When Publius Clodius set himself up to upset the status quo by all kinds of wickedness in his praetorship and saw that they had been so delayed that he was not able to assume his praetorship for many months, who did not see this as an advancement of honour as others do, but also wanted to leave Lucius Paulus as his colleague, a citizen of singular virtue, and he was seeking out an entire year for the purpose of tearing apart the Republic; he suddenly left his year (of praetorship) and transferred himself into the following year, not, as is proper, because of some religious reason, but in order that he might have - which he himself was saying - a full and entire year to hold his praetorship, that is to say for the purpose of overthrowing the Republic.
It was occurring to him that his praetorship would be maimed and powerless with Milo as consul; furthermore, he saw that he was being made consul with the utter consent of the people of Rome. He allied himself to Milo’s opposers, but in such a way that he himself was controlling the whole campaign alone, even with them unwilling, with the result that the whole election process was borne upon his shoulders, as he was saying. He called together the tribes, he placed himself between them (as an agent) and he was registering a new Colline tribe, by choice of the most lost citizens. By however much he was creating disturbances, by that much this man was growing stronger from day to day. When he (Clodius), a man, most prepared for all crimes, saw a most noble and brave man (Milo), his most assured enemy and a most certain consul, and when he understood this fact had oft been declared not only through conversations but also the voting of the Roman people, he began to act publicly and to speak openly that Milo ought to be killed.
He had led slaves that were rustic and barbaric, (mountain folk,) with whom he had ravaged the public resources and had harassed Etruria, from the Appenines, whom you (the jury) were seeing (in Rome). This was flagrant. And he was even saying publicly that the consulship was not able to be snatched from Milo, but his life was. He often alluded to this in the Senate, and said it to the public assembly; nay indeed he replied to Marcus Favonius, a very brave man, who was asking him with what hope he was (aiming for by) acting strangely with Milo alive, that he would be dead in three days – at the most, four – which utterance of his Favonius immediately reported to this man here, Marcus Cato.
X. Meanwhile when Clodius knew (for it was not difficult to know this fact) that Milo had to make a journey prescribed by religion and law and necessary on the 13th day before the Kalends of February (January 18th) to Lanuvium to nominate a priest, because he was the dictator of Lanuvium, he himself left Rome suddenly on the previous day, in order that he might set up a trap for Milo in front of his own farm, which was realised by what happened next, and he set out in such a way that he left a rowdy public meeting in which his fury was longed for, and which was held by him (Clodius) that same day of the murder, unless he had wanted to fail the time and place of the crime, he would never have left.
Milo, however, when he had been in the Senate on this particular day, until the Senate was dismissed, went home, and changed his clothes and his shoes; he delayed for a short time while his wife, as is usual, prepared herself; then he set out at that time when now Clodius was already able to return, if, indeed, he was going to come to Rome on that day. Clodius meets him, unencumbered, on horseback, with no travelling coach, with no baggage, with no Greek companions, as he was accustomed, and without his wife, which was almost unheard of, while my client, the ‘insidiator,’ who had [supposedly] prepared for this journey to carry out the slaughter, was being carried with his wife in the coach, wearing his travelling cloak, and with a great, hindering and delicate travelling party of slave girls and boys.
He bumps into Clodius in front of his farm at roughly the eleventh hour, or not long after. At once a number of people from in front launches an attack against my client, with weapons, from higher ground, and they killed the coachman. But when my client had leapt down from the coach, with his cloak slung over his shoulders, and he defended himself valiantly, they, who were with Clodius, partly with their swords drawn, ran back to the coach to attack Milo from the rear, partly as they thought my client was now slain, they began to slaughter his slaves, who were behind; out of whom those who were loyal in mind to his master and were as sharp as him, partly they were killed, partly, when they saw that they were forbidden from running to the rescue of their master, and when they heard that Milo was dead, from Clodius himself, and when they thought this to be true, the slaves of Milo did it [- they killed Clodius] (for I shall speak openly, not for the sake of shifting responsibility for the crime, but as it was committed) with their master neither knowing, nor ordering, nor alongside them, a crime which every man would have wanted his slaves to do in such a plight.
All these things, which I have detailed, were done in this way, gentlemen of the jury; the insidiator was overpowered, force was overcome by quick action [lit. force], or rather audacity was suppressed by courage. I say nothing of the public interests, what it benefited, nothing of what you would benefit, or good people’s benefits; nothing as regards that which might benefit Milo, the man who was born into this fate, (little did he know) that he might not even be able to save himself, without saving you, and the Republic as well. If this deed was not able to occur through legal channels, I have nothing which can defend him. If, however, reasoned thought has instilled this idea in learned men, and necessity has instilled it into barbarians, and habit instilled into mobs, and nature herself has even pervaded it into wild beasts, that they might repel all violence always by all means necessary, from body, head and life, you are not able to denounce this deed as unlawful, unless you also decree that everyone who has come against robbers should die, either by their weapons, or by your casting of lots.
Because if he had considered it like this, it would certainly have been more desirable for Milo to put his neck on the block to Clodius [lit. give his neck] – which had been sought after not (just) once by that man, nor then for the first time – than to be killed by law, by you (the jury), because he had not handed himself over to him to be slaughtered. But if none of you saw it like this, then [lit. now] this point does not come into the (judgement of the) court, whether he was murdered, which we concede, but (we question) whether by law or (a travesty of) misjustice, which is often pursued in multiple cases. It is agreed that the ambush was planted, and it is this which the Senate has judged to have been done against the interests of the state; by which of the two people this was done, it is unknown. Therefore on this issue it has been decreed that there should be an inquiry. In the same way both the Senate have singled out the act, not the man, and Pompey has brought an inquiry, concerned with justice, not what happened. XII. Surely, therefore, what other issue is to be brought before the court, except which one laid a trap for who? Absolutely nothing; if my client laid the trap for Clodius, make sure he does not leave without punishment; if Clodius set it for my client, make sure we are absolved of all crimes.
Therefore with what pact (with you must I make in order for it) to be able to be proven that Clodius laid the trap for Milo? It is enough in prosecution of this beast who is of such boldness, so nefarious to teach that his motive was great, the hope that was placed upon Milo’s death was also great, the benefits were enormous. So let that Cassian maxim be applied to these people, ‘cui bono?’, albeit that the good people are driven into crime by no want of their own, and the bad people are nudged into criminal activities by the smallest nuance. And with Milo dead, Clodius went on to do the following: not only that he was praetor without Milo as consul, under whom he would have been able to commit no crime, but even that he might be praetor with these guys as consuls, under whom, if not with their aid, but at least with their (underhandedness) [and] willingness to look the other way he might certainly hope that he might be able to play in these, his madnesses which he has formulated in his mind; the undertaking of which they (the consuls), as he himself was rationalising, they did not want to hold back, if they could, since they considered that they ought to repay such kindness to him, and, even if they were willing, perhaps they would scarcely be able to break the boldness of this extremely daring man, who has been fermented with age.