Cicero : In Pisonem

Sections 51-99

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.

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[22.] L   [51] And now, since we have embarked upon a comparison of our respective careers, let us say nothing of the return of Gabinius ; for though he himself has broken it off halfway, yet I still look forward to seeing the fellow's impudent face. Let us, if you please, compare your return with mine. Mine was such that all the way from Brundisium to Rome I looked upon uninterrupted crowds from every part of Italy. Indeed there was no district, no municipality, no prefecture or colony, which did not send official deputations to congratulate me. Why should I tell of my arrival at this place and at that, how the inhabitants flocked out of their towns to greet me, how fathers of families with their wives and children gathered from their country-sides, and how everywhere on my arrival and return those days were kept like solemn festivals of the immortal gods? [52] That single day of my restoration to my country was to me a sort of immortality, when I saw the senate and the entire people of Rome gathered outside the city, and when Rome herself seemed to dislodge herself from her fixed abode and go forth to embrace her saviour. And her reception of me was such that not only all men and women of all classes, ages, and ranks of society, of every circumstance and every position, but even the very walls, buildings, and temples of the city seemed to show their joy. And on the succeeding days the pontiffs, consuls, and conscript fathers reinstated me in the very house from which you had driven me forth, and which you had plundered and burned, and for me they voted, what had been voted for none before me, that my house should be rebuilt at the public charges.

[53] There you have my return; now contrast with it your own, since, having lost your army, you have brought nothing safe home with you except your old-time brazenness. And first, who knows the way you came with your laurelled lictors ? What meanderings, what by-paths, what winding ways did you pursue, that you might traverse none but unfrequented regions? What municipal town saw you ? What friend invited you to his house? What host looked upon your face ? Did you not prefer darkness to daylight, solitude to thronging crowds, pot-houses to cities? Your progress suggested not the return from Macedonia of a distinguished general, but rather the bringing home of a dishonoured corpse.

[23.] L   And when you arrived at Rome itself, O stain, I will not say upon the Calpurnian, but upon the Calventian ** family, not upon this city, but upon the municipality of Placentia, not upon your father's stock, but upon your breeched ** kinsfolk, what was the fashion of your entry ? Who from among your own legates, let alone from among these gentlemen or the general body of citizens, came to meet you ? [54] Lucius Flaccus, ** a man who deserved a better fate than that of serving under you, and had more appropriately been united with myself in the measures which I took during my consulship for the safety of the constitution, was with me, when it was reported to us that you had been seen loitering with your lictors not far from the gate; I know too that one of the bravest of men, a master of war and military science, my friend Quintus Marcius, whose devotion to duty, along with that of Flaccus his fellow-legate, had won for you upon the field the title of imperator, though at the time you were far away, was enjoying the repose of his home when you arrived. [55] But why enumerate those who did not come to meet you? Why not assert that scarce a single person came, even of the prospective candidates for office, a class ever most punctilious in courtesy, and that although they had received general warnings and requests to do so on the actual day and on many previous days? At the gate short togas ** were provided for the lictors ; these they took, laying aside their military cloaks, and thus furnished a queer sort of crowd for their imperator. And in this guise, after three years' administration of a great province and a great army, our great Macedonian "Commander" made his way into the city, so meanly that not the humblest bagman ever had a more unnoticed return. And yet it is just here that he, who was ever glib in his own defence, calls me to book. When I asserted that he had entered the city by the Caelimontane Gate, the irrepressible fellow wanted to lay me a wager that it was by the Esquiline that he had entered - as if it was my business to know, or anyone of you had heard, or that it was a matter of the slightest interest by what gate you entered, so long as it was not the Triumphal, which has ever stood open for Macedonian consuls before you; you are the first on record who, having been invested with consular authority there, did not gain a triumph upon your return.

[24.] L   [56] But, conscript fathers, a philosopher has spoken in your midst. He has said that he never cared about a triumph. O abominable plague-spot of iniquity! When you were stifling the senate, selling the authority of this order, assigning your consulship to a tribune of the plebs, overturning the state, betraying my rights and safety for the bribe of a province, what, if it was not a triumph that you cared about, will you maintain to have been the end that fired you with desire? It has been my constant experience that those who both to myself and others obviously appeared to be ardently desiring a province were concealing and cloaking their desire under a pretence of eagerness for a triumph. Such was the language used in this house by the consul Decimus Silanus, and even by my own colleague ; and indeed it is impossible for anyone to desire and openly to demand an army, without alleging desire for a triumph as his motive. [57] Even had the senate and people of Rome compelled you, indifferent or even reluctant as you may have been, to undertake a war and to command an army, still it would have argued a mean and narrow spirit to despise the distinction and the dignity of a well-earned triumph. For as it is the mark of a shallow mind to court the whispers of empty adulation and to pursue every shadow even of an illusory fame, so it is the sign of a mind that shuns light and radiance to reject that true fame which is the creditable reward of genuine merit. But when, with neither request nor order of the senate - nay, in face of a senate over whose disapproval you rode rough-shod - when not only without the support of the Roman people but without a single free man's vote, you treated that province as your perquisite for having been the instrument of the overthrow and ruin of the state, and when the understanding that lay behind all your wicked deeds was that, in return for your surrendering the whole constitution to lawless robbers, Macedonia should be surrendered to you with such boundaries as you chose; when you were draining the treasury, widowing Italy of her youth, and crossing angry seas in winter-time - what, if you despised a triumph, what was the blind desire, infatuated pirate, that urged you on your course, if it was not the desire for booty and rapine ?

[58] Gnaeus Pompeius has already committed himself ; ** he cannot act upon the lines you have laid down. He has blundered ; he never had any relish for the philosophic outlook; the poor fool has already had three triumphs. Crassus, I am ashamed of you! What can have been your motive in bringing a formidable war to its conclusion, and showing such eagerness to have that laurel wreath decreed to you by the senate? Publius Servilius, Quintus Metellus, Gaius Curio, Lucius Afranius, why did you not sit at the feet of this sage, this learned man, and so avoid the error into which you have been led? Even my friend Gaius Pomptinus ** has likewise committed himself; for his actions are hampered by the ceremonies that have been set on foot. Fie upon you, Camillus, Curius, Fabricius, Calatinus, Scipio, Marcellus, Maximus - fools, all the lot of you! What a dotard was Paulus ! what a simpleton Marius! How misguided were the fathers of both these consuls ! And why? They celebrated triumphs !

[25.] L   [59] But, since we cannot alter the past, why does not this mannikin, this Epicurus of mud and clay, hasten to instil these sublime and philosophical doctrines into that great and illustrious commander his son-in-law **? Believe me, it is fame that bids that great man soar; he burns, he is ablaze with desire for a splendid and a well-earned triumph. He has not learnt the lessons that you have learnt. Send him a tract ; nay, if at this stage you can contrive to meet him in person, meditate what phrases you can use to quench and stifle the flames of his desire. A man of such restraint and strength of will as you are cannot but exert an influence over the giddy victim of ambition ; the learning of the father-in-law will surely work upon the ignorance of the son-in-law. You will say to him, consummate proselytiser that you are, elegant and accomplished masterpiece of the lecture-room: "What, Caesar, is the strong attraction that these thanksgivings of such frequency and such long duration as have been decreed to you possess? The world is under a deep delusion concerning them, the gods care naught for them; for they, as our godlike Epicurus has said, feel neither kindness nor wrath towards any. You will scarcely carry conviction by such arguments ; for he will see that they both feel and have felt wrath towards you. [60] Your disquisition will then take another theme, and you will take triumphs as your subject. "What," you will ask, '"is the use of yon chariot, of the generals that walk in chains before it, of the models of towns, of the gold and the silver, of the legate and the tribunes on horseback, of the shouting of the troops, and of all the pageantry of the show? Vanity, mere vanity I tell you - scarce more than a child's diversion - to hunt applause, to drive through the city, to wish to be a gazing-stock. In none of them is there anything substantial, anything that you can grasp, anything that you can associate with bodily pleasure. [61] Fix your attention rather upon me; returned from the same province from which Titus Flamininus, Lucius Paulus, Quintus Metellus, Titus Didius, and hosts of others who were stirred by petty ambitions, returned to hold triumphs ; but I returned to trample my Macedonian laurels under foot at the Esquiline Gate, and to arrive thirsty with fifteen threadbare retainers at the Caelimontane Gate, where two days previously my freedman had hired a house for me, his illustrious chief; had this house not been to let, I should have pitched my tent in the Campus Martius. Meanwhile, Caesar, because the pomp of a triumph meant nothing to me, my money is safe at home, and safe there it will remain. As your law ** required, I rendered an immediate statement of my accounts to the treasury, but I have complied with your law in nothing else. And if you study those accounts, you will find that no one has profited more highly from his learning than myself. In so acute and scholarly fashion are they made out, that the clerk who made the return to the treasury, having completed his copy of them, murmured while he scratched his head with his left hand -
The count indeed is plain, the coin - is gone!" **

I have not the least doubt that by arguments such as these you will contrive to recall him even in the act of mounting his triumphal car.

[26.] L   [62] O darkened eyes! O bemired and dingy soul! O forgetful of your father's line, with scarce a memory even of your mother's! Even so shattered, so grovelling, so degraded, so mean is your condition - lower even than would seem to befit your grandfather, the auctioneer of Mediolanum. Lucius Crassus, ** the wisest man of our state, may almost be said to have ransacked the Alps with a probe, in order to find some pretext for a triumph in a place where there was no enemy ; that great genius Gaius Cotta ** was fired with a similar ambition, though he met no regular foe. Neither of these held a triumph ; the one was robbed of that honour by his colleague, the other by death. A short while ago you waxed sarcastic upon Marcus Piso's desire for a triumph, alleging that such a desire was utterly alien to your disposition ; though the war he had waged was, as you assert, comparatively unimportant, still he did not think that the honour accruing from it was to be slighted. But you are more learned than Piso, wiser than Cotta, richer in resource, genius, and sagacity than Crassus; and you despise the things which those "ignoramuses," ** as you are pleased to call them, deemed glorious. [63] And if you blame them for coveting the laurel garland, after waging wars that were unimportant or even not deserving of the name at all, surely you, who have conquered nations so mighty, end done deeds so doughty, ought to have been the last to despise the fruit of your labours, the guerdon of your danger and the decoration due to your heroism. Nor indeed did you despise them, wiser than Themista ** though you be; but you shrank from exposing your face of steel to the lash of the senate's reproach.

By now you see, since I have done myself so ill a turn as to compare myself with you, that my departure, my absence, and my return were all so far above your own, that while upon me all those incidents shed undying glory, upon you they have inflicted everlasting infamy. [64] Nay, even in the daily and homely life of our city do you propose to place a higher value upon your brilliance, influence, private prestige and forensic activity, sagacity, helpfulness, authority, and opinion as a senator, than upon mine, or, to speak more truly, that of any the meanest and most despicable of men ?

[27.] L   Think of it! The senate hates you, as you admit it is justified in doing, for being the ravager and destroyer not only of its dignity and authority, but of its very existence and name as an order. The knights of Rome cannot bear the sight of you, for when you were consul Lucius Aelius, the brightest and most distinguished member of the order, was banished. The people of Rome longs for your destruction, for in all that you did in regard to myself by the hands of brigands and slaves you heaped infamy upon them. All Italy execrates you, for it was you again who arrogantly disregarded their resolutions and their prayers. [65] Test by experiment this bitter and widespread hatred, if you dare. We are close upon the celebration of the most elaborate and gorgeous games ** in the memory of man - games which are not only without parallel in the past, but of which it is difficult to conceive that future ages will ever show their like. Trust yourself to the people; make your venture at these games. Are you afraid of hisses? Where are your disquisitions? Do you fear to be hooted? That again is no matter to worry a philosopher. Do you fear physical violence? Aye, there's the rub; pain is an evil, according to your view. Reputation, infamy, disgrace, degradation - these are mere phrases, mere bagatelles. But no, I have no misgivings; he will not venture to come within a mile of the games. He will attend the public banquet, not as a mark of respect - unless indeed he desires to dine with Publius Clodius or, in other words, with his minion - but, obviously, as his feelings demand; the games he will leave to "ignoramuses" like us. [67] But it is not voluptuousness in the ordinary sense of the word that you must look to find in him. Though all voluptuousness is vicious and degrading, there is a form of it that is not all unworthy of a gentleman and a freeman. You will find in Piso no good taste, no refinement, no elegance; you will find in him - to give the devil his due - nothing exceptionally extravagant, save his licentiousness. Embossed ware - not a piece of it; enormous tankards - Placentine ones, too, that he might not be thought to despise his countrymen; the table piled not with shellfish or fish, but with huge joints of tainted meat ; slatternly slaves do the waiting, some even old men ; cook and hall-porter are one; neither bread-maker nor wine-cellar on the premises; the bread from a bake-house, the wine from a tavern; Greeks packed five or more to a couch, himself alone on one ; toping until the wine is poured straight out of the jar. When he hears the cock crow, he thinks that his Gallic ** grandfather has come to life again, and orders the table to be cleared.

[28.] L   [68] Someone will no doubt ask, ''How do you come to know all this?" Well, I do not propose to describe any individual in such a manner as to insult him, especially if he be a man of parts and learning, a class with which I could not be angry, even if I wished. There is a certain Greek ** who lives with him, a man whom, to tell the truth, I have found to be a very gentlemanly fellow, at any rate as long as he is in other company than Piso's, or is by himself. This man met our young friend Piso who even then wore a scowl as if he resented the existence of the gods, and was not averse to his friendship, especially as the other eagerly sought him ; he so far gave himself up to his company that he absolutely lived with him and scarcely ever left his side. I am speaking not to an ignorant audience, but, as I think, in an assembly of learned and accomplished gentlemen. You have of course heard it said that Epicurean philosophers assess the desirability of anything by its capacity to give pleasure - whether rightly or wrongly is no concern of ours, or at any rate not relevant to the present issue - it is, however, a dangerous argument to put before a young man of only moderate intelligence, and one that often leads to disaster. [69] Accordingly as soon as the lewd Piso heard pleasure praised so highly by so great a philosopher, he did not pick and choose; he so stimulated all his pleasurable sensations, and raised such a whinnying to welcome his friend's arguments, that he plainly thought he had found in the Greek not a professor of ethics but a master of the art of lust. The Greek at first drew distinctions as to the meaning of the precepts ; but, as the proverb says, "a cripple had got the ball"**; he insisted on what he had received, he stuck to the letter of his lesson, ** and would have it that Epicurus was an eloquent fellow ; and indeed he does, I believe, assert that he cannot conceive any good apart from bodily pleasure. [70] To make a long story short, the Greek was far too charming and complaisant to have any notion of standing up to a General of the Roman people.

[29.] L   Now the Greek of whom I am speaking had at his finger-tips not only philosophy but also other accomplishments which Epicureans are said commonly to neglect ; he proceeded to compose a poem so witty, neat, and elegant, that nothing could be cleverer. Anyone who wishes is at liberty to find fault with him for this poem; but let him do so gently, not as with a low and bare-faced rogue, but as with a poor little Greek, a parasite, a poet. When he came upon Piso, or rather fell in with him, he was but beguiled, a Greek in a strange land as he was, by the same savage scowl as has beguiled so many sages and so great a society as our own. Once in the toils of friendship, there was no drawing back for him, and, what was more, he wished to avoid the reproach of fickleness. In response to request, invitation, pressure, he wrote reams of verse to Piso and about Piso, sketching to the life in lines of perfect finish all his lusts and immoralities, all his varied dinners and banquets, all his adulteries; [71] and in these poems anyone who wishes can see the fellow's life reflected as in a mirror. I would read you a copious selection from these (they have often been read and listened to before), were it not that I am afraid that, even as it is, my present subject is out of keeping with the traditions of this place ; and at the same time I do not wish to cast any slur upon the character of their author. Had he been luckier in the sort of pupil he found, he might perhaps have turned out a steadier and more irreproachable character; but chance led him into a style of writing which was unworthy of a philosopher, if, that is to say, philosophy is correctly described as comprising the whole theory of virtue and duty and the good life; and the man who professes that seems to me to have taken upon himself the most responsible of functions. [72] He did but imperfectly apprehend what he was professing in calling himself a philosopher, and chance too defiled him with the mud and filth of that bestial and unbridled monster.

That monster recently in highly applauding the achievements of my consulship - and I felt the high applause of so mean a creature to be something of a slur - remarked, "It was not any odium aroused by your conduct that harmed you, but your verses." Surely, Piso, the penalty that you enacted in your consulship was somewhat excessive, whether it was against a bad poet or just against a free man. "For you wrote," you proceed, " 'Arms to the toga must yield.' ** This it was that roused all that storm against you." But nowhere, I think, in the epitaph ** which in your consulship was engraved upon the sepulchre of the constitution occur the words: "May it be your good pleasure, ** inasmuch as Cicero has written a line ..."; the phrase rather runs: "inasmuch as Cicero punished . . ."

[30.] L   [73] But, since we look upon you not as the Aristarchus, ** but rather as the Phalaris ** of criticism - one who, instead of stigmatising a faulty verse, subjects the poet to physical assault - I should like to know, please, what fault you have to find with the line, "Arms to the toga must yield."   "You assert," rejoins Piso, "that the greatest general will yield to the toga." What, you ass ! must I begin to teach you your letters? For that I shall need not words but a cudgel. When I said "toga" I did not mean the toga I am wearing at this moment, nor, when I said "arms," did I mean the shield or sword of any particular general; but, since the toga is the symbol of peace and repose, and arms that of unrest and war, I did but speak after the fashion of poets, intending to convey the meaning that war and unrest would yield to peace and repose. [74] Ask your friend the Greek poet; he will pass my figure of speech and recognize it, and will feel no surprise at your lack of discernment. "But," says Piso, "what about the next phrase, 'the bay to true renown'? There I have you." On the contrary, I am much obliged to you; for you certainly would have me, were it not that you yourself have shown me the way out. For when you, craven coward that you are, yourself with those pilfering hands tore the bays from your bloodstained fasces and cast them away at the Esquiline Gate, you gave it as your opinion that the bay had yielded, not only to the highest, but even to the meanest renown. And yet, villain, you would fain imply by your argument that that line made Pompeius my enemy; so that, assuming that the line was my undoing, it may be thought that my downfall was the end aimed at by him whom the line offended. [75] I say nothing of the fact that the line had no reference to him at all ; and that it was not my way to assail with one single line the man whom I had done my best to honour in many speeches and writings. But let us assume that he was at first offended ; will he not set off against one poor verse all those volumes of mine that sing his praises? And had he been so moved, would he have hardened his heart to work the downfall, I will not say of a dear friend, of a true servant of his reputation and of the republic, of an ex-consul, of a senator, of a citizen, of a free man - would he, for a line of poetry, have hardened his heart against the life of any human creature ? [31.] L   And you - do you realise what, in whose presence, concerning whom you are speaking ? You desire to implicate men of high standing in the crime of yourself and Gabinius, and that without disguise. For a short while ago you alleged that I was pitting myself against men whom I despised, while I was leaving severely alone the more influential ** who had merited my resentment. But as for these men - for who does not know to whom you refer ? - although the case of all of them is not the same, still all of them have my approval. [76] Gnaeus Pompeius, in spite of the efforts of many to cool his zealous attachment to me, has ever held me in regard, ever counted me most worthy of his intimacy, ever had at heart not my security alone, but my dignity and my distinction. It was the deceits of you and your associates, your wickedness, your false and slanderous imputation against me of treachery and of danger ** to him as well as of those who have abused his intimacy at your suggestion by planting in his ears their vile insinuations - it was your desire for provinces, which shut his doors against me, and debarred from intercourse with and access to him all who cherished the welfare of myself, of his glory, and of the constitution. All these influences prevented him from having the courage of his convictions, for certain persons had, I will not say alienated his feelings from me, but cooled his eagerness to be of use to me. [77] Did not Lucius Lentulus, who was at that time praetor, did not Quintus Sanga, did not Lucius Torquatus the elder, did not Marcus Lucullus visit you? All these and many other of their fellow-men had already visited Pompeius at his house at Alba, to beg and implore him not to let my situation go unrelieved when it was closely bound up with the well-being of the state. He sent them on to you and your colleague that you might espouse the public cause and bring a motion before the senate. For himself he was unwilling, he said, to match himself against an armed tribune of the plebs, unless backed by an official resolution; but should the consuls act upon a decree of the senate and defend the constitution, then he would take up arms. [78] And have you any recollection, miserable man, of the answer you gave ? - an answer the insolence of which roused all your appellants, but Torquatus above all, to fury. You said that you could not rise to the courage which Torquatus ** or myself had shown in our consulships ; that there was no need of arms nor of a conflict ; that it was in my power a second time to save the state by bowing to the storm ; that my resistance would mean endless massacre; and finally he said that neither he nor his son-in-law nor his colleague would desert the tribune of the plebs. And now can a public enemy and traitor like yourself plead that you are the last man whom I should treat as an opponent ?

[32.] L   [79] As to Gaius Caesar, I am aware that he has not always shared my political sentiments; but none the less, as I have often said of him to my present audience, he wished me to be identified with the whole policy of his consulship, and in all the honours which he shared with his closest friends he desired my participation, laying them at my feet, and inviting and entreating my acceptance of them. A perhaps unreasonable regard for consistency prevented me from going over to his side ; I did not wish to be on a footing of close attachment with one not even to whose kindnesses was I prepared to surrender my own convictions. In your consulship it is supposed that there was some conflict of opinion whether his enactments of the preceding year should remain in force or should be repealed. ** What more need I say? If he thought that such peculiar vigour and virtue resided in me that my resistance would bring his enactments to the ground, surely I may make allowances for him if he placed his own interests before mine! [80] But I say no more of the past. When Gnaeus Pompeius with his utmost zeal and energy, and even at the risk of his life, espoused my cause ; when he was approaching the municipal towns on my behalf, and interceding for the loyal support of Italy ; when he was constantly sitting next to Publius Lentulus the consul and the upholder of my restoration ; when he was making himself the mouthpiece of the senate, and at public meetings was avowing himself not only the champion of my safety but a humble interceder for me, he united with himself as assistant and ally to this end one whom he knew to be influential, and whom he had learned to be not averse to me ; I mean Gaius Caesar. You see now that to you I have good grounds for being not merely an opponent but a foe, and not merely not resentful but even friendly towards those to whom you refer. One of these (and never shall I forget the fact) has been as good a friend to me as to himself; while the other (and I shall take no pains to remember the fact) was at times a truer friend to himself than to me. [81] Furthermore it commonly happens that brave men, after being locked in fierce and deadly combat, lay aside the hatred of the conflict when they cease from the battle itself and discard their arms. And indeed Caesar could never bring himself to hate me, even in the moment of our dissension. It is the property of virtue, which you know not even by sight, that her aspect and her beauty charm the brave, even in an enemy.

[33.] L   In truth, conscript fathers, I shall but give sincere utterance to feelings to which in the past I have given repeated expression in your hearing. Had Gaius Caesar never been my friend, had he shown unalterable resentment towards me, and behaved as my implacable and inexorable foe, even so I could not have felt otherwise than as a friend towards one who had achieved, and was still daily achieving, deeds so splendid ; for it is not the rampart of the Alps, nor the Rhine which floods and foams between its trenched banks, but his command of our armies which I account our true shield and barrier against the ascent and invasion of the Gauls and the barbarous tribes of Germany. [82] It is to him we owe it that, should the mountains be levelled with the plain and the rivers be dried up, we should still hold our Italy fortified not by nature's bulwarks but by his victories and his exploits. But since he courts me, esteems me, thinks me worthy of every sort of praise, shall you call me from a feud with you back to a quarrel with him? Shall you thus by your crimes renew our country's long-past miseries ? This result, though you were well aware of the close union between Caesar and myself, you tried to conjure away when you asked of - trembling lips, to be sure, but still you did ask - why I did not take proceedings against you? Although, as far as I am concerned,
  I shall not ease your pang by weak disclaiming, **
still it is my duty to consider how heavy and anxious a responsibility I am asking my dear friend to bear, embarrassed as he already is by the grave affairs of state and by a formidable war. Yet I do not despair, Much our youth is listless and does not live as it should in the pursuit of fame and glory, that there will be some who will not be averse from stripping this abandoned carcass of the spoils of its consulship, ** especially when they have so shattered, so resourceless, so enfeebled, so nerveless a creature to put on trial - you, who have so acted as to show that you were afraid of being thought quite undeserving of any preferment, unless you could prove a perfect counterpart of him ** who sent you to your province.

[34.] L   [83] Or do you imagine that I have made but a perfunctory scrutiny into the blots that stain your command and the havoc you have wrought in your province? Not as sleuth-hounds upon the trail have I tracked your mere footsteps; no, every wriggle of your body, every print upon your every resting-place, has been for me a clue that I have followed to the death. Careful note has been taken by me even of those crimes that stained your earliest arrival, when you were bribed by the people of Dyrrachium to murder Plator your host, when you sojourned at the house of the very man whose life-blood you had bargained away, and when, after accepting from him slave-musicians and other presents, you reassured his fears and deep misgivings, and invited him to visit Thessalonica under the security of your protection. And though the wretched man was ready to bow his neck to the axe of his guest, you were not content with the ancient and approved method of execution, but ordered the physician whom you had taken out with you to open his veins. [84] To the murder of Plator you added that of Pleuratus his friend, whom you scourged to death, worn out though he was with extreme old age. You also, having sold yourself for the purpose for three hundred talents to King Cotys, beheaded Rabocentus, a chieftain of the Bessic tribe, when he had come as a delegate to your camp to promise you strong garrisons and auxiliaries of horse and foot from the Bessi; and not him alone, also all his fellow-delegates whose lives you sold to King Cotys. Against the Denseleti, a tribe which has always been submissive to this empire, and which even at the general rising of the barbarians preserved Macedonia when Gaius Sentius was praetor, ** you waged an abominable and piteous war, and though you might have had them for your trusted allies, you preferred to treat them as your bitterest foes. In this way you turned into plunderers and marauders the men who might have been the permanent defenders of Macedonia; they threw our revenues into confusion, they captured our cities, they laid waste our lands, they led away our allies into slavery, they carried off whole households, they drove off cattle, and they compelled the people of Thessalonica, who despaired of saving their town, to fortify their citadel. [35.] L   [85] You it was who sacked the temple of Jupiter Urius, ** most ancient and most venerated of all the barbarian shrines. Yours are the crimes which the immortal gods have expiated upon our troops; attacked, as they were, by a single form of disease, when no one, who had once fallen sick, was able to recover, no one had any doubt that it was the violation of hospitality, the murders of delegates, the war wantonly and wickedly waged against peaceable allies, and the plundering of temples, which were responsible for this devastating pestilence.

You may recognise in this brief selection the general nature of your wickedness and cruelty. [86] What need for me to lay bare the full tale of your avarice, intertwined as it is with the endless catalogue of your crimes? I will content myself with alluding in general terms to a few notorious examples. Did you not leave to be put out to usury in Rome the eighteen millions of sestertius which had been paid to you from the treasury, nominally as your outfit-money, but really the price for which my life had been bought? After the people of Apollonia had paid you two hundred talents at Rome to gain exemption from their just debts, did you not deliberately sell the accomplished Roman knight Fufidius to them - the creditor to his debtors? ** Did you not, after handing over your winter quarters to your legate and your prefect, utterly destroy those wretched communities, which were not only utterly drained of all their wealth but which also were forced to submit to the unspeakable and abominable degradation of your lustfulness ? What was your method of valuing corn ** or your complimentary gifts - if indeed those can be called complimentary which were extorted by threats and violence ? These excesses were felt with equal acuteness by all, but most bitterly by the Boetians, the Byzantines, the Chersonese, and Thessalonica. For three years you were sole master, sole valuer, sole retailer of all the corn in the entire province.

[36.] L   [87] What need for me to adduce your investigations into capital charges, your bargains with defendants, your selling of justice, your savage condemnations and your capricious acquittals ? Realising as you must that I am acquainted with but a bare fraction of the whole, you may recollect for yourself the number and enormity of your offences under this head. Do you recall anything of that arms-factory where, by rounding up all the cattle of the whole province under the name of hides, ** you re-enacted all that profiteering which was a domestic legacy from your father? for, when already a grown-up youth, you had seen your home choked full of the profits made by your father in the Italian war, ** when he was in charge of munitions. Again, do you remember that your province was made tributary to your slaves ** by the imposition of a fixed import-duty upon every single article that came into the market? [88] And the centurionships that you openly sold - what of them ? What of the precedences dispensed by your slave-minion? What of the pay counted out to your troops throughout all those years by the states, upon tables set out under the public gaze ? What of your journey to Pontus and your venture there ? What of your mental prostration and despair when news came that Macedonia was made a praetorian province, when you turned pale and went into a dead faint, not only because you were being superseded, but because Gabinius was not? What of the fact that you passed over your ex-aedile subordinates, and gave the charge of the province to a quaestor? That you insulted all the best of your legates, and refused to receive the military tribunes, while it was at your orders that the brave Marcus Baebius was put to death ? [89] What of all the occasions when, racked by misgiving and despair, you collapsed in abject and grief-stricken lamentation? What of your act in dispatching to that priest, ** the idol of the people, legions of our friends and allies to be exposed to wild beasts ? What of the fact that, scarce able to support your grief and chagrin on your departure from the province, you made your way first to Samothrace and then to Thasos with your effeminate retinue of dancers and with those pretty brothers, Autobulus, Athamas, and Timocles? That on leaving Thasos you spent days of listless dejection at the villa of Euchadia, who had been the wife of Execestus, and thence, disguising yourself in ragged garments, came by night to Thessalonica without telling anyone? That here, unable to endure the crowds who besieged you with their wailing and bombarded you with their complaints, you took refuge at the town of Beroea which lay off your road? And how in that town, elated by a rumour which filled you with a delusive hope that Quintus Ancharius would not succeed you, you relapsed, wretch, into all your old excesses ?

[37.] L   [90] I say nothing of the gold collected for the crown, ** and how you hovered in tormenting indecision whether to take it or no ; for your son-in-law's measure ** forbade that it should be decreed or accepted, unless a triumph were decreed. But in respect of this, as in the case of the hundred talents of the Achaeans, you could not bring yourself to disgorge money that you had already received and engulfed; you merely changed the names and descriptions of the various sums. I say nothing of the licences which you scattered broadcast over the province, the tale of ships which you requisitioned or the sum-total of your spoils, I say nothing of your system of levying and commandeering corn, nothing of your robbing both communities and individuals of their liberties, though they had received them expressly as rewards - all offences which are explicitly forbidden by the Julian law.

[91] Aetolia, far removed from barbarian tribes, lying in the lap of peace, reposes snugly almost at the very heart of Greece ; but you, scourge and destructive demon of our allies, ruined that unhappy land by your departure. Arsinoë, Stratus, Naupactus, splendid and wealthy cities, were on your own admission - in fact you called our attention to the affair just now - captured by the enemy. And who was that enemy ? Why, the very enemy whom you, while quartered at Ambracia on your first arrival, compelled to evacuate the towns of the Agrianes and the Dolopes and to abandon their altars and their hearths! At that departure, O illustrious imperator, when to crown all previous disasters had come the sudden ruin of Aetolia, you disbanded your army; and there is no penalty that might be due to such guilt which you did not prefer to incur rather than to pass in review the miserable remnant of your army.

[38.] L   [92] And that you, conscript fathers, may be enabled to note the close resemblance in military and imperial conduct of our two Epicurean generals, I would remind you that Albucius, after winning a triumph in Sardinia, was found guilty at Rome. Piso, though he anticipated a like fate, set up trophies in Macedonia; and the things which all nations have designed to be the emblems and memorials of glory and victory in war were by this parody of an imperator of ours made the fixed and fatal evidences of lost towns, massacred legions, a province stripped of its garrison and all its remaining troops, to the undying disgrace of his family and his name; and then, that he might have something to inscribe and engrave on the pedestal of his trophies, when on his return he came to Dyrrachium, he was besieged by the very soldiers who, as he recently said in reply to Torquatus, had been disbanded by him as an act of kindness. [93] Having assured these soldiers on oath that he would on the next day pay every penny due to them, he retired to the shelter of his house ; and then, at dead of night, in slippers, in the garb of a slave, he went aboard, and, avoiding Brundisium, made for the remotest shores of the Adriatic ; while in the meantime the soldiers at Dyrrachium began to beset the house in which they thought he was, and, imagining that he lay concealed there, set fire to it. The people of Dyrrachium were alarmed at the uproar, and disclosed the fact that the imperator had decamped by night in slippers. The troops then proceeded to overthrow, smash, grind to powder, and scatter to the winds a statue - an excellent likeness of the original - which Piso had desired to be erected in a busy spot, in order that the memory of so sweet a gentleman might not perish. Thus the hatred which they had hoped to wreak upon the man himself was vented by them upon his likeness and effigy.

[94] In face of all these facts - for, in view of my acquaintance with the more outstanding, you can surely not imagine that the ordinary rank and file of your misdemeanours has escaped my hearing - there is no need for your encouragement, no need for your invitation. ** That I be reminded is enough; but this reminder none other shall address to me save that crisis in public affairs which seems to me to be more imminent than you have ever dreamed.

[39.] L   Do you at all perceive, do you at all realise, whom we are likely to have as jurymen hereafter, now that the law ** regulating judicial procedure is passed? Willingness to serve will not constitute a qualification, any more than unwillingness a ground of exemption. None will be arbitrarily pushed into the order of jurymen, none arbitrarily excluded. Vain will be the efforts of intrigue to make interest for itself, vain the efforts of prejudice to create rivalry; the men who will sit to give their verdict will be men selected by the law, not by human caprice. In this condition of affairs you will not, I assure you, have to wheedle a reluctant prosecutor to his task. The case itself and the call of the common weal will summon or dissuade, as the situation may demand, either myself or, as I should much prefer, some other.

[95] For my own part, ** as I said earlier, the accidents that to, perhaps, the generality of men are supposed to constitute punishments - condemnation, for instance, or banishment, or death - I count as no punishments at all; more, I hold that no punishment is involved in an event which may happen to the innocent, the brave, the wise, or to one who is a true man and a true citizen. That condemnation which is demanded for you befell Publius Rutilius, in whom our society found its ideal of irreproachable conduct ; and I think that it was not upon Rutilius that the punishment fell so much as upon his jury and upon the state. Lucius Opimius was driven forth from his country - the man who, as praetor and as consul, had delivered the commonwealth from dire peril ; but the retribution that endures - the guilt, I mean, and the consciousness of guilt - cleaves not to the victim but to the perpetrators of that outrage. Catiline on the other hand was twice acquitted ; acquitted too was he to whom you owe your province, - ** after he had defiled with his adulteries the couches of the Good Goddess. But who was there in all our numerous community who imagined that he was freed thereby from the guilt of incest, or who did not think that the authors of that verdict were themselves tied and bound by a guilt no less heinous ?

[40.] L   [96] Or am I to wait until five-and-seventy ** voting-tablets are sorted into ayes and noes to determine your fate, when upon you every mortal creature of every class, every age, every rank of society, has long since given his pronouncement ? For who is there who considers you a fit person to be approached, to be in any way distinguished, or even to be greeted with ordinary civility ? All expunge from the state the hateful memory of your consulship, your every act and quality, your very face and name. The legates who served with you are estranged from you, your military tribunes are your enemies, while your centurions, and any soldiers who may yet survive from that great army which you dispersed rather than disbanded, detest you, invoke a plague upon you, call down curses upon your head. Achaea drained, Thessaly harried, Athens mutilated, Dyrrachium and Apollonia desolated, Ambracia looted, the Parthini and the people of Bulis mocked, Epirus wasted, Locris, Phocis, and Boeotia gutted, Acarnania, Amphilochia, Perraebia, and the Athamanes sold, Macedonia made a free gift to the barbarians, Aetolia lost, the Dolopes and the mountaineers upon their borders driven from their towns and fields, and Roman citizens who have commercial dealings in those countries, - all these felt that it was as an arch-plunderer of themselves and their allies, an arch-harasser, an arch-robber, and an arch-foe that you came into their midst.

[97] Lastly, to clinch these grave and numerous pronouncements, the verdict of "Guilty" is confirmed by the pronouncement you have passed against yourself - your secret arrival, your stealthy passage across Italy, your entry into the city when not a friend acclaimed you, the absence of any dispatch to the senate from your province, and of any congratulatory message after three years of campaigning, and your silence as regards a triumph; you cannot bring yourself to tell us not only what you did, but even where you were. And when from that famous source and nursery of triumphs you had brought back to us a few withered leaves of bay which you cast away and abandoned by the gate, then too out of your own mouth you uttered against yourself the word "Guilty." Granted that you yourself had done nothing worthy of honour, what had you done with your army, your funds, your authority, your province that was so fair a field for thanksgivings and for triumphs? But if you had ventured to cherish some hope, if you did nurse those dreams which your name of imperator, your laurelled fasces, and those trophies which brought you nothing but disgrace and ridicule prove you to have entertained, then who more wretched, who more utterly condemned than yourself, who neither ventured to write to the senate of your success in the affairs of state, nor to tell them of it in their presence ?

[41.] L   [98] Or do you think that to me, with whom it has ever been a conviction that each man's career should be assessed by his actions and not by their results, and that it is not by the voting-tablets of a handful of jurymen but by the judgements of the general body of our citizens that our fame and our fortune should be weighed, - do you think that to me you can appear anything but condemned, when our allies, when all communities whether federated, free, or tributary, when the merchants, the tax-farmers, the whole of our civic community, the legates, the centurion, and all the remnant of your troops who have escaped the sword or famine or disease, account you worthy of every torment; when neither before the senate nor before the knights of Rome nor before any order of society, neither in the city nor in Italy, can any extenuating circumstances be adduced to procure indulgence for your enormous crimes; when you loathe your own self, fear all your fellow-men, will venture to entrust your cause to none, and, in a word, pass verdict of "Guilty" upon yourself ?

[99] Never have I thirsted for your blood ; never have I invoked against you that final execution of law and judgement which may visit the just and the unjust alike. But to see you abject, despised, scorned by your fellows, a thing that despairs of itself and lives abandoned by itself, that peers into every corner and quakes at every whisper, that lives mistrustful of itself, without voice, liberty or authority, stripped of its consular pride, a shivering, trembling, fawning wretch - this have I desired to see you; and my desire has been gratified. Therefore if the blow you fear falls at last upon you, I shall not take it amiss ; but should that blow be perchance deferred, your humiliation will yet be mine to enjoy ; I shall be as well pleased to see you in daily dread of impeachment as if you were actually impeached ; nor shall I be less glad to see you always a mean object of men's pity than if for a brief while you claimed that pity by your garb. **


64.   i.e, he disgraced his Gallic, much more his Roman antecedents.

65.   Braccae were the national garb of Gallia Narbonensis, which Pliny calls Gallia Braccata.

66.   Apprehended the Allobroges on the Mulvian Bridge with the letters to Catiline.

67.   i.e., in order that they might appear to be ordinary citizens.

68.   All the passage that follows is ironical.

69.   Pomptinus was waiting for a triumph over the Allobroges ; the process essential to it had been begun, and he could not now draw back.

70.   C. Julius Caesar, now in Gaul.

71.   Lex Iulia de Repetundis.

72.   Plautus, Trinummus, ii. 4. 18.

73.   "Tried to get an excuse for a triumph by worrying some wretched Alpine tribes," Heitland.

74.   Consul 75; for successes in Gaul was granted a triumph, but died of an old wound before he could celebrate it.

75.   Idiota, a Greek word used in contempt, as we should say "low-brow."

76.   A female disciple of Epicurus,

77.   Those celebrated by Pompey in 55 at the opening of his theatre.

78.   A poor joke: the crowing of the gallus reminds him of his Gallic grandfather.

79.   { The "Greek" was Philodemus, who was a distinguished Epicurean philosopher and also a poet - as confirmed by Asconius (p. 16C). }

80.   "Said of one who cannot make a right use of a thing" (Lewis & Short).

81.   Lit., "he wanted to seal up the papers," i.e., insisted on the literal meaning, and would have no discussion.

82.   "Cedant arma togae; concedat laurea laudi": the much-pilloried line from C.'s poem De consulatu meo; Piso suggests that Pompey took offence at it.

83.   i.e., Clodius's law laying C. under an interdict.

84.   vel. iub.: the usual formula in the enactment of a law,

85.   The great scholar and Homeric critic of Alexandria.

86.   The Sicilian tyrant who roasted his victims in a brazen bull.

87.   i.e., C. had attacked Piso and Gabinius, but dared not attack Caesar and Pompey.

88.   C. was accused of forming a plot against P.'s life.

89.   Catiline had plotted against the life of Torquatus in his consulship, 65,

90.   In 58, C. betrayed some intention of getting the acts of Caesar's consulship repealed, and it was to save these that Caesar consented to C.'s banishment.

91.   From Accius's tragedy Atreus.

92.   i.e., by prosecuting Piso.

93.   P. Clodius.

94.   In 88.

95.   Zeus ourios (giver of prosperity).

96.   i.e., they bribed Piso to let them repudiate their debt to Fufidius.

97.   A sum of money was allowed to a governor by the Senate for his household's maintenance; this was based on a fixed price for corn and an estimate of the amount of corn required. In times of low prices, or if the governor could compound with the farmers for a low price, he could pocket the surplus. C. says that Verres (In Verr. iii. 81) took a larger amount of corn than the official estimate, and made something on every bushel thus taken.

98.   i.e., P. could requisition hides, but he took the animals too, a true son of his father, the war-profiteer.

99.   The Social War, 91-89.

100.   i.e, slaves were allowed to collect the duty.

101.   Clodius, so called in ironical reference to the Bona Dea scandal.

102.   Presented by provincials to a retiring governor.

103.   Lex Iulia de Repetundis.

104.   i.e., "for me to prosecute you."

105.   A law passed by Pompey in the year this speech was delivered had raised the property qualification of jurors, with the result, C. suggests, that those empanelled would be under less temptation to sell their votes,

106.   C. is explaining why he does not prosecute Piso: "instead of saying that he dared not . . . he has some silly talk about innocent men being convicted," Long.

107.   Clodius.

108.   Apparently the regular number of jurors empanelled at this date.

109.   Sordidus is a general epithet to describe an outcast such as C. has just pictured ; sordidatus denotes the attire and disorder adopted by defendants to enlist sympathy.

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