Pro L. Flacco

Cicero, Marcus Tullius

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

Therefore, now learn the justice of the grief and complaints of a city, a moderate city, as I have always considered it, and a worthy one, as the citizens themselves wish it to be thought. They complain that the money which was deposited amongst them, in the name of Flaccus's father,—money which had been collected from different cities,—has been taken away from them. At another time I will inquire of them what power Flaccus had in the matter. At present I only ask the Trallians, whether they say the money, which they complain has been taken from them, was their own,—was a contribution from the other cities for their use. I wish to hear this. We do not

say so, says he. What then? We say that it was brought to us—entrusted to us in the name of Lucius Flaccus, the father of this man, for the days of festival and the games which were to be celebrated in his honour.

What then? “This you had no right to touch.” Presently I will see to that; but first of all I will deal with this. A dignified, a wealthy, a noble city complains that it is not allowed to retain what does not belong to it. It says that it has been plundered, because it has not in its possession what never was its own. What can be said or imagined more shameless than this? A town was selected in which, above all others, the money contributed by all Asia for the honours of Lucius Flaccus should be deposited. All this money was transferred from the purpose of doing him honour, and employed in gainful traffic and usury. Many years afterwards it was recovered.

What injury was done to the city? “But the city is very indignant at it.” I dare say. For the profit is wrenched from it contrary to its hopes, which had already been devoured in expectation. “But it complains;” and a most impudent complaint it is. For we cannot reasonably complain of everything at which we are annoyed. “But it accuses him in the severest language.” Not the city, but ignorant men do so, who have been stirred up by Maeandrius. And while on this topic I beg you over and over again to recollect how great is the rashness of a multitude,—how great the peculiar levity of Greeks,—and how great is the influence of a seditious speech in a public assembly. Even here, in this most dignified and well-regulated of cities, when the forum is full of courts of justice, full of magistrates, full of most excellent men and citizens,—when the senate-house, the chastiser of rashness, the directress in the path of duty, commands and surveys the rostra, still what storms do we see excited in the public assemblies? What do you think is the case at Tralles? is it the same as is the case at Pergamus? Unless, perchance, these cities wish it to be believed that they could more easily be influenced by one letter of Mithridates, and impelled to violate the claims of their friendship with the Roman people, and their own plighted faith, and all the rights and duties of humanity, than to injure by their evidence the son of a man whom they had thought it necessary to drive from their walls by force of arms.

Do not, then, oppose to me the names of those noble cities, for those whom this family has scorned as enemies, it will never be afraid of as witnesses. But you must confess, if your cities are governed by the counsels of your chief men, that it was not by the rashness of the multitude, but by the deliberate counsel of the nobles, that war was undertaken by those cities against the Roman people; or if that disturbance was at that time caused by the rashness of the ignorant mob, then permit me to separate the errors of the Roman people from the general cause.

“But he had no right to lay hands on that money.” Had his father Flaccus a right to touch it or not? If he had a right, as he undoubtedly had, to take money which had been contributed for the purposes of his honours, then the son did right in taking away the money belonging to his father from those men from whom he on his own account took nothing; but if the father Flaccus had not a right to take it, still after his death, not only his son, but any heir, must have had a perfect right to take it. And at that time, indeed, the Trallians, as they themselves had been for many years putting out that money at high interest nevertheless obtained from Flaccus all that they desired; nor were they so shameless as to venture to say what Laelius said,—namely, that Mithridates had taken this money from them. For who was there who did not know that Mithridates was more anxious about adorning Tralles than plundering it?

And if I were to speak of these matters as they ought to be spoken of, I should, O judges, press more strongly than I have as yet done, the point of how much credit it was reasonable for you to give Asiatic witnesses. I should recall your recollections to the time of the Mithridatic war, to that miserable and inhuman massacre of all the Roman citizens, in so many cities, at one and the same moment. I should remind you of our praetors who were surrendered, of our ambassadors who were thrown into prison, of almost all memory of the Roman name and every trace of its empire effaced, not only from the habitations of the Greeks, but even from their writings. They called Mithridates a god, they called him their father and the preserver of Asia, they called him Evius, Nysius, Bacchus, Liber.

It was the same time, when all Asia shut its gates against Lucius Flaccus, the consul, and not only received that Cappadocian into their cities, but even spontaneously invited him. Let us be allowed, if not to forget these things, at least

to be silent respecting them. Let me be allowed rather to complain of the inconstancy of the Greeks than of their cruelty. Are these two men to have influence with a people which they wished utterly to destroy? For whomsoever they could they slew while in the garb of peace; as far as depended on them they annihilated the name of Roman citizens. Shall they then give themselves airs in a city which they hate? among those people whom, if they had their will, they would not look upon? in that republic to the destruction of which it was their power that was unequal, and not their inclination? Let them behold this noble body of ambassadors and panegyrists of Flaccus who have come from the real honest Greece. Then let them weigh themselves in the balance, let them compare themselves with these men; then, if they dare, let them compare their dignity with that of these men.

Athenians are here, citizens of that city from which civilization, learning, religion, corn, laws, and institutions are supposed to have arisen, and to have been disseminated over the whole earth—that city, for the possession of which there is said to have been, by reason of its beauty, a contest even among the gods: a city which is of that antiquity that she is said to have produced her citizens from her own womb, so that the same land is called the parent, and nurse, and country of her people. And she is of such authority that the name of Greece, now enfeebled and almost broken, rests upon the glory of this city.

Lacedaemonians are here; men of that city, whose tried and glorious virtue is considered not only to be implanted in them by nature, but also to be fortified by discipline. The only men in the whole world who have been living for now seven hundred years and more under one system, and under laws which have never been altered. Many deputies are here from all Achaia, Boeotia, and Thessaly, places in which Lucius Flaccus has lately been in command as lieutenant under Metellus as commander-in-chief. Nor do I pass you over, O Marseilles, you who have known Lucius Flaccus as soldier and as quaestor,—a city, the strict discipline and wisdom of which I do not know whether I might not say was superior, not only to that of Greece, but to that of any nation whatever; a city which, though so far separated from the districts of all the Greeks, and from their fashions and language, and though placed in the extremity of the world and surrounded by tribes of Gauls, and washed with the waves of barbarism, is so regulated and governed by the counsels of its chief men, that there is no nation which does not find it easier to praise its institutions than to imitate them.

Flaccus has these states as his panegyrists and as witnesses of his innocence, so that we may resist the covetousness of some Greeks by the assistance of others. Although, who is there who is ignorant, provided he has only taken the most ordinary trouble to make himself acquainted with these matters, that there are in reality three different races of Greeks; of which the Athenians are one, being considered an Ionic nation; the Aeolians are another; the third were called Dorians. And the whole of this land of Greece, which flourished so greatly with fame, with glory, with learning, and many arts, and even with wide dominion and military renown, occupies as you know, and always has occupied, but a small part of Europe. It surrounded the seacoast of Asia with cities after it had subdued it in war; not in order to increase the prosperity of Asia by fortifying it with colonies, but in order to keep its hold upon it by placing it in a state of siege.

Wherefore I beseech you, O you Asiatic witnesses, that, when you wish to recollect with accuracy what amount of authority you bring into a court of justice, you would yourselves describe Asia, and remember, not what foreigners are accustomed to say of you, but what you yourselves affirm of your own races. For, as I think, the Asia that you talk of consists of Phrygia, Mysia, Caria, and Lydia. Is it then a proverb of ours or of yours that a Phrygian is usually made better by beating? What more? Is not this a common saying of you all with respect to the whole of Caria, if you wish to make any experiment accompanied with danger, that you had better try it on a Carian? Moreover what saying is there in Greek conversation more ordinary and well known, than, when any one is spoken of contemptuously, to say that he is the very lowest of the Mysians? For why should I speak of Lydia? What Greek ever wrote a comedy in which the principal slave was not a Lydian? What injury, then, is done to you, if we decide that we are to adhere to the judgment which you have formed of yourselves?

In truth, I think that I have said enough and more than enough of the whole race of witnesses from Asia. But still it is your duty, O judges, to weigh in your minds and thoughts everything which can be said against the insignificance, the inconstancy, and the covetousness of the men, even if these points are not sufficiently enlarged upon by me. The next thing is that charge about the Jewish gold. And this, forsooth, is the reason why this cause is pleaded near the steps of Aurelius. It is on account of this charge, O Laelius, that this place and that mob has been selected by you. You know how numerous that crowd is, how great is its unanimity, and of what weight it is in the popular assemblies. I will speak in a low voice, just so as to let the judges hear me. For men are not wanting who would be glad to excite that people against me and against every eminent man; and I will not assist them and enable them to do so more easily.

As gold, under pretence of being given to the Jews, was accustomed every year to be exported out of Italy and all the provinces to Jerusalem, Flaccus issued an edict establishing a law that it should not be lawful for gold to be exported out of Asia. And who is there, O judges, who cannot honestly praise this measure? The senate had often decided, and when I was consul it came to a most solemn resolution that gold ought not to be exported. But to resist this barbarous superstition were an act of dignity, to despise the multitude of Jews, which at times was most unruly in the assemblies in defence of the interests of the republic, was an act of the greatest wisdom. “But Cnaeus Pompeius, after he had taken Jerusalem, though he was a conqueror, touched nothing which was in that temple.”

In the first place, he acted wisely, as he did in many other instances, in leaving no room for his detractors to say anything against him, in a city so prone to suspicion and to evil speaking. For I do not suppose that the religion of the Jews, our enemies, was any obstacle to that most illustrious general, but that he was hindered by his own modesty. Where then is the guilt? Since you nowhere impute any theft to us, since you approve of the edict, and confess that it was passed in due form, and did not deny that the gold was openly sought for and produced the facts of the case themselves show that the business was executed by the instrumentality of men of the highest character. There was a hundredweight of gold, more or less openly seized at Apamea, and weighed out in the forum at the feet of the praetor, by Sextus Caesius, a Roman knight, a most excellent and upright man; twenty pounds weight or a little more were seized at Laodicea, by Lucius Peducaeus, who is here in court, one of our judges; some was seized also at Adramyttium, by Cnaeus Domitius, the lieutenant, and a small quantity at Pergamus.

The amount of the gold is known; the gold is in the treasury; no theft is imputed to him; but it is attempted to render him unpopular. The speaker turns away from the judges, and addresses himself to the surrounding multitude. Each city, O Laelius, has its own peculiar religion we have ours. While Jerusalem was flourishing, and while the Jews were in a peaceful state, still the religious ceremonies and observances of that people were very much at variance with the splendour of this empire and the dignity of our name and the institutions of our ancestors. And they are the more odious to us now because that nation has shown by arms what were its feelings towards our supremacy. How dear it was to the immortal gods is proved by its having been defeated, by its revenues having been farmed out to our contractors, by its being reduced to a state of subjection.

Wherefore, since you see that all that which you wished to impute to him as a crime is turned to his credit, let us now come to the complaints of the Roman citizens. And let the first be that of Decianus. What injury, then, O Decianus, has been done to you? You are trading in a free city. First of all, allow me to be a little curious. How long shall you continue to live there as a trader, especially since you are born of such a rank as you are? You have now for thirty years been frequenting the forum,—the forum, I mean, of Pergamus. After a very long interval, if at any time is convenient to you to travel, you come to Rome. You bring a new face, an old name; Tyrian garments, in which respect I envy you, that with only one cloak you look so smart for such a length of time.

However, be it so. You like to practise commerce. Why not at Pergamus? at Smyrna? at Tralles? where there are many Roman citizens, and where magistrates of our own preside in the courts of justice. You are fond of ease: lawsuits, crowds, and praetors are odious to you. You delight in the freedom of the Greeks. Why, then, do you alone treat the people of Apollonides, the allies who of all others are the most attached to the Roman people and the most faithful, in a more miserable manner than either

Mithridates, or than your own father ever treated them? Why do you prevent them from enjoying their own liberty? why do you prevent them from being free? They are of all Asia the most frugal, the most conscientious men, the most remote from the luxury and inconstancy of the Greeks; they are fathers of families, are content with their own, farmers, country-people. They have lands excellent by nature, and improved by diligence and cultivation. In this district you wished to have some farms. I should greatly prefer, (and it would have been more for your interest too, if you wanted some fertile lands,) that you should have got some here somewhere in the district of Crustumii, or in the Capenate country.

However, be it so. It is an old saying of Cato's,—“that money is balanced by distance.” It is a very long way from the Tiber to the Caicus,—a place in which Agamemnon himself would have lost his way, if he had not found Telephus for his guide. However, I give up all that. You took a fancy to the town. The country delighted you. You might have bought it. Amyntas is by birth, by rank, by universal opinion, and by his riches, the first man of that state. Decianus brought his mother-in-law, a woman of weak mind, and tolerably rich, over to his side, and, while she was ignorant of what his object was, he established his household in the possession of her estates. He took away from Amyntas his wife, then in a state of pregnancy, who was confined with a daughter in Decianus's house, and to this very day both the wife and daughter of Amyntas are in Decianus's house.

Is there any one of all these circumstances invented by me, O Decianus? —All the nobles know these facts—virtuous men are acquainted with them—our own citizens are acquainted with them—all the merchants of ordinary consequence are acquainted with them. Rise, Amyntas: demand back from Decianus, not your money, not your estates; let him even keep your mother-in-law for himself; but let him restore your wife, let him restore the daughter to her miserable father: for the limbs which he has weakened with stones, with sticks, with weapons, the hands which he has crushed, the fingers which he has broken, the sinews which he has cut through, those he cannot restore. The daughter,—restore the daughter, I say, O Decianus, to her unhappy father.

Do you wonder that you could not get Flaccus to approve of this conduct? I should like to know who you did persuade to approve of it? You contrived fictitious purchases, you put up advertisements of estates in concert with some wretched women,—open frauds. According to the laws of the Greeks it was necessary to name a guardian to look after these matters. You named Polemocrates a hired slave and minister of your designs. Polemocrates was prosecuted by Dion for treachery and fraud on account of this very guardianship. What a crowd was there from all the neighbouring towns on every side! What was their indignation! How universal were their complaints! Polemocrates was convicted by every single vote; the sales were annulled, the advertisements were canceled. Do you restore the property? You bring to the men of Pergamus, and beg them to enter in their public registers, those beautiful advertisements and purchases of yours. They refuse, they reject them. And yet who were the men who did so? The men of Pergamus, your own panegyrists. For you appear to me to boast as much of the panegyric of the citizens of Pergamus, as if you had arrived at all the honours which had been attained by your ancestors. And you thought yourself in this respect better off than Laelius, that the city of Pergamus praised you. Is the city of Pergamus more honourable than that of Smyrna? Even the men of Pergamus themselves do not assert that.