But mark now the trifling character of the fellow. When about the tenth hour of the day he had arrived at Red Rocks, he skulked into a little petty wine-shop, and, hidden there, kept on drinking till evening. And from thence getting into a gig and being driven rapidly to the city, he came to his own house with his head veiled. “Who are you?” says the porter. “An express from Marcus.” He is at once taken to the woman for whose sake he had come; and he delivered the letter to her. And when she had read it with tears (for it was written in a very amorous style, but the main subject of the letter was that he would have nothing to do with that actress for the future; that he had discarded all his love for her, and transferred it to his correspondent), when she, I say, wept plentifully, this soft-hearted man could bear it no longer; he uncovered his head and threw himself on her neck. Oh the worthless man (for what else can I call him? there is no more suitable expression for me to use)! was it for this that you disturbed the city by nocturnal alarms, and Italy with fears of many days' duration, in order that you might show yourself unexpectedly, and that a woman might see you before she hoped to do so? And he had at home a pretense of love; but out of doors a cause more discreditable still, namely, lest Lucius Plancus should sell up his sureties, But after you had been produced in the assembly by one of the tribunes of the people, and had replied that you had come on your own private business, you made even the people full of jokes against you. But, however, we have said too much about trifles. Let us come to more important subjects.
You went a great distance to meet Caesar on his return from Spain. You went rapidly, you returned rapidly, in order that we might see that, if you were not brave, you were at least active. You again became intimate with him; I am sure I do not know how. Caesar had this peculiar characteristic; whoever he knew to be utterly ruined by debt, and needy, even if he knew him also to be an audacious and worthless man, he willingly admitted him to his intimacy. You then, being admirably recommended to him by these circumstances, were ordered to be appointed consul, and that too as his own colleague. I do not make any complaint against Dolabella, who was at that time acting under compulsion, and was cajoled and deceived, But who is there who does not know with what great perfidy both of you treated Dolabella in that business? Caesar induced him to stand for the consulship. After having promised it to him, and pledged himself to aid him, he prevented his getting it, and transferred it to himself. And you endorsed his treachery with your own eagerness.
The first of January arrives. We are convened in the senate. Dolabella inveighed against him with much more fluency and premeditation than I am doing now. And what things were they which he said in his anger, O ye good gods! First of all, after Caesar had declared that before he departed he would order Dolabella to be made consul (and they deny that he was a king who was always doing and saying something of this sort).—but after Caesar had said this, then this virtuous augur said that he was invested with a pontificate of that sort that he was able, by means of the auspices, either to hinder or to vitiate the comitia, just as he pleased; and he declared that he would do so. And here, in the first place, remark the incredible stupidity of the man. For what do you mean? Could you not just as well have done what you said you had now the power to do by the privileges with which that pontificate had invested you, even if you were not an augur, if you were consul? Perhaps you could even do it more easily. For we augurs have only the power of announcing that the auspices are being observed, but the consuls and other magistrates have the right also of observing them whenever they choose. Be it so. You said this out of ignorance. For one must not demand prudence from a man who is never sober. But still remark his impudence. Many months before, he said in the senate that he would either prevent the comitia from assembling for the election of Dolabella by means of the auspices, or that he would do what he actually did do. Can any one divine beforehand what defect there will be in the auspices, except the man who has already determined to observe the heavens? which in the first place it is forbidden by law to do at the time of the comitia. And if any one has; been observing the heavens, he is bound to give notice of it, not after the comitia are assembled, but before they are held. But this man's ignorance is joined to impudence, nor does he know what an augur ought to know, nor do what a modest man ought to do. And just recollect the whole of his conduct during his consulship from that day up to the ides of March. What lictor was ever so humble, so abject? He himself had no power at all; he begged every thing of others; and thrusting his head into the hind part of his litter, he begged favors of his colleagues, to sell them himself afterward.
Behold, the day of the comitia for the election of Dolabella arrives The prerogative century draws its lot. He is quiet. The vote is declared; he is still silent. The first class is called.[*](There seems some corruption here. Orellius apparently thinks the case hopeless.) Its vote is declared. Then, as is the usual course, the votes are announced. Then the second class. And all this is done faster than I have told it. When the business is over, that excellent augur (you would say he must be Caius Laelius) says,—“We adjourn it to another day.” Oh the monstrous impudence of such a proceeding! What had you seen? what had you perceived? what had you heard? For you did not say that you had been observing the heavens, and indeed you do not say so this day. That defect then has arisen, which you on the first of January had already foreseen would arise, and which you had predicted so long before. Therefore, in truth, you have made a false declaration respecting the auspices, to your own great misfortune, I hope, rather than to that of the republic. You laid the Roman people under the obligations of religion; you as augurs interrupted an augur; you as consul interrupted a consul by a false declaration concerning the auspices.
I will say no more, lest I should seem to be pulling to pieces the acts of Dolabella; which must inevitably sometime or other be brought before our college. But take notice of the arrogance and insolence of the fellow. As long as you please, Dolabella is a consul irregularly elected; again, while you please, he is a consul elected with all proper regard to the auspices. If it means nothing when an augur gives this notice in those words in which you gave notice, then confess that you, when you said,—“We adjourn this to another day,”—were not sober. But if those words have any meaning, then I, an augur, demand of my colleague to know what that meaning is.
But, lest by any chance, while enumerating his numerous exploits, our speech should pass over the finest action of Marcus Antonius, let us come to the Lupercalia.
He does not dissemble, O conscript fathers; it is plain that he is agitated; he perspires; he turns pale. Let him do what he pleases, provided he is not sick, and does not behave as be did in the Minucian colonnade. What defence can be made for such beastly behaviour? I wish to hear, that I may see the fruit of those high wages of that rhetorician, of that land given in Leontini. Your colleague was sitting in the rostra, clothed in purple robe, on a golden chair, wearing a crown. You mount the steps; you approach his chair, (if you were a priest of Pan, you ought to have recollected that you were consul too;) you display a diadem; There is a groan over the whole forum. Where did the diadem come from? For you had not picked it up when lying on the ground, but you had brought it from home with you, a premeditated and deliberately planned wickedness. You placed the diadem on his head amid the groans of the people; he rejected it amid great applause. You then alone, O wicked man, were found both to advise the assumption of kingly power, and to wish to have him for your master who was your colleague and also to try what the Roman people might be able to bear and to endure. Moreover, you even sought to move his pity; you threw yourself at his feet as a suppliant; begging for what? to be a slave? You might beg it for yourself, when you had lived in such a way from the time that you were a boy that you could bear everything, and would find no difficulty in being a slave; but certainly you had no commission from the Roman people to try for such a thing for them.
Oh how splendid was that eloquence of yours, when you harangued the people stark naked! what could be more foul than this? more shameful than this? more deserving of every sort of punishment? Are you waiting for me to prick you more? This that I am saying must tear you and bring blood enough if you have any feeling at all. I am afraid that I may be detracting from the glory of some most eminent men. Still my indignation shall find a voice. What can be more scandalous than for that man to live who placed a diadem on a man's head, when every one confesses that that man was deservedly slain who rejected it? And, moreover, he caused it to be recorded in the annals, under the head of Lupercalia, “That Marcus Antonius, the consul, by command of the people, had offered the kingdom to Caius Caesar, perpetual dictator; and that Caesar had refused to accept it.” I now am not much surprised at your seeking to disturb the general tranquillity; at your hating not only the city but the light of day; and at your living with a pack of abandoned robbers, disregarding the day, and yet regarding nothing beyond the day.[*](The Latin is, “non solum de die, sed etiam in diem vivere;” which the commentators explain “De die is to feast every day and all day. Banquets de die are those which begin before the regular hour.” (Like Horace's Partem solido demere de die.) “To live in diem is to live as so as to have no thought for the future.”—Graevius.) For where can you be safe in peace? What place can there be for you where laws and courts of justice have sway, both of which you, as far as in you lay, destroyed by the substitution of kingly power? Was it for this that Lucius Tarquinius was driven out; that Spurius Cassius, and Spurius Maelius, and Marcus Manlius were slain; that many years afterwards a king might be established at Rome by Marcus Antonius though the bare idea was impiety? How ever, let us return to the auspices.
With respect to all the things which Caesar was intending to do in the senate on the ides of March, I ask whether you have done any thing? I heard, indeed, that you had come down prepared, because you thought that I intended to speak about your having made a false statement respecting the auspices, though it was still necessary for us to respect them. The fortune of the Roman people saved us from that day. Did the death of Caesar also put an end to your opinion respecting the auspices? But I have come to mention that occasion which must be allowed to precede those matters which I had begun to discuss. What a flight was that of yours! What alarm was yours on that memorable day! How, from the consciousness of your wickedness, did you despair of your life! How, while flying, were you enabled secretly to get home by the kindness of those men who wished to save you, thinking you would show more sense than you do! O how vain have at all times been my too true predictions of the future! I told those deliverers of ours in the Capitol, when they wished me to go to you to exhort you to defend the republic, that as long as you were in fear you would promise every thing, but that as soon as you had emancipated yourself from alarm you would be yourself again. Therefore, while the rest of the men of consular rank were going backward and forward to you, I adhered to my opinion, nor did I see you at all that day, or the next; nor did I think it possible for an alliance between virtuous citizens and a most unprincipled enemy to be made, so as to last, by any treaty or engagement whatever. The third day I came into the temple of Tellus, even then very much against my will, as armed men were blockading all the approaches. What a day was that for you, O Marcus Antonius! Although you showed yourself all on a sudden an enemy to me; still I pity you for having envied yourself.
What a man, O ye immortal gods! and how great a man might you have been, if you had been able to preserve the inclination you displayed that day;—we should still have peace which was made then by the pledge of a hostage, a boy of noble birth, the grandson of Marcus Bamballo. Although it was fear that was then making you a good citizen, which is never a lasting teacher of duty; your own audacity, which never departs from you as long as you are free from fear, has made you a worthless one. Although even at that time, when they thought you an excellent man, though I indeed differed from that opinion, you behaved with the greatest wickedness while presiding at the funeral of the tyrant, if that ought to be called a funeral. All that fine panegyric was yours, that commiseration was yours, that exhortation was yours. It was you—you, I say—who hurled those firebrands, both those with which your friend himself was nearly burned, and those by which the house of Lucius Bellienus was set on fire and destroyed. It was you who let loose those attacks of abandoned men, slaves for the most part, which we repelled by violence and our own personal exertions; it was you who set them on to attack our houses. And yet you, as if you had wiped off all the soot and smoke in the ensuing days, carried those excellent resolutions in the Capitol, that no document conferring any exemption, or granting any favor, should he published after the ides of March. You recollect yourself, what you said about the exiles; you know what you said about the exemption; but the best thing of all was, that you forever abolished the name of the dictatorship in the republic. Which act appeared to show that you had conceived such a hatred of kingly power that you took away all fear of it for the future, on account of him who had been the last dictator.
To other men the republic now seemed established, but it did not appear so at all to me, as I was afraid of every sort of shipwreck, as long as you were at the helm. Have I been deceived? or, was it possible for that man long to continue unlike himself? While you were all looking on, documents were fixed up over the whole Capitol, and exemptions were being sold, not merely to individuals, but to entire states. The freedom of the city was also being given now not to single persons only, but to whole provinces. Therefore, if these acts are to stand,—and stand they can not if the republic stands too,—then, O conscript fathers, you have lost whole provinces; and not the revenues only, but the actual empire of the Roman people has been diminished by a market this man held in his own house.
Where are the seven hundred millions of sesterces which were entered in the account-books which are in the temple of Ops? a sum lamentable indeed, as to the means by which it was procured, but still one which, if it were not restored to those to whom it belonged, might save us from taxes. And how was it, that when you owed forty millions of sesterces on the fifteenth of March, you had ceased to owe them by the first of April? Those things are quite countless which were purchased of different people, not without your knowledge; but there was one excellent decree posted up in the Capitol affecting king Deiotarus, a most devoted friend to the Roman people. And when that decree was posted up, there was no one who, amid all his indignation, could restrain his laughter. For who ever was a more bitter enemy to another than Caesar was to Deiotarus? He was as hostile to him as he was to this order, to the equestrian order, to the people of Massilia, and to all men whom he knew to look on the republic of the Roman people with attachment. But this man, who neither present nor absent could ever obtain from him any favor or justice while he was alive, became quite an influential man with him when he was dead. When present with him in his house, he had called for him though he was his host, he had made him give in his accounts of his revenue, he had exacted money from him; he had established one of his Greek retainers in his tetrarchy, and he had taken Armenia from him, which had been given to him by the senate. While he was alive he deprived him of all these things; now that he is dead, he gives them back again. And in what words? At one time he says, “that it appears to him to be just,...” at another, “that it appears not to be unjust...” What a strange combination of words! But while alive (I know this, for I always supported Deiotarus, who was at a distance), he never said that anything which we were asking for, for him, appeared just to him. A bond for ten millions of sesterces was entered into in the women's apartment (where many things have been sold, and are still being sold), by his ambassadors, well-meaning men, but timid and inexperienced in business, without my advice or that of the rest of the hereditary friends of the monarch. And I advise you to consider carefully what you intend to do with reference to. this bond. For the king himself, of his own accord, without. waiting for any of Caesar's memoranda, the moment that her heard of his death, recovered his own rights by his own courage and energy. He, like a wise man, knew that this was always the law, that those men from whom the things which tyrants had taken away had been taken, might recover them when the tyrants were slain. No lawyer, therefore, not even he who is your lawyer and yours alone, and by whose advice you do all these things, will say that any thing is due to you by virtue of that bond for those things which had been recovered before that bond was executed. For he did not purchase them of you; but, before you undertook to sell him his own property, be had taken possession of it. He was a man—we, indeed, deserve to be despised, who hate the author of the actions, but uphold the actions themselves.
Why need I mention the countless mass of papers, the innumerable autographs which have been brought forward? writings of which there are imitators who sell their forgeries as openly as if they were gladiators playbills. Therefore, there are now such heaps of money piled up in that man's house, that it is weighed out instead of being counted.[*](This accidental resemblance to the incident in the “Forty Thieves” in the “Arabian Nights” is curious.) But bow blind is avarice! Lately, too, a document has been posted up by which the most wealthy cities of the Cretans are released from tribute; and by which it is ordained that after the expiration of the consulship of Marcus Brutus, Crete shall cease to be a province. Are you in your senses.? Ought you not to be put in confinement? Was it possible for there really to be a decree of Caesar's exempting Crete after the departure of Marcus. Brutus, when Brutus had no connection whatever with Crete while Caesar was alive? But by the sale of this decree (that you may not, O conscript fathers, think it wholly ineffectual) you have lost the province of Crete. There was nothing in the whole world which any one wanted to buy that this fellow was not ready to sell.
Caesar too, I suppose, made the law about the exiles which you have posted up. I do not wish to press upon any one in misfortune; I only complain, in the first place, that the return of those men has had discredit thrown upon it, whose cause Caesar judged to be different from that of the rest; and in the second place, I do not know why you do not mete out the same measure to all. For there can not be more than three or four left. Why do not they who are in similar misfortune enjoy a similar degree of your mercy? Why do you treat them as you treated your uncle? about whom you refused to pass a law when you were passing one about all the rest; and whom at the same time you encouraged to stand for the censorship, and instigated him to a canvass, which excited the ridicule and the complaint of every one.
But why did you not hold that comitia? Was it because a tribune of the people announced that there had been an ill-omened flash of lightning seen? When you have any interest of your own to serve, then auspices are all nothing; but when it is only your friends who are concerned, then you become scrupulous. What more? Did you not also desert him in the matter of the septemvirate?[*](The septemviri, at full length septemviri epulones or epulonum, were originally triumviri. They were first created A. C. 198, to attend to the epulum Jovis, and the banquets given in honour of the other gods, which duty had originally belonged to the pontifices. Julius Caesar added three more, but that alteration did not last. They formed a collegium, and were one of the four great religious corporations at Rome with the pontifices, the augures, and the quindecemviri. Smith, Dict. Ant. v. Epulones.) “Yes, for he interfered with me.” What were you afraid of? I suppose you were afraid that you would be able to refuse him nothing if he were restored to the full possession of his rights. You loaded him with every species of insult, a man whom you ought to have considered in the place of a father to you, if you had had any piety or natural affection at all, You put away his daughter, your own cousin, having already looked out and provided yourself beforehand with another. That was not enough. You accused a most chaste woman of misconduct. What can go beyond this? Yet you were not content with this. In a very full senate held on the first of January, while your uncle was present, you dared to say that this was your reason for hatred of Dolabella, that you had ascertained that he had committed adultery with your cousin and your wife, Who can decide whether it was more shameless of you to make such profligate and such impious statements against that unhappy woman in the senate, or more wicked to make them against Dolabella, or more scandalous to make them in the presence of her father, or more cruel to make them at all?
However, let us return to the subject of Caesar's written papers. How were they verified by you? For the acts of Caesar were for peace's sake confirmed by the senate; that is to say, the acts which Caesar had really done, not those which Antonius said that Caesar had done. Where do all these come from? By whom are they produced and vouched for? If they are false, why are they ratified? If they are true, why are they sold? But the vote which was come to enjoined you, after the first of June, to make an examination of Caesar's acts with the assistance of a council. What council did you consult? whom did you ever invite to help you? what was the first of June that you waited for? Was it that day on which you, having traveled all through the colonies where the veterans were settled, returned escorted by a band of armed men?
Oh what a splendid progress of yours was that in the months of April and May, when you attempted even to lead a colony to Capua! How you made your escape from thence, or rather how you barely made your escape, we all know. And now you are still threatening that city. I wish you would try, and we should not then be forced to say “barely.” However, what a splendid progress of yours that was! Why need I mention your preparations for banquets, why your frantic hard drinking? Those things are only an injury to yourself; these are injuries to us. We thought that a great blow was inflicted on the republic when the Campanian district was released from the payment of taxes, in order to be given to the soldiery; but you have divided it among your partners in drunkenness and gambling. I tell you, O conscript fathers, that a lot of buffoons and actresses have been settled in the district of Campania. Why should I now complain of what has been done in the district of Leontini? Although formerly these lands of Campania and Leontini were considered part of the patrimony of the Roman people, and were productive of great revenue, and very fertile. You gave your physician three thousand acres; what would you have done if he had cured you? and two thousand to your master of oratory; what would you have done if he had been able to make you eloquent? However, let us return to your progress, and to Italy.
You led a colony to Casilinum, a place to which Caesar had previously led one. You did indeed consult me by letter about the colony of Capua (but I should have given you the same answer about Casilinum), whether you could legally lead a new colony to a place where there was a colony already. I said that a new colony could not be legally conducted to an existing colony, which had been established with a due observance of the auspices, as long as it remained in a flourishing state; but I wrote you word that new colonists might be enrolled among the old ones. But you, elated and insolent, disregarding all the respect due to the auspices, led a colony to Casilinum, whither one had been previously led a few years before; in order to erect your standard there, and to mark out the line of the new colony with a plow. And by that plow you almost grazed the gate of Capua, so as to diminish the territory of that flourishing colony. After this violation of all religious observances, you hasten off to the estate of Marcus Varro, a most conscientious and upright man, at Casinum. By what right? with what face do you do this? By just the same, you will say, as that by which you entered on the estates of the heirs of Lucius Rubrius, or of the heirs of Lucius Turselius, or of other innumerable possessions. If you got the right from any auction, let the auction have all the force to which it is entitled; let writings be of force, provided they are the writings of Caesar, and not your own; writings by which you are bound, not those by which you have released yourself from obligation.
But who says that the estate of Varro at Casinum was ever sold at all? who ever saw any notice of that auction? who ever heard the voice of the auctioneer? You say that you sent a man to Alexandria to buy it of Caesar. It was too long to wait for Caesar himself to come! But who ever heard (and there was no man about whose safety more people were anxious) that any part whatever of Varro's property had been confiscated? What? what shall we say if Caesar even wrote you that you were to give it up? What can be said strong enough for such enormous impudence? Remove for a while those swords which we see around us. You shall now see that the cause of Caesar's auctions is one thing and that of your confidence and rashness is another. For not only shall the owner drive you from that estate, but any one of his friends, or neighbors, or hereditary connections, and any agent, will have the right to do so.
But how many days did he spend reveling in the most scandalous manner in that villa! From the third hour there was one scene of drinking, gambling, and vomiting. Alas for the unhappy house itself! how different a master from its former one has it fallen to the share of! Although, how is he the master at all? but still by how different a person has it been occupied! For Marcus Varro used it as a place of retirement for his studies, not as a theatre for his lusts. What noble discussions used to take place in that villa! what ideas were originated there! what writings were composed there! The laws of the Roman people, the memorials of our ancestors, the consideration of all wisdom and all learning, were the topics that used to be dwelt on then;—but now, while you were the intruder there (for I will not call you the master), every place was resounding with the voices of drunken men; the pavements were floating with wine; the walls were dripping; nobly-born boys were mixing with the basest hirelings; prostitutes with mothers of families. Men came from Casinum, from Aquinum, from Interamna to salute him. No one was admitted. That, indeed, was proper. For the ordinary marks of respect were unsuited to the most profligate of men. When going from thence to Rome he approached Aquinum, a pretty numerous company (for it is a populous municipality) came out to meet him. But he was carried through the town in a covered litter, as if he had been dead. The people of Aquinum acted foolishly, no doubt; but still they were in his road. What did the people of Anagnia do? who, although they were out of his line of road, came down to meet him, in order to pay him their respects, as if he were consul. It is an incredible thing to say, but still it was only too notorious at the time, that he returned nobody's salutation; especially as he had two men of Anagnia with him, Mustela and Laco; one of whom had the care of his swords, and the other of his drinking-cups.
Why should I mention the threats and insults with which he inveighed against the people of Teanum Sidicinum, with which he harassed the men of Puteoli, because they had adopted Caius Cassius and the Bruti as their patrons? a choice dictated, in truth, by great wisdom, and great zeal, benevolence, and affection for them; not by violence and force of arms, by which men have been compelled to choose you, and Basilus, and others like you both,—men whom no one would choose to have for his own clients, much less to be their client himself.
In the mean time, while you yourself were absent, what a day was that for your colleague when he overturned that tomb in the forum, which you were accustomed to regard with veneration! And when that action was announced to you, you—as is agreed upon by all who were with you at the time—fainted away. What happened afterward I know not. I imagine that terror and arms got the mastery. At all events, you dragged your colleague down from his heaven; and you rendered him, not even now like yourself, at all events very unlike his own former self.
After that what a return was that of yours to Rome! How great was the agitation of the whole city! We recollected Cinna being too powerful; after him we had seen Sulla with absolute authority, and we had lately beheld Caesar acting as king. There were perhaps swords, but they were sheathed, and they were not very numerous. But how great and how barbaric a procession is yours! Men follow you in battle array with drawn swords; we see whole litters full of shields borne along. And yet by custom, O conscript fathers, we have become inured and callous to these things, When on the first of June we wished to come to the senate, as it had been ordained, we were suddenly frightened and forced to flee. But he, as having no need of a senate, did not miss any of us, and rather rejoiced at our departure, and immediately proceeded to those marvelous exploits of his. He who had defended the memoranda of Caesar for the sake of his own profit, overturned the laws of Caesar—and good laws too—for the sake of being able to agitate the republic. He increased the number of years that magistrates were to enjoy their provinces; moreover, though he was bound to be the defender of the acts of Caesar, he rescinded them both with reference to public and private transactions.
In public transactions nothing is more authoritative than law; in private affairs the most valid of all deeds is a will. Of the laws, some he abolished without giving the least notice; others he gave notice of bills to abolish. Wills he annulled; though they have been at all times held sacred even in the case of the very meanest of the citizens. As for the statues and pictures which Caesar bequeathed to the people, together with his gardens, those he carried away, some to the house which belonged to Pompeius, and some to Scipio's villa.
And are you then diligent in doing honor to Caesar's memory? Do you love him even now that he is dead? What greater honor had he obtained than that of having a holy cushion, an image, a temple, and a priest? As then Jupiter, and Mars, and Quirinus have priests, so Marcus. Antonius is the priest of the god Julius. Why then do you delay? why are not you inaugurated? Choose a day; select some one to inaugurate you; we are colleagues; no one will refuse. O you detestable man, whether you are the priest of a tyrant, or of a dead man! I ask you then, whether you are ignorant what day this is? Are you ignorant that yesterday was the fourth day of the Roman games in the Circus? and that you yourself submitted a motion to the people, that a fifth day should be added besides, in honor of Caesar? Why are we not all clad in the praetexta? Why are we permitting the honor which by your law was appointed for Caesar to be deserted? Had you no objection to so holy a day being polluted by the addition of supplications, while you did not choose it to be so by the addition of ceremonies connected with a sacred cushion? Either take away religion in every case, or preserve it in every case.
You will ask whether I approve of his having a sacred cushion, a temple and a priest? I approve of none of those things. But you, who are defending the acts of Caesar, what reason can you give for defending some, and disregarding others? unless, indeed, you choose to admit that you measure every thing by your own gain, and not by his dignity. What will you now reply to these arguments—(for I am waiting to witness your eloquence; I knew your grandfather, who was a most eloquent man, but I know you to be a more undisguised speaker than he was; he never harangued the people naked; but we have seen your breast, man, without disguise as you are)? Will you make any reply to these statements? will you dare to open your mouth at all? Can you find one single article in this long speech of mine, to which you trust that you can make any answer? However, we will say no more of what is past.
But this single day, this very day that now is, this very moment while I am speaking, defend your conduct during this very moment, if you can. Why has the senate been surrounded with a belt of armed men? Why are your satellites listening to me sword in hand? Why are not the folding-doors of the temple of Concord open? Why do you bring men of all nations the most barbarous, Ityrcans, armed with arrows, into the forum? He says that he does so as a guard. Is it not then better to perish a thousand times than to be unable to live in one's own city without a guard of armed men? But believe me, there is no protection in that;—a man must be defended by the affection and good will of his fellow-citizens, not by arms. The Roman people will take them from you, will wrest them from ) our hands. I wish that they may do so while we are still safe. But however you treat us, as long as you adopt those counsels it is impossible for you, believe me, to last long. In truth, that wife of yours, who is so far removed from covetousness, and whom I mention without intending any slight to her, has been too long owing[*](It has been explained before that Fulvia had been the widow of Clodius and of Curio, before she married Antonius.) her third payment to the state. The Roman people has men to whom it can entrust the helm of the state; and wherever they are, there is all the defense of the republic, or rather, there is the republic itself; which as yet has only avenged, but has not reestablished itself. Truly and surely has the republic most high-born youths ready to defend it,—though they may for a time keep in the background from a desire for tranquillity, still they can be recalled by the republic at any time.
The name of peace is sweet, the thing itself is most salutary. But between peace and slavery there is a wide difference. Peace is liberty in tranquillity; slavery is the worst of all evils,—to be repelled, if need be, not only by war, but even by death. But if those deliverers of ours have taken themselves away out of our sight, still they have left behind the example of their conduct. They have done what no one else had done. Brutus pursued Tarquinius with war; who was a king when it was lawful for a king to exist in Rome. Spurius Cassius, Spurius. Maelius, and Marcus.Manlius were all slain because they were suspected of aiming at regal power. These are the first men who have ever ventured to attack, sword in hand, a man who was not aiming at regal power, but actually reigning. And their action is not only of itself a glorious and godlike exploit, but it is also one put forth for our imitation; especially since by it they have acquired such glory as appears hardly to be bounded by heaven itself. For although in the very consciousness of a glorious action there is a certain reward, still I do not consider immortality of glory a thing to be despised by one who is himself mortal.
Recollect then, O Marcus Antonius, that day on which you abolished the dictatorship. Set before you the joy of the senate and people of Rome; compare it with this infamous market held by you and by your friends; and then you will understand how great is the difference between praise and profit. But in truth, just as some people, through some disease which has blunted the senses, have no conception of the niceness of food, so men who are lustful, avaricious, and criminal, have no taste for true glory. But if praise can not allure you to act rightly, still can not even fear turn you away from the most shameful actions? You are not afraid of the courts of justice. If it is because you are innocent, I praise you; if because you trust in your power of overbearing them by violence, are you ignorant of what that man has to fear, who on such an account as that does not fear the courts of justice?
But if you are not afraid of brave men and illustrious citizens, because they are prevented from attacking you by your armed retinue, still, believe me, your own fellows will not long endure you. And what a life is it, day and night to be fearing danger from one's own people! Unless, indeed, you have men who are bound to you by greater kindnesses than some of those men by whom he was slain were bound to Caesar; or unless there are points in which you can be compared with him.
In that man were combined genius, method, memory, literature, prudence, deliberation, and industry. He had performed exploits in war which, though calamitous for the republic, were nevertheless mighty deeds. Having for many years aimed at being a king, he had with great labor, and much personal danger, accomplished what he intended. He had conciliated the ignorant multitude by presents, by monuments, by largesses of food, and by banquets; he had bound his own party to him by rewards, his adversaries by the appearances of clemency. Why need I say much on such a subject? He had already brought a free city, partly by fear, partly by patience, into a habit of slavery.
With him I can, indeed, compare you as to your desire to reign; but in all other respects you are in no degree to be compared to him. But from the many evils which by him have been burned into the republic, there is still this good, that the Roman people has now learned how much to believe every one, to whom to trust itself, and against whom to guard. Do you never think on these things? And do you not understand that it is enough for brave men to have learned how noble a thing it is as to the act, how grateful it is as to the benefit done, how glorious as to the fame acquired, to slay a tyrant? When men could not bear him, do you think they will bear you? Believe me, the time will come when men will race with one another to do this deed, and when no one will wait for the tardy arrival of an opportunity.
Consider, I beg you, Marcus Antonius, do some time or other consider the republic: think of the family of which you are born, not of the men with whom you are living. Be reconciled to the republic. However, do you decide on your conduct. As to mine, I myself will declare what that shall be. I defended the republic as a young man, I will not abandon it now that I am old. I scorned the sword of Catiline, I will not quail before yours. No, I will rather cheerfully expose my own person, if the liberty of the city can her restored by my death.
May the indignation of the Roman people at last bring forth what it has been so long laboring with. In truth, if twenty years ago in this very temple I asserted that death could not come prematurely upon a man of consular rank, with how much more truth must I now say the same of an old man? To me, indeed, O conscript fathers, death is now even desirable, after all the honors which I have gained, and the deeds which I have done. I only pray for these two things: one, that dying I may leave the Roman people free. No greater boon than this can be granted me by the immortal gods. The other, that every one may meet with a fate suitable to his deserts and conduct toward the republic.