XXII. It was you, you, I say, O Marcus Antonius, who gave Caius Caesar, desirous as he already was to throw everything into confusion, the principal pretext for waging war against his country. For what other pretence did he allege? what cause did he give for his own most frantic resolution and action, except that the power of interposition by the veto had been disregarded, the privileges of the tribunes taken away, and Antonius's rights abridged by the senate? I say nothing of how false, how trivial these pretences were; especially when there could not possibly be any reasonable cause whatever to justify any one in taking up arms against his country. But I have nothing to do with Caesar. You must unquestionably allow, that the cause of that ruinous war existed in your person.
O miserable man if you are aware, more miserable still if you are not aware, that this is recorded in writings, is handed down to men's recollection, that our very latest posterity in the most distant ages will never forget this fact, that the consuls were expelled from Italy, and with them Cnaeus Pompeius, who was the glory and light of the empire of the Roman people; that all the men of consular rank, whose health would allow them to share in that disaster and that flight, and the praetors, and men of praetorian rank, and the tribunes of the people, and a great part of the senate, and all the flower of the youth of the city, and, in a word, the republic itself was driven out and expelled from its abode. As, then, there is in seeds the cause which produces trees and plants, so of this most lamentable war you were the seed. Do you, O conscript fathers, grieve that these armies of the Roman people have been slain? It is Antonius who slew them. Do you regret your most illustrious citizens? It is Antonius, again, who has deprived you of them. The authority of this order is overthrown; it is Antonius who has overthrown it. Everything, in short, which we have seen since that time, (and what misfortune is there that we have not seen?) we shall, if we argue rightly, attribute wholly to Antonius. As Helen was to the Trojans, so has that man been to this republic,—the cause of war, the cause of mischief, the cause of ruin. The rest of his tribuneship was like the beginning. He did everything which the senate had laboured to prevent, as being impossible to be done consistently with the safety of the republic. And see, now, how gratuitously wicked he was even in accomplishing his wickedness.
XXIII. He restored many men who had fallen under misfortune. Among them no mention was made of his uncle. If he was severe, why was he not so to every one? If he was merciful, why was he not merciful to his own relations? But I say nothing of the rest. He restored Licinius Lenticula, a man who had been condemned for gambling, and who was a fellow-gamester of his own. As if he could not play with a condemned man; but in reality, in order to pay by a straining of the law in his favour, what he had lost by the dice. What reason did you allege to the Roman people why it was desirable that he should be restored? I suppose you said that he was absent when the prosecution was instituted against him; that the cause was decided without his having been heard in his defence; that there was not by a law any judicial proceeding established with reference to gambling; that he had been put down by violence or by arms; or lastly, as was said in the case of your uncle, that the tribunal had been bribed with money. Nothing of this sort was said. Then he was a good man, and one worthy of the republic. That, indeed, would have been nothing to the purpose, but still, since being condemned does not go for much, I would forgive you if that were the truth. Does not he restore to the full possession of his former privileges the most worthless man possible,—one who would not hesitate to play at dice even in the forum, and who had been convicted under the law which exists respecting gambling,—does not he declare in the most open manner his own propensities?
Then in this same tribuneship, when Caesar while on his way into Spain had given him Italy to trample on, what journeys did he make in every direction! how did he visit the municipal towns! I know that I am only speaking of matters which have been discussed in every one's conversation, and that the things which I am saying and am going to say are better known to every one who was in Italy at that time, than to me, who was not. Still I mention the particulars of his conduct, although my speech cannot possibly come up to your own personal knowledge. When was such wickedness ever heard of as existing upon earth? or such shamelessness? or such open infamy?
XXIV. The tribune of the people was borne along in a chariot, lictors crowned with laurel preceded him; among whom, on an open litter, was carried an actress; whom honourable men, citizens of the different municipalities, coming out from their towns under compulsion to meet him, saluted not by the name by which she was well known on the stage, but by that of Volumnia. A car followed full of pimps; then a lot of debauched companions; and then his mother, utterly neglected, followed the mistress of her profligate son, as if she had been her daughter-in-law. O the disastrous fecundity of that miserable woman! With the marks of such wickedness as this did that fellow stamp every municipality, and prefecture, and colony, and, in short, the whole of Italy.
To find fault with the rest of his actions, O conscript fathers, is difficult, and somewhat unsafe. He was occupied in war; he glutted himself with the slaughter of citizens who bore no resemblance to himself. He was fortunate—if at least there can be any good fortune in wickedness. But since we wish to show a regard for the veterans, although the cause of the soldiers is very different from yours; they followed their chief; you went to seek for a leader; still, (that I may not give you any pretence for stirring up odium against me among them,) I will say nothing of the nature of the war.
When victorious, you returned with the legions from Thessaly to Brundusium. There you did not put me to death. It was a great kindness! For I confess that you could have done it. Although there was no one of those men who were with you at that time, who did not think that I ought to be spared. For so great is men's affection for their country, that I was sacred even in the eyes of your legions, because they recollected that the country had been saved by me. However, grant that you did give me what you did not take away from me; and that I have my life as a present from you, since it was not taken from me by you; was it possible for me, after all your insults, to regard that kindness of yours as I regarded it at first, especially after you saw that you must hear this reply from me?
XXV. You came to Brundusium, to the bosom and embraces of your actress. What is the matter? Am I speaking falsely? How miserable is it not to be able to deny a fact which it is disgraceful to confess! If you had no shame before the municipal towns, had you none even before your veteran army? For what soldier was there who did not see her at Brundusium? who was there who did not know that she had come so many days' journey to congratulate you? who was there who did not grieve that he was so late in finding out how worthless a man he had been following?
Again you made a tour through Italy, with that same actress for your companion. Cruel and miserable was the way in which you led your soldiers into the towns; shameful was the pillage in every city, of gold and silver, and above all, of wine. And besides all this, while Caesar knew nothing about it, as he was at Alexandria, Antonius, by the kindness of Caesar's friends, was appointed his master of the horse. Then he thought that he could live with Hippia by virtue of his office, and that he might give horses which were the property of the state to Sergius the buffoon. At that time he had selected for himself to live in, not the house which he now dishonours, but that of Marcus Piso. Why need I mention his decrees, his robberies, the possessions of inheritances which were given him, and those too which were seized by him? Want compelled him; he did not know where to turn. That great inheritance from Lucius Rubrius, and that other from Lucius Turselius, had not yet come to him. He had not yet succeeded as an unexpected heir to the place of Cnaeus Pompeius, and of many others who were absent. He was forced to live like a robber, having nothing beyond what he could plunder from others.
However, we will say nothing of these things, which are acts of a more hardy sort of villany. Let us speak rather of his meaner descriptions of worthlessness. You, with those jaws of yours, and those sides of yours, and that strength of body suited to a gladiator, drank such quantities of wine at the marriage of Hippia, that you were forced to vomit the next day in the sight of the Roman people. O action disgraceful not merely to see, but even to hear of! If this had happened to you at supper amid those vast drinking cups of yours, who would not have thought it scandalous? But in an assembly of the Roman people, a man holding a public office, a master of the horse, to whom it would have been disgraceful even to belch, vomiting filled his own bosom and the whole tribunal with fragments of what he had been eating reeking with wine. But he himself confesses this among his other disgraceful acts. Let us proceed to his more splendid offences.
XXVI. Caesar came back from Alexandria, fortunate, as he seemed at least to himself; but in my opinion no one can be fortunate who is unfortunate for the republic. The spear was set up in front of the temple of Jupiter Stator, and the property of Cnaeus Pompeius Magnus—(miserable that I am, for even now that my tears have ceased to flow, my grief remains deeply implanted in my heart,)—the property, I say, of Cnaeus Pompeius the Great was submitted to the pitiless, voice of the auctioneer. On that one occasion the state forgot its slavery, and groaned aloud, and though men's minds were enslaved, as everything was kept under by fear, still the groans of the Roman people were free. While all men were waiting to see who would be so impious, who would be so mad, who would be so declared an enemy to gods and to men as to dare to mix himself up with that wicked auction, no one was found except Antonius, even though there were plenty of men collected round that spear who would have dared anything else. One man alone was found to dare to do that which the audacity of every one else had shrunk from and shuddered at. Were you, then, seized with such stupidity,—or, I should rather say, with such insanity,—as not to see that if you, being of the rank in which you were born, acted as a broker at all, and above all as a broker in the case of Pompeius's property, you would be execrated and hated by the Roman people, and that all gods and all men must at once become and for ever continue hostile to you? But with what violence did that glutton immediately proceed to take possession of the property of that man, to whose valour it had been owing that the Roman people had been more terrible to foreign nations, while his justice had made it dearer to them.
XXVII. When, therefore, this fellow had begun to wallow in the treasures of that great man, he began to exult like a buffoon in a play, who has lately been a beggar, and has become suddenly rich. But, as some poet or other says,—
"Ill gotten gain comes quickly to an end."
It is an incredible thing, and almost a miracle, how he in a few, not months, but days, squandered all that vast wealth. There was an immense quantity of wine, an excessive abundance of very valuable plate, much precious apparel, great quantities of splendid furniture, and other magnificent things in many places, such as one was likely to see belonging to a man who was not indeed luxurious, but who was very wealthy. Of all this in a few days there was nothing left. What Charybdis was ever so voracious? Charybdis, do I say? Charybdis, if she existed at all, was only one animal. The ocean, I swear most solemnly, appears scarcely capable of having swallowed up such numbers of things so widely scattered, and distributed in such different places, with such rapidity. Nothing was shut up, nothing sealed up, no list was made of anything. Whole storehouses were abandoned to the most worthless of men. Actors seized on this, actresses on that, the house was crowded with gamblers, and full of drunken men, people were drinking all day, and that too in many places, there were added to all this expense (for this fellow was not invariably fortunate) heavy gambling losses. You might see in the cellars of the slaves, couches covered with the most richly embroidered counterpanes of Cnaeus Pompeius. Wonder not, then, that all these things were so soon consumed. Such profligacy as that could have devoured not only the patrimony of one individual, however ample it might have been, (as indeed his was) but whole cities and kingdoms.
And then his houses and gardens! Oh the cruel audacity! Did you dare to enter into that house? Did you dare to cross that most sacred threshold? and to show your most profligate countenance to the household gods who protect that abode? A house which for a long time no one could behold, no one could pass by without tears! Are you not ashamed to dwell so long in that house? one in which, stupid and ignorant as you are, still you can see nothing which is not painful to you.
XXVIII. When you behold those beaks of ships in the vestibule, and those warlike trophies, do you fancy that you are entering into a house which belongs to you? It is impossible. Although you are devoid of all sense and all feeling,—as in truth you are,—still you are acquainted with yourself, and with your trophies, and with your friends. Nor do I believe that you either waking or sleeping, can ever act with quiet sense. It is impossible but that, were you ever so drunk and frantic,—as in truth you are,—when the recollection of the appearance of that illustrious man comes across you, you should be roused from sleep by your fears, and often stirred up to madness if awake. I pity even the walls and the roof. For what had that house ever beheld except what was modest, except what proceeded from the purest principles and from the most virtuous practice? For that man was, O conscript fathers, as you yourselves know, not only illustrious abroad, but also admirable at home; and not more praiseworthy for his exploits in foreign countries, than for his domestic arrangements. Now in his house every bedchamber is a brothel, and every dining-room a cookshop. Although he denies this:—Do not, do not make inquiries. He is become economical. He desired that mistress of his to take possession of whatever belonged to her, according to the laws of the Twelve Tables. He has taken his keys from her, and turned her out of doors. What a well-tried citizen! of what proved virtue is he! the most honourable passage in whose life is the one when he divorced himself from this actress.
But how constantly does he harp on the expression "the consul Antonius!" This amounts to say "that most debauched consul," "that most worthless of men, the consul." For what else is Antonius? For if any dignity were implied in the name, then, I imagine, your grandfather would sometimes have called himself "the consul Antonius." But he never did. My colleague too, your own uncle, would have called himself so. Unless you are the only Antonius. But I pass over those offences which have no peculiar connexion with the part you took in harassing the republic; I return to that in which you bore so principal a share,—that is, to the civil war; and it is mainly owing to you that that was originated, and brought to a head, and carried on.
XXIX. Though you yourself took no personal share in it, partly through timidity, partly through profligacy, you had tasted, or rather had sucked in, the blood of fellow-citizens: you had been in the battle of Pharsalia as a leader; you had slain Lucius Domitius, a most illustrious and high-born man; you had pursued and put to death in the most barbarous manner many men who had escaped from the battle, and whom Caesar would perhaps have saved, as he did some others.
And after having performed these exploits, what was the reason why you did not follow Caesar into Africa; especially when so large a portion of the war was still remaining? And accordingly, what place did you obtain about Caesar's person after his return from Africa? What was your rank? He whose quaestor you had been when general, whose master of the horse when he was dictator, to whom you had been the chief cause of war, the chief instigator of cruelty, the sharer of his plunder, his son, as you yourself said, by inheritance, proceeded against you for the money which you owed for the house and gardens, and for the other property which you had bought at that sale. At first you answered fiercely enough, and that I may not appear prejudiced against you in every particular, you used a tolerably just and reasonable argument. "What, does Caius Caesar demand money of me? why should he do so, any more than I should claim it of him? Was he victorious without my assistance? No, and he never could have been. It was I who supplied him with a pretext for civil war, it was I who proposed mischievous laws, it was I who took up arms against the consuls and generals of the Roman people, against the senate and people of Rome, against the gods of the country, against its altars and healths, against the country itself. Has he conquered for himself alone? Why should not those men whose common work the achievement is, have the booty also in common?" You were only claiming your right, but what had that to do with it? He was the more powerful of the two.
Therefore, stopping all your expostulations, he sent his soldiers to you, and to your sureties, when all on a sudden out came that splendid catalogue of yours. How men did laugh! That there should be so vast a catalogue, that their should be such a numerous and various list of possessions, of all of which, with the exception of a portion of Misenum, there was nothing which the man who was putting them up to sale could call his own. And what a miserable sight was the auction. A little apparel of Pompeius's, and that stained, a few silver vessels belonging to the same man, all battered, some slaves in wretched condition, so that we grieved that there was anything remaining to be seen of these miserable relics. This auction, however, the heirs of Lucius Rubrius prevented from proceeding, being armed with a decree of Caesar to that effect. The spendthrift was embarrassed. He did not know which way to turn. It was at this very time that an assassin sent by him was said to have been detected with a dagger in the house of Caesar. And of this Caesar himself complained in the senate, inveighing openly against you. Caesar departs to Spain, having granted you a few days delay for making the payment, on account of your poverty. Even then you do not follow him. Had so good a gladiator as you retired from business so early? Can any one then fear a man who was as timid as this man in upholding his party, that is, in upholding his own fortunes?
XXX. After some time he at last went into Spain; but, as he says, he could not arrive there in safety. How then did Dolabella manage to arrive there? Either, O Antonius, that cause ought never to have been undertaken, or when you had undertaken it, it should have been maintained to the end. Thrice did Caesar fight against his fellow-citizens; in Thessaly, in Africa, and in Spain. Dolabella was present at all these battles. In the battle in Spain he even received a wound. If you ask my opinion, I wish he had not been there. But still, if his design at first was blameable, his consistency and firmness were praiseworthy. But what shall we say of you? In the first place, the children of Cnaeus Pompeius sought to be restored to their country. Well, this concerned the common interests of the whole party. Besides that, they sought to recover their household gods, the gods of their country, their altars, their hearths, the tutelar gods of their family; all of which you had seized upon. And when they sought to recover those things by force of arms which belonged to them by the laws, who was it most natural—(although in unjust and unnatural proceedings what can there be that is natural?)—still, who was it most natural to expect would fight against the children of Cnaeus Pompeius? Who? Why, you who had bought their property. Were you at Narbo to be sick over the tables of your entertainers, while Dolabella was fighting your battles in Spain?
And what a return was that of yours from Narbo? He even asked why I had returned so suddenly from my expedition. I have just briefly explained to you, O conscript fathers, the reason of my return. I was desirous, if I could, to be of service to the republic even before the first of January. For, as to your question, how I had returned; in the first place, I returned by daylight, not in the dark; in the second place, I returned in shoes, and in my Roman gown, not in any Gallic slippers, or barbarian mantle. And even now you keep looking at me; and, as it seems, with great anger. Surely you would be reconciled to me if you knew how ashamed I am of your worthlessness, which you yourself are not ashamed of. Of all the profligate conduct of all the world, I never saw, I never heard of any more shameful than yours. You who fancied yourself a master of the horse, when you were standing for, or I should rather say begging for the consulship for the ensuing year, ran in Gallic slippers and a barbarian mantle about the municipal towns and colonies of Gaul from which we used to demand the consulship when the consulship was stood for and not begged for.
XXXI. But mark now the trifling character of the fellow. When about the tenth hour of the day he had arrived at Red Rocks, he skulked into a little petty wine-shop, and, hiding there, kept on drinking till evening. And from thence getting into a gig and being driven rapidly to the city, he came to his own house with his head veiled. "Who are you?" says the porter. "An express from Marcus." He is at once taken to the woman for whose sake he had come; and he delivered the letter to her. And when she had read it with tears, (for it was written in a very amorous style, but the main subject of the letter was that he would have nothing to do with that actress for the future; that he had discarded all his love for her, and transferred it to his correspondent,) when she, I say, wept plentifully, this soft-hearted man could bear it no longer; he uncovered his head and threw himself on her neck. Oh the worthless man! (for what else can I call him? there is no more suitable expression for me to use,) was it for this that you disturbed the city by nocturnal alarms, and Italy with fears of many days' duration, in order that you might show yourself unexpectedly, and that a woman might see you before she hoped to do so? And he had at home a pretence of love; but out of doors a cause more discreditable still, namely, lest Lucius Plancus should sell up his sureties. But after you had been produced in the assembly by one of the tribunes of the people, and had replied that you had come on your own private business, you made even the people full of jokes against you. But, however, we have said too much about trifles. Let us come to more important subjects.
XXXII. You went a great distance to meet Caesar on his return from Spain. You went rapidly, you returned rapidly in order that we might see that, if you were not brave, you were at least active. You again became intimate with him; I am sure I do not know how. Caesar had this peculiar characteristic; whoever he knew to be utterly ruined by debt, and needy, even if he knew him also to be an audacious and worthless man, he willingly admitted him to his intimacy. You then, being admirably recommended to him by these circumstances, were ordered to be appointed consul, and that too as his own colleague. I do not make any complaint against Dolabella, who was at that time acting under compulsion, and was cajoled and deceived. But who is there who does not know with what great perfidy both of you treated Dolabella in that business? Caesar induced him to stand for the consulship. After having promised it to him, and pledged himself to aid him, he prevented his getting it, and transferred it to himself. And you endorsed his treachery with your own eagerness.
The first of January arrives. We are convened in the senate. Dolabella inveighed against him with much more fluency and premeditation than I am doing now. And what things were they which he said in his anger, O ye good gods! First of all, after Caesar had declared that before he departed he would order Dolabella to be made consul, (and they deny that he was a king who was always doing and saying something of this sort,)—but after Caesar had said this, then this virtuous augur said that he was invested with a pontificate of that sort that he was able, by means of the auspices, either to hinder or to vitiate the comitia, just as he pleased; and he declared that he would do so. And here, in the first place, remark the incredible stupidity of the man. For what do you mean? Could you not just as well have done what you said you had now the power to do by the privileges with which that pontificate had invested you, even if you were not an augur, if you were consul? Perhaps you could even do it more easily. For we augurs have only the power of announcing that the auspices are being observed, but the consuls and other magistrates have the right also of observing them whenever they choose. Be it so. You said this out of ignorance. For one must not demand prudence from a man who is never sober. But still remark his impudence. Many months before, he said in the senate that he would either prevent the comitia from assembling for the election of Dolabella by means of the auspices, or that he would do what he actually did do. Can any one divine beforehand what defect there will be in the auspices, except the man who has already determined to observe the heavens? which in the first place it is forbidden by law to do at the time of the comitia. And if any one has been observing the heavens, he is bound to give notice of it, not after the comitia are assembled, but before they are held. But this man's ignorance is joined to impudence, nor does he know what an augur ought to know, nor do what a modest man ought to do. And just recollect the whole of his conduct during his consulship from that day up to the ides of March. What lictor was ever so humble, so abject? He himself had no power at all; he begged everything of others; and thrusting his head into the hind part of his litter, he begged favours of his colleagues, to sell them himself afterwards.
XXXIII. Behold, the day of the comitia for the election of Dolabella arrives. The prerogative century draws its lot. He is quiet. The vote is declared; he is still silent. The first class is called. Its vote is declared. Then, as is the usual course, the votes are announced. Then the second class. And all this is done faster than I have told it. When the business is over, that excellent augur (you would say he must be Caius Laelius,) says,—"We adjourn it to another day." Oh the monstrous impudence of such a proceeding! What had you seen? what had you perceived? what had you heard? For you did not say that you had been observing the heavens, and indeed you do not say so this day. That defect then has arisen, which you on the first of January had already foreseen would arise, and which you had predicted so long before. Therefore, in truth, you have made a false declaration respecting the auspices, to your own great misfortune, I hope, rather than to that of the republic. You laid the Roman people under the obligations of religion; you as augur interrupted an augur; you as consul interrupted a consul by a false declaration concerning the auspices.
I will say no more, lest I should seem to be pulling to pieces the acts of Dolabella; which must inevitably sometime or other be brought before our college. But take notice of the arrogance and insolence of the fellow. As long as you please, Dolabella is a consul irregularly elected; again, while you please, he is a consul elected with all proper regard to the auspices. If it means nothing when an augur gives this notice in those words in which you gave notice, then confess that you, when you said,—"We adjourn this to another day," were not sober. But if those words have any meaning, then I, an augur, demand of my colleague to know what that meaning is.
But lest by any chance, while enumerating his numerous exploits, our speech should pass over the finest action of Marcus Antonius, let us come to the Lupercalia.
XXXIV. He does not dissemble, O conscript fathers; it is plain that he is agitated; he perspires; he turns pale. Let him do what he pleases, provided he is not sick, and does not behave as he did in the Minucian colonnade. What defence can be made for such beastly behaviour? I wish to hear, that I may see the fruit of those high wages of that rhetorician, of that land given in Leontini. Your colleague was sitting in the rostra, clothed in purple robe, on a golden chair, wearing a crown. You mount the steps; you approach his chair; (if you were a priest of Pan, you ought to have recollected that you were consul too;) you display a diadem. There is a groan over the whole forum. Where did the diadem come from? For you had not picked it up when lying on the ground, but you had brought it from home with you, a premeditated and deliberately planned wickedness. You placed the diadem on his head amid the groans of the people; he rejected it amid great applause. You then alone, O wicked man, were found, both to advise the assumption of kingly power, and to wish to have him for your master who was your colleague; and also to try what the Roman people might be able to bear and to endure. Moreover, you even sought to move his pity; you threw yourself at his feet as a suppliant; begging for what? to be a slave? You might beg it for yourself, when you had lived in such a way from the time that you were a boy that you could bear everything, and would find no difficulty in being a slave; but certainly you had no commission from the Roman people to try for such a thing for them.
Oh how splendid was that eloquence of yours, when you harangued the people stark naked! What could be more foul than this? more shameful than this? more deserving of every sort of punishment? Are you waiting for me to prick you more? This that I am saying must tear you and bring blood enough if you have any feeling at all. I am afraid that I may be detracting from the glory of some most eminent men. Still my indignation shall find a voice. What can be more scandalous than for that man to live who placed a diadem on a man's head, when every one confesses that that man was deservedly slain who rejected it? And, moreover, he caused it to be recorded in the annals, under the head of Lupercalia, "That Marcus Antonius, the consul, by command of the people, had offered the kingdom to Caius Caesar, perpetual dictator; and that Caesar had refused to accept it." I now am not much surprised at your seeking to disturb the general tranquillity; at your hating not only the city but the light of day; and at your living with a pack of abandoned robbers, disregarding the day, and yet regarding nothing beyond the day. For where can you be safe in peace? What place can there be for you where laws and courts of justice have sway, both of which you, as far as in you lay, destroyed by the substitution of kingly power? Was it for this that Lucius Tarquinius was driven out; that Spurius Cassius, and Spurius Maelius, and Marcus Manlius were slain; that many years afterwards a king might be established at Rome by Marcus Antonius, though the bare idea was impiety? However, let us return to the auspices.
XXXV. With respect to all the things which Caesar was intending to do in the senate on the ides of March, I ask whether you have done anything? I heard, indeed, that you had come down prepared, because you thought that I intended to speak about your having made a false statement respecting the auspices, though it was still necessary for us to respect them. The fortune of the Roman people saved us from that day. Did the death of Caesar also put an end to your opinion respecting the auspices? But I have come to mention that occasion which must be allowed to precede those matters which I had begun to discuss. What a flight was that of yours! What alarm was yours on that memorable day! How, from the consciousness of your wickedness, did you despair of your life! How, while flying, were you enabled secretly to get home by the kindness of those men who wished to save you, thinking you would show more sense than you do! O how vain have at all times been my too true predictions of the future! I told those deliverers of ours in the Capitol, when they wished me to go to you to exhort you to defend the republic, that as long as you were in fear you would promise everything, but that as soon as you had emancipated yourself from alarm you would be yourself again. Therefore, while the rest of the men of consular rank were going backwards and forwards to you, I adhered to my opinion, nor did I see you at all that day, or the next; nor did I think it possible for an alliance between virtuous citizens and a most unprincipled enemy to be made, so as to last, by any treaty or engagement whatever. The third day I came into the temple of Tellus, even then very much against my will, as armed men were blockading all the approaches. What a day was that for you, O Marcus Antonius! Although you showed yourself all on a sudden an enemy to me; still I pity you for having envied yourself.
XXXVI. What a man, O ye immortal gods! and how great a man might you have been, if you had been able to preserve the inclination you displayed that day;—we should still have peace which was made then by the pledge of a hostage, a boy of noble birth, the grandson of Marcus Bambalio. Although it was fear that was then making you a good citizen, which is never a lasting teacher of duty; your own audacity, which never departs from you as long as you are free from fear, has made you a worthless one. Although even at that time, when they thought you an excellent man, though I indeed differed from that opinion, you behaved with the greatest wickedness while presiding at the funeral of the tyrant, if that ought to be called a funeral. All that fine panegyric was yours, that commiseration was yours, that exhortation was yours. It was you—you, I say—who hurled those firebrands, both those with which your friend himself was nearly burnt, and those by which the house of Lucius Bellienus was set on fire and destroyed. It was you who let loose those attacks of abandoned men, slaves for the most part, which we repelled by violence and our own personal exertions; it was you who set them on to attack our houses. And yet you, as if you had wiped off all the soot and smoke in the ensuing days, carried those excellent resolutions in the Capitol, that no document conferring any exemption, or granting any favour, should be published after the ides of March. You recollect yourself, what you said about the exiles; you know what you said about the exemption; but the best thing of all was, that you for ever abolished the name of the dictatorship in the republic. Which act appeared to show that you had conceived such a hatred of kingly power that you took away all fear of it for the future, on account of him who had been the last dictator.
To other men the republic now seemed established, but it did not appear so at all to me, as I was afraid of every sort of shipwreck, as long as you were at the helm. Have I been deceived? or, was it possible for that man long to continue unlike himself? While you were all looking on, documents were fixed up over the whole Capitol, and exemptions were being sold, not merely to individuals, but to entire states. The freedom of the city was also being given now not to single persons only, but to whole provinces. Therefore, if these acts are to stand,—and stand they cannot if the republic stands too,—then, O conscript fathers, you have lost whole provinces; and not the revenues only, but the actual empire of the Roman people has been diminished by a market this man held in his own house.
XXXVII. Where are the seven hundred millions of sesterces which were entered in the account-books which are in the temple of Ops? a sum lamentable indeed, as to the means by which it was procured, but still one which, if it were not restored to those to whom it belonged, might save us from taxes. And how was it, that when you owed forty millions of sesterces on the fifteenth of March, you had ceased to owe them by the first of April? Those things are quite countless which were purchased of different people, not without your knowledge; but there was one excellent decree posted up in the Capitol affecting king Deiotarus, a most devoted friend to the Roman people. And when that decree was posted up, there was no one who, amid all his indignation, could restrain his laughter. For who ever was a more bitter enemy to another than Caesar was to Deiotarus? He was as hostile to him as he was to this order, to the equestrian order, to the people of Massilia, and to all men whom he knew to look on the republic of the Roman people with attachment. But this man, who neither present nor absent could ever obtain from him any favour or justice while he was alive, became quite an influential man with him when he was dead. When present with him in his house he had called for him though he was his host, he had made him give in his accounts of his revenue, he had exacted money from him; he had established one of his Greek retainers in his tetrarchy, and he had taken Armenia from him, which had been given to him by the senate. While he was alive he deprived him of all these things; now that he is dead, he gives them back again. And in what words? At one time he says, "that it appears to him to be just, ..." at another, "that it appears not to be unjust...." What a strange combination of words! But while alive, (I know this, for I always supported Deiotarus, who was at a distance,) he never said that anything which we were asking for, for him, appeared just to him. A bond for ten millions of sesterces was entered into in the women's apartment, (where many things have been sold, and are still being sold,) by his ambassadors, well-meaning men, but timid and inexperienced in business, without my advice or that of the rest of the hereditary friends of the monarch. And I advise you to consider carefully what you intend to do with reference to this bond. For the king himself, of his own accord, without waiting for any of Caesar's memoranda, the moment that he heard of his death, recovered his own rights by his own courage and energy. He, like a wise man, knew that this was always the law, that those men from whom the things which tyrants had taken away had been taken, might recover them when the tyrants were slain. No lawyer, therefore, not even he who is your lawyer and yours alone, and by whose advice you do all these things, will say that anything is due to you by virtue of that bond for those things which had been recovered before that bond was executed. For he did not purchase them of you; but, before you undertook to sell him his own property, he had taken possession of it. He was a man—we, indeed, deserve to be despised, who hate the author of the actions, but uphold the actions themselves.
XXXVIII. Why need I mention the countless mass of papers, the innumerable autographs which have been brought forward? writings of which there are imitators who sell their forgeries as openly as if they were gladiators' playbills. Therefore, there are now such heaps of money piled up in that man's house, that it is weighed out instead of being counted. But how blind is avarice! Lately, too, a document has been posted up by which the most wealthy cities of the Cretans are released from tribute; and by which it is ordained that after the expiration of the consulship of Marcus Brutus, Crete shall cease to be a province. Are you in your senses? Ought you not to be put in confinement? Was it possible for there really to be a decree of Caesar's exempting Crete after the departure of Marcus Brutus, when Brutus had no connexion whatever with Crete while Caesar was alive? But by the sale of this decree (that you may not, O conscript fathers, think it wholly ineffectual) you have lost the province of Crete. There was nothing in the whole world which any one wanted to buy that this fellow was not ready to sell.
Caesar too, I suppose, made the law about the exiles which you have posted up. I do not wish to press upon any one in misfortune; I only complain, in the first place, that the return of those men has had discredit thrown upon it, whose cause Caesar judged to be different from that of the rest; and in the second place, I do not know why you do not mete out the same measure to all. For there can not be more than three or four left. Why do not they who are in similar misfortune enjoy a similar degree of your mercy? Why do you treat them as you treated your uncle? about whom you refused to pass a law when you were passing one about all the rest; and whom at the same time you encouraged to stand for the censorship, and instigated him to a canvass, which excited the ridicule and the complaint of every one.
But why did you not hold that comitia? Was it because a tribune of the people announced that there had been an ill-omened flash of lightning seen? When you have any interest of your own to serve, then auspices are all nothing; but when it is only your friends who are concerned, then you become scrupulous. What more? Did you not also desert him in the matter of the septemvirate? "Yes, for he interfered with me." What were you afraid of? I suppose you were afraid that you would be able to refuse him nothing if he were restored to the full possession of his rights. You loaded him with every species of insult, a man whom you ought to have considered in the place of a father to you, if you had had any piety or natural affection at all. You put away his daughter, your own cousin, having already looked out and provided yourself beforehand with another. That was not enough. You accused a most chaste woman of misconduct. What can go beyond this? Yet you were not content with this. In a very full senate held on the first of January, while your uncle was present, you dared to say that this was your reason for hatred of Dolabella, that you had ascertained that he had committed adultery with your cousin and your wife. Who can decide whether it was more shameless of you to make such profligate and such impious statements against that unhappy woman in the senate, or more wicked to make them against Dolabella, or more scandalous to make them in the presence of her father, or more cruel to make them at all?
XXXIX. However, let us return to the subject of Caesar's written papers. How were they verified by you? For the acts of Caesar were for peace's sake confirmed by the senate; that is to say, the acts which Caesar had really done, not those which Antonius said that Caesar had done. Where do all these come from? By whom are they produced and vouched for? If they are false, why are they ratified? If they are true, why are they sold? But the vote which was come to enjoined you, after the first of June, to make an examination of Caesar's acts with the assistance of a council. What council did you consult? Whom did you ever invite to help you? What was the first of June that you waited for? Was it that day on which you, having travelled all through the colonies where the veterans were settled, returned escorted by a band of armed men?
Oh what a splendid progress of yours was that in the months of April and May, when you attempted even to lead a colony to Capua! How you made your escape from thence, or rather how you barely made your escape, we all know. And now you are still threatening that city. I wish you would try, and we should not then be forced to say "barely." However, what a splendid progress of yours that was! Why need I mention your preparations for banquets, why your frantic hard-drinking? Those things are only an injury to yourself; these are injuries to us. We thought that a great blow was inflicted on the republic when the Campanian district was released from the payment of taxes, in order to be given to the soldiery; but you have divided it among your partners in drunkenness and gambling. I tell you, O conscript fathers, that a lot of buffoons and actresses have been settled in the district of Campania. Why should I now complain of what has been done in the district of Leontini? Although formerly these lands of Campania and Leontini were considered part of the patrimony of the Roman people, and were productive of great revenue, and very fertile. You gave your physician three thousand acres; what would you have done if he had cured you? and two thousand to your master of oratory; what would you have done if he had been able to make you eloquent? However, let us return to your progress, and to Italy.
XL. You led a colony to Casilinum, a place to which Caesar had previously led one. You did indeed consult me by letter about the colony of Capua, (but I should have given you the same answer about Casilinum,) whether you could legally lead a new colony to a place where there was a colony already. I said that a new colony could not be legally conducted to an existing colony, which had been established with a due observance of the auspices, as long as it remained in a flourishing state; but I wrote you word that new colonists might be enrolled among the old ones. But you, elated and insolent, disregarding all the respect due to the auspices, led a colony to Casilinum, whither one had been previously led a few years before; in order to erect your standard there, and to mark out the line of the new colony with a plough. And by that plough you almost grazed the gate of Capua, so as to diminish the territory of that flourishing colony. After this violation of all religious observances, you hasten off to the estate of Marcus Varro, a most conscientious and upright man, at Casinum. By what right? with what face do you do this? By just the same, you will say, as that by which you entered on the estates of the heirs of Lucius Rubrius, or of the heirs of Lucius Turselius, or on other innumerable possessions. If you got the right from any auction, let the auction have all the force to which it is entitled; let writings be of force, provided they are the writings of Caesar, and not your own; writings by which you are bound, not those by which you have released yourself from obligation.
But who says that the estate of Varro at Casinum was ever sold at all? who ever saw any notice of that auction? Who ever heard the voice of the auctioneer? You say that you sent a man to Alexandria to buy it of Caesar. It was too long to wait for Caesar himself to come! But whoever heard (and there was no man about whose safety more people were anxious) that any part whatever of Varro's property had been confiscated? What? what shall we say if Caesar even wrote you that you were to give it up? What can be said strong enough for such enormous impudence? Remove for a while those swords which we see around us. You shall now see that the cause of Caesar's auctions is one thing, and that of your confidence and rashness is another. For not only shall the owner drive you from that estate, but any one of his friends, or neighbours, or hereditary connexions, and any agent, will have the right to do so.
XLI. But how many days did he spend revelling in the most scandalous manner in that villa! From the third hour there was one scene of drinking, gambling, and vomiting. Alas for the unhappy house itself! how different a master from its former one has it fallen to the share of! Although, how is he the master at all? but still by how different a person has it been occupied! For Marcus Varro used it as a place of retirement for his studies, not as a theatre for his lusts. What noble discussions used to take place in that villa! what ideas were originated there! what writings were composed there! The laws of the Roman people, the memorials of our ancestors, the consideration of all wisdom, and all learning, were the topics that used to be dwelt on then;—but now, while you were the intruder there, (for I will not call you the master,) every place was resounding with the voices of drunken men; the pavements were floating with wine; the walls were dripping; nobly-born boys were mixing with the basest hirelings; prostitutes with mothers of families. Men came from Casinum, from Aquinum, from Interamna to salute him. No one was admitted. That, indeed, was proper. For the ordinary marks of respect were unsuited to the most profligate of men. When going from thence to Rome he approached Aquinum, a pretty numerous company (for it is a populous municipality) came out to meet him. But he was carried through the town in a covered litter, as if he had been dead. The people of Aquinum acted foolishly, no doubt; but still they were in his road. What did the people of Anagnia do? who, although they were out of his line of road, came down to meet him, in order to pay him their respects, as if he were consul. It is an incredible thing to say, but still it was only too notorious at the time, that he returned nobody's salutation; especially as he had two men of Anagnia with him, Mustela and Laco; one of whom had the care of his swords, and the other of his drinking cups.
Why should I mention the threats and insults with which he inveighed against the people of Teanum Sidicinum, with which he harassed the men of Puteoli, because they had adopted Caius Cassius and the Bruti as their patrons? a choice dictated, in truth, by great wisdom, and great zeal, benevolence, and affection for them; not by violence and force of arms, by which men have been compelled to choose you, and Basilus, and others like you both,—men whom no one would choose to have for his own clients, much less to be their client himself.
XLII. In the mean time, while you yourself were absent, what a day was that for your colleague when he overturned that tomb in the forum, which you were accustomed to regard with veneration! And when that action was announced to you, you—as is agreed upon by all who were with you at the time—fainted away. What happened afterwards I know not. I imagine that terror and arms got the mastery. At all events, you dragged your colleague down from his heaven; and you rendered him, not even now like yourself, but at all events very unlike his own former self.
After that what a return was that of yours to Rome! How great was the agitation of the whole city! We recollected Cinna being too powerful; after him we had seen Sylla with absolute authority, and we had lately beheld Caesar acting as king. There were perhaps swords, but they were sheathed, and they were not very numerous. But how great and how barbaric a procession is yours! Men follow you in battle array with drawn swords; we see whole litters full of shields borne along. And yet by custom, O conscript fathers, we have become inured and callous to these things. When on the first of June we wished to come to the senate, as it had been ordained, we were suddenly frightened and forced to flee. But he, as having no need of a senate, did not miss any of us, and rather rejoiced at our departure, and immediately proceeded to those marvellous exploits of his. He who had defended the memoranda of Caesar for the sake of his own profit, overturned the laws of Caesar—and good laws too—for the sake of being able to agitate the republic. He increased the number of years that magistrates were to enjoy their provinces; moreover, though he was bound to be the defender of the acts of Caesar, he rescinded them both with reference to public and private transactions.
In public transactions nothing is more authoritative than law; in private affairs the most valid of all deeds is a will. Of the laws, some he abolished without giving the least notice; others he gave notice of bills to abolish. Wills he annulled; though they have been at all times held sacred even in the case of the very meanest of the citizens. As for the statues and pictures which Caesar bequeathed to the people, together with his gardens, those he carried away, some to the house which belonged to Pompeius, and some to Scipio's villa.
XLIII. And are you then diligent in doing honour to Caesar's memory? Do you love him even now that he is dead? What greater honour had he obtained than that of having a holy cushion, an image, a temple, and a priest? As then Jupiter, and Mars, and Quirinus have priests, so Marcus Antonius is the priest of the god Julius. Why then do you delay? why are not you inaugurated? Choose a day; select some one to inaugurate you; we are colleagues; no one will refuse O you detestable man, whether you are the priest of a tyrant, or of a dead man! I ask you then, whether you are ignorant what day this is? Are you ignorant that yesterday was the fourth day of the Roman games in the Circus? and that you yourself submitted a motion to the people, that a fifth day should be added besides, in honour of Caesar? Why are we not all clad in the praetexta? Why are we permitting the honour which by your law was appointed for Caesar to be deserted? Had you no objection to so holy a day being polluted by the addition of supplications, while you did not choose it to be so by the addition of ceremonies connected with a sacred cushion? Either take away religion in every case, or preserve it in every case.
You will ask whether I approve of his having a sacred cushion, a temple and a priest? I approve of none of those things. But you, who are defending the acts of Caesar, what reason can you give for defending some, and disregarding others? unless, indeed, you choose to admit that you measure everything by your own gain, and not by his dignity. What will you now reply to these arguments?—(for I am waiting to witness your eloquence; I knew your grandfather, who was a most eloquent man, but I know you to be a more undisguised speaker than he was; he never harangued the people naked; but we have seen your breast, man, without disguise as you are.) Will you make any reply to these statements? will you dare to open your mouth at all? Can you find one single article in this long speech of mine, to which you trust that you can make any answer? However, we will say no more of what is past.
XLIV. But this single day, this very day that now is, this very moment while I am speaking, defend your conduct during this very moment, if you can. Why has the senate been surrounded with a belt of armed men? Why are your satellites listening to me sword in hand? Why are not the folding-doors of the temple of Concord open? Why do you bring men of all nations the most barbarous, Ityreans, armed with arrows, into the forum? He says, that he does so as a guard. Is it not then better to perish a thousand times than to be unable to live in one's own city without a guard of armed men? But believe me, there is no protection in that;—a man must be defended by the affection and good-will of his fellow citizens, not by arms. The Roman people will take them from you, will wrest them from your hands, I wish that they may do so while we are still safe. But however you treat us, as long as you adopt those counsels, it is impossible for you, believe me, to last long. In truth, that wife of yours, who is so far removed from covetousness, and whom I mention without intending any slight to her, has been too long owing her third payment to the state. The Roman people has men to whom it can entrust the helm of the state, and wherever they are, there is all the defence of the republic, or rather, there is the republic itself, which as yet has only avenged, but has not reestablished itself. Truly and surely has the republic most high born youths ready to defend it,—though they may for a time keep in the background from a desire for tranquillity, still they can be recalled by the republic at any time.
The name of peace is sweet, the thing itself is most salutary. But between peace and slavery there is a wide difference. Peace is liberty in tranquillity, slavery is the worst of all evils,—to be repelled, if need be, not only by war, but even by death. But if those deliverers of ours have taken themselves away out of our sight, still they have left behind the example of their conduct. They have done what no one else had done. Brutus pursued Tarquinius with war, who was a king when it was lawful for a king to exist in Rome. Spurius Cassius, Spurius Maelius, and Marcus Manlius were all slain because they were suspected of aiming at regal power. These are the first men who have ever ventured to attack, sword in hand, a man who was not aiming at regal power, but actually reigning. And their action is not only of itself a glorious and godlike exploit, but it is also one put forth for our imitation, especially since by it they have acquired such glory as appears hardly to be bounded by heaven itself. For although in the very consciousness of a glorious action there is a certain reward, still I do not consider immortality of glory a thing to be despised by one who is himself mortal.
XLV. Recollect then, O Marcus Antonius, that day on which you abolished the dictatorship. Set before you the joy of the senate and people of Rome, compare it with this infamous market held by you and by your friends, and then you will understand how great is the difference between praise and profit. But in truth, just as some people, through some disease which has blunted the senses, have no conception of the niceness of food, so men who are lustful, avaricious, and criminal, have no taste for true glory. But if praise cannot allure you to act rightly, still cannot even fear turn you away from the most shameful actions? You are not afraid of the courts of justice. If it is because you are innocent I praise you, if because you trust in your power of overbearing them by violence, are you ignorant of what that man has to fear, who on such an account as that does not fear the courts of justice?
But if you are not afraid of brave men and illustrious citizens, because they are prevented from attacking you by your armed retinue, still, believe me, your own fellows will not long endure you. And what a life is it, day and night to be fearing danger from one's own people! Unless, indeed, you have men who are bound to you by greater kindnesses than some of those men by whom he was slain were bound to Caesar, or unless there are points in which you can be compared with him.
In that man were combined genius, method, memory, literature, prudence, deliberation, and industry. He had performed exploits in war which, though calamitous for the republic, were nevertheless mighty deeds. Having for many years aimed at being a king, he had with great labour, and much personal danger, accomplished what he intended. He had conciliated the ignorant multitude by presents, by monuments, by largesses of food, and by banquets, he had bound his own party to him by rewards, his adversaries by the appearances of clemency. Why need I say much on such a subject? He had already brought a free city, partly by fear, partly by patience, into a habit of slavery.
XLVI. With him I can, indeed, compare you as to your desire to reign, but in all other respects you are in no degree to be compared to him. But from the many evils which by him have been burnt into the republic, there is still this good, that the Roman people has now learnt how much to believe every one, to whom to trust itself, and against whom to guard. Do you never think on these things? And do you not understand that it is enough for brave men to have learnt how noble a thing it is as to the act, how grateful it is as to the benefit done, how glorious as to the fame acquired, to slay a tyrant? When men could not bear him, do you think they will bear you? Believe me, the time will come when men will race with one another to do this deed, and when no one will wait for the tardy arrival of an opportunity.
Consider, I beg you, Marcus Antonius, do some time or other consider the republic: think of the family of which you are born, not of the men with whom you are living. Be reconciled to the republic. However, do you decide on your conduct. As to mine, I myself will declare what that shall be. I defended the republic as a young man, I will not abandon it now that I am old. I scorned the sword of Catiline, I will not quail before yours. No, I will rather cheerfully expose my own person, if the liberty of the city can be restored by my death.
May the indignation of the Roman people at last bring forth what it has been so long labouring with. In truth, if twenty years ago in this very temple I asserted that death could not come prematurely upon a man of consular rank, with how much more truth must I now say the same of an old man? To me, indeed, O conscript fathers, death is now even desirable, after all the honours which I have gained, and the deeds which I have done. I only pray for these two things: one, that dying I may leave the Roman people free. No greater boon than this can be granted me by the immortal gods. The other, that every one may meet with a fate suitable to his deserts and conduct towards the republic.
THE THIRD PHILIPPIC, OR THIRD SPEECH OF M. T. CICERO AGAINST MARCUS ANTONIUS.
After the composition of the last speech, Octavius, considering that he had reason to be offended with Antonius, formed a plot for his assassination by means of some slaves, which however was discovered. In the mean time Antonius began to declare more and more openly against the conspirators. He erected a statue in the forum to Caesar, with the inscription, "To the most worthy Defender of his Country." Octavius at the same time was trying to win over the soldiers of his uncle Julius, and out-bidding Antonius in all his promises to them, so that he soon collected a formidable army of veterans. But as he had no public office to give him any colour for this conduct, he paid great court to the republican party, in hopes to get his proceedings authorized by the senate; and he kept continually pressing Cicero to return to Rome and support him. Cicero, however, for some time kept aloof, suspecting partly his abilities, on account of his exceeding youth, and partly his sincerity in reconciling himself to his uncle's murderers; however, at last he returned, after expressly stipulating that Octavius should employ all his forces in defence of Brutus and his accomplices.
Antonius left Rome about the end of September, in order to engage in his service four legions of Caesar's, which were on their return from Macedonia. But when they arrived at Brundusium three of them refused to follow him, on which he murdered all their centurions, to the number of three hundred, who were all put to death in his lodgings, in the sight of himself and Fulvia his wife, and then returned to Rome with the one legion which he had prevailed on; while the other three legions declared as yet for neither party. On his arrival in Rome he published many very violent edicts, and summoned the senate to meet on the twenty-fourth of October; then he adjourned it to the twenty-eighth; and a day or two before it met, he heard that two out of the three legions had declared for Octavius, and encamped at Alba. And this news alarmed him so much, that he abandoned his intention of proposing to the senate a decree to declare Octavius a public enemy, and after distributing some provinces among his friends, he put on his military robes, and left the city to take possession of Cisalpine Gaul, which had been assigned to him by a pretended law of the people, against the will of the senate.
On the news of his departure Cicero returned to Rome, where he arrived on the ninth of December. He immediately conferred with Pansa, one of the consuls elect, (Hirtius his colleague was ill,) as to the measures to be taken. He was again addressed with earnest solicitations by the friends of Octavius, who, to confirm his belief in his good intentions, allowed Casca, who had been one of the slayers of Caesar, and had himself given him the first blow, to enter on his office as tribune of the people on the tenth of December.
The new tribunes convoked the senate for the nineteenth, on which occasion Cicero had intended to be absent, but receiving the day before the edict of Decimus Brutus, by which he forbade Antonius to enter his province (immediately after the death of Caesar he had taken possession of Cisalpine Gaul, which had been conferred on him by Caesar), and declared that he would defend it against him by force and preserve it in its duty to the senate, he thought it necessary to procure for Brutus a resolution of the senate in his favour. He went down therefore very early, and, in a very full house, delivered the following speech.
I. We have been assembled at length, O conscript fathers, altogether later than the necessities of the republic required; but still we are assembled, a measure which I, indeed, have been every day demanding, inasmuch as I saw that a nefarious war against our altars and our hearths, against our lives and our fortunes was, I will not say being prepared, but being actually waged by a profligate and desperate man. People are waiting for the first of January. But Antonius is not waiting for that day, who is now attempting with an army to invade the province of Decimus Brutus, a most illustrious and excellent man. And when he has procured reinforcements and equipments there, he threatens that he will come to this city. What is the use then of waiting, or of even a delay for the very shortest time? For although the first of January is at hand, still a short time is a long one for people who are not prepared. For a day, or I should rather say an hour, often brings great disasters, if no precautions are taken. And it is not usual to wait for a fixed day for holding a council, as it is for celebrating a festival. But if the first of January had fallen on the day when Antonius first fled from the city, or if people had not waited for it, we should by this time have no war at all. For we should easily have crushed the audacity of that frantic man by the authority of the senate and the unanimity of the Roman people. And now, indeed, I feel confident that the consuls elect will do so, as soon as they enter on their magistracy. For they are men of the highest courage, of the most consummate wisdom, and they will act in perfect harmony with each other. But my exhortations to rapid and instant action are prompted by a desire not merely for victory, but for speedy victory.
For how long are we to trust to the prudence of an individual to repel so important, so cruel, and so nefarious a war? Why is not the public authority thrown into the scale as quickly as possible?
II. Caius Caesar, a young man, or, I should rather say, almost a boy, endued with an incredible and godlike degree of wisdom and valour, at the time when the frenzy of Antonius was at its height, and when his cruel and mischievous return from Brundusium was an object of apprehension to all, while we neither desired him to do so, nor thought of such a measure, nor ventured even to wish it, (because it did not seem practicable,) collected a most trustworthy army from the invincible body of veteran soldiers, and has spent his own patrimony in doing so. Although I have not used the expression which I ought,—for he has not spent it,—he has invested it in the safety of the republic.
And although it is not possible to requite him with all the thanks to which he is entitled, still we ought to feel all the gratitude towards him which our minds are capable of conceiving. For who is so ignorant of public affairs, so entirely indifferent to all thoughts of the republic, as not to see that, if Marcus Antonius could have come with those forces which he made sure that he should have, from Brundusium to Rome, as he threatened, there would have been no description of cruelty which he would not have practised? A man who in the house of his entertainer at Brundusium ordered so many most gallant men and virtuous citizens to be murdered, and whose wife's face was notoriously besprinkled with the blood of men dying at his and her feet. Who is there of us, or what good man is there at all, whom a man stained with this barbarity would ever have spared; especially as he was coming hither much more angry with all virtuous men than he had been with those whom he had massacred there? And from this calamity Caesar has delivered the republic by his own individual prudence, (and, indeed, there were no other means by which it could have been done.) And if he had not been born in this republic we should, owing to the wickedness of Antonius, now have no republic at all.
For this is what I believe, this is my deliberate opinion, that if that one young man had not checked the violence and inhuman projects of that frantic man, the republic would have been utterly destroyed. And to him we must, O conscript fathers, (for this is the first time, met in such a condition, that, owing to his good service, we are at liberty to say freely what we think and feel,) we must, I say, this day give authority, so that he may be able to defend the republic, not because that defence has been voluntarily undertaken by him but also because it has been entrusted to him by us.
III. Nor (since now after a long interval we are allowed to speak concerning the republic) is it possible for us to be silent about the Martial legion. For what single man has ever been braver, what single man has ever been more devoted to the republic than the whole of the Martial legion? which, as soon as it had decided that Marcus Antonius was an enemy of the Roman people, refused to be a companion of his insanity; deserted him though consul; which, in truth, it would not have done if it had considered him as consul, who, as it saw, was aiming at nothing and preparing nothing but the slaughter of the citizens, and the destruction of the state. And that legion has encamped at Alba. What city could it have selected either more suitable for enabling it to act, or more faithful, or full of more gallant men, or of citizens more devoted to the republic?
The fourth legion, imitating the virtue of this legion, under the leadership of Lucius Egnatuleius, the quaestor, a most virtuous and intrepid citizen, has also acknowledged the authority and joined the army of Caius Caesar.
We, therefore, O conscript fathers, must take care that those things which this most illustrious young man, this most excellent of all men has of his own accord done, and still is doing, be sanctioned by our authority; and the admirable unanimity of the veterans, those most brave men, and of the Martial and of the fourth legion, in their zeal for the reestablishment of the republic, be encouraged by our praise and commendation. And let us pledge ourselves this day that their advantage, and honours, and rewards shall be cared for by us as soon as the consuls elect have entered on their magistracy.
IV. And the things which I have said about Caesar and about his army, are, indeed, already well known to you. For by the admirable valour of Caesar, and by the firmness of the veteran soldiers, and by the admirable discernment of those legions which have followed our authority, and the liberty of the Roman people, and the valour of Caesar, Antonius has been repelled from his attempts upon our lives. But these things, as I have said, happened before; but this recent edict of Decimus Brutus, which has just been issued, can certainly not be passed over in silence. For he promises to preserve the province of Gaul in obedience to the senate and people of Rome. O citizen, born for the republic; mindful of the name he bears; imitator of his ancestors! Nor, indeed, was the acquisition of liberty so much an object of desire to our ancestors when Tarquinius was expelled, as, now that Antonius is driven away, the preservation of it is to us. Those men had learnt to obey kings ever since the foundation of the city, but we from the time when the kings were driven out have forgotten how to be slaves. And that Tarquinius, whom our ancestors expelled, was not either considered or called cruel or impious, but only The Proud. That vice which we have often borne in private individuals, our ancestors could not endure even in a king.
Lucius Brutus could not endure a proud king. Shall Decimus Brutus submit to the kingly power of a man who is wicked and impious? What atrocity did Tarquinius ever commit equal to the innumerable acts of the sort which Antonius has done and is still doing? Again, the kings were used to consult the senate; nor, as is the case when Antonius holds a senate, were armed barbarians ever introduced into the council of the king. The kings paid due regard to the auspices, which this man, though consul and augur, has neglected, not only by passing laws in opposition to the auspices, but also by making his colleague (whom he himself had appointed irregularly, and had falsified the auspices in order to do so) join in passing them. Again, what king was ever so preposterously impudent as to have all the profits, and kindnesses, and privileges of his kingdom on sale? But what immunity is there, what rights of citizenship, what rewards that this man has not sold to individuals, and to cities, and to entire provinces? We have never heard of anything base or sordid being imputed to Tarquinius. But at the house of this man gold was constantly being weighed out in the spinning room, and money was being paid, and in one single house every soul who had any interest in the business was selling the whole empire of the Roman people. We have never heard of any executions of Roman citizens by the orders of Tarquinius, but this man both at Suessa murdered the man whom he had thrown into prison, and at Brundusium massacred about three hundred most gallant men and most virtuous citizens. Lastly, Tarquinius was conducting a war in defence of the Roman people at the very time when he was expelled. Antonius was leading an army against the Roman people at the time when, being abandoned by the legions, he cowered at the name of Caesar and at his army, and neglecting the regular sacrifices, he offered up before daylight vows which he could never mean to perform, and at this very moment he is endeavouring to invade a province of the Roman people. The Roman people, therefore, has already received and is still looking for greater services at the hand of Decimus Brutus than our ancestors received from Lucius Brutus, the founder of this race and name which we ought to be so anxious to preserve.
V. But, while all slavery is miserable, to be slave to a man who is profligate, unchaste, effeminate, never, not even while in fear, sober, is surely intolerable. He, then, who keeps this man out of Gaul, especially by his own private authority, judges, and judges most truly, that he is not consul at all. We must take care, therefore, O conscript fathers, to sanction the private decision of Decimus Brutus by public authority. Nor, indeed, ought you to have thought Marcus Antonius consul at any time since the Lupercalia. For on the day when he, in the sight of the Roman people, harangued the mob, naked, perfumed, and drunk, and laboured moreover to put a crown on the head of his colleague, on that day he abdicated not only the consulship, but also his own freedom. At all events he himself must at once have become a slave, if Caesar had been willing to accept from him that ensign of royalty. Can I then think him a consul, can I think him a Roman citizen, can I think him a freeman, can I even think him a man, who on that shameful and wicked day showed what he was willing to endure while Caesar lived, and what he was anxious to obtain himself after he was dead?
Nor is it possible to pass over in silence the virtue and the firmness and the dignity of the province of Gaul. For that is the flower of Italy, that is the bulwark of the empire of the Roman people, that is the chief ornament of our dignity. But so perfect is the unanimity of the municipal towns and colonies of the province of Gaul, that all men in that district appear to have united together to defend the authority of this order, and the majesty of the Roman people. Wherefore, O tribunes of the people, although you have not actually brought any other business before us beyond the question of protection, in order that the consuls may be able to hold the senate with safety on the first of January, still you appear to me to have acted with great wisdom and great prudence in giving an opportunity of debating the general circumstances of the republic. For when you decided that the senate could not be held with safety without some protection or other, you at the same time asserted by that decision that the wickedness and audacity of Antonius was still continuing its practices within our walls.
VI. Wherefore, I will embrace every consideration in my opinion which I am now going to deliver, a course to which you, I feel sure, have no objection, in order that authority may be conferred by us on admirable generals, and that hope of reward may be held out by us to gallant soldiers, and that a formal decision may be come to, not by words only, but also by actions, that Antonius is not only not a consul, but is even an enemy. For if he be consul, then the legions which have deserted the consul deserve beating to death. Caesar is wicked, Brutus is impious, since they of their own heads have levied an army against the consul. But if new honours are to be sought out for the soldiers on account of their divine and immortal merits, and if it is quite impossible to show gratitude enough to the generals, who is there who must not think that man a public enemy, whose conduct is such that those who are in arms against him are considered the saviours of the republic?
Again, how insulting is he in his edicts! how ignorant! How like a barbarian! In the first place, how has he heaped abuse on Caesar, in terms drawn from his recollection of his own debauchery and profligacy. For where can we find any one who is chaster than this young man? who is more modest? where have we among our youth a more illustrious example of the old-fashioned strictness? Who, on the other hand, is more profligate than the man who abuses him? He reproaches the son of Caius Caesar with his want of noble blood, when even his natural father, if he had been alive, would have been made consul. His mother is a woman of Aricia. You might suppose he was saying a woman of Tralles, or of Ephesus. Just see how we all who come from the municipal towns—that is to say, absolutely all of us—are looked down upon; for how few of us are there who do not come from those towns? and what municipal town is there which he does not despise who looks with such contempt on Aricia; a town most ancient as to its antiquity; if we regard its rights, united with us by treaty; if we regard its vicinity, almost close to us; if we regard the high character of its inhabitants, most honourable? It is from Aricia that we have received the Voconian and Atinian laws; from Aricia have come many of those magistrates who have filled our curule chairs, both in our fathers' recollection and in our own; from Aricia have sprung many of the best and bravest of the Roman knights. But if you disapprove of a wife from Aricia, why do you approve of one from Tusculum? Although the father of this most virtuous and excellent woman, Marcus Atius Balbus, a man of the highest character, was a man of praetorian rank; but the father of your wife,—a good woman, at all events a rich one,—a fellow of the name of Bambalio, was a man of no account at all. Nothing could be lower than he was, a fellow who got his surname as a sort of insult, derived from the hesitation of his speech and the stolidity of his understanding. Oh, but your grandfather was nobly born. Yes, he was that Tuditanus who used to put on a cloak and buskins, and then go and scatter money from the rostra among the people. I wish he had bequeathed his contempt of money to his descendants! You have, indeed, a most glorious nobility of family! But how does it happen that the son of a woman of Aricia appears to you to be ignoble, when you are accustomed to boast of a descent on the mother's side which is precisely the same? Besides, what insanity is it for that man to say anything about the want of noble birth in men's wives, when his father married Numitoria of Fregellae, the daughter of a traitor, and when he himself has begotten children of the daughter of a freedman. However, those illustrious men Lucius Philippus, who has a wife who came from Aricia, and Caius Marcellus, whose wife is the daughter of an Arician, may look to this; and I am quite sure that they have no regrets on the score of the dignity of those admirable women.
VII. Moreover, Antonius proceeds to name Quintus Cicero, my brother's son, in his edict; and is so mad as not to perceive that the way in which he names him is a panegyric on him. For what could happen more desirable for this young man, than to be known by every one to be the partner of Caesar's counsels, and the enemy of the frenzy of Antonius? But this gladiator has dared to put in writing that he had designed the murder of his father and of his uncle. Oh the marvellous impudence, and audacity, and temerity of such an assertion! to dare to put this in writing against that young man, whom I and my brother, on account of his amiable manners, and pure character, and splendid abilities, vie with one another in loving, and to whom we incessantly devote our eyes, and ears, and affections! And as to me, he does not know whether he is injuring or praising me in those same edicts. When he threatens the most virtuous citizens with the same punishment which I inflicted on the most wicked and infamous of men, he seems to praise me as if he were desirous of copying me; but when he brings up again the memory of that most illustrious exploit, then he thinks that he is exciting some odium against me in the breasts of men like himself.
VIII. But what is it that he has done himself? When he had published all these edicts, he issued another, that the senate was to meet in a full house on the twenty-fourth of November. On that day he himself was not present. But what were the terms of his edict? These, I believe, are the exact words of the end of it: "If any one fails to attend, all men will be at liberty to think him the adviser of my destruction and of most ruinous counsels". What are ruinous counsels? those which relate to the recovery of the liberty of the Roman people? Of those counsels I confess that I have been and still am an adviser and prompter to Caesar. Although he did not stand in need of any one's advice, but still I spurned on the willing horse, as it is said. For what good man would not have advised putting you to death, when on your death depended the safety and life of every good man, and the liberty and dignity of the Roman people?
But when he had summoned us all by so severe an edict, why did he not attend himself? Do you suppose that he was detained by any melancholy or important occasion? He was detained drinking and feasting. If, indeed, it deserves to be called a feast, and not rather gluttony. He neglected to attend on the day mentioned in his edict, and he adjourned the meeting to the twenty-eighth. He then summoned us to attend in the Capitol, and at that temple he did arrive himself, coming up through some mine left by the Gauls. Men came, having been summoned, some of them indeed men of high distinction, but forgetful of what was due to their dignity. For the day was such, the report of the object of the meeting such, such too the man who had convened the senate, that it was discreditable for a senate to feel no fear for the result. And yet to those men who had assembled he did not dare to say a single word about Caesar, though he had made up his mind to submit a motion respecting him to the senate. There was a man of consular rank who had brought a resolution ready drawn up. Is it not now admitting that he is himself an enemy, when he does not dare to make a motion respecting a man who is leading an army against him while he is consul? For it is perfectly plain that one of the two must be an enemy, nor is it possible to come to a different decision respecting adverse generals. If then Caius Caesar be an enemy, why does the consul submit no motion to the senate? If he does not deserve to be branded by the senate, then what can the consul say, who, by his silence respecting him, has confessed that he himself is an enemy? In his edicts he styles him Spartacus, while in the senate he does not venture to call him even a bad citizen.
IX. But in the most melancholy circumstances what mirth does he not provoke? I have committed to memory some short phrases of one edict, which he appears to think particularly clever, but I have not as yet found any one who has understood what he intended by them. "That is no insult which a worthy man does." Now, in the first place, what is the meaning of "worthy?" For there are many men worthy of punishment, as he himself is. Does he mean what a man does who is invested with any dignity? if so, what insult can be greater? Moreover, what is the meaning of "doing an insult?" Who ever uses such an expression? Then comes, "Nor any fear which an enemy threatens" What then? is fear usually threatened by a friend? Then came many similar sentences. Is it not better to be dumb, than to say what no one can understand? Now see why his tutor, exchanging pleas for ploughs, has had given to him in the public domain of the Roman people two thousand acres of land in the Leontine district, exempt from all taxes, for making a stupid man still stupider at the public expense.