For Marcus Fonteius

Cicero

The orations of Marcus Tullius Cicero Vol 2 Three orations on the Agrarian law, the four against Catiline, the orations for Rabirius, Murena, Sulla, Archias, Flaccus, Scaurus, etc, Cicero, Marcus Tullius, creator; Yonge, Charles Duke, 1812-1891, translator

--- 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?

what 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---

---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---

Oh, 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?

Of two magistracies, each of which is occupied in handling and dealing with large sums of money, the triumvirate [*](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.) 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.

The 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---

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

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

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

---

---that in the time of this praetor Gaul[*](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.) 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.

See 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.

There is in the same province Narbo Martius, [*](Narbo Martius is the present town of Narbonne.) 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.

The 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.

What 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.

What, 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.

Will 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.

What 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.]

I 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 [*](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.) 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. [*](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.)

I 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.]