1I. Nothing, O conscript fathers, has ever seemed to me longer than these calends of January; and I think that for the last few days you have all been feeling the same thing. For those who are waging war against the republic have not waited for this day. But we, while it would have been most especially proper for us to come to the aid of the general safety with our counsel, were not summoned to the senate. However, the speech just addressed to us by the consuls has removed our complaints as to what is past, for they have spoken in such a manner that the calends of January seem to have been long wished for rather than really to have arrived late.
And while the speeches of the consuls have encouraged my mind, and have given me a hope, not only of preserving our safety, but even of recovering our former dignity; on the other hand, the opinion of the man who has been asked for his opinion first would have disturbed me, if I had not confidence in your virtue and firmness. 2For this day, O conscript fathers, has dawned upon you, and this opportunity has been afforded you of proving to the Roman people how much virtue, how much firmness, and how much dignity exists in the counsels of this order. Recollect what a day it was thirteen days ago; how great was then your unanimity, and virtue, and firmness; and what great praise, what great glory, and what great gratitude you earned from the Roman people. And on that day, O conscript fathers, you resolved that no other alternative was in your power, except either an honourable peace, or a necessary war.
3Is Marcus Antonius desirous of peace? Let him lay down his arms, let him implore our pardon, let him deprecate our vengeance: he will find no one more reasonable than me; though, while seeking to recommend himself to impious citizens, he has chosen to be an enemy instead of a friend to me. There is, in truth, nothing which can be given to him while waging war; there will perhaps be something which may be granted to him if he comes before us as a suppliant.
II. But to send ambassadors to a man respecting whom you passed a most dignified and severe decision only thirteen days ago, is not an act of lenity, but, if I am to speak my real opinion, of downright madness. In the first place, you praised those generals who, of their own head, had undertaken war against him; in the next place, you praised the veterans who, though they had been settled in those colonies by Antonius, preferred the liberty of the Roman people to the obligations which they were under to him. 4Is it not so? Why was the Martial legion? why was the fourth legion praised? For if they have deserted the consul, they ought to be blamed; if they have abandoned an enemy to the republic, then they are deservedly praised.
But as at that time you had not yet got any consuls, you passed a decree that a motion concerning the rewards for the soldiers and the honours to be conferred on the generals should be submitted to you at the earliest opportunity. Are you then going now to arrange rewards for those men who have taken arms against Antonius, and to send ambassadors to Antonius? so as to deserve to be ashamed that the legions should have come to more honourable resolutions than the senate: if, indeed, the legions have resolved to defend the senate against Antonius, but the senate decrees to send ambassadors to Antonius. Is this encouraging the spirit of the soldiers, or damping their virtue?
5This is what we have gained in the last twelve days, that the man whom no single person except Cotyla was then found to defend, has now advocates, even of consular rank. Would that they had all been asked their opinion before me; (although I have my suspicions as to what some of those men who will be asked after me, are intending to say;) I should find it easier to speak against them if any argument appeared to have been advanced.
For there is an opinion in some quarters, that some one intends to propose to decree Antonius that further Gaul, which Plancus is at present in possession of. What else is that but supplying an enemy with all the arms necessary for civil war: first of all with the sinews of war, money in abundance, of which he is at present destitute; and secondly, with as much cavalry as he pleases? Cavalry do I say? He is a likely man to hesitate, I suppose, to bring with him the barbarian nations;—a man who does not see this is senseless; he who does see it, and still advocates such a measure, is impious. 6Will you furnish a wicked and desperate citizen with an army of Gauls and Germans, with money, and infantry, and cavalry, and all sorts of resources? All these excuses are no excuse at all:—“He is a friend of mine.” Let him first be a friend of his country:—“He is a relation of mine.” Can any relationship be nearer than that of one’s country, in which even one’s parents are comprised? “He has given me money:”—I should like to see the man who will dare to say that. But when I have explained what is the real object aimed at, it will be easy for you to decide which opinion you ought to agree with and adopt.
III. The matter at issue is, whether power is to be given to Marcus Antonius of oppressing the republic, of massacring the virtuous citizens, of plundering the city, of distributing the lands among his robbers, of overwhelming the Roman people in slavery; or, whether he is not to be allowed to do all this. Do you doubt what you are to do? “Oh, but all this does not apply to Antonius.” 7Even Cotyla would not venture to say that. For what does not apply to him? A man who, while he says that he is defending the acts of another, perverts all those laws of his which we might most properly praise. Cæsar wished to drain the marshes: this man has given all Italy to that moderate man Lucius Antonius to distribute.—What? has the Roman people adopted this law?—What? could it be passed with a proper regard for the auspices? But this conscientious augur acts in reference to the auspices without his colleagues. Although those auspices do not require any interpretation;—for who is there who is ignorant that it is impious to submit any motion to the people while it is thundering? The tribunes of the people carried laws respecting the provinces in opposition to the acts of Cæsar; Cæsar had extended the provisions of his law over two years; Antonius over six years. Has then the Roman people adopted this law? What? was it ever regularly promulgated? What? was it not passed before it was even drawn up? Did we not see the deed done before we even suspected that it was going to be done? Where is the Cæcilian and Didian law? 8What is become of the law that such bills should be published on three market days? What is become of the penalty appointed by the recent Junian and Licinian law? Can these laws be ratified without the destruction of all other laws? Has any one had a right of entering the forum? Moreover, what thunder, and what a storm that was! so that even if the consideration of the auspices had no weight with Marcus Antonius, it would seem strange that he could endure and bear such exceeding violence of tempest, and rain, and whirlwind. When therefore he, as augur, says that he carried a law while Jupiter was not only thundering, but almost uttering an express prohibition of it by his clamour from heaven, will he hesitate to confess that it was carried in violation of the auspices? 9What? does the virtuous augur think that it has nothing to do with the auspices, that he carried the law with the aid of that colleague whose election he himself vitiated by giving notice of the auspices?
IV. But perhaps we, who are his colleagues, may be the interpreters of the auspices? Do we also want interpreters of arms? In the first place, all the approaches to the forum were so fenced round, that even if no armed men were standing in the way, still it would have been impossible to enter the forum except by tearing down the barricades. But the guards were arranged in such a manner, that, as the access of an enemy to a city is prevented, so you might in this instance see the burgesses and the tribunes of the people cut off by forts and works from all entrance to the forum. 10On which account I give my vote that those laws which Marcus Antonius is said to have carried were all carried by violence, and in violation of the auspices; and that the people is not bound by them. If Marcus Antonius is said to have carried any law about confirming the acts of Cæsar and abolishing the dictatorship for ever, and of leading colonies into any lands, then I vote that those laws be passed over again, with a due regard to the auspices, so that they may bind the people. For although they may be good measures which he passed irregularly and by violence, still they are not to be accounted laws, and the whole audacity of this frantic gladiator must be repudiated by our authority. 11But that squandering of the public money cannot possibly be endured by which he got rid of seven hundred millions of sesterces by forged entries and deeds of gifts, so that it seems an absolute miracle that so vast a sum of money belonging to the Roman people can have disappeared in so short a time. What? are those enormous profits to be endured which the household of Marcus Antonius has swallowed up? He was continually selling forged decrees; ordering the names of kingdoms and states, and grants of exemptions to be engraved on brass, having received bribes for such orders. And his statement always was, that he was doing these things in obedience to the memoranda of Cæsar, of which he himself was the author. In the interior of his house there was going on a brisk market of the whole republic. His wife, more fortunate for herself than for her husband, was holding an auction of kingdoms and provinces: exiles were restored without any law, as if by law: and unless all these acts are rescinded by the authority of the senate, now that we have again arrived at a hope of recovering the republic, there will be no likeness of a free city left to us.
12Nor is it only by the sale of forged memoranda and autographs that a countless sum of money was collected together in that house, while Antonius, whatever he sold, said that he was acting in obedience to the papers of Cæsar; but he even took bribes to make false entries of the resolutions of the senate; to seal forged contracts; and resolutions of the senate that had never been passed were entered on the records of that treasury. Of all this baseness even foreign nations were witnesses. In the meantime treaties were made; kingdoms given away; nations and provinces released from the burdens of the state; and false memorials of all these transactions were fixed up all over the Capitol, amid the groans of the Roman people. And by all these proceedings so vast a sum of money was collected in one house, that if it were all made available, the Roman people would never want money again.
V. Moreover, he passed a law to regulate judicial proceedings, this chaste and upright man, this upholder of the tribunals and the law. And in this he deceived us. He used to say that he appointed men from the front ranks of the army, common soldiers, men of the Alauda, as judges. But he has in reality selected gamesters; he has selected exiles; he has selected Greeks. Oh the fine bench of judges! Oh the admirable dignity of that council! 13I do long to plead in behalf of some defendant before that tribunal—Cyda of Crete; a prodigy even in that island; the most audacious and abandoned of men. But even suppose he were not so. Does he understand Latin? Is he qualified by birth and station to be a judge? Does he—which is most important—does he know anything about our laws and manners? Is he even acquainted with any of the citizens? Why, Crete is better known to you than Rome is to Cyda. In fact, the selection and appointment of the judges has usually been confined to our own citizens. But who ever knew, or could possibly have known this Gortynian judge? For Lysiades, the Athenian, we most of us do know. For he is the son of Phædrus, an eminent philosopher. And, besides, he is a witty man, so that he will be able to get on very well with Marcus Curius, who will be one of his colleagues, and with whom he is in the habit of playing. 14I ask if Lysiades, when summoned as a judge, should not answer to his name, and should have an excuse alleged for him that he is an Areopagite, and that he is not bound to act as a judge at both Rome and Athens at the same time, will the man who presides over the investigation admit the excuse of this Greekling judge, at one time a Greek, and at another a Roman? Or will he disregard the most ancient laws of the Athenians?
And what a bench will it be, O ye good gods! A Cretan judge, and he the most worthless of men. Whom can a defendant employ to propitiate him? How is he to get at him? He comes of a hard nation. But the Athenians are merciful. I dare say that Curius, too, is not cruel, inasmuch as he is a man who is himself at the mercy of fortune every day. There are besides other chosen judges who will perhaps be excused. For they have a legitimate excuse, that they have left their country in banishment, and that they have not been restored since. 15And would that madman have chosen these men as judges, would he have entered their names as such in the treasury, would he have trusted a great portion of the republic to them, if he had intended to leave the least semblance of a republic?
VI. And I have been speaking of those judges who are known. Those whom you are less acquainted with I have been unwilling to name. Know then that dancers, harp-players, the whole troop, in fact, of Antonius’s revellers, have all been pitchforked into the third decury of judges. Now you see the object of passing so splendid and admirable a law, amid excessive rain, storm, wind, tempest, and whirlwind, amid thunder and lightning; it was that we might have those men for our judges whom no one would like to have for guests. It is the enormity of his wickedness, the consciousness of his crimes, the plunder of that money of which the account was kept in the temple of Ops, which have been the real inventors of this third decury. And infamous judges were not sought for, till all hope of safety for the guilty was despaired of, if they came before respectable ones. 16But what must have been the impudence, what must have been the iniquity of a man who dared to select those men as judges, by the selection of whom a double disgrace was stamped on the republic: one, because the judges were so infamous; the other, because by this step it was revealed and published to the world how many infamous citizens we had in the republic? These then, and all other similar laws, I should vote ought to be annulled, even if they had been passed without violence, and with all proper respect for the auspices. But now why need I vote that they ought to be annulled, when I do not consider that they were ever legally passed?
17Is not this, too, to be marked with the deepest ignominy, and with the severest animadversion of this order, so as to be recollected by all posterity, that Marcus Antonius (the first man who has ever done so since the foundation of the city) has openly taken armed men about with him in this city? A thing which the kings never did, nor those men who, since the kings have been banished, have endeavoured to seize on kingly power. I can recollect Cinna; I have seen Sylla; and lately Cæsar. For these three men are the only ones since the city was delivered by Lucius Brutus, who have had more power than the entire republic. I cannot assert that no man in their trains had weapons. 18This I do say, that they had not many, and that they concealed them. But this pest was attended by an army of armed men. Classitius, Mustela, and Tiro, openly displaying their swords, led troops of fellows like themselves through the forum. Barbarian archers occupied their regular place in the army. And when they arrived at the temple of Concord, the steps were crowded, the litters full of shields were arranged; not because he wished the shields to be concealed, but that his friends might not be fatigued by carrying the shields themselves.
VII. And what was most infamous not only to see, but even to hear of, armed men, robbers, assassins were stationed in the temple of Concord; the temple was turned into a prison; the doors of the temple were closed, and the conscript fathers delivered their opinions while robbers were standing among the benches of the senators. 19And if I did not come to a senate-house in this state, he, on the first of September, said that he would send carpenters and pull down my house. It was an important affair, I suppose, that was to be discussed. He made some motion about a supplication. I attended the day after. He himself did not come. I delivered my opinion about the republic, not indeed with quite so much freedom as usual, but still with more than the threats of personal danger to myself made perhaps advisable. But that violent and furious man (for Lucius Piso had done the same thing with great credit thirty days before) threatened me with his enmity, and ordered me to attend the senate on the nineteenth of September. In the meantime he spent the whole of the intervening seventeen days in the villa of Scipio, at Tibur, declaiming against me to make himself thirsty. For this is his usual object in declaiming. 20When the day arrived on which he had ordered me to attend, then he came with a regular army in battle array to the temple of Concord, and out of his impure mouth vomited forth an oration against me in my absence. On which day, if my friends had not prevented me from attending the senate as I was anxious to do, he would have begun a massacre by the slaughter of me. For that was what he had resolved to do. And when once he had dyed his sword in blood, nothing would have made him leave off but pure fatigue and satiety. In truth, his brother, Lucius Antonius, was present, an Asiatic gladiator, who had fought as a Mirmillo, at Mylasa; he was thirsting for my blood, and had shed much of his own in that gladiatorial combat. He was now valuing our property in his mind, taking notice of our possessions in the city and in the country; his indigence united with his covetousness was threatening all our fortunes; he was distributing our lands to whomsoever and in whatever shares he pleased; no private individual could get access to him, or find any means to propitiate him, and induce him to act with justice. Every former proprietor had just so much property as Antonius left him after the division of his estate. 21And although all these proceedings cannot be ratified, if you annul his laws, still I think that they ought all to be separately taken note of, article by article; and that we ought formally to decide that the appointment of septemvirs was null and void; and that nothing is ratified which is said to have been done by them.
VIII. But who is there who can consider Marcus Antonius a citizen, rather than a most foul and barbarous enemy, who, while sitting in front of the temple of Castor, in the hearing of the Roman people, said that no one should survive except those who were victorious? Do you suppose, O conscript fathers, that he spoke with more violence than he would act? And what are we to think of his having ventured to say that, after he had given up his magistracy, he should still be at the city with his army? that he should enter the city as often as he pleased? What else was this but threatening the Roman people with slavery? 22And what was the object of his journey to Brundusium? and of that great haste? What was his hope, except to lead that vast army to the city, or rather into the city? What a proceeding was that selection of the centurions! What unbridled fury of an intemperate mind! For when those gallant legions had raised an outcry against his promises, he ordered those centurions to come to him to his house, whom he perceived to be loyally attached to the republic, and then he had them all murdered before his own eyes and those of his wife, whom this noble commander had taken with him to the army. What disposition do you suppose that this man will display towards us whom he hates, when he was so cruel to those men whom he had never seen? And how covetous will he be with respect to the money of rich men, when he thirsted for even the blood of poor men? whose property, such as it was, he immediately divided among his satellites and boon companions.
23And he in a fury was now moving his hostile standards against his country from Brundusium, when Caius Cæsar, by the kind inspiration of the immortal gods, by the greatness of his own heavenly courage, and wisdom, and genius, of his own accord, indeed, and prompted by his own admirable virtue, but still with the approbation of my authority, went down to the colonies which had been founded by his father; convoked the veteran soldiery; in a few days raised an army; and checked the furious advance of this bandit. But after the Martial legion saw this admirable leader, it had no other thoughts but those of securing our liberty. And the fourth legion followed its example.
IX. And Antonius, on hearing of this news, after he had summoned the senate, and provided a man of consular rank to declare his opinion that Caius Cæsar was an enemy of his country, immediately fainted away. 24And afterwards, without either performing the usual sacrifices, or offering the customary vows, he, I will not say went forth, but took to flight in his robe as a general. But which way did he flee? To the province of our most resolute and bravest citizens; men who could never have endured him if he had not come bringing war in his train, an intemperate, passionate, insolent, proud man, always making demands, always plundering, always drunk. But he, whose worthlessness even when quiet was more than any one could endure, has declared war upon the province of Gaul; he is besieging Mutina, a valiant and splendid colony of the Roman people; he is blockading Decimus Brutus, the general, the consul elect, a citizen born not for himself, but for us and the republic. 25Was then Hannibal an enemy, and is Antonius a citizen? What did the one do like an enemy, that the other has not done, or is not doing, or planning, and thinking of? What was there in the whole of the journey of the Antonii; except depopulation, devastation, slaughter, and rapine? Actions which Hannibal never did, because he was reserving many things for his own use, these men do, as men who live merely for the present hour; they never have given a thought not only to the fortunes and welfare of the citizens, but not even to their own advantage.
Are we then, O ye good gods, to resolve to send ambassadors to this man? Are those men who propose this acquainted with the constitution of the republic, with the laws of war, with the precedents of our ancestors? Do they give a thought to what the majesty of the Roman people and the severity of the senate requires? Do you resolve to send ambassadors? If to beg his mercy, he will despise you; if to declare your commands he will not listen to them; and last of all, however severe the message may be which we give the ambassadors, the very name of ambassadors will extinguish this ardour of the Roman people which we see at present, and break the spirit of the municipal towns and of Italy. To say nothing of these arguments, though they are weighty, at all events that sending of an embassy will cause delay and slowness to the war. 26Although those who propose it should say, as I hear that some intend to say,—“Let the ambassadors go, but let war be prepared for all the same.” Still the very name of ambassadors will damp men’s courage, and delay the rapidity of the war.
X. The most important events, O conscript fathers, are often determined by very trivial moving influences in every circumstance that can happen in the republic, and also in war, and especially in civil war, which is usually governed a great deal by men’s opinions and by reports. No one will ask what is the commission with which we have sent the ambassadors; the mere name of an embassy, and that sent by us of our own accord, will appear an indication of fear. Let him depart from Mutina; let him cease to attack Brutus; let him retire from Gaul. He must not be begged in words to do so; he must be compelled by arms. 27For we are not sending to Hannibal to desire him to retire from before Saguntum; to whom the senate formerly sent Publius Valerius Flaccus and Quintus Bæbius Tampilus; who, if Hannibal did not comply, were ordered to proceed to Carthage. Whither do we order our ambassadors to proceed, if Antonius does not comply? Are we sending an embassy to our own citizen, to beg him not to attack a general and a colony of the Roman people? Is it so? Is it becoming to us to beg this by means of ambassadors? What is the difference, in the name of the immortal gods, whether he attacks this city itself, or whether he attacks an outpost of this city, a colony of the Roman people, established for the sake of its being a bulwark and protection to us? The siege of Saguntum was the cause of the second Punic war, which Hannibal carried on against our ancestors. It was quite right to send ambassadors to him. They were sent to a Carthaginian, they were sent on behalf of those who were the enemies of Hannibal, and our allies. What is there resembling that case here? We are sending to one of our own citizens to beg him not to blockade a general of the Roman army, not to attack our army and our colony,—in short, not to be an enemy of ours. Come; suppose he obeys, shall we either be inclined, or shall we be able by any possibility, to treat him as one of our citizens?
28XI. On the nineteenth of December, you overwhelmed him with your decrees; you ordained that this motion should be submitted to you on the first of January, which you see is submitted now, respecting the honours and rewards to be conferred on those who have deserved or do deserve well of the republic. And the chief of those men you have adjudged to be the man who really has done so, Caius Cæsar, who had diverted the nefarious attacks of Marcus Antonius against this city, and compelled him to direct them against Gaul; and next to him you consider the veteran soldiers who first followed Cæsar; then those excellent and heavenly-minded legions the Martial and the fourth, to whom you have promised honours and rewards, for having not only abandoned their consul, but for having even declared war against him. And on the same day, having a decree brought before you and published on purpose, you praised the conduct of Decimus Brutus, a most excellent citizen, and sanctioned with your public authority this war which he had undertaken of his own head.
What else, then, did you do on that day except pronounce Antonius a public enemy? 29After these decrees of yours, will it be possible for him to look upon you with equanimity, or for you to behold him without the most excessive indignation? He has been excluded and cut off and wholly separated from the republic, not merely by his own wickedness, as it seems to me, but by some especial good fortune of the republic. And if he should comply with the demands of the ambassadors and return to Rome, do you suppose that abandoned citizens will ever be in need of a standard around which to rally? But this is not what I am so much afraid of. There are other things which I am more apprehensive of and more alarmed at. He never will comply with the demands of the ambassadors. I know the man’s insanity and arrogance; I know the desperate counsels of his friends, to which he is wholly given up. 30Lucius his brother, as being a man who has fought abroad, leads on his household. Even suppose him to be in his senses himself, which he never will be; still he will not be allowed by these men to act as if he were so. In the mean time, time will be wasted. The preparations for war will cool. How is it that the war has been protracted as long as this, if it be not by procrastination and delay?
From the very first moment after the departure, or rather after the hopeless flight of that bandit, that the senate could have met in freedom, I have always been demanding that we should be called together. The first day that we were called together, when the consuls elect were not present, I laid, in my opinion, amid the greatest unanimity on your part, the foundations of the republic; later, indeed, than they should have been laid; for I could not do so before; but still if no time had been lost after that day, we should have no war at all now. 31Every evil is easily crushed at its birth; when it has become of long standing, it usually gets stronger. But then every body was waiting for the first of January; perhaps not very wisely.
XII. However, let us say no more of what is past. Are we still to allow any further delay while the ambassadors are on their road to him? and while they are coming back again? and the time spent in waiting for them will make men doubt about the war. And while the fact of the war is in doubt, how can men possibly be zealous about the levies for the army?
Wherefore, O conscript fathers, I give my vote that there should be no mention made of ambassadors. I think that the business that is to be done must be done without any delay, and instantly. I say that it is necessary that we should decree that there is sedition abroad, that we should suspend the regular courts of justice, order all men to wear the garb of war, and enlist men in all quarters, suspending all exemptions from military service in the city and in all Italy, except in Gaul. 32And if this be done, the general opinion and report of your severity will overwhelm the insanity of that wicked gladiator. He will feel that he has undertaken a war against the republic; he will experience the sinews and vigour of a unanimous senate. For at present he is constantly saying that it is a mere struggle between parties. Between what parties? One party is defeated; the other is the heart of Caius Cæsar’s party. Unless, indeed, we believe that the party of Cæsar is attacked by Pansa and Hirtius the consuls, and by Caius Cæsar’s son. But this war has been kindled, not by a struggle between parties, but by the nefarious hopes of the most abandoned citizens; by whom all our estates and properties have been marked down, and already distributed according as every one has thought them desirable.
33I have read the letter of Antonius which he sent to one of the septemviri, a thoroughpaced scoundrel, a colleague of his own. “Look out, and see what you take a fancy to; what you do fancy you shall certainly have.” See to what a man we are sending ambassadors; against what a man we are delaying to make war; a man who does not even let us draw lots for our fortunes, but hands us over to each man’s caprice in such a way, that he has not left even himself anything untouched, or which has not been promised to somebody. With this man, O conscript fathers, we must wage war,—war, I say, and that instantly. We must reject the slow proceedings of ambassadors.
34Therefore, that we may not have a number of decrees to pass every day, I give my vote that the whole republic should be committed to the consuls; and that they should have a charge given them to defend the republic, and to take care “that the republic suffer no injury.” And I give my vote that those men who are in the army of Antonius be not visited with blame, if they leave him before the first of February.
If you adopt these proposals of mine, O conscript fathers, you will in a short time recover the liberty of the Roman people and your own authority. But if you act with more mildness, still you will pass those resolutions, but perhaps you will pass them too late. As to the general welfare of the republic, on which you, O consuls, have consulted us, I think that I have proposed what is sufficient.
35XIII. The next question is about honours. And to this point I perceive that I must speak next. But I will preserve the same order in paying respect to brave men, that is usually preserved in asking their opinions.
Let us, therefore, according to the usages of our ancestors, begin with Brutus, the consul elect; and, to say nothing of his former conduct,—which has indeed been most admirable, but still such as has been praised by the individual judgments of men, rather than by public authority,—what words can we find adequate to his praise at this very time? For such great virtue requires no reward except this one of praise and glory; and even if it were not to receive that, still it would be content with itself, and would rejoice at being laid up in the recollection of grateful citizens, as if it were placed in the full light. The praise then of our deliberate opinion, and of our testimony in his favour, must be given to Brutus. 36Therefore, O conscript fathers, I give my vote that a resolution of the senate be passed in these words:
“As Decimus Brutus, imperator, consul elect, is maintaining the province of Gaul in obedience to the senate and people of Rome; and as he has enlisted and collected in so short a time a very numerous army, being aided by the admirable zeal of the municipal towns and colonies of the province of Gaul, which has deserved and still does deserve admirably well of the republic; he has acted rightly and virtuously, and greatly for the advantage of the republic. And that most excellent service done by Decimus Brutus to the republic, is and always will be grateful to the senate and people of Rome. Therefore, the senate and the Roman people is of opinion that the exertions, and prudence, and virtue of Decimus Brutus, imperator and consul elect, and the incredible zeal and unanimity of the province of Gaul, have been a great assistance to the republic, at a most critical time.”
37What honour, O conscript fathers, can be too great to be due to such a mighty service as this of Brutus, and to such important aid as he has afforded the republic? For if Gaul had been open to Marcus Antonius—if after having overwhelmed the municipal towns and colonies unprepared to resist him, he had been able to penetrate into that further Gaul—what great danger would have hung over the republic! That most insane of men, that man so headlong and furious in all his courses, would have been likely, I suppose, to hesitate at waging war against us, not only with his own army, but with all the savage troops of barbarism; so that even the wall of the Alps would not have enabled us to check his frenzy. These thanks then will be deservedly paid to Decimus Brutus, who, before any authority of yours had been interposed, acting on his own judgment and responsibility, refused to receive him as consul, but repelled him from Gaul as an enemy, and preferred to be besieged himself rather than to allow this city to be so. Let him therefore have, by your decree, an everlasting testimony to this most important and glorious action; and let Gaul, which always is and has been a protection to this empire and to the general liberty, be deservedly and truly praised for not having surrendered herself and her power to Antonius, but for having opposed him with them.
38XIV. And, furthermore, I give my vote that the most ample honours be decreed to Marcus Lepidus, as a reward for his eminent services to the republic. He has at all times wished the Roman people to be free; and he gave the greatest proof of his inclination and opinion on that day, when, while Antonius was placing the diadem on Cæsar’s head, he turned his face away, and by his groans and sorrow showed plainly what a hatred of slavery he had, how desirous he was for the Roman people to be free, and how he had endured those things which he had endured, more because of the necessity of the times, than because they harmonised with his sentiments. And who of us can forget with what great moderation he behaved during that crisis of the city which ensued after the death of Cæsar? These are great merits; but I hasten to speak of greater still. 39For, (O ye immortal gods!) what could happen more to be admired by foreign nations, or more to be desired by the Roman people, than, at a time when there was a most important civil war, the result of which we were all dreading, that it should be extinguished by prudence rather than that arms and violence should be able to put everything to the hazard of a battle? And if Cæsar had been guided by the same principles in that odious and miserable war, we should have—to say nothing of their father—the two sons of Cnæus Pompeius, that most illustrious and virtuous man, safe among us; men whose piety and filial affection certainly ought not to have been their ruin. Would that Marcus Lepidus had been able to save them all! He showed that he would have done so, by his conduct in cases where he had the power; when he restored Sextus Pompeius to the state, a great ornament to the republic, and a most illustrious monument of his clemency. Sad was that picture, melancholy was the destiny then of the Roman people. For after Pompeius the father was dead, he who was the light of the Roman people, the son too, who was wholly like his father, was also slain. 40But all these calamities appear to me to have been effaced by the kindness of the immortal gods, Sextus Pompeius being preserved to the republic.
XV. For which cause, reasonable and important as it is and because Marcus Lepidus, by his humanity and wisdom, has changed a most dangerous and extensive civil war into peace and concord, I give my vote, that a resolution of the senate be drawn up in these words:
“Since the affairs of the republic have repeatedly been well and prosperously conducted by Marcus Lepidus, imperator, and Pontifex Maximus, and since the Roman people is fully aware that kingly power is very displeasing to him; and since by his exertions, and virtue, and prudence, and singular clemency and humanity, a most bitter civil war has been extinguished; 41and Sextus Pompeius Magnus, the son of Cnæus, having submitted to the authority of this order and laid down his arms, and, in accordance with the perfect good-will of the senate and people of Rome, has been restored to the state by Marcus Lepidus, imperator, and Pontifex Maximus; the senate and people of Rome, in return for the important and numerous services of Marcus Lepidus to the republic, declares that it places great hopes of future tranquillity and peace and concord, in his virtue, authority, and good fortune; and the senate and people of Rome will ever remember his services to the republic; and it is decreed by the vote of this order, That a gilt equestrian statue be erected to him in the Rostra, or in whatever other place in the forum he pleases.”
And this honour, O conscript fathers, appears to me a very great one, in the first place, because it is just;—for it is not merely given on account of our hopes of the future, but it is paid, as it were, in requital of his ample services already done. Nor are we able to mention any instance of this honour having been conferred on any one by the senate by their own free and voluntary judgment before.
42XVI. I come now to Caius Cæsar, O conscript fathers; if he had not existed, which of us could have been alive now? That most intemperate of men, Antonius, was flying from Brundusium to the city, burning with hatred, with a disposition hostile to all good men, with an army. What was there to oppose to his audacity and wickedness? We had not as yet any generals, or any forces. There was no public council, no liberty; our necks were at the mercy of his nefarious cruelty; we were all preparing to have recourse to flight, though flight itself had no escape for us. 43Who was it—what god was it, who at that time gave to the Roman people this godlike young man, who, while every means for completing our destruction seemed open to that most pernicious citizen, rising up on a sudden, beyond every one’s hope, completed an army fit to oppose to the fury of Marcus Antonius before any one suspected that he was thinking of any such step? Great honours were paid to Cnæus Pompeius when he was a young man, and deservedly; for he came to the assistance of the republic; but he was of a more vigorous age, and more calculated to meet the eager requirements of soldiers seeking a general. He had also been already trained in other kinds of war. For the cause of Sylla was not agreeable to all men. The multitude of the proscribed, and the enormous calamities that fell on so many municipal towns, show this plainly. 44But Cæsar, though many years younger, armed veterans who were now eager to rest; he has embraced that cause which was most agreeable to the senate, to the people, to all Italy,—in short, to gods and men. And Pompeius came as a reinforcement to the extensive command and victorious army of Lucius Sylla; Cæsar had no one to join himself to. He, of his own accord, was the author and executor of his plan of levying an army, and arraying a defence for us. Pompeius found the whole Picene district hostile to the party of his adversaries; but Cæsar has levied an army against Antonius from men who were Antonius’s own friends, but still greater friends to liberty. It was owing to the influence of Pompeius that Sylla was enabled to act like a king. It is by the protection afforded us by Cæsar that the tyranny of Antonius has been put down.
45Let us then confer on Cæsar a regular military command, without which the military affairs cannot be directed, the army cannot be held together, war cannot be waged. Let him be made proprætor with all the privileges which have ever been attached to that appointment. That honour, although it is a great one for a man of his age, still is not merely of influence as giving dignity, but it confers powers calculated to meet the present emergency. Therefore, let us seek for honours for him which we shall not easily find at the present day.
XVII. But I hope that we and the Roman people shall often have an opportunity of complimenting and honouring this young man. 46But at the present moment I give my vote that we should pass a decree in this form:
“As Caius Cæsar, the son of Caius, Pontiff and Proprætor, has at a most critical period of the republic exhorted the veteran soldiers to defend the liberty of the Roman people, and has enlisted them in his army; and as the Martial legion and the fourth legion, with great zeal for the republic, and with admirable unanimity, under the guidance and authority of Caius Cæsar, have defended and are defending the republic and the liberty of the Roman people; and as Caius Cæsar, proprætor, has gone with his army as a reinforcement to the province of Gaul; has made cavalry, and archers, and elephants, obedient to himself and to the Roman people, and has, at a most critical time for the republic, come to the aid of the safety and dignity of the Roman people;—on these accounts, it seems good to the senate that Caius Cæsar, the son of Caius, pontiff and proprætor, shall be a senator, and shall deliver his opinions from the bench occupied by men of prætorian rank; and that, on occasion of his offering himself for any magistracy, he shall be considered of the same legal standing and qualification as if he had been quæstor the preceding year.”
47For what reason can there be, O conscript fathers, why we should not wish him to arrive at the highest honours at as early an age as possible? For when, by the laws fixing the age at which men might be appointed to the different magistracies, our ancestors fixed a more mature age for the consulship, they were influenced by fears of the precipitation of youth; Caius Cæsar, at his first entrance into life, has shown us that, in the case of his eminent and unparalleled virtue, we have no need to wait for the progress of age. Therefore our ancestors, those old men, in the most ancient times, had no laws regulating the age for the different offices; it was ambition which caused them to be passed many years afterwards, in order that there might be among men of the same age different steps for arriving at honours. And it has often happened that a disposition of great natural virtue has been lost before it had any opportunity of benefiting the republic.
48But among the ancients, the Rulli, the Decii, the Corvini, and many others, and in more modern times the elder Africanus and Titus Flaminius were made consuls very young, and performed such exploits as greatly to extend the empire of the Roman people, and to embellish its name. What more? Did not the Macedonian Alexander, having begun to perform mighty deeds from his earliest youth, die when he was only in his thirty-third year? And that age is ten years less than that fixed by our laws for a man to be eligible for the consulship. From which it may be plainly seen that the progress of virtue is often swifter than that of age.
XVIII. For as to the fear which those men, who are enemies of Cæsar, pretend to entertain, there is not the slightest reason to apprehend that he will be unable to restrain and govern himself, or that he will be so elated by the honours which he receives from us as to use his power without moderation. 49It is only natural, O conscript fathers, that the man who has learnt to appreciate real glory, and who feels that he is considered by the senate and by the Roman knights and the whole Roman people a citizen who is dear to, and a blessing to the republic, should think nothing whatever deserving of being compared to this glory. Would that it had happened to Caius Cæsar—the father, I mean—when he was a young man, to be beloved by the senate and by every virtuous citizen; but, having neglected to aim at that, he wasted all the power of genius which he had in a most brilliant degree, in a capricious pursuit of popular favour. Therefore, as he had not sufficient respect for the senate and the virtuous part of the citizens, he opened for himself that path for the extension of his power, which the virtue of a free people was unable to bear.
But the principles of his son are widely different; who is not only beloved by every one, but in the greatest degree by the most virtuous men. In him is placed all our hope of liberty; from him already has our safety been received; for him the highest honours are sought out and prepared. 50While therefore we are admiring his singular prudence, can we at the same time fear his folly? For what can be more foolish than to prefer useless power, such influence as brings envy in its train, and a rash and slippery ambition of reigning, to real, dignified, solid glory? Has he seen this truth as a boy, and when he has advanced in age will he cease to see it? “But he is an enemy to some most illustrious and excellent citizens.” That circumstance ought not to cause any fear. Cæsar has sacrificed all those enmities to the republic; he had made the republic his judge; he has made her the directress of all his counsels and actions. For he is come to the service of the republic in order to strengthen her, not to overturn her. I am well acquainted with all the feelings of the young man: there is nothing dearer to him than the republic, nothing which he considers of more weight than your authority; nothing which he desires more than the approbation of virtuous men; nothing which he accounts sweeter than genuine glory.
51Wherefore you not only ought not to fear anything from him, but you ought to expect greater and better things still. Nor ought you to apprehend with respect to a man who has already gone forward to release Decimus Brutus from a siege, that the recollection of his domestic injury will dwell in his bosom, and have more weight with him than the safety of the city. I will venture even to pledge my own faith, O conscript fathers, to you, and to the Roman people, and to the republic, which in truth, if no necessity compelled me to do so, I would not venture to do, and in doing which on slight grounds, I should be afraid of giving rise to a dangerous opinion of my rashness in a most important business; but I do promise, and pledge myself, and undertake, O conscript fathers, that Caius Cæsar will always be such a citizen as he is this day, and as we ought above all things to wish and desire that he may turn out.
52XIX. And as this is the case, I shall consider that I have said enough at present about Cæsar.
Nor do I think that we ought to pass over Lucius Egnatuleius, a most gallant and wise and firm citizen, and one thoroughly attached to the republic, in silence; but that we ought to give him our testimony to his admirable virtue, because it was he who led the fourth legion to Cæsar, to be a protection to the consuls, and senate, and people of Rome, and the republic. And for these acts I give my vote:
“That it be made lawful for Lucius Egnatuleius to stand for, and be elected to, and discharge the duties of any magistracy, three years before the legitimate time.”
And by this motion, O conscript fathers, Lucius Egnatuleius does not get so much actual advantage as honour. For in a case like this it is quite sufficient to be honourably mentioned.
53But concerning the army of Caius Cæsar, I give my vote for the passing of a decree in this form:
“The senate decrees that the veteran soldiers who have defended and are defending * * * * of Cæsar, pontiff * * * * and the authority of this order, should, and their children after them, have an exemption from military service. And that Caius Pansa and Aulus Hirtius the consuls, one or both of them, as they think fit, shall inquire what land there is in those colonies in which the veteran soldiers have been settled, which is occupied in defiance of the provisions of the Julian law, in order that that may be divided among these veterans. That they shall institute a separate inquiry about the Campanian district, and devise a plan for increasing the advantages enjoyed by these veteran soldiers; and with respect to the Martial legion, and to the fourth legion, and to those soldiers of the second and thirty-fifth legions who have come over to Caius Pansa and Aulus Hirtius the consuls, and have given in their names, because the authority of the senate and the liberty of the Roman people is and always has been most dear to them, the senate decrees that they and their children shall have exemption from military service, except in the case of any Gallic and Italian sedition; and decrees further, that those legions shall have their discharge when this war is terminated; and that whatever sum of money Caius Cæsar, pontiff and proprætor, has promised to the soldiers of those legions individually, shall be paid to them. And that Caius Pansa and Aulus Hirtius the consuls, one or both of them, as it seems good to them, shall make an estimate of the land which can be distributed without injury to private individuals; and that land shall be given and assigned to the soldiers of the Martial legion and of the fourth legion, in the largest shares in which land has ever been given and assigned to soldiers.”
I have now spoken, O consuls, on every point concerning which you have submitted a motion to us; and if the resolutions which I have proposed be decreed without delay, and seasonably, you will the more easily prepare those measures which the present time and emergency demand. But instant action is necessary. And if we had adopted that earlier, we should, as I have often said, now have no war at all.