Divination against Quintus Caecilius

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Against Verres by Marcus Tullius Cicero, translated by C. D. Yonge
Divination against Quintus Caecilius
The provinces of the quaestors being distributed to them by lot, the province of Sicily fell to Cicero; Sextus Peducaeus being the praetor. In his discharge of the duties of his office he very much ingratiated himself with the Sicilians, and at his departure he assured them of his assistance in whatever business they might have at Rome. Three years after his return from Sicily he was elected to the aedileship, being now in his thirty-seventh year the earliest age at which a man could be aedile. Before his entrance into this office he undertook the prosecution of Caius Verres, late praetor of Sicily, who was accused of having treated the Sicilians with the greatest rapacity and tyranny. All the cities of Sicily concurred in this prosecution except Syracuse and Messana, as Verres had kept on good terms with them through fear of their riches and influence. The other towns all by a joint petition to Cicero entreated him to take the management of the prosecution, and he consented; Verres was supported by the Scipios, by the Metelli, and Hortensius. As soon as Cicero had agreed to undertake the management of the business, Quintus Caecilius Niger came forth, a Sicilian by birth, who had been quaestor to Verres, and (being in reality the tool of Verres, and making this demand in order to stifle the prosecution) demanded that the management of it should be entrusted to him; partly on the ground that he was a Sicilian, partly because he was, as he stated, a personal enemy of Verres, also he alleged, that having been his quaestor in Sicily, he knew better than Cicero could know the crimes which Verres really had committed. Cicero replies to this with many reasons why the conduct of the prosecution should be committed to him, especially because he did not volunteer to take it up, but is urged by a sense of duty, being begged to do so by all the Sicilians; and also because he is in ever, respect well able to conduct it, from his acquaintance with the count and with the Sicilians.

There is some question why this speech is called Divinatio, and different reasons have been alleged for it; some saying that it is because it refers to what is to be done, not to what has been done: others, that it is so called because no witnesses and no documents are produced, and the judges, having to decide on the arguments of the speakers alone, are forced to guess their way. Cicero carried his point, and the prosecution was entrusted to him.

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1If any one of you, O judges, or of these who are present here, marvels perhaps at me, that I, who have for so many years been occupied in public causes and trials in such a manner that I have defended many men but have prosecuted no one could now on a sudden change my usual purpose, and descend to act as accuser;—he, if he becomes acquainted with the cause and reason of my present intention, will both approve of what I am doing, and will think, I am sure, that no one ought to be preferred to me as manager of this cause. ²As I had been quaestor in Sicily, O judges, and had departed for that province so as to leave among all the Sicilians a pleasing and lasting recollection of my quaestorship and of my name, it happened, that while they thought their chief protection lay in many of their ancient patrons, they thought there was also some support for their fortunes secured in me, who, being now plundered and harassed, have all frequently come to me by the public authority, entreating me to undertake the cause and the defence of all their fortunes. They say that I repeatedly promised and repeatedly assured them, that, if any time should arrive when they wanted anything of me, I would not be wanting to their service. ³They said that the time had come for me to defend not only the advantages they enjoyed, but even the life and safety of the whole province, that they had now not even any gods in their cities to whom they could flee, because Caius Verres had carried off their most sacred images from the very holiest temples. That whatever luxury could accomplish in the way of vice, cruelty in the way of punishment, avarice in the way of plunder, or arrogance in the way of insult, had all been borne by them for the last three years, while this one man was praetor. That they begged and entreated that I would not reject them as suppliants, who, while I was in safety, ought to be suppliants to no one.

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4I was vexed and distressed, O judges, at being brought into such a strait, as to be forced either to let those men's hopes deceive them who had entreated succour and assistance of me, or else, when I had from my very earliest youth devoted myself entirely to defending men, to be now, under the compulsion of the occasion and of my duty, transferred to the part of an accuser. I told them that they had an advocate in Quintus Caecilius, who had been quaestor in the same province after I was quaestor there. But the very thing which I thought would have been an assistance to me in getting rid of this difficulty, was above all things a hindrance to me; for they would have much more easily excused me if they had not known him, or if he had never been among them as quaestor. 5I was induced, O judges, by the considerations of duty, good faith, and pity; by the example of many good men; by the ancient customs and habits of our ancestors, to think that I ought to take upon myself this burden of labour and duty, not for any purpose of my own, but in the time of need to my friends. In which business, however, this fact consoles me, O judges, that this pleading of mine which seems to be an accusation is not to be considered an accusation, but rather a defence. For I am defending many men, many cities, the whole province of Sicily. So that, if one person is to be accused by me, I still almost appear to remain firm in my original purpose, and not entirely to have given up defending and assisting men. 6But if I had this cause so deserving, so illustrious, and so important; if either the Sicilians had not demanded this of me, or I had not had such an intimate connection with the Sicilians; and if I were to profess that what I am doing I am doing for the sake of the republic, in order that a man endowed with unprecedented covetousness, audacity, and wickedness,—whose thefts and crimes we have known to be most enormous and most infamous, not in Sicily alone, but in Achaia, in Asia, in Cilicia, in Pamphylia, and even at Rome, before the eyes of all men,—should be brought to trial by my instrumentality, still, who would there be who could find fault with my act or my intention?

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7What is there, in the name of gods and men! by which I can at the present moment confer a greater benefit on the republic? What is there which either ought to be more pleasing to the Roman people, or which can be more desirable in the eves of the allies and of foreign nations, or more adapted to secure the safety and fortunes of all men? The provinces depopulated, harassed, and utterly overturned; the allies and tributaries of the Roman people afflicted and miserable, are seeking now not for any hope of safety, but for comfort in their destruction. 8They who wish the administration of justice still to remain in the hands of the senatorial body, complain that they cannot procure proper accusers; those who are able to act as accusers, complain of the want of impartiality in the decisions. In the meantime the Roman people, although it suffers under many disadvantages and difficulties, yet desires nothing in the republic so much as the restoration of the ancient authority and importance to the courts of law. It is from a regret at the state of our courts of law that the restoration of the power of the tribunes[1] is so eagerly demanded again. It is in consequence of the uncertainty of the courts of law, that another class[2] is demanded to determine law-suits; owing to the crimes and infamy of the judges, even the office of censor, which formerly was used to be accounted too severe by the people, is now again demanded, and has become popular and praiseworthy. 9In a time of such licentiousness on the part of the wicked, of daily complaint on the part of the Roman people, of dishonour in the courts of law, of unpopularity of the whole senate, as I thought that this was the only remedy for these numerous evils, for men who were both capable and upright to undertake the cause of the republic and the laws, I confess that I, for the sake of promoting the universal safety, devoted myself to upholding that part of the republic which was in the greatest danger. 10Now that I have shown the motives by which I was influenced to undertake the cause, I must necessarily speak of our contention, that, in appointing an accuser, you may have some certain line of conduct to follow. I understand the matter thus, O judges:—when any man is accused of extortion, if there be a contest between any parties as to who may best be entrusted with the prosecution, these two points ought to be regarded most especially; first, whom they, to whom the injury is said to have been done, wish most to be their counsel; and secondly, whom he, who is accused of having done those injuries, would least wish to be so.

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11In this cause, O judges, although I think both these points plain, yet I will dilate upon each, and first on that which ought to have the greatest influence with you, that is to say, on the inclination of those to whom the injuries have been done; of those for whose sake this trial for extortion has been instituted. Caius Verres is said for three years to have depopulated the province of Sicily, to have desolated the cities of the Sicilians, to have made the houses empty, to have plundered the temples. The whole nation of the Sicilians is present, and complains of this. They fly for protection to my good faith, which they have proved and long known; they entreat assistance for themselves from you and from the laws of the Roman people through my instrumentality; they desire me to be their defender in these their calamities; they desire me to be the avenger of their injuries, the advocate of their rights, and the pleader of their whole cause. 12Will you, O Quintus Caecilius, say this, that I have not approached the cause at the request of the Sicilians? or that the desire of those most excellent and most faithful allies ought not to be of great influence with these judges? If you dare to say that which Caius Verres, whose enemy you are pretending to be, wishes especially to be believed,—that the Sicilians did not make this request to me,—you will in the first place be supporting the cause of your enemy, against whom it is considered that no vague presumption, but that an actual decision has been come to, in the fact that has become notorious, that all the Sicilians have begged for me as their advocate against his injuries. 13If you, his enemy, deny that this is the case, which he himself to whom the fact is most injurious does not dare to deny, take care lest you seem to carry on your enmity in too friendly a manner. In the second place, there are witnesses, the most illustrious men of our state, all of whom it is not necessary that I should name, those who are present I will appeal to; while, if I were speaking falsely, they are the men whom I should least wish to be witnesses of my impudence. He, who is one of the assessors on this bid, Caius Marcellus, knows it; he, whom I see here present, Cnaeus Lentulus Marcellinus, knows it; on whose good faith and protection the Sicilians principally depend, because the whole of that province is inalienably connected with the name of the Marcelli. 14These men know that this request was not only made to me, but that it was made so frequently and with such earnestness, that I had no alternative except either to undertake the cause, or to repudiate the duty of friendship. But why do I cite these men as witnesses, as if the matter were doubtful or unknown? Most noble men are present here from the whole province, who being present, beg and entreat you, O judges, not to let your judgment differ from their judgment in selecting an advocate for their cause. Deputations from every city in the whole of Sicily, except two,[3] are present; and if deputations from those two were present also, two of the very most serious of the crimes would be lessened in which these cities are implicated with Caius Verres. 15But why have they entreated this protection from me above all men? If it were doubtful whether they had entreated it from me or not, I could tell why they had entreated it; but now, when it is so evident that you can see it with your eyes, I know not why it should be any injury to me to have it imputed to me that I was selected above all men. 16But I do not arrogate any such thing to myself, and I not only do not say it, but I do not wish even to leave any one to believe that I have been preferred to every possible advocate. That is not the fact but a consideration of the opportunities of each individual and of his health, and of his aptitude for conducting this cause, has been taken into account. My desire and sentiments on this matter have always been these, that I would rather that any one of those who are fit for it should undertake it than I; but I had rather that I should undertake it myself than that no one should.

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17The next thing is, since it is evident that the Sicilians have demanded this of me, for us to inquire whether it is right that this fact should have any influence on you and on your judgments; whether the allies of the Roman people, your suppliants, ought to have any weight with you in a matter of extortion committed on themselves. And why need I say much on such a point as this? as if there were any doubt that the whole law about extortion was established for the sake of the allies. 18For when citizens have been robbed of their money, it is usually sought to be recovered by civil action and by a private suit. This is a law affecting the allies,—this is a right of foreign nations. They have this fortress somewhat less strongly fortified now than it was formerly, but still if there be any hope left which can console the minds of the allies, it is all placed in this law. And strict guardians of this law have long since been required, not only by the Roman people, but by the most distant nations. 19Who then is there who can deny that it is right that the trial should be conducted according to the wish of those men for whose sake the law has been established? All Sicily, if it could speak with one voice, would say this:—"All the gold, all the silver, all the ornaments which were in my cities, in my private houses, or in my temples,—all the rights which I had in any single thing by the kindness of the senate and Roman people,—all that you, O Caius Verres, have taken away and robbed me of, on which account I demand of you a hundred million of sesterces according to the law." If the whole province, as I have said, could speak, it would say this, and as it could not speak, it has of its own accord chosen an advocate to urge these points, whom it has thought suitable. 20In a matter of this sort, will any one be found so impudent as to dare to approach or to aspire to the conduct of the cause of others against the will of those very people whose affairs are involved in it?

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If, O Quintus Caecilius, the Sicilians were to say this to you,—we do not know you—we know not who you are, we never saw you before; allow us to defend our fortunes through the instrumentality of that man whose good faith is known to us; would they not be saying what would appear reasonable to every one? But now they say this—that they know both the men, that they wish one of them to be the defender of their cause, that they are wholly unwilling that the other should be. 21Even if they were silent they would say plainly enough why they are unwilling. But they are not silent; and yet will you offer yourself, when they are most unwilling to accept you! Will you still persist in speaking in the cause of others? Will you still defend those men who would rather be deserted by every one than defended by you? Will you still promise your assistance to those men who do neither believe that you wish to give it for their sake, nor that, if you did wish it, you could do it? Why do you endeavour to take away from them by force the little hope for the remainder of their fortunes which they still retain, built upon the impartiality of the law and of this tribunal? Why do you interpose yourself expressly against the will of those whom the law directs to be especially consulted? Why do you now openly attempt to ruin the whole fortunes of those of whom you did not deserve very well when in the province? Why do you take away from them, not only the power of prosecuting their rights, but even of bewailing their calamities? 22If you are their counsel, whom do you expect to come forward of those men who are now striving, not to punish some one else by your means, but to avenge themselves on you yourself, through the instrumentality of some one or other?

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But this is a well established fact, that the Sicilians especially desire to have me for their counsel; the other point, no doubt, is less clear,—namely, by whom Verres would least like to be prosecuted! Did any one ever strive so openly for any honour, or so earnestly for his own safety, as that man and his friends have striven to prevent this prosecution from being entrusted to me? There are many qualities which Verres believes to be in me, and which he knows, O Quintus Caecilius, do not exist in you: and what qualities each of us have I will mention presently; 23at this moment I will only say this, which you must silently agree to, that there is no quality in me which he can despise, and none in you which he can fear. Therefore, that great defender[4] and friend of his votes for you and opposes me; he openly solicits the judges to have you preferred to me; and he says that he does this honestly, without any envy of me, and without any dislike to me. "For," says he, "I am now asking for that which I usually obtain when I strive for it earnestly. I am not asking to have the defendant acquitted; but I am asking this, that he may be accused by the one man rather than by the other. Grant me this; grant that which is easy to grant, and honourable, and by no means invidious; and when you have granted that, you will, without any risk to yourself, and without any discredit, have granted that he shall be acquitted in whose cause I am labouring." 24He says also, in order that some alarm may be mingled with the exertion of his influence, that there are certain men on the bench to whom he wishes their tablets to be shown, and that that is very easy, for that they do not give their votes separately, but that all vote together; and that a tablet,[5] covered with the proper wax, and not with that illegal wax which has given so much scandal, is given to every one. And he does not give himself all this trouble so much for the sake of Verres, as because he disapproves of the whole affair. For he sees that, if the power of prosecuting is taken away from the high-born boys whom he has hitherto played with, and from the public informers, whom he has always despised and thought insignificant (not without good reason), and to be transferred to fearless men of well-proved constancy, he will no longer be able to domineer over the courts of law as he pleases.

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25I now beforehand give this man notice, that if you determine that this cause shall be conducted by me, his whole plan of defence must be altered, and must be altered in such a manner as to be carried on in a more honest and honourable way than he likes; that he must imitate those most illustrious men whom he himself has seen, Lucius Crassus and Marcus Antonius; who thought that they had no right to bring anything to the trials and causes in which their friends were concerned, except good faith and ability. He shall have no room for thinking, if I conduct the case, that the tribunal can be corrupted without great danger to many. 26In this trial I think that the cause of the Sicilian nation,—that the cause of the whole Roman people, is undertaken by me; so that I have not to crush one worthless man alone, which is what the Sicilians have requested, but to extinguish and extirpate every sort of iniquity, which is what the Roman people has been long demanding. And how far I labour in this cause, or what I may be able to effect, I would rather leave to the expectations of others, than set forth in my own oration. 27But as for you, O Caecilius, what can you do? On what occasion, or in what affair, have you, I will not say given proof to others of your powers! but even made trial of yourself to yourself? Has it never occurred to you how important a business it is to uphold a public cause? to lay bare the whole life of another? and to bring it palpably before, not only the minds of the judges, but before the very eyes and sight of all men; to defend the safety of the allies, the interests of the provinces, the authority of the laws, and the dignity of the judgment-seat?

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Judge by me, since this is the first opportunity of learning it that you have ever had, how many qualities must meet in that man who is the accuser of another: and if you recognise any one of these in yourself, I will, of my own accord, yield up to you that which you are desirous of. First of all, he must have a singular integrity and innocence. For there is nothing which is less tolerable than for him to demand an account of his life from another who cannot give an account of his own. Here I will not say any more of yourself. 28This one thing, I think, all may observe, that up to this time you had no opportunity of becoming known to any people except to the Sicilians; and that the Sicilians say this, that even though they are exasperated against the same man, whose enemy you say that you are, still, if you are the advocate, they will not appear on the trial. Why they refuse to, you will not hear from me. Allow these judges to suspect what it is inevitable that they must. The Sicilians, indeed, being a race of men over-acute, and too much inclined to suspiciousness, suspect that you do not wish to bring documents from Sicily against Verres; but, as both his praetorship and your quaestorship are recorded in the same documents, they suspect that you wish to remove[6] them out of Sicily. 29In the second place, an accuser must be trustworthy and veracious. Even if I were to think that you were desirous of being so, I easily see that you are not able to be so. Nor do I speak of these things, which, if I were to mention, you would not be able to invalidate, namely that you, before you departed from Sicily, had become reconciled to Verres; that Potamo, your secretary and intimate friend, was retained by Verres in the province when you left it; that Marcus Caecilius, your brother, a most exemplary and accomplished young man, is not only not present here and does not stand by you while prosecuting your alleged injuries, but that he is with Verres, and is living on terms of the closest friendship and intimacy with him. These, and other things belonging to you, are many signs of a false accuser; but these I do not now avail myself of. I say this, that you, if you were to wish it ever so much, still cannot be a faithful accuser. 30For I see that there are many charges in which you are so implicated with Verres, that in accusing him, you would not dare to touch upon them.

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All Sicily complains that Caius Verres, when he had ordered corn to be brought into his granary for him, and when a bushel of wheat was two sesterces, demanded of the farmers twelve sesterces a bushel for wheat.[7] It was a great crime, an immense sum, an impudent theft, an intolerable injustice. I must inevitably convict him of this charge; what will you do, O Caecilius? 31Will you pass over this serious accusation, or will you bring it forward? If you bring it forward, will you charge that as a crime against another, which you did yourself at the same time in the same province? Will you dare so to accuse another, that you cannot avoid at the same time condemning yourself? If you omit the charge, what sort of a prosecution will yours be, which from fear of danger to yourself, is afraid not only to create a suspicion of a most certain and enormous crime, but even to make the least mention of it? Corn was bought, on the authority of a decree of the senate, of the Sicilians while Verres was praetor; 32 for which corn all the money was not paid. This is a grave charge against Verres; a grave one if I plead the cause, but, if you are the prosecutor, no charge at all. For you were the quaestor, you had the handling of the public money; and, even if the praetor desired it ever so much, yet it was to a great extent in your power to prevent anything being taken from it. Of this crime, therefore, if you are the prosecutor, no mention will be made. And so during the whole trial nothing will be said of his most enormous and most notorious thefts and injuries. Believe me, O Caecilius, he who is connected with the criminal in a partnership of iniquity, cannot really defend his associates while accusing him. 33The contractors exacted money from the cities instead of corn. Well! was this never done except in the praetorship of Verres? I do not say that, but it was done while Caecilius was quaestor. What then will you do? Will you urge against this man as a charge, what you both could and ought to have prevented from being done? or will you leave out the whole of it? Verres, then, at his trial will absolutely never hear at all of those things, which, when he was doing them, he did not know how he should be able to defend.

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And I am mentioning those matters which lie on the surface. There are other acts of plunder more secret, which he, in order, I suppose, to check the courage and delay the attack of Caecilius, has very kindly participated in with his quaestor. 34You know that information of these matters has been given to me; and if I were to choose to mention them, all men would easily perceive that there was not only a perfect harmony of will subsisting between you both, but that you did not pursue even your plunder separately. So that if you demand to be allowed to give information of the crimes which Verres has committed in conjunction with you, I have no objection, if it is allowed by the law. But if we are speaking of conducting the prosecution, that you must yield ta those who are hindered by no crimes of their own from being able to prove the offences of another. 35And see how much difference there will be between my accusation and yours. I intend to charge Verres with all the crimes that you committed, though he had no share in them, because he did not prevent you from committing them, though he had the supreme power; you, on the other hand, will not allege against him even the crimes which he committed himself, lest you should be found to be in any particular connected with him. What shall I say of these other points, O Caecilius? Do these things appear contemptible to you, without which no cause, especially no cause of such importance, can by any means be supported? Have you any talent for pleading? any practice in speaking? Have you paid any attention or acquired any acquaintance with the forum, the courts, and the laws? 36 know in what a rocky and difficult path I am now treading; for as all arrogance is odious, so a conceit of one's abilities and eloquence is by far the most disagreeable of all. On which account I say nothing of my own abilities; for I have none worth speaking of, and if I had I would not speak of them. For either the opinion formed of me is quite sufficient for me, such as it is; or if it be too low an opinion to please me, still I cannot make it higher by talking about them.

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37I will just, O Caecilius, say this much familiarly to you about yourself, forgetting for a moment this rivalry and contest of ours. Consider again and again what your own sentiments are, and recollect yourself; and consider who you are, and what you are able to effect. Do you think that, when you have taken upon yourself the cause of the allies, and the fortunes of the province, and the rights of the Roman people, and the dignity of the judgment-seat and of the law, in a discussion of the most important and serious matters, you are able to support so many affairs and those so weighty and so various with your voice, your memory, your counsel, and your ability? 38Do you think that you are able to distinguish in separate charges, and in a well-arranged speech, all that Caius Verres has done in his quaestorship, and in his lieutenancy, and in his praetorship, at Rome, or in Italy, or in Achaia, or in Asia Minor, or in Pamphylia, as the actions themselves are divided by place and time? Do you think that you are able (and this is especially necessary against a defendant of this sort) to cause the things which he has done licentiously, or wickedly, or tyrannically, to appear just as bitter and scandalous to those who hear of them, as they did appear to those who felt them? 39Those things which I am speaking of are very important, believe me. Do not you despise this either; everything must be related, and demonstrated, and explained; the cause must be not merely stated, but it must also be gravely and copiously dilated on. You must cause, if you wish really to do and to effect anything, men not only to hear you, but also to hear you willingly and eagerly. And if nature kind been bountiful to you in such qualities, and if from your childhood you had studied the best arts and systems, and worked hard at them;--if you had learnt Greek literature at Athens, not at Lilybaeum, and Latin literature at Rome, and not in Sicily; still it would be a great undertaking to approach so important a cause, and one about which there is such great expectation, and having approached it, to follow it up with the requisite diligence; to have all the particulars always fresh in your memory; to discuss it properly in your speech, and to support it adequately with your voice and your faculties. 40Perhaps you may say, What then? Are you then endowed with all these qualifications?—I wish indeed that I were; but at all events I have laboured with great industry from my very childhood to attain them. And if I, on account of the importance and difficulty of such a study have not been able to attain them, who have done nothing else all my life, how far do you think that you must be distant from these qualities, which you have not only never thought of before, but which even now, when you are entering on a stage that requires them all, you can form no proper idea of, either as for their nature or as to their importance?

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41I, who as all men know, am so much concerned in the forum and the courts of justice, that there is no one of the same age, or very few, who have defended more causes, and who spend all my time which can be spared from the business of my friends in these studies and labours, in order that I may be more prepared for forensic practice and more ready at it, yet, (may the gods be favourable to me as I am saying what is true!) whenever the thought occurs to me of the day when the defendant having been summoned, I have to speak, I am not only agitated in my mind, but a shudder runs over my whole body. 42Even now I am surveying in my mind and thoughts what party spirit will be shown by men; what throngs of men will meet; how great an expectation the importance of the trial will excite; how greet a multitude of hearers the infamy of Caius Verres will collect; how great an audience for my speech his wickedness will draw together And when I think of these things, even now I am afraid as to what I shall be able to say suitable to the hatred men bear him who are inimical and hostile to him, and worthy of the expectation which all men will form, and of the importance of the case. 43Do you fear nothing, do you think of nothing are you anxious about nothing of all this? Or if from some old speech you have been able to learn, "I entreat the mighty and beneficent Jupiter," or, "I wish it were possible, O judges," or something of the sort, do you think that you shall come before the court in an admirable state of preparation? 44And, even if no one were to answer you, yet you would not, as I think, be able to state and prove even the cause itself. Do you now never give it a thought, that you will have a contest with a most eloquent man, and one in a perfect state of preparation for speaking, with whom you will at one time have to argue, and at another time to strive and contend against him with all your might? Whose abilities indeed I praise greatly, but not so as to be afraid of them, and think highly of, thinking however at the same time that I am more easily to be pleased by them than cajoled by them.

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He will never put me down by his acuteness; he will never put me out of countenance by any artifice; he will never attempt to upset and dispirit me by displays of his genius. I know all the modes of attack and every system of speaking the man has. We have often been employed on the same, often on opposite sides. Ingenious as he is, he will plead against me as if he were aware that his own ability is to same extent put on its trial. 45But as for you, O Caecilius, I think that I see already how he will play with you, how he will bandy you about; how often he will give you power and option of choosing which alternative you please,—whether a thing were done or not, whether a thing be true or false; and whichever side you take will be contrary to your interest. What a heat you will be in, what bewilderment! what darkness, O ye immortal gods! will overwhelm the man, free from malice as he is. What will you do when he begins to divide the different counts of your accusation, and to arrange on his fingers each separate division of the cause? What will you do when he begins to deal with each argument, to disentangle it, to get rid of it? You yourself in truth will begin to be afraid lest you have brought an innocent man into danger. 46What will you do when he begins to pity his client, to complain, and to take off some of his unpopularity from him and transfer it to you? to speak of the close connection necessarily subsisting between the quaestor and the praetor? of the custom of the ancients? of the holy nature of the connection between those to whom the same province was by lot appointed? Will you be able to encounter the odium such a speech will excite against you? Think a moment; consider again and again. For there seems to me to be danger of his overwhelming you not with words only, but of his blunting the edge of your genius by the mere gestures and motions of his body, and so distracting you and leading you away from every previous thought and purpose. 47And I see that the trial of this will be immediate; for if you are able today to answer me and these things which I am saying; if you even depart one word from that book which some elocution-master or other has given you, made up of other men's speeches; I shall think that you are able to speak, and that you are not unequal to that trial also, and that you will be able to do justice to the cause and to the duty you undertake. But if in this preliminary skirmish with me you turn out nothing, what can we suppose you will be in the contest itself against a most active adversary?

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Be it so; he is nothing himself, he has no ability; but he comes prepared with well-trained and eloquent supporters. And this too is something, though it is not enough; for in all things he who is the chief person to act, ought to be the most accomplished and the best prepared. But I see that Lucius Appuleius is the next counsel on the list, a mere beginner, not as to his age indeed, but as to his practice and training in forensic contests. 48Next to him he has, as I think, Allienus; he indeed does belong to the bar, but however, I never took any particular notice of what he could do in speaking; in raising an outcry, indeed, I see that he is very vigorous and practiced. In this man all your hopes are placed; he, if you are appointed prosecutor, will sustain the whole trial. But even he will not put forth his whole strength in speaking, but will consult your credit and reputation; and will abstain from putting forth the whole power of eloquence which he himself possesses, in order that you may still appear of some importance As we see is done by the Greek pleaders; that he to whom the second or third part belongs, though he may be able to speak somewhat better than his leader, often restrains himself a good deal, in order that the chief may appear to the greatest possible advantage, so will Allienus act; he will be subservient to you, he will pander to your interest, he will put forth somewhat less strength than he might. 49Now consider this, O judges, what sort of accusers we shall have in this most important trial; when Allienus himself will somewhat abstain from displaying all his abilities, if he has any, and Caecilius will only be able to think himself of any use, because Allienus is not so vigorous as he might be, and voluntarily allows him the chief share in the display. What fourth counsel he is to have with him I do not know, unless it be one of that crowd of losers of time who have entreated to be allowed an inferior part in this prosecution, whoever he might be to whom you gave the lead. 50And you are to appear in just this state of preparation, that you have to make friends of those men who are utter strangers to you, for the purpose of obtaining their assistance. But I will not do these men so much honour as to answer what they have said in any regular order, or to give a separate answer to each; but since I have come to mention them not intentionally, but by chance, I will briefly, as I pass, satisfy them all in a few words.

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Do I seem to you to be in such exceeding want of friends that I must have an assistant given me, chosen not out of the men whom I have brought down to court with me, but out of the people at large? And are you suffering under such a dearth of defendants, that you endeavour to filch this cause from me rather than look for some defendants of your own class at the pillar of Maenius?[8] 51Appoint me, says he, to watch Tullius. What? How many watchers shall I have need of, if I once allow you to meddle with my bag? as you will have to be watched not only to prevent your betraying anything, but to prevent your removing anything. But for the whole matter of that watchman I will answer you thus in the briefest manner possible; that these honest judges will never permit any assistant to force himself against my consent into so important a cause, when it has been undertaken by me, and is entrusted to me. 52In truth, my integrity rejects an overlooker; my diligence is afraid of a spy. But to return to you, O Caecilius, you see how many qualities are wanting to you; how many belong to you which a guilty defendant would wish to belong to his prosecutor, you are well aware. What can be said to this? For I do not ask what you will say yourself, I see that it is not you who will answer me, but this book which your prompter has in his hand; who, if he be inclined to prompt you rightly, will advise you to depart from this place and not to answer me one word. For what can you say? That which you are constantly repeating, that Verres has done you an injury? I have no doubt he has, for it would not be probable, when he was doing injuries to all the Sicilians, that you alone should be so important in his eyes that he should take care of your interests. 53But the rest of the Sicilians have found an avenger of their injuries; you, while you are endeavouring to exact vengeance for your injuries by your own means, (which you will not be able to effect,) are acting in a way to leave the injuries of all the rest unpunished and unavenged. And you do not see that it ought not alone to be considered who is a proper person to exact vengeance, but also who is a person capable of doing so,—that if there be a man in whom both these qualifications exist, he is the best man. 54But if a man has only one of them, then the question usually asked is, not what he is inclined to do, but what he is able to do. And if you think that the office of prosecutor ought to be entrusted to him above all other men, to whom Caius Verres has done the greatest injury, which do you think the judges ought to be most indignant at,—at your having been injured by him, or at the whole province of Sicily having been harassed and ruined by him? I think you must grant that this both is the worst thing of the two, and that it ought to be considered the worst by every one. A flow, therefore, that the province ought to be preferred to you as the prosecutor. For the province is prosecuting when he is pleading the cause whom the province has adopted as the defender of her rights, the avenger of her injuries, and the pleader of the whole cause.

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55Oh, but Caius Verres has done you such an injury as might afflict the minds of all the rest of the Sicilians also, though the grievance was felt only by another. Nothing of the sort. For I think it is material also to this argument to consider what sort of injury is alleged and brought forward as the cause of your enmity. Allow me to relate it. For he indeed, unless he is wholly destitute of sense, will never say what it is. There is a woman of the name of Agonis, a Lilybaean, a freedwoman of Venus Erycina; a woman who before this man was quaestor was notoriously well off and rich. From her some prefect of Antonius's[9] carried off some musical slaves whom he said he wished to use in his fleet. Then she, as is the custom in Sicily for all the slaves of Venus, and all those who have procured their emancipation from her, in order to hinder the designs of the prefect, by the scruples which the name of Venus would raise, said that she and all her property belonged to Venus. 56When this was reported to Caecilius, that most excellent and upright man, he ordered Agonis to be summoned before him; he immediately orders a trial to ascertain "if it appeared that she had said that she and all her property belonged to Venus." The recuperators[10] decide all that was necessary, and indeed there was no doubt at all that she had said so. He sends men to take possession of the woman's property. He adjudges her herself to be again a slave of Venus; then he sells her property and confiscates the money. So while Agonis wishes to keep a few slaves under the name and religious protection of Venus, she loses all her fortunes and her own liberty by the wrong doing of that man. After that, Verres comes to Lilybaeum; he takes cognisance of the affair; he disapproves of the act; he compels his quaestor to pay back and restore to its owner all the money which he had confiscated, having been received for the property of Agonis. 57He is here, and you may well admire it, no longer Verres, but Quintus Mucius.[11] For what could he do more delicate to obtain a high character among men? what more just to relieve the distress of the women? what more severe to repress the licentiousness of his quaestor? All this appears to me most exceedingly praiseworthy. But at the very next step, in a moment, as if he had drank of some Circaean cup, having been a man, he becomes Verres again; he returns to himself and to his old habits. For of that money he appropriated a great share to himself, and restored to the woman only as much as he chose.

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58Here now if you say that you were offended with Verres, I will grant you that and allow it; if you complain that he did you any injury, I will defend him and deny it. Secondly, I say that of the injury which was done to you no one of us ought to be a more severe avenger than you yourself, to whom it is said to have been done. If you afterwards became reconciled to him, if you were often at his house, if he after that supped with you, do you prefer to be considered as acting with treachery or by collusion with him? I see that one of these alternatives is inevitable, but in this matter I will have no contention with you to prevent your adopting which you please. 59What shall I say if even the pretext of that injury which was done to you by him no longer remains? What have you then to say why you should be preferred, I will not say to me, but to any one? except that which I hear you intend to say, that you were his quaestor: which indeed would be an important allegation if you were contending with me as to which of us ought to be the most friendly to him; but in a contention as to which is to take up a quarrel against him, it is ridiculous to suppose that an intimate connection with him can be a just reason for bringing him into danger. 60In truth, if you had received ever so many injuries from your praetor, still you would deserve greater credit by bearing them than by revenging them; but when nothing in his life was ever done more rightly than that which you call an injury, shall these judges determine that this cause, which they would not even tolerate in any one else, shall appear in your case to be a reasonable one to justify the violation of your ancient connection? When even if you had received the greatest injury from him, still, since you have been his quaestor, you cannot accuse him and remain blameless yourself. But if no injury has been done you at all, you cannot accuse him without wickedness; and as it is very uncertain whether any injury has been done you, do you think that there is any one of these men who would not prefer that you should depart without incurring blame rather than after having committed wickedness?

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61And just think how great is the difference between my opinion and yours. You, though you are in every respect inferior to me, still think that you ought to be preferred to me for this one reason, because you were his quaestor. I think, that if you were my superior in every other qualification, still that for this one cause alone you ought to be rejected as the prosecutor. For this is the principle which has been handed down to us from our ancestors, that a praetor ought to be in the place of a parent to his quaestor; that no more reasonable nor more important cause of intimate friendship can be imagined than a connection arising from drawing the same lot, having the same province, and being associated in the discharge of the same public duty and office. 62Wherefore, even if you could accuse him without violating strict right, still, as he had been in the place of a parent to you, you could not do so without violating every principle of piety. But as you have not received any injury, and would yet be creating danger for your praetor, you must admit that you are endeavouring to wage an unjust and impious war against him. In truth, your quaestorship is an argument of so strong a nature, that you would have to take a great deal of pains to find an excuse for accusing him to whom you had acted as quaestor, and can never be a reason why you should claim on that account to have the office of prosecuting him entrusted to you above all men. Nor indeed, did any one who had acted as quaestor to another, ever contest the point of being allowed to accuse him without being rejected. 63And therefore, neither was permission given to Lucius Philo to bring forward an accusation against Caius Servilius, nor to Marcus Aurelius Scaurus to prosecute Lucius Flaccus, nor to Cnaeus Pompeius to accuse Titus Albucius; not one of whom was refused this, permission because of any personal unworthiness, but in order that the desire to violate such an intimate connection might not be sanctioned by the authority of the judges. And that great man Cnaeus Pompeius contended about that matter with Caius Julius, just as you are contending with me. For he had been the quaestor of Albucius, just as you were of Verres: Julius had on his side this reason for conducting the prosecution, that, just as we have now been entreated by the Sicilians, so he had then been entreated by the Sardinians, to espouse their cause. And this argument has always had the greatest influence; this has always been the most honourable cause for acting as accuser, that by so doing one is bringing enmity on oneself in behalf of allies, for the sake of the safety of a province, for the advantage of foreign nations—that one is for their sakes incurring danger, and spending much care and anxiety and labour.

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64Even if the cause of those men who wish to revenge their own injuries be ever so strong, in which matter they are only obeying their own feelings of indignation, not consulting the advantage of the republic: how much more honourable is that cause, which is not only reasonable, but which ought to be acceptable to all,--that a man, without having received any private injury to himself, should be influenced by the sufferings and injuries of the allies and friends of the Roman people! When lately that most brave and upright man Lucius Piso demanded to be allowed to prefer an accusation against Publius Gabinius, and when Quintus Caecilius claimed the same permission in opposition to Piso, and said that in so doing he was following up an old quarrel which he had long had with Gabinius; it was not only the authority and dignity of Piso which had great weight, but also the superior justice of his cause, because the Achaeans had adopted him as their patron. 65In truth, when the very law itself about extortion is the protectress of the allies and friends of the Roman people, it is an iniquitous thing that he should not, above all others, he thought the fittest advocate of the law and conductor of the trial, whom the allies wish, above all men, to be the pleader of their cause, and the defender of their fortunes. Or ought not that which is the more honourable to mention, to appear also far the most reasonable to approve of? Which then is the more splendid, which is the more honourable allegation—"I have prosecuted this man to whom I had acted as quaestor, with whom the lot cast for the provinces, and the custom of our ancestors, and the judgment of gods and men had connected me," or, "I have prosecuted this man at the request of the allies and friends of the Roman people, I have been selected by the whole province to defend its rights and fortunes?" Can any one doubt that it is more honourable to act as prosecutor in behalf of those men among whom you have been quaestor, than as prosecutor of him whose quaestor you have been? 66The most illustrious men of our state, in the best of times, used to think this most honourable and glorious for them to ward off injuries from their hereditary friends, and from their clients, and from foreign nations which were either friends or subjects of the Roman people, and to defend their fortunes. We learn from tradition that Marcus Cato, that wise man, that most illustrious and most prudent man, brought upon himself great enmity from many men, on account of the injuries of the Spaniards among whom he had been when consul. We know that lately Cnaeus Domitius prosecuted Marcus Silanus on account of the injuries of one man, Egritomarus, his father's friend and comrade.

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Nor indeed has anything ever had more influence over the minds of guilty men than this principle of our ancestors, now re-adopted and brought back among us after a long interval, namely, that the complaints of the allies should be brought to a man who is not very inactive, and their advocacy undertaken by him who appeared able to defend their fortunes with integrity and diligence. 68Men are afraid of this; they endeavour to prevent this; they are disquieted at such a principle having ever been adopted, and after it has been adopted at its now being resuscitated and brought into play again. They think that, if this custom begins gradually to creep on and advance, the laws will be put in execution, and actions will be conducted by honourable and fearless men, and not by unskillful youths, or informers of this sort. 69Of which custom and principle our fathers and ancestors did not repent when Publius Lentulus, he who was chief of the Senate, prosecuted Marcus Aquillius, having Caius Rutilius Rufus backing the accusation; or when Publius Africanus, a man most eminent for valour, for good fortune, for renown, and for exploits, after he had been twice consul and had been censor brought Lucius Cotta to trial Then the name of the Roman people was rightly held in high honour; rightly was the authority of this empire and the majesty of the state considered illustrious. Nobody marveled in the case of that great man Africanus, as they now pretend to marvel with respect to me, a man endowed with but moderate influence and moderate talents, just because they are annoyed at me; 70"What can he be meaning? does he want to be considered a prosecutor who hitherto has been accustomed to defend people? and especially now at the age when he is seeking the aedileship?" But I think it becomes not my age only, but even a much greater age, and I think it an action consistent with the highest dignity to accuse the wicked, and to defend the miserable and distressed. And in truth, either this is a remedy for a republic diseased and in an almost desperate condition, and for tribunals corrupted and contaminated by the vices and baseness of a few, for men of the greatest possible honour and uprightness and modesty to undertake to uphold the stability of the laws, and the authority of the courts of justice; or else, if this is of no advantage, no medicine whatever will ever be found for such terrible and numerous evils as these. 71There is no greater safety for a republic, than for those who accuse another to be no less alarmed for their own credit, and honour, and reputation, than they who are accused are for their lives and fortunes. And therefore, those men have always conducted prosecutions with the greatest care and with the greatest pains, who have considered that they themselves had their reputations at stake.

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You, therefore, O judges ought to come to this decision, that Quintus Caecilius of whom no one has ever had any opinion, and from whom even in this very trial nothing could be expected—who takes no trouble either to preserve a reputation previously acquired, or to give grounds for hope of himself in future times—will not be likely to conduct this cause with too much severity, with too much accuracy, or with too much diligence. For he has nothing which he can lose by disappointing public expectation; even if he were to come off ever so shamefully, or ever so infamously, he will lose no credit which he at present enjoys. 72From us the Roman people has many hostages which we must labour with all our might and by every possible means to preserve uninjured, to defend, to keep in safety, and to redeem; it has honour which we are desirous of; it has hope, which we constantly keep before our eyes; it has reputation, acquired with much sweat and labour day and night; so that if we prove our duty and industry in this cause, we may be able to preserve all those things which I have mentioned safe and unimpaired by the favour of the Roman people; but if we trip and stumble ever so little, we may at one moment lose the whole of those things which have been collected one by one and by slow degrees. 73On which account it is your business, O judges, to select him who you think can most easily sustain this great cause and trial with integrity, with diligence, with wisdom, and with authority. If you prefer Quintus Caecilius to me, I shall not think that I am surpassed in dignity; but take you care that the Roman people do not think that a prosecution as honest, as severe, as diligent as this would have been in my hands, was neither pleasing to yourselves nor to your body.

Footnotes[edit]

  1. Sulla in his reform of the constitution on the early aristocratic principles, left to the tribunes only the jus auxiliandi, but deprived them of the right of making legislative or other proposals either to the senate or to the comitia without having previously obtained the sanction of the Senate. But this arrangement did not last, for Pompeius restored them to their former rights. Smith, Dict. Ant. p. 990, v. Tribunus.
  2. Caius Gracchus had procured a law to be passed, that the Roman knights should be the judges; and they acted as such for forty years. After his victory over Marius, Sulla made a law that the judges should be selected from the senate. This arrangement had lasted ten years with the effect mentioned here by Cicero; and Aurelius Cotta was at this time proposing a law that the judges should be taken from the senators, knights, and tribuni aerarii, jointly.
  3. Cicero means Syracuse and Messana, which did not join in the outcry against Verres, because Verres had resided at Syracuse, and had enriched that city with some of the plunder which he had taken from other cities; and he had treated Messana in the same way, which place he had made the repository of his plunder till he could export it to Italy.
  4. Cicero alludes to Hortensius, indeed, the name of Hortensius appears in the text in some editions.
  5. "The judges were provided with three tabellae, one of which was marked with A, i.e. absolvo, I acquit; the second with C, i.e. condemno, condemn; and the third with N L, i.e. non liquet. It is not clear to me, why Cicero (pro Mil. 6) calls the first litera salutaris, and the second litera tristis. It would seem that in some trials the tabellae were marked with the lettera L, libero, and D, damno, respectively." Smith's Dict. Ant. v. Tabella. In trials like this between Cicero and Caecilius it is probable that the two tabellae had the names of the different candidates inscribed on them. The circumstance alluded to in the text was that a short time before this Terentius Varro had been accused of extortion and defended by Hortensius, who bribed the judges, and then in order to be sure that they voted as they had promised, caused tablets to be given to them smeared with coloured wax, so that he could easily recognize their votes in the balloting urn.
  6. The Latin is deportare and asportare, the former meaning to remove from one place to another, the latter to carry away; "but it seems by implication here, to carry them away with the intention of suppressing them."—Long.
  7. The praetor had the power to make an annual demand on the farmers for corn for be state, and the quaestor was to pay a fair market price for it; but in some cases the praetor allowed or compelled the farmer to pay a composition in money, instead of delivering corn, and Verres when the market price of wheat was only two sesterces a bushel compelled the farmers to pay twelve sesterces a bushel by way of composition.
  8. Maenius had sold his house to Cato and Valerius Flaccus when they were censors, and they had built the Porcian Piazza on the spot, but he had reserved for himself one pillar for him and his heirs to have a view of the gladiatorial contests from it; and near this column the triumviricapitates held their court, before whose tribunal it was chiefly the lower sort of criminals who were brought, and as a general rule the advocates who practised in these courts were of a lower class than those who confined themselves to more respectable clients, and to civil actions.
  9. Antonius had been appointed as naval commander-in-chief along the whole coast; in which capacity it was that he made his unauthorized attack on Crete, which gave rise to the war in which the island was reduced by Metellus Creticus.
  10. In many cases a single judex was appointed, in others several were appointed, and they seem sometimes to have been called recuperatores, as opposed to the single judex."—Smith, Dict. Ant. p. 529, v. Judex.
  11. "Quintus Mucius Scaevola is spoken of here, who in be year A.U.C. 660 was sent as proconsul to Asia, where he governed with such justice and strictness that the senate afterwards by formal decree reminded magistrates about to depart for that province of his example."—Hottoman.