Pro A. Caecina

Cicero, Marcus Tullius

Cicero. The Orations of Marcus Tullius Cicero, Volume 2. Yonge, Charles Duke, translator. London: Bell, 1856.

What is the matter, Piso? do you choose to fight about words? Do you think it fit to make the cause of justice and equity, the cause not of our property only, but of every man's property, to depend on a word? I showed what my opinion was; what had been the course pursued by our ancestors; what was worthy of the authority of those men by whom the cause was to be decided; that that was honest, and just, and expedient for all men, that it should be considered with what design and with what intention a law had been established, not in what words it was framed. You pin me to the words. I will not be so pinned without objecting. I say that it is not right, I say that this point cannot be maintained, I say that there is no single thing which can be included in a law with sufficient accuracy, or guarded against, or excepted against, if through some word being overlooked or placed in an ambiguous position, though the intention and the truth is completely ascertained, that which is intended is not to prevail, but that which is expressed, is.

And since I have now stated my objection plainly enough, I will follow you where you invite me. I ask of you, Was I driven away? not from the farm of Fulcinius, for the praetor has not commanded me to be replaced only in the case of my having been driven away from that particular farm, but he has ordered me to be replaced in the place from which I was driven away. I was driven away from the adjoining farm belonging to my neighbours, across which I was going to that farm; I was driven away from the road; I was certainly driven away from some place or other, from some ground, either private or public. I am ordered to be replaced there. You have said that you have replaced me; I say that I have not been replaced in compliance with the terms of the praetor's decree. What do we say to this! Your defence must be destroyed either by your own sword (all men say) or by mine.

If you take refuge in the intention of the interdict, and say that inquiry must be made into what farm was meant when Aebutius was ordered to replace me, and if you think it not right for the justice of the case to be caught in a trap made of words, then you come into my camp, you are fighting under my standard. That is my defence; mine. I assert this loudly; I call all the gods and men to witness, that, as our ancestors would allow no legal defence to be pleaded for armed violence, the question before the court is not, where were the footsteps of the man who was driven away, but what was the act of the man who drove him away; I say loudly, that the man who was put to flight was driven away, that violence was offered to the man who was put in danger of his life.

That topic you avoid and dread; and you try to call me back from the wide field, if I may so say, of justice, to these narrow passes of words, and to all the corners of letters. You shall yourself be hemmed in and caught in those very toils which you try to oppose to me. “I did not drive him away; I drove him off.” This seems to you a very clever idea. This is the edge of your defence. On that edge your own cause must inevitably fall. For I reply to you in this way:—If I was not driven away from the place which I was prevented from approaching, at all events I was driven away from the place which I did approach, and from which I fled. If the praetor did not clearly define the place in which he ordered me to be replaced, and merely ordered me to be replaced, I have not been replaced according to his decree.

I wish, O judges, if all this appears to you to be a more cunning system of defence than I usually adopt, that you would consider, first of all, that another originally devised it, and not I; in the next place, that not only I was not the originator of the system, but that I do not even approve of it, and that I did not bring it forward for the purposes of my own defence, but that I used it as a reply to their defence; that I can speak in behalf of my own rights, and that in this matter which I have brought forward, what ought to be inquired into is not, in what terms the praetor framed his interdict, but what was the place intended when he framed it, and that in a case of violence offered by armed: men, the thing to he inquired into is not, where the violence was offered, but whether it was offered or not; and that you cannot possibly urge in your defence, that where you wish it to be done, the words of the interdict ought to be regarded but that where you do not wish it, they ought not to be considered.

But is any answer given to me with reference to that which I have already mentioned, that this interdict was so framed, not only as to facts, and as to its meaning, but also as to its expressions, that nothing appeared to require any alteration? Listen carefully, O judges, I beseech you, for it becomes your wisdom to recognise, not my prudence, but that of our ancestors; for I am not going to mention what I myself have discovered, but a thing which did not escape their notice. When an interdict is issued respecting acts of violence, they were aware that there are two descriptions of causes to which the interdict had reference: one, if a man had been driven by violence from the place in which he was; the other, if he was driven from the place to which he was coming; and either of these may take place, and nothing else can, O judges.

Consider this then, if you please. If any one has driven my household away from my farm, he has driven me too from that place. If any one came up to me with armed men, outside my farm, and prevented me from entering, then he has driven me, not out of that place, but from that place. For these two classes of actions they invented one phrase which sufficiently expressed them both; so that, whether I had been driven out of my farm, or from my farm, still I should be replaced by one and the same interdict, containing the words “from which you . . . ” these words “from which” comprehend either case: both out of which place, and from which place. Whence was Cinna driven? Out of the city. Whence was Carbo driven? From the city. Whence were the Gauls driven?

From the Capitol. Whence were they driven who were with Gracchus? Out of the Capitol. You see, therefore, that by this one phrase two things are signified, both out of what place, and from what place; and when the praetor orders me to be replaced in that place, he orders me to be so on this understanding, just as if the Gauls had demanded of our ancestors to be replaced in the situation from which they had been driven, and if by any force they had been able to obtain it, it would not, I imagine, have been right for them to be replaced in the mine, by which they had attacked the Capitol, but in the Capitol itself. For this is understood—“Replace him in the place from which you drove him away,” whether you drove him out of the place, or from the place. This now is plain enough; replace him in that place; if you drove him out of this place, replace him in it; if you drove him from this place, replace him in that place, not out of which, but from which he was driven. Just as if a person at sea, when he had come near to his own country, were on a sudden driven off by a storm, and were to wish, as he had been driven off from his country, to be restored to his former position. What he would wish, I imagine, would be this,—that fortune would restore him to the place from which he had been driven; not so as to replace him in the sea, but in the city which he was on his way to. So too, (since now we are necessarily hunting out the meaning of words from the similarity of the circumstances,) he who demands to be restored to the place from which he was driven,—that is to say, whence he was driven, —demands to be restored to that very place itself.

As the words lead us to this conclusion, so too the case itself forces us to think and understand the same thing. In truth, Piso, (I am returning now back to the first points of my defence,) if any one drives you out of your own house with violence, by means of armed men, what will you do? I suppose you will prosecute him by means of this same interdict which we have been employing. What now, if, when you are returning home from the forum, any one shall with armed men prevent you from entering your own house, what will you do? You will avail yourself of the same interdict. When, therefore, the praetor has issued his interdict commanding you to be replaced in the place from which you were driven, you will interpret that interdict just as I do now, and as it is plain it should be interpreted. As that phrase “from which place” is of equal power in both cases, and as you are ordered to be replaced in that place, you will interpret it that you are just as much entitled to be replaced in your own house if you have been driven out of the courtyard, as if you have been driven out from the inmost chambers of the house.

But in order, O judges, that there should be no doubt on your part, whether you choose to regard the fact, or the words, that you ought to decide in our favour, there arises now, when every one of their expedients has been defeated and rendered useless, another argument in defence, that a man can be driven away, who is at the time in possession, but that a man who is not in possession cannot possibly be. Therefore, if I have been driven away from your house, I ought not to be replaced there; but, if you yourself have, you ought. Just count up how many false arguments there are in that defence, O Piso. And first of all, notice this, that you are by this driven from that assertion which you made, that no one could be driven away from a place, unless he was in the place previously; now you allow that a man who is the owner of a place can be driven away from it, even if he is not actually in it at the moment, but you say that a man who is not the owner cannot be driven away.

Why, then, in that interdict which is of almost daily occurrence, “whence he drove me by violence,” is this added, “when I was in possession,” if no one can be driven away who is not in possession; or why is not the same addition made to the interdict “about armed men,” if inquiry ought to be made whether a man was the owner or no? You say that no man can be driven away, but one who is the owner. I assert that, if any one be driven away without men being collected and armed, then he who confesses that he has driven him away must gain his cause, if he can show that he was not the owner. You say that a man cannot be driven away unless he is the owner. I prove from this interdict “about armed men,” that he, who can prove that the man who has been driven away was not the owner, still must inevitably lose his cause, if he confesses that he was driven away at all.

Men are driven away in two ways, either without the employment of men collected together and armed, or by means of them, and by violence. There are two separate interdicts for two dissimilar cases. In the first and formal kind of violence, it is not enough for a man to be able to prove that he was driven away, unless he is also able to show that he was driven away when he was in possession. And even that is not enough, unless he can show that he was in possession, having become so neither by violence, nor by underhand practices, nor by having begged the property. Therefore, he who said that he had replaced him is often accustomed to avow loudly that he drove him away by violence; but he adds this, “He was not in possession.” Or again, when he has admitted even this, still he gains his cause if he can prove that the man had obtained possession from him either by violence, or by underhand practices, or by begging for it.

Do you not perceive how many defensive pleas our ancestors allowed a man to be able to employ who had done this violence without arms and without a multitude? But as for the man who, neglecting right, and duty, and proper customs, has betaken himself to the sword, to arms, and to murder, him you see naked and defenceless in the cause; so that the man who has contended in arms for the possession, must clearly contend unarmed in the court of justice. Is there, then, any real difference, O Piso, between these interdicts? Does it make any difference whether the words “As Aulus Caecina was in possession” be added, or not? Does the consideration of right,—does the dissimilarity of the interdicts,—does the authority of your ancestors, at all influence you? If the addition had been made, inquiry must have been made as to this point. The addition has not been made. Must that inquiry still be instituted?

And in this particular I do not defend Caecina. For, O judges, Caecina was in possession; and although it is foreign to this cause, still I will briefly touch upon this point, to make you as desirous to protect the man himself, as the common rights of all men. You do not deny that Caesennia had a life interest in the farm. As the same farmer who rented it of Caesennia continued to hold it on the same tenure, is there any doubt, that if Caesennia was the owner while the farmer was tenant of the farm, so after her death her heir was the owner by the same right? Afterwards Caecina, when he was going the round of his estates, came to that farm. He received his accounts from the farmer. There is evidence to that point.

After that, why, O. Aebutius, did you give notice to Caecina to give up that farm, rather than some others, if you could find any other, unless Caecina was in possession of it? Moreover, why did Caecina consent to be ejected in a regular and formal manner? and why did he make you the answer he did by the advice of his friends, and of Caius Aquillius himself? Oh, but Sulla passed a law. Without wasting time in making any complaints about that time, and about the disasters of the republic, I make you this answer,—that Sulla also added to that same law, “that if anything were enacted in this statute contrary to law, to that extent this statute was to have no validity.” What is there which is contrary to law which the Roman people is unable to command or to prohibit? Not to digress too far, this very additional clause proves that there is something. For unless there were, this would not be appended to all statutes.

But I ask of you whether you think, if the people ordered me to be your slave, or, on the other hand, you to be mine, that that order would be authoritative and valid? You see that such an order is worthless. --- First of all, you allow this,—that it does not follow that whatever the people orders ought to be ratified. In the next place, you allege no reason why, if liberty cannot possibly be taken away, citizenship may. For we have received our traditions about each in the same way; and if citizenship can once be taken away, liberty cannot be preserved. For how can a man be free by the rights of the Quirites, who is not included in the number of the Quirites?

And I, when quite a young man, established this principle when I was pleading against Cotta, the most eloquent man of our city. When I was defending the liberty of a woman of Arretium, and when Cotta had suggested a scruple to the decemvirs that our action was not a regular one, because the rights of citizenship had been taken from the Arretines, and when I argued rather vehemently that rights of citizenship could not be taken away, at the first hearing the decemvirs gave no decision; afterwards, when they had inquired into, and deliberated on, the subject, they decided that our action was quite regular. And this was decided, though Cotta spoke in opposition to it, and while Sulla was alive. But now on the other cities, why need I tell you how all men who are in the same circumstances proceed by law, and prosecute their rights, and all avail themselves of the civil law without the slightest hesitation on the part of any one, whether magistrate or judge, learned man or ignorant one? There is not one of you who doubts this.

At all events, I am well aware that this is frequently asked, (as I must remind you of those things which do not occur to yourself,) how it is, if the right of citizenship cannot be taken away, that our citizens have often gone to the Latin colonies. They have gone either of their own accord, or in consequence of some penalty inflicted by the law; though if they would have submitted to the penalty, they might have remained in the city. What more need I urge? What shall I say of a man whom the chief of the fetiales [*](“The Latin here is pater patratus. When an injury had been sustained by the state, four fetiales were deputed to seek redress, who again elected one of their number to act as their representative, this individual was called pater patratus populi Romani.”—Smith Dict. Ant. p. 416, v. Fetiales.) has given up, or whom his own father or his people have sold? By what law does he lose his right of citizenship? In order that the city may be released from some religious obligation, a Roman citizen is surrendered; and when he is accepted, he then belongs to those men to whom he has been surrendered. If they refuse to receive him, as the people of Numantia refused to receive Mancinus, [*](Caius Hostilius Mancinus had been defeated by the Numantines and had made a disgraceful peace with them, which the senate refused to ratify, and delivered up Mancinus to the Numantines, in order to annul the peace legally, but they refused to receive him.) he then retains his original rights of citizenship unimpaired. If his father has sold him, he discharges him from all subjection to his power, whom, when he was born, he had had absolute power over.

When the people sell a man who has not become a soldier, it does not take his liberty from him, but decides that he is not a free man who is afraid to encounter danger in order to be free; but when it sells a man whose name is not on the register, it judges in this way,—that as a man who is in just slavery is not on the register, a man who, though a free man, is unwilling to be on the register, has, of his own accord, repudiated his freedom. But if it is chiefly in those ways that freedom, or the rights of citizenship, can be taken from a man, do not they who mention these things understand that if our ancestors chose that those rights should be taken away for these reasons, they chose also that they should not be taken away in any other manner?

For, as they have produced these arguments from the civil law, I wish they would also produce any case of men having had either their rights of citizenship or their freedom taken away by law. For as to banishment, it is very easy to be understood what sort of thing that is. For banishment is not a punishment, but is a refuge and harbour of safety from punishment. For those who are desirous to avoid some punishment or some calamity, turn to banishment alone,— that is to say, they change their residence and their situation, and, therefore, there will not be found in any law of ours, as there is in the laws of other states, any mention of any crime being punished with banishment. But as men wished to avoid imprisonment, execution, or infamy, which are penalties ,appointed by the laws, they flee to banishment as to an altar, though, if they chose to remain in the city and to submit to the rigour of the law, they would not lose their rights of citizenship sooner than they lost their lives; but because they do not so choose, their rights of citizenship are not taken from them, but are abandoned and laid aside by them. For as, according to our law, no one can be a citizen of two cities, the rights of citizenship here are lost when he who has fled is received into banishment,—that is to say, into another city.