On running for the Consulship

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On running for the Consulship
by Quintus Tullius Cicero

Written to his brother Marcus, who was elected consul in 64 BC; translated by Evelyn Shuckburgh

Table of contents


Although you have all the accomplishments within the reach of human genius, experience, or acuteness, yet I thought it only consistent with my affection to set down in writing what occurred to my mind while thinking, as I do, day and night on your canvass, not with the expectation that you would learn anything new from it, but that the considerations on a subject, which appeared to be disconnected and without system, might be brought under one view by a logical arrangement.

Consider what the state is: what it is you seek: who you are that seek it. Almost every day as you go down to the forum you should say to yourself, "I am a novus homo," "I am a candidate for the consulship," "This is Rome." For the "newness" of your name you will best compensate by the brilliancy of your oratory. That has ever carried with it very great political distinction. A man who is held worthy of defending consulars cannot be thought unworthy of the consulship. Wherefore, since your reputation in this is your starting-point, since whatever you are, you are from this, approach each individual case with the persuasion that on it depends as a whole your entire reputation. See that those aids to natural ability, which I know are your special gifts, are ready for use and always available; and remember what Demetrius wrote about the hard work and practice of Demosthenes; and, finally, take care that both the number and rank of your friends are unmistakable. For you have such as few novi homines have had—all the publicani, nearly the whole equestrian order, many municipal towns specially devoted to you, many persons who have been defended by you, men of every order, many collegia, and, besides these, a large number of the rising generation who have become attached to you in their enthusiasm for rhetoric, and, finally, your friends who visit you daily in large numbers and with such constant regularity. See that you retain these advantages by reminding these persons, by appealing to them, and by using every means to make them understand that this, and this only, is the time for those who are in your debt to shew their gratitude, and for those who wish for your services in the future to place you under an obligation. It also seems possible that a "new man" may be much assisted by the fact that he has the good wishes of men of high rank, and especially of consulars. It is a point in your favour that you should be thought worthy of this position and rank by the very men to whose position and rank you are wishing to attain. All these men must be canvassed with care, agents must be sent to them, and they must be convinced that we have always been at one with the Optimates in our political sentiments, that we have never been demagogues in the very least : that if we seem ever to have said anything in the spirit of that party, we did so with the view of attracting Cn. Pompeius, that we might have the man of the greatest influence either actively on our side in our canvass, or at least not opposed to us.[1] Furthermore, take pains to get on your side the young men of high rank, or retain the affection of those you already have. They will contribute much to your political position. You have very many; make them feel how much you think depends on them: if you induce those to be positively eager who are merely not disinclined, they will be of very great advantage to you.


It is also a great set-off to your "newness," that the nobles who are your competitors are of a such a kind that no one can venture to say that their nobility ought to stand them in greater stead than your high character. For instance, who could think of P. Galba and L. Cassius, though by birth of the highest rank, as candidates for the consulship? You see, therefore, that there are men of the noblest families, who from defect of ability are not your equals. But, you will say, Catiline and Antonius are formidable. Rather I should say that a man of energy, industry, unimpeachable character, great eloquence, and high popularity with those who are the ultimate judges, should wish for such rivals—both from their boyhood stained with blood and lust, both of ruined fortunes. Of one of them we have seen the property put up for sale, and actually heard him declare on oath that at Rome he could not contend with a Greek or obtain an impartial tribunal.[2] We know that he was ejected from the senate by the judgment of genuine censors: in our praetorship we had him as a competitor, with such men as Sabidius and Panthera to back him, because he had no one else to appear for him at the scrutiny. Yet in this office he bought a mistress from the slave market whom he kept openly at his house. Moreover, in his canvass for the consulship, he has preferred to be robbing all the innkeepers, under the disgraceful pretext of a libera legatio, rather than to be in town and supplicate the Roman people. But the other! Good heavens what is his distinction? Is he of equally noble birth? No. Is he richer? No. In manliness, then? How do you make that out? Why, because while the former fears his own shadow, this man does not even fear the laws!—A man born in the house of a bankrupt father, nurtured in the society of an abandoned sister, grown to manhood amidst the massacre of fellow citizens, whose first entrance to public life was made by the slaughter of Roman knights. For Sulla had specially selected Catiline to command that band of Gauls which we remember, who shore off the heads of the Titinii and Nannii and Tanusii: and while with them he killed with his own hands the best man of the day, his own sister's husband, Quintus Caecilius, who was a Roman eques, a man belonging to no party, always quiet by inclination, and then so from age also.


Why should I speak of him as a candidate for the consulship, who caused M. Marius, a man most beloved by the Roman people, to be beaten with vine-rods in the sight of that Roman people from one end of the City to the other—forced him up to the tomb—rent his frame with every kind of torture, and while he was still alive and breathing, cut off his head with his sword in his right hand, while he held the hairs on the crown of his head with his left, and carried off his head in his own hand with streams of blood flowing through his fingers?[3] A man who afterwards lived with actors and gladiators on such terms that the former ministered to his lust, the latter to his crimes—who never approached a place so sacred or holy as not to leave there, even if no actual crime were committed, some suspicion of dishonour founded on his abandoned character—a man whose closest friends in the senate were the Curii and the Annii, in the auction rooms the Sapalae and Carvilii, in the equestrian order the Pompilii and Vettii—a man of such consummate impudence, such abandoned profligacy, in fine, such cunning and success in lasciviousness, that he corrupted young boys when almost in the bosoms of their parents? Why should I after this mention Africa to you, or the depositions of the witnesses? They are well known—read them again and again yourself. Nevertheless, I think that I should not omit to mention that he left that court in the first place as needy as some of the jurors were before the trial, and in the second place the object of such hatred, that another prosecution against him is called for every day. His position is such that he is more likely to be nervous even if you do nothing, than contemptuous if you start any proceedings.

What much better fortune in your canvass is yours than that which not long ago fell to the lot of another "new man", Gaius Caelius![4] He had two men of the highest rank as competitors, but they were of such a character that their rank was the least of their recommendations—genius of the highest order, supreme modesty, very numerous public services, most excellent methods of conducting a canvass, and diligence in carrying them out. And yet Caelius, though much inferior in birth, and superior in hardly anything, beat one of them. Wherefore, if you do what your natural ability and studies, which you have always pursued, enable you to do, what the exigencies of your present position require, what you are capable of doing and are bound to do, you will not have a difficult struggle with competitors who are by no means so conspicuous for their birth as notorious for their vices. For what citizen can there be found so ill-affected as to wish by one vote to draw two daggers against the Republic?


Having thus set forth what advantages you have and might have to set against your "newness," I think I ought now to say a word on the importance of what you are trying for. You are seeking the consulship, an office of which no one thinks you unworthy, but of which there are many who will be jealous. For, while by birth of equestrian rank,[5] you are seeking the highest rank in the state, and yet one which, though the highest, reflects much greater splendour on a man of courage eloquence and pure life than on others. Don't suppose that those who have already held that office are blind to the political position you will occupy, when once you have obtained the same. I suspect, however, that those who, though born of consular families, have not attained the position of their ancestors will unless they happen to be strongly attached to you feel 'some' jealousy. Even "new men" who have been praetors I think, unless under great obligations to you, will not like to be surpassed by you in official rank. Lastly, in the populace itself, I am sure it will occur to you how many are envious, how many, from the precedents of recent years, are averse to "new men." It must also needs be that some are angry with you in consequence of the causes which you have pleaded. Nay, carefully consider this also, whether, seeing that you have devoted yourself with such fervour to the promotion of Pompey's glory you can suppose certain men to be your friends on that account.[6] Wherefore, seeing that you are seeking the highest place in the state, and at the same time that there do exist sentiments opposed to you, you must positively employ every method and all your vigilance, labour, and attention to business.


Again, the canvass for office resolves itself into an activity of two kinds, of which one is concerned with the loyalty of friends, the other with the feelings of the people. The loyalty of friends must be secured by acts of kindness and attention by length of time, and by an easy and agreeable temper. But this word "friends" has a wider application during a canvass than in other times of our life. For whosoever gives any sign of an inclination to you, or habitually visits at your house must be put down in the category of friends. But yet the most advantageous thing is to be beloved and pleasant in the eyes of those who are friends on the more regular grounds of relationship by blood or marriage, of membership of the same club or of some close tie or other. Farther, you must take great pains that, in proportion as a man is most intimate and most closely connected with your household, he should love you and desire your highest honour—as, for instance, your tribesmen, neighbours, clients, and finally your freedmen and even your slaves for nearly all the talk which forms one's public reputation emanates from domestic sources. In a word, you must secure friends of every class: for show—men conspicuous for their office or name, who, even if they do not give any actual assistance in canvassing, yet add some dignity to the candidate; to maintain your just rights—magistrates, consuls first and then tribunes to secure the votes of the centuries—men of eminent popularity. Those who either have gained or hope to gain the vote of a tribe or century, or any other advantage, through your influence, take all pains to collect and secure. For during recent years men of ambition have exerted themselves with all their might and main to become sure of getting from their tribesmen what they sought. Do you also do your very best, by every means in your power, to make such men attached to you from the bottom of their hearts and with the most complete devotion. If, indeed, men were as grateful as they ought to be, all this should be ready to your hand, as I trust in fact that it is. For within the last two years you have put under an obligation to you four clubs of men who have the very greatest influence in promoting an election, those of C. Fundanius, Q. Gallius, C. Cornelius, C. Orchivius.[7] When they committed the defence of these men to you, I am acquainted with what their clubsmen undertook and promised you to do, for I was present at the interview. Wherefore you must insist at the present juncture on exacting from them your due by reminding them, appealing to them, solemnly assuring them, and taking care that they thoroughly understand that they will never have any other opportunity of shewing their gratitude. I cannot doubt that these men, from hope of your services in the future as well as from the benefits recently received, will be roused to active exertions. And speaking generally, since your candidature is most strongly supported by that class of friendships which you have gained as a counsel for the defence, take care that to all those, whom you have placed under this obligation to you, their duty should in every case be clearly defined and set forth. And as you have never been in any matter importunate with them, so be careful that they understand that you have reserved for this occasion all that you consider them to owe you.


But since men are principally induced to shew goodwill and zeal at the hustings by three considerations—kindness received, hope of more, personal affection and good feeling—we must take notice how best to take advantage of each of these. By very small favours men are induced to think that they have sufficient reason for giving support at the poll, and surely those you have saved (and their number is very large) cannot fail to understand that, if at this supreme crisis they fail to do what you wish, they will never have anyone's confidence. And though this is so, nevertheless they must be appealed to, and must even be led to think it possible that they, who have hitherto been under an obligation to us, may now put us under an obligation to them. Those, again, who are influenced by hope (a class of people much more apt to be scrupulously attentive) you must take care to convince that your assistance is at their service at any moment, and to make them understand that you are carefully watching the manner in which they perform the duties they owe you, and to allow no mistake to exist as to your clearly perceiving and taking note of, the amount of support coming from each one of them. The third class which I mentioned is that of spontaneous and sincere friends, and this class you will have to make more secure by expressions of your gratitude; by making your words tally with the motives which it shall appear to you influenced them in taking up your cause; by shewing that the affection is mutual; and by suggesting that your friendship with them may ripen into intimacy and familiar intercourse. In all these classes alike consider and weigh carefully the amount of influence each possesses, in order to know both the kind of attention to pay to each, and what you are to expect and demand from each. For certain men are popular in their own neighbourhoods and towns; there are others possessed of energy and wealth, who, even if they ,have not heretofore sought such popularity, can yet easily obtain it at the moment for the sake of one to whom they owe or wish to do a favour. Your attention to such classes of men must be such as to shew them that you clearly understand what is to be expected from each, that you appreciate what you are receiving, and remember what you have received. There are, again, others who either have no influence or are positively disliked by their tribesmen, and have neither the spirit nor the ability to exert themselves on the spur of the moment: be sure you distinguish between such men, that you may, not be disappointed in your expectation of support by placing over-much hope on some particular person.


But although you ought to rely on and be fortified by, friendships already gained and firmly secured, yet in the course of the canvass itself very numerous and useful friendships are acquired. For among its annoyances a candidature has this advantage: you can without loss of dignity, as you cannot in other affairs of life, admit whomsoever you choose to your friendship to whom if you were at any other time to offer your society, you would be thought guilty of an eccentricity; whereas during a canvass, if you don't do so with many, and take pains about it besides, you would be thought to be no use as a candidate at all. Moreover, I can assure you of this, that there is no one unless he happens to be bound by some special tie to some one of your rivals, whom you could not induce, if you took pains, to earn your affection by his good services, and to seize the opportunity of putting you under an obligation—let him but fully understand that you value him highly, that you really mean what you say, that he is making a good investment, and that there will accrue from it not only a brief and electioneering friendship, but a firm and lasting one. There will be no one, believe me, if he has anything in him at all, who will let slip this opportunity offered of establishing a friendship with you, especially when by good luck you have competitors whose friendship is one to be neglected or avoided, and who not only are unable to secure what I am urging you to secure, but cannot even make the first step towards it. For how should Antonius make the first step towards attaching people to himself, when he cannot even call them, unaided, by their proper names? I, for one, think that there can be no greater folly than to imagine a man solicitous to serve you whom you don't know by sight. Extraordinary indeed must be the fame, the political position and extent of the public services of that man whom entire strangers, without supporters to back him, would elect to office. That a man without principle or energy, without doing any good service, and without ability, lying under a cloud of discredit, and without friends, should beat a man fortified with the devotion of a numerous circle and by the good opinion of all, cannot possibly occur except from gross negligence.


Wherefore see that you have the votes of all the centuries secured to you by the number and variety of your friends. The first and most obvious thing is that you should embrace the Roman senators and knights, and the active and popular men of all the other orders. There are many city men of good business habits, there are many freedmen engaged in the forum who are popular and energetic: these men try with all your might both personally and by common friends, as far as you can, to make eager in your behalf; seek them out, send agents to them, shew them that they are putting you under the greatest obligation. After that review the entire city, all colleges, districts, neighbourhoods. If you attach to yourself the leading men of these, you will by their means easily keep a hold upon the multitude. When you have done that, take care to have in your mind a chart of all Italy laid out according to the tribe of each town, and learn it by heart, so that you may not allow any municipium, colony, prefecture, or, in a word, any spot in Italy to exist, in which you have not a sufficient foothold. Inquire also for and trace out individuals in every region, inform yourself about them, seek them out, strengthen their resolution, secure that in their own neighbourhoods they shall canvass for you, and be as it were candidates in your interest. They will wish for you as a friend, if they once see that their friendship is an object with you. Make sure that they do understand this by directing your speech specially to this point. Men of country towns, or from the country, think themselves in the position of friends if we of the city know them by name: if, however, they think that they are besides securing some protection for themselves, they do not let slip the opportunity of being obliging. Of such people others in town, and above all your rivals, don't so much as know the existence : you know about them and will easily recognize them, without which friendship is impossible. Nor is such recognition enough (though it is a great thing) unless some hope of material advantage and active friendship follows, for your object is not to be looked upon as a mere "nomenclator," but as a sincere friend also. So when you have both got the favour of these same men in the centuries, who from the means they have taken to secure their personal objects enjoy most popularity among their fellow tribesmen; and have made those all desirous of your success who have influence in any section of their tribe, owing to considerations attaching to their municipality or neighbourhood or college, then you may allow yourself to entertain the highest hopes.

Again, the centuries of the knights appear to me capable of being won over, if you are careful, with considerably more ease. Let your first care be to acquaint yourself with the knights; for they are comparatively few: then make advances to them, for it is much easier to gain the friendship of young men at their time of life. Then again, you have on your side the best of the rising generation, and the most devoted to learning. Moreover, as the equestrian order is yours, they will follow the example of that order, if only you take the trouble to confirm the support of those centuries, not only by the general good affection of the order, but also by the friendships of individuals. Finally, the hearty zeal of the young in canvassing for votes, appearing at various places, bringing intelligence, and being in attendance on you in public are surprisingly important as well as creditable.


And since I have mentioned "attendance," I may add that you should be careful to see large companies every day of every class and order; for from the mere number of these a guess may well be made as to the amount of support you are likely to have in the campus itself. Such visitors are of three kinds: one consists of morning callers who come to your house, a second of those who escort you to the forum, a third of those who attend you on your canvass. In the case of the morning callers, who are less select and, according to the prevailing fashion, come in greater numbers, you must contrive to make them think that you value even this slight attention very highly. Let those who shall come to your house see that you notice it; shew your gratification to such of their friends as will repeat it to them; frequently mention it to the persons themselves. It often happens that people, when they visit a number of candidates, and observe that there is one who above the rest notices these attentions, devote themselves to him; leave off visiting the others; little by little become devoted to one instead of being neutral, and from sham turn out real supporters. Furthermore, carefully remember this, if you have been told or have discovered that a man who has given you his promise is "dressing for the occasion," as the phrase goes, make as though you had neither heard it nor knew it; if any offers to clear himself to you, because he thinks himself suspected, assert roundly that you have never doubted his sincerity and have no right to doubt it. For the man who thinks that he is not giving satisfaction can never be a friend. You ought, however, to know each man's real feeling, in order to settle how much confidence to place in him.

Secondly, of those who escort you to the forum: since this is a greater attention than a morning call, indicate and make clear that it is still more gratifying to you, and as far as it shall lie in your power go down to the forum at fixed times. The daily escort by its numbers produces a great impression and confers great personal distinction. The third class is that of numbers perpetually attending you on your canvass. See that those who do so spontaneously understand that you regard yourself as for ever obliged by their extreme kindness: from those, on the other hand, who owe you this attention, frankly demand that, as far as their age and business allow, they should constantly be in personal attendance, and that those who are unable to accompany you in person should find relations to take their place in performing this duty. I am very anxious, and think it extremely important, that you should always be surrounded by large numbers. Besides, it confers a great reputation and great distinction to be accompanied by those who by your exertions have been defended, preserved, and acquitted in the law courts. Put this demand fairly before them, that, since by your means and without any payment some have retained their property, others their honour, others their civil existence and entire fortunes, and since there will never be any other time at which they can shew their gratitude, they should remunerate you by this service.


And since the point now in discussion is entirely a question of the loyalty of friends, I must not, I think, pass over one caution. Deception, intrigue, and treachery are everywhere. This is not the time for a formal disquisition on the indications by which a true friend may be distinguished from a false: all that is in place now is to give you a hint. Your exalted character has compelled many to pretend to be your friends while really jealous of you. Wherefore remember the saying of Epicharmus, "the muscle and bone of wisdom is to believe nothing rashly." Again, when you have got the feelings of your friends in a sound state, you must then acquaint yourself with the attitude and varieties of your detractors and opponents. There are three: first, those whom you have attacked; second, those who dislike you without definite reason; third, those who are warm friends of your competitors. As to those attacked by you while pleading a friend's cause against them, frankly excuse yourself; remind them of the ties constraining you; give them reason to hope that you will act with equal zeal and loyalty in their cases, if they become your friends. As for those who dislike you without reason, do your best to remove that prejudice either by some actual service, or by holding out hopes of it, or by indicating your kindly feeling towards them. As for those whose wishes are against you owing to friendship for your competitors, gratify them also by the same means as the former, and, if you can get them to believe it, shew that you are kindly disposed to the very men who are standing against you.


Having said enough about securing friendships, I must now speak on another department of a candidate's task, which is concerned with the conciliation of the people. This demands a knack of remembering names, insinuating manners, constant attendance, liberality, the power of setting a report afloat and creating a hopeful feeling in the state. First of all, make the faculty you possess of recognizing people conspicuous, and go on increasing and improving it every day. I don't think there is anything so popular or so conciliatory. Next, if nature has denied you some quality, resolve to assume it, so as to appear to be acting naturally. Although nature has great force, yet in a business lasting only a few months it seems probable that the artificial may be the more effective. For though you are not lacking in the courtesy which good and polite men should have, yet there is great need of a flattering manner which, however faulty and discreditable in other transactions of life, is yet necessary during a candidateship. For when it makes a man worse by truckling, it is wrong; but when only more friendly, it does not deserve so harsh a term; while it is absolutely necessary to a candidate, whose face and expression and style of conversation have to be varied and accommodated to the feelings and tastes of everyone he meets. As for "constant attendance," there is no need of laying down any rule, the phrase speaks for itself. It is, of course, of very great consequence not to go away anywhere; but the real advantage of such constant attendance is not only the being at Rome and in the forum, but the pushing one's canvass assiduously, the addressing oneself again and again to the same persons, the making it impossible (as far as your power goes) for anyone to say that he has not been asked by you, and earnestly and carefully asked. Liberality is, again, of wide application; it is shewn in regard to the management of your private property, which, even if it does not actually reach the multitude, yet, if spoken of with praise by friends, earns the favour of the multitude. It may also be displayed in banquets, which you must take care to attend yourself and to cause your friends to attend, whether open ones or those confined to particular tribes. It may, again, be displayed in giving practical assistance, which I would have you render available far and wide: and be careful therein to be accessible to all by day and night, and not only by the doors of your house, but by your face and countenance, which is the door of the mind for, if that shews your feelings to be those of reserve and concealment, it is of little good to have your house doors open. For men desire not only to have promises made them, especially in their applications to a candidate, but to have them made in a liberal and complimentary manner. Accordingly, it is an easy rule to make, that you should indicate that whatever you are going to do you will do with heartiness and pleasure; it is somewhat more difficult, and rather a concession to the necessities of the moment than to your inclination, that when you cannot do a thing you should [either promise] or put your refusal pleasantly: the latter is the conduct of a good man, the former of a good candidate. For when a request is made which we cannot grant with honour or without loss to ourselves, for instance, if a man were to ask us to appear in a suit against a friend, a refusal must be given in a gentlemanly way: you must point out to him that your hands are tied, must shew that you are exceedingly sorry, must convince him that you will make up for it in other ways.


I have heard a man say about certain orators, to whom he had offered his case, "that he had been better pleased with the words of the one who declined, than of the one who accepted." So true it is that men are more taken by look and words than by actual services. [This latter course, however, you will readily approve: the former it is somewhat difficult to recommend to a Platonist like you, but yet I will have regard for your present circumstances.] For even those to whom you are forced by any other tie to refuse your advocacy may yet quit you mollified and with friendly feelings. But those to whom you only excuse a refusal by saying that you are hindered by the affairs of closer friends, or by cases more important or previously undertaken, quit you with hostile feelings, and are one and all disposed to prefer an insincere promise to a direct negative from you. C. Cotta, a master in the art of electioneering, used to say that, "so long as the request was not directly contrary to moral duty, he used to promise his assistance to all to bestow it on those with whom he thought it would be most advantageously invested: he did not refuse anyone, because something often turned up to prevent the person whom he promised from availing himself of it, and it often also occurred that he himself was less engaged than he had thought at the time nor could anyone's house be full of suitors who only undertook what he saw his way to perform: by some accident or other the unexpected often happens, while business, which you have believed to be actually in hand, from some cause or other does not come off: moreover, the worst that can happen is that the man to whom you have made a false promise is angry." This last risk, supposing you to make the promise, is uncertain, is prospective, and only affects a few; but, if you refuse, the offence given is certain, immediate, and more widely diffused. For many more ask to be allowed to avail themselves of the help of another than actually do so. Wherefore it is better that some of them should at times be angry with you in the forum than all of them perpetually at your own house: especially as they are more inclined to be angry with those who refuse, than with a man whom they perceive to be prevented by so grave a cause as to be compatible with the desire to fulfil his promise if he possibly could. But that I may not appear to have abandoned my own classification, since the department of a candidate's work on which I am now dilating is that which refers to the populace, I insist on this, that all these observations have reference not so much to the feelings of friends as to popular rumour. Though there is something in what I say which comes under the former head—such as answering with kindness, and giving zealous assistance in the business and the dangers of friends—yet in this part of my argument I am speaking of the things which enable you to win over the populace: for instance, the having your house full of visitors before daybreak, the securing the affection of many by giving them hope of your support, the contriving that men should leave you with more friendly feelings than they came, the filling the ears of as many as possible with the most telling words.


For my next theme must be popular report, to which very great attention must be paid. But what I have said throughout the foregoing discourse applies also to the diffusion of a favourable report: the reputation for eloquence; the favour of the publicani and equestrian order; the goodwill of men of rank; the crowd of young men; the constant attendance of those whom you have defended; the number of those from municipal towns who have notoriously come to Rome on your account the observations which men make in your favour—that you recognize them, address them politely, are assiduous and earnest in canvassing; that they speak and think of you as kind and liberal; the having your house full of callers long before daybreak; the presence of large numbers of every class; that your look and speech give satisfaction to all, your acts and deeds to many; that everything is done which can be done by hard work, skill, and attention, not to cause the fame arising from all these displays of feeling to reach the people, but to bring the people itself to share them. You have already won the city populace and the affections of those who control the public meetings by your panegyric of Pompey, by undertaking the cause of Manilius, by your defence of Cornelius.[8] We must not let those advantages be forgotten, which hitherto no one has had without possessing at the same time the favour of the great. We must also take care that everyone knows that Cn. Pompeius is strongly in your favour, and that it emphatically suits his purpose that you should win your election. Lastly, take care that your whole candidature is full of éclat, brilliant, splendid, suited to the popular taste, presenting a spectacle of the utmost dignity and magnificence. See also, if possible, that some new scandal is started against your competitors for crime or looseness of life or corruption, such as is in harmony with their characters.

Above all in this election you must see that the Republic entertains a good hope and an honourable opinion of you. And yet you must not enter upon political measures in senate-house and public meeting while a candidate: you must hold such things in abeyance, in order that from your lifelong conduct the senate may judge you likely to be the supporter of their authority; the Roman knights, along with the loyalists and wealthy, judge you from your past to be eager for peace and quiet times; and the people think of you as not likely to be hostile to their interests from the fact that in your style of speaking in public meetings, and in your declared convictions, you have been on the popular side.


This is what occurred to me to say on the subject of these two morning reflexions, which I said you ought to turn over in your mind every day as you went down to the forum: "I am a novus homo," "I am a candidate for the consulship." There remains the third, "This is Rome," a city made up of a combination of nations, in which many snares, much deception, many vices enter into every department of life: in which you have to put up with the arrogant pretensions, the wrong-headedness, the ill-will, the hauteur, the disagreeable temper and offensive manners of many. I well understand that it requires great prudence and skill for a man, living among social vices of every sort, so many and so serious, to avoid giving offence, causing scandal, or falling into traps, and in his single person to adapt himself to such a vast variety of character, speech, and feeling. Wherefore, I say again and again, go on persistently in the path you have begun: put yourself above rivalry in eloquence; it is by this that people at Rome are charmed and attracted, as well as deterred from obstructing a man's career or inflicting an injury upon him. And since the chief plague spot of our state is that it allows the prospect of a bribe to blind it to virtue and worth, be sure that you are fully aware of your own strength, that is, understand that you are the man capable of producing in the minds of your rivals the strongest fear of legal proceeding and legal peril. Let them know that they are watched and scrutinized by you: they will be in terror of your energy, as well as of your influence and power of speech, and above all of the affection of the equestrian order towards you. But though I wish you to hold out this before them, I do not wish you to make it appear that you are already meditating an action, but to use this terror so as to facilitate the gaining of your object: and, in a word, in this contest strain every nerve and use every faculty in such a way as to secure what we seek. I notice that there are no elections so deeply tainted with corruption, but that some centuries return men closely connected with them without receiving money. Therefore, if we are as vigilant as the greatness of our object demands, and rouse our well-wishers to put forth all their energies; and if we allot to men of influence and zeal in our service their several tasks; if we put before our rivals the threat of legal proceedings; if we inspire their agents with fear, and by some means check the distributors, it is possible to secure either that there shall be no bribery or that it shall be ineffectual.

These are the points that I thought, not that I knew better than you, but that I could more easily than you—in the pressing state of your present engagements—collect together and send you written out. And although they are written in such terms as not to apply to all candidates for office, but to your special case and to your particular election, yet I should be glad if you would tell me of anything that should be corrected or entirely struck out, or that has been omitted. For I wish this little essay "on the duties of a candidate" to be regarded as complete in every respect.


  1. It is to be observed that at this time Pompey is reckoned as inclined to the populares. His legislation in B.C. 70 had been somewhat in their favour; but he had not, as a fact, ever declared himself either way.
  2. C. Antonius, impeached by Caesar for plundering Macedonia, appellavit tribunos iuravitque se forum eiurare, quod aequo jure uti non posset (Ascon. 84). His offences in Macedonia, where be had been left by Sulla, were in B.C. 83-80; his impeachment, B.C. 76; his expulsion from the senate, B.C. 70.
  3. M. Marius Gratidianus (Ascon. 84). These denunciations of Antonius and Catiline seem to be taken from the oration in toga candida.
  4. Caelius, consul B.C. 94 with Cn. Domitius Ahenobarbus.
  5. Cicero, of course, was now a senator, but he was the first of his family who had been so. The others who came forward for the consulship were two patricians, P. Sulpicius Galba, L. Sergius Catilina; four plebeians. C. Antonius, L. Cassius Longinus, whom Asconius calls nobiles, i.e., members of families who had held curule office; and Q. Cornificius and C. Licinius Sacerdos, whose families had only recently risen to this position, tantum non primi ex familiis suis magistratum adepti erant (Asc.).
  6. He hints, I think, at Caesar, who supported Antonius and Catiline and also the Luculli, who were opponents of Pompey.
  7. C. Fundanius, defended by Cicero B.C. 66, fr. p.216. Q. Gallius, defended by Cicero on ambitus B.C. 64, fr. p. 217 (Brut. 277). C. Cornelius, quaestor of Pompey, tr. pl. B.C. 67, defended by Cicero B.C. 65 (Ascon. 56ff.). C. Orchivius. Cicero's colleague in praetorship B.C. 66 seq.). We don't know on what charge Cicero defended him. The passage in pro Cluent. 147, does not mean that he was accused of peculatus, but that he presided over trials of peculatus as praetor.
  8. Manilius, tr. pl. B.C. 66, proposed the law for appointing Pompey to supersede Lucullus in the East. After his year of office he was accused of majestas, and later on of repetundae, but apparently neither case came on. C. Cornelius, tr. pl. B.C. 57, was accused of majestas in B.C. 55, and defended by Cicero. He had become alienated from the senate by its opposition to his legislation against usury in the provinces, and the case made a great sensation.