For Marcus Fonteius

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For Marcus Fonteius (surviving fragments)
by Marcus Tullius Cicero; translated by C. D. Yonge (1856)
69 BC

Fonteius had been praetor of Gallia Narbonensis for three years, and was accused now by the people of the province, and by Induciomarus, one of their princes, of great oppression and exaction in his government, and especially of imposing an arbitrary tax upon their wines. There were two hearings of this cause, but we have only this one speech of Cicero's with reference to it remaining; and this is in a very mutilated state.

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1... For I defend Marcus Fonteius, O judges, on this ground, and I assert that after the passing of the Valerian law, from the time that Marcus Fonteius was quaestor till the time when Titus Crispinus was quaestor, no one paid it otherwise. I say that he followed the example of all his predecessors, and that all those who came after him, followed his. What, then, do you accuse? 2what do you find fault with? For because in these accounts, which he says were begun by Hirtuleius, he misses the assistance of Hirtuleius, I cannot think that he either does wrong himself, or wishes you to do wrong. For I ask you, O Marcus Plaetorius, whether you will consider our case established, if Marcus Fonteius, in the matter respecting which he is now accused by you, has the man whom you praise above all others, namely Hirtuleius, for his example; and if Fonteius is found to have done exactly the same as Hirtuleius in the matters in which you commend Hirtuleius? You find fault with the description of payment. The public registers prove that Hirtuleius paid in the same manner. You praise him for having established these peculiar accounts. Fonteius established the same, with reference to the same kind of money. For, that you may not ignorantly imagine that these accounts refer to some different description of debt, know that they were established for one and the same reason, and with reference to one and the same sort of money. For when...


3... No one—no one, I say, O judges—will be found, to say that he gave Marcus Fonteius one sesterce during his praetorship, or that he appropriated one out of that money which was paid to him on account of the treasury. In no account-books is there any hint of such a robbery among all the items contained in them there will not be found one trace of any loss or diminution of such monies. But all those men whom we ever see accused and found fault with by this sort of inquiry, are overwhelmed with witnesses; for it is difficult for him who has given money to a magistrate to avoid being either induced by dislike of him, or compelled by scrupulousness, to mention it; and in the next place, if the witnesses are deterred from appearing by any influence, at all events the account-books remain uncorrupted and honest. Suppose that every one was ever so friendly to Fonteius; that such a number of men to whom he was perfectly unknown, and with whom he was utterly unconnected, spared his life, and consulted his character; still, the facts of the case itself, the consideration of the documents, and the composition of the account-books, have this force, that from them, when they are once given in and received, everything that is forged, or stolen, or that has disappeared, is detected. All those men made entries of sums of money having been received for the use of the Roman people; if they immediately either paid or gave to others equally large sums, so that what was received for the Roman people was paid to some one or other, at all events nothing can have been embezzled. If any of them took any money home...


4Oh, the good faith of gods and men! no witness is found in a case involving a sum of three million two hundred thousand sesterces! Among how many men? Among more than six hundred. In what countries did this transaction take place? In this place, in this very place which you see. Was the money given irregularly? No money at all was touched without many memoranda. What, then, is the meaning of this accusation, which finds it easier to ascend the Alps than a few steps of the treasury; which defends the treasury of the Ruteni with more anxiety than that of the Roman people; which prefers using unknown witnesses to known ones, foreign witnesses to citizens; which thinks that it is establishing a charge more plainly by the capricious evidence of barbarians than by documents written by our fellow citizens? 5Of two magistracies, each of which is occupied in handling and dealing with large sums of money, the triumvirate[1] and the quaestorship, such accurate accounts have been rendered, that in those things which were done in the sight of men, which affected many men's interests, and which were set forth both in public and private registers, no hint of robbery, no suspicion of any offence can possibly arise. 6The embassy to Spain followed, in a most disturbed time of the republic; when, on the arrival of Lucius Sulla in Italy, great armies quarrelled about the tribunals and the laws; and in this desperate state of the republic...


7If no money was paid, of what sum is that fiftieth a part? ...Since his cause is not the same as that of Verres...

8...a great quantity of corn from Gaul; infantry, and a most numerous army from Gaul, a great number of cavalry from Gaul...

9That after this the Gauls would drink their wine more diluted, because they thought that there was poison in it... 10


11... that in the time of this praetor Gaul[2] was overwhelmed with debt. From whom do they say that loans of such sums were procured? From the Gauls? By no means. From whom then? From Roman citizens who are trading in Gaul. Why do we not hear what they have got to say? Why are no accounts of theirs produced? I myself pursue and press the prosecutor, O judges; I pursue him I say, and I demand witnesses. In this cause I am taking more pains and trouble to get them to produce their witnesses, than other advocates for the defence usually take to refute them. I say this boldly, O judges, but I do not assert it rashly. All Gaul is filled with traders,—is full of Roman citizens. No Gaul does any business without the aid of a Roman citizen; not a single sesterce in Gaul ever changes hands without being entered in the account-books of Roman citizens. 12See how I am descending, O judges, how far I seem to be departing from my ordinary habits, from my usual caution and diligence. Let one set of accounts be produced, in which there is any trace whatever which gives the least hint of money having been given to Fonteius; let them produce out of the whole body of traders, of colonists, of publicans, of agriculturists, of graziers, but one witness, and I will allow that this accusation is true. O ye immortal gods! what sort of a cause is this? what sort of a defence? Marcus Fonteius was governor of the province of Gaul, which consists of those tribes of men and of cities, some of whom (to say nothing of old times) have in the memory of the present generation carried on bitter and protracted wars with the Roman people; some have been lately subdued by our generals, lately conquered in war, lately made remarkable by the triumphs which we have celebrated over them, and the monuments which we have erected, and lately mulcted, by the senate, of their lands and cities: some, too, who have fought in battle against Marcus Fonteius himself, have by his toil and labour been reduced under the power and dominion of the Roman people. 13There is in the same province Narbo Martius,[3] a colony of our citizens, set up as a watch-tower of the Roman people, and opposed as a bulwark to the attacks of those very natives. There is also the city of Massilia, which I have already mentioned, a city of most gallant and faithful allies, who have made amends to the Roman people for the dangers to which they have been exposed in the Gallic wars, by their service and assistance; there is, besides, a large number of Roman citizens, and most honourable men.


Of this province, consisting of this variety of people, Marcus Fonteius, as I have said, was governor. Those who were enemies, he subdued; those who had lately been so, he compelled to depart from the lands of which they had been deprived by the senate. From the rest, who had been often conquered in great wars, on purpose that they might be rendered obedient for ever to the Roman people, he exacted large troops of cavalry to serve in those wars which at that time were being carried on all over the world by the Roman people, and large sums of money for their pay, and a great quantity of corn to support our armies in the Spanish war. 14The man who has done all these things is now brought before a court of law. You who were not present at the transactions are, with the Roman people, taking cognisance of the cause; those men are our adversaries who were compelled to leave their lands by the command of Cnaeus Pompeius; those men are our adversaries who having escaped from the war, and the slaughter which was made of them, for the first time dare to stand against Marcus Fonteius, now that he is unarmed. What of the colonists of Narbo? what do they wish? what do they think? They wish this man's safety to be ensured by you, they think that theirs has been ensured by him. What of the state of the Massilians? They distinguished him while he was among them by the greatest honours which they had to bestow; and now, though absent from this place, they pray and entreat you that their blameless character, their panegyric, and their authority may appear to have some weight with you in forming your opinions. 15What more shall I say? What is the inclination of the Roman citizens? There is no one of that immense body who does not consider this man to have deserved well of the province, of the empire, of our allies, and of the citizens.


Since, therefore, you now know who wish Marcus Fonteius to be attacked, and who wish him to be defended, decide now what your own regard for equity, and what the dignity of the Roman people requires; whether you prefer trusting your colonists, your traders, your most friendly and ancient allies, and consulting their interests, or the interests of those men, whom, on account of their passionate disposition, you ought not to trust; on account of their disloyalty you ought not to honour. 16What, if I produce also a still greater number of most honourable men to bear testimony to this man's virtue and innocence? Will the unanimity of the Gauls still be of more weight than that of men of such great authority? When Fonteius was governor of Gaul, you know, O judges, that there were very large armies of the Roman people in the two Spains, and very illustrious generals. How many Roman knights were there, how many military tribunes, how many ambassadors came to them! what eminent men they were, and how frequently did they come! Besides that, a very large and admirably appointed army of Cnaeus Pompeius wintered in Gaul while Marcus Fonteius was governor. Does not Fortune herself appear to have intended that they should be a sufficient number of sufficiently competent witnesses of those things which were done in Gaul while Marcus Fonteius was praetor? Out of all that number of men what witness can you produce in this cause? Who is there of all that body of men whose authority you are willing to cite? We will use that very man as our panegyrist and our witness. 17Will you doubt any longer, O judges, that that which I stated to you at the beginning is most true, that there is another object in this prosecution, beyond causing others, after Marcus Fonteius has been overwhelmed by the testimonies of these men, from whom many contributions have been exacted, greatly against their will, for the sake of the republic, to be for the future more lax in governing, when they see these men attacked, who are such men that, if they are crushed, the empire of the Roman people cannot be maintained in safety


A charge has also been advanced that Marcus Fonteius has made a profit from the making of roads; taking money either for not compelling people to make roads, or for not disapproving of roads which had been made. If all the cities have been compelled to make roads, and if the works of many of them have not been passed, then certainly both charges are false,—the charge that money has been given for exemption, when no one was exempted; and for approval, when many were disapproved of. 18What if we can shift this charge on other most unimpeachable names? not so as to transfer any blame to others, but to show that these men were appointed to superintend that road-making, who are easily able to show that their duty was performed, and performed well. Will you still urge all these charges against Marcus Fonteius, relying on angry witnesses? When Marcus Fonteius was hindered by more important affairs of the republic, and when it concerned the republic that the Domitian road should be made, he entrusted the business to his lieutenants, men of the highest characters, Caius Annius, Bellienus, and Caius Fonteius. So they superintended it; they ordered what seemed necessary, as became their dignity, and they sanctioned what seemed well done. And you have at all events had opportunities of knowing these things, both from our documents, from documents which you yourselves have written, and from others which have been sent to you, and produced before you; and if you have not already read them, now hear us read what Fonteius wrote about those matters to his lieutenants, and what they wrote to him in answer. [The letters sent to Caius Annius the Lieutenant, and to Caius Fonteius the Lieutenant; also, the letters received from Caius Annius the Lieutenant, and from Caius Fonteius the Lieutenant, are read.] 19I think it is plain enough, O judges, that this question about the road-making does not concern Marcus Fonteius, and that the business was managed by these men, with whom no one can find fault.


Listen now to the facts relating to the charge about wine, which they meant to be the most odious, and the most important charge. The charge, O judges, has been thus stated by Plaetorius: that it had not occurred to Fonteius for the first time when he was in Gaul to establish a transit duty on wine, but that he had thought of the plan in Italy, before he departed from Rome. Accordingly, that Titurius had exacted at Tolosa fourteen denarii for every amphora[4] of wine, under the name of transit duty; that Portius and Numius at Crodunum had exacted three victoriati; that Serveus at Vulchalo had exacted two victoriati; and in those districts they believe that transit duty was exacted by these men at Vulchalo, in case of any one turning aside to Cobiamachus, which is a small town between Tolosa and Narbo, and not wishing to proceed so far as Tolosa. Elesiodulus exacted only six denarii from those who were taking wine to the enemy.[5] 20I see, O judges, that this is a charge, important both from the sort of crime imputed, (for a tax is said to have been imposed on our produce, and I confess that a very large sum of money might have been amassed by that means,) and from its unpopular nature; for our adversaries have endeavoured to make this charge as widely known as possible, by making it the subject of their conversation. But I think that the more serious a charge is, which is proved to be false, the greater is the wickedness of that man who invented it; for he wishes by the magnitude of the accusation to prejudice the minds of those who hear it, so that the truth may afterwards find a difficult entrance into them. ...

[Everything relating to the charge about the wine, to the war with the Vocontii, and the arrangement of winter quarters, is wanting.]


21... But the Gauls deny this. But the circumstances of the case and the force of arguments prove it. Can then a judge refuse belief to witnesses? He not only can, but he ought, if they are covetous men, or angry men, or conspirators, or men utterly void of religion and conscience. In fact, if Marcus Fonteius is to be considered guilty just because the Gauls say so, what need have I of a wise judge? what need have I of an impartial judge? what need is there of an intelligent advocate? For the Gauls say so. We cannot deny it. If you think this is the duty of an able and experienced and impartial judge, that he must without the slightest hesitation believe a thing because the witnesses say it; then the Goddess of Safety herself cannot protect the innocence of brave men. But if, in coming to a decision on such matters, the wisdom of the judge has a wide field for its exercise in considering every circumstance, and in weighing each according to its importance, then in truth your part in considering the case is a more important and serious one than mine is in stating it. 22For I have only to question the witness as to each circumstance once, and that, too, briefly, and often indeed I have not to question him at all; lest I should seem to be giving an angry man an opportunity of making a speech, or to be attributing an undue weight to a covetous man. You can revolve the same matter over and over again in your minds, you can give a long consideration to the evidence of one witness; and, if we have shown an unwillingness to examine any witness, you are bound to consider what has been our reason for keeping silence. Wherefore; if you think that to believe the witnesses implicitly is enjoined to a judge, either by the law or by his duty, there is no reason at all why one man should be thought a better or a wiser judge than another. For judgment formed by the mere ears is single and simple enough; it is a power given promiscuously to all in common, whether they are fools or wise men. 23What, then, are the opportunities which wisdom has of distinguishing itself? When can a foolish and credulous auditor be distinguished from a scrupulous and discerning judge? When, forsooth, the statements which are made by the witnesses are committed to his conjectures, to his opinion, as to the authority, the impartiality of mind, the modesty; the good faith, the scrupulousness, the regard for a fair reputation, the care, and the fear with which they are made.


Or will you, in the case of the testimonies of barbarians, hesitate to do what very often within our recollection and that of our fathers, the wisest judges have not thought that they ought to hesitate to do with respect to the most illustrious men of our state? For they refused belief to the evidence of Cnaeus and Quintus Caepio, and to Lucius and Quintus Metellus, when they were witnesses against Quintus Pompeius, a new man; for virtuous, and noble, and valiant as they were, still the suspicion of some private object to be gamed, and some private grudge to be gratified, detracted from their credibility and authority as witnesses. 24Have we seen any man, can we with truth speak of any man, as having been equal in wisdom, in dignity, in consistency, in all other virtues, in all the distinguishing qualities of honour, and genius, and splendid achievements, to Marcus Aemilius Scaurus? And yet, though, when he was not on his oath, almost the whole world was governed by his nod, yet, when he was on his oath, his evidence was not believed against Caius Fimbria, nor against Caius Memmius. They, who were the judges, were unwilling that such a road should be opened to enmities, as for every man to be able to destroy by his evidence who ever he hated. Who is there who does not know how great was the modesty, how great the abilities, how great the influence of Lucius Crassus? And yet he, whose mere conversation had the authority of evidence, could not, by his actual evidence, establish the things which he had stated against Marcus Marcellus with hostile feelings. 25There was—there was in the judges of those times, O judges, a divinely-inspired and singular acuteness, as they thought that they were judges, not only of the defendant, but also of the accuser and of the witness, as to what was invented, what was brought into the case by chance or by the opportunity, what was imported into it through corruption, what was distorted by hope or by fear, what appeared to proceed from any private desire, or any private enmity. And if the judge does not embrace all these considerations in his deliberation, if he does not survey and comprehend them all in his mind,—if he thinks that whatever is said from that witness-box, proceeds from some oracle, then in truth it will be sufficient, as I have said before, for any judge to preside over this court, and to discharge this duty, who is not deaf. There will be no reason in the world for requiring any one, whoever he may be, to be either able or experienced, to qualify him for judging causes.


26Had then those Roman knights, whom we ourselves have seen who have lately flourished in the republic, and in the courts, so much courage and so much vigour as to refuse belief to Marcus Scaurus when a witness; and are you afraid to disbelieve the evidence of the Volcae and of the Allobroges? If it was not right to give credence to a hostile witness, was Crassus more hostile to Marcellus, or Scaurus to Fimbria, on account of any political differences, or any domestic quarrels, than the Gauls are to Fonteius? For of the Gauls, those even who stand on the best ground have been compelled once and again, and sorely against their will, to furnish cavalry, money, and corn; and of the rest, some have been deprived of their land in ancient wars, some have been overwhelmed and subdued in war by this very man. 27If those men ought not to be believed who appear to say anything covetously with a view to some private gain, I think that the Caepios and Metelli proposed to themselves a greater gain from the condemnation of Quintus Pompeius, as by that they would have got rid of a formidable adversary to all their views, than all the Gauls hoped for from the disaster of Marcus Fonteius, in which that province believed that all its safety and liberty consisted.

If it is proper to have a regard to the men themselves, (a thing which in truth in the case of witnesses ought to be of the greatest weight,) is any one, the most honourable man in all Gaul to be compared, I will not say with the most honourable men of our city, but even with the meanest of Roman citizens? Does Induciomarus know what is the meaning of giving evidence? Is he affected with that awe which moves every individual among us when he is brought into that box?


28Recollect, O judges, with how much pains you are accustomed to labour, considering not only what you are going to state in your evidence, but even what words you shall use, lest any word should appear to be used too moderately, or lest on the other hand any expression should appear to have escaped you from any private motive. You take pains even so to mould your countenances, that no suspicion of any private motive may be excited; that when you come forward there may be a sort of silent opinion of your modesty and scrupulousness, and that, when you leave the box, that reputation may appear to have been carefully preserved and retained. 29I suppose Induciomarus, when he gave his evidence, had all these fears and all these thoughts; he, who left out of his whole evidence that most considerate word, to which we are all habituated, “I think,” a word which we use even when we are relating on our oath what we know of our own knowledge, what we ourselves have seen; and said that he knew everything he was stating. He feared, forsooth, lest he should lose any of his reputation in your eyes and in those of the Roman people; lest any such report should get abroad that Induciomarus, a man of such rank, had spoken with such partiality, with such rashness. The truth was, he did not understand that in giving his evidence there was anything which he was bound to display either to his own countrymen or to our accusers, except his voice, his countenance, and his audacity. 30Do you think that those nations are influenced in giving their evidence by the sanctity of an oath, and by the fear of the immortal gods, which are so widely different from other nations in their habits and natural disposition? For other nations undertake wars in defence of their religious feelings; they wage war against the religion of every people; other nations when waging war beg for sanction and pardon from the immortal gods; they have waged war with the immortal gods themselves.


These are the nations which formerly marched to such a distance from their settlements, as far as Delphi, to attack and pillage the Pythian Apollo, and the oracle of the whole world. By these same nations, so pious, so scrupulous in giving their evidence, was the Capitol besieged, and that Jupiter, under the obligations of whose name our ancestors decided that the good faith of all witnesses should be pledged. 31Lastly, can anything appear holy or solemn in the eyes of those men, who, if ever they are so much influenced by any fear as to think it necessary to propitiate the immortal gods, defile their altars and temples with human victims? So that they cannot pay proper honour to religion itself without first violating it with wickedness. For who is ignorant that, to this very day, they retain that savage and barbarous custom of sacrificing men? What, therefore, do you suppose is the good faith, what the piety of those men, who think that even the immortal gods can be most easily propitiated by the wickedness and murder of men? Will you connect your own religious ideas with these witnesses? Will you think that anything is said holily or moderately by these men? 32Will your minds, pure and upright as they are, bring themselves into such a state that, when all our ambassadors who for the last three years have arrived in Gaul, when all the Roman knights who have been in that province, when all the traders of that province, when, in short, all the allies and friends of the Roman people who are in Gaul, wish Marcus Fonteius to be safe, and extol him on their oaths both in public and in private, you should still prefer to give your decision in unison with the Gauls? Appealing to comply with what? With the wishes of men? Is then the wish of our enemies to have more authority in your eyes than that of our countrymen? With the dignity of the witnesses? Can you then possibly prefer strangers to people whom you know, unjust men to just ones, foreigners to countrymen, covetous men to moderate ones, mercenary men to disinterested ones, impious men to conscientious ones, men who are the greatest enemies to our dominions and to our name, to good and loyal allies and citizens?


33Are you then hesitating, O judges, when all these nations have an innate hatred to and wage incessant war with the name of the Roman people? Do you think that, with their military cloaks and their breeches, they come to us in a lowly and submissive spirit, as these do, who having suffered injuries fly to us as suppliants and inferiors to beg the aid of the judges? Nothing is further from the truth. On the contrary, they are strolling in high spirits and with their heads up, all over the forum, uttering threatening expressions, and terrifying men with barbarous and ferocious language; which, in truth, I should not believe, O judges, if I had not repeatedly heard such things from the mouths of the accusers themselves in your presence,—when they warned you to take care, lest, by acquitting this man, you should excite some new Gallic war. 34If, O judges, everything was wanting to Marcus Fonteius in this cause; if he appeared before the court, having passed a disgraceful youth and an infamous life, having been convicted by the evidence of virtuous men of having discharged his duties as a magistrate (in which his conduct has been under your own eye) and as a lieutenant, in a most scandalous manner, and being hated by all his acquaintances; if in his trial he were overwhelmed with the oral and documentary evidence of the Narbonnese colonists of the Roman people, of our most faithful allies the Massilians, and of all the citizens of Rome; still it would be your duty to take the greatest care, lest you should appear to be afraid of those men, and to be influenced by their threats and menaced terrors, who were so prostrate and subdued in the times of your fathers and forefathers, as to be contemptible. 35But now, when no good man says a word against him, but all your citizens and allies extol him; when those men attack him who have repeatedly attacked this city and this empire; and when the enemies of Marcus Fonteius threaten you and the Roman people; when his friends and relations come to you as suppliants, will you hesitate to show not only to your own citizens, who are mainly influenced by glory and praise; but also to foreign tribes and nations, that you, in giving your votes, prefer sparing a citizen to yielding to an enemy?


36Among other reasons, this, O judges, is a very great reason for his acquittal, to prevent any notable stain and disgrace from falling on our dominion, by news going to Gaul that the senate and knights of the Roman people gave their decisions in a criminal trial just as the Gauls pleased; being influenced not by their evidence, but by their threats. But in that case, if they attempt to make war upon us, we must summon up Caius Marius from the shades below, in order that he may be equal in war to that great man, that threatening and arrogant Induciomarus. Cnaeus Domitius and Quintus Maximus must be raised from the dead, that they may again subdue and crush the nation of the Allobroges and the other tribes by their arms; or, since that indeed is impossible, we must beg my friend Marcus Plaetorius to deter his new clients from making war, and to oppose by his entreaties their angry feelings and formidable violence; or, if he be not able to do so, we will ask Marcus Fabius, his junior counsel, to pacify the Allobroges, since among their tribe the name of Fabius is held in the highest honour, and induce them either to be willing to remain quiet, as defeated and conquered nations usually are, or else to make them understand that they are holding out to the Roman people not a terror of war, but a hope of triumph.

37And if, even in the case of an ignoble defendant, it would not be endurable that those men should think they had effected anything by their threats, what do you think you ought to do in the case of Marcus Fonteius? concerning whom, O judges, (for I think that I am entitled to say this now, when I have almost come to the termination of two trials,) concerning whom, I say, you have not only not heard any disgraceful charge invented by his enemies, but you have not even heard any really serious reproach. Was ever any defendant, especially when he had moved in such a sphere as this man, as a candidate for honours, as an officer in command, and as a governor, accused in such a way, that no disgraceful act, no deed of violence, no baseness originating either in lust or insolence or audacity, was attributed to him, if not with truth, at least with some suspicious circumstances giving a reasonable colouring to the invention?


38We know that Marcus Aemilius Scaurus, the most eminent man of our city, was accused by Marcus Brutus. The orations are extant by which it can be seen that many things are alleged against Scaurus himself, no doubt falsely; but still they were alleged against him and urged against him by an enemy. How many things were said against Manius Aquilius on his trial? How many against Lucius Cotta? and, lastly, against Publius Rutilius? who, although he was condemned, still appears to me to deserve to be reckoned among the most virtuous and innocent men. Yet that most upright and temperate man had many things attributed to him on his trial, which involved suspicion of adultery, and great licentiousness. 39There is an oration extant of a man, by far (in my opinion, that is,) the ablest and most eloquent of all our countrymen, Caius Gracchus; in which oration Lucius Piso is accused of many base and wicked actions. What a man to be so accused! A man who was of such virtue and integrity, that even in those most admirable: times, when it was not possible to find a thoroughly worthless man, still he alone was called Thrifty. And when Gracchus was ordering him to be summoned before the assembly, and his lictor asked him which Piso, because there were many of the name, “You are compelling me,” says he, “to call my enemy, Thrifty.” That very man then, whom even his enemy could not point out with sufficient clearness without first praising him; whose one surname pointed not only who he was, but what sort of man he was; that very man was, nevertheless, exposed to a false and unjust accusation of disgraceful conduct. 40Marcus Fonteius has been accused in two trials, in such a way, that nothing has been alleged against him from which the slightest taint of lust, or caprice, or cruelty, or audacity can be inferred. They not only have not mentioned any atrocious deed of his, but they have not even found fault with any expression used by him.


But if they had either had as much courage to tell a lie, or as much ingenuity to invent one, as they feel eagerness to oppress Fonteius, or as they have displayed licence in abusing him; then he would have had no better fortune, as far as relates to not having disgraceful acts alleged against him, than those men whom I have just mentioned.

You see then another Thrifty,—a thrifty man, I say, O judges, and a man moderate and temperate in every particular of his life; a man full of modesty, full of a sense of duty, full of religion, depending on your good faith and power, and placed in your power in such a way as to be committed wholly to the protection of your good faith.

41Consider, therefore, whether it is more just that a most honourable and brave man, that a most virtuous citizen, should be given up to the most hostile and ferocious nations, or restored to his freedom, especially when there are so many circumstances which cooperate in entreating your favourable disposition in aid of this man's safety. First of all, there is the antiquity of his family, which we are aware proceeds from Tusculum, a most illustrious municipality, and whose fame is engraved and handed down on monuments of the exploits of its members; secondly, there have been continual praetorships in that family, which have been distinguished by every sort of honour, and especially by the credit of unimpeachable innocence; besides that, there is the recent memory of his father, by whose blood, not only the troop of Asculum, by whom he was slain, but the whole of that social war has been stained with the deep dye of wickedness; lastly, there is the man himself, honourable and upright in every particular of his life, and in military affairs not only endued with the greatest wisdom, and the most brilliant courage, but also skillful through personal experience in carrying on war, beyond almost any man of the present age.


42Wherefore, if you do require to be reminded at all by me, O judges, (which, in truth, you do not,) it seems to me I may, without presuming too much on my authority, give you this gentle hint,—that you ought to consider that those men are carefully to be preserved by you, whose valour, and energy, and good fortune in military affairs have been tried and ascertained. There has been a greater abundance of such men in the republic than there is now; and when there was, people consulted not only their safety, but their honour also. What, then, ought you to do now, when military studies have become obsolete among our youth, and when our best men and our greatest generals have been taken from us, partly by age, and partly by the dissensions of the state and the ill fortune of the republic? When so many wars are necessarily undertaken by us, when so many arise suddenly and unexpectedly, do you not think that you ought to preserve this man for the critical occasions of the republic, and to excite others by his example to the pursuit of honour and virtue? 43Recollect what lieutenants Lucius Julius, and Publius Rutilius, and Lucius Cato, and Cnaeus Pompeius have lately had in war. You will see that at that time there existed also Marcus Cornutus, Lucius Cinna, and Lucius Sulla, men of praetorian rank, and of the greatest skill in war; and, besides them, Caius Marius, Publius Didius, Quintus Catulus, and Publius Crassus, men not learned in the science of war through books, but accomplished and renowned by their achievements and their victories. Come now, cast your eyes over the senate house, look thoroughly into every part of the republic; do you see no possible event in which you may require men like those? or, if any such event should arise, do you think that the Roman people is at this moment rich in such men? And if you carefully consider all these circumstances, you will rather, O judges, retain at home, for yourselves and for your children, a man energetic in undertaking the toils of war, gallant in encountering its dangers, skillful in its practice and its discipline, prudent in his designs, fortunate and successful in their accomplishment, than deliver him over to nations most hostile to the Roman people, and most cruel, by condemning him.


44But the Gauls are attacking Fonteius with hostile standards as it were; they pursue him, and press upon him with the most extreme eagerness, with the most extreme audacity. I see it. But we, O judges, you being our helpers, with many and strong defences, will resist that savage and intolerable band of barbarians. Our first bulwark against their attacks is Macedonia, a province loyal and well affected to the Roman people, which says, that itself and its cities were preserved, not only by the wisdom, but even by the hand of Fonteius, and which now repels the attacks and dangers of the Gauls from his head, as it was defended itself from the invasion and desolation of the Thracians. 45On the opposite side stands the further Spain, which is able in this case not only to withstand the eagerness of the accusers by its own honest disposition, but which can even refute the perjuries of wicked men by its testimonies and by its panegyrics. And even from Gaul itself most faithful and most important assistance is derived. As an assistance to this unhappy and innocent man, the city of the Massilians has come forward, which is labouring now, not only in order to appear to requite with proper gratitude the exertions of the man by whom it has been preserved, but which also believes that it has been placed in those districts for that very object, and with that express destiny, to prevent those nations from being able to injure our countrymen. 46The colony of Narbonne fights equally on behalf of the safety of Marcus Fonteius, which, having been lately delivered from the blockade of the enemy by this man, is now moved at his misery and danger. Lastly, as is right in a Gallic war—as the principles and customs of our ancestors enjoin—there is not one Roman citizen who thinks he requires any excuse for being eager in this man's behalf. All the publicans of that province, all the farmers, all the graziers, all the traders, with one heart and one voice, defended Marcus Fonteius.


But if Induciomarus himself, the leader of the Allobroges, and of all the rest of the Gauls, despise such powerful aid as this which we have, shall he still tear and drag away this man from the embrace of his mother, a most admirable and most miserable woman, and that, too, while you are looking on? especially when a vestal virgin on the other side is folding her own brother in her embraces, and imploring, O judges, your good faith, and that of the Roman people; she who has been, on behalf of you and of your children, occupied for so many years in propitiating the immortal gods, in order now to be able to propitiate you when supplicating for her own safety and that of her brother. 47What protection, what comfort, will that unhappy maiden have left, if she loses this her brother? For other women can bring forth protectors for themselves—can have in their homes a companion and a partner in all their fortunes; but to this maiden, what is there that can be agreeable or dear, except her brother? Do not, O judges, allow the altars of the immortal gods, and of our mother Vesta, to be reminded of your tribunal by the daily lamentations of a holy virgin. Beware lest that eternal flame, which is now preserved by the nightly toils and vigils of Fonteia, should be said to have been extinguished by the tears of your priestess. 48A vestal virgin is stretching out towards you her suppliant hands, those same hands which she is accustomed to stretch out, on your behalf, to the immortal gods. Consider how dangerous, how arrogant a deed it would be for you to reject her entreaties, when, if the immortal gods were to despise her prayers, all these things which we see around us could not be preserved. Do not you see, O judges, that all of a sudden, Marcus Fonteius himself, brave as he is, is moved to shed tears at the mention of his parent and his sister?—he who never has known fear in battle, he who in arms has often thrown himself on the ranks and numbers of the enemy, thinking, while he was facing such dangers, that he left behind him the same consolation to his relatives that his own father had left to him; yet now, for all that, is agitated and alarmed, lest he should not only cease to be an ornament and an assistant to his family, but lest he should even leave them eternal disgrace and ignominy, together with the bitterest grief. 49Oh how unequal is thy fortune, O Marcus Fonteius! If you could have chosen, how much would you have preferred perishing by the weapons of the Gauls rather than by their perjuries! For then virtue would have been the companion of your life, glory your comrade in death; but now, what agony is it for you to endure the sufferings caused by their power and victory over you, at their pleasure, who have before now been either conquered by your arms, or forced to submit against their will to your authority. From this danger, O judges, defend a brave and innocent citizen: take care to be seen to place more confidence in our own witnesses than in foreigners; to have more regard for the: safety of our citizens than for the pleasure of our enemies; to think the entreaties of her who presides over your sacrifices of more importance than the audacity of those men who have waged war against the sacrifices and temples of all nations. Lastly, take care, O judges, (the dignity of the Roman people is especially concerned in this,) to show that the prayers of a vestal virgin have more influence over you than the threats of Gaul.


  1. There were several sorts of triumviri who were concerned in the pecuniary affairs of the state: the triumviri mensarii, who were a sort of bankers, but who seem to have been permanently employed by the state, in whose hands we read, that not only the aerarium, but also private individuals deposited sums of money which they had to dispose of. (Vide Smith, Dict. Ant. p. 613, v. Mensarii;) the triumviri monetales, who had the whole superintendence of the mint, and of the money that was coined in it; and the triumviri capitales who, among their other duties, enforced the payment of fines due to the state, and the triumviri sacris conquirendis donisque persequendis, who seem to have had to take care that all property given or consecrated to the gods was applied to that purpose, and who must therefore have been responsible for its application. Vide Smith, Dict. Ant p. 1009, v. Triumviri.
  2. The passages preceding this figure do not occur in old editions; they were found in the Vatican by Niebuhr, and published by him in 1820. They are still in a very corrupt state. The Roman figures at the heads of the subsequent chapters are those which occur in all older editions, in which the oration began here.
  3. Narbo Martius is the present town of Narbonne.
  4. The amphora contained nearly six gallons, a denarius, as has been said before, was about eight pence-halfpenny; so that this duty was, as nearly as may be, one and eightpence a gallon. A victoriatus was half a denarius.
  5. The whole of this passage is very corrupt; the last line or two so hopelessly so, and so unintelligible, that perhaps it would have been better to have marked them with asterisks instead of attempting to translate them.