalf before the populace with characteristic earnestness, and with such success, as to produce the conviction that nothing was so beloved of the people as your name, nothing ever so universally cherished as your authority. He not only employed in my defence every weapon which the tribunate of the plebs put into his hand, but he also supported me with an unofficial devotion as though he had been my brother; his clients, his freedmen, his household, his material resources, and his letters, were devoted so generously to this end, that he seemed to be not merely the alleviator, but even the sharer, of my disasters. [21] You have witnessed the unselfish devotion of my other friends ; you know how ardent Gaius Cestilius was for me, and how zealous for you; you know his unflinching adherence to the good cause. Need I allude to Marcus Cispius, ** to whom I fully realise the extent of my indebtedness, as well as to his father and his brother? They, though in a certain private action their interests ran counter to my own, effaced this unofficial estrangement by adverting to the benefits I had conferred upon the state. Again, Titus Fadius, who was my quaestor, and Marcus Curtius, under whose father I myself had served as quaestor, failed not to meet, by their zeal, affection, and energy, the claims which these relations laid upon them. Gaius Messius, actuated both by private friendship and political sympathy, constantly raised his voice on my behalf, and immediately upon my retirement he individually promulgated a measure for my restitution. [22] Had Quintus Fabricius been able, in spite of armed violence, to carry out the plans he had framed to help me, I should in January have regained the position I had lost; his efforts for my restoration were prompted by goodwill, checked by lawlessness, and revived by your authority. [9.] L   Finally, you were enabled to judge of the feelings of the praetors towards me by the fact that unofficially Lucius Caecilius was at pains to devote his personal wealth to my succour, and that officially in conjunction with nearly all his colleagues he initiated public measures for my return, while he refused to allow to the despoilers of my property access to the praetorian court. Marcus Calidius, too, was no sooner elected praetor than he intimated by a clear declaration how high a value he set upon my restitution; [23] while the undivided services of Gaius Septimius, Quintus Valerius, Publius Crassus, Sextus Quintilius, and Gaius Cornutus were most generously applied to myself and to the public cause.

It is a pleasure to put such acts on record. On the other hand, I am little loath to pass over the scandalous crimes committed against me by certain persons. To call to mind my wrongs would sort ill with my present position ; I should prefer to forget them, even were it in my power to avenge them. My whole life should be lifted to a different plane ; I should show gratitude for services received, I should cherish the friendships that have been proved sterling in the fire, I should wage war against our avowed foes, pardon my timorous partisans, forbear to expose traitors, and mollify the resentment roused by my departure by the magnanimity of my return. [24] Were I for the rest of my life permitted to discharge no other duty save that of giving proof of adequate gratitude towards merely the chief promoters and foremost champions of my restoration, I should nevertheless count the years that yet remain to me all too scanty a span even for the mere verbal expression of my gratitude, far more for its translation into deeds. For when shall I, or when shall the united efforts of all my dear ones, requite my friend and his children here ** ? What memory so retentive, what intellect so powerful, what regard so deep, as to be able to cope with the task of repaying benefits so numerous and so great? When I lay prostrate in the dust, he was the first to extend to me the right hand of his consular protection; he recalled me from death to life, from despair to hope, from destruction to salvation; so devoted was his affection, and so ardent his patriotism, that he devised a means not merely of alleviating, but actually of lending a dignity to my downfall. For what could have brought me greater pride or honour than the decree which you enacted at his request, that all men to the length and breadth of Italy, who had the safety of the state at heart, should concentrate their whole resources upon the restitution and defence of a broken and all but shattered man like myself? Or that the same command ** which had been but thrice uttered by a consul in the cause of the state since the foundation of Rome, and then had merely been addressed to those who could catch the sound of his voice, might be uttered by the senate in order to rally from their fields and their townships all the citizens of all Italy for the protection of a single life ?

[10.] L   [25] What prouder boast could I have handed on to posterity than that the senate had pronounced that the citizen who had not helped me had shown his unwillingness to preserve the state? So irresistible, then, was the authority of your order and the unsurpassed qualities of the consul, that any who failed to rally at that call felt that he was incurring a criminal disgrace. It was that consul, too, who, when that incredible multitude (Italy personified, we might call it) had flocked to Rome, convoked to the Capitol the full muster of your assembly. That event enabled you to realise the force of natural goodness of heart and true nobility. For Quintus Metellus ** my opponent and the cousin of my opponent, no sooner gauged your inclinations than he waived all private grudges ; for Publius Servilius, ** a man whose renown was equalled by his moral excellence and his affection for myself, by the impressive inspiration of his personality and his eloquence so called upon him to act in a manner worthy of the heroic deeds of his kindred whose blood was the same as his, that he had as his councillors his brother, returned from the dead to share my lot, and all the Metelli, those noble citizens, who were almost roused from Acheron, and among them the hero of Numidia, whose retirement from his country was once looked upon as a disaster to the community, though the actual victim faced it without even a sigh. [26] So, by the grace of heaven, he who before this act of kindness had been my enemy now stood forth not merely as the defender of my safety, but as the witness of my merits. Yes, on that day, though you four hundred and seventeen senators were assembled, though all the magistrates were there, one voice alone was raised in dissent, the voice of him ** who by the measure he proposed signified his opinion that the conspirators should be resuscitated even from the dead. On that day, too, when in weighty and lengthy terms you had declared that the state had been preserved by my measures, the same consul saw to it that an announcement to the same effect should be made at a mass meeting on the following day by the leading men of the state; and at this meeting he pleaded my cause with consummate eloquence, and effected, in the presence and in the hearing of all Italy, that no ears should be affronted by the voice of any hireling or scoundrel raised in bitterness or enmity against patriots.

[11.] L   [27] These efforts, the result of which was not merely to further my restoration, but also to enhance my reputation, were supplemented by yourselves ; you decreed that no contrivance should be employed by any to impede your end ; that any who should impede it should be visited with your deep resentment ; that such impediment would constitute an act of hostility to the commonwealth, the safety of patriots, and the unity of citizens, and that the man responsible for it would be made the subject of an immediate motion to your body ; furthermore, you ordered me to return forthwith, even though their misrepresentations should continue. What of the fact that you decreed that thanks should be accorded to those who had gathered from the corporate townships? And that a request should be made to them to assemble with undiminished fervour on the day appointed for the resumption of public business ? Finally, what of the fact that upon the day which Lentulus made a day of new birth for myself, my brother, and my children, a day destined not to die with the present age, but to be held on record for all eternity, - the day, I mean, whereon he, in the comitia centuriata, which above all other assemblies our ancestors wished to be called and considered most authoritative, summoned me back to my country, - what of the fact that the same centuries which had made me consul now expressed their approval of my consulship? [28] On that day what citizen was there who, whatever might be his age or the state of his health, did not think that a failure to register his vote for my safety would have been a violation of his duty? When have you seen the Campus packed as it was then, with so brilliant a gathering of every order in all Italy? "When have you seen canvassers, distributors, ** overseers, of such high position? So it came about that by the surpassing and superhuman service of Publius Lentulus we were not merely, as several distinguished citizens have been, permitted to return to our country, but we were conveyed thither in a gilded car drawn by caparisoned steeds. [29] Can I ever adequately manifest my gratitude towards Gnaeus Pompeius for having stated not merely in the presence of you, who were united in sentiment, but also before the whole people, that the safety of the Roman people had been secured by me, and stood or fell with my own; who recommended my cause to the instructed, who enlightened the ignorant, and who employed the weight of his personality at once to crush traitors and to rouse patriots ; who not only harangued but supplicated the Roman people on my behalf, as though on that of his brother or parent ; who, though in his apprehension of sanguinary encounters he shut himself in his own house, had even then requested the tribunes of the year before to promulgate and introduce a measure for my restoration ; who, during his own tenure of office, in a recently established colony, ** where none had been bribed to interpose his veto, attested by the authority of honourable men and by official documents the arbitrary and cruel nature of a law directed against an individual, and was the chief supporter of the view that the resources of all Italy should be solicited on behalf of my safety ; and who, though he himself had always been my close friend, even exerted himself to make his own intimates my friends. [12.] L   [30] And by what services shall I recompense Titus Annius for his kindnesses to me? All his conduct, policy, and deliberations, in a word his whole tribunate, was nothing but a firm, unceasing, brave, and undaunted championship of my well-being. What am I to say of Publius Sestius, who displayed the kindness and loyalty of his feelings towards me not merely by mental grief, but even by physical wounds ? And to each one of you, conscript fathers, I have already expressed, and shall continue to express, my gratitude. At the outset I thanked you collectively to the best of my ability ; to thank you with eloquence adequate to the occasion is beyond me. And although many have laid me under deep obligations, which it is impossible to pass over in silence, nevertheless both my situation and my scruples forbid me to attempt to describe in detail individual instances of kindness. It would be difficult not to omit some one, yet iniquitous to omit any one. It is but right, conscript fathers, that collectively I should accord you the veneration due to the gods. But, as in our dealings even with the powers of heaven it is our custom not to address our worship and our supplication to the same deities at all times, but rather to special deities on special occasions, so shall be my dealings with my fellow-creatures. While I shall hold no time unseasonable for proclaiming and dwelling upon their services to me, [31] I have determined on this day to thank the magistrates by name, and with them one private citizen, ** who interceded on my behalf with the municipalities and the colonies, who humbly supplicated the Roman people, and who gave utterance to sentiments in compliance with which you restored me to the proud position which was once mine. In the hour of my glory you honoured me ; and in the hour of my trial you defended me by your change of garments and, as far as you were allowed, almost by your lamentations. Within my recollection it was never customary with senators to change their garments ** even in their own perils ; but in the hour of my peril the whole senate changed their garments, in so far as they were not prevented from doing so by the edicts of those who robbed me in my perilous situation not only of their own protection but of your intercession.

[32] Faced by these difficulties, and seeing that in my private capacity I was called upon to sustain the onset of the same forces which, when consul, I had mastered not by arms but by your moral support, many reflections occurred to me. [13.] L   The consul had said at a mass meeting that he would exact from Roman knights satisfaction for the deed wrought upon the slope of the Capitol. ** By express nomination some were arraigned, others cited to appear in court, others banished. Access to the temples was barred, not merely by armed guards, but even by destruction of the steps. The other consul had engaged himself by bargaining for his rewards not only to desert me and the state, but also to betray us to the state's enemies. There was another ** who hovered at the city gates with a large army and with a command which was prolonged to him for many years. He I do not say was my enemy ; but I do know that when he was stated to be my enemy he never uttered a word of denial. [33] Two parties were held to exist in the state, one of which, it was supposed, was led by hostility towards me to demand my surrender, while the other was backward in my defence, because of the taint of murder which they thought clung to me. Those who were supposed to demand my surrender increased the apprehension of an armed struggle, because they never by any disclaimer allayed the general suspicion and anxiety. Consequently, realising, as I did, that the senate was bereft of leaders, that the magistrates had either attacked me, betrayed me, or deserted me, and that slaves had been enrolled by name under plea of being formed into clubs, that all Catiline's forces with scarcely any change of leaders had been led to renew their hopes for opportunities of slaughter and incendiarism, that Roman knights were stirred by apprehension of a proscription, the municipalities of devastation, and all men by dread of a violent death, then I might, conscript fathers, I say I might, have defended myself by armed force, and have been supported in that policy by many gallant gentlemen ; and indeed that same courage, of which I have afforded you proof in the past, was still with me then. But I saw that, if I proved victorious over my immediate foe, there would still be others, too many others, whom I should have to vanquish ; and if, on the other hand, I were defeated, many good patriots would shortly have to meet their doom with me, for me, even after me, and .while the blood of a tribune ** might find immediate avengers, retribution for my own death was reserved for the verdict of later generations. [14.] L   [34] Since, as consul, I had looked for no assistance from the sword in my championship of the universal welfare, I shrank from employing arms in the defence of my own; and I preferred that the patriotic party should lament my condition rather than despair for their own. Should I prove the sole victim, disgrace was in prospect for myself; but should others fall along with me, ruin was in prospect for the state. But if I had thought that an eternity of mortification was in store for me, I should rather have inflicted death upon myself than unending sorrow. But realising that my absence from this city would not outlast the absence from it of the republic itself, I did not think it my duty to remain there after its extinction, and, what is more, no sooner was it recalled than it brought me back in its company. ** My absence synchronised with the absence of laws, courts of justice, magisterial jurisdiction, the authority of the senate, freedom, a plentiful corn-supply, all reverence and all compunction in matters human or divine. Were these things to be lost to us for ever, I should rather bewail your misfortune than regret my own ; but I recognised that, should a day come when they should be recalled, it would be my duty to return with them. [35] Here again infallible testimony is borne to these convictions of mine by Gnaeus Plancius, ** who acted as the guardian of my person, and who laid aside all the distinctions and material advantages of his provincial command that he might devote his whole quaestorship to my support and preservation. Had I been a general, and he my quaestor, I should have viewed him as a son ; now, since he has been associated with me not in command but in calamity, I shall at all events view him as a parent.

[36] Wherefore, conscript fathers, since I have been restored to the state along with the state, so far from abating in her defence aught of my old freedom of speech, I shall even add to it. [15.] L   And indeed, if I defended her then, when she was somewhat in debt to me, what does my duty bid me do now, when I am deeply in debt to her? For what is there that could avail to cow or enfeeble my courage, Since, as you see, my very disasters bear witness, not alone to the irreproachable nature of my conduct, but even to my superhuman benefits to the state ? Why, the very occasion of those disasters was my defence of the community, and they were faced by me with cheerful readiness, in order that the state which I had defended might not on my account be brought into the extremest peril. [37] I had not, to plead for me, as had Publius Popilius, ** young sons of my own, or a crowd of kinsfolk ; I had not, as had that great and famous gentleman Quintus Metellus, ** a son whose qualities had won him respect in spite of his youth ; not for me did the ex-consuls Lucius and Gaius Metellus, nor their children, nor Quintus Metellus Nepos, who was at that time a candidate for the consulship, nor the Luculli, the Servii, the Scipios, whose mothers were of the family of Metellus, intercede before the Roman people in tears and dishevelled garb. I had none of these; but one alone I had, a brother, who, in proving himself a son in dutifulness, a father in guidance, and in affection the true brother that he was, by his guise of mourning, by his tears, and by his daily-renewed prayers, gave a fresh lease of life to the enthusiasm my name aroused, and a fresh familiarity to the report of my achievements. He had made up his mind that, should he fail, through you, to win me back to himself, he would ask permission to meet the same fate and to share the same dwelling with me in life and in death; and yet, in spite of this, no toil however formidable, no loneliness, no threat nor weapons of foes, could daunt him. [38] There was another, too, who with the highest courage and loyalty was untiring in his championship and defence of my well-being ; I refer to my son-in-law, Gaius Piso, who held as of no account beside my safety the threats of my enemies, the hostility of the consul, who was my relative by marriage and his own by blood, and his duties as quaestor in Pontus and Bithynia. No decree was ever passed by the senate in the matter of Publius Popilius ; ** never in this house was a word uttered concerning Quintus Metellus. ** No; but it was on the motion of the tribunes that they were in the end restored, after their enemies had been put to death; and this was not until the former had complied with the senate's wishes, and the latter had escaped a violent and bloody end. Gaius Marius, indeed, the third ex-consul who, in the memory of men yet living, was banished from the state through civil disturbance, so far from being restored by the senate, even all but abolished the senate after his return. In the cases of these, there was no unity of action among the magistrates, no rallying of the Roman people to the defence of their constitution, no outbreak in Italy, no decrees passed by municipalities and colonies.

[39] Wherefore, since it is your authoritative voice which has summoned me, the Roman people which has called out for me, the state who has become my suppliant, and united Italy that has brought me back, I might almost say, upon her shoulders, I shall not be so careless, now that those things have been restored to me which lay outside my own power, as to fail to hold that which my own efforts can secure, above all since, while they were recovered after having been lost, my virtue and my honour were never lost at all.


1.(↑)   There is some confusion in this sentence, and the text, "Hunc ipsum ordinem, . . vobis," and "vobis . . . per vos" should refer to different people, but they all refer to the Senate. Possibly Cicero distinguishes between the Senate generally and individual senators.

2.(↑)   P. Clodius.

3.(↑)   Piso and Gabinius.

4.(↑)   The Catilinarian conspirators, executed by Cicero.

5.(↑)   Pompey.

6.(↑)   Probably the Senate is meant.

7.(↑)   For 57, with Q. Metellus Nepos.

8.(↑)   It is uncertain to whom this refers.

9.(↑)   Sestius, see note on § 20.

10.(↑)   Consul 87-84.

11.(↑)   Gabinius.

12.(↑)   67, in which year the lex Gabinia was passed, giving Pompey the command of this war.

13.(↑)   Clodius.

14.(↑)   Giving to a magistrate the power of suspending business in the assembly by declaring that the omens were adverse ('obnuntiatio').

15.(↑)   When Catiline's conspirators were executed in the Tullianum, the prison on the "slopes of the Capitol," 63.

16.(↑)   See Pro Plancio, Chap. XII. with note.

17.(↑)   See Pro Plancio, Chap. XXIII. with note.

18.(↑)   Cicero here alludes to Piso by the name of his Gallic maternal grandfather, in order to discredit him. Cp. "Trans-Alpini sanguinis," Chap. VII.

19.(↑)   The meanest slaves were commonly Cappadocians.

20.(↑)   The Epicureans held that pleasure was the end of life.

21.(↑)   C.'s daughter married C. Piso Frugi.

22.(↑)   Some light may be thrown on this difficult expression by Mart. ii. 29, where we hear of a senator who wore patches on his forehead to conceal the brands (FVR or FVG) that betrayed his servile origin.

23.(↑)   P. was duovir at Capua.

24.(↑)   Catiline and his fellow-conspirators.

25.(↑)   Officials who looked after the voting-tablets.

26.(↑)   "Arbitria funeris," so called because fixed by assessors ('arbitri') according to the rank and wealth of the deceased. C. here means that the expenses of the state's "funeral" were refunded to Piso in the form of plunder from his house.

27.(↑)   Piso, who received the plunder in his mother-in-law's house on the Palatine.

28.(↑)   Gabinius, who had a villa at Tusculum.

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

30.(↑)   T. A. Milo, who was defended by Cic. on a charge of killing Clodius, 52.

31.(↑)   Trib. plebis 57 ; nearly killed in the forum by adherents of Clodius.

32.(↑)   See Pro Plancio, Chap. XXXI. with note.

33.(↑)   Lentulus.

34.  * Cic. elsewhere (Pro Sestio, 60) says that this was the only occasion ; the command as expressed there was : "ut . . . omnes qui rem publicam salvam esse vellent convocarentur."

35.(↑)   Consul 57.

36.(↑)   P. S. Isauricus, grandson of Q. Metellus Macedonicus ; see De har. resp. Chap. I. with note.

37.(↑)   Clodius; see Chap. II.

38.(↑)   i.e. of the voting-tablets.

39.(↑)   Capua, where Caesar had established a colony, 59.

40.(↑)   Pompey.

41.(↑)   See Pro Plancio, Chap. XII. with note.

42.(↑)   See note on Chap. V.

43.(↑)   Caesar.

44.(↑)   Sestius ; see Chap. VIII. with note.

45.(↑)   "The 'res publica' was . . . sent out of the limits of the city, when C. was, or rather it was sent out before he went, and he would not stay after it was gone " (Long).

46.(↑)   Quaestor in Macedonia 58; see Pro Plancio, Chap. XXX. with note.

47.(↑)   See Ad Quir., Chap. III. with note.

48.(↑)   See Pro Plancio, Chap. XXVIII. with note.

49.(↑)   See Ad Quir., Chap. III. with note.

50.(↑)   See Pro Plancio, Chap. XXVIII. with note.

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