Philippics

Cicero

Cicero, Marcus Tullius, creator; Yonge, Charles Duke, 1812-1891, translator

Soon after the delivery of the last speech, dispatches were received from Brutus by the consuls, giving an account of his success against Caius Antonius in Macedonia; stating that he had secured Macedonia, Illyricum, and Greece, with the armies in those countries; that Caius Antonius had retired to Apollonia with seven cohorts; that a legion under Lucius Piso had surrendered to young Cicero, who was commanding his cavalry; that Dolabella's cavalry had deserted to him; and that Vatinius had surrendered Dyrrachium and its garrison to him: He likewise praised Quintus Hortensius, the proconsul of Macedonia, as having assisted him in gaining over the Grecian provinces and the armies in those districts.

As soon as Pansa received the dispatches, he summoned the senate to have them read; and in a set speech greatly extolled Brutus, and moved a vote of thanks to him; but Calenus, who followed him, declared his opinion that as Brutus had acted without any public commission or authority, he should be required to give up his army to the proper governors of the provinces, or to whoever the senate should appoint to receive it. After he had sat down, Cicero rose, and delivered the following speech.

We all, O Pansa, ought both to feel and to show the greatest gratitude to you, who,—though we did not expect that you would hold any senate today,—the moment that you received the letters of Marcus Brutus, that most excellent citizen, did not interpose even the slightest delay to our enjoying the most excessive delight and mutual congratulation at the earliest opportunity. And not only ought this action of yours to be grateful to us all, but also the speech which you addressed to us after the letters had been read. For you showed plainly, that that was true which I have always felt to be so, that no one envied the virtue of another who was confident of his own. Therefore I, who have been connected with Brutus by many mutual good offices and by the greatest intimacy, need not say so much concerning him; for the part that I had marked out for myself your speech has anticipated me in. But, O conscript fathers, the opinion delivered by the man who was asked for his vote before me, has imposed upon me the necessity of saying rather more than I otherwise should have said; and I differ from him so repeatedly at present, that I am afraid (what certainly ought not to be the case) that our continual disagreement may appear to diminish our friendship.

What can be the meaning of this argument of yours, O Calenus? what can be your intention? How is it that you have never once since the first of January been of the same opinion with him who asks you your opinion first? How is it that the senate has never yet been so full as to enable you to find one single person to agree with your sentiments? Why are you always defending men who in no point resemble you? why, when both your life and your fortune invite you to tranquillity and dignity, do you approve of those measures, and defend those measures, and declare those sentiments, which are adverse both to the general tranquillity and to your own individual dignity?

For to say nothing of former speeches of yours, at all events. I can not pass over in silence this which excites my most especial wonder. What war is there between you and the Bruti? Why do you alone attack those men whom we are all bound almost to worship? Why are you not indignant at one of them being besieged, and why do you—as far as your vote goes—strip the other of those troops which by his own exertions and by his own danger he has got together by himself, without any one to assist him, for the protection of the republic, not for himself? What is your meaning in this? What are your intentions? Is it possible that you should not approve of the Bruti, and should approve of Antonius? that you should hate those men whom every one else considers most dear? and that you should love with the greatest constancy those whom every one else hates most bitterly? You have a most ample fortune; you are in the highest rank of honor; your son, as I both hear and hope, is born to glory,—a youth whom I favor not only for the sake of the republic, but for your sake also. I ask, therefore, would you rather have him like Brutus or like Antonius? and I will let you choose whichever of the three Antonii you please. God forbid! you will say. Why, then, do you not favor those men and praise those men whom you wish your own son to resemble? For by so doing you will be both consulting the interests of the republic, and proposing him an example for his imitation.

But in this instance, I hope, O Quintus Fufius, to be allowed to expostulate with you, as a senator who greatly differs from you, without any prejudice to our friendship. For you spoke in this matter, and that too from a written paper; for I should think you had made a slip from want of some appropriate expression, if I were not acquainted with your ability in speaking. You said “that the letters of Brutus appeared properly and regularly expressed.” What else is this than praising Brutus's secretary, not Brutus? You both ought to have great experience in the affairs of the republic, and you have. When did you ever see a decree framed in this manner? or in what resolution of the senate passed on such occasions. (and they are innumerable), did you ever hear of its being decreed that the letters had been well drawn up? And that expression did not—as is often the case with other men—fall from you by chance, but you brought it with you written down, deliberated on, and carefully meditated on.

If any one could take from you this habit of disparaging good men on almost every occasion, then what qualities would not be left to you which every one would desire for himself? Do, then, recollect yourself; do at last soften and quiet that disposition of yours; do take the advice of good men, with many of whom you are intimate; do converse with that wisest of men, your own son-in-law, oftener than with yourself; and then you will obtain the name of a man of the very highest character. Do you think it a matter of no consequence (it is a matter in which I, out of the friendship which I feel for you, constantly grieve in your stead), that this should be commonly said out of doors, and should be a common topic of conversation among the Roman people, that the man who delivered his opinion first did not find a single person to agree with him? And that I think will be the case today.

You propose to take the legions away from Brutus:—which legions? Why, those which he has gained over from the wickedness of Caius Antonius, and has by his own authority gained over to the republic. Do you wish then that he should again appear to be the only person stripped of his authority, and as it were banished by the senate? And you, O conscript fathers, if you abandon and betray Marcus Brutus, what citizen in the world will you ever distinguish? Whom will you ever favor? Unless, indeed, you think that those men who put a diadem on a man's head deserve to be preserved, and those who have abolished the very name of kingly power deserve to be abandoned. And of this divine and immortal glory of Marcus Brutus I will say no more; it is already embalmed in the grateful recollection of all the citizens, but it has not yet been sanctioned by any formal act of public authority. Such patience! O ye good gods! such moderation! such tranquillity and submission under injury! A man who, while he was praetor of the city, was driven from the city, was prevented from sitting as judge in legal proceedings, when it was he who had restored all law to the republic; and, though he might have been hedged round by the daily concourse of all virtuous men, who were constantly flocking round him in marvelous numbers, he preferred to be defended in his absence by the judgment of the good, to being present and protected by their force;—who was not even present to celebrate the games to Apollo, which had been prepared in a manner suitable to his own dignity and to that of the Roman people, lest he should open any road to the audacity of most wicked men.

Although, what games or what days were ever more joyful than those on which at every verse that the actor uttered, the Roman people did honor to the memory of Brutus, with loud shouts of applause? The person of their liberator was absent, the recollection of their liberty was present, in which the appearance of Brutus himself seemed to be visible. But the man himself I beheld on those very days of the games, in the country-house of a most illustrious young man, Lucullus, his relation, thinking of nothing but the peace and concord of the citizens. I saw him again afterward at Velia, departing from Italy, in order that there might be no pretext for civil war on his account. Oh what a sight was that! grievous, not only to men but to the very waves and shores. That its savior should be departing from his country; that its destroyers should be remaining in their country! The fleet of Cassius followed a few days afterward; so that I was ashamed, O conscript fathers, to return into the city from which those men were departing. But the design with which I returned you heard at the beginning, and since that you have known by experience. Brutus, therefore, bided his time. For, as long as he saw you endure every thing, he himself behaved with incredible patience; after that he saw you roused to a desire of liberty, he prepared the means to protect you in your liberty.

But what a pest, and how great a pest was it which he resisted? For if Caius Antonius had been able to accomplish what he intended in his mind (and he would have been able to do so if the virtue of Marcus Brutus had not opposed his wickedness), we should have lost Macedonia, Illyricum, and Greece. Greece would have been a refuge for Antonius if defeated, or a support to him in attacking Italy; which at present, being not only arrayed in arms, but embellished by the military command and authority and troops of Marcus Brutus, stretches out her right hand to Italy, and promises it her protection. And the man who proposes to deprive him of his army, is taking away a most illustrious honor, and a most trustworthy guard from the republic. I wish, indeed, that Antonius may hear this news as speedily as possible, so that he may understand that it is not Decimus Brutus whom he is surrounding with his ramparts, but he himself who is really hemmed in.

He possesses three towns only on the whole face of the earth. He has Gaul most bitterly hostile to him; he has even those men the people beyond the Po, in whom he placed the greatest reliance, entirely alienated from him; all Italy is his enemy. Foreign nations, from the nearest coast of Greece to Egypt, are occupied by the military command and armies of most virtuous and intrepid citizens. His only hope was in Caius Antonius; who being in age the middle one between his two brothers, rivaled both of them in vices. He hastened away as if he were being driven away by the senate into Macedonia, not as if he were prohibited from proceeding thither. What a storm, O ye immortal gods! what a conflagration! what a devastation! what a pestilence to Greece would that man have been, if incredible and godlike virtue had not checked the enterprise and audacity of that frantic man. What promptness was there in Brutus's conduct! what prudence! what valor! Although the rapidity of the movement of Caius Antonius also is not despicable; for if some vacant inheritances had not delayed him on his march, you might have said that he had flown rather than traveled. When we desire other men to go forth to undertake any public business, we are scarcely able to get them out of the city; but we have driven this man out by the mere fact of our desiring to retain him. But what business had he with Apollonia? what business had he with Dyrrachium? or with Illyricum? What had he to do with the army of Publius Vatinius, our general? He, as he said himself, was the successor of Hortensius. The boundaries of Macedonia are well defined; the condition of the proconsul is well known; the amount of his army, if he has any at all, is fixed. But what had Antonius to do at all with Illyricum and with the legions of Vatinius?

But Brutus had nothing to do with them either. For that, perhaps, is what some worthless man may say. All the legions, all the forces which exist any where, belong to the Roman people. Nor shall those legions which have quitted Marcus Antonius be called the legions of Antonius rather than of the republic; for he loses all power over his army, and all the privileges of military command, who uses that military command and that army to attack the republic.

But if the republic itself could give a decision, or if all rights were established by its decrees, would it adjudge the legions of the Roman people to Antonius or to Brutus? The one had flown with precipitation to the plunder and destruction of the allies, in order, wherever he went, to lay waste, and pillage, and plunder everything, and to employ the army of the Roman people against the Roman people itself. The other had laid down this law for himself, that wherever he came he should appear to come as a sort of light and hope of safety. Lastly, the one was seeking aids to overturn the republic; the other to preserve it. Nor, indeed, did we see this more clearly than the soldiers themselves; from whom so much discernment in judging was not to have been expected.

He writes, that Antonius is at Apollonia with seven cohorts, and he is either by this time taken prisoner (may the gods grant it!) or, at all events, like a modest man, he does not come near Macedonia, lest he should seem to act in opposition to the resolution of the senate. A levy of troops has been held in Macedonia, by the great zeal and diligence of Quintus Hortensius; whose admirable courage, worthy both of himself and of his ancestors, you may clearly perceive from the letters of Brutus. The legion which Lucius Piso, the lieutenant of Antonius, commanded, has surrendered itself to Cicero, my own son. Of the cavalry, which was being led into Syria in two divisions, one division has left the quaestor who was commanding it, in Thessaly, and has joined Brutus; and Cnaeus Domitius, a young man of the greatest virtue and wisdom and firmness, has carried off the other from the Syrian lieutenant in Macedonia. But Publius Vatinius, who has before this been deservedly praised by us, and who is justly entitled to farther praise at the present time, has opened the gates of Dyrrachium to Brutus, and has given him up his army.

The Roman people then is now in possession of Macedonia, and Illyricum, and Greece. The legions there are all devoted to us, the light-armed troops are ours, the cavalry is ours, and, above all, Brutus is ours, and always will be ours—a man born for the republic, both by his own most excellent virtues, and also by some especial destiny of name and family, both on his father's and on his mother's side.

Does any one then fear war from this man, who, until we commenced the war, being compelled to do so, preferred lying unknown in peace to flourishing in war? Although he, in truth, never did lie unknown, nor can this expression possibly be applied to such great eminence in virtue. For he was the object of regret to the state; he was in every one's mouth, the subject of every one's conversation. But he was so far removed from an inclination to war, that, though he was burning with a desire to see Italy free, he preferred being wanting to the zeal of the citizens, to leading them to put every thing to the issue of war. Therefore, those very men, if there be any such, who find fault with the slowness of Brutus's movements, nevertheless at the same time admire his moderation and his patience.

But I see now what it is they mean: nor, in truth, do they use much disguise. They say that they are afraid how the veterans may endure the idea of Brutus having an army. As if there were any difference between the troops of Aulus Hirtius, of Caius Pansa, of Decimus Brutus, of Caius Caesar, and this army of Marcus Brutus. For if these four armies which I have mentioned are praised because they have taken up arms for the sake of the liberty of the Roman people, what reason is there why this army of Marcus Brutus should not be classed under the same head? Oh, but the very name of Marcus Brutus is unpopular among the veterans.—More than that of Decimus Brutus?—I think not; for although the action is common to both the Bruti, and although their share in the glory is equal, still those men who were indignant at that deed were more angry with Decimus Brutus, because they said, that it was more improper for it to be executed by him. What now are all those armies laboring at, except to effect the release of Decimus Brutus from a siege? And who are the commanders of those armies? Those men, I suppose, who wish the acts of Caius Caesar to be overturned, and the cause of the veterans to be betrayed.

If Caesar himself were alive, could he, do you imagine, defend his own acts more vigorously than that most gallant man Hirtius defends them? or, is it possible that any one should be found more friendly to the cause than his son? But the one of these, though not long recovered from a year long attack of a most severe disease, has applied all the energy and influence which he had to defending the liberty of those men by whose prayers he considered that he himself had been recalled from death; the other, stronger in the strength of his virtue than in that of his age, has set out with those very veterans to deliver Decimus Brutus. Therefore, those men who are both the most certain and at the same time the most energetic defenders of the acts of Caesar, are waging war for the safety of Decimus Brutus; and they are followed by the veterans. For they see that they must fight to the uttermost for the freedom of the Roman people, not for their own advantages. What reason, then, is there why the army of Marcus Brutus should be an object of suspicion to those men who with the whole of their energies desire the preservation of Decimus Brutus?

But, moreover, if there were any thing which were to be feared from Marcus Brutus, would not Pansa perceive it? Or if he did perceive it, would not he, too, be anxious about it? Who is either more acute in his conjectures of the future, or more diligent in warding off danger? But you have already seen his zeal for, and inclination toward Marcus Brutus. He has already told us in his speech what we ought to decree, and how we ought to feel with respect to Marcus Brutus. And he was so far from thinking the army of Marcus Brutus dangerous to the republic, that he considered it the most important and the most trusty bulwark of the republic. Either, then, Pansa does not perceive this (no doubt he is a man of dull intellect), or he disregards it. For he is clearly not anxious that the acts which Caesar executed should be ratified,—he, who in compliance with our recommendation is going to bring forward a bill at the comitia centuriata for sanctioning and confirming them.

Let those, then, who have no fear, cease to pretend to be alarmed, and to be exercising their foresight in the cause of the republic. And let those who really are afraid of every thing, cease to be too fearful, lest the pretense of the one party and the inactivity of the other be injurious to us. What, in the name of mischief! is the object of always opposing the name of the veterans to every good cause? For even if I were attached to their virtue, as indeed I am, still, if they were arrogant I should not be able to tolerate their airs. While we are endeavoring to break the bonds of slavery, shall any one hinder us by saying that the veterans do not approve of it? For they are not, I suppose, beyond all counting who are ready to take up arms in defense of the common freedom! There is no man, except the veteran soldiers, who is stimulated by the indignation of a freeman to repel slavery! Can the republic then stand, relying wholly on veterans, without a great reinforcement of the youth of the state? Whom, indeed, you ought to be attached to, if they be assistants to you in the assertion of your freedom, but whom you ought not to follow if they be the advisers of slavery.

Lastly (let me at last say one true word, one word worthy of myself!)—if the inclinations of this order are governed by the nod of the veterans, and if all our words and actions are to be referred to their will, death is what we should wish for, which has always, in the minds of Roman citizens, been preferable to slavery. All slavery is miserable; but some may have been unavoidable. Do you think, then, that there is never to be a beginning of our endeavors to recover our freedom? Or, when we would not bear that fortune which was unavoidable, and which seemed almost as if appointed by destiny, shall we tolerate the voluntary bondage! All Italy is burning with a desire for freedom. The city can not endure slavery any longer We have given this warlike attire and these arms to the Roman people much later than they have been demanded of us by them.

We have, indeed, undertaken our present course of action with a great and almost certain hope of liberty. But even if I allow that the events of war are uncertain, and that the chances of Mars are common to both sides, still it is worth while to fight for freedom at the peril of one's life. For life does not consist wholly in breathing; there is literally no life at all for one who is a slave. All nations can endure slavery. Our state can not. Nor is there any other reason for this, except that those nations shrink from toil and pain, and are willing to endure any thing so long as they may be free from those evils; but we have been trained and bred up by our forefathers in such a manner, as to measure all our designs and all our actions by the standard of dignity and virtue. The recovery of freedom is so splendid a thing that we must not shun even death when seeking to recover it. But if immortality were to be the result of our avoidance of present danger, still slavery would appear still more worthy of being avoided, in proportion as it is of longer duration. But as all sorts of death surround us on all sides night and day, it does not become a man, and least of all a Roman, to hesitate to give up to his country that breath which he owes to nature.

Men flock together from all quarters to extinguish a general conflagration. The veterans were the first to follow the authority of Caesar and to repel the attempts of Antonius; afterward the Martial legion checked his frenzy; the fourth legion crushed it. Being thus condemned by his own legions, he burst into Gaul which he knew to be adverse and hostile to him both in word and deed. The armies of Aulus Hirtius and Caius Caesar pursued him, and afterward the levies of Pansa roused the city and all Italy. He is the one enemy of all men. Although he has with him Lucius his brother, a citizen very much beloved by the Roman people, the regret for whose absence the city is unable to endure any longer! What can be more foul than that beast? what more savage? who appears born for the express purpose of preventing Marcus Antonius from being the basest of all mortals. They have with them Trebellius, who, now that all debts are canceled, is become reconciled to them; and Titus Plancus, and other like them; who are striving with all their hearts, and whose sole object is to appear to have been restored against the will of the republic. Saxa and Capho, themselves rustic and clownish men, men who never have seen and who never wish to see this republic firmly established, are tampering with the ignorant classes; men who are not upholding the acts of Caesar but those of Antonius; who are led away by the unlimited occupation of the Campanian district; and who I marvel are not somewhat ashamed when they see that they have actors and actresses for their neighbors.

Why then should we be displeased that the army of Marcus Brutus is thrown into the scale to assist us in overwhelming these pests of the commonwealth? It is the army, I suppose, of an intemperate and turbulent man. I am more afraid of his being too patient; although in all the counsels and actions of that man there never has been any thing either too much or too little. The whole inclinations of Marcus Brutus, O conscript fathers, the whole of his thoughts, the whole of his ideas, are directed toward the authority of the senate and the freedom of the Roman people. These are the objects which he proposes to himself; these are what he desires to uphold. He has tried what he could do by patience; as he did nothing, he has thought it necessary to encounter force by force. And, O conscript fathers, you ought at this time to grant him the same honors which on the nineteenth of December you conferred by my advice on Decimus Brutus and Caius Caesar, whose designs and conduct in regard to the republic, while they also were but private individuals, was approved of and praised by your authority. And you ought to do the same now with respect to Marcus Brutus, by whom an unhoped for and sudden reinforcement of legions and cavalry, and numerous and trusty bands of allies, have been provided for the republic.

Quintus Hortensius also ought to have a share of your praise, who, being governor of Macedonia, joined Brutus as a most faithful and untiring assistant in collecting that army. For I think that a separate motion ought to be made respecting Marcus Appuleius, to whom Brutus bears witness in his letters that he has been a prime assistant to him in his endeavors to get together and equip his army. And since this is the case,

“As Caius Pansa the consul has addressed to us a speech concerning the letters which have been received from Quintus Caepio Brutus,[*](Brutus had been adopted by his maternal uncle Quintus Servilius Caepio; so that his legal designation was what is given in the text now, as Cicero is proposing a formal vote—though at all other times we see that he calls him Marcus Brutus.) proconsul, and have been read in this assembly, I give my vote in this matter thus:

“Since, by the exertions and wisdom and industry and valor of Quintus Caepio Brutus, proconsul, at a most critical period of the republic, the province of Macedonia, and Illyricum, and all Greece, and the legions and armies and cavalry, have been preserved in obedience to the consuls and senate and people of Rome; Quintus Caepio Brutus, proconsul, has acted well, and in a manner advantageous to the republic, and suitable to his own dignity and to that of his ancestors, and to the principles according to which alone the affairs of the republic can be properly managed; and that conduct is and will be grateful to the senate and people of Rome.

“And moreover, as Quintus Caepio Brutus, proconsul, is occupying and defending and protecting the province of Macedonia, and Illyricum, and all Greece, and is preserving them in safety; and as he is in command of an army which he himself has levied and collected, he is at liberty if he has need of any, to exact money for the use of the military service, which belongs to the public, and can lawfully be exacted, and to use it, and to borrow money for the exigencies of the war from whomsoever he thinks fit, and to exact corn, and to endeavor to approach Italy as near as he can with his forces. And as it has been understood from the letters of Quintus Caepio Brutus, proconsul, that the republic has been greatly benefited by the energy and valor of Quintus Hortensius, proconsul, and that all his counsels have been in harmony with those of Quintus Caepio Brutus, proconsul, and that that harmony has been of the greatest service to the republic; Quintus Hortensius has acted well and becomingly, and in a manner advantageous to the republic. And the senate decrees that Quintus Hortensius, proconsul, shall occupy the province of Macedonia with his quaestors, or proquaestors and lieutenants, until he shall have a successor regularly appointed by a resolution of the senate.”