Divinatio against Q. Caecilius


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

And just think how great is the difference between my opinion and yours. You, though you are in every respect inferior to me, still think that you ought to be preferred to me for this one reason, because you were his quaestor. I think, that if you were my superior in every other qualification, still that for this one cause alone you ought to be rejected as the prosecutor. For this is the principle which has been handed down to us from our ancestors, that a praetor ought to be in the place of a parent to his quaestor; that no more reasonable nor more important cause of intimate friendship can be imagined than a connection arising from drawing the same lot, having the same province, and being associated in the discharge of the same public duty and office.

Wherefore, even if you could accuse him without violating strict right, still, as he had been in the place of a parent to you, you could not do so without violating every principle of piety. But as you have not received any injury, and would yet be creating danger for your praetor, you must admit that you are endeavouring to wage an unjust and impious war against him. In truth, your quaestorship is an argument of so strong a nature, that you would have to take a great deal of pains to find an excuse for accusing him to whom you had acted as quaestor, and can never be a reason why you should claim on that account to have the office of prosecuting him entrusted to you above all men. Nor indeed, did any one who had acted as quaestor to another, ever contest the point of being allowed to accuse him without being rejected.

And therefore, neither was permission given to Lucius Philo to bring forward an accusation against Caius Servilius, nor to Marcus Aurelius Scaurus to prosecute Lucius Flaccus, nor to Cnaeus Pompeius to accuse Titus Albucius; not one of whom was refused this, permission because of any personal unworthiness, but in order that the desire to violate such an intimate connection might not be sanctioned by the authority of the judges. And that great man Cnaeus Pompeius contended about that matter with Caius Julius, just as you are contending with me. For he had been the quaestor of Albucius, just as you were of Verres: Julius had on his side this reason for conducting the prosecution, that, just as we have now been entreated by the Sicilians, so he had then been entreated by the Sardinians, to espouse their cause. And this argument has always had the greatest influence; this has always been the most honourable cause for acting as accuser, that by so doing one is bringing enmity on oneself in behalf of allies, for the sake of the safety of a province, for the advantage of foreign nations—that one is for their sakes incurring danger, and spending much care and anxiety and labour.

Even if the cause of those men who wish to revenge their own injuries be ever so strong, in which matter they are only obeying their own feelings of indignation, not consulting the advantage of the republic: how much more honourable is that cause, which is not only reasonable, but which ought to be acceptable to all,—that a man, without having received any private injury to himself, should be influenced by the sufferings and injuries of the allies and friends of the Roman people! When lately that most brave and upright man Lucius Piso demanded to be allowed to prefer an accusation against Publius Gabinius, and when Quintus Caecilius claimed the same permission in opposition to Piso, and said that in so doing he was following up an old quarrel which he had long had with Gabinius; it was not only the authority and dignity of Piso which had great weight, but also the superior justice of his cause, because the Achaeans had adopted him as their patron.

In truth, when the very law itself about extortion is the protectress of the allies and friends of the Roman people, it is an iniquitous thing that he should not, above all others, he thought the fittest advocate of the law and conductor of the trial, whom the allies wish, above all men, to be the pleader of their cause, and the defender of their fortunes. Or ought not that which is the more honourable to mention, to appear also far the most reasonable to approve of? Which then is the more splendid, which is the more honourable allegation—“I have prosecuted this man to whom I had acted as quaestor, with whom the lot cast for the provinces, and the custom of our ancestors, and the judgment of gods and men had connected me,” or, “I have prosecuted this man at the request of the allies and friends of the Roman people, I have been selected by the whole province to defend its rights and fortunes?” Can any one doubt that it is more honourable to act as prosecutor in behalf of those men among whom you have been quaestor, than as prosecutor of him whose quaestor you have been?

The most illustrious men of our state, in the best of times, used to think this most honourable and glorious for them to ward off injuries from their hereditary friends, and from their clients, and from foreign nations which were either friends or subjects of the Roman people, and to defend their fortunes. We learn from tradition that Marcus Cato, that wise man, that most illustrious and most prudent man, brought upon himself great enmity from many men, on account of the injuries of the Spaniards among whom he had been when consul.

We know that lately Cnaeus Domitius prosecuted Marcus Silanus on account of the injuries of one man, Egritomarus, his father's friend and comrade. Nor indeed has anything ever had more influence over the minds of guilty men than this principle of our ancestors, now re-adopted and brought back among us after a long interval, namely, that the complaints of the allies should be brought to a man who is not very inactive, and their advocacy undertaken by him who appeared able to defend their fortunes with integrity and diligence.

Men are afraid of this; they endeavour to prevent this; they are disquieted at such a principle having ever been adopted, and after it has been adopted at its now being resuscitated and brought into play again. They think that, if this custom begins gradually to creep on and advance, the laws will be put in execution, and actions will be conducted by honourable and fearless men, and not by unskillful youths, or informers of this sort.

Of which custom and principle our fathers and ancestors did not repent when Publius Lentulus, he who was chief of the Senate, prosecuted Marcus Aquillius, having Caius Rutilius Rufus backing the accusation; or when Publius Africanus, a man most eminent for valour, for good fortune, for renown, and for exploits, after he had been twice consul and had been censor brought Lucius Cotta to trial Then the name of the Roman people was rightly held in high honour; rightly was the authority of this empire and the majesty of the state considered illustrious. Nobody marveled in the case of that great man Africanus, as they now pretend to marvel with respect to me, a man endowed with but moderate influence and moderate talents, just because they are annoyed at me;

“What can he be meaning? does he want to be considered a prosecutor who hitherto has been accustomed to defend people? and especially now at the age when he is seeking the aedileship?” But I think it becomes not my age only, but even a much greater age, and I think it an action consistent with the highest dignity to accuse the wicked, and to defend the miserable and distressed. And in truth, either this is a remedy for a republic diseased and in an almost desperate condition, and for tribunals corrupted and contaminated by the vices and baseness of a few, for men of the greatest possible honour and uprightness and modesty to undertake to uphold the stability of the laws, and the authority of the courts of justice; or else, if this is of no advantage, no medicine whatever will ever be found for such terrible and numerous evils as these.

There is no greater safety for a republic, than for those who accuse another to be no less alarmed for their own credit, and honour, and reputation, than they who are accused are for their lives and fortunes. And therefore, those men have always conducted prosecutions with the greatest care and with the greatest pains, who have considered that they themselves had their reputations at stake. You, therefore, O judges ought to come to this decision, that Quintus Caecilius of whom no one has ever had any opinion, and from whom even in this very trial nothing could be expected—who takes no trouble either to preserve a reputation previously acquired, or to give grounds for hope of himself in future times—will not be likely to conduct this cause with too much severity, with too much accuracy, or with too much diligence. For he has nothing which he can lose by disappointing public expectation; even if he were to come off ever so shamefully, or ever so infamously, he will lose no credit which he at present enjoys.

From us the Roman people has many hostages which we must labour with all our might and by every possible means to preserve uninjured, to defend, to keep in safety, and to redeem; it has honour which we are desirous of; it has hope, which we constantly keep before our eyes; it has reputation, acquired with much sweat and labour day and night; so that if we prove our duty and industry in this cause, we may be able to preserve all those things which I have mentioned safe and unimpaired by the favour of the Roman people; but if we trip and stumble ever so little, we may at one moment lose the whole of those things which have been collected one by one and by slow degrees.

On which account it is your business, O judges, to select him who you think can most easily sustain this great cause and trial with integrity, with diligence, with wisdom, and with authority. If you prefer Quintus Caecilius to me, I shall not think that I am surpassed in dignity; but take you care that the Roman people do not think that a prosecution as honest, as severe, as diligent as this would have been in my hands, was neither pleasing to yourselves nor to your body.