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justlost her husband Piso, who had gallantly maintained
her father's cause throughout, but she was the first to
welcome him with tears of joy which overmastered her


sorrow. He was careful to lose no chance of making
his return impressive. He took his way to Eome with
the slow march of a conqueror. The journey which
Horace made easily in twelve days, occupied Cicero
twenty-four. But he chose not the shortest "but the
most public route, through Naples, Capua, Minturnae,
Terracina, and Aricia.

Let him tell the story of his own reception. If he
tells it (as he does more than once) with an undis-
guised pride, it is a pride with which it is impossible
not to sympathise. He boasted afterwards that he had
been "carried back to Eome on the shoulders of Italy; "
and Plutarch says it was a boast he had good right to

" Who does not know what my return home was
like? How the people of Brundusium held out to me,
as I might say, the right hand of welcome on behalf of
all my native land ? From thence to Eome my progress
was like a march of all Italy. There was no district, no
town, corporation, or colony, from which a public de-
putation was not sent to congratulate me. Why need
I speak of my arrival at each place ? how the people
crowded the streets in the towns ; how they flocked
in from the country fathers of families with wives
and children ? How can I describe those days, when
all kept holiday, as though it were some high festival
of the immortal gods, in joy for my safe return 1 That
single day was to me like immortality; when I re-
turned to my own city, when I saw the Senate and
the population of all ranks come forth to greet me,
when Eome herself looked as though she had wrenched


herself from her foundations to rush to embrace her
preserver. For she received me in such sort, that not
only all sexes, ages, and callings, men and women, of
every rank and degree, but even the very walls, the
houses, the temples, seemed to share the universal joy."
The Senate in a body came out to receive him on
the Appian road ; a gilded chariot waited for him at
the citv gates : the lower class of citizens crowded

/ o y

the steps of the temples to see him as he passed; and so
he rode, escorted by troops of friends, more than a con-
queror, to the Capitol.

His exultation was naturally as intense as his de-
spair had been. He made two of his most florid
speeches (if indeed they be his, which is doubtful),
one in the Senate and another to the people assembled
in the Forum, in which he congratulated himself on
his return, and Rome on having regained her most
illustrious citizen. It is a curious note of the temper
and logical capacities of the mob, in all ages of the
world alike, that within a few hours of their applaud-
ing to the echo this speech of Cicero's, Clodius suc-
ceeded in exciting them to a serious riot by appealing
to the ruinous price of corn as one of the results of the
exile's return.

For nearly four years more, though unable to shake
Cicero's recovered position in the state for he was now
supported by Pompey Clodius and his partisans,
backed by a strong force of trained gladiators in their
pay, kept Eome in a state of anarchy which is almost
inexplicable. It was more than suspected that Crassus,
now utterly estranged from Pompey, supplied out of


his enormous wealth the means of keeping on foot this
lawless agitation. Elections were overawed, meetings
of the Senate interrupted, assassinations threatened
and attempted. Already men began to look to mili-
tary rule, and to think a good cause none the worse
for being backed by " strong battalions." Things were
fast tending to the point where Pompey and Csesar,
trusty allies as yet in profession and appearance, deadly
rivals at heart, hoped to step in with their veteran le-
gions. Even Cicero, the man of peace and constitution-
al statesman, felt comfort in the thought that this final
argument could be resorted to by his own party. But
Clodius's mob-government, at any rate, was to be put
an end to somewhat suddenly. Milo, now one of the
candidates for the consulship, a man of determined and
unscrupulous character, had turned his own weapons
against him, and maintained an opposition patrol of
hired gladiators and wild-beast fighters. The Senate
quite approved, if they did not openly sanction, this
irregular championship of their order. The two par-
ties walked the streets of Rome like the Capulets and
Montagues at Verona ; and it was said that Milo had
been heard to swear that he would rid the city of
Clodius if he ever got the chance. It came at last, in a
casual meeting on the Appian road, near Bovilla?. A
scuffle began between their retainers, and Clodius was
killed his friends said, murdered. The excitement at
Rome was intense : the dead body was carried and laid
publicly on the Rostra, Riots ensued; Milo was obliged
to fly, and renounce his hopes of power ; and the Senate,
intimidated, named Pompey not indeed "Dictator,"


for the name had become almost as hateful as that of
King but sole consul, for the safety of the state.

Cicero had resumed his practice as an advocate, and
was now called upon to defend Milo. But Pompey,
either from some private grudge, or in order to win
favour with the populace, determined that Milo should
be convicted. The jury were overawed by his presence
in person at the trial, and by the occupation by armed
soldiers of all the avenues of the court under colour of
keeping order. It was really as great an outrage upon
the free administration of justice as the presence of a
regiment of soldiers at the entrance to Westminster
Hall would be at a modern trial for high treason or
sedition. Cicero affected to see in Pompey's legionaries
nothing more than the maintainers of the peace of the
city. But he knew better ; and the fine passage in the
opening of his speech for the defence, as it has come
down to us, is at once a magnificent piece of irony, and
a vindication of the rights of counsel.

" Although I am conscious, gentlemen, that it is a
disgrace to me to show fear when I stand here to plead
in behalf of one of the bravest of men; and espe-
cially does such weakness ill become me, that when
Milo himself is far more anxious about the safety of
the state than about his own, I should be unable to
bring to his defence the like magnanimous spirit ;
yet this strange scene and strangely constituted court
does terrify my eyes, for, turn them where I will, I
look in vain for the ancient customs of the Forum,
and the old style of public trials. For your tribunal
to-day is girt with no such audience as was wont ; this


is no ordinary crowd that hems us in. Yon guards
whom you see on duty in front of all the temples,
though set to prevent violence, yet still do a sort of
violence to the pleader ; since in the Forum and the
court of justice, though the military force which sur-
rounds us be wholesome and needful, yet we cannot
even "be thus freed from apprehension without looking
with some apprehension on the means. And if I
thought they were set there in hostile array against
Milo, I would yield to circumstances, gentlemen, and
feel there was no room for the pleader amidst such
a display of weapons. But I am encouraged by the
advice of a man of great wisdom and justice of
Pompey, who surely would not think it compatible
with that justice, after committing a prisoner to the
verdict of a jury, then to hand him over to the swords
of his soldiers j nor consonant with his wisdom to
arm the violent passions of a mob with the authority
of the state. Therefore those weapons, those officers
and men, proclaim to us not peril but protection ; they
encourage us to be not only undisturbed but confident ;
they promise me not only support in pleading for
the defence, but silence for it to be listened to. As
to the rest of the audience, so far as it is composed
of peaceful citizens, all, I know, are on our side;
nor is there any single man among all those crowds
whom you see occupying every point from which a
glimpse of this court can be gained, looking on in
anxious expectation of the result of this trial, who,
while he approves the boldness of the defendant,
does not also feel that the fate of himself, his chil-
A. c. vol. ix. B


dren, and his country, hangs upon the issue of to-

After an elaborate argument to prove that the slay-
ing of Clodius by Milo was in self-defence, or, at the
worst, that it was a fate which he well deserved as a
public enemy, he closes his speech with a peroration,
the pathos of which has always been admired :

" I would it had been the will of heaven if I may
say .so with all reverence for my country, for I fear lest
my duty to my client may make me say what is dis-
loyal towards her I would that Publius Clodius were
not only alive, but that he were praetor, consul, dic-
tator even, before my eyes had seen this sight ! But
what says Milo ? He speaks like a brave man, and a
man whom it is your duty to protect ' Not so by
no means,' says he. ' Clodius has met the doom he
well deserved : I am ready, if it must be so, to meet
that which I do not deserve.' . . . But I must
stop ; I can no longer speak for tears ; and tears are
an argument which he would scorn for his defence. I
entreat you, I adjure you, ye who sit here in judg-
ment, that in your verdict you dare to give utterance
to what I know you feel."

But the appeal was in vain, or rather, as far as we can
ascertain, was never made, at least in such powerful
terms as those in which we read it. The great advo-
cate was wholly unmanned by the scene before him,
grew nervous, and broke down utterly in his speech
for the defence. This presence of a military force
under the orders of Pompey the man in whom he
saw, as he hoped, the good genius of Rome overawed


and disturbed him. The speech which we read is
almost certainly not that which he delivered, but, as
in the previous case of Verres, the finished and elabo-
rate composition of his calmer hours. Milo was con-
victed by a large majority ; in fact, there can be little
doubt but that he was legally guilty, however political
expediency might, in the eyes of Cicero and his party,
have justified his deed. Cato sat on the jury, and did
all he could to insure an acquittal, showing openly his
voting-paper to his fellow-jurors, with that scorn of the
" liberty of silence " which he shared with Cicero.

Milo escaped any worse penalty by at once going
into voluntary banishment at Marseilles. But he
showed more practical philosophy than his advocate;
for when he read the speech in his exile, he is said to
have declared that " it was fortunate for him it was
not spoken, or he should never have known the flavour
of the red mullet of Marseilles."

The removal of Clodius was a deliverance upon
which Cicero never ceased to congratulate himself.
That "battle of Bovillae," as he terms it, became an era
in his mental records of only less significance than his
consulship. His own public life continued to be hon-
ourable and successful. He was elected into the Col-
lege of Augurs, an honour which he had long coveted ;
and he was appointed to the government of Cilicia.
This latter was a greatness literally "thrust upon
him," and which he would gladly have declined, for it
took him away in these eventful days from his beloved
Rome ; and to these grand opportunities for enriching
himself he was, as has been said, honourably indiffe-


rent. The appointment to a distant province was, in
fact, to a man like Cicero, little better than an honour-
able form of exile : it was like conferring on a man
who had been, and might hope one day to be again,
Prime Minister of England, the governor-generalship
of Bombay.

One consolation he found on reaching his new govern-
ment that even in the farthest wilds of Cilicia there
were people who had heard of " the consul who saved
Eome. " And again the astonished provincials marvelled
at a governor who looked upon them as having rights of
their own, and neither robbed nor ill-used them. He
made a little war, too, upon some troublesome hill-tribes
(intrusting the command chiefly to his brother Quintus,
who had served with distinction under Caesar in Gaul),
and gained a victory which his legions thought of suffi-
cient importance to salute him with the honoured title
of " imperator." Such military honours are especially
flattering to men who, like Cicero, are naturally and
essentially civilians ; and to Cicero's vanity they were
doubly delightful. Unluckily they led him to entertain
hopes of the further glory of a triumph; and this, but
for the revolution which followed, he might possibly
have obtained. As it was, the only result was his
parading about with him everywhere, from town to
town, for months after his return, the lictors with
laurelled fasces, which betokened that a triumph was
claimed a pompous incumbrance, which became, as
he confessed, a grand subject for evil-disposed jesters,
and a considerable inconvenience to himself.



THE future master of Rome was now coming home,
after nearly ten years' absence, at the head of the victo-
rious legions with which he had struck terror into the
Germans, overrun all Spain, left his mark upon Britain,
and " pacified" Gaul. But Cicero, in common with most
of the senatorial party, failed to see in Julius Caesar the
great man that he was. He hesitated a little Caesar
would gladly have had his support, and made him fair
offers ; but when the Rubicon was crossed, he threw in his
lot with Pompey. He was certainly influenced in part
by personal attachment : Pompey seems to have exer-
cised a degree of fascination over his weakness. He
knew Pompey's indecision of character, and confessed
that Cassar was "a prodigy of energy;" but though
the former showed little liking for him, he clung to
him nevertheless. He foreboded that, let the contest
end which way it would, " the result would certainly
be a despotism." He foresaw that Pompey's real
designs were as dangerous to the liberties of Rome as
any of which Caesar could be suspected. " Sullaturit


animus" he says of him in one of his letters, coining
a verb to put his idea strongly " he wants to be like
Sulla." And it was no more than the truth. He
found out afterwards, as he tells Atticus, that pro-
scription-lists of all Caesar's adherents had been pre-
pared by Pompey and his partisans, and that his old
friend's name figured as one of the victims. Only this
makes it possible to forgive him for the little feeling
that he showed when he heard of Pompey's own
miserable end.

Cicero's conduct and motives at this eventful crisis
have been discussed over and over again. It may be
questioned whether at this date we are in any position
to pass more than a very cautious and general judg-
ment upon them. "We want all the "state papers"
and political correspondence of the day not Cicero's
letters only, but those of Caesar and Pompey and Len-
tulus, and much information besides that was never
trusted to pen or paper in order to lay down
with any accuracy the course which a really unselfish
patriot could have taken. But there seems little
reason to accuse Cicero of double-dealing or trimming
in the worst sense. His policy was unquestionably,
from first to last, a policy of expedients. But expe-
diency is, and must be more or less, the watchword of
a statesman. If he would practically serve his country,
he must do to some extent what Cicero professed to
do make friends with those in power. " Sic vivitur "
" So goes the world ; " " Tempori servimdum est "
" We must bend to circumstances " these are not the
noblest mottoes, but they are acted upon continually


"by the most respectable men in public and private life,
who do not open their hearts to their friends so un-
reservedly as Cicero does to his friend Atticus. It
seemed to him a choice between Pompey and Csesar ;
and he probably hoped to be able so far to influence
the former, as to preserve some shadow of a constitu-
tion for Eome. What he saw in those " dregs of a
Republic," * as he himself calls it, that was worth pre-
serving ; how any honest despotism could seem to him
more to be dreaded than that prostituted liberty, this
is harder to comprehend. The remark of Abeken
seems to go very near the truth "His devotion to
the commonwealth was grounded not so much upon
his conviction of its actual merits, as of its fitness for
the display of his own abilities."

But that commonwealth was past saving even in
name. Within two months of his having been de-
clared a public enemy, all Italy was at Csesar's feet.
Before another year was past, the battle of Pharsalia
had been fought, and the great Pompey lay a headless
corpse on the sea-shore in Egypt. It was suggested
to Cicero, who had hitherto remained constant to the
fortunes of his party, and was then in their camp at
Dyrrachium, that he should take the chief command,
but he had the sense to decline ; and though men
called him " traitor," and drew their swords upon him,
he withdrew from a cause which he saw was lost, and
returned to Italy, though not to Eome.

The meeting between him and Caesar, which came
at last, set at rest any personal apprehensions from that
* "FsexRomuli."


quarter. Cicero does not appear to have made any
dishonourable submission, and the conqueror's beha-
viour was nobly forgetful of the past. They gradually
became on almost friendly terms. The orator paid the
Dictator compliments in the Senate, and found that,
in private society, his favourite jokes were repeated to
the great man, and were highly appreciated. With
such little successes he was obliged now to be content.
He had again taken up his residence in Rome ; but his
political occupation was gone, and his active mind had
leisure to employ itself in some of his literary works.

It was at this time that the blow fell upon him
which prostrated him for the time, as his exile had
done, and under which he claims our far more natural
sympathy. His dear daughter Tullia again married,
but unhappily, and just divorced died at his Tusculan
villa. Their loving intercourse had undergone no
change from her childhood, and his grief was for a
while inconsolable. He shut himself up for thirty
days. The letters of condolence from well-meaning
friends were to him as they so often are as the
speeches of the three comforters to Job. He turned
in vain, as he pathetically says, to philosophy for

It was at this time that he wrote two of his philo-
sophical treatises, known to us as ' The True Ends of
Life,'* and the 'Tusculan Disputations,' of which
more will be said hereafter. In this latter, which he
named from his favourite country-house, he addressed
himself to the subjects which suited best with his own
* ' De Finibus Bonorum et Malorum 'a title hard to translate.


sorrowful mood under his recent bereavement. How
men might learn to shake off the terrors of death nay,
to look upon it rather as a release from pain and evil ;
how pain, mental and bodily, may best be borne ; how
we may moderate our passions ; and, lastly, whether the
practice of virtue be not all-sufficient for our happiness.

A philosopher does not always find in himself a
ready pupil. It was hardly so in Cicero's case. His
arguments were incontrovertible ; but he found them
fail .him sadly in their practical application to life.
He never could shake off from himself that dread of
death which he felt in a degree unusually vivid for a
Roman. He sought his own happiness afterwards, as
he had done before, rather in the exciting struggle of
public life than in the special cultivation of any form
of virtue; and he did not even find the remedy for
his present domestic sorrow in any of those general
moral reflections which philosophy, Christian as well
as pagan, is so ready to produce upon such occasions ;
which are all so undeniable, and all so utterly unen-
durable to the mourner.

Cicero found his consolation, or that diversion of
thought which so mercifully serves the purpose of con-
solation, where most men of active minds like his
seek for it and find it in hard work. The literary
effort of writing and completing the works which have
been just mentioned probably did more to soothe his
mind than all the arguments which they contained.
He resumed his practice as an advocate so far as to
plead a cause before Caesar, now ruling as Dictator at
Home the last cause, as events happened, that he was


ever to plead. It was a cause of no great importance
a defence of Deiotarus, titulary king of Armenia,
who was accused of having entertained designs against
the life of Caesar while entertaining him as a guest in
his palace. The Dictator reserved his judgment until
he should have made his campaign against the Par-
thians. That more convenient season never came : for
"before the spring campaign could open, the fatal " Ides
of March " cut short Caesar's triumphs and his life.



IT remained for Cicero yet to take a part in one
more great national struggle the last for Eome and
for himself. No doubt there was some grandeur in
the cause which he once more so vigorously espoused
the recovery of the liberties of Eome. But all the
thunders of Cicero's eloquence, and all the admiration
of modern historians and poets, fail to enlist our hearty
sympathies with the assassins of Caesar. That " con-
secration of the dagger" to the cause of liberty has
been the fruitful parent of too much evil ever since to
make its use anything but hateful. That Cicero was
among the actual conspirators is probably not true,
though his enemies strongly asserted it. But at least
he gloried in the deed when done, and was eager to
claim all the honours of a tyrannicide. Nay, he went
farther than the actual conspirators, in words at least ;
it is curious to find him so careful to disclaim com-
plicity in the act. " Would that you had invited me to
that banquet on the Ides of March ! there would then
have been no leavings from the feast," he writes to


Cassius. He would have had their daggers turned on
Antony, at all events, as well as on Caesar. He wishes
that " the gods may damn Caesar after he is dead ;"
professing on this occasion a belief in a future retribu-
tion, on which at other times he was sceptical. It is
but right to remember all this, when the popular tide
turned, and he himself came to be denounced to polit-
ical vengeance. The levity with which he continually
speaks of the assassination of Caesar a man who had
never treated him, at any rate, with anything but a
noble forbearance is a blot on Cicero's character
which his warmest apologists admit.

The bloody deed in the Capitol was done a deed
which was to turn out almost what Goethe called it
"the most absurd that ever was committed." The
great Dictator who lay there alone, a " bleeding piece
of earth," deserted by the very men who had sought of
late to crown him, was perhaps Rome's fittest master j
certainly not the worst of the many with whom a per-
sonal ambition took the place of principle. Three
slaves took up the dead body of their master, and
carried it home to his house. Poor wretches ! they
knew nothing about liberty or the constitution ; they
had little to hope, and probably little to fear j they
had only a humble duty to do, and did it. But when
we read of them, and of that freedman who, not long
before, sat by the dead body of Pompey till he could
scrape together wreck from the shore to light some sort
of poor funeral-pile, we return with a shudder of dis-
gust to those "noble Romans" who occupy at this
time the foreground of history.


Caesar had been removed, but it is plain that Brutus
and Cassius and their party had neither the ability
nor the energy to make any real use of their bloody
triumph. Cicero soon lost all hope of seeing in them
the liberators of his country, or of being able to guide
himself the revolution which he hoped he had seen
begun. " We have been freed," he writes to Atticus,
" but we are not free." " "We have struck down the
tyrant, but the tyranny survives." Antony, in fact, had
taken the place of Caesar as master of Rome a change
in all respects for the worse. He had surrounded

Online LibraryW. Lucas (William Lucas) CollinsCicero → online text (page 5 of 24)