Pro L. Flacco

Cicero, Marcus Tullius

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

He says that he gave it as a contribution from Aulus Sextilius, and from his own brothers. Sextilius was able to give such a sum; as for his own brothers, they are partners in his beggary. Let us then hear what Sextilius says; then let his brothers themselves come forward; let them lie as shamelessly as they please, and let them say that they gave what they never possessed; still, perhaps, when they are produced face to face with us, they will say something in which they may be detected. “I have not brought Sextilius with me as a witness,” says he. Give me the accounts then. “I have not brought them down.” At least produce your brothers. “I never summoned them.” Are we then to fear as an accusation or as a piece of evidence, what Asclepiades by himself affirms, a man needy as to fortune, infamous as to character, condemned by every one's opinion, relying on his own impudence and audacity, without any account-books or any one to support his evidence?

He also said that the panegyric which we mentioned as having been given by the men of Aemon to Flaccus, is false; a panegyric, says he, which we ought to be glad to be without. For when that admirable representative of his city beheld the public seal, he said that his own fellow-citizens and all the rest of the Greeks were accustomed to seal at the moment whatever required it. Then take that panegyric to yourself. For the life and character of Flaccus do not depend on the evidence of the citizens of Aemon. For you grant to me, (an admission which this cause especially requires,) that there is no authority, no consistency, no firm wisdom in the Greeks, and, above all, no proper regard to truth in giving their evidence; unless, indeed, henceforward there is to be this distinction made between the evidence and your speech, that the cities are to be said to have allowed something to Flaccus when absent but are to appear to have neither written nor sealed anything suited to the occasion, so as to save Laelius, though he was present, though he himself undertook the management of the business himself, and though he alarmed them and threatened them, availing himself of the power of the law, of the privileges of a prosecutor, and of all his own private resources.

In truth, O judges, I have often seen important facts detected and discovered through mere trifles, as in the case of

this Asclepiades. This panegyric, which has been produced by us, had been sealed with that Asiatic chalk which is known to nearly all of us; which all men use not only on public but also on their private letters, and which we every day see used in letters sent by publicans, and in letters addressed to each individual among us. Nor indeed did the witness himself, when he saw the seal, say that we were producing a forged document, but he alleged the worthless character of all Asiatics,—a matter which we willingly and easily grant to him. Our panegyric then,—which he says was given to us because of that particular occasion, and by so saying in fact allows was given to us,—was sealed with chalk. But on that evidence, which is said to have been given to the prosecutor, we saw the seal was wax.

Here, O judges, if I thought that you were influenced by the decrees of the Aemonensians, and by the letters of the rest of the Phrygians, I should cry out, and argue with all the vigour of which I was master. I should call to witness the publicans; I should invoke the traders; I should implore the aid of your own consciences: the wax being seen, I should feel sure that the audacious forgery of the whole evidence was evidently detected and discovered, and laid bare to you. But at present I will not triumph too violently, nor be too much elated at this, nor will I inveigh against that trifler as if he were a witness, nor will I allow myself to be moved at all with respect to any part of this testimony of the Aemonensians, whether it has been forged here, as appears likely on the face of it, or whether it can really been sent from Aemon, as it is said to have been. In truth, I will not fear the evidence of the men to whom I make over that panegyric, since, as Asclepiades says, they are utterly insignificant.

I come now to the evidence of the people of Dorylaeum, who, when they were brought into court said that they had lost their public documents near some caverns. O the shepherds (I know not who they were), the literary shepherds! if they took nothing from those men except the letters! But we suspect that there is some other reason, and that we should not think those men quite destitute of all cunning. There is, I imagine, a heavier penalty at Dorylaeum than among other people, for forging or tampering with written documents. If they had produced the genuine letters, there was no accusation in them; if they produced forged ones, there was a penalty for such an act. They thought the finest thing they could do was to say that they were lost.

Let them be quiet then, and allow me to set this down as so much gain, said to turn to something else. They will not allow me to do so. For some one or other gives them a lift, and says that he, as a private person, had given him money. But this cannot possibly be endured. He who reads things from those public documents which have been in the power of the prosecutor, ought not to carry any weight with him; but, nevertheless, a formal trial appears to take place when the documents themselves, of whatever character they may be, are produced. But when a man, whom not one of you has ever seen, whom no living mortal has ever heard of only says, “I gave,” will you hesitate, O judges, to save a most noble citizen from this most unknown of Phrygians? And this very man was lately disbelieved by three honourable and worthy Roman knights, when in a case in which a man's liberty was at stake, he said that the man who was claimed was his own kinsman. How has it come about that the man who was not considered a trustworthy witness as to his own blood and family is a credible authority concerning a public injury?

And when this Dorylaean was lately carried out to burial in the presence of a great multitude and numerous assembly of you, Laelius tried to excite odium against Lucius Flaccus by imputing his death to him. You are acting unjustly, O Laelius, if you think that it is our risk whether your comrades live or die; especially as I think that this instance proceeded from your own carelessness. For you gave a Phrygian, a man who had never seen a fig-tree, a whole basket of figs; and his death was to some extent a relief to you, for you lost a very voracious guest. But what good did it to Flaccus, as he was well enough till he came forward here, and who died after he had put out his sting and delivered his evidence? But that prop of your cause, Mithridates, was retained as a witness by us and examined two whole days; and, after he had said all that he wished, departed reproved, convicted, and broken down, and now walks about in a breastplate. That learned and sagacious man is afraid that Lucius Flaccus may burden himself with a crime, now that he cannot escape him as a witness; so that he, who, before the evidence was given, restrained himself when he might have got something by the deed, is likely now to add the guilt of an enormous crime to the charge of covetousness,

which is only supported by false evidence. But since Quintus Hortensius has spoken at great length and with great acuteness concerning this witness, and respecting the whole charge which has reference to Mithridates, we, as we originally intended, will proceed to the other points.

The principal man in stirring up all the Greeks,—he who is sitting with the prosecutors,—Heraclides of Temnos, a silly chattering fellow, but (in his own opinion) so learned, that he calls himself even their tutor, and so ambitious, that he salutes all of you and of us every day. Old as he is, he has not yet been able to get admission into the senate of Temnos; and he, the man who professes himself able to teach the art of speaking to others, has himself been convicted in some very discreditable trials.

Of similar good fortune was Nicomedes, who came with him as a deputy, who was not allowed to enter the senate on any terms, but had been convicted of theft, and of defrauding his partner. For Lysanias, the chief man of the deputation, obtained the rank of senator; but as he showed himself rather too much devoted to the riches of the republic, he was convicted of peculation, and lost his property and his title of senator. These three men tried to render the accounts of even our own treasury false. For they returned themselves as having nine slaves, when they had in reality come without one single companion. I see at the first framing of the decree Lysanias was present, he, whose brother's property was sold by public order during the praetorship of Flaccus, because he did not pay what he owed to the people. Besides him there is Philippus, the son-in-law of Lysanias; and Hermobius, whose brother also, by name Poles, was convicted of embezzling the public money.

These men say that they gave Flaccus and those who were with him fifteen thousand drachmas. I have to do with a most active city, and one which is an admirable hand at keeping its accounts; a city in which not a farthing can be disposed of without the intervention of five praetors, three quaestors, and four bankers, who are elected in that city by the burgesses. Of all that number not one has been brought hither as a witness; and when they return that money as having been given to Flaccus by name, they say that they gave him also a still larger sum, entered as having been given for the repair of a temple. But this is not a very consistent story; for either everything ought to have been kept secret or else everything ought to have been returned without any disguise. When they enter the money as having been given to Flaccus, naming him expressly, they fear nothing, they apprehend nothing. When they return the money as having been given for a public work, then all of a sudden those same men begin to be afraid of the very man whom they had despised before. If the praetor gave the money, as it is set down, he drew it from the quaestor, the quaestor from the public bank, the public bank derived it either from revenue or from tribute. All this will never be like a crime, unless you explain to me the whole business both with respect to the persons and to the accounts.

Or, as it is written in this same decree, that the most illustrious men of the city,—men who had had the highest honours of the state conferred on them,—were circumvented by him while he was praetor, why are they not present in court or why, at all events, are they not named in the decree? For I do not suppose that Heraclides, who is pricking up his head, is the person here intended. For is he one of the most eminent of the citizens, when Hermippus brought him here for trial? a man who did not even receive his present commission to come on this deputation from his fellow-citizens by their voluntary choice, but who went all the way from Tmolus to solicit it? a man on whom no honour was ever conferred in his own city; and the only business which ever has been entrusted to him, is one which is usually entrusted to the most insignificant people. He, in the praetorship of Titus Autidius, was appointed guardian of the public corn. And when he had received money from Publius Varinius the praetor for this purpose, he concealed it from his fellow-citizens, and charged the whole of the expense to them. And after this was made known and revealed at Temnos, by letters which were sent thither by Publius Varinius, and when Cnaeus Lentulus, he who was the censor, the patron of the people of Temnos, had sent letters on the same subject, no one ever afterwards saw that man Heraclides at Temnos.

And that you may be thoroughly aware of his impudence, listen, I entreat you, to the cause which excited the animosity of this most worthless man against Flaccus. He bought at Rome a farm in the district of Cyme, from a minor whose name was Meculonius. Having made himself out in words to be a rich man,—though he had in reality nothing beyond the stock of impudence which you

see,—he borrowed the money from Sextus Stola, one of our judges now present a man of the highest consideration, who is acquainted with the circumstances, and not unacquainted with the man; but who trusted him on the security of Publius Fulvius Veratius, a most unexceptionable man. And to pay this loan he borrowed money of Caius and Marcus Fufius, Roman knights, men of the highest character. Here, in truth, he caught a weasel asleep, as people say; for he cheated Hermippus, a learned man, his own fellow-citizen, who ought to have known him well enough; for on his security he borrowed money of the Fufii. Hermippus, without feeling any anxiety, goes away to Temnos, as he said that he would pay the Fufii the money which he had borrowed on his security, out of what he received from his pupils.

For he, as a rhetorician, had some rich men for pupils whom he was going to make as foolish again as they were when they came to him, (for they could acquire nothing from him, except an ignorance of every sort of learning;) but he could not infatuate any one to such an extent as to get him to lend him a single farthing. Therefore, having left Rome secretly, and cheated numbers of people by trifling loans, he came into Asia; and when Hermippus asked him what he had done about the bond given to the Fufii, he said that he paid the entire sum to the Fufii. In the mean time, not long afterwards, a freedman comes to Hermippus with letters from the Fufii. The money is demanded of Hermippus. Hermippus demands it of Heraclides; however, he himself satisfies the claim of the Fufii who are at a distance, and discharges the security which he had given. He then prosecutes Heraclides, in spite of all his fuming and shuffling, in a formal manner: the cause is tried before judges.

Do not fancy, O judges, that the impudence of cheats and repudiators is not one and the same in all places. This man did the very same things which debtors here are in the habit of doing. He denied that he had ever borrowed any money at all at Rome. He asserted that he had actually never heard the name of the Fufii; and he attacked Hermippus himself, a most modest and virtuous man, an ancient friend and hereditary connection of my own, the most eminent and accomplished man in his city, with every sort of reproach and abuse. But after this voluble gentleman had delivered himself in that fashion with a prodigious rapidity of eloquence for some time, all of a sudden, when the evidence of the Fufii and the items of their claim were read, though a most audacious man, he got alarmed; through a most talkative one, he became dumb. Therefore, the judges at the first trial gave a decision against him, in a matter which certainly did not admit of much doubt. As he did not comply with their decision, he was given up to Hermippus and put in prison by him.

Now you know the honesty of the man and the value of his evidence, and the whole reason of his enmity to Flaccus. Having been released by Hermippus after having sold him a few slaves, he came to Rome from thence he returned into Asia, when my brother Quintus had succeeded Flaccus in that government and went to him and related his story in this manner, saying that the judges being compelled and put in fear by the violence of Flaccus had given a false decision against their will. My brother as became his impartiality and prudence, decreed that if he demurred to the previous decision, he was to give security to double the amount; and that if he said that they were compelled by fear at the first trial, he should have the same judges again. He refused this, and as if there had been no trial and no decision, he began on the spot to demand back from Hermippus the slaves which he himself had sold him. Marcus Gratidius, the lieutenant, before whom he went refused to give him leave to proceed with the action, but declared that he should adhere to the decision already given.

A second time, as he had no place anywhere where he could remain, he betook himself to Rome. Hermippus, who never yields to his impudence, follows him hither. Heraclides demands from Caius Plotius, a senator, a man of the highest character, who had served in Asia as lieutenant some slaves, which he said he had sold under compulsion, at a time when an unjust decision had been given against him. Quintus Naso, a most accomplished man, who had been praetor, is appointed judge; and when he showed that he was going to give sentence in favour of Plotius, Heraclides left the judge, and abandoned the whole cause as if he had not had a fair and legal trial. Do I appear to you, O judges, to be dwelling too much on each individual witness, and not to be discussing the whole class of witnesses, as I originally intended?

I come now to Lysanias, of the same city,—your own especial witness, Decianus,—a

man whom you, as you had known him at Temnos when a youth, since he had pleased you when naked, wished to be always naked. You took him from Temnos to Apollonia. You lent money to him while quite a youth, at great interest, having taken good security for the loan. You say that the securities have been forfeited to you, and to this day you detain them and keep them in your possession. And you have compelled this man to come forward to give evidence as a witness by the hope of recovering his paternal estate. And as he has not yet given his evidence, I am waiting to see what it is that he will state. For I know the sort of men that they are,—I know their habits, I know their licentious ways. Therefore, although I am certain what he is prepared to state, still I will not argue against it before he has stated it; for if I do, he will alter it all and invent something else. Let him, then, keep what he has prepared; and I will keep myself fresh for whatever statements he makes.

I come now to that state to which I myself have shown great kindness and done many great services, and which my brother has shown the greatest attachment to and fondness for. And if that city had brought its complaints before you by the month of creditable and respectable men, I should be a little more concerned about it; but now what am I to think? Am I to think that the Trallians entrusted their cause to Maeandrius, a needy, sordid man, without honour, without character, without income? Where were the Pythodori, the Aetideni, the Lepisos, and the other men who are well known among us, and who are of high rank among their own people? where is their splendid and high-spirited display of the respectability of their city? Would they not have been ashamed, if they had been serious about this business, that Maeandrius should be called, I will not say their deputy, but even a Trallian at all? Would they ever have entrusted to this man as their deputy,—to this man as their public witness, Lucius Flaccus the hereditary patron of their city, whose father and ancestors had been so before him, to be ruined by the evidence of their city? This cannot be the fact, O judges; it never can be.

I myself lately saw in some trial a Trallian witness of the name of Philodorus, I saw Parrhasius, I saw Archidemus, when this identical man Maeandrius came to me as a sort of attorney, suggesting to me what I might say, if I pleased, against his own fellow-citizens and his own city. For there is nothing more worthless than that fellow,—nothing more needy, nothing more infamous. Wherefore, if the Trallians employ him as the relater of their indignation, and the keeper of their letters, and the witness of their injuries, and the utterer of their complaints, let them lower their high tone for the future, let them restrain their high spirit, let them bridle their arrogance, let them confess that the best representative of their city is to be found in the person of Maeandrius. But if they themselves have always thought this man a man to be buffeted and trampled upon at home, let them cease to think that there is any authority in that evidence which there is no respectable person to father. But I will explain what the facts of the case really are, that you may know why that city was neither severe in attacking Flaccus, nor very anxious to defend him.

The city was offended with him on account of the affair of Castricius; concerning the whole of which Hortensius has made a sufficient reply. Very much against its will, it had paid Castricius some money which had long been due to him. Hence comes all its hatred to Flaccus, and this is his whole offence. And when Laelius had arrived in that city among a set of angry men, and had re-opened their indignation with respect to Castricius by mentioning the subject, the chief men jumped up and left the place, and refused to be present in that assembly, and would not assist in carrying the decree, or in framing the deposition. And to such an extent was that assembly deprived of the presence of the nobles of the city, that Maeandrius was the chief of the chief men present; and it was by his tongue, acting like a sort of fan of sedition, that assembly of needy men was ventilated.