Divinatio against Q. Caecilius


Cicero, Marcus Tullius, creator; Yonge, Charles Duke, 1812-1891, translator

Next to him he has, as I think, Allienus; he indeed does belong to the bar, but however, I never took any particular notice of what he could do in speaking; in raising an outcry, indeed, I see that he is very vigorous and practiced. In this man all your hopes are placed; he, if you are appointed prosecutor, will sustain the whole trial. But even he will not put forth his whole strength in speaking, but will consult your credit and reputation; and will abstain from putting forth the whole power of eloquence which he himself possesses, in order that you may still appear of some importance As we see is done by the Greek pleaders; that he to whom the second or third part belongs, though he may be able to speak somewhat better than his leader, often restrains himself a good deal, in order that the chief may appear to the greatest possible advantage, so will Allienus act; he will be subservient to you, he will pander to your interest, he will put forth somewhat less strength than he might.

Now consider this, O judges, what sort of accusers we shall have in this most important trial; when Allienus himself will somewhat abstain from displaying all his abilities, if he has any, and Caecilius will only be able to think himself of any use, because Allienus is not so vigorous as he might be, and voluntarily allows him the chief share in the display. What fourth counsel he is to have with him I do not know, unless it be one of that crowd of losers of time who have entreated to be allowed an inferior part in this prosecution, whoever he might be to whom you gave the lead.

And you are to appear in just this state of preparation, that you have to make friends of those men who are utter strangers to you, for the purpose of obtaining their assistance. But I will not do these men so much honour as to answer what they have said in any regular order, or to give a separate answer to each; but since I have come to mention them not intentionally, but by chance, I will briefly, as I pass, satisfy them all in a few words. Do I seem to you to be in such exceeding want of friends that I must have an assistant given me, chosen not out of the men whom I have brought down to court with me, but out of the people at large? And are you suffering under such a dearth of defendants, that you endeavour to filch this cause from me rather than look for some defendants of your own class at the pillar of Maenius? [*](Maenius had sold his house to Cato and Valerius Flaccus when they were censors, and they had built the Porcian Piazza on the spot, but he had reserved for himself one pillar for him and his heirs to have a view of the gladiatorial contests from it; and near this column the triumviricapitates held their court, before whose tribunal it was chiefly the lower sort of criminals who were brought, and as a general rule the advocates who practised in these courts were of a lower class than those who confined themselves to more respectable clients, and to civil actions.)

Appoint me, says he, to watch Tullius. What? How many watchers shall I have need of, if I once allow you to meddle with my bag? as you will have to be watched not only to prevent your betraying anything, but to prevent your removing anything. But for the whole matter of that watchman I will answer you thus in the briefest manner possible; that these honest judges will never permit any assistant to force himself against my consent into so important a cause, when it has been undertaken by me, and is entrusted to me.

In truth, my integrity rejects an overlooker; my diligence is afraid of a spy. But to return to you, O Caecilius, you see how many qualities are wanting to you; how many belong to you which a guilty defendant would wish to belong to his prosecutor, you are well aware. What can be said to this? For I do not ask what you will say yourself, I see that it is not you who will answer me, but this book which your prompter has in his hand; who, if he be inclined to prompt you rightly, will advise you to depart from this place and not to answer me one word. For what can you say? That which you are constantly repeating, that Verres has done you an injury? I have no doubt he has, for it would not be probable, when he was doing injuries to all the Sicilians, that you alone should be so important in his eyes that he should take care of your interests.

But the rest of the Sicilians have found an avenger of their injuries; you, while you are endeavouring to exact vengeance for your injuries by your own means, (which you will not be able to effect,) are acting in a way to leave the injuries of all the rest unpunished and unavenged. And you do not see that it ought not alone to be considered who is a proper person to exact vengeance, but also who is a person capable of doing so,—that if there be a man in whom both these qualifications exist, he is the best man.

But if a man has only one of them, then the question usually asked is, not what he is inclined to do, but what he is able to do. And if you think that the office of prosecutor ought to be entrusted to him above all other men, to whom Caius Verres has done the greatest injury, which do you think the judges ought to be most indignant at,—at your having been injured by him, or at the whole province of Sicily having been harassed and ruined by him? I think you must grant that this both is the worst thing of the two, and that it ought to be considered the worst by every one. A flow, therefore, that the province ought to be preferred to you as the prosecutor. For the province is prosecuting when he is pleading the cause whom the province has adopted as the defender of her rights, the avenger of her injuries, and the pleader of the whole cause.

Oh, but Caius Verres has done you such an injury as might afflict the minds of all the rest of the Sicilians also, though the grievance was felt only by another. Nothing of the sort. For I think it is material also to this argument to consider what sort of injury is alleged and brought forward as the cause of your enmity. Allow me to relate it. For he indeed, unless he is wholly destitute of sense, will never say what it is. There is a woman of the name of Agonis, a Lilybaean, a freedwoman of Venus Erycina; a woman who before this man was quaestor was notoriously well off and rich. From her some prefect of Antonius's [*](Antonius had been appointed as naval commander-in-chief along the whole coast; in which capacity it was that he made his unauthorized attack on Crete, which gave rise to the war in which the island was reduced by Metellus Creticus.) carried off some musical slaves whom he said he wished to use in his fleet. Then she, as is the custom in Sicily for all the slaves of Venus, and all those who have procured their emancipation from her, in order to hinder the designs of the prefect, by the scruples which the name of Venus would raise, said that she and all her property belonged to Venus.

When this was reported to Caecilius, that most excellent and upright man, he ordered Agonis to be summoned before him; he immediately orders a trial to ascertain “if it appeared that she had said that she and all her property belonged to Venus.” The recuperators [*](“In many cases a single judex was appointed, in others several were appointed, and they seem sometimes to have been called recuperatores, as opposed to the single judex.”—Smith, Dict. Ant. p. 529, v. Judex.) decide all that was necessary, and indeed there was no doubt at all that she had said so. He sends men to take possession of the woman's property. He adjudges her herself to be again a slave of Venus; then he sells her property and confiscates the money. So while Agonis wishes to keep a few slaves under the name and religious protection of Venus, she loses all her fortunes and her own liberty by the wrong doing of that man. After that, Verres comes to Lilybaeum; he takes cognisance of the affair; he disapproves of the act; he compels his quaestor to pay back and restore to its owner all the money which he had confiscated, having been received for the property of Agonis.

He is here, and you may well admire it, no longer Verres, but Quintus Mucius. [*](“Quintus Mucius Scaevola is spoken of here, who in be year A.U.C. 660 was sent as proconsul to Asia, where he governed with such justice and strictness that the senate afterwards by formal decree reminded magistrates about to depart for that province of his example.”—Hottoman.) For what could he do more delicate to obtain a high character among men? what more just to relieve the distress of the women? what more severe to repress the licentiousness of his quaestor? All this appears to me most exceedingly praiseworthy. But at the very next step, in a moment, as if he had drank of some Circaean cup, having been a man, he becomes Verres again; he returns to himself and to his old habits. For of that money he appropriated a great share to himself, and restored to the woman only as much as he chose.

Here now if you say that you were offended with Verres, I will grant you that and allow it; if you complain that he did you any injury, I will defend him and deny it. Secondly, I say that of the injury which was done to you no one of us ought to be a more severe avenger than you yourself, to whom it is said to have been done. If you afterwards became reconciled to him, if you were often at his house, if he after that supped with you, do you prefer to be considered as acting with treachery or by collusion with him? I see that one of these alternatives is inevitable, but in this matter I will have no contention with you to prevent your adopting which you please.

What shall I say if even the pretext of that injury which was done to you by him no longer remains? What have you then to say why you should be preferred, I will not say to me, but to any one? except that which I hear you intend to say, that you were his quaestor: which indeed would be an important allegation if you were contending with me as to which of us ought to be the most friendly to him; but in a contention as to which is to take up a quarrel against him, it is ridiculous to suppose that an intimate connection with him can be a just reason for bringing him into danger.

In truth, if you had received ever so many injuries from your praetor, still you would deserve greater credit by bearing them than by revenging them; but when nothing in his life was ever done more rightly than that which you call an injury, shall these judges determine that this cause, which they would not even tolerate in any one else, shall appear in your case to be a reasonable one to justify the violation of your ancient connection? When even if you had received the greatest injury from him, still, since you have been his quaestor, you cannot accuse him and remain blameless yourself. But if no injury has been done you at all, you cannot accuse him without wickedness; and as it is very uncertain whether any injury has been done you, do you think that there is any one of these men who would not prefer that you should depart without incurring blame rather than after having committed wickedness?