Pro L. Flacco

Cicero, Marcus Tullius

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

I wish that I had leisure enough to read the decree of the Smyrnaeans, which they made respecting the dead Castricius. In the first place, that he was to be brought into the city, which is an honour not granted to others; in the next place, that young men should bear his coffin; and lastly, that a golden crown should be put upon the dead body. These honours were not paid to that most illustrious man, Publius Scipio, when he had died at Pergamus. But what language, O ye immortal gods, do they use concerning him, calling him “the glory of his country, the ornament of the Roman people, the flower of the youth.” Wherefore, O Decianus, if you are desirous of glory, I advise you to seek other distinctions. The men of Pergamus laughed at you.

What? Did you not understand that you were being made sport of, when they read those words to you, “most illustrious man, of most extraordinary wisdom, of singular ability.” I assure you they were joking with you. But when they put a golden crown at the head of their letters, in reality they did not entrust you with more gold than they would trust to a jackdaw; could you not even perceive the neatness and facetiousness of the men? They, then,—those men of Pergamus,—repudiated the advertisements which you produced. Publius Orbius, a man both prudent and incorruptible, gave every decision that he did give against you. You received more favour from Publius Globulus, an intimate friend of mine. I wish that neither he nor I may repent it? [*](There are a few words here hopelessly corrupt which are omitted in the translation. Orellius prints it—Flaccum in curia decrevissent veridicas. Adjungis, etc., and in a note gives up the whole passage as corrupt. Nobbe puts the stop before veridicas.)---

You add real causes of the enmity between you, that your father as tribune of the people prosecuted the father of Lucius Flaccus when he was curule aedile. But that ought not to have been very annoying even to Flaccus's father himself; especially as he, who was prosecuted, was afterwards made praetor and consul, and the man who prosecuted him could not even remain in the city as a private individual. But if you thought that a reasonable ground for enmity, why, when Flaccus was military tribune, did you serve as a soldier in his legion, when by the military law you might have avoided the injustice of the tribune? And why did the praetor summon you, his hereditary enemy, to his counsels? And how sacredly such obligations are accustomed to be observed, you all know.

At present we are prosecuted by men who were our counselors. “Flaccus issued a decree.” Did he issue a different decree from what he ought? “against freemen.” Was it contrary to the resolution to which the senate had come? “He issued this decree against an absent man.” When you were in the same race, and when you refused to come forward, that is a different thing from being absent. [The resolution of the senate and the decree of Flaccus are read.]What next? suppose he had not made a decree, but had only issued an edict, who could have found fault with him with truth? Are you going to find fault with the letters of my brother, full of humanity and equity. The same [*](This passage is given up by every commentator as irretrievably corrupt.) letters which, having been given by me ---Read the letters of Quintus Cicero. [The letters of Quintus Cicero are read.]

What? did the people of Apollonides, when they had an opportunity, report these things to Flaccus? Were they not argued in court before Orbius? Were they not reported to Orbius? Did not the deputies of Apollonia report to our senate in my consulship all the demands which they had to make respecting the injuries which they had received from this one man, Decianus? “Oh, but you gave in an estimate of these farms also at the census.” I say nothing of their being other people's property; I say nothing of their having been got possession of by violence; I say nothing of the conviction by the Apollonidians that ensued; I say nothing of the business having been repudiated by the people of Pergamus; I say nothing of the fact that restitution of the whole was compelled by our magistrates; I say nothing of the fact that neither by law, nor in fact, nor even by the right of occupation, did they belong to you.

I only ask this; whether those farms can be bought and sold by the civil law; whether they come under the provisions of the civil law, whether or no they are freehold, whether they can be registered at the treasury and before the censor? Lastly, in what tribe did you register those farms? You managed it so, that if any serious emergency had arisen, tribute might have been levied on the same farms both at Apollonides and at Rome. However, be it so; you were in a boastful humour. You wanted a great amount of land to be registered as yours, and of that land too, which cannot be distributed among the Roman people. Besides that, you were registered as possessed of' money in hand, cash to the amount of a hundred and thirty thousand sesterces. I do not suppose that you counted that money; but I pass over all these things. You registered the slaves of Amyntas; and, in that respect you did not wrong; for Amyntas is the owner of those slaves. And at first indeed he was alarmed when he heard that you had registered his slaves. He consulted lawyers. It was decreed by all of them that if Decianus could make other people's property his by registering it as such, he would have very great ---

You now know the cause of the enmity by which Decianus was excited to communicate to Laelius this grand accusation against Flaccus. For Laelius framed his complaint in this way, when he was speaking of the perfidy of Decianus: “He, who was my original informant; who communicated the facts of the case; whom I have followed, he has been bribed by Flaccus, he has deserted and abandoned me.” Have you, then, been the prime mover in bringing that man into peril of all his; fortunes, whose counselor you had been, with whom you had preserved all the privileges of your rank, a most virtuous man, a man born of a most noble family, a man who had done great services to the republic? Forsooth, I will defend Decianus, who has become suspected by you through no fault of his own.

Believe me, he was not bribed; for what was there which could have been got by bribing him? Could he have contrived for the trial to last longer? Why, the law only allows six hours altogether. How much would Decianus rather have taken away from those six hours, if he had wished to serve you. In truth, that is what he himself suspects,—you envied the ingenuity of your junior counsel. Because he discharged the part which he had undertaken with wit, and examined the witnesses cleverly, [*](What follows here in the text is quite unintelligible, and is given up by Orellius as hopelessly corrupt; and probably there is some corruption for the next few lines which I have attempted to translate.)--- But if this be probable, at all events it is not very probable that Decianus was bribed by Flaccus.

And the rest of the case is just as improbable, as is what Lucceius says, that Lucius Flaccus had wished to give him two millions of sesterces to induce him to break his word. And do you accuse that man of avarice who you say was willing to abstain from taking two millions of sesterces? For when he was buying you, what was it that he was buying? Was it your desertion to his side? If you did come over to us, what share in the cause were we to give you? were we to allot to you the part of explaining the designs of Laelius? of saying what witnesses proceeded from his house? What? did not we ourselves see that they were living together? Who is there who does not know that? Is there the slightest doubt that the documents were in Laelius's power? or, was he bribing you not to accuse him with vigour and with eloquence? Now you give cause for suspicion; for you spoke in such a manner that some point or other does seem to have been carried with you.

“But a great and intolerable injury was done to Andrus Sextilius.” As, when his wife Valeria had died without a will, Flaccus managed the business in such a way as if the inheritance belonged to himself. And in that I should be glad to know what you find fault with,—is it, that he asserted anything which was false? How do you prove it? “She was,” says he, “a person of good family.” O man, learned in the law! What? cannot inheritances legally come from women of good family? “She was,” says he, “under the power of her husband.” Now I understand you; but was she so by use [*](The marriage per coemptionem has already been explained. “Marriage was also effected by usus, if a woman lived with a man for a whole year as his wife.” Smith, Dict, Ant. p. 604 v. Marriage, q. v. ) or by purchase? It could not be by use for legitimate guardianship cannot be annulled except by the consent of all the guardians. By purchase? Then it must have been with the consent of all of them; and certainly you will not say that that of Flaccus was obtained.

That alternative remains which he did not cease asserting loudly; “that Flaccus ought not, when he was praetor, to have attended to his own private concerns, or to have made any mention of the inheritance.” I hear, O Lucius Lucullus, that very great inheritances came to you, to you who are about to decide as judge on the case of Lucius Flaccus, on account of your exceeding liberality and of the great services which you had done your friends, during the time that you were governing the province of Asia with consular power. If any one had said that those inheritances belonged to him, would you have given them up? You, O Titus Vettius, if any inheritance in Africa comes to you, will you abandon it? or, will you retain it as your own, without being liable to the imputation of avarice, without any sacrifice of your dignity? “But the possession of the inheritance of which we are speaking was demanded in the name of Flaccus, when Globulus was praetor.” Well then, it was not any sudden violence, nor the idea of any favourable opportunity, nor force, nor any peculiarity of time, nor the possession of command and of the forces which induced Flaccus to commit this injury.

And, therefore, it is to this point that Marcus Lurco also, a most excellent man, and a great friend of mine, has especially addressed the sting of his evidence. He said, that it was not becoming for a praetor in his province to claim money from a private individual. Why, I should like to know, O Lurco, is it not becoming? It is not becoming to force or extort money, or to receive money contrary to the laws; but you will never convince me that it is not becoming to claim it, unless you can show that it is not lawful to do so. Is it right to accept of honorary lieutenancies for the sake of exacting what is one's due, as you yourselves have done lately, and as many good men have often done, (and I, indeed, find no fault with such conduct; I see that our allies complain of it;) and, do you think a praetor, if he, being in his province, does not abandon an inheritance which comes to him, is not only to be blamed but even to be condemned? “But Valeria,” says he, “had given up all her money as dower to her husband.” None of those assertions can be admitted, unless you prove that she was not under the guardianship of Flaccus. If she was, whatever money on her marriage was assigned to her husband without his consent, the assignment is null.

But still you saw that Lurco was angry with Flaccus, although out of regard to his own dignity he was guided by some moderation in giving his evidence. For he did not conceal, or think it at all necessary to be silent about the cause of his anger. He complained that his freedman had been condemned by Flaccus when he was praetor. O how miserable is the condition of those who have the government of provinces! in which diligence is sure to bring enmity; carelessness is sure to incur reproach; severity is dangerous; liberality meets only with ingratitude. The conversation addressed to one is insidious; the flattery with which one is courted is mischievous; the countenance which every one wears towards you is friendly; the disposition of numbers is hostile; dislikes are secret; caresses are open; they wait with eagerness for the coming praetors, they fawn on those who are present, they abandon and betray those who are departing. But let us give over complaining, lest we should seem to be extolling our own wisdom in declining all provinces.

He sent letters about the steward of Publius Septimius, a man of great accomplishments, which steward had committed murder. You might have seen Septimius burning with anger. He allowed (in accordance with his edict) an action against a freedman of Lurco to proceed. Lurco is his enemy. What then? Was Asia to be abandoned to the freedmen of influential and powerful men? or has Flaccus any personal hostility of any sort with your freedmen? or do you hate his severity when displayed in your own causes, and in those of your freedmen, though you praise impartiality when it is we who are on our trial? But that man Andro, who was stripped of all his property, as you say, has not come forward to give his evidence. What if he had? Suppose he had come.

Caius Caecilius was the arbitrator of the settlement come to in that case. How noble, how upright, how conscientious a man! Caius Sextilius was a witness to it, the son of Lurco's sister—a modest, and consistent, and sensible man. If there was any violence employed in the business, any fraud, any fear, any trickery, still who compelled any arrangement to be made at all? who compelled the parties to have recourse to an arbitrator? What will you say, if all that money was restored to this young man by Lucius Flaccus? if it was claimed by him? if it was collected for him? and if this was done through the agency of this Antiochus who is here in court the freedman of this youth's father, and a man most highly esteemed by the elder Flaccus? Do we not then seem not only to escape from the charge of covetousness, but even to deserve the credit of very extraordinary liberality? For he gave up to the young man his relation the whole of their joint inheritance, which by law ought to have belonged to both of them in equal shares; and he himself touched none of Valeria's property. What he had resolved to do, being influenced by the young man's amiable character, and not by the great amount of his patrimony, that he not only did, but did most liberally and courteously. From which it ought to be understood that he had not taken the money in violation of the laws, when he was so very liberal in abandoning the inheritance.

But the charge respecting Falcidius is a serious one. He says that he gave fifty talents to Flaccus. Let us hear the man himself. He is not here. How then does he say it? His mother produces one letter, and his sister produces a second; and they say that he had written to them to say that he had given this large sum to Flaccus. Therefore he, whom, if he were to swear while holding by the altar, no one would believe, is to be allowed to prove whatever he pleases by a letter without being put on his oath at all! And what a man he is! how unfriendly to his fellow-citizens; a man who preferred squandering a sufficiently ample patrimony, which he might have spent among us here, in Grecian banquets!

What was his object in leaving this city? in depriving himself of the glorious liberty existing here? in undergoing all the danger of a voyage? just as if he might not have devoured his property here at Rome. Now at last this jolly son writes to

his mother, an old woman not very likely to suspect him, and clears himself by a letter, in order to appear not to have spent all that money with which he had crossed the sea, but to have given it to Flaccus. But those crops of the Trallians had been sold when Globulus was praetor. Falcidius had bought them for nine hundred thousand sesterces. If he gives so much money to Flaccus, he assuredly gives it to secure the ratification of that purchase. He then buys something which certainly was worth a great deal more than he gave for it; he pays for it out of his profit; he never touches his capital. Therefore he makes the less profit.

Why does he order his Alban farm to be sold? Why, besides, does he caress his mother in this way? Why does he try to overreach the imbecility of his sister and mother by letters? Lastly, why do we not hear the man's own statement? He is detained, I suppose, in the province. His mother says he is not. “He would have come,” says the prosecutor, “if he had been summoned.” You certainly would have compelled him to come, if you had thought your statement would receive any real confirmation from his appearing as a witness. But you were unwilling to take the man away from his business. There was an arduous contest before him; a very severe battle with the Greeks; who, however, as I think, are defeated and overthrown. For he by himself beat all Asia in the size of his cups, and in his power of drinking. But still, who was it, O Laelius, who gave you information about those letters? The women say that they do not know. Who is it then? Did the man himself tell you that he had written to his sister and mother?

or did he write at your entreaty? But do you put no questions to Marcus Aebutius, a most sensible and virtuous man, a relation of Falcidius? Do you decline to examine Caius Manilius his son-in-law, a man of equal integrity? men who certainly must have heard something of so large a sum of money, if it had been given. Did you, O Decianus, think that you were going to prove so heavy a charge, by reading these letters, and bringing forward these women, while the author whom you were quoting was kept at a distance? Especially when you yourself, by not producing Falcidius, declared your own opinion that a forged letter would have more weight than the feigned voice and simulated indignation of the man himself if present.

But why keep on so long discussing and expostulating about the letters of Falcidius, or about Andron Sextilius, or about the income of Decianus, and say nothing about the safety of fortunes of the state, and the general interests of the republic? the whole of which are at stake in this trial, and are resting on your shoulders,—on yours, I say, you who are our judges. You see in what critical times, in what uncertain and variable circumstances, we are all at present placed. There are certain men who are planning many other things, and who are labouring most especially to cause your inclinations, your formal decisions and sentences to appear in a most unfavourable and odious light to all the most respectable citizen. You have given many important decisions in a manner suited to the dignity of the republic and particularly you have given many respecting the guilt of the conspirators. They do not think that the republic has been turned upside down enough unless they can overwhelm citizens who have deserved well of the republic with the same punishment as that with which this impious man Caius Antonius has been crushed.