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

After the embassy to Antonius had left Rome, the consuls zealously exerted themselves in preparing for war, in case he should reject the demands of the ambassadors. Hirtius, though in bad health, left Rome first, at the head of an army containing, among others, the Martial and the fourth legions; intending to join Octavius, and hoping with his assistance to prevent his gaining any advantage over Brutus till Pansa could join them. And he gained some advantages over Antonius at once.

About the beginning of February the two remaining ambassadors (for Servius Sulpicius had died just as they arrived at Antonius's camp) returned, bringing word that Antonius would comply with none of the commands of the senate, nor allow them to proceed to Decimus Brutus; and bringing also (contrary to their duty) demands from him, of which the principal were, that his troops were to be rewarded, all the acts of himself and Dolabella to be ratified, as also all that he had done respecting Caesar's papers; that no account was to be required of him of the money in the temple of Ops; and that he should have the further Gaul with an army of six legions.

Pansa summoned the senate to receive the report of the ambassadors when Cicero made a severe speech, proposing very vigorous measures against Antonius; which, however, Calenus and his party were still numerous enough to mitigate very greatly; and even Pansa voted against him and in favor of the milder measures; though they could not prevail against Cicero to have a second embassy sent to Antonius, and though Cicero carried his point of ordering the citizens to assume the sagum, or robe of war, which he also (waiving his privilege as a man of consular rank) wore himself The next day the senate met again, to draw up in form the decrees on which they had resolved the day before; when Cicero addressed the following speech to them, expostulating with them for their wavering the day before.

Matters were carried on yesterday, O Caius Pansa, in a more irregular manner than the beginning of your consulship required. You did not appear to me to make sufficient resistance to those men, to whom you are not in the habit of yielding. For while the virtue of the senate was such as it usually is, and while all men saw that there was war in reality, and some thought that the name ought to be kept back; on the division, your inclination inclined to lenity. The course which we proposed therefore was defeated, at your instigation, on account of the harshness of the word war. That urged by Lucius Caesar, a most honorable man, prevailed, which, taking away that one harsh expression, was gentler in its language than in its real intention. Although he, indeed, before he delivered his opinion at all, pleaded his relationship to Antonius in excuse for it. He had done the same in my consulship, in respect of his sister's husband, as he did now in respect of his sister's son; so that he was moved by the grief of his sister, and at the same time he wished to provide for the safety of the republic.

And yet Caesar himself in some degree recommended you, o conscript fathers, not to agree with him, when he said that he should have expressed quite different sentiments, worthy both of himself and of the republic, if he had not been hampered by his relationship to Antonius. He, then, is his uncle; are you his uncles too, you who voted with him?

But on what did the dispute turn? Some men, in delivering their opinion, did not choose to insert the word “war.” They preferred calling it “tumult,” being ignorant not only of the state of affairs, but also of the meaning of words. For there can be a “war” without a “tumult,” but there can not be a “tumult” without a “war.” For what is a “tumult,” but such a violent disturbance that an unusual alarm is engendered by it? from which indeed the name “tumult”[*](I.e. tumultus, as if it were timor multus.) is derived. Therefore, our ancestors spoke of the Italian “tumult,” which was a domestic one; of the Gallic “tumult,” which was on the frontier of Italy; but they never spoke of any other. And that a “tumult” is a more serious thing than a war may be seen from this, that during a war exemptions from military service are valid; but in a tumult they are not. So that it is the fact, as I have said, that war can exist without a tumult, but a tumult can not exist without a war. In truth, as there is no medium between war and peace, it is quite plain that a tumult, if it be not a sort of war, must be a sort of peace; and what more absurd can be said or imagined? However, we have said too much about a word, let us rather look to the facts, O conscript fathers, the appreciation of which, I know, is at times injured by too much attention being paid to words.

We are unwilling that this should appear to be a war. What is the object, then, of our giving authority to the municipal towns and colonies to exclude Antonius? of our authorizing soldiers to be enlisted without any force, without the terror of any fine, of their own inclination and eagerness? of permitting them to promise money for the assistance of the republic? For if the name of war be taken away, the zeal of the municipal towns will be taken away too. And the unanimous feeling of the Roman people which at present pours itself into our cause, if we cool upon it, must inevitably be damped.

But why need I say more? Decimus Brutus is attacked. Is not that war? Mutina is besieged. Is not even that war? Gaul is laid waste. What peace can be more assured than this? Who can think of calling that war? We have sent forth a consul, a most gallant man, with an army, who, though he was in a weak state from a long and serious illness, still thought he ought not to make any excuse when he was summoned to the protection of the republic. Caius Caesar, indeed, did not wait for our decrees; especially as that conduct of his was not unsuited to his age. He undertook war against Antonius of his own accord; for there was not yet time to pass a decree; and he saw that, if he let slip the opportunity of waging war, when the republic was crushed it would be impossible to pass any decrees at all. They and their arms, then, are now at peace. He is not an enemy whose garrison Hirtius has driven from Claterna; he is not an enemy who is in arms resisting a consul, and attacking a consul elect; and those are not the words of an enemy, nor is that warlike language, which Pansa read just now out of his colleague's letters: “I drove out the garrison.” “I got possession of Claterna.” “The cavalry were routed.” “A battle was fought.” “A good many men were slain.” What peace can be greater that this? Levies of troops are ordered throughout all Italy; all exemptions from service are suspended; the robe of war is to be assumed tomorrow; the consul has said that he shall come down to the senate-house with an armed guard.

Is not this war? Yes, it is such a war as has never been. For in all other wars, and most especially in civil wars, it was a difference as to the political state of the republic which gave rise to the contest. Sulla contended against Sulpicius about the force of laws which Sulla said had been passed by violence. Cinna warred against Octavius because of the votes of the new citizens. Again, Sulla was at variance with Cinna and Marius, in order to prevent unworthy men from attaining power, and to avenge the cruel death of most illustrious men. The causes of all these wars arose from the zeal of different parties, for what they considered the interest of the republic. Of the last civil war I can not bear to speak: I do not understand the cause of it; I detest the result.

This is the fifth civil war (and all of them have fallen upon our times); the first which has not only not brought dissensions and discord among the citizens, but which has been signalized by extraordinary unanimity and incredible concord. All of them have the same wish, all defend the same objects, all are inspired with the same sentiments. When I say all, I except those whom no one thinks worthy of being citizens at all. What, then, is the cause of war, and what is the object aimed at? We are defending the temples of the immortal gods, we are defending the walls of the city, we are defending the homes and habitations of the Roman people, the household gods, the altars, the hearths and the sepulchers of our forefathers; we are defending our laws, our courts of justice, our freedom, our wives, our children, and our country. On the other hand, Marcus Antonius labors and fights in order to throw into confusion and overturn all these things; and hopes to have reason to think the plunder of the republic sufficient cause for the war, while he squanders part of our fortunes, and distributes the rest among his parricidal followers.

While, then, the motives for war are so different, a most miserable circumstance is what that fellow promises to his band of robbers. In the first place our houses; for he declares that he will divide the city among them; and after that he will lead them out at whatever gate and settle them on whatever lands they please. All the Caphons,[*](These were the names of officers devoted to Antonius.) all the Saxas, and the other plagues which attend Antonius, are marking out for themselves in their own minds most beautiful houses, and gardens, and villas, at Tusculum and Alba; and those clownish men—if indeed they are men, and not rather brute beasts—are borne on in their empty hopes as far as the waters and Puteoli. So Antonius has something to promise to his followers. What can we do? Have we any thing of the sort? May the gods grant us a better fate! for our express object is to prevent any one at all from hereafter making similar promises. I say this against my will, still I must say it;—the auction sanctioned by Caesar, O conscript fathers, gives many wicked men both hope and audacity. For they saw some men become suddenly rich from having been beggars. Therefore, those men who are hanging over our property, and to whom Antonius promises everything, are always longing to see an auction. What can we do? What do we promise our soldiers? Things much better and more honorable. For promises to be earned by wicked actions are pernicious both to those who expect them, and to those who promise them. We promise to our soldiers freedom, rights, laws, justice, the empire of the world, dignity, peace, tranquillity. The promises then of Antonius are bloody, polluted, wicked, odious for gods and men, neither lasting nor salutary; ours, on the other hand, are honorable, upright, glorious, full of happiness, and full of piety.

Here also Quintus Fufius, a brave and energetic man, and a friend of mine, reminds me of the advantages of peace. As if, if it were necessary to praise peace, I could not do it myself quite as well as he. For is it once only that I have defended peace? Have I not at all times labored for tranquillity? which is desirable for all good men, but especially for me. For what course could my industry pursue without forensic causes, without laws, without courts of justice? and these things can have no existence when civil peace is taken away. But I want to know what you mean, O Calenus? Do you call slavery peace? Our ancestors used to take up arms not merely to secure their freedom, but also to acquire empire; you think that we ought to throw away our arms, in order to become slaves. What juster cause is there for waging war than the wish to repel slavery? in which, even if one's master be not tyrannical, yet it is a most miserable thing that he should be able to be so if he chooses. In truth, other causes are just, this is a necessary one. Unless, perhaps, you think that this does not apply to you, because you expect that you will be a partner in the dominion of Antonius. And there you make a twofold mistake: first of all, in preferring your own to the general interest; and in the next place, in thinking that there is any thing either stable or pleasant in kingly power. Even if it has before now been advantageous to you, it will not always be so. Moreover, you used to complain of that former master, who was a man; what do you think you will do when your master is a beast? And you say that you are a man who have always been desirous of peace, and have always wished for the preservation of all the citizens. Very honest language; that is, if you mean all citizens who are virtuous, and useful, and serviceable to the republic; but if you wish those who are by nature citizens, but by inclination enemies, to be saved, what difference is there between you and them? Your father, indeed, with whom I as a youth was acquainted, when he was an old man,—a man of rigid virtue and wisdom,—used to give the greatest praise of all citizens who had ever lived to Publius Nasica, who slew Tiberius Gracchus. By his valor, and wisdom, and magnanimity he thought that the republic had been saved. What am I to say? Have we received any other doctrine from our fathers? Therefore, that citizen—if you had lived in those times—would not have been approved of by you, because he did not wish all the citizens to be safe. “Because Lucius Opimius the consul has made a speech concerning the republic, the senators have thus decided on that matter, that Opimius the consul shall defend the republic.” The senate adopted these measures in words, Opimius followed them up by his arms Should you then if you had lived in those times have thought him a hasty or a cruel citizen? or should you have thought Quintus Metellus one whose four sons were all men of consular rank? or Publius Lentulus the chief of the senate and many other admirable men who with Lucius Opimius the consul, took arms, and pursued Gracchus to the Aventine? and in the battle which ensued, Lentulus received a severe wound, Gracchus was slain, and so was Marcus Fulvius, a man of consular rank, and his two youthful sons. Those men, therefore, are to be blamed; for they did not wish all the citizens to be safe.

Let us come to instances nearer our own time. The senate entrusted the defense of the republic to Caius Marius and Lucius Valerius the consuls. Lucius Saturninus, a tribune of the people, and Caius Glaucia the praetor, were slain. On that day, all the Scauri, and Metelli, and Claudii, and Catuli, and Scaevolae, and Crassi took arms. Do you think either those consuls or those other most illustrious men deserving of blame? I myself wished Catiline to perish. Did you who wish every one to be safe, wish Catiline to be safe? There is this difference, O Calenus, between my opinion and yours. I wish no citizen to commit such crimes as deserve to be punished with death. You think that, even if he has committed them, still he ought to be saved. If there is any thing in our own body which is injurious to the rest of the body, we allow that to be burned and cut out, in order that a limb may be lost in preference to the whole body. And so in the body of the republic, whatever is rotten must be cut off in order that the whole may be saved. Harsh language! This is much more harsh, “Let the worthless, and wicked, and impious be saved; let the innocent, the honorable, the virtuous, the whole republic be destroyed.” In the case of one individual, O Quintus Fufius, I confess that you saw more than I did. I thought Publius Clodius a mischievous, wicked, lustful, impious, audacious, criminal citizen. You, on the other hand, called him religious, temperate, innocent, modest; a citizen to be preserved and desired. In this one particular I admit that you had great discernment, and that I made a great mistake. For as for your saying that I am in the habit of arguing against you with ill temper, that is not the case. I confess that I argue with vehemence, but not with ill temper. I am not in the habit of getting angry with my friends every now and then, not even if they deserve it. Therefore, I can differ from you without using any insulting language, though not without feeling the greatest grief of mind. For is the dissension between you and me a trifling one, or on a trifling subject? Is it merely a case of my favoring this man, and you that man? Yes; I indeed favor Decimus Brutus, you favor Marcus Antonius; I wish a colony of the Roman people to be preserved, you are anxious that it should be stormed and destroyed.

Can you deny this, when you interpose every sort of delay calculated to weaken Brutus, and to improve the position of Antonius? For how long will you keep on saying that you are desirous of peace? Matters are progressing rapidly; the works have been carried on; severe battles are taking place. We sent three chief men of the city to interpose. Antonius has despised, rejected, and repudiated them. And still you continue a persevering defender of Antonius. And Calenus, indeed, in order that he may appear a more conscientious senator, says that he ought not to be a friend to him; since, though Antonius was under great obligations to him, he still had acted against him. See how great is his affection for his country.

When you are so bitter, O Quintus Fufius, against the people of Marseilles, I can not listen to you with calmness. For how long are you going to attack Marseilles? Does not even a triumph put an end to the war? in which was carried an image of that city, without whose assistance our forefathers never triumphed over the Transalpine nations. Then, indeed, did the Roman people groan. Although they had their own private griefs because of their own affairs, still there was no citizen who thought the miseries of this most loyal city unconnected with himself. Caesar himself, who had been the most angry of all men with them, still, on account of the unusually high character and loyalty of that city, was every day relaxing something of his displeasure And is there no extent of calamity by which so faithful a city can satiate you? Again, perhaps, you will say that I am losing my temper. But I am speaking without passion, as I always do, though not without great indignation. I think that no man can be an enemy to that city, who is a friend to this one. What your object is, O Calenus, I can not imagine. Formerly we were unable to deter you from devoting yourself to the gratification of the people; now we are unable to prevail on you to show any regard for their interests. I have argued long enough with Fufius, saying everything without hatred, but nothing without indignation. I suppose that a man who can bear the complaint of his son-in-law with indifference, will bear that of his friend with great equanimity.

I come now to the rest of the men of consular rank, of whom there is no one (I say this on my own responsibility), who is not connected with me in some way or other by kindnesses conferred or received; some in a great, some in a moderate degree, but every one to some extent or other. What a disgraceful day was yesterday to us! to us consulars, I mean. Are we to send ambassadors again? What? would he make a truce? Before the very face and eyes of the ambassadors he battered Mutina with his engines. He displayed his works and his defenses to the ambassadors. The siege was not allowed one moment's breathing time, not even while the ambassadors should be present. Send ambassadors to this man! What for? in order to have great fears for their return? In truth, though on the previous occasion I had voted against the ambassadors being decreed, still I consoled myself with this reflection, that, when they had returned from Antonius despised and rejected, and had reported to the senate, not merely that he had not withdrawn from Gaul, as we had voted that he should, but that he had not even retired from before Mutina, and that they had not been allowed to proceed on to Decimus Brutus, all men would be inflamed with hatred and stimulated by indignation, so that we should reinforce Decimus Brutus with arms, and horses, and men. But we have become even more languid since we have become acquainted with, not only the audacity and wickedness of Antonius, but also with his insolence and pride. Would that Lucius Caesar were in health; that Servius. Sulpicius were alive. This cause would be pleaded much better by three men, than it is now by me single-handed. What I am going to say I say with grief, rather than by way of insult. We have been deserted—we have, I say, been deserted, O conscript fathers, by our chiefs. But, as I have often said before, all those who in a time of such danger have proper and courageous sentiments shall be men of consular rank. The ambassadors ought to have brought us back courage, they have brought us back fear. Not, indeed, that they have caused me any fear: let them have as high an opinion as they please of the man to whom they were sent; from whom they have even brought back commands to us.

O ye immortal gods! where are the habits and virtues of our forefathers? Caius Popillius, in the time of our ancestors, when he had been sent as ambassador to Antiochus the king, and had given him notice, in the words of the senate, to depart from Alexandria, which he was besieging, on the king's seeking to delay giving his answer, drew a line round him where he was standing with his rod, and stated that he should report him to the senate if he did not answer him as to what he intended to do before he moved out of that line which surrounded him. He did well. For he had brought with him the countenance of the senate, and the authority of the Roman people; and if a man does not obey that, we are not to receive commands from him in return, but he is to be utterly rejected. Am I to receive commands from a man who despises the commands of the senate? Or am I to think that he has any thing in common with the senate, who besieges a general of the Roman people in spite of the prohibition of the senate? But what commands they are! With what arrogance, with what stupidity, with what insolence are they conceived! But what made him charge our ambassadors with them when he was sending Cotyla to us, the ornament and bulwark of his friends, a man of aedilitian rank? if, indeed, he really was an aedile at the time when the public slaves flogged him with thongs at a banquet by command of Antonius.

But what modest commands they are! We must be iron-hearted men, O conscript fathers, to deny any thing to this man! “I give up both provinces,” says he; “I disband my army; I am willing to become a private individual.” For these are his very words. He seems to be coming to himself. “I am willing to forget everything; to be reconciled to every body.” But what does he add? “If you give booty and land to my six legions, to my cavalry, and to my praetorian cohort.” He even demands rewards for those men for whom, if he were to demand pardon, he would be thought the most impudent of men. He adds farther, “Those men to whom the lands have been given which he himself and Dolabella distributed, are to retain them.” This is the Campanian and Leontine district, both which our ancestors considered a certain resource in times of scarcity.

He is protecting the interests of his buffoons and gamesters and pimps. He is protecting Capho's and Saxa's interests too, pugnacious and muscular centurions, whom he placed among his troops of male and female buffoons. Besides all this, he demands “that the decrees of himself and his colleague concerning Caesar's writings and memoranda are to stand.” Why is he so anxious that every one should have what he has bought, if he who sold it all has the price which he received for it? “And that his accounts of the money in the temple of Ops are not to be meddled with.” That is to say, that those seven hundred millions of sesterces are not to be recovered from him. “That the septemviri are to be exempt from blame or from prosecution for what they have done.” It was Nucula, I imagine, who put him in mind of that; he was afraid, perhaps, of losing so many clients. He also wishes to make stipulations in favor of “those men who are with him who may have done any thing against the laws. “He is here taking care of Mustela and Tiro; he is not anxious about himself. For what has he done? has he ever touched the public money, or murdered a man, or had armed men about him? But what reason has he for taking so much trouble about them? For he demands, “that his own judiciary law be not abrogated.” And if he obtains that, what is there that he can fear? can he be afraid that any one of his friends may be convicted by Cydas, or Lysiades, or Curius? However, he does not press us with many more demands. “I give up,” says he, “Gallia Togata; I demand Gallia Comata.”[*](The province between the Alps and the Rubicon was called Gallia Citerior, or Cisalpina, from its situation; also Togata, from the inhabitants wearing the Roman toga. The other was called Ulterior, and by Cicero often Ultima, or Transalpina; and also Comata from the fashion of the inhabitants wearing long hair.)—he evidently wishes to be quite at his ease,—“with six legions, and those made up to their full complement out of the army of Decimus Brutus;”—not only out of the troops whom he has enlisted himself; “and he is to keep possession of it as long as Marcus Brutus and Caius Cassius, as consuls, or as proconsuls, keep possession of their provinces.” In the comitia held by him, his brother Caius (for it is his year) has already been repulsed. “And I myself,” says he, “am to retain possession of my province five years.” But that is expressly forbidden by the law of Caesar, and you defend the acts of Caesar.

Were you, O Lucius Piso, and you, O Lucius Philippus, you chiefs of the city, able, I will not say to endure in your minds, but even to listen with your ears to these commands of his? But, I suspect there was some alarm at work; nor, while in his power, could you feel as ambassadors, or as men of consular rank, nor could you maintain your own dignity, or that of the republic. And nevertheless somehow or other owing to some philosophy, I suppose, you did what I could not have done,—you returned without any very angry feelings, Marcus Antonius paid you no respect, though you were most illustrious men, ambassadors of the Roman people. As for us, what concessions did not we make to Cotyla the ambassador of Marcus Antonius? though it was against the law for even the gates of the city to be opened to him, yet even this temple was opened to him. He was allowed to enter the senate; here yesterday he was taking down our opinions and every word we said in his note-books; and men who had been preferred to the highest honors sold themselves to him in utter disregard of their own dignity.

O ye immortal gods! how great an enterprise is it to uphold the character of a leader in the republic; for it requires one to be influenced not merely by the thoughts but also by the eyes of the citizens. To take to one's house the ambassador of an enemy, to admit him to one's chamber, even to confer apart with him, is the act of a man who thinks nothing of his dignity, and too much of his danger. But what is danger? For if one is engaged in a contest where every thing is at stake, either liberty is assured to one if victorious, or death if defeated; the former of which alternatives is desirable, and the latter some time or other inevitable. But a base flight from death is worse than any imaginable death. For I will never be induced to believe that there are men who envy the consistency or diligence of others, and who are indignant at the unceasing desire to assist the republic being approved by the senate and people of Rome. That is what we were all bound to do; and that was not only in the time of our ancestors, but even lately, the highest praise of men of consular rank, to be vigilant, to be anxious, to be always either thinking, or doing, or saying something to promote the interests of the republic. I, O conscript fathers, recollect that Quintus Scaevola the augur, in the Marsic war, when he was a man of extreme old age, and quite broken down in constitution, every day, as soon as it was daylight, used to give every one an opportunity of consulting him; nor, throughout all that war, did any one ever see him in bed; and, though old and weak, he was the first man to come into the senate-house. I wish, above all things, that those who ought to do so would imitate his industry; and, next to that, I wish that they would not envy the exertions of another.

In truth, O conscript fathers, now we have begun to entertain hopes of liberty again, after a period of six years, during which we have been deprived of it, having endured slavery longer than prudent and industrious prisoners usually do, what watchfulness, what anxiety, what exertions ought we to shrink from, for the sake of delivering the Roman people? In truth, O conscript fathers, though men who have had the honors conferred on them that we have, usually wear their gowns, while the rest of the city is in the robe of war, still I decided that at such a momentous crisis, and when the whole republic was in so disturbed a state, we would not differ in our dress from you and the rest of the citizens. For we men of consular rank are not in this war conducting ourselves in such a manner that the Roman people will be likely to look with equanimity on the ensigns of our honor, when some of us are so cowardly as to have cast away all recollection of the kindnesses which they have received from the Roman people; some are so disaffected to the republic that they openly allege that they favor this enemy, and easily bear having our ambassadors despised and insulted by Antonius, while they wish to support the ambassador sent by Antonius. For they said that he ought not to be prevented from returning to Antonius, and they proposed an amendment to my proposition of not receiving him. Well, I will submit to them. Let Varius return to his general, but on condition that he never returns to Rome. And as to the others, if they abandon their errors, and return to their duty to the republic, I think they may he pardoned and left unpunished.

Therefore, I give my vote, “That of those men who are with Marcus Antonius, those who abandon his army, and come over either to Caius Pansa or Aulus. Hirtius the consuls; or to Decimus Brutus, imperator and consul elect; or to Caius Caesar, propraetor, before the first of March next, shall not be liable to prosecution for having been with Antonius. That, if any one of those men who are now with Antonius shall do any thing which appears entitled to honor or to reward, Caius Pansa and Aulus Hirtius the consuls, one or both of them, shall, if they think fit make a motion to the senate respecting that man's honor or reward, at the earliest opportunity. That, if, after this resolution of the senate, any one shall go to Antonius except Lucius Varius, the senate will consider that that man has acted as an enemy to the republic.”