Pro Marcello

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Pro Marcello by Marcus Tullius Cicero, translated by Charles Duke Yonge


THIS day, O conscript fathers, has brought with it an end to the long silence in which I have of late indulged; not out of any fear, but partly from sorrow, partly from modesty; and at the same time it has revived in me my ancient habit of saying what my wishes and opinions are. For I cannot by any means pass over in silence such great humanity, such unprecedented and unheard-of clemency, such moderation in the exercise of supreme and universal power, such incredible and almost godlike wisdom. For now that Marcus Marcellus, O conscript fathers, has been restored to you and the republic, I think that not only his voice and authority are preserved and restored to you and to the republic, but my own also.

For I was concerned, O conscript fathers, and most exceedingly grieved, when I saw such a man as he is, who had espoused the same cause which I myself had, not enjoying the same good fortune as myself; nor was I able to persuade myself to think it right or fair that I should be going on in my usual routine, while that rival and imitator of my zeal and labors, who had been a companion and comrade of mine throughout, was separated from me. Therefore, you, O Caius Caesar, have reopened to me my former habits of life, which were closed up, and you have raised, as it were, a standard to all these men, as a sort of token to lead them to entertain hopes of the general welfare of the republic. For it was seen by me before in many instances, and especially in my own, and now it is clearly understood by everybody, since you have granted Marcus Marcellus to the Senate and people of Rome, in spite of your recollection of all the injuries you have received at his hands, that you prefer the authority of this order and the dignity of the republic to the indulgence of your own resentment or your own suspicions.

He, indeed, has this day reaped the greatest possible reward for the virtuous tenor of his previous life; in the great unanimity of the Senate in his favor, and also in your own most dignified and important opinion of him. And from this you, in truth, must perceive what great credit there is in conferring a kindness, when there is such glory to be got even by receiving one. And he, too, is fortunate whose safety is now the cause of scarcely less joy to all other men than it will be to himself when he is informed of it. And this honor was deservedly and most rightfully fallen to his lot. For who is superior to him either in nobleness of birth, or in honesty, or in zeal for virtuous studies, or in purity of life, or in any description whatever of excellence?

No one is blessed with such a stream of genius, no one is endowed with such vigor and richness of eloquence, either as a speaker, or as a writer, as to be able, I will not say to extol, but even, O Caius Caesar, plainly to relate all your achievements. Nevertheless, I assert, and with your leave I maintain, that in all of them you never gained greater and truer glory than you have acquired this day. I am accustomed often to keep this idea before my eyes, and often to affirm in frequent conversations, that all the exploits of our own generals, all those of foreign nations and of most powerful states, all the mighty deeds of the most illustrious monarchs, can be compared with yours neither in the magnitude of your wars, nor in the number of your battles, nor in the variety of countries which you have conquered, nor in the rapidity of your conquests, nor in the great difference of character with which your wars have been marked; and that those countries the most remote from each other could not be travelled over more rapidly by anyone in a journey, than they have been visited by your, I will not say, journeys, but victories.

And if I were not to admit, that those actions are so great that scarcely any man's mind or comprehension is capable of doing justice to them, I should be very senseless. But there are other actions greater than those. For some people are in the habit of disparaging military glory, and of denying the whole if it to the generals, and of giving the multitude a share of it also, so that it may not be the peculiar property of the commanders. And, no doubt, in the affairs of war, the valor of the troops, the advantages of situation, the assistance of allies, fleets, and supplies, have great influence; and a most important share in all such transactions, Fortune claims for herself, as of her right; and whatever has been done successfully she considers almost entirely as her own work.

But in this glory, O Caius Caesar, which you have just earned, you have no partner. The whole of this, however great it may be- and surely it is as great as possible- the whole of it, I say, is your own. The centurion can claim for himself no share of that praise, neither can the prefect, nor the battalion, nor the squadron. Nay, even that very mistress of all human affairs, Fortune herself, cannot thrust herself into any participation in that glory; she yields to you; she confesses that it is all your own, your peculiar private desert. For rashness is never united with wisdom, nor is chance ever admitted to regulate affairs conducted with prudence.

Copyright.svg PD-icon.svg This work is a translation and has a separate copyright status to the applicable copyright protections of the original content.

This work was published before January 1, 1926, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.


This work was published before January 1, 1926, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.