For Marcus Caelius
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If anyone, O judges and jury, should now by chance be present, ignorant of the law, of the courts, of our customs, he would surely be amazed, what is there of such an atrocity in this particular case, because during the holidays and public games, having interrupted all public business this one trial should be administered, nor would he doubt, that a culprit of a great crime is being charged, that if it should be ignored the state would not be able to stand still; when the same man hears that there is a law, which orders daily investigations regarding mutinous and most wicked citizens, who armed besieged the senate, have brought violence to the civil offices, assaulted the republic: he would not reject the law, he would require a charge which would stand in the court; when he would hear that there is no crime, no audacity, no violence being called in court, but that a young man of illustrious natural-talent, industry, and popularity is being accused by the son of that man, whom he himself both may prosecute and has prosecuted in court, moreover that he is being attacked with the help of a prostitute: he would not blame the piety of that Atratinius, he would think to suppress feminine lust, he would value your toils, for whom indeed it may not be permitted to be at universal rest when others are at rest.
And indeed, if you will be willing to listen attentively, to form an opinion rightly regarding the entirety of this case, o judges, you will thus decide neither that one, who would wish or would be permitted, would come down to this accusation, nor that, after he had decended, would he have any hope, unless he was very much supported by the insufferable desire and excessibly bitter hatred of someone else. Yet I forgive Atratinus, a most refined and what’s more a pleasant young man closely connected by my friendship, who has the excuse of either piety or obligation or even his age. If he has wished to accuse, I attribute it to his piety, if he was ordered, to his obligation, if he hoped for something, I allotted to his childhood. The others must not only in no way be pardoned, but they also must be fiercely resisted.
And indeed, gentlemen of the jury, it seems to me the most fitting way to launch the defense of the young Marcus Caelius is first to respond to the things his accusers have said to disgrace him and strip and rob him of his good name. The issue of his father has been raised in a variety of ways, because people said either the father himself did not live in sufficient style or the son did not accord him sufficient respect.
As for his position, to those who know him and are older, Marcus Caelius easily makes answer himself without uttering a word and even without any defense of mine. As for those, however, to whom he is not so well known because, owing to his advanced years, he has for a long time associated with us less, both in the forum and in private, they may be sure of this: whatever prestige can attach to a Roman knight - and that can certainly be very great - it has always been regarded as a strong feature in Marcus Caelius, and it is so regarded today, not only by those close to him but also by all those who for some reason have been able to come to know him.
But being the son of a Roman knight should not have been presented as grounds for a charge by the accusers, before either these jurors or me as the defending counsel. As for what you said about filial respect, it is certainly for us to form an opinion about that. But it is definitely up to the parent to make a considered judgment. You shall hear our opinion from witnesses under oath. But the parents' feelings are clear from the mother's tears and unbelievable sadness, the father's mourning attire and this grief and sorrow you see before you.
As for your objection that the young man was disapproved of by his fellow townsmen, the Praetuttians never paid higher honours to anyone while he was with them than to Marcus Caelius while he was not: even while he was absent, they enlisted him in the most distinguished body in the town. Without his asking they conferred on him honours which they refused to many who did so ask. In the same way they have now sent eminent fellow-senators of mine and Roman knights to attend this trial and speak his praises in the weightiest and most eloquent terms.
I believe I have laid the foundations of my defence. If it rests on the judgment of his peers, it is rock solid. If this young man were displeasing not only to such a one as his father but also to a community so outstanding and important, you would consider him of insufficient merit.
For my part, to turn to my own case, it is from springs such as these that my life has flowed into world repute. These exertions of mine at the bar and the conduct of my career have achieved somewhat wider public recognition because of the commendation and support of my peers.
As for the objections you have raised concerning my client's morals, as for all the fuss made by his accusers, not through criminal charges but through backbiting and slander, Marcus Caelius will never feel so bitterly about that as to regret that he was born not ugly.
Those slanders are spread around against all who as young men have been marked by an attractive figure and distinguished appearance. But it is one thing to abuse, another to bring an accusation. Accusation needs a criminal charge, so as to define a situation, mark a man, prove by argument and confirm with testimony. But abuse has no purpose but to insult. If this is marked by a strain of viciousness, then it is termed bad-mouthing, but if there is a measure of wit, then it passes for satire.
I was surprised and upset that this part of the prosecution was given to Atratinus in particular: it did not become him, his age did not call for it, and, as you could discern, the excellent young man's sense of propriety made him uncomfortable with engaging in a plea of this sort. I could wish that one of the more seasoned among you had undertaken the role of slanderer: I should be considerably less inhibited, more forceful and more my usual self in rebutting the latitude you have granted to slander. I shall deal more gently with you, Atratinus: your sense of propriety restrains my language, and I am obliged to keep unspoilt the service I have rendered you and your father.
I want, however, to give you the following warning so that everyone may form an accurate view of you: first, keep as far away from verbal licence as you are from baseness in action; next, say nothing against another which would cause you to blush when fabricated against yourself in return.
That path lies open to all the world. Who is there who cannot abuse as viciously as he likes one of your years and personal grace? Even if there are no grounds for suspicion, he can make his slanders sound quite plausible. But the blame for that role of yours rests with those who wanted you to play it. The credit rests with your sense of propriety because we saw you said those things unwillingly, and with your talent because you spoke with elegance and polish.
But my answer to that entire plea of yours is brief. As far as Marcus Caelius's youth could have provided grounds for those suspicions of yours, it was protected first by his own sense of propriety and then too by his father's careful training. When the father gave him the toga of manhood - I shall say nothing at this point about myself: I am prepared to leave that to your assessment; but I'll say this: Caelius was delivered to me by his father forthwith - no one saw this Marcus Caelius in those blossoming early years except with his father or with me or in the highly respectable abode of Marcus Crassus, while he was being trained in the most honourable pursuits.
As for your objection that Caelius was closely associated with Catiline, he is entitled to dissociate himself completely from any such suspicion. You know that Catiline ran for the consulship with me while Caelius was still a young man. If he ever attached himself to Catiline or left my side - although many good young men were devoted to that worthless, wicked fellow - then let it be thought that Caelius and Catiline were too closely associated.
"But," you will say, "we know and we saw that Caelius was one of Catiline's political adherents later on." Who denies it? But at this point I am defending that time in his life which is by its very nature vulnerable, as well as exposed to the passions of others. When I was praetor, he was with me constantly; he did not know Catiline, who was at that time praetor in Africa. Then a year went by and Catiline faced a charge of extortion. Caelius was with me and did not even appear in court as a supporter of Catiline. Next came the year when I ran for the consulship; Catiline ran with me. He never approached Catiline and never left me.
Having therefore spent so many years in the forum without incurring any suspicion or damage to his reputation, he attached himself to Catiline, who was running for the consulship a second time. So how long do you imagine those early years should have been protected?
In my day, to be sure, just one year was allotted us for keeping a low profile and undergoing our athletic training in our tunics on the Campus. If we had started our army service immediately, the same rule applied in the camp and the field.
At this age, unless anyone were personally to protect himself through his own strength of character and clean living, by sound home training as well as a certain innate goodness, he could not escape a scandal based on truth, however carefully he was guarded by his associates. But take the sort of man who had managed to keep those earliest stages of youth untouched and undefiled. Once he had come to maturity and was a man among men, no one spoke ill of his reputation or his morals.
Yes, Caelius attached himself to Catiline, but only when he had already spent several years in public life. And many of every rank and every age did the same thing. Catiline, as I believe you recall, had several indications of very great virtue, not fully modelled but sketched in outline. He was familiar with many depraved fellows, yet he pretended he was devoted to men of excellence. People found in him many enticements to profligacy but also certain incentives to unrelenting toil. He was ablaze with profligate passions but he was also a serious student of the art of war. I imagine there has never existed any such portent on earth, such an amalgam of natural inclinations and passions that were contradictory, divergent and at war with one another.
Who at a given time was more pleasant to his superiors, who more closely linked to the baser sort? What citizen has at a given time held sounder political views - or been a more loathsome enemy of this state? Who has been fouler in his sensuality, who more long-suffering in his exertions? Who has been greedier in plundering, who more lavish in largess?
Indeed, gentlemen of the jury, that fellow had a number of amazing qualities: embracing many with his friendship, retaining them with his devotion, sharing what he had with everyone, serving all his friends in times of crisis with money, influence, physical exertion, and even reckless crime if need be, adapting and ruling his natural disposition to suit the occasion, twisting and turning it this way and that, living soberly with the austere, gaily with the self-indulgent, responsibly with the old, companionably with the young, brazenly with wrongdoers and lavishly with the depraved. -->
At the very time when Catiline with such a varied and complex nature as this had gathered together every wicked and brazen fellow from every land, he still held fast many brave and loyal men by feigning a sort of veneer of virtue.
He would never have manifested such an unconscionable impulse to destroy this empire had not the towering enormity of his many vices rested on a certain substratum of affability and endurance. Accordingly, gentlemen of the jury, let that consideration be rejected. The charge of familiarity with Catiline should not be allowed to stick. He has that in common with many others - including people of good character.
Once Catiline almost deceived me myself, me, I say: I took him for a loyal citizen, eager to associate with all the best men, a firm and faithful friend. I had to witness his crimes before believing them, catch him in the act before even suspecting them. If Caelius too was among his host of friends, there is more reason for him to be troubled personally that he made a mistake, just as I too sometimes regret my own mistake in regard to that same fellow, than fearful that such a friendship should be the subject of a charge.
Therefore, your speech descended from insults to his chastity to acts of arousing conspiracy. For you have specified, though you have done that both staggering and superficially, that this man, on account of his friendship with Catiline, was a partaker of the conspiracy; in regards to which the accusation was not only not adhering, but also the speech of that eloquent young man was barely consistent. For how can such frenzy be in Caelius, what great wound was there either in his habits and in his natural disposition or in his cause and what’s more fortune? And finally when was the name of Caelius heard in regards to that suspicion of yours? I speak too much about a matter in which there is least doubt; nevertheless I say this: if he has not only not been an accomplice of the conspiracy, but also unless he has been most hostile to that wickedness, never would he want above all to commit his own friends to an indictment of conspiracy. -->
In respect to this I know not whether I believe that I must similarly answer to bribery, both to the accusations of those conspirators and depositories, seeing that I have cut into them to this point. For Caelius would never be so insane, as to accuse another man of bribery, if he had defiled himself with that endless corruption, nor would he seek suspicion of the same conduct on another, whose perpetual license he could desire for himself, nor would he himself for the second time indict another man on the charge of bribery, if he thought that on one occasion he would be placed in danger of corruption. With respect to this, although he does not act wisely and against my will, nevertheless it is an eagerness of a certain manner, that it seems better to pursue with hostility the innocence of another than to fearfully consider anything on his own account. -->
For in respect το foreign debt which has been thrown in his teeth, having held back his expenses, the urgent demands for his records, see how briefly I may respond. He who is under the power of his father, amasses no records. He never supposed to alter anything at all. To the charge of his extravagance, there is one for his house; you say that he inhabits it for thirty thousand. Now, at length, I understand that Publius Clodius’ apartment is for sale, in whose house he lives in, as I suppose, for ten thousand. Moreover, you while wanting to please that man, you have suited your lie to his necessity. -->
You have blamed him, because he has gone away from his father. Something which certainly now must not all be blamed on this man’s age. When out of public responsibility he achived victory which now was indeed annoying to me, yet glorius to himself and by his age he was able to seek a magistracy, not only with his father’s permission, but also with his advice did he move away from him and, as the father’s house was a long way away from the forum, where he was easily able to both meet us at our homes and he himself to be visited by his friends, he rented not so large a home on the Palatine. At which place I can say that, which a most illustrious man, Marcus Crassus, when he was making a formal complaint regarding the arrival of king Ptolemy, said a little time before:
“If only that in the Pelian forrest”-
And it certainly seems right for me
to weave this poem further: “For the mistress never errs”
He presented this annoyance to us
“Medea sick at heart, wounded in savage love”.
For in such a way, judges, you will learn, when I will come to that point, I will reveal, that this Palatine Medea and this move which was a cause of his youth whether on account of all his misfortunes or rather all the rumours. -->
For those reasons, which I now realized were fortified and molded from the speech of the prosecutors, relying on your good sense, judges, I am not very afraid. For they said that a senator would be a witness, who would declare that he was beaten in the pontificate election by Caelius. From here I will ask, if he comes forward, first why nothing was immediately conducted, then, if he preferred to protest that more than to conduct it, why is he brought out by you rather than coming on his own accord, why has he preferred to protest after such a long time rather than immediately. If to these things he answers me clearly and shrewdly, then finally I will ask, from what source did that senator emanate. For if he himself emerges and becomes destined according to himself, perhaps, as I am accustomed, I shall be moved; but if on the other hand he is a stream drawn and drained from that head of your accusations, I shall rejoice, that while your accusation relies on such influence and such resources, there is still only one senator, who was willing to gratify you. -->
Nor still am I very scared of that class of other nocturnal witnesses. For it was asserted by those, who said that their wives, while returning from dinner, were violated by Caelius. Serious are the men, who will venture to say this under oath, as it must be confessed by them that they have never attempted to take steps concerning such injuries by not even an assembly and by a meeting. But you, judges, ought to repulse the entire class of these assaults, and now you forsee with your minds, when he will be inflicted. For Marcus Caelius is not being accused by the same people, as by those he is being assaulted; weapons are being hurled openly at him, being supplied in secret. -->
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(sources: Missing 21 through 33.)
Finally, did you not know that you were lately married to Quintus Metellus, a man of the utmost distinction, courage and patriotism? As soon as he stepped outside the threshold, he surpassed almost all citizens in virtue, renown and prestige. Since you had married into a most illustrious family one of the great nobility, why was Caelius so intimate with you? For neither was he a kinsman nor a friend of your husband's! What therefore was the reason except a certain recklessness and lust? If you were unmoved by the images of the men in our family, were you not prompted by that descendant of mine, the famous Quinta Claudia, to emulate her family renown in the arena of womanly honor? Were you not prompted by the great Vestal Virgin Claudia, who, by clasping her father tight in the course of his triumph, did not suffer him to be dragged down from his chariot by a hostile tribune of the people? Why were you stirred by your brother's vices rather than by the virtues of your father and your forebears, which have been maintained from my own time not only by our men but by our women? Was it for this I tore up the peace with Pyrrhus, for you to strike bargains daily about your abominable love affairs? Was it for this that I brought water to Rome, for you to bathe in it after your incestuous couplings? Was it for this that I built a highway, for you to frequent it with your retinue of other women's husbands?
But, gentlemen of the jury, why have I brought onto the stage such an austere personage that I am afraid the same Claudius will suddenly turn and begin to attack Caelius with that seriousness of his, so proper for a censor? But I'll see to this later, in such a way, gentlemen, that I'm confident of winning approval for Marcus Caelius's way of life in the eyes of even the strictest judges.
Indeed, woman - I'm now addressing you myself without introducing any imaginary character - if you intend to prove your actions, your words, your accusations, your intrigues, your claims, you must give an account of such familiarity, such intimacy and such a close connection.
The prosecutors, to be sure, are going on about debauchery, love affairs, adulteries, trips to Baiae, beach parties, banquets, drinking bouts, singing, dance bands, pleasure-boats. They also indicate that everything they say has your approval. In some unbridled, reckless frame of mind you wanted these matters aired in the forum and the court. You must therefore either disprove them, show that they're false, or admit that neither your charge nor your testimony can in any way be believed.
But if you prefer me to take a more refined tone, this is how I shall deal with you. I'll take that old man off the scene: he's harsh, practically uncouth. So I'll choose one of our young moderns, in particular, your baby brother. He's a real man of the world in matters of that sort. He loves you very much. Because of some indefinable nervousness, some groundless fears of the night, I suppose as a little fellow he always used to sleep with you, his elder sister.
You shall imagine him speaking to you in these terms: "Why are you making such a fuss, sister? Why are you out of your mind?"
Why have you begun to shout? Why with your talk are you making a big fuss out of almost nothing?
You spotted the stripling in your neighbourhood; his radiant good looks, his height, his face, his eyes swept you off your feet; you wanted to see him more often; from time to time you were with him in the same park. You're a woman of noble birth, he's the son of a stingy, grasping patriarch, and you want to tie him down with your riches.
You can't. He kicks at you, rejects you, refuses you. He doesn't consider your presents to be worth two cents. Take yourself elsewhere. You have grounds near the Tiber. You carefully procured them just at the spot where all the young men come to swim. From here it is open to you to pick up "bargains" every day. Why do you annoy someone who spurns you?"
Others have opined that, the life of honor ought to be combined with the life of pleasure, glibly yoking together a pair that are sure to kick each other out of the traces. While those who say, "No, the way to glory leads straight through the land of toil and self-sacrifice," hear their words resound in almost empty lecture-halls. For nature herself woos us with honeyed words, till virtue is lulled and can scarce hold up her eyelids, and then takes her by the hand and shows her those slippery paths where she can hardly go or stay without disastrous trip or slip, and lastly indicates that wondrously enticing and richly varied world of pleasure and whispers, "Take it; it is yours." Is it any wonder that youth falls, when even seasoned climbers have been known to take the plunge?
So if someone here and there is found to avert his eyes from the gorgeous surface of things, refuses to fall prey to the lures of scent and touch and taste, deadens his ears to all that sweet siren-song, I and a few others call him a darling of the gods, but most of mankind will say he is a man of singularly morose disposition. In consequence the path of rectitude lies deserted now. No one bothers to keep it open, and weed and thicket grow wild. Give youth some leeway then; allow our young men to stray a little; do not rein in every pleasure; let the ideal and forthright life suffer an occasional check; let reason give way now and then to appetite and desire. Provided that in all this some bounds are not overstepped. Let youth retain some measure of innocence; let it not corrupt another man's wife, throw away its patrimony, or overwhelm itself in debt; let it spare the homes and families of others, nor ruin the chaste nor wreck the righteous nor shame the good; let it abstain from violence, dangerous intrigue, and crime. So that at last when it has paid its respects to the demands of the flesh and allotted due time to boyish sport and the silly desires of the young and fervent blood, it may call a halt at last and face the claims of family, career, and country, and what reason in advance could not dissipate, mere satiety may put away and experience despise.
I am not dwelling on your wrongs, Clodia, and I put aside the memory of the pain you caused me and I will pass over the cruelties you perpetrated against my family when I was in exile. Do not construe what I have said to be against you in particular. But I do ask you to respond yourself, since the prosecution says that you are the author of this charge and its chief witness. If some woman lived this way, with the characteristics that I just described to you, devoted to a life of prostitution, surely it would not to seem to you shameful or scandalous if some young man had his reasons for being with her, would it?
And if you are not this woman, as I would hope, why are they throwing all these accusations against Caelius? But if they want you to be this woman, why should we fear this accusation, if you yourself think so little of it? Therefore, give us some route or rational course to defend ourselves. Because either your purity will substantiate that nothing was done impudently by Marcus Caelius or your shamelessness will give a powerful capacity to Caelius and others to defend themselves.
Yet since my speech looks to have escaped from the dangerous shallows and to have sailed passed the rocks, the rest of the journey seems to be smooth sailing for me. Because there are two charges pertaining to a single woman of the highest villainy: the gold which was said to have been loaned by Clodia, and the poison, which they accuse Caelius of having prepared for the sake of killing her. He borrowed the money, as you all claim, which he was to give to Lucceius’ slaves, who were to kill Dio from Alexandria, who was then living with Lucceius. This is a hefty charge: either lying in wait for ambassadors or buying off slaves to kill the master’s guest, a plan full of audacity, full of wickedness!
Now really in regard to this charge, first I must ask, “Did Caelius tell Clodia why he borrowed the money, or did he not tell her?" If he did not tell her, why did she give it to him? If he told her, he connected her to the same guilt for the crime. Did you dare to give money out of your own safe, to rob your own Venus of its ornaments and the spoils procured from other men, when you knew this gold was being sought for such a crime, to kill the envoy (DIO), for the eternal staining of L. Lucceius, an extremely holy and extremely pure man, with this crime? Your soul fully conscious of this great crime, your popular home as a accomplice, and lastly that hospitable ‘Love’ of yours should not have played a part in all this.
Balbus (the prosecutor) took this into consideration; he said that Clodia was deceived, and in this way Caelius approached her to ask her for money to hold some festivals. If Caelius was so close to Clodia, which you want to be true, since you say so many things about his lust, Caelius must have told her what he wanted the money for; if he was not this close to her, then she simply could not have given it. Therefore, if Caelius told you the truth, you outrageous woman, you knowingly gave him the gold for the purpose of the crime; if he dared not tell you, you didn’t give him the money. Why should I resist now to make arguments against this charge, which are so innumerable?
I can say that Caelius’ morals are totally separate from such a criminal atrocity; least of all should it be believed that a person so intelligent and so prudent should have thought about such a wicked thing and could have trusted some slaves that he didn’t know. Can I also ask the prosecutor in my custom and the custom of other lawyers, "Where did Caelius meet with Lucceius’ slaves? Who was his contact?" If he went by himself, what temerity! If through another, who was it? I could travel through all of the refuges of the prosecution’s suspicions; no reason would be discovered, no place, no resource, no accomplice, no hope of completion or hiding the crime, no plan at all, no evidence of this immense crime.
But why should I hold you, judges and jury, any longer? Examine carefully the sworn affidavit of this man (Lucceius) and think about every word of his testimony carefully:
Let the deposition of Lucius Lucceius be read. [Deposition is read by clerk.] What more would you have? Are you waiting for Truth herself to stand up and tell you the facts? This is the defense that innocence offers; these are the facts themselves speaking; this is the very voice of Truth. The charge is bolstered by no suspicious circumstance. No evidence has been presented. They say that a certain act was committed, but give not a scrap of proof as to expressed intention or place or time. They name no witness, no accomplice. Their whole case was concocted in a house that specializes in hatred, defamation, cruelty, lust, and crime whereas the home where they say the vile deed was attempted is a place of honor, dignity, respect for duty and morality. The sworn affidavit which has been read to your is from this latter house, such that the matter placed up for examination ought little to be doubted, whether it be because you think a shameless, irate matron has laid a false charge, or because it seems that it was a wise and temperate man who has piously sworn his testimony.
There remains the charge respecting the poison for me to consider; a charge of which I can neither discover the origin nor guess the object. For what reason was there for Caelius desiring to give poison to that woman? Was it in order to save himself from being forced to repay the gold? Did she demand it back? Was it to save himself from being accused? Did any one impute anything to him? In short, would any one ever have mentioned him if he had not himself instituted a prosecution against somebody? Moreover you heard Lucius Herennius say that he would never have caused annoyance to Caelius by a single word, if he had not prosecuted his intimate friend a second time on the same charge, after he had been already acquitted once. Is it credible then, that so enormous a crime was committed without any object? And do you not see that an accusation of the most enormous wickedness is invented against him in order that it may appear to have been committed for the sake of facilitating the other wickedness?
To whom, then, did he entrust its execution? Whom did he employ as an assistant? Who was his companion? Who was his accomplice? To whom did he entrust so foul a crime; to whom did he entrust himself and his own safety? Was it to the slaves of that woman? For that is what is imputed to him. Was he, then; so insane,--he to whom at least you allow the credit of good abilities, even if you refuse him all other praise in that hostile speech of yours,--as to trust his whole safety to another man's slaves? And to what slaves? For even that makes a considerable difference? Was it to slaves whose slavery as he was aware was one of no ordinary condition, but who were in the habit of being treated with indulgence and freedom and every familiarity, by their mistress? For who is there, O judges, who does not see, who is there who does not know, that in such a house as that in which the mistress of the house lives after the fashion of a prostitute,--in which nothing is done which is fit to be mentioned out of doors,--in which debauchery, and lust, and luxury and, in short all sorts of unheard of vices and wickednesses are carried on, the slaves are not slaves at all? men to whom everything is confided by, whose agency everything is done; who are occupied in the same pleasures as their mistress; who have secrets entrusted to them, and who get even some, and that no inconsiderable, share of the daily extravagance and luxury. Was Caelius, then, not aware of this?
For if he was as intimate with the woman as you try to make him out, be certainly knew that those slaves also were intimate with her. But if no such intimacy existed between him and her as is alleged by you, then how could he have arrived at such familiarity with her slaves? But, however, of the poison itself what account is invented? where was it got? how was it prepared? by what means? to whom was it delivered, and where? They say that he kept it at home, and that he made trial of its strength on one of his slaves whom he provided with that express object, and that his rapid death led him to think highly of the poison.
O ye immortal gods! why do you at times appear to wink at the greatest crimes of men, or why do you reserve the punishment of present wickedness to a future day? For I saw, I saw, and I myself experienced that grief, the bitterest grief that I ever felt in my life, when Quintus Metellus was torn from the heart and bosom of his country, and when that man who considered himself born only for this empire, but three days after he had been in good health, flourishing in the senate-house, in the rostrum, and in the republic; while in the flower of his age, of an excellent constitution, and in the full vigour of manhood, was torn in a most unworthy manner from all good men, and from the entire state; at which time he, though dying, when on other points his senses appeared to be bewildered, retained his senses to the last as far as his recollection of the republic was concerned; and beholding me in tears, he intimated with broken and failing voice, how great a storm he saw was impending over the city,--how great a tempest was threatening the state; and frequently striking that wall which separated his house from that of Catulus, he kept on mentioning Catulus by name, and me myself, and the republic, so as to show that he was grieving, not so much because he was dying, as because both his country and I were about to be deprived of his aid and protection.
But, if no violence of sudden wickedness had carried off that great man, with what vigour would he, as a man of consular rank, have resisted that frantic cousin of his,--he, who as consul said in the hearing of the senate, at a time when he was beginning and endeavouring to give reins to his fury, that he would slay him with his own hand! And shall that woman, proceeding from this house, dare to speak of the rapidity of the operation of poison? Is she not afraid of the very house itself, lest she should make it utter some sound? Does she not dread the very walls, which are privy to her wickedness? does she not shudder at the recollection of that fatal and melancholy night?
But I will return to the accusation: but this mention of that most illustrious and most gallant man has both weakened my voice with weeping, and overcome my mind with sorrow.
But still there is no mention made of whence the poison came from, or how it was prepared. They say that it was given to Publius Licinius, a modest and virtuous young man, and an intimate friend of Caelius. They say that an arrangement was entered into with the slaves, that they should come to the strangers' baths; and that Licinius should come thither also, and should give them the box containing the poison. Now, here first of all I ask this question, What was the object of all this being done in that previously arranged place? Why did not the slaves come to Caelius's house? If that great intimacy and that excessive familiarity between Caelius and Clodia still subsisted, what suspicion would have been excited by one of the slaves of that woman having been seen at Caelius's house? But if a quarrel had already sprung up between them, if the intimacy was over, and enmity had taken its place, hence arose those tears.
This is the cause of all that wickedness and of all those crimes.
Very true, says he, and when the slaves had reported to their mistress the whole transaction and the guilty designs of Caelius, that crafty woman enjoined her slaves to promise Caelius everything; but in order that the poison when it was being delivered to them by Licinius, might be clearly detected, she commanded them to appoint the strangers' baths as the place where it was to he delivered in order to send thither friends to lie in ambush there and then on a sudden, when Licinius had arrived and was delivering the poison, to jump out, and arrest the man.
But all these circumstances, O judges, furnish me with a very easy method of refuting them. For why had she appointed the public baths, of all places in the world? where I cannot find any spot which may serve as an ambush for men in their gowns. For if they were in the vestibule of the baths, they would not be lying hid at all; if, they wished to enter into the inner parts of the baths, they could not conveniently do it with their shoes and garments on, and perhaps they would not be admitted; unless, perchance, by a species of barter,--instead of the proper piece of money paid for ad-mission into the baths,--that vigorous woman had made a friend of the bathing-man.
And, in truth, I was waiting eagerly to see who those virtuous men were, who would be stated to have been witnesses of this poison having been so clearly detected. For none have been named as yet. But I have no doubt that they are men of very high authority indeed, as, in the first place, they are the intimate friends of such a woman; and, in the second place, they took upon themselves that share of the business,--that, namely, of being thrust down into the baths; which she, even were she as powerful as she could possibly wish to be, could never have prevailed on any men to do, except such as were most honourable men, and men of the very greatest natural dignity. But why do I speak of the dignity of those witnesses? Learn yourselves how virtuous and how scrupulous they are. They lay in ambush in the baths. Splendid witnesses, indeed! Then they sprung out precipitately. O men entirely devoted to their dignity! For this is the story that they make up: that when Licinius had arrived, and was holding the box of poison in his hand, and was endeavouring to deliver it to them, but had not yet delivered it, then all on a sudden those splendid nameless witnesses sprung out; and that Licinius, when he had already put out his hand to give them over the box of poison, drew it back again, and, alarmed at that an expected onset of men, took to his heels. O how great is the power of truth! which of its own power can easily defend itself against all the ingenuity, and cunning, and wisdom of men, and against the treacherous plots of all the world.
But how destitute of all proof is the whole of the story of this poetess and inventress of many fables! How totally without any conceivable object or result is it! For what does she say? Why did so numerous a body of men, (for it is clear enough it was not a small number, as it was requisite that Licinius should be arrested with ease, and that the transaction should be more completely proved by the eyewitness of many witnesses,) why, I say, did so numerous a body of men let Licinius escape from their hands? For why was Licinius less liable to be apprehended when he had drawn back in order not to deliver up the box than he would have been if he had delivered it up? For those men had been placed on purpose to arrest Licinius in order that Licinius might be caught in the very fact either of having just delivered up the poison, or of still having it in his possession. This was the whole plan of the woman. This was the part allotted to those men who were asked to undertake it but why it is that they sprung forth so precipitately and prematurely as you say, I do not find stated.
They had been invited for this express purpose they had been placed with this especial object in order to effect the undeniable detection of the poison, of the plot, and of every particular of the crime.
Could they spring forward at a better time than when Licinius had arrived? when he was holding in his hand the box of poison? and if after that box had been delivered to the slaves the friends of the woman had on a sudden emerged from the baths and seized Licinius, he would have implored the protection of their good faith and have denied that that box had been delivered to them by him. And how would they have reproved him? Would they have said that they had seen it? First of all that would have been to bring the imputation of a most atrocious crime on themselves besides, they would be saying that they had seen what from the spot in which they had been placed they could not possibly have seen. Therefore they showed themselves at the very nick of time when Licinius had arrived and was getting out the box, and was stretching out his hand, and delivering the poison. This is rather the end of a farce than a regular comedy; in which, when a regular end cannot be invented for it some one escapes out of some one else's hands, the whistle1 sounds, and the curtain drops.
For I ask why that army under the command of the woman allowed Licinius, when embarrassed, hesitating, receding, and endeavouring to fly, to slip through their fingers? why they did not seize him? why they did not prove beyond all denial a crime of such enormous wickedness by his own confession, by the eye-witness of many people, by even the voice of the crime itself if I may say so? Were they afraid that so many men would not be able to get the better of one, that strong men would not be able to beat a weak man, or active men to surprise one in such a fright?
No corroborative proof is to be found in the circumstances; no ground for suspicion in any part of the case, no object for or result of the crime, can be imagined. Therefore, this cause, instead of being supported by arguments, by conjecture, and by those tokens by which the truth generally has a light thrown upon it rests wholly on the witnesses. And those witnesses, O judges, I long to see, not only without the least apprehension, but with a soft of hope of great enjoyment.
My mind is exceedingly eager to behold them, first, because they are luxurious youths, the intimate friends of a rich and high-born woman; secondly, because they are gallant men, placed by their Amazonian general in ambush, and as a sort of garrison to the baths. And, when I see them, I will ask them how they lay hid, and where; whether it was a canal, or a second Trojan horse, which bore and concealed so many invincible men waging war for the sake of a woman? And this I will compel them to tell me, why so many gallant men did not either at once seize this man, who was but a single individual, and as slight and weak a man as you see, while he was standing there; or, at all events, why they did not pursue him when he fled.
And, in truth, they will never be able to get out of their perplexity, if they ever do go into that witness-box; not though they may be ever so witty and talkative at banquets, and sometimes, over their wine, even eloquent. For the forum is one thing, and the banqueting couch another. The benches of counselors are very different from the sofas of revelers. A tribunal of judges is not particularly like a row of hard-drinkers. In short, the radiance of the sun is a very different thing from the light of lamps. So that we will soon scatter all those gentlemen's delicate airs, all their absurdities, if they do appear. But if they will be guided by me; let them apply themselves to some other task; let them curry the favour of some one else by some other means; let them display their capacity in other employments; let them flourish in that woman's house in beauty; let them regulate her expenses let them cling to her, sup with her, serve her in every possible way, but let them spare the lives and fortunes of innocent men.
But those slaves have been emancipated by the advice of her relations,--most highly born and illustrious men. At last then we have found something which that woman is said to have done by the advice and authority of her own relations,--men of the highest respectability of character. But I wish to know what proof there is in that emancipation of slaves, so that either any charge against Caelius can be made out of that, or any examination of the slaves themselves by means of torture prevented, or any pretext found for giving rewards to slaves who were privy to too many transactions which it is desired to keep secret? But her relations advised it. Why should not they advise it, when you yourself stated that you were reporting to them a matter which you had not received information of from others, but which had been discovered by yourself?
Here also we wonder whether any most obscene story followed the tale of that imaginary box. There is nothing which may not seem applicable to such a woman as that. The matter has been heard of, and has been the subject of universal conversation. You have long ago perceived, O judges, what I wish to say, or rather what I wish not to say. For even if such a crime was committed, it certainly was not committed by Caelius; for what concern was it of his? It may perhaps have been committed by some young man, not so much foolish as destitute of modesty. But if it be a mere fiction, it is not indeed a very modest invention, but still it is not destitute of wit;--one which in truth the common conversation and common opinion of men would never have sealed with their approbation, if every sort of story which involved any kind of infamy did not appear consistent with and suited to that woman's character.
The cause has now been fully stated by me, O judges, and summed up. You now understand how important an action this is which has been submitted to your decision; how serious a charge is confided to you. You are presiding over an investigation into a charge of violence;--into a law which concerns the empire, the majesty of the state, the condition of the country, and the safety of all the citizens;--a law which Quintus Catulus passed at a time when armed dissensions were dividing the people, and when the republic was almost at its last gasp;--a law which, after the flame which raged so fiercely in my consulship had been allayed, extinguished the smoking relics of the conspiracy. Under this law the youth of Marcus Caelius is demanded, not for the sake of enduring any punishment called for by the republic, but in order to be sacrificed to the lust and profligate pleasures of a woman.
And even in this place the condemnation of Marcus Camurtius and Caius Caesernius is brought up again! Oh the folly, or shall I rather say, oh the extraordinary impudence! Do you dare,--you prosecutors,--when you come from that woman's house, to make mention of those men? Do you dare to reawaken the recollection of so enormous a crime, which is not even now dead, but is only smothered by its antiquity? For on account of what charge, or what fault did those men fall? In truth, because they endeavoured to avenge the grief and suffering of that same woman, caused by the injury which they believed she had received from Vettius. Was, then, the cause of Camurtius and Caesernius brought up again in order that the name of Vettius might be heard of in connection with this case, and that old farce, suited to the pen of Afranius, might be rubbed up again? For though they were certainly not liable under the law concerning violence, they were still so implicated in that crime, that they deemed men who ought never to be released from the shackles of the law.
But why is Marcus Caelius brought before this court? when no charge properly belonging to this mode of investigation is imputed to him, nor indeed anything else of such a nature that, though it may not exactly come under the provisions of my law, still calls for the exercise of your severity. His early youth was devoted to strict discipline; and to those pursuits by which we are prepared for these forensic labours,--for taking part in the administration of the republic,--for honour, and glory, and dignity
* * * * and to those friendships with his elders, whose industry and temperance he might most desire to imitate; and to those studies of the youths of his own age: so that he appeared to be pursuing the same course of glory as the most virtuous and most highly-born of the citizens.
Afterwards, when he had advanced somewhat in age and strength, he went into Africa, as a comrade of Quintus Pompeius the proconsul, one of the most temperate of men, and one of the strictest in the performance of every duty. And as his paternal property and estate lay in that province, he thought that some knowledge of its habits and feelings would be usefully acquired by him, now that he was of an age which our ancestors thought adapted for gaining that sort of information. He departed from Africa, having gained the most favourable opinion of Pompeius, as you shall learn from Pompeius's own evidence.
He then wished, according to the old-fashioned custom, and following the example of those young men who afterwards turned out most eminent men and most illustrious citizens in the state, to signalise his industry in the eyes of the Roman people, by some very conspicuous prosecution.
I wish indeed that his desire for glory had led him in some other direction; but the time for this complaint has passed by. He prosecuted Caius Antonius, my colleague; an unhappy man, to whom the recollection of the great service which he did the republic was no benefit, but to whom the belief of the evil which he had designed was the greatest prejudice. After that he never was behind any of his fellows in his constant appearance in the forum, in his incessant application to business and to the causes of his friends, and in the great influence which he acquired over his relations. He achieved by his labour and diligence all those objects which they cannot attain who are other than vigilant, and sober, and industrious men.
At this turning-point of his life, (for I place too much reliance on your humanity and on your good sense to conceal anything,) the fame of the young man stood trembling in the balance, owing to his new acquaintance with this woman, and his unfortunate neighbourhood to her, and his want of habituation to pleasure; for the desire of pleasure when it has been too long pent up, and repressed, and chained down in early youth, sometimes bursts forth on a sudden, and throws down every barrier. But from this course of life, and from being in this way the subject of common conversation, (though his excesses were not by any means as great as report made them out to be;)--however, from this course of life, I say, whatever it was, he soon emerged, and delivered himself wholly from it and raised himself out of it, and he is now so far removed from the discredit of any familiarity with that woman, that he is occupied in warding off the attacks which are instigated against him by her enmity and hatred.
And in order to put a violent end to the reports which had arisen of his luxury and inactivity,--(what he did, he did in fact greatly against my will, and in spite of my strongest remonstrances, but still he did it,)--he instituted a prosecution against a friend of mine for bribery and corruption. And after he is acquitted he pursues him still, drags him back before the court, refuses to be guided by any one of us, and is far more violent than I approve of. But I am not speaking of wisdom,--which indeed does not belong to men of his age,--I am speaking of his ardent spirit, of his desire for victory, of the eagerness of his soul in the pursuit of glory. Those desires indeed in men of our age ought to have become more limited and moderate, but in young men, as in herbs, they show what ripeness of virtue and what great crops are likely to reward our industry. In truth, youths of great ability have always required rather to be restrained from the pursuit of glory, than to be spurred on to it: more things required to be pruned away from that age,--if indeed, it deserves distinction for ability and genius,--than to be implanted in it.
If, therefore, the energy, and fierceness, and pertinacity of Caelius appear to any one to have boiled over too much, either in respect of his voluntary incurring, or of his mode of carrying on enmities; if even any of the most trifling particulars of his conduct in this respect seem offensive to any one; or if any one feels displeased at the magnificence of his purple robe, or at the troops of friends who escort him, or at the general splendour and brilliancy of his appearance, let him recollect that all these things will soon pass away,--that a riper age, and circumstances, and the progress of time, will soon have softened down all of them.
Preserve, therefore, to the republic, O judges, a citizen devoted to liberal studies, and to the most virtuous party in the state, and to all good men. I promise you this,--and I give this undertaking to the republic provided we ourselves have by our own conduct given satisfaction to the republic,--that Caelius's conduct will never be at variance with our own. And I promise not only because I rely on the intimacy that subsists between him and me, but also because he has taken upon himself already the obligation of the most stringent engagements.
For a man who has ventured on such a step as that of prosecuting a man of consular rank because he says that the republic has been injured by his violence, cannot possibly behave as a turbulent citizen in the republic himself: a man who will not allow another to be at peace, even after he his been acquitted of bribery and corruption, can never himself become a briber of others with impunity.
The republic, O judges, has two prosecutions, which have been carried on by Marcus Caelius, as pledges to secure it from any danger from him and guarantees of his good-will and devotion. Wherefore I do pray and entreat you, O judges, after Sextus Clodius has been acquitted within these few days in this very city;--a man whom you have seen for the last two years acting on all occasions as the minister or leader of sedition;--a man who has burnt sacred temples and even the census of the Roman people and all the public records and registers1 with his own hands;--a man without property, without honesty, without hope, without a home, without any character or position, polluted in face, and tongue, and hand, and in every particular of his life;--a man who has degraded the monument of Catulus, who has pulled down my house, and burnt that belonging to my brother;--who on the Palatine Hill, and in the sight of all the city, stirred up the slaves to massacre and to the conflagration of the city;--I entreat you, I say, not to suffer that man to have been acquitted in this city by the influence of a woman, and at the same time to allow Marcus Caelius to be sacrificed, in the same city, to a woman's lusts. I entreat you never to permit the same woman, in conjunction with a man who is at the same time her brother and her husband, to save a most infamous robber, and to overwhelm a most honourable and virtuous young man.
And when you have given due consideration to the fact of his youth, then place also before your eyes, I entreat you, the old age of his miserable father whom you see before you; whose whole dependence is on this his only son; who reposes on the hopes which he has formed of him; who fears nothing but the disasters which may befall him. Support, I pray you, that old man, now a suppliant for your mercy, the slave of your power, who while he throws himself at your feet, so appeals more strongly still to your virtuous habits, and to your kind and right feelings; support him, I say, moved either by the recollection of your own parents, or by the affection with which you regard your own children, so as, while relieving the misery of another, to yield to your own pious or indulgent dispositions. Do not, O judges, cause this old man, who is already, by the silent progress of nature, declining and hastening to his end, to fail prematurely through a wound inflicted by you, before the day which his natural destiny has appointed for him.
Do not overthrow this other man, now flourishing in the prime of life, now that his virtue has just taken firm root, as it were by some whirlwind or sudden tempest. Preserve the son for the father, the father for the son, lest you should appear either to have despised the old age of a man almost in despair, or on the other hand not only to have abstained from cherishing, but even to have struck down and crushed, a youth pregnant with the greatest promise. And if you do preserve him to yourselves, to his own relations, and to the republic, you will have him dedicated, devoted, and wholly bound to you and to your children, and you will enjoy, O judges, in the greatest possible degree, the abundant and lasting fruits of all his exertions and labours.