1I. To what destiny of mine, O conscript fathers, shall I say that it is owing, that none for the last twenty years has been an enemy to the republic without at the same time declaring war against me? Nor is there any necessity for naming any particular person; you yourselves recollect instances in proof of my statement. They have all hitherto suffered severer punishments than I could have wished for them; but I marvel that you, O Antonius, do not fear the end of those men whose conduct you are imitating. And in others I was less surprised at this. None of those men of former times was a voluntary enemy to me; all of them were attacked by me for the sake of the republic. But you, who have never been injured by me, not even by a word, in order to appear more audacious than Catiline more frantic than Clodius, have of your own accord attacked me with abuse, and have considered that your alienation from me would be a recommendation of you to impious citizens.
What am I to think? that I have been despised? 2I see nothing either in my life, or in my influence in the city, or in my exploits, or even in the moderate abilities with which I am endowed, which Antonius can despise. Did he think that it was easiest to disparage me in the senate? a body which has borne its testimony in favour of many most illustrious citizens that they governed the republic well, but in favour of me alone, of all men, that I preserved it. Or did he wish to contend with me in a rivalry of eloquence? This, indeed, is an act of generosity; for what could be a more fertile or richer subject for me, than to have to speak in defence of myself, and against Antonius? This, in fact, is the truth. He thought it impossible to prove to the satisfaction of those men who resembled himself, that he was an enemy to his country, if he was not also an enemy to me. 3And before I make him any reply on the other topics of his speech, I will say a few words respecting the friendship formerly subsisting between us, which he has accused me of violating,—for that I consider a most serious charge.
II. He has complained that I pleaded once against his interest. Was I not to plead against one with whom I was quite unconnected, in behalf of an intimate acquaintance, of a dear friend? Was I not to plead against interest acquired not by hopes of virtue, but by the disgrace of youth? Was I not to plead against an injustice which that man procured to be done by the obsequiousness of a most iniquitous interposer of his veto, not by any law regulating the privileges of the prætor? But I imagine that this was mentioned by you, in order that you might recommend yourself to the citizens, if they all recollected that you were the son-in-law of a freedman, and that your children were the grandsons of Quintus Fadius a freedman.
But you had entirely devoted yourself to my principles; (for this is what you said;) you had been in the habit of coming to my house. In truth, if you had done so, you would more have consulted your own character and your reputation for chastity. But you did not do so, nor, if you had wished it, would Caius Curio have ever suffered you to do so. 4You have said, that you retired in my favour from the contest for the augurship. Oh the incredible audacity! oh the monstrous impudence of such an assertion! For, at the time when Cnæus Pompeius and Quintus Hortensius named me as augur, after I had been wished for as such by the whole college, (for it was not lawful for me to be put in nomination by more than two members of the college,) you were notoriously insolvent, nor did you think it possible for your safety to be secured by any other means than by the destruction of the republic. But was it possible for you to stand for the augurship at a time when Curio was not in Italy? or even at the time when you were elected, could you have got the votes of one single tribe without the aid of Curio? whose intimate friends even were convicted of violence for having been too zealous in your favour.
5III. But I availed myself of your friendly assistance. Of what assistance? Although the instance which you cite I have myself at all times openly admitted. I preferred confessing that I was under obligations to you, to letting myself appear to any foolish person not sufficiently grateful. However, what was the kindness that you did me? not killing me at Brundusium? Would you then have slain the man whom the conqueror himself, who conferred on you, as you used to boast, the chief rank among all his robbers, had desired to be safe, and had enjoined to go to Italy? Grant that you could have slain him, is not this, O conscript fathers, such a kindness as is done by banditti, who are contented with being able to boast that they have granted their lives to all those men whose lives they have not taken? and if that were really a kindness, then those who slew that man by whom they themselves had been saved, and whom you yourself are in the habit of styling most illustrious men, would never have acquired such immortal glory. But what sort of kindness is it, to have abstained from committing nefarious wickedness? It is a case in which it ought not to appear so delightful to me not to have been killed by you, as miserable, that it should have been in your power to do such a thing with impunity. 6However, grant that it was a kindness, since no greater kindness could be received from a robber, still in what point can you call me ungrateful? Ought I not to complain of the ruin of the republic, lest I should appear ungrateful towards you? But in that complaint, mournful indeed and miserable, but still unavoidable for a man of that rank in which the senate and people of Rome have placed me, what did I say that was insulting? that was otherwise than moderate? that was otherwise than friendly? and what instance was it not of moderation to complain of the conduct of Marcus Antonius, and yet to abstain from any abusive expressions? especially when you had scattered abroad all relics of the republic; when everything was on sale at your house by the most infamous traffic; when you confessed that those laws which had never been promulgated, had been passed with reference to you, and by you; when you, being augur, had abolished the auspices, being consul, had taken away the power of interposing the veto; when you were escorted in the most shameful manner by armed guards; when, worn out with drunkenness and debauchery, you were every day performing all sorts of obscenities in that chaste house of yours. 7But I, as if I had to contend against Marcus Crassus, with whom I have had many severe struggles, and not with a most worthless gladiator, while complaining in dignified language of the state of the republic, did not say one word which could be called personal. Therefore, to-day I will make him understand with what great kindness he was then treated by me.
IV. But he also read letters which he said that I had sent to him, like a man devoid of humanity and ignorant of the common usages of life. For who ever, who was even but slightly acquainted with the habits of polite men, produced in an assembly and openly read letters which had been sent to him by a friend, just because some quarrel had arisen between them? Is not this destroying all companionship in life, destroying the means by which absent friends converse together? How many jests are frequently put in letters, which, if they were produced in public, would appear stupid! How many serious opinions, which, for all that, ought not to be published! 8Let this be a proof of your utter ignorance of courtesy. Now mark, also, his incredible folly. What have you to oppose to me, O you eloquent man, as you seem at least to Mustela Tamisius, and to Tiro Numisius? And while these men are standing at this very time in the sight of the senate with drawn swords, I too will think you an eloquent man if you will show how you would defend them if they were charged with being assassins. However, what answer would you make if I were to deny that I ever sent those letters to you? By what evidence could you convict me? by my handwriting? Of handwriting indeed you have a lucrative knowledge. How can you prove it in that manner? for the letters are written by an amanuensis. By this time I envy your teacher, who for all that payment, which I shall mention presently, has taught you to know nothing.
9For what can be less like, I do not say an orator, but a man, than to reproach an adversary with a thing which if he denies by one single word, he who has reproached him cannot advance one step further? But I do not deny it; and in this very point I convict you not only of inhumanity but also of madness. For what expression is there in those letters which is not full of humanity and service and benevolence? and the whole of your charge amounts to this, that I do not express a bad opinion of you in those letters; that in them I wrote as to a citizen, and as to a virtuous man, not as to a wicked man and a robber. But your letters I will not produce, although I fairly might, now that I am thus challenged by you; letters in which you beg of me that you may be enabled by my consent to procure the recal of some one from exile; and you will not attempt it if I have any objection, and you prevail on me by your entreaties. For why should I put myself in the way of your audacity? when neither the authority of this body, nor the opinion of the Roman people, nor any laws are able to restrain you. 10However, what was the object of your addressing these entreaties to me, if the man for whom you were entreating was already restored by a law of Cæsar’s? I suppose the truth was, that he wished it to be done by me as a favour; in which matter there could not be any favour done even by himself, if a law was already passed for the purpose.
V. But as, O conscript fathers, I have many things which I must say both in my own defence and against Marcus Antonius, one thing I ask you, that you will listen to me with kindness while I am speaking for myself; the other I will ensure myself, namely, that you shall listen to me with attention while speaking against him. At the same time also, I beg this of you; that if you have been acquainted with my moderation and modesty throughout my whole life, and especially as a speaker, you will not, when to-day I answer this man in the spirit in which he has attacked me, think that I have forgotten my usual character. I will not treat him as a consul, for he did not treat me as a man of consular rank; and although he in no respect deserves to be considered a consul, whether we regard his way of life, or his principle of governing the republic, or the manner in which he was elected, I am beyond all dispute a man of consular rank.
11That, therefore, you might understand what sort of a consul he professed to be himself, he reproached me with my consulship;—a consulship which, O conscript fathers, was in name, indeed, mine, but in reality yours. For what did I determine, what did I contrive, what did I do, that was not determined, contrived, or done, by the counsel and authority and in accordance with the sentiments of this order? And have you, O wise man, O man not merely eloquent, dared to find fault with these actions before the very men by whose counsel and wisdom they were performed? But who was ever found before, except Publius Clodius, to find fault with my consulship? And his fate indeed awaits you, as it also awaited Caius Curio; since that is now in your house which was fatal to each of them.
12Marcus Antonius disapproves of my consulship; but it was approved of by Publius Servilius—to name that man first of the men of consular rank who had died most recently. It was approved of by Quintus Catulus, whose authority will always carry weight in this republic; it was approved of by the two Luculli, by Marcus Crassus, by Quintus Hortensius, by Caius Curio, by Caius Piso, by Marcus Glabrio, by Marcus Lepidus, by Lucius Volcatius, by Caius Figulus, by Decimus Silanus and Lucius Murena, who at that time were the consuls elect; the same consulship also which was approved of by those men of consular rank, was approved of by Marcus Cato; who escaped many evils by departing from this life, and especially the evil of seeing you consul. But, above all, my consulship was approved of by Cnæus Pompeius, who, when he first saw me, as he was leaving Syria, embracing me and congratulating me, said, that it was owing to my services that he was about to see his country again. But why should I mention individuals? It was approved of by the senate, in a very full house, so completely, that there was no one who did not thank me as if I had been his parent, who did not attribute to me the salvation of his life, of his fortunes, of his children, and of the republic.
13VI. But, since the republic has been now deprived of those men whom I have named, many and illustrious as they were, let us come to the living, since two of the men of consular rank are still left to us: Lucius Cotta, a man of the greatest genius and the most consummate prudence, proposed a supplication in my honour for those very actions with which you find fault, in the most complimentary language, and those very men of consular rank whom I have named, and the whole senate, adopted his proposal; an honour which has never been paid to any one else in the garb of peace from the foundation of the city to my time. 14With what eloquence, with what firm wisdom, with what a weight of authority did Lucius Cæsar, your uncle, pronounce his opinion against the husband of his own sister, your stepfather. But you, when you ought to have taken him as your adviser and tutor in all your designs, and in the whole conduct of your life, preferred being like your stepfather to resembling your uncle. I, who had no connexion with him, acted by his counsels while I was consul. Did you, who were his sister’s son, ever once consult him on the affairs of the republic?
But who are they whom Antonius does consult? O ye immortal gods, they are men whose birthdays we have still to learn. To-day Antonius is not coming down. 15Why? He is celebrating the birthday feast at his villa. In whose honour? I will name no one. Suppose it is in honour of some Phormio, or Gnatho, or even Ballio. Oh the abominable profligacy of the man! oh how intolerable is his impudence, his debauchery, and his lust! Can you, when you have one of the chiefs of the senate, a citizen of singular virtue, so nearly related to you, abstain from ever consulting him on the affairs of the republic, and consult men who have no property whatever of their own, and are draining yours?
VII. Yes, your consulship, forsooth, is a salutary one for the state, mine a mischievous one. Have you so entirely lost all shame as well as all chastity, that you could venture to say this in that temple in which I was consulting that senate which formerly in the full enjoyment of its honours presided over the world? And did you place around it abandoned men armed with swords? 16But you have dared besides (what is there which you would not dare?) to say that the Capitoline Hill, when I was consul, was full of armed slaves. I was offering violence to the senate, I suppose, in order to compel the adoption of those infamous decrees of the senate. O wretched man, whether those things are not known to you, (for you know nothing that is good,) or whether they are, when you dare to speak so shamelessly before such men! For what Roman knight was there, what youth of noble birth except you, what man of any rank or class who recollected that he was a citizen, who was not on the Capitoline Hill while the senate was assembled in this temple? who was there, who did not give in his name? Although there could not be provided checks enough, nor were the books able to contain their names.
17In truth, when wicked men, being compelled by the revelations of the accomplices, by their own handwriting, and by what I may almost call the voices of their letters, were confessing that they had planned the parricidal destruction of their country, and that they had agreed to burn the city, to massacre the citizens, to devastate Italy, to destroy the republic; who could have existed without being roused to defend the common safety? especially when the senate and people of Rome had a leader then; and if they had one now like he was then, the same fate would befall you which did overtake them.
18He asserts that the body of his stepfather was not allowed burial by me. But this is an assertion that was never made by Publius Clodius, a man whom, as I was deservedly an enemy of his, I grieve now to see surpassed by you in every sort of vice. But how could it occur to you to recal to our recollection that you had been educated in the house of Publius Lentulus? Were you afraid that we might think that you could have turned out as infamous as you are by the mere force of nature, if your natural qualities had not been strengthened by education?
VIII. But you are so senseless that throughout the whole of your speech you were at variance with yourself; so that you said things which had not only no coherence with each other, but which were most inconsistent with and contradictory to one another; so that there was not so much opposition between you and me as there was between you and yourself. You confessed that your stepfather had been implicated in that enormous wickedness, yet you complained that he had had punishment inflicted on him. And by doing so you praised what was peculiarly my achievement, and blamed that which was wholly the act of the senate. For the detection and arrest of the guilty parties was my work, their punishment was the work of the senate. But that eloquent man does not perceive that the man against whom he is speaking is being praised by him, and that those before whom he is speaking are being attacked by him. 19But now what an act, I will not say of audacity, (for he is anxious to be audacious,) but (and that is what he is not desirous of) what an act of folly, in which he surpasses all men, is it to make mention of the Capitoline Hill, at a time when armed men are actually between our benches—when men, armed with swords, are now stationed in this same temple of Concord, O ye immortal gods, in which, while I was consul, opinions most salutary to the state were delivered, owing to which it is that we are all alive at this day.
Accuse the senate; accuse the equestrian body, which at that time was united with the senate; accuse every order of society, and all the citizens, as long as you confess that this assembly at this very moment is besieged by Ityrean soldiers. It is not so much a proof of audacity to advance these statements so impudently, as of utter want of sense to be unable to see their contradictory nature. For what is more insane than, after you yourself have taken up arms to do mischief to the republic, to reproach another with having taken them up to secure its safety? On one occasion you attempted even to be witty. O ye good gods, how little did that attempt suit you! 20And yet you are a little to be blamed for your failure in that instance, too. For you might have got some wit from your wife, who was an actress. “Arms to the gown must yield.” Well, have they not yielded? But afterwards the gown yielded to your arms. Let us inquire then whether it was better for the arms of wicked men to yield to the freedom of the Roman people, or that our liberty should yield to your arms. Nor will I make any further reply to you about the verses. I will only say briefly that you do not understand them, nor any other literature whatever. That I have never at any time been wanting to the claims that either the republic or my friends had upon me; but nevertheless that in all the different sorts of composition on which I have employed myself, during my leisure hours, I have always endeavoured to make my labours and my writings such as to be some advantage to our youth, and some credit to the Roman name. But, however, all this has nothing to do with the present occasion. Let us consider more important matters.
21IX. You have said that Publius Clodius was slain by my contrivance. What would men have thought if he had been slain at the time when you pursued him in the forum with a drawn sword, in the sight of all the Roman people; and when you would have settled his business if he had not thrown himself up the stairs of a bookseller’s shop, and, shutting them against you, checked your attack by that means? And I confess that at that time I favoured you, but even you yourself do not say that I had advised your attempt. But as for Milo, it was not possible even for me to favour his action. For he had finished the business before any one could suspect that he was going to do it. Oh, but I advised it. I suppose Milo was a man of such a disposition that he was not able to do a service to the republic if he had not some one to advise him to do it. But I rejoiced at it. Well, suppose I did; was I to be the only sorrowful person in the city, when every one else was in such delight? 22Although that inquiry into the death of Publius Clodius was not instituted with any great wisdom. For what was the reason for having a new law to inquire into the conduct of the man who had slain him, when there was a form of inquiry already established by the laws? However, an inquiry was instituted. 23And have you now been found, so many years afterwards, to say a thing which, at the time that the affair was under discussion, no one ventured to say against me? But as to the assertion that you have dared to make, and that at great length too, that it was by my means that Pompeius was alienated from his friendship with Cæsar, and that on that account it was my fault that the civil war was originated; in that you have not erred so much in the main facts, as (and that is of the greatest importance) in the times.
X. When Marcus Bibulus, a most illustrious citizen, was consul, I omitted nothing which I could possibly do or attempt to draw off Pompeius from his union with Cæsar. In which, however, Cæsar was more fortunate than I, for he himself drew off Pompeius from his intimacy with me. But afterwards, when Pompeius joined Cæsar with all his heart, what could have been my object in attempting to separate them then? It would have been the part of a fool to hope to do so, and of an impudent man to advise it. 24However, two occasions did arise, on which I gave Pompeius advice against Cæsar. You are at liberty to find fault with my conduct on those occasions if you can. One was when I advised him not to continue Cæsar’s government for five years more. The other, when I advised him not to permit him to be considered as a candidate for the consulship when he was absent. And if I had been able to prevail on him in either of these particulars, we should never have fallen into our present miseries.
Moreover, I also, when Pompeius had now devoted to the service of Cæsar all his own power, and all the power of the Roman people, and had begun when it was too late to perceive all those things which I had foreseen long before, and when I saw that a nefarious war was about to be waged against our country, I never ceased to be the adviser of peace, and concord, and some arrangement. And that language of mine was well known to many people,—“I wish, O Cnæus Pompeius, that you had either never joined in a confederacy with Caius Cæsar, or else that you had never broken it off. The one conduct would have become your dignity, and the other would have been suited to your prudence.” This, O Marcus Antonius, was at all times my advice both respecting Pompeius and concerning the republic. And if it had prevailed, the republic would still be standing, and you would have perished through your own crimes, and indigence, and infamy.
25XI. But these are all old stories now. This charge, however, is quite a modern one, that Cæsar was slain by my contrivance. I am afraid, O conscript fathers, lest I should appear to you to have brought up a sham accuser against myself (which is a most disgraceful thing to do); a man not only to distinguish me by the praises which are my due, but to load me also with those which do not belong to me. For who ever heard my name mentioned as an accomplice in that most glorious action? and whose name has been concealed who was in the number of that gallant band? Concealed, do I say? Whose name was there which was not at once made public? I should sooner say that some men had boasted in order to appear to have been concerned in that conspiracy, though they had in reality known nothing of it, than that any one who had been an accomplice in it could have wished to be concealed. 26Moreover, how likely it is, that among such a number of men, some obscure, some young men who had not the wit to conceal any one, my name could possibly have escaped notice! Indeed, if leaders were wanted for the purpose of delivering the country, what need was there of my instigating the Bruti, one of whom saw every day in his house the image of Lucius Brutus, and the other saw also the image of Ahala? Were these the men to seek counsel from the ancestors of others rather than from their own? and out of doors rather than at home? What? Caius Cassius, a man of that family which could not endure, I will not say the domination, but even the power of any individual,—he, I suppose, was in need of me to instigate him? a man who, even without the assistance of these other most illustrious men, would have accomplished this same deed in Cilicia, at the mouth of the river Cydnus, if Cæsar had brought his ships to that bank of the river which he had intended, and not to the opposite one. 27Was Cnæus Domitius spurred on to seek to recover his dignity, not by the death of his father, a most illustrious man, nor by the death of his uncle, nor by the deprivation of his own dignity, but by my advice and authority? Did I persuade Caius Trebonius? a man whom I should not have ventured even to advise. On which account the republic owes him even a larger debt of gratitude, because he preferred the liberty of the Roman people to the friendship of one man, and because he preferred overthrowing arbitrary power to sharing it. Was I the instigator whom Lucius Tillius Cimber followed? a man whom I admired for having performed that action, rather than ever expected that he would perform it; and I admired him on this account, that he was unmindful of the personal kindnesses which he had received, but mindful of his country. What shall I say of the two Servilii? Shall I call them Cascas, or Ahalas? and do you think that those men were instigated by my authority rather than by their affection for the republic? It would take a long time to go through all the rest; and it is a glorious thing for the republic that they were so numerous, and a most honourable thing also for themselves.
28XII. But recollect, I pray you, how that clever man convicted me of being an accomplice in the business. When Cæsar was slain, says he, Marcus Brutus immediately lifted up on high his bloody dagger, and called on Cicero by name; and congratulated him on liberty being recovered. Why on me above all men? Because I knew of it beforehand? Consider rather whether this was not his reason for calling on me, that, when he had performed an action very like those which I myself had done, he called me above all men to witness that he had been an imitator of my exploits.
29But you, O stupidest of all men, do not you perceive, that if it is a crime to have wished that Cæsar should be slain—which you accuse me of having wished—it is a crime also to have rejoiced at his death? For what is the difference between a man who has advised an action, and one who has approved of it? or what does it signify whether I wished it to be done, or rejoice that it has been done? Is there any one then, except you yourself and those men who wished him to become a king, who was unwilling that that deed should be done, or who disapproved of it after it was done? All men, therefore, are guilty as far as this goes. In truth, all good men, as far as it depended on them, bore a part in the slaying of Cæsar. Some did not know how to contrive it, some had not courage for it, some had no opportunity,—every one had the inclination.
30However, remark the stupidity of this fellow,—I should rather say, of this brute beast. For thus he spoke:—“Marcus Brutus, whom I name to do him honour, holding aloft his bloody dagger, called upon Cicero, from which it must be understood that he was privy to the action.” Am I then called wicked by you because you suspect that I suspected something; and is he who openly displayed his reeking dagger, named by you that you may do him honour? Be it so. Let this stupidity exist in your language: how much greater is it in your actions and opinions! Arrange matters in this way at last, O consul; pronounce the cause of the Bruti, of Caius Cassius, of Cnæus Domitius, of Caius Trebonius and the rest to be whatever you please to call it: sleep off that intoxication of yours, sleep it off and take breath. Must one apply a torch to you to waken you while you are sleeping over such an important affair? Will you never understand that you have to decide whether those men who performed that action are homicides or assertors of freedom?
31XIII. For just consider a little; and for a moment think of the business like a sober man. I who, as I myself confess, am an intimate friend of those men, and, as you accuse me, an accomplice of theirs, deny that there is any medium between these alternatives. I confess that they, if they be not deliverers of the Roman people and saviours of the republic, are worse than assassins, worse than homicides, worse even than parricides: since it is a more atrocious thing to murder the father of one’s country, than one’s own father. You wise and considerate man, what do you say to this? If they are parricides, why are they always named by you, both in this assembly and before the Roman people, with a view to do them honour? Why has Marcus Brutus been, on your motion, excused from obedience to the laws, and allowed to be absent from the city more than ten days? Why were the games of Apollo celebrated with incredible honour to Marcus Brutus? why were provinces given to Brutus and Cassius? why were quæstors assigned to them? why was the number of their lieutenants augmented? And all these measures were owing to you. They are not homicides then. It follows that in your opinion they are deliverers of their country, since there can be no other alternative. 32What is the matter? Am I embarrassing you? For perhaps you do not quite understand propositions which are stated disjunctively. Still this is the sum total of my conclusion; that since they are acquitted by you of wickedness, they are at the same time pronounced most worthy of the very most honourable rewards.
Therefore, I will now proceed again with my oration. I will write to them, if any one by chance should ask whether what you have imputed to me be true, not to deny it to any one. In truth, I am afraid that it must be considered either a not very creditable thing to them, that they should have concealed the fact of my being an accomplice; or else a most discreditable one to me that I was invited to be one, and that I shirked it. For what greater exploit (I call you to witness, O august Jupiter!) was ever achieved not only in this city, but in all the earth? What more glorious action was ever done? What deed was ever more deservedly recommended to the everlasting recollection of men? Do you, then, shut me up with the other leaders in the partnership in this design, as in the Trojan horse? I have no objection; I even thank you for doing so, with whatever intent you do it. 33For the deed is so great an one, that I cannot compare the unpopularity which you wish to excite against me on account of it, with its real glory.
For who can be happier than those men whom you boast of having now expelled and driven from the city? What place is there either so deserted or so uncivilized, as not to seem to greet and to covet the presence of those men wherever they have arrived? What men are so clownish as not, when they have once beheld them, to think that they have reaped the greatest enjoyment that life can give? And what posterity will be ever so forgetful, what literature will ever be found so ungrateful, as not to cherish their glory with undying recollection? Enrol me then, I beg, in the number of those men.
34XIV. But one thing I am afraid you may not approve of. For if I had really been one of their number, I should have not only got rid of the king, but of the kingly power also out of the republic; and if I had been the author of the piece, as it is said, believe me, I should not have been contented with one act, but should have finished the whole play. Although, if it be a crime to have wished that Cæsar might be put to death, beware, I pray you, O Antonius, of what must be your own case, as it is notorious that you, when at Narbo, formed a plan of the same sort with Caius Trebonius; and it was on account of your participation in that design that, when Cæsar was being killed, we saw you called aside by Trebonius. But I (see how far I am from any horrible inclination towards,) praise you for having once in your life had a righteous intention; I return you thanks for not having revealed the matter; and I excuse you for not having accomplished your purpose. 35That exploit required a man.
And if any one should institute a prosecution against you, and employ that test of old Cassius, “who reaped any advantage from it?” take care, I advise you, lest you suit that description. Although, in truth, that action was, as you used to say, an advantage to every one who was not willing to be a slave, still it was so to you above all men, who are not merely not a slave, but are actually a king; who delivered yourself from an enormous burden of debt at the temple of Ops; who, by your dealings with the account books, there squandered a countless sum of money; who have had such vast treasures brought to you from Cæsar’s house; at whose own house there is set up a most lucrative manufactory of false memoranda and autographs, and a most iniquitous market of lands, and towns, and exemptions, and revenues. 36In truth, what measure except the death of Cæsar could possibly have been any relief to your indigent and insolvent condition? You appear to be somewhat agitated. Have you any secret fear that you yourself may appear to have had some connexion with that crime? I will release you from all apprehension; no one will ever believe it; it is not like you to deserve well of the republic; the most illustrious men in the republic are the authors of that exploit; I only say that you are glad it was done; I do not accuse you of having done it.
I have replied to your heaviest accusations, I must now also reply to the rest of them.
37XV. You have thrown in my teeth the camp of Pompeius and all my conduct at that time. At which time, indeed, if, as I have said before, my counsels and my authority had prevailed, you would this day be in indigence, we should be free, and the republic would not have lost so many generals and so many armies. For I confess that, when I saw that these things certainly would happen, which now have happened, I was as greatly grieved as all the other virtuous citizens would have been if they had foreseen the same things. I did grieve, I did grieve, O conscript fathers, that the republic which had once been saved by your counsels and mine, was fated to perish in a short time. Nor was I so inexperienced in and ignorant of this nature of things, as to be disheartened on account of a fondness for life, which while it endured would wear me out with anguish, and when brought to an end would release me from all trouble. But I was desirous that those most illustrious men, the lights of the republic, should live: so many men of consular rank, so many men of prætorian rank, so many most honourable senators; and besides them all the flower of our nobility and of our youth; and the armies of excellent citizens. And if they were still alive, under ever such hard conditions of peace, (for any sort of peace with our fellow-citizens appeared to me more desirable than civil war,) we should be still this day enjoying the republic.
38And if my opinion had prevailed, and if those men, the preservation of whose lives was my main object, elated with the hope of victory, had not been my chief opposers, to say nothing of other results, at all events you would never have continued in this order, or rather in this city. But say you, my speech alienated from me the regard of Pompeius? Was there any one to whom he was more attached? any one with whom he conversed or shared his counsels more frequently? It was, indeed, a great thing that we, differing as we did respecting the general interests of the republic, should continue in uninterrupted friendship. But I saw clearly what his opinions and views were, and he saw mine equally. I was for providing for the safety of the citizens in the first place, in order that we might be able to consult their dignity afterwards. He thought more of consulting their existing dignity. But because each of us had a definite object to pursue, our disagreement was the more endurable. 39But what that extraordinary and almost godlike man thought of me is known to those men who pursued him to Paphos from the battle of Pharsalia. No mention of me was ever made by him that was not the most honourable that could be, that was not full of the most friendly regret for me; while he confessed that I had had the most foresight, but that he had had more sanguine hopes. And do you dare taunt me with the name of that man whose friend you admit that I was, and whose assassin you confess yourself?
XVI. However, let us say no more of that war, in which you were too fortunate. I will not reply even with those jests to which you have said that I gave utterance in the camp. That camp was in truth full of anxiety, but although men are in great difficulties, still, provided they are men, they sometimes relax their minds. 40But the fact that the same man finds fault with my melancholy, and also with my jokes, is a great proof that I was very moderate in each particular.
You have said that no inheritances come to me. Would that this accusation of yours were a true one; I should have more of my friends and connexions alive. But how could such a charge ever come into your head? For I have received more than twenty millions of sesterces in inheritances. Although in this particular I admit that you have been more fortunate than I. No one has ever made me his heir except he was a friend of mine, in order that my grief of mind for his loss might be accompanied also with some gain, if it was to be considered as such. But a man whom you never even saw, Lucius Rubrius, of Casinum, made you his heir. 41And see now how much he loved you, who, though he did not know whether you were white or black, passed over the son of his brother, Quintus Fufius, a most honourable Roman knight, and most attached to him, whom he had on all occasions openly declared his heir, (he never even names him in his will,) and he makes you his heir whom he had never seen, or at all events had never spoken to.
I wish you would tell me, if it is not too much trouble, what sort of countenance Lucius Turselius was of; what sort of height; from what municipal town he came; and of what tribe he was a member. “I know nothing,” you will say, “about him, except what farms he had.” Therefore, he, disinheriting his brother, made you his heir. And besides these instances, this man has seized on much other property belonging to men wholly unconnected with him, to the exclusion of the legitimate heirs, as if he himself were the heir. 42Although the thing that struck me with most astonishment of all was, that you should venture to make mention of inheritances, when you yourself had not received the inheritance of your own father.
XVII. And was it in order to collect all these arguments, O you most senseless of men, that you spent so many days in practising declamation in another man’s villa? Although, indeed, (as your most intimate friends usually say,) you are in the habit of declaiming, not for the purpose of whetting your genius, but of working off the effects of wine. And, indeed, you employ a master to teach you jokes, a man appointed by your own vote and that of your boon companions; a rhetorician, whom you have allowed to say whatever he pleased against you, a thoroughly facetious gentleman; but there are plenty of materials for speaking against you and against your friends. But just see now what a difference there is between you and your grandfather. He used with great deliberation to bring forth arguments advantageous to the cause he was advocating; you pour forth in a hurry the sentiments which you have been taught by another. 43And what wages have you paid this rhetorician? Listen, listen, O conscript fathers, and learn the blows which are inflicted on the republic. You have assigned, O Antonius, two thousand acres of land, in the Leontine district, to Sextus Clodius, the rhetorician, and those, too, exempt from every kind of tax, for the sake of putting the Roman people to such a vast expense that you might learn to be a fool. Was this gift, too, O you most audacious of men, found among Cæsar’s papers? But I will take another opportunity to speak about the Leontine and the Campanian district; where he has stolen lands from the republic to pollute them with most infamous owners. For now, since I have sufficiently replied to all his charges, I must say a little about our corrector and censor himself. And yet I will not say all I could, in order that if I have often to battle with him I may always come to the contest with fresh arms; and the multitude of his vices and atrocities will easily enable me to do so.
44XVIII. Shall we then examine your conduct from the time when you were a boy? I think so. Let us begin at the beginning. Do you recollect that, while you were still clad in the prætexta, you became a bankrupt? That was the fault of your father, you will say. I admit that. In truth, such a defence is full of filial affection. But it is peculiarly suited to your own audacity, that you sat among the fourteen rows of the knights, though by the Roscian law there was a place appointed for bankrupts, even if any one had become such by the fault of fortune and not by his own. You assumed the manly gown, which you soon made a womanly one: at first a public prostitute, with a regular price for your wickedness, and that not a low one. But very soon Curio stepped in, who carried you off from your public trade, and, as if he had bestowed a matron’s robe upon you, settled you in a steady and durable wedlock. 45No boy bought for the gratification of passion was ever so wholly in the power of his master as you were in Curio’s. How often has his father turned you out of his house? How often has he placed guards to prevent you from entering? while you, with night for your accomplice, lust for your encourager, and wages for your compeller, were let down through the roof. That house could no longer endure your wickedness. Do you not know that I am speaking of matters with which I am thoroughly acquainted? Remember that time when Curio, the father, lay weeping in his bed; his son throwing himself at my feet with tears recommended to me you; he entreated me to defend you against his own father, if he demanded six millions of sesterces of you; for that he had been bail for you to that amount. And he himself, burning with love, declared positively that because he was unable to bear the misery of being separated from you, he should go into banishment. 46And at that time what misery of that most flourishing family did I allay, or rather did I remove! I persuaded the father to pay the son’s debts; to release the young man, endowed as he was with great promise of courage and ability, by the sacrifice of part of his family estate; and to use his privileges and authority as a father to prohibit him not only from all intimacy with, but from every opportunity of meeting you. When you recollected that all this was done by me, would you have dared to provoke me by abuse if you had not been trusting to those swords which we behold?
47XIX. But let us say no more of your profligacy and debauchery. There are things which it is not possible for me to mention with honour; but you are all the more free for that, inasmuch as you have not scrupled to be an actor in scenes which a modest enemy cannot bring himself to mention.
Mark now, O conscript fathers, the rest of his life, which I will touch upon rapidly. For my inclination hastens to arrive at those things which he did in the time of the civil war, amid the greatest miseries of the republic, and at those things which he does every day. And I beg of you, though they are far better known to you than they are to me, still to listen attentively, as you are doing, to my relation of them. For in such cases as this, it is not the mere knowledge of such actions that ought to excite the mind, but the recollection of them also. Although we must at once go into the middle of them, lest otherwise we should be too long in coming to the end.
48He was very intimate with Clodius at the time of his tribuneship; he, who now enumerates the kindnesses which he did me. He was the firebrand to handle all conflagrations; and even in his house he attempted something. He himself well knows what I allude to. From thence he made a journey to Alexandria, in defiance of the authority of the senate, and against the interests of the republic, and in spite of religious obstacles; but he had Gabinius for his leader, with whom whatever he did was sure to be right. What were the circumstances of his return from thence? what sort of return was it? He went from Egypt to the furthest extremity of Gaul before he returned home. And what was his home? For at that time every man had possession of his own house; and you had no house anywhere, O Antonius. House, do you say? what place was there in the whole world where you could set your foot on anything that belonged to you, except Mienum, which you farmed with your partners, as if it had been Sisapo?
49XX. You came from Gaul to stand for the quæstorship. Dare to say that you went to your own father before you came to me. I had already received Cæsar’s letters, begging me to allow myself to accept of your excuses; and therefore, I did not allow you even to mention thanks. After that, I was treated with respect by you, and you received attentions from me in your canvass for the quæstorship. And it was at that time, indeed, that you endeavoured to slay Publius Clodius in the forum, with the approbation of the Roman people; and though you made the attempt of your own accord, and not at my instigation, still you clearly alleged that you did not think, unless you slew him, that you could possibly make amends to me for all the injuries which you had done me. And this makes me wonder why you should say that Milo did that deed at my instigation; when I never once exhorted you to do it, who of your own accord attempted to do me the same service. Although, if you had persisted in it, I should have preferred allowing the action to be set down entirely to your own love of glory rather than to my influence.
50You were elected quæstor. On this, immediately, without any resolution of the senate authorizing such a step, without drawing lots, without procuring any law to be passed, you hastened to Cæsar. For you thought the camp the only refuge on earth for indigence, and debt, and profligacy,—for all men, in short, who were in a state of utter ruin. Then, when you had recruited your resources again by his largesses and your own robberies, (if, indeed, a person can be said to recruit, who only acquires something which he may immediately squander,) you hastened, being again a beggar, to the tribuneship, in order that in that magistracy you might, if possible, behave like your friend.
XXI. Listen now, I beseech you, O conscript fathers, not to those things which he did indecently and profligately to his own injury and to his own disgrace as a private individual; but to the actions which he did impiously and wickedly against us and our fortunes,—that is to say, against the whole republic. For it is from his wickedness that you will find that the beginning of all these evils has arisen.
51For when, in the consulship of Lucius Lentulus and Marcus Marcellus, you, on the first of January, were anxious to prop up the republic, which was tottering and almost falling, and were willing to consult the interests of Caius Cæsar himself, if he would have acted like a man in his senses, then this fellow opposed to your counsels his tribuneship, which he had sold and handed over to the purchaser, and exposed his own neck to that axe under which many have suffered for smaller crimes. It was against you, O Marcus Antonius, that the senate, while still in the possession of its rights, before so many of its luminaries were extinguished, passed that decree which, in accordance with the usage of our ancestors, is at times passed against an enemy who is a citizen. And have you dared, before these conscript fathers, to say anything against me, when I have been pronounced by this order to be the saviour of my country, and when you have been declared by it to be an enemy of the republic? The mention of that wickedness of yours has been interrupted, but the recollection of it has not been effaced. As long as the race of men, as long as the name of the Roman people shall exist, (and that, unless it is prevented from being so by your means, will be everlasting,) so long will that most mischievous interposition of your veto be spoken of. 52What was there that was being done by the senate either ambitiously or rashly, when you, one single young man, forbade the whole order to pass decrees concerning the safety of the republic? and when you did so, not once only, but repeatedly? nor would you allow any one to plead with you in behalf of the authority of the senate; and yet, what did any one entreat of you, except that you would not desire the republic to be entirely overthrown and destroyed; when neither the chief men of the state by their entreaties, nor the elders by their warnings, nor the senate in a full house by pleading with you, could move you from the determination which you had already sold and as it were delivered to the purchaser? Then it was, after having tried many other expedients previously, that a blow was of necessity struck at you which had been struck at only few men before you, and which none of them had ever survived. 53Then it was that this order armed the consuls, and the rest of the magistrates who were invested with either military or civil command, against you, and you never would have escaped them, if you had not taken refuge in the camp of Cæsar.
XXII. It was you, you, I say, O Marcus Antonius, who gave Caius Cæsar, 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 Cæsar. You must unquestionably allow, that the cause of that ruinous war existed in your person.
54O 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 Cnæus 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 prætors, and men of prætorian 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. 55As, 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.
56XXIII. 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?
57Then in this same tribuneship, when Cæsar 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?
58XXIV. 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.
59To 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. 60For 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?
61XXV. 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?
62Again 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 Cæsar knew nothing about it, as he was at Alexandria, Antonius, by the kindness of Cæsar’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 Cnæus 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.
63However, 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.
64XXVI. Cæsar 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 Cnæus 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 Cnæus 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. 65One 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. 66But, 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. 67What 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 Cnæus 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! 68Oh 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. 69I 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.
70But 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.
71XXIX. 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 Cæsar would perhaps have saved, as he did some others.
And after having performed these exploits, what was the reason why you did not follow Cæsar into Africa; especially when so large a portion of the war was still remaining? And accordingly, what place did you obtain about Cæsar’s person after his return from Africa? What was your rank? He whose quæstor 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. 72At 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 Cæsar 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 hearths, 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.
73Therefore, 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 there 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. 74This auction, however, the heirs of Lucius Rubrius prevented from proceeding, being armed with a decree of Cæsar 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 Cæsar. And of this Cæsar himself complained in the senate, inveighing openly against you. Cæsar 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?
75XXX. 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 Cæsar 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 Cnæus 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 Cnæus Pompeius? Who? Why, you who had bought their property. 76Were 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.
77XXXI. 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? 78And 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 Cæsar 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. Cæsar 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. 79I 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? Cæsar 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. 80And what things were they which he said in his anger, O ye good gods! First of all, after Cæsar 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 Cæsar 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. 81And 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. 82And 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 Lælius,) says,—“We adjourn it to another day.” 83Oh 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. 84But 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. 85Your 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. 86Moreover, 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? 87And, 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 Cæsar, perpetual dictator; and that Cæsar 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 Mælius, 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.
88XXXV. With respect to all the things which Cæsar 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 Cæsar 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! 89O 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. 90What 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. 91All 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.
92To 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.
93XXXVII. 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. 94For who ever was a more bitter enemy to another than Cæsar 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. 95And 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 Cæsar’s memoranda, the moment that he heard of his death, recovered his own rights by his own courage and energy. 96He, 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.
97XXXVIII. 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 Cæsar’s exempting Crete after the departure of Marcus Brutus, when Brutus had no connexion whatever with Crete while Cæsar 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.
98Cæsar 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 Cæsar 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.
99But why did you not hold that comitia? Was it because a tribune of the people announced that there had been an illomened 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?
100XXXIX. However, let us return to the subject of Cæsar’s written papers. How were they verified by you? For the acts of Cæsar were for peace’s sake confirmed by the senate; that is to say, the acts which Cæsar had really done, not those which Antonius said that Cæsar 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 Cæsar’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. 101And 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.
102XL. You led a colony to Casilinum, a place to which Cæsar 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. 103After 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 Cæsar, and not your own; writings by which you are bound, not those by which you have released yourself from obligation.
104But 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 Cæsar. It was too long to wait for Cæsar 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 Cæsar 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 Cæsar’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. 105What 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. 106When 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.
107Why 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.
108After 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 Cæsar 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. 109But 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 Cæsar for the sake of his own profit, overturned the laws of Cæsar—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 Cæsar, 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 Cæsar 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.
110XLIII. And are you then diligent in doing honour to Cæsar’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 Cæsar? Why are we not all clad in the prætexta? Why are we permitting the honour which by your law was appointed for Cæsar 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.
111You 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 Cæsar, 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.
112XLIV. 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. 113The 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. 114But 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 Mælius, 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.
115XLV. 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?
116But 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 Cæsar; 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.
117XLVI. 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? 118When 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.