After the composition of the last speech, Octavius, considering that he had reason to be offended with Antonius, formed a plot for his assassination by means of some slaves, which however was discovered. In the meantime, Antonius began to declare more and more openly against the conspirators. He erected a statue in the forum to Caesar, with the inscription, “To the most worthy Defender of his Country.” Octavius, at the same time, was trying to win over the soldiers of his uncle Julius, and outbidding Antonius in all his promises to them, so that he soon collected a formidable army of veterans. But as he had no public office to give him any color for his conduct, he paid great court to the republican party, in hopes to get his proceedings authorized by the senate; and he kept continually pressing Cicero to return to Rome and support him. Cicero, however, for some time kept also suspecting partly his abilities, on account of his exceeding youth and partly his sincerity in reconciling himself to his uncle's murderers, however, at last he returned, after expressly stipulating that Octavius should employ all his forces in defense of Brutus and his accomplices
Antonius left Rome about the end of September, in order to engage in his service four legions of Caesar's, which were on their return from Macedonia. But when they arrived at Brundusium three of them refused to follow him, on which he murdered all their centurions, to the number of three hundred, who were all put to death in his lodgings in the sight of himself and Fulvia his wife, and then returned to Rome with the one legion which he had prevailed on while the other three legions declared as yet for neither party. On his arrival in Rome he published many very violent edicts, and summoned the senate to meet on the twenty-fourth of October, then he adjourned it to the twenty eighth; and a day or two before it met, he heard that two out of the three legions had declared for Octavius, and encamped at Alba. And this news alarmed him so much, that he abandoned his intention of proposing to the senate a decree to declare Octavius a public enemy and after distributing some provinces among his friends, he put on his military robes, and left the city to take possession of Cisalpine Gaul which had been assigned to him by a pretended law of the people' against the will of the senate.
On the news of his departure Cicero returned to Rome, where he arrived on the ninth of December. He immediately conferred with Pansa one of the consuls elect (Hirtius his colleague was ill) as to the measures to be taken. He was again addressed with earnest solicitations by the friends of Octavius, who, to confirm his belief in his good intentions, allowed Casca, who had been of the slayers of Caesar and had himself given him the first blow, to enter on his office as tribune of the people on the tenth of December.
The new tribunes convoked the senate for the nineteenth on which occasion Cicero had intended to be absent but receiving the day before the edict of Decimus Brutus, by which he forbade Antonius to enter his province (immediately after the death of Caesar he had taken possession of Cisalpine Gaul, which had been conferred on him by Caesar) and declared that he would defend it against him by force and preserve it in its duty to the senate, he thought it necessary to procure for Brutus a resolution of the senate in his favor. He went down therefore very early, and, in a very full house, delivered the following speech.
We have been assembled at length, O conscript fathers, altogether later than the necessities of the republic required, but still we are assembled, a measure which I indeed have been every day demanding, inasmuch as I saw that a nefarious war against our altars and our hearths, against our lives and our fortunes, wars, I will not say being prepared but being actually waged by a profligate and desperate man. People are waiting for the first of January. But Antonius is not waiting for that day, who is now attempting with an army to invade the province of Decimus Brutus a most illustrious and excellent man. And when he has procured reinforcements and equipments there, he threatens that he will come to this city. What is the use then of waiting, or of even a delay for the very shortest time? For although the first of January is at hand, still a short time is a long one for people who are not prepared. For a day, or I should rather say an hour, often brings great disasters, if no precautions are taken. And it is not usual to wait for a fixed day for holding a council, as it is for celebrating a festival. But if the first of January had fallen on the day when Antonius first fled from the city, or if people had not waited for it, we should by this time have no war at all, For we should easily have crushed the audacity of that frantic man by the authority of the senate and the unanimity of the Roman people. And now, indeed, I feel confident that the consuls elect will do so, as soon as they enter on their magistracy. For they are men of the highest courage, of the most consummate wisdom, and they will act in perfect harmony with each other. But my exhortations to rapid and instant action are prompted by a desire not merely for victory, but for speedy victory.
For how long are we to trust to the prudence of an individual to repel so important, so cruel, and so nefarious a war? Why is not the public authority thrown into the scale as quickly as possible?
Caius Caesar, a young man, or, I should rather say, almost a boy, embued with an incredible and godlike degree of wisdom and valor, at the time when the frenzy of Antonius was at its height, and when his cruel and mischievous return from Brundusium was an object of apprehension to all, while we neither desired him to do so, nor thought of such a measure, nor ventured even to wish it (because it did not seem practicable), collected a most trustworthy army from the invincible body of veteran soldiers, and has spent his own patrimony in doing so. Although I have not used the expression which I ought,—for he has not spent it,—he has invested it in the safety of the republic.
And although it is not possible to requite him with all the thanks to which he is entitled, still we ought to feel all the gratitude toward him which our minds are capable of conceiving. For who is so ignorant of public affairs, so entirely indifferent to all thoughts of the republic, as not to see that, if Marcus Antonius could have come with those forces which he made sure that he should have, from Brundusium to come, as he threatened, there would have been no description of cruelty which he would not have practiced? A man who in the house of his entertainer at Brundusium ordered so many most gallant men and virtuous citizens to be murdered, and whose wife's face was notoriously besprinkled with the blood of men dying at his and her feet. Who is there of us, or what good man is there at all, whom a man stained with this barbarity would ever have spared; especially as he was coming hither much more angry with all virtuous men than he had been with those whom he had massacred there? And from this calamity Caesar has delivered the republic by his own individual prudence (and, indeed, there were no other means by which it could have been done). And if he had not been born in this republic we should, owing to the wickedness of Antonius, now have no republic at all.
For this is what I believe, this is my deliberate opinion, that if that one young man had not checked the violence and inhuman projects of that frantic man, the republic would have been utterly destroyed. And to him we must, O conscript fathers (for this is the first time, met in such a condition, that, owing to his good service, we are at liberty to say freely what we think and feel), we must, I say, this day give authority, so that he may be able to defend the republic, not because that defense has been voluntarily undertaken by him, but also because it has been entrusted to him by us.
Nor (since now after a long interval we are allowed to speak concerning the republic) is it possible for us to be silent about the Martial legion. For what single man has ever been braver, what single man has ever been more devoted to the republic than the whole of the Martial legion? which, as soon as it had decided that Marcus Antonius was an enemy of the Roman people, refused to be a companion of his insanity; deserted him though consul; which, in truth, it would not have done if it had considered him as consul, who, as it saw, was aiming at nothing and preparing nothing but the slaughter of the citizens, and the destruction of the state. And that legion has encamped at Alba. What city could it have selected either more suitable for enabling it to act, or more faithful, or full of more gallant men, or of citizens more devoted to the republic?
The fourth legion, imitating the virtue of this legion, under the leadership of Lucius Egnatuleius, the quaestor, a most virtuous and intrepid citizen, has also acknowledged the authority and joined the army of Caius Caesar.
We, therefore, O conscript fathers, must take care that those things which this most illustrious young man, this most excellent of all men has of his own accord done, and still is doing, be sanctioned by our authority; and the admirable unanimity of the veterans, those most brave men, and of the Martial and of the fourth legion, in their zeal for the reestablishment of the republic, be encouraged by our praise and commendation. And let us pledge ourselves this day that their advantage, and honors, and rewards shall he cared for by us as soon as the consuls elect have entered in their magistracy.
And the things which I have said about Caesar and about his army, are, indeed, already well known to you. For by the admirable valor of Caesar, and by the firmness of the veteran soldiers, and by the admirable discernment of those legions which have followed our authority, and the liberty of the Roman people, and the valor of Caesar, Antonius has been repelled from his attempts upon our lives. But these things, as I have said, happened before; but this recent edict of Decimus Brutus, which has just been issued, can certainly not be passed over in silence. For he promises to preserve the province of Gaul in obedience to the senate and people of Rome. O citizen, born for the republic; mindful of the name he bears; imitator of his ancestors! Nor, indeed, was the acquisition of liberty so much an object of desire to our ancestors when Tarquinius was expelled, as, now that Antonius is driven away, the preservation of it is to us. Those men had learned to obey kings ever since the foundation of the city, but we from the time when the kings were driven out have forgotten how to be slaves. And that Tarquinius, whom our ancestors expelled, was not either considered or called cruel or impious, but only The Proud. That vice which we have often borne in private individuals, our ancestors could not endure even in a king.
Lucius Brutus could not endure a proud king. Shall Decimus Brutus submit to the kingly power of a man who is wicked and impious? What atrocity did Tarquinius ever commit equal to the innumerable acts of the sort which Antonius has done and is still doing? Again, the kings were used to consult the senate; nor, as is the ease when Antonius holds a senate, were armed barbarians ever introduced into the council of the king. The kings paid due regard to the auspices, which this man, though consul and augur, has neglected, not only by passing laws in opposition to the auspices but also by making his colleague (whom he himself had appointed irregularly, and had falsified the auspices in order to do so) join in passing them. Again, what king was ever so preposterously impudent as to have all the profits and kindnesses, and privileges of his kingdom on sale? But what immunity is there, what rights of citizenship, what rewards that this man has not sold to individuals and to cities and to entire provinces.? We have never heard of anything base or sordid being imputed to Tarquinius. But at the house of this man gold was constantly being weighed out in the spinning room, and money was being paid, and in one single house every soul who had any interest in the business was selling the whole empire of the Roman people. We have never heard of any executions of Roman citizens by the orders of Tarquinius; but this man both at Suessa murdered the man whom he had thrown into prison, and at Brundusium massacred about three hundred most gallant men and most virtuous citizens. Lastly, Tarquinius was conducting a war in defense of the Roman people at the very time when he was expelled. Antonius was leading an army against the Roman people at the time when, being abandoned by the legions, he cowered at the name of Caesar and at his army, and neglecting the regular sacrifices, he offered up before daylight vows which he could never mean to perform; and at this very moment he is endeavoring to invade a province of the Roman people. The Roman people, therefore, has already received and is still looking for greater services at the hand of Decimus Brutus than our ancestors received from Lucius Brutus, the founder of this race and name which we ought to be so anxious to preserve.
But, while all slavery is miserable, to be slave to a man who is profligate, unchaste, effeminate, never, not even while in fear, sober, is surely intolerable. He, then, who keeps this man out of Gaul, especially by his own private authority, judges, and judges most truly, that he is not consul at all. We must take care, therefore, O conscript fathers, to sanction the private decision of Decimus Brutus by public authority. Nor, indeed, ought you to have thought Marcus Antonius consul at any time since the Lupercalia. For on the day when he, in the sight of the Roman people, harangued the mob, naked, perfumed, and drunk, and labored moreover to put a crown on the head of his colleague, on that day he abdicated not only the consulship, but also his own freedom. At, all events he himself must at once have become a slave, if Caesar had been willing to accept from him that ensign of royalty. Can I then think him a consul, can I think him a Roman citizen, can I think him a freeman, can I even think him a man, who on that shameful and wicked day showed what he was willing to endure while Caesar lived, and what he was anxious to obtain himself after he was dead?
Nor is it possible to pass over in silence the virtue and the firmness and the dignity of the province of Gaul. For that is the flower of Italy; that is the bulwark of the empire of the Roman people; that is the chief ornament of our dignity. But so perfect is the unanimity of the municipal towns and colonies of the province of Gaul, that all men in that district appear to have united together to defend the authority of this order, and the majesty of the Roman people. Wherefore, O tribunes of the people, although you have not actually brought any other business before us beyond the question of protection, in order that the consuls may be able to hold the senate with safety on the first of January, still you appear to me to have acted with great wisdom and great prudence in giving an opportunity of debating the general circumstances of the republic. For when you decided that the senate could not be held with safety without some protection or other, you at the same time asserted by that decision that the wickedness and audacity of Antonius was still continuing its practices within our walls.
Wherefore, I will embrace every consideration in my opinion which I am now going to deliver, a course to which you, I feel sure, have no objection; in order that authority may be conferred by us on admirable generals, and that hope of reward may be held out by us to gallant soldiers, and that a formal decision may be come to, not by words only, but also by actions, that Antonius is not only not a consul, but is even an enemy. For if he be consul, then the legions which have deserted the consul deserve beating[*](Riddle (Dict. Lat in voce) says, that this was the regular punishment for deserters, and was inflicted by their comrades.) to death. Caesar is wicked, Brutus is impious, since they of their own heads have levied an army against the consul. But if new honors are to be sought out for the soldiers on account of their divine and immortal merits, and if it is quite impossible to show gratitude enough to the generals, who is there who must not think that man a public enemy, whose conduct is such that those who are in arms against him are considered the saviors of the republic?
Again, how insulting is he in his edicts! how ignorant! how like a barbarian! In the first place, how has he heaped abuse on Caesar, in terms drawn from his recollection of his own debauchery and profligacy For w here can we find anyone who is chaster than this young man? Who is more modest? where have we among our youth a more illustrious example of the old-fashioned strictness.? Who, on the other hand, is more profligate than the man who abuses him? He reproaches the son of Caius. Caesar with his want of noble blood, when even his natural[*](Caius Octavius, the real father of Octavius Caesar had been praetor and governor of Macedonia, and was intending to stand for the consulship when he died.) father, if he had been alive, would have been made consul. His mother is a woman of Aricia. You might suppose he was saving a woman of Tralles or of Ephesus. Just see how we all who come from the municipal towns—that is to say, absolutely all of us—are looked down upon, for how few of us are there who do not come from those towns? and what municipal town is there which he does not despise who looks with such contempt on Aricia, a town most ancient as to its antiquity; if we regard its rights, united with us by treaty; if we regard its vicinity, almost close to us; if we regard the high character of its inhabitants, most honorable? It is from Aricia that we have received the Voconian and Atinian laws; from Aricia have come many of those magistrates who have filled our curule chairs, both in our fathers' recollection and in our own; from Aricia have sprung many of the best and bravest of the Roman knights. But if you disapprove of a wife from Aricia, why do you approve of one from Tusculum? Although the father of this most virtuous and excellent woman, Marcus Atius Balbus, a man of the highest character, was a man of praetorian rank; but the father of your wife,—a good woman, at all events a rich one,—a fellow of the name of Bambalio, was a man of no account at all. Nothing could be lower than he was, a fellow who got his surname as a sort of insult, derived[*](Bambalio is derived from the Greek word bamba/lw, to lisp.) from the hesitation of his speech and the stolidity of his understanding. Oh, but your grandfather was nobly born. Yes, he was that Tuditanus who used to put on a cloak and buskins, and then go and scatter money from the rostra among the people. I wish he had bequeathed his contempt of money to his descendants! You have, indeed, a most glorious nobility of family! But how does it happen that the son of a woman of Aricia appears to you to be ignoble, when you are accustomed to boast of a descent on the mother's side which is precisely the same?[*](Julia, the mother of Antonius and sister of Lucius Caesar, was also a native of Aricia.) Besides, what insanity is it for that man to say any thing about the want of noble birth in men's wives, when his father married Numitoria of Fregellae, the daughter of a traitor, and when he himself has begotten children of the daughter of a freedman. However, those illustrious men Lucius Philippus, who has a wife who came from Aricia, and Caius Marcellus, whose wife is the daughter of an Arician, may look to this; and I am quite sure that they have no regrets on the score of the dignity of those admirable women.
Moreover, Antonius proceeds to name Quintus Cicero, my brother's son, in his edict; and is so mad as not to perceive that the way in which he names him is a panegyric on him. For what could happen more desirable for this young man, than to be known by every one to be the partner of Caesar's counsels, and the enemy of the frenzy of Antonius? But this gladiator has dared to put in writing that he had designed the murder of his father and of his uncle. Oh the marvelous impudence, and audacity, and temerity of such an assertion! to dare to put this in writing against that young man, whom I and my brother, on account of his amiable manners, and pure character, and splendid abilities, vie with one another in loving, and to whom we incessantly devote our eyes, and ears, and affections! And as to me, he does not know whether he is injuring or praising me in those same edicts. When he threatens the most virtuous citizens with the same punishment which I inflicted on the most wicked and infamous of men, he seems to praise me as if he were desirous of copying me; but when he brings up again the memory of that most illustrious exploit, then he thinks that he is exciting some odium against me in the breasts of men like himself.
But what is it that he has done himself? When he had published all these edicts, he issued another, that the senate was to meet in a full house on the twenty-fourth of November. On that day he himself was not present. But what were the terms of his edict? These, I believe, are the exact words of the end of it: “If any one fails to attend, all men will be at liberty to think him the adviser of my destruction and of most ruinous counsels.” What are ruinous counsels? those which relate to the recovery of the liberty of the Roman people? Of those counsels I confess that I have been and still am an adviser and prompter to Caesar. Although he did not stand in need of any one's advice; but still I spurred on the willing horse, as it is said. For what good man would not have advised putting you to death, when on your death depended the safety and life of every good man, and the liberty and dignity of the Roman people?
But when he had summoned us all by so severe an edict, why did he not attend himself? Do you suppose that he was detained by any melancholy or important occasion? He was detained drinking and feasting. If, indeed, it deserves to be called a feast, and not rather gluttony. He neglected to attend on the day mentioned in his edict; and he adjourned the meeting to the twenty-eighth. He then summoned us to attend in the Capitol; and at that temple he did arrive himself, coming up through some mine left by the Gauls. Men came, having been summoned, some of them indeed men of high distinction, but forgetful of what was due to their dignity. For the day was such, the report of the object of the meeting such, such too the man who had convened the senate, that it was discreditable for a senate to feel no fear for the result. And yet to those men who had assembled he did not dare to say a single word about Caesar, though he had made up his mind[*](He had intended to propose to the senate to declare Octavius a public enemy. We must recollect that in these orations Cicero, even when he speaks of Caius Caesar, means Octavius.) to submit a motion respecting him to the senate. There was a man of consular rank who had brought a resolution ready drawn up. Is it not now admitting that he is himself an enemy, when he does not dare to make a motion respecting a man who is leading an army against him while he is consul? For it is perfectly plain that one of the two must be an enemy; nor is it possible to come to a different decision respecting adverse generals. If then Caius. Caesar be an enemy, why does the consul submit no motion to the senate? If he does not deserve to be branded by the senate, then what can the consul say, who, by his silence respecting him, has confessed that he himself is an enemy? In his edicts he styles him Spartacus, while in the senate he does not venture to call him even a bad citizen.
But in the most melancholy circumstances what mirth does he not provoke? I have committed to memory some short phrases of one edict, which he appears to think particularly clever; but I have not as yet found any one who has understood what he intended by them. “That is no insult which a worthy man does.” Now, in the first place, what is the meaning of “worthy?” For there are many men worthy of punishment, as he himself is. Does he mean what a man does who is invested with any dignity?[*](It is quite impossible to give a proper idea of Cicero's meaning here. He is arguing on the word dignus, from which dignitas is derived. But we have no means of keeping up the play on the words in English.) if so, what insult can be greater? Moreover, what is the meaning of “doing an insult?” Who ever uses such an expression? Then comes, “Nor any fear which an enemy threatens.” What then? is fear usually threatened by a friend? Then came many similar sentences. Is it not better to be dumb, than to say what no one can understand? Now see why his tutor, exchanging pleas for plows, has had given to him in the public domain of the Roman people two thousand acres of land in the Leontine district, exempt from all taxes, for making a stupid man still stupider at the public expense.
However, these perhaps are trifling matters. I ask now, why all on a sudden he became so gentle in the senate, after having been so fierce in his edicts? For what was the object of threatening Lucius Cassius, a most fearless tribune of the people, and a most virtuous and loyal citizen, with death if he came to the senate? of expelling Decimus Carfulenus, a man thoroughly attached to the republic, from the senate by violence and threats of death? of interdicting Titus Canutius, by whom he had been repeatedly and deservedly harassed by most legitimate attacks, not only from the temple itself, but from all approach to it? What was the resolution of the senate which he was afraid that they would stop by the interposition of their veto? That, I suppose, respecting the supplication in honor of Marcus Lepidus, a most illustrious man! Certainly there was a great danger of our hindering an ordinary compliment to a man on whom we were every day thinking of conferring some extraordinary honor. However, that he might not appear to have had no reason at all for ordering the senate to meet, he was on the point of bringing forward some motion about the republic when the news about the fourth legion came; which entirely bewildered him, and hastening to flee away, he took a division on the resolution for decreeing this supplication, though such a proceeding had never been heard of before.[*](The general proceeding on such occasions being to ask each senator's opinion separately, which gave those who chose an opportunity for pronouncing some encomium on the person honored.)
But what a setting out was his after this! what a journey when he was in his robe as a general! How did he shun all eyes, and the light of day, and the city, and the forum! How miserable was his flight! how shameful! how infamous! Splendid, too, were the decrees of the senate passed on the evening of that very day; very religiously solemn was the allotment of the provinces; and heavenly indeed was the opportunity, when every one got exactly what he thought most desirable. You are acting admirably, therefore, O tribunes of the people, in bringing forward a motion about the protection of the senate and consuls; and most deservedly are we all bound to feel and to prove to you the greatest gratitude for your conduct. For how can we be free from fear and danger while menaced by such covetousness and audacity? And as for that ruined and desperate man, what more hostile decision can be passed upon him than has already been passed by his own friends? His most intimate friend, a man connected with me too, Lucius Lentulus, and also Publius Naso, a man destitute of covetousness, have shown that they think that they have no provinces assigned them, and that the allotments of Antonius are invalid. Lucius. Philippus, a man thoroughly worthy of his father and grandfather and ancestors, has done the same. The same is the opinion of Marcus Turanius, a man of the greatest integrity and purity of life. The same is the conduct of Publius Oppius and those very men,—who, influenced by their friendship for Marcus Antonius, have attributed to him more power than they would perhaps really approve of,—Marcus Piso, my own connection, a most admirable man and virtuous citizen, and Marcus Vehilius, a man of equal respectability, have both declared that they would obey the authority of the senate. Why should I speak of Lucius. Cinna? whose extraordinary integrity, proved under many trying circumstances, makes the glory of his present admirable conduct less remarkable; he has altogether disregarded the province assigned to him; and so has Caius Cestius, a man of great and firm mind.
Who are there left then to be delighted with this heaven-sent allotment? Lucius Antonius and Marcus Antonius! O happy pair! for there is nothing that they wished for more. Caius. Antonius has Macedonia. Happy, too, is he! For he was constantly talking about this province. Caius Calvisius has Africa. Nothing could be more fortunate, for he had only just departed from Africa, and, as if he had divined that he should return, he left two lieutenants at Utica. Then Marcus Iccius has Sicily, and Quintus Cassius Spain. I do not know what to suspect. I fancy the lots which assigned these two provinces, were not quite so carefully attended to by the gods.
O Caius Caesar (I am speaking of the young man), what safety have you brought to the republic! How unforeseen has it been! how sudden! for if he did these things when flying, what would he have done when he was pursuing? In truth, he had said in a harangue that he would be the guardian of the city; and that he would keep his army at the gates of the city till the first of May. What a fine guardian (as the proverb goes) is the wolf of the sheep! Would Antonius have been a guardian of the city, or its plunderer and destroyer? And he said too that he would come into the city and go out as he pleased. What more need I say? Did he not say, in the hearing of all the people, while sitting in front of the temple of Castor, that no one should remain alive but the conqueror?
On this day, O conscript fathers, for the first time after a long interval do we plant our foot and take possession of liberty. Liberty, of which, as long as I could be, I was not only the defender, but even the savior. But when I could not be so, I rested; and I bore the misfortunes and misery of that period without abjectness, and not without some dignity. But as for this most foul monster, who could endure him, or how could any one endure him? What is there in Antonius except lust, and cruelty, and wantonness, and audacity? Of these materials he is wholly made up. There is in him nothing virtuous, nothing moderate, nothing modest, nothing virtuous. Wherefore, since the matter has come to such a crisis that the question is whether he is to make atonement to the republic for his crimes, or we are to become slaves, let us at last, I beseech you, by the immortal gods. O conscript fathers, adopt our fathers' courage, and our fathers' virtue so as either to recover the liberty belonging to the Roman name and race, or else to prefer death to slavery. We have borne and endured many things which ought not to be endured in a free city: some of us out of a hope of recovering our freedom, some from too great a fondness for life. But if we have submitted to these things, which necessity and a sort of forcer which may seem almost to have been put on us by destiny, have compelled us to endure; though, in point of fact, we have not endured them; are we also to bear with the most shameful and inhuman tyranny of this profligate robber?
What will he do in his passion, if ever he has the power, who, when he is not able to show his anger against any one, has been the enemy of all good men? What will he not dare to do when victorious, who, without having gained any victory, has committed such crimes as these since the death of Caesar? has emptied his well-filled house? has pillaged his gardens? has transferred to his own mansion all their ornaments? has sought to make his death a pretext for slaughter and conflagration? who, while he has carried two or three resolutions of the senate which have been advantageous to the republic, has made every thing else subservient to his own acquisition of gain and plunder? who has put up exemptions and annuities to sale? who has released cities from obligations? who has removed whole provinces from subjection to the Roman empire? who has restored exiles? who has passed forged laws in the name of Caesar, and has continued to have forged decrees engraved on brass and fixed up in the Capitol, and has set up in his own house a domestic market for all things of that sort? who has imposed laws on the Roman people? and who, with armed troops and guards, has excluded both the people and the magistrates from the forum? who has filled the senate with armed men? and has introduced armed men into the temple of Concord when he was holding a senate there? who ran down to Brundusium to meet the legions, and then murdered all the centurions in them who were well affected to the republic? who endeavored to come to Rome with his army to accomplish our massacre and the utter destruction of the city?
And he, now that he has been prevented from succeeding in this attempt by the wisdom and forces of Caesar, and the unanimity of the veterans, and the valor of the legions, even now that his fortunes are desperate, does not diminish his audacity, nor, mad that he is, does he cease proceeding in his headlong career of fury. He is leading his mutilated army into Gaul; with one legion, and that too wavering in its fidelity to him, he is waiting for his brother Lucius, as he can not find any one more nearly like himself than him. But now what slaughter is this man, who has thus become a captain instead of a matador, a general instead of a gladiator, making, wherever he sets his foot! He destroys stores, he slays the flocks and herds, and all the cattle, wherever he finds them; his soldiers revel in their spoil; and he himself, in order to irritate his brother, drowns himself in wine. Fields are laid waste; villas are plundered; matrons, virgins, well-horn boys are carried off and given up to the soldiery; and Marcus Antonius has done exactly the same wherever he has led his army.
Will you open your gates to these most infamous brothers? will you ever admit them into the city? will you not rather, now that the opportunity is offered to you, now that you have generals ready, and the minds of the soldiers eager for the service, and all the Roman people unanimous; and all Italy excited with the desire to recover its liberty,—will you not, I say, avail yourself of the kindness of the immortal gods? You will never have an opportunity if you neglect this one. He will be hemmed in in the rear, in the front, and in flank, if he once enters Gaul. Nor must he be attacked by arms alone, but by our decrees also. Mighty is the authority, mighty is the name of the senate when all its members are inspired by one and the same resolution. Do you not see how the forum is crowded? how the Roman people is on tiptoe with the hope of recovering its liberty? which now, beholding us, after a long interval, meeting here in numbers, hopes too that we are also met in freedom.
It was in expectation of this day that I avoided the wicked army of Marcus. Antonius, at a time when he, while inveighing against me, was not aware for what an occasion I was reserving myself and my strength. If at that time I had chosen to reply to him, while he was seeking to begin the massacre with me, I should nor now be able to consult the welfare of the republic. But now that I have this opportunity, I will never, O conscript fathers, neither by day nor by night, cease considering what ought to be thought concerning the liberty of the Roman people, and concerning your dignity. And whatever ought to be planned or done, I not only will never shrink from, but I will offer myself for, and beg to have entrusted to me. This is what I did before while it was in my power; when it was no longer in my power to do so, I did nothing. But now it is not only in my power, but it is absolutely necessary for me, unless we prefer being slaves to fighting with all our strength and courage to avoid being slaves. The immortal gods have given us these protectors, Caesar for the city, Brutus for Gaul. For if he had been able to oppress the city we must have become slaves at once; if he had been able to get possession of Gaul, then it would not have been long before every good man must have perished and all the rest have been enslaved.
Now then that this opportunity is afforded to you, O conscript fathers, I entreat you in the name of the immortal gods, seize upon it; and recollect at last that you are the chief men of the most honorable council on the whole face of the earth. Give a token to the Roman people that your wisdom shall not fail the republic, since that too professes that its valor shall never desert it either. There is no need for my warning you: there is no one so foolish as not to perceive that if we go to sleep over this opportunity we shall have to endure a tyranny which will be not only cruel and haughty, but also ignominious and flagitious. You know the insolence of Antonius; you know his friends, you know his whole household. To be slaves to lustful, wanton, debauched, profligate, drunken gamblers, is the extremity of misery combined with the extremity of infamy. And if now (but may the immortal gods avert the omen!) that worst of fates shall befall the republic, then, as brave gladiators take care to perish with honor, let us too, who are the chief men of all countries and nations, take care to fall with dignity rather than to live as slaves with ignominy.
There is nothing more detestable than disgrace; nothing more shameful than slavery. We have been born to glory and to liberty; let us either preserve them or die with dignity. Too long have we concealed what we have felt: now at length it is revealed: every one has plainly shown what are his feelings to both sides, and what are his inclinations. There are impious citizens, measured by the love I bear my country, too many; but in proportion to the multitude of well-affected ones, very few; and the immortal gods have given the republic an incredible opportunity and chance for destroying them. For, in addition to the defenses which we already have, there will soon be added consuls of consummate prudence, and virtue, and concord, who have already deliberated and pondered for many months on the freedom of the Roman people. With these men for our advisers and leaders, with the gods assisting us, with ourselves using all vigilance and taking great precautions for the future, and with the Roman people acting with unanimity, we shall indeed be free in a short time, and the recollection of our present slavery will make liberty sweeter.
Moved by these considerations, since the tribunes of the people have brought forward a motion to insure that the senate shall be able to meet in safety on the first of January, and that we may be able to deliver our sentiments on the general welfare of the state with freedom, I give my vote that Caius Pansa and Aulus Hirtius, the consuls elect, do take care that the senate be enabled to meet in safety on the first of January; and, as an edict has been published by Decimus Brutus, imperator and consul elect, I vote that the senate thinks that Decimus Brutus, imperator and consul, deserves excellently well of the republic, inasmuch as he is upholding the authority of the senate, and the freedom and empire of the Roman people; and as he is also retaining the province of Gallia Citerior, a province full of most virtuous and brave men, and of citizens most devoted to the republic, and his army, in obedience to the senate, I vote that the senate judges that he, and his army, and the municipalities and colonies of the province of Gaul, have acted and are acting properly, and regularly, and in a manner advantageous to the republic. And the senate thinks that it will be for the general interests of the republic that the provinces which are at present occupied by Decimus Brutus and by Lucius Plancus, both imperators, and consuls elect, and also by the officers who are in command of provinces, shall continue to be held by them in accordance with the provisions of the Julian law, until each of these officers has a successor appointed by a resolution of the senate; and that they shall take care to maintain those provinces and armies in obedience to the senate and people of Rome, and as a defense to the republic. And since, by the exertions and valor and wisdom of Caius Caesar, and by the admirable unanimity of the veteran soldiers, who, obeying his authority, have been and are a protection to the republic, the Roman people has been defended, and is at this present time being defended, from the most serious dangers. And as the Martial legion has encamped at Alba, in a municipal town of the greatest loyalty and courage, and has devoted itself to the support of the authority of the senate, and of the freedom of the Roman people; and as the fourth legion, behaving with equal wisdom and with the same virtue, under the command of Lucius Egnatuleius the quaestor, an illustrious citizen, has defended and is still defending the authority of the senate and the freedom of the Roman people; I give my vote, That it is and shall be an object of anxious care to the senate to pay due honor and to show due gratitude to them for their exceeding services to the republic: and that the senate hereby orders that when Caius Pansa and Aulus Hirtius, the consuls elect, have entered on their office, they take the earliest opportunity of consulting this body on these matters, as shall seem to them expedient for the republic, and worthy of their own integrity, and loyalty.