1I. The great numbers in which you are here met this day, O Romans, and this assembly, greater than, it seems to me, I ever remember, inspires me with both an exceeding eagerness to defend the republic, and with a great hope of reestablishing it. Although my courage indeed has never failed; what has been unfavourable is the time; and the moment that that has appeared to show any dawn of light, I at once have been the leader in the defence of your liberty. And if I had attempted to have done so before, I should not be able to do so now. For this day, O Romans, (that you may not think it is but a trifling business in which we have been engaged,) the foundations have been laid for future actions. For the senate has no longer been content with styling Antonius an enemy in words, but it has shown by actions that it thinks him one. 2And now I am much more elated still, because you too with such great unanimity and with such a clamour have sanctioned our declaration that he is an enemy.
And indeed, O Romans, it is impossible but that either the men must be impious who have levied armies against the consul, or else that he must be an enemy against whom they have rightly taken arms. And this doubt the senate has this day removed—not indeed that there really was any; but it has prevented the possibility of there being any. Caius Cæsar, who has upheld and who is still upholding the republic and your freedom by his zeal and wisdom, and at the expense of his patrimonial estate, has been complimented with the highest praises of the senate.
3I praise you,—yes, I praise you greatly, O Romans, when you follow with the most grateful minds the name of that most illustrious youth, or rather boy; for his actions belong to immortality, the name of youth only to his age. I can recollect many things; I have heard of many things; I have read of many things; but in the whole history of the whole world I have never known anything like this. For, when we were weighed down with slavery, when the evil was daily increasing, when we had no defence, while we were in dread of the pernicious and fatal return of Marcus Antonius from Brundusium, this young man adopted the design which none of us had ventured to hope for, which beyond all question none of us were acquainted with, of raising an invincible army of his father’s soldiers, and so hindering the frenzy of Antonius, spurred on as it was by the most inhuman counsels, from the power of doing mischief to the republic.
4II. For who is there who does not see clearly that, if Cæsar had not prepared an army, the return of Antonius must have been accompanied by our destruction? For, in truth, he returned in such a state of mind, burning with hatred of you all, stained with the blood of the Roman citizens, whom he had murdered at Suessa and at Brundusium, that he thought of nothing but the utter destruction of the republic. And what protection could have been found for your safety and for your liberty if the army of Caius Cæsar had not been composed of the bravest of his father’s soldiers? And with respect to his praises and honours,—and he is entitled to divine and everlasting honours for his godlike and undying services,—the senate has just consented to my proposals, and has decreed that a motion be submitted to it at the very earliest opportunity.
5Now who is there who does not see that by this decree Antonius has been adjudged to be an enemy? For what else can we call him, when the senate decides that extraordinary honours are to be devised for those men who are leading armies against him? What? did not the Martial legion (which appears to me by some divine permission to have derived its name from that god from whom we have heard that the Roman people descended) decide by its resolutions that Antonius was an enemy before the senate had come to any resolution? For if he be not an enemy, we must inevitably decide that those men who have deserted the consul are enemies. Admirably and seasonably, O Romans, have you by your cries sanctioned the noble conduct of the men of the Martial legion, who have come over to the authority of the senate, to your liberty, and to the whole republic; and have abandoned that enemy and robber and parricide of his country. 6Nor did they display only their spirit and courage in doing this, but their caution and wisdom also. They encamped at Alba, in a city convenient, fortified, near, full of brave men and loyal and virtuous citizens. The fourth legion imitating the virtue of this Martial legion, under the leadership of Lucius Egnatuleius, whom the senate deservedly praised a little while ago, has also joined the army of Caius Cæsar.
III. What more adverse decisions, O Marcus Antonius, can you want? Cæsar, who has levied an army against you, is extolled to the skies. The legions are praised in the most complimentary language, which have abandoned you, which were sent for into Italy by you; and which, if you had chosen to be a consul rather than an enemy, were wholly devoted to you. And the fearless and honest decision of those legions is confirmed by the senate, is approved of by the whole Roman people,—unless, indeed, you to-day, O Romans, decide that Antonius is a consul and not an enemy. 7I thought, O Romans, that you did think as you show you do. What? do you suppose that the municipal towns, and the colonies, and the prefectures have any other opinion? All men are agreed with one mind; so that every one who wishes the state to be saved must take up every sort of arms against that pestilence. What? does, I should like to know, does the opinion of Decimus Brutus, O Romans, which you can gather from his edict, which has this day reached us, appear to any one deserving of being lightly esteemed? Rightly and truly do you say No, O Romans. For the family and name of Brutus has been by some especial kindness and liberality of the immortal gods given to the republic, for the purpose of at one time establishing, and at another of recovering, the liberty of the Roman people. 8What then has been the opinion which Decimus Brutus has formed of Marcus Antonius? He excludes him from his province. He opposes him with his army. He rouses all Gaul to war, which is already roused of its own accord, and in consequence of the judgment which it has itself formed. If Antonius be consul, Brutus is an enemy. Can we then doubt which of these alternatives is the fact?
IV. And just as you now with one mind and one voice affirm that you entertain no doubt, so did the senate just now decree that Decimus Brutus deserved excellently well of the republic, inasmuch as he was defending the authority of the senate and the liberty and empire of the Roman people. Defending it against whom? Why, against an enemy. For what other sort of defence deserves praise? 9In the next place the province of Gaul is praised, and is deservedly complimented in most honourable language by the senate for resisting Antonius. But if that province considered him the consul, and still refused to receive him, it would be guilty of great wickedness. For all the provinces belong to the consul of right, and are bound to obey him. Decimus Brutus, imperator and consul elect, a citizen born for the republic, denies that he is consul; Gaul denies it; all Italy denies it; the senate denies it; you deny it. Who then think that he is consul except a few robbers? Although even they themselves do not believe what they say; nor is it possible that they should differ from the judgment of all men, impious and desperate men though they be. But the hope of plunder and booty blinds their minds; men whom no gifts of money, no allotment of land, nor even that interminable auction has satisfied; who have proposed to themselves the city, the properties and fortunes of all the citizens as their booty; and who, as long as there is something for them to seize and carry off, think that nothing will be wanting to them; 10among whom Marcus Antonius (O ye immortal gods, avert, I pray you, and efface this omen,) has promised to divide this city. May things rather happen, O Romans, as you pray that they should, and may the chastisement of this frenzy fall on him and on his friend. And, indeed, I feel sure that it will be so. For I think that at present not only men but the immortal gods have all united together to preserve this republic. For if the immortal gods foreshow us the future, by means of portents and prodigies, then it has been openly revealed to us that punishment is near at hand to him, and liberty to us. Or if it was impossible for such unanimity on the part of all men to exist without the inspiration of the gods, in either case how can we doubt as to the inclinations of the heavenly deities?
It only remains, O Romans, for you to persevere in the sentiments which you at present display.
11V. I will act, therefore, as commanders are in the habit of doing when their army is ready for battle, who, although they see their soldiers ready to engage, still address an exhortation to them; and in like manner I will exhort you who are already eager and burning to recover your liberty. You have not—you have not, indeed, O Romans, to war against an enemy with whom it is possible to make peace on any terms whatever. For he does not now desire your slavery, as he did before, but he is angry now and thirsts for your blood. No sport appears more delightful to him than bloodshed, and slaughter, and the massacre of citizens before his eyes. 12You have not, O Romans, to deal with a wicked and profligate man, but with an unnatural and savage beast. And, since he has fallen into a well, let him be buried in it. For if he escapes out of it, there will be no inhumanity of torture which it will be possible to avoid. But he is at present hemmed in, pressed, and besieged by those troops which we already have, and will soon be still more so by those which in a few days the new consuls will levy. Apply yourselves then to this business, as you are doing. Never have you shown greater unanimity in any cause; never have you been so cordially united with the senate. And no wonder. For the question now is not in what condition we are to live, but whether we are to live at all, or to perish with torture and ignominy.
13Although nature, indeed, has appointed death for all men: but valour is accustomed to ward off any cruelty or disgrace in death. And that is an inalienable possession of the Roman race and name. Preserve, I beseech you, O Romans, this attribute which your ancestors have left you as a sort of inheritance. Although all other things are uncertain, fleeting, transitory; virtue alone is planted firm with very deep roots; it cannot be undermined by any violence; it can never be moved from its position. By it your ancestors first subdued the whole of Italy; then destroyed Carthage, overthrew Numantia, and reduced the most mighty kings and most warlike nations under the dominion of this empire.
14VI. And your ancestors, O Romans, had to deal with an enemy who had also a republic, a senate-house, a treasury, harmonious and united citizens, and with whom, if fortune had so willed it, there might have been peace and treaties on settled principles. But this enemy of yours is attacking your republic, but has none himself; is eager to destroy the senate, that is to say, the council of the whole world, but has no public council himself; he has exhausted your treasury, and has none of his own. For how can a man be supported by the unanimity of his citizens, who has no city at all? And what principles of peace can there be with that man who is full of incredible cruelty, and destitute of faith?
15The whole then of the contest, O Romans, which is now before the Roman people, the conqueror of all nations, is with an assassin, a robber, a Spartacus. For as to his habitual boast of being like Catilina, he is equal to him in wickedness, but inferior in energy. He, though he had no army, rapidly levied one. This man has lost that very army which he had. As, therefore, by my diligence, and the authority of the senate, and your own zeal and valour, you crushed Catilina, so you will very soon hear that this infamous piratical enterprise of Antonius has been put down by your own perfect and unexampled harmony with the senate, and by the good fortune and valour of your armies and generals. 16I, for my part, as far as I am able to labour, and to effect anything by my care, and exertions, and vigilance, and authority, and counsel, will omit nothing which I may think serviceable to your liberty. Nor could I omit it without wickedness after all your most ample and honourable kindness to me. However, on this day, encouraged by the motion of a most gallant man, and one most firmly attached to you, Marcus Servilius, whom you see before you, and his colleagues also, most distinguished men, and most virtuous citizens; and partly, too, by my advice and my example, we have, for the first time after a long interval, fired up again with a hope of liberty.