Marcus Tullius Cicero.

The Orations of Marcus Tullius Cicero, Volume 4 online

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do you think that his brother Lucius would permit him? It has been
reported that lately at Tibur, when Marcus Antonius appeared to him to
be wavering, he, Lucius, threatened his brother with death. And do
we suppose that the orders of the senate, and the words of the
ambassadors, will be listened to by this Asiatic gladiator? It will be
impossible for him to be separated from a brother, especially from one
of so much authority. For he is another Africanus among them. He is
considered of more influence than Lucius Trebellius, of more than
Titus Plancus [lacuna] a noble young man. As for Plancus, who, having
been condemned by the unanimous vote of every one, amid the
overpowering applause of you yourselves, somehow or other got mixed up
in this crowd, and returned with a countenance so sorrowful, that he
appeared to have been dragged back rather than to have returned, he
despises him to such degree, as if he were interdicted from fire and
water. At times he says that that man who set the senate house on fire
has no right to a place in the senate house. For at this moment he is
exceedingly in love with Trebellius. He hated him some time ago, when
he was opposing an abolition of debts, but now he delights in him,
ever since he has seen that Trebellius himself cannot continue in
safety without an abolition of debts. For I think that you have heard,
O Romans, what indeed you may possibly have seen, that the sureties
and creditors of Lucius Trebellius meet every day. Oh confidence! for
I imagine that Trebellius has taken this surname, what can be greater
confidence than defrauding one's creditors? than flying from one's
house? than, because of one's debts, being forced to go to war? What
has become of the applauses which he received on the occasion of
Caesar's triumph, and often at the games? Where is the aedileship that
was conferred on him by the zealous efforts of all good men? who is
there who does not now think that he acted virtuously by accident?

* * * * *

V However, I return to your love and especial delight, Lucius
Antonius, who has admitted you all to swear allegiance to him. Do
you deny it? is there any one of you who does not belong to a tribe?
Certainly not. But thirty five tribes have adopted him for their
patron. Do you again cry out against my statement? Look at that gilt
statue of him on the left what is the inscription upon it? "The thirty
five tribes to their patron." Is then Lucius Antonius the patron of
the Roman people? Plague take him! For I fully assent to your outcry.
I won't speak of this bandit whom no one would choose to have for
a client, but was there ever a man possessed of such influence, or
illustrious for mighty deeds, as to dare to call himself the patron of
the whole Roman people, the conqueror and master of all nations? We
see in the forum a statue of Lucius Antonius, just as we see one of
Quintus Tremulus, who conquered the Hernici, before the temple of
Castor. Oh the incredible impudence of the man! Has he assumed all
this credit to himself, because as a mumillo at Mylasa he slew the
Thracian, his friend? How should we be able to endure him, if he had
fought in this forum before the eyes of you all? But, however, this
is but one statue. He has another erected by the Roman knights who
received horses from the state,[36] and they too inscribe on that,
"To their patron". Who was ever before adopted by that order as its
patron? If it ever adopted any one as such, it ought to have adopted
me. What censor was ever so honoured? what imperator? "But he
distributed land among them". Shame on their sordid natures for
accepting it! shame on his dishonesty for giving it!

Moreover, the military tribunes who were in the army of Caesar have
erected him a statue. What order is that? There have been plenty of
tribunes in our numerous legions in so many years. Among them he has
distributed the lands of Semurium. The Campus Martius was all that was
left, if he had not first fled with his brother. But this allotment
of lands was put an end to a little while ago, O Romans, by the
declaration of his opinion by Lucius Caesar a most illustrious man and
a most admirable senator. For we all agreed with him and annulled the
acts of the septemvirs. So all the kindness of Nucula[37] goes for
nothing, and the patron Antonius is at a discount. For those who had
taken possession will depart with more equanimity. They had not been
at any expense, they had not yet furnished or stocked their domains,
partly because they did not feel sure of their title, and partly
because they had no money.

But as for that splendid statue, concerning which, if the times were
better, I could not speak without laughing, "To Lucius Antonius,
patron of the middle of Janus"[38] Is it so? Is the middle of Janus a
client of Lucius Antonius? Who ever was found in that Janus who would
have lent Lucius Antonius a thousand sesterces?

VI. However, we have been spending too much time in trifles. Let us
return to our subject and to the war. Although it was not wholly
foreign to the subject for some characters to be thoroughly
appreciated by you, in order that you might in silence think over who
they were against whom you were to wage war.

But I exhort you, O Romans, though perhaps other measures might have
been wiser, still now to wait with calmness for the return of the
ambassadors. Promptness of action has been taken from our side, but
still some good has accrued to it. For when the ambassadors have
reported what they certainly will report, that Antonius will not
submit to you nor to the senate, who then will be so worthless a
citizen as to think him deserving of being accounted a citizen? For at
present there are men, few indeed, but still more than there ought to
be, or than the republic deserves that there should be, who speak in
this way, - "Shall we not even wait for the return of the ambassadors?"
Certainly the republic itself will force them to abandon that
expression and that pretence of clemency. On which account, to confess
the truth to you, O Romans, I have less striven to day, and laboured
all the less to day, to induce the senate to agree with me in
decreeing the existence of a seditious war, and ordering the apparel
of war to be assumed. I preferred having my sentiments applauded by
every one in twenty days' time, to having it blamed to day by a few.
Wherefore, O Romans, wait now for the return of the ambassadors, and
devour your annoyance for a few days. And when they do return, if
they bring back peace, believe me that I have been desirous that they
should, if they bring back war, then allow me the praise of foresight.
Ought I not to be provident for the welfare of my fellow-citizens?
Ought I not day and night to think of your freedom and of the safety
of the republic? For what do I not owe to you, O Romans, since you
have preferred for all the honours of the state a man who is his own
father to the most nobly born men in the republic? Am I ungrateful?
Who is less so? I, who, after I had obtained those honours, have
constantly laboured in the forum with the same exertions as I used
while striving for them. Am I inexperienced in state affairs? Who has
had more practice than I, who have now for twenty years been waging
war against impious citizens?

VII Wherefore, O Romans, with all the prudence of which I am master,
and with almost more exertion than I am capable of, will I put forth
my vigilance and watchfulness in your behalf In truth, what citizen
is there, especially in this rank in which you have placed me, so
forgetful of your kindness, so unmindful of his country, so hostile to
his own dignity, as not to be roused and stimulated by your wonderful
unanimity? I, as consul, have held many assemblies of the people,
I have been present at many others, I have never once seen one so
numerous as this one of yours now is. You have all one feeling, you
have all one desire, that of averting the attempts of Marcus Antonius
from the republic, of extinguishing his frenzy and crushing his
audacity. All orders have the same wish. The municipal towns, the
colonies, and all Italy are labouring for the same end. Therefore you
have made the senate, which was already pretty firm of its own accord,
firmer still by your authority. The time has come, O Romans, later
altogether than for the honour of the Roman people it should have
been, but still so that the things are now so ripe that they do not
admit of a moment's delay. There has been a sort of fatality, if I
may say so, which we have borne as it was necessary to bear it. But
hereafter if any disaster happens to us it will be of our own seeking.
It is impossible for the Roman people to be slaves, that people whom
the immortal gods have ordained should rule over all nations. Matters
are now come to a crisis. We are fighting for our freedom. Either you
must conquer, O Romans, which indeed you will do if you continue to
act with such piety and such unanimity, or you must do anything rather
than become slaves. Other nations can endure slavery. Liberty is the
inalienable possession of the Roman people.



After the senate had decided on sending them, the ambassadors
immediately set out, though Servius Sulpicius was in a very bad state
of health. In the meantime the partisans of Antonius in the city, with
Calenus at their head were endeavouring to gain over the rest of the
citizens, by representing him as eager for an accommodation and they
kept up a correspondence with him, and published such of his letters
as they thought favourable for their views. Matters being in this
state, Cicero, at an ordinary meeting of the senate, made the
following speech to counteract the machinations of this party, and to
warn the citizens generally of the danger of being deluded by them.

I. We are consulted to-day about matters of small importance, but
still perhaps necessary, O conscript fathers. The consul submits a
motion to us about the Appian road, and about the coinage, the tribune
of the people one about the Luperci. And although it seems easy to
settle such matters as those, still my mind cannot fix itself on such
subjects, being anxious about more important matters. For our affairs,
O conscript fathers, are come to a crisis, and are in a state of
almost extreme danger. It is not without reason that I have always
feared and never approved of that sending of ambassadors. And what
their return is to bring us I know not, but who is there who does not
see with how much languor the expectation of it infects our minds? For
those men put no restraint on themselves who grieve that the senate
has revived so as to entertain hopes of its former authority, and
that the Roman people is united to this our order, that all Italy is
animated by one common feeling, that armies are prepared, and generals
ready for the armies, even already they are inventing replies for
Antonius, and defending them. Some pretend that his demand is that all
the armies be disbanded. I suppose then we sent ambassadors to him,
not that he should submit and obey this our body, but that he should
offer us conditions, impose laws upon us, order us to open Italy to
foreign nations, especially while we were to leave him in safety from
whom there is more danger to be feared than from any nation whatever.
Others say that he is willing to give up the nearer Gaul to us, and
that he will be satisfied with the further Gaul. Very kind of him! in
order that from thence he may endeavour to bring not merely legions,
but even nations against this city. Others say that he makes no
demands now but such as are quite moderate. Macedonia he calls
absolutely his own, since it was from thence that his brother Caius
was recalled. But what province is there in which that firebrand may
not kindle a conflagration? Therefore those same men, like provident
citizens and diligent senators, say that I have sounded the charge,
and they undertake the advocacy of peace. Is not this the way in
which they argue? "Antonius ought not to have been irritated, he is
a reckless and a bold man, there are many bad men besides him." (No
doubt, and they may begin and count themselves first). And they warn
us to be on our guard against them. Which conduct then is it which
shows the more prudent caution chastising wicked citizens when one is
able to do so, or fearing them?

II. And these men speak in this way, who on account of their trifling
disposition used to be considered friends of the people. From which
it may be understood that they in their hearts have at all times been
disinclined to a good constitution of the state, and they were not
friends of the people from inclination. For how comes it to pass that
those men who were anxious to gratify the people in evil things, now,
on an occasion which above all others concerns the people's interests,
because the same thing would be also salutary for the republic, now
prefer being wicked to being friends of the people? This noble cause
of which I am the advocate has made me popular, a man who (as you
know) have always opposed the rashness of the people. And those men
are called, or rather they call themselves, consulars; though no man
is worthy of that name except those who can support so high an honour.
Will you favour an enemy? Will you let him send you letters about his
hopes of success? Will you be glad to produce them? to read them? Will
you even give them to wicked citizens to take copies of? Will you thus
raise their courage? Will you thus damp the hopes and valour of the
good? And then will you think yourself a consular, or a senator, or
even a citizen? Caius Pansa, a most fearless and virtuous consul, will
take what I say in good part. For I will speak with a disposition
most friendly to him; but I should not consider him himself a consul,
though a man with whom I am most intimate, unless he was such a consul
as to devote all his vigilance, and cares, and thoughts to the safety
of the republic.

Although long acquaintance, and habit, and a fellowship and
resemblance in the most honourable pursuits, has bound us together
from his first entrance into life; and his incredible diligence,
proved at the time of the most formidable dangers of the civil war,
showed that he was a favourer not only of my safety, but also of my
dignity; still, as I said before, if he were not such a consul as I
have described, I should venture to deny that he was a consul at all.
But now I call him not only a consul, but the most excellent and
virtuous consul within my recollection; not but that there have been
others of equal virtue and equal inclination, but still they have not
had an equal opportunity of displaying that virtue and inclination.
But the opportunity of a time of most formidable change has been
afforded to his magnanimity, and dignity, and wisdom. And that is the
time when the consulship is displayed to the greatest advantage, when
it governs the republic during a time which, if not desirable, is at
all events critical and momentous. And a more critical time than the
present, O conscript fathers, never was.

III. Therefore I, who have been at all times an adviser of peace,
and who, though all good men always considered peace, and especially
internal peace, desirable, have desired it more than all of them; - for
the whole of the career of my industry has been passed in the forum
and in the senate-house, and in warding off dangers from my friends;
it is by this course that I have arrived at the highest honours, at
moderate wealth, and at any dignity which we may be thought to have: I
therefore, a nursling of peace, as I may call myself, I who, whatever
I am, (for I arrogate nothing to myself,) should undoubtedly not have
been such without internal peace: I am speaking in peril: I shudder to
think how you will receive it, O conscript fathers: but still, out of
regard for my unceasing desire to support and increase your dignity, I
beg and entreat you, O conscript fathers, although it may be a bitter
thing to hear, or an incredible thing that it should be said by Marcus
Cicero, still to receive at first, without offence, what I am going
to say, and not to reject it before I have fully explained what it
is; - I, who, I will say so over and over again, have always been a
panegyrist, have always been an adviser of peace, do not wish to have
peace with Marcus Antonius. I approach the rest of my speech with
great hope, O conscript fathers, since I have now passed by that
perilous point amid your silence.

Why then do I not wish for peace? Because it would be shameful;
because it would be dangerous; because it cannot possibly be real. And
while I explain these three points to you, I beg of you, O conscript
fathers, to listen to my words with the same kindness which you
usually show to me.

What is more shameful than inconsistency, fickleness, and levity, both
to individuals, and also to the entire senate? Moreover, what can be
more inconsistent than on a sudden to be willing to be united in peace
with a man whom you have lately adjudged to be an enemy, not by words,
but by actions and by many formal decrees? Unless, indeed, when you
were decreeing honours to Caius Caesar, well-deserved indeed by and
fairly due to him, but still unprecedented and never to be forgotten,
for one single reason, - because he had levied an army against Marcus
Antonius, - you were not judging Marcus Antonius to be an enemy; and
unless Antonius was not pronounced an enemy by you, when the veteran
soldiers were praised by your authority, for having followed Caesar;
and unless you did not declare Antonius an enemy when you promised
exemptions and money and lands to those brave legions, because they
had deserted him who was consul while he was an enemy.

IV. What? when you distinguished with the highest praises Brutus, a
man born under some omen, as it were, of his race and name, for the
deliverance of the republic, and his army, which was waging war
against Antonius on behalf of the liberty of the Roman people, and the
most loyal and admirable province of Gaul, did you not then pronounce
Antonius an enemy? What? when you decreed that the consuls, one or
both of them, should go to the war, what war was there if Antonius was
not an enemy? Why then was it that most gallant man, my own colleague
and intimate friend, Aulus Hirtius the consul, has set out? And in
what delicate health he is; how wasted away! But the weak state of his
body could not repress the vigour of his mind. He thought it fair, I
suppose, to expose to danger in defence of the Roman people that life
which had been preserved to him by their prayers. What? when you
ordered levies of troops to be made throughout all Italy, when you
suspended all exemptions from service, was he not by those steps
declared to be an enemy? You see manufactories of arms in the city;
soldiers, sword in hand, are following the consul; they are in
appearance a guard to the consul, but in fact and reality to us; all
men are giving in their names, not only without any shirking, but
with the greatest eagerness; they are acting in obedience to your
authority. Has not Antonius been declared an enemy by such acts?

"Oh, but we have sent ambassadors to him." Alas, wretched that I am!
why am I compelled to find fault with the senate whom I have always
praised? Why? Do you think, O conscript fathers, that you have induced
the Roman people to approve of the sending ambassadors? Do you not
perceive, do you not hear, that the adoption of my opinion is demanded
by them? that opinion which you, in a full house, agreed to the day
before, though the day after you allowed yourselves to be brought down
to a groundless hope of peace. Moreover, how shameful it is for the
legions to send out ambassadors to the senate, and the senate to
Antonius! Although that is not an embassy; it is a denunciation that
destruction is prepared for him if he do not submit to this order.
What is the difference? At all events, men's opinions are unfavourable
to the measure; for all men see that ambassadors have been sent, but
it is not all who are acquainted with the terms of your decree.

V. You must, therefore, preserve your consistency, your wisdom, your
firmness, your perseverance. You must go back to the old-fashioned
severity, if at least the authority of the senate is anxious to
establish its credit, its honour, its renown, and its dignity, things
which this order has been too long deprived of. But there was some
time ago some excuse for it, as being oppressed; a miserable excuse
indeed, but still a fair one; now there is none. We appeared to have
been delivered from kingly tyranny; and afterwards we were oppressed
much more severely by domestic enemies. We did indeed turn their arms
aside; we must now wrest them from their hands. And if we cannot do
so, (I will say what it becomes one who is both a senator and a Roman
to say,) let us die. For how just will be the shame, how great will be
the disgrace, how great the infamy to the republic, if Marcus Antonius
can deliver his opinion in this assembly from the consular bench. For,
to say nothing of the countless acts of wickedness committed by him
while consul in the city, during which time he has squandered a vast
amount of public money, restored exiles without any law, sold our
revenues to all sorts of people, removed provinces from the empire of
the Roman people, given men kingdoms for bribes, imposed laws on the
city by violence, besieged the senate, and, at other times, excluded
it from the senate-house by force of arms; - to say nothing, I say, of
all this, do you not consider this, that he who has attacked Mutina, a
most powerful colony of the Roman people - who has besieged a general
of the Roman people, who is consul elect - who has laid waste the
lands, - do you not consider, I say, how shameful and iniquitous a
thing it would be for that man to be received into this order, by
which he has been so repeatedly pronounced an enemy for these very

I have said enough of the shamefulness of such a proceeding; I will
now speak next, as I proposed, of the danger of it; which, although it
is not so important to avoid as shame, still offends the minds of the
greater part of mankind even more.

VI. Will it then be possible for you to rely on the certainty of any
peace, when you see Antonius, or rather the Antonii, in the city?
Unless, indeed, you despise Lucius: I do not despise even Caius. But,
as I think, Lucius will be the dominant spirit, - for he is the patron
of the five-and-thirty tribes, whose votes he took away by his law, by
which he divided the magistracies in conjunction with Caius Caesar.
He is the patron of the centuries of the Roman knights, which also he
thought fit to deprive of the suffrages: he is the patron of the men
who have been military tribunes; he is the patron of the middle of
Janus. O ye gods! who will be able to support this man's power?
especially when he has brought all his dependants into the lands. Who
ever was the patron of all the tribes? and of the Roman knights? and
of the military tribunes? Do you think that the power of even the
Gracchi was greater than that of this gladiator will be? whom I have
called gladiator, not in the sense in which sometimes Marcus Antonius
too is called gladiator, but as men call him who are speaking plain
Latin. He has fought in Asia as a mirmillo. After having equipped his
own companion and intimate friend in the armour of a Thracian, he slew
the miserable man as he was flying; but he himself received a palpable
wound, as the scar proves.

What will the man who murdered his friend in this way, when he has an
opportunity, do to an enemy? and if he did such a thing as this for
the fun of the thing, what do you think he will do when tempted by the
hope of plunder? Will he not again meet wicked men in the decuries?
will he not again tamper with those men who have received lands? will
he not again seek those who have been banished? will he not, in short,
be Marcus Antonius; to whom, on the occasion of every commotion, there
will be a rush of all profligate citizens? Even if there be no one
else except those who are with him now, and these who in this body
now openly speak in his favour, will they be too small in number?
especially when all the protection which we might have had from good
men is lost, and when those men are prepared to obey his nod? But I
am afraid, if at this time we fail to adopt wise counsels, that that
party will in a short time appear too numerous for us. Nor have I any

Online LibraryMarcus Tullius CiceroThe Orations of Marcus Tullius Cicero, Volume 4 → online text (page 12 of 51)