Cum Senatui gratias egit

Cicero, Marcus Tullius

Cicero. The Orations of Marcus Tullius Cicero, Vol. 3. Yonge, Charles Duke, translator. London: Bell, 1856.


you have seen the kindness and zeal of the others; how devoted to me was Caius Cestilius, how attached to you, how uniformly faithful to our cause. What did Marcus Cispius do? I know how much I owe to him and to his father and brother; and they, though they had some personal grudge against me on their own private account, still disregarded their private dislike out of recollection of my services to the state. Also, Titus Fadius, who was my quaestor, and Marcus Curtius, to whose father I was quaestor, cherished the memory of our connection with all zeal, and affection, and courage. Caius Messius made many speeches in my behalf, for the sake both of our friendship and of the republic. And he at the beginning proposed a special law respecting my safety.

If Quintus Fabricius could only have effected, in spite of violence and arms, what he endeavoured to do in my behalf, we should have recovered our position in the month of January. His own inclination prompted him to labour for my safety, violence checked him, your authority recalled him. Of what disposition towards me the praetors were, you were able to form an opinion when Lucius Caecilius, in his private character, laboured to support me from his own resources, and in his public capacity proposed a law respecting my safety, in concert with all his colleagues, and refused the plunderers of my property permission to support their actions by legal proceedings. But Marcus Calidius, the moment he was elected, showed by his vote how dear my safety was to him.

Caius Septimius, Quintus Valerius, Publius Crassus, Sextus Quintilius, and Caius Cornutus, all devoted all their energies to the promotion of my interests and those of the republic. And while I gladly make mention of these things, I am not unwilling to pass over the wicked actions done by some people with a view to injure me. It is not suited to my fortunes at present to remember injuries, which, even if I were able to revenge them, I still would rather forget. All my life is to be devoted to a different object: to that of showing my gratitude to those who have deserved well of me; to preserving those friendships which have been tried in the fire; to waging war against my open enemies; to pardoning my timid friends; to avoiding the showing those who deserted me any indignation at having been forced to leave the city; to console those who promoted my return by a proper display of my dignity.

And if I had no other duty before me for all the rest of my life, except to appear sufficiently grateful to the very originators and prime movers and authors of my safety, still I should think the period that remains to me of life too brief; I will not say for requiting, but even for enumerating the kindnesses which have been shown to me. For, when shall I, or when will all my relations, be able to show proper gratitude to this man and to his children? What memory, what force of genius, what amount of deference and respect will be a fit return for such numerous and immense services? He was the first man who held out to me the promise and faith of a consul when I was overwhelmed and miserable; he it was who recalled me from death to life, from despair to hope, from destruction to safety. His affection for me, his zeal for the republic, was so great, that he kept thinking how he might not only relieve my calamity, but how he might even make it honourable. For what could be more honourable, what could happen to me more creditable, than that which you decreed on his motion, that all people from all Italy, who desired the safety of the republic, should come forward for the sole purpose of supporting and defending me, a ruined and almost broken-hearted man? So that the senate summoned the citizens and the whole of Italy to come from all their lands and from every town to the defence of one man, with the very same force of expression which had never been used but three times before since the foundation of Rome, and at those times it was the consul who used it in behalf of the entire republic, addressing himself to those only who could hear his voice.

What could I leave to my posterity more glorious than the fact, that the senate had declared its judgment that any citizen who did not defend me, did not desire the safety of the republic? Therefore your authority, and the preeminent dignity of the consul, had this great effect, that every one thought that he was committing a shameful crime if he did not come to that summons. And this same consul, when that incredible multitude, when Italy itself I might almost say, had come to Rome, summoned you repeatedly to the Capitol; and at that time you had an opportunity of seeing what great power excellence of natural disposition and true nobleness have. For Quintus Metellus, himself an enemy of mine, and a brother of an enemy of mine, as soon as he was assured of your inclinations, laid aside his own private dislike to me

and allowed Publius Servilius, a most illustrious man, and also a most virtuous one, and a most intimate friend of my own, to recall him, by what I may call the divine influence of his authority and eloquence, to the exploits and virtues of his race and of their common family, so as to take to his counsels his brother, in the shades below, the companion of my fortunes, and all the Metelli, those most admirable citizens, summoning them as it were from Acheron; and among them the great conqueror of Numidia, whose departure from his country formerly seemed grievous to all the citizens, but scarcely even vexatious to himself.

He, therefore, turns out now, not only a defender of my safety, having been previously to this one kindness of his always my enemy, but even the seconder of my restoration to my dignity. And on that day when you met in the senate to the number of four hundred and seventeen, and when all these magistrates were present one alone dissented; he who thought that the conspirators could by his law be awakened from the shades below. And on that day when in most weighty and copious language you delivered your decision, that the republic had been preserved by my counsels, he as consul again took care that the same things should be said by the chief men of the state in the assembly the next day; and he then spoke on my behalf with the greatest eloquence, and brought the assembly into such a state, all Italy standing by and listening, that no one would listen to the hateful and detested voice of any of my hired or profligate enemies.

To these acts of his, being not only aids to my safety, but even ornaments of my dignity, you yourselves added the rest that was wanting. You decreed that no one should by any means whatever hinder that matter from proceeding; that if any one did try to interpose any obstacle, you would be very angry and indignant; that he would be acting in a manner contrary to the interests of the republic, and the safety of good men, and the unanimous wish of the citizens; and that such a man was instantly to be reported to you. And you passed a vote that if they persisted in interposing obstacles, I was to return in spite of them. Why need I tell how thanks were given to all those who had come up from the municipal towns; or that they were entreated to be present with equal eagerness on that day when the whole affair was consummated? Lastly, why need I tell what you did on that day which Publius Lentulus has made as a birthday to me, and to my brother, and to our children, to be recollected not only by us, who are now alive, but by all our race for ever? On which day, in the comitia centuriata, which our ancestors rightly called and considered the real comitia, he summoned us back to our country, so that the same centuries which had made me consul should declare their approval of my consulship.

On that day what citizen was there who thought it right, whatever his age or state of health might be, to deny himself the opportunity of giving his vote for my safety? When did you ever see such a multitude assembled in the Campus, such a splendid show of all Italy and of all orders of men? when did you ever see movers, and tellers, and keepers of the votes all of such high rank? Therefore, through the active, and admirable, and godlike kindness of Publius Lentulus, we were not allowed to return to our country, as some most eminent citizens have been, but we were brought back in triumph, borne by white horses in a gilded car.

Can I ever appear grateful enough to Cnaeus Pompeius, who said, not only among you who all were of the same opinion, but also before the whole Roman people, that the safety of the republic had been preserved by me, and was inseparably connected with mine? who recommended my cause to the wise, and taught the ignorant, and at the same time checked the wicked by his authority, and encouraged the good; who not only exhorted the Roman people to espouse my cause, but even entreated them to do so, as if he were speaking for a brother or a parent; who, at a time when he was forced to keep within his house from fear of contests and bloodshed, begged even of the preceding tribunes to propose and carry a law respecting my safety; who in a colony lately erected, where he himself was discharging the duties of a magistrate in it, where there was no bribed interrupter, declared that the privilegium[*](“A Privilegium signified an enactment that had for its object a single person, which is indicated by the form of the word privae res, being the same as singulae res. It might be beneficial to the party to whom it referred, or not; but it is generally used by Cicero in the unfavourable sense.”—Smith, Dict. Ant. p. 500, v. Lex. “In the time of the republic it was not allowed to pass or to propose such a law.”—Riddle, v. Privilegium. But I do not know his authority for such a statement.) passed against me was violent and cruel, confirming that declaration by the authority of most

honourable men, and by public letters, and, being the chief man there, gave his opinion that it was becoming to implore the protection of all Italy for my safety; who, when he himself had always been a most firm friend to me, laboured also to make all his own friends also to me.

And by what services can I requite the kindness of Titus Annius to me? all whose actions, the whole of whose conduct and thoughts, the whole of whose tribuneship, in short, was nothing else except a consistent, continual, gallant, unwearied advocacy of my safety. Why need I speak of Publius Sextius? who showed his good-will and faithful attachment to me, not only by his grief of mind, but even by the wounds which he received on his person. But to you, O conscript fathers, and to each individual of you, I have both declared, and I will continue to declare my gratitude. I declared it at the beginning to your whole body, as well as I could; to declare it with sufficient eloquence is what I am totally unable to do. And although I have received special favours from many persons, about which it is impossible for me to keep silence, still it is impossible at the present time, and with the apprehensions which I feel, to endeavour to enumerate the kindnesses which I have received from individuals. For it is difficult to avoid passing over some, and yet it would be impious to forget any one. I, O conscript fathers, ought to reverence every one of you as I do the immortal gods. But as, even in the case of the immortal gods themselves, we are wont not always to pay worship and to offer prayers to the same deities, but sometimes we pray to one and sometimes to another; so in the case of the men who have behaved to me with such godlike service, my whole life shall be devoted to celebrating their kindness towards me, and showing my reverent sense of it.

But on this day I have thought that it became me to return thanks especially to the different magistrates by name, and also to one private individual, who for the sake of my safety, had visited all the municipal towns and colonies, had as a suppliant addressed his entreaties to the Roman people, and had declared that opinion which you followed when you restored me to my dignities. You always distinguished me when I was prosperous; when I was in distress you defended me to the extent of your power, by the change of your garments, and your general mourning, There have been times within our own recollection when senators did not dare to change their robes even in their own personal dangers; but in my danger the whole senate changed its garments as far as it was allowed to do without interruption from the edicts of those men who wished to deprive me in my peril not only of all protection from them, but of even the benefit of your prayers in my behalf.

And when I was in such circumstances as these, when I saw that I as a private individual had to contend with the same array which as consul I had defeated, using not arms but your authority, I deliberated much with myself. The consul had said that he would make the Roman knights pay for the scenes on the Capitoline Hill. Some were summoned by name, others were prosecuted, some were banished. All access to the temples was prevented, not merely by their being garrisoned or occupied with a strong force, but by their being demolished. The other consul, not content with only abandoning me and the republic, unless he could also betray us to the enemies of the republic, had bound those enemies to him by promising them the rewards which they coveted. There was another man at the gates with a command [*](He means Julius Caesar, who had the command in Gaul as proconsul for five years.) given to him for many years, and with a large army. I do not say that he was an enemy of mine, but I do know that he did nothing when he was stated to be my enemy.

As there were thought to be two parties in the republic, the one was supposed, out of its enmity to me, to demand that I should be given up to it; the other, to defend me, but timidly out of fear of bloodshed. But those who seemed to require me to be given up to them increased the fear of a contest by their conduct as they never diminished the suspicions and anxieties of men by denying what they were suspected of. Wherefore, when I saw the senate deprived of leaders, and myself attacked by some of the magistrates, betrayed by some, and abandoned by others; when I saw that slaves were being enlisted by name under some pretence of forming guilds; [*](“Clodius not only restored the old collegia or guilds, but formed some new ones of the very dregs of the city, and of the slaves; and this is alluded to in several of the subsequent orations.”—Manut.) that all the troops of Catiline were recalled to their original hopes of massacre and conflagration under

almost the same leaders as before; that the Roman knights were under the same fear of proscription as before; that the municipal towns were in dread of being pillaged, and every one in fear of his life; I might—I might, I say, O conscript fathers, still have been able to defend myself by force of arms, and many wise and brave men advised me to do so; nor was I wanting in the same courage which I had shown before, and which was not unknown to you. But I saw that if I defeated my present enemy, I had still too many others behind who must also be defeated; that if I were beaten myself; many virtuous men would fall for my sake, and with me, and even after me; and that the avengers of the blood of the tribunes were present, but that all satisfaction for my death must he exacted by the slow progress of the law, and reserved for posterity.

I did not choose, after I had as consul maintained the general safety of the state without having recourse to arms, to take arms as a private individual in my own cause; I preferred that virtuous men should grieve for my fortune rather than despair of their own; and if I were slain by myself; that I thought would be a shameful end for me; but if I were slain with many others, that I thought would be fatal to the republic. If I had supposed that eternal misery was before me, I would rather have endured death than everlasting agony. But I felt sure that I should not be absent from this city any longer than the constitution itself was, and, while that was banished, I thought it no longer desirable for myself that I should remain in it; and in accordance with my expectation, as soon as ever the constitution was restored, it brought me back in triumph as its companion. The laws were all banished as well as I, the courts of justice were banished as well as I; the prerogatives of the magistrates, the authority of the senate, the liberty of the citizens, even the fruitfulness of the land, all piety and all religion, whether it was with respect to men or gods, were all banished from the state when I was banished. And if they had been lost to you for ever, I should mourn over your fortunes rather than regret the loss of my home amongst you; but if they were ever restored, I was quite sure that I should be enabled to return with them.

And of these feelings of mine, he who was the protector of my life is also my most indisputable witness, namely Cnaeus Plancius, who, disregarding all the distinctions and emoluments which might have been derived from a province, devoted his whole quaestorship to supporting and preserving me. If he had been my quaestor when I was commander-in-chief; he would have stood in the relation of a son to me; now he surely shall be looked upon by me as a parent, since he has been my quaestor, not while in authority, but in grief.

Wherefore, O conscript fathers, since I have been restored to the republic at the same time with the constitution of the republic, in whatever I do for the defence of it, I will not only not in the slightest degree abridge my former liberty, but I will even increase it. In truth, if I defended the republic at a time when it was under some obligations to me, what ought I to do now when I owe everything to it? For what is there that can crush or even weaken my spirit, when you see that calamity itself is in my case not a witness of any error; but of most extraordinary services rendered to the republic? For these disasters were brought on me by my defence of the state; they were undergone by me of my own free will, in order that the republic which had been defended by me should not be brought into the very extremity of peril.

It was not in my case, as in that of Publius Popillius, a most noble man, my young sons, or a multitude of my relations that entreated the Roman people in my behalf; it was not in my case, as in the case of Quintus Metellus, a most admirable and most illustrious man, a youthful son of proved virtue who strove for me; it was not Lucius and Caius Metellus, men of consular rank, nor their sons; nor Quintus Metellus Nepos, who was at that very moment a candidate for the consulship, nor the Luculli or Servilii, or Scipios, sons of the Metelli, who with tears and in mourning garments addressed their supplications to the Roman people; but one single brother, who behaved to me with the dutiful affection of a son, who fortified me like a parent with his counsels, and loved me like a brother (as indeed he was), by his mourning robe and his tears and daily prayers kept alive the regret of me which existed, and the recollection of my name and services; and while he had made up his mind, that unless by your votes he could recover me here, he would encounter the same fortune himself, and choose the same abode both in life and death, still he never was alarmed either at the greatness of the business, or at his own

solitary and unassisted condition, nor at the violence and warlike measures of my adversaries.

There was another upholder and assiduous defender of my fortunes, Caius Piso, my son-in-law, a man of the greatest virtue and piety, who disregarded the threats of my enemies, the hostility of my connection, and his own near relation, the consul; who, as quaestor, passed over Pontus and Bithynia for the sake of ensuring my safety. The senate never decreed anything respecting Publius Popillius; no mention was ever made in this assembly of Quintus Metellus. They were restored by motions made by the tribunes, after their enemies had been slain, and, above all, they were not restored by the interposition of any authority on the part of the senate, though one of them had done what he did in obedience to the senate, the other had fled from violence and bloodshed. For Caius Marius, the only man of consular dignity in the memory of man who was ever driven from the city in times of civil discord before me, was not only not restored by the senate, but by his return almost destroyed the senate. There was no unanimity of magistrates in their cases,—no summoning of the Roman people to come to the defence of the republic,—no commotion throughout Italy,—no decrees of municipalities and colonies in their favour.

Wherefore, since your authority has summoned me,—since the Roman people his recalled me,—since the republic has begged me to return,—since almost all Italy has brought me back in triumph on its shoulders, I will take care, O conscript fathers, now that those things have been restored to me, the restoration of which did not depend on myself, not to appear wanting in those qualities with which I can provide myself; I will take care, now that I have recovered those things which I had lost, never to lose my virtue and loyal attachment to you.