Pro Q. Roscio Comoedo

Cicero, Marcus Tullius

Cicero. The Orations of Marcus Tullius Cicero, Volume 1. Yonge, Charles Duke, translator. London: Bell, 1903.

If you say it was on some other account, what dealings had you ever had with him? None. Had you obtained any verdict against him? No. I am wasting time to no purpose. He never, he says, got a hundred thousand sesterces from Flavius at all, neither on account of Panurgus, nor of any one else. If I prove that, after this recent agreement with Roscius, you did get a hundred thousand sesterces from Flavius, what have you to allege why you should not leave the court defeated with disgrace? By what witness then shall I make this plain?

This affair, as I imagine, came to trial. Certainly. Who was the plaintiff? Fannius. Who the defendant? Flavius. Who was the judge? Cluvius. Of all these men I must produce one as witness who can say that the money was paid. Who of these is the most authoritative witness? Beyond all controversy, he who was approved of as judge by the sentence of every one. Which of the three then will you look to me for as a witness? The plaintiff? That is Fannius; he will never give evidence against himself. The defendant? That is Flavius. He has been dead some time. The judge? That is Cluvius. What does he say? That Flavius did pay a hundred thousand sesterces to Fannius on account of Panurgus. And if you look at the rank of Cluvius, he is a Roman knight; if at his life, he is a most illustrious man; if at your own opinion of him, you chose him as judge; if to his truth, he has said what he both could know, and ought to know.

Deny now, deny, if you can, that credit ought to be given to a Roman knight, to an honest man, to your own judge. He looks round; he fumes; he denies that we are going to recite the testimony of Cluvius. We will recite it; you are mistaken, you are consoling yourself with a slight and empty hope. Recite the testimony of Titus Manilius and Caius Luscius Ocrea, two senators, most accomplished men, who heard it from Cluvius. (The secretary reads the evidence of Manilius and Luscius.) What do you say now—that we are not to believe Luscius and Manilius, or that we are not to believe Cluvius? I will speak more plainly and openly. Did Luscius and Manilius hear nothing from Cluvius about the hundred thousand sesterces? or did Cluvius say what was false to Luscius and Manilius? On this point I am of a calm and easy mind, and I am not particularly anxious as to which way you answer. For the cause of Roscius is fortified by the strongest and most solemn evidence of most excellent men. If you have taken time enough to consider to which you will refuse belief on their oath, answer me.

Do you say that one must not believe Manilius and Luscius? Say it. Dare to say it. Such a saying suits your obstinacy, your arrogance, your whole life. What! Are you waiting till I say presently of Luscius and Manilius that they are as to rank senators; as to age, old; as to their nature, pious and religious; as to their property, rich and wealthy I will not do so; I will not, on pretence of giving these men the credit due to a life passed with the greatest strictness, put myself in so bad a light as to venture to panegyrize men so much older and nobler than myself, whose characters stand in no need of my praise. My youth is in more need of their favourable opinion than their strict old age is of my commendation. But you, O Piso, must deliberate and consider for a long time whether you will rather believe Chaerea, though not on his oath, and in his own cause, or Manilius and Luscius on their oaths, in a cause in which they have no interest.

The remaining alternative is for him to contend that Cluvius told a falsehood to Luscius and Manilius. And, if he does that, how great is his impudence! Will he throw discredit on that man as a witness whom he approved of as a judge? Will he say that you ought not to trust that man whom he has trusted himself? Will he disparage the credit of that man as a witness to the judge, when on account of his opinion of his good faith and scrupulousness as a judge, he brought witnesses before him? When I produce that man as a witness, will he dare to find fault with him, when if I were to bring him as a judge even, he would be bound not to decline him? Oh, but says he, he was not on his oath when he said that to Luscius and Manilius. Would you believe him, if he said it on his oath?

But what is the difference between a perjurer and a liar? He who is in the habit of lying, is in the habit of perjuring himself. The man whom I can induce to tell a lie, I shall easily be able to prevail on to take a false oath. For he who has once departed from truth, is easily led on, with no greater scruples to perjury than to a lie. For who is influenced by just a mention of the gods in the way of deprecating their anger, and not by the influence of conscience? Because the same punishment which is appointed by the immortal gods for a perjurer is appointed also for a liar. For the immortal gods are accustomed to be indignant and angry, not on account of the form of words in which an oath is contained, but on account of the treachery and malice by which a plot is laid to deceive any one.

But I, on the contrary, argue in this way. The authority of Cluvius would be less if be were speaking on his oath, than it is now when he is not speaking on his oath. For then, perhaps, he might seem to bad men over eager in being a witness in a cause in which he had been judge. But now he must appear to all his enemies most upright and most wise, inasmuch as he only tells his intimate friends what he knows.

Say now, if you can, if the business, if the cause permits you to, that Cluvius has spoken falsely. Has Cluvius spoken falsely? Truth itself lays its hand upon me, and compels me to stop, and dwell on this point for a short time. Whence was all this lie drawn, and where was it forged? Roscius, forsooth, is a deep and crafty man. He began to think of this from the first. Since, said he to himself, Fannius claims fifty thousand sesterces from me, I will ask Caius Cluvius, a Roman knight, a most accomplished man, to tell a lie for my sake; to say that a settlement was made which was not made; that a hundred thousand sesterces were given by Flavius to Fannius, which were not given. This is the first idea of a wicked mind, of a miserable disposition, of a man of no sense. What came next?

After he had thoroughly made up his mind, he came to Cluvius. What sort of a man was he? an insignificant man? No, a most influential one. A fickle man? A most consistent one. An intimate friend of his? A perfect stranger. After he had saluted him, he began to ask him, in gentle and elegant language to be sure,—“Tell a lie for my sake, tell some excellent men, your own intimate friends who are here with you, that Flavius settled with Fannius about Panurgus, though in truth he did not; tell them that he paid a hundred thousand sesterces, though in reality he did not pay a penny.” What answer did he give? “Oh, indeed, I will willingly and eagerly tell lies for your sake; and if at any time you wish me to perjure myself in order to make a little profit, know that I am quite ready; you need not have taken so much trouble as to come to me yourself; you could have arranged such a trifle as this by a messenger.”

Oh, the faith of gods and men! Would Roscius ever have asked this of Cluvius, even if he had had a hundred millions of sesterces at stake on the issue of the trial? Or would Cluvius have granted it to Roscius at his request, even if he had been to be a sharer in the whole booty? I scarcely, by the gods, think that you, O Fannius, would dare to make this request to Ballio, or to any one like him; and that you would be able to succeed in a matter not only false, but in its nature incredible. For I say nothing about Roscius and Cluvius being excellent men. I imagine them for this occasion to be worthless.

Roscius, then, suborned Cluvius as a false witness. Why did he do it so late? Why did he do so when the second payment was to be made, not when the first was? for already he had paid fifty thousand sesterce. Secondly; if Cluvius was, by this time, persuaded to tell lies, why did he say that a hundred thousand sesterces had been given to Fannius by Flavius, rather than three hundred thousand; when, according to the mutual agreement, a half-share of it belonged to Roscius. By this time you see, O Caius Piso, that Roscius had made his demand for himself alone, and had made no demand for the partnership. When Saturius perceives that this is proved, he does not dare to resist and struggle against the truth. He finds another subterfuge of dishonesty and treachery in the same track.

“I admit,” says he, “that Roscius demanded his own share from Flavius; I admit that he left Fannius's right to make a similar demand entire and unimpaired; but I contend that what he got for himself became the common property of the partnership” than which nothing more tricky or more scandalous can be said. For I ask whether Roscius had the power to demand his share from the partnership, or not? If he could not, how did he get it? If he could, how was it that he did not demand it for himself? For that which is demanded for one's self, is certainly not exacted for another.

Is it so? If he had made a demand of what belonged to the entire partnership, all would equally have shared what then came in. Now, when he demanded what was a part of his own share, did he not demand for himself alone what he got? What is the difference between him who goes to law for himself, and him who is assigned as agent for another? He who commences an action for himself, makes his demand for himself alone. No one can prefer a claim for another except him who is constituted his agent. Is it not so? If her had been your agent, you would get your own, because he had gained the action. But he preferred this claim in his own name; so what he got he got for himself, and not for you.

But if any one can make a claim on behalf of another, who is not appointed his agent, I ask why then, when Panurgus was slain, and an action was commenced against Fannius on the plea of injury sustained by the loss, you were made the agent of Roscius for that action? especially when, according to what you now say, whatever claim you made for yourself you made for him; whatever recompense you exacted for yourself, would belong to the partnership. But if nothing would have come to Roscius which you had got from Flavius, unless he had appointed you agent for his action, so nothing ought to come to you which Roscius has exacted for his share, since he was not appointed your agent.

For what answer can you make to this case, O Fannius? When Roscius settled with Flavius for his own share, did he leave you your right of action, or not? If he did not leave it you, how was it that you afterwards exacted a hundred thousand sesterces from him? If he did leave it, why do you claim from him what you ought to demand and follow up yourself? For partnership is very like inheritance, and, as it were, its twin sister. As a partner has a share in a partnership, so an heir has a share in an inheritance. As an heir prefers a claim for himself alone, and not for his co-heirs, so a partner prefers a claim for himself alone, and not for his partners. And as each prefers a claim for his own share, so he makes payments for his share alone; the heir, out of the share which he has received of the inheritance the partner, out of that property with which he entered into the partnership.

As Roscius could have executed a release to Flavius in his own name, so as to prevent you from preferring any claim; so, as he only exacted his own share, and left you your right to prefer a claim unimpaired, he ought not to share what he got with you—unless, indeed, you, by a perversion of all justice, are able to rob him of what is his, though you are not able to extort your own rights from another. Saturius persists in his opinion, that whatever a partner claims for himself becomes the property of the partnership. But if that be true, how great (plague take it!) was the folly of Roscius, who, by the advice and influence of lawyers, made a mutual agreement with Fannius, very carefully, that he should pay him half of whatever he got from Flavius; if indeed, without any security or mutual agreement, nevertheless, Fannius owed it to the partnership; that is to say, to Roscius [The rest of this speech is lost.] ---