The Worlds Famous Orations. Rome (218 B.C.84 A.D.). 1906.
VII. The Second Oration Against Mark Antony
Cicero (106 B.C.43 B.C.)
Born in 106 B.C., died in 43; served in the Social War in 89; Questor in Sicily in 75; Edile in 69; Pretor in 66; Consul during the Catiline conspiracy; banished in 58; Proconsul of Cilicia in 5150; with the Pompeians in 49; proscribed by the Second Triumvirate, and slain in 43; of his orations fifty-seven have been preserved.
TO1 what destiny of mine, O conscript fathers, shall I say that it is owing, that none for the last twenty years has been an enemy to the republic without at the same time declaring war against me? Nor is there any necessity for naming any particular person; you yourselves recollect instances in proof of my statement. They have all hitherto suffered severer punishments than I could have wished for them; but I marvel that you, O Antonius, do not fear the end of those men whose conduct you are imitating. And in others I was less surprised at this. None of those men of former times was a voluntary enemy to me; all of them were attacked by me for the sake of the republic. But you, who have never been injured by me, not even by a word, in order to appear more audacious than Catiline, more frantic than Clodius, have of your own accord attacked me with abuse, and have considered that your alienation from me would be a recommendation of you to impious citizens.
What am I to think?that I have been despised? I see nothing either in my life, or in my influence in the city, or in my exploits, or even in the moderate abilities with which I am endowed, which Antonius can despise. Did he think that it was easiest to disparage me in the senate?a body which has borne its testimony in favor of many most illustrious citizens that they governed the republic well, but in favor of me alone, of all men, that I preserved it. Or did he wish to contend with me in a rivalry of eloquence? This, indeed, is an act of generosity; for what could be a more fertile or richer subject for me, than to have to speak in defense of myself, and against Antonius? This, in fact, is the truth. He thought it impossible to prove to the satisfaction of those men who resembled himself, that he was an enemy to his country, if he was not also an enemy to me. And before I make him any reply on the other topics of his speech, I will say a few words respecting the friendship formerly subsisting between us, which he has accused me of violatingfor that I consider a most serious charge.
He has complained that I pleaded once against his interest. Was I not to plead against one with whom I was quite unconnected, in behalf of an intimate acquaintance, of a dear friend? Was I not to plead against interest acquired not by hopes of virtue, but by the disgrace of youth? Was I not to plead against an injustice which that man procured to be done by the obsequiousness of a most iniquitous interposer of his veto, not by any law regulating the privileges of the pretor? But I imagine that this was mentioned by you, in order that you might recommend yourself to the citizens, if they all recollected that you were the son-in-law of a freedman, and that your children were the grandsons of Quintus Fabius, a freedman.
But you had entirely devoted yourself to my principles (for this is what you said); you had been in the habit of coming to my house. In truth, if you had done so, you would more have consulted your own character and your reputation for chastity. But you did not do so, nor, if you had wished it, would Caius Curio have ever suffered you to do so.
But I availed myself of your friendly assistance. Of what assistance? Altho the instance which you cite I have myself at all times openly admitted. I preferred confessing that I was under obligations to you, to letting myself appear to any foolish person not sufficiently grateful. However, what was the kindness that you did me? not killing me at Brundusium? Would you then have slain the man whom the conqueror himself, who conferred on you, as you used to boast, the chief rank among all his robbers, had desired to be safe, and had enjoined to go to Italy? Grant that you could have slain him, is not this, O conscript fathers, such a kindness as is done by banditti, who are contented with being able to boast that they have granted their lives to all those men whose lives they have not taken? and if that were really a kindness, then those who slew that man by whom they themselves had been saved, and whom you yourself are in the habit of styling most illustrious men, would never have acquired such immortal glory. But what sort of kindness is it, to have abstained from committing nefarious wickedness? It is a case in which it ought not to appear so delightful to me not to have been killed by you, as miserable, that it should have been in your power to do such a thing with impunity. However, grant that it was a kindness, since no greater kindness could be received from a robber; still in what point can you call me ungrateful? Ought I not to complain of the ruin of the republic, lest I should appear ungrateful toward you?
But he also read letters which he said that I had sent to him, like a man devoid of humanity and ignorant of the common usages of life. For who ever, who was even but slightly acquainted with the habits of polite men, produced in an assembly and openly read letters which had been sent to him by a friend, just because some quarrel had arisen between them? Is not this destroying all companionship in life, destroying the means by which absent friends converse together? How many jests are frequently put in letters, which, if they were produced in public, would appear stupid! How many serious opinions, which, for all that, ought not to be published! Let this be a proof of your utter ignorance of courtesy. Now mark, also, his incredible folly. What have you to oppose to me, O you eloquent man, as you seem at least to Mustela Tamisus, and to Tiro Numisius? And while these men are standing at this very time in the sight of the senate with drawn swords, I, too, will think you an eloquent man if you will show how you would defend them if they were charged with being assassins. However, what answer would you make if I were to deny that I ever sent those letters to you? By what evidence could you convict me? By my handwriting? Of handwriting indeed you have a lucrative knowledge.2 How can you prove it in that manner? for the letters are written by an amanuensis. By this time I envy your teacher, who for all that payment which I shall mention presently, has taught you to know nothing.
You have said that Publius Clodius was slain by my contrivance. What would men have thought if he had been slain at the time when you pursued him in the forum with a drawn sword, in the sight of all the Roman people; and when you would have settled his business if he had not thrown himself up the stairs of a booksellers shop, and shutting them against you, checked your attack by that means? And I confess that at that time I favored you, but even you yourself do not say that I had advised your attempt. But as for Milo, it was not possible even for me to favor his action; for he had finished the business before any one could suspect that he was going to do it. Oh, but I advised it! I suppose Milo was a man of such a disposition that he was not able to do a service to the republic if he had not some one to advise him to do it. But I rejoiced at it! Well, suppose I did; was I to be the only sorrowful person in the city, when every one else was in such delight? Altho that inquiry into the death of Publius Clodius was not instituted with any great wisdom. For what was the reason for having a new law to inquire into the conduct of the man who had slain him, when there was a form of inquiry already established by the laws? However, an inquiry was instituted. And have you now been found, so many years afterward, to say a thing which, at the time that the affair was under discussion, no one ventured to say against me? But as to the assertion that you have dared to make, and that at great length, too, that it was by my means that Pompeius was alienated from his friendship with Cæsar, and that on that account it was my fault that the civil war was originated; in that you have not erred so much in the main facts, as (and that is of the greatest importance) in the times.
When Marcus Bibulus, a most illustrious citizen, was consul, I omitted nothing which I could possibly do or attempt to draw off Pompeius from his union with Cæsar. In which, however, Cæsar was more fortunate than I, for he himself drew off Pompeius from his intimacy with me. But afterward, when Pompeius joined Cæsar with all his heart, what could have been my object in attempting to separate them then? It would have been the part of a fool to hope to do so, and of an impudent man to advise it. However, two occasions did arise, on which I gave Pompeius advice against Cæsar. You are at liberty to find fault with my conduct on those occasions if you can. One was when I advised him not to continue Cæsars government for five years more. The other, when I advised him not to permit him to be considered as a candidate for the consulship when he was absent. And if I had been able to prevail on him in either of these particulars, we should never have fallen into our present miseries.
Moreover, I also, when Pompeius had now devoted to the service of Cæsar all his own power, and all the power of the Roman people, and had begun when it was too late to perceive all those things which I had foreseen long before, and when I saw that a nefarious war was about to be waged against our country, I never ceased to be the adviser of peace, and concord, and some arrangement. And that language of mine was well known to many people,I wish, O Cnæus Pompeius, that you had either never joined in a confederacy with Caius Cæsar, or else that you had never broken it off. The one conduct would have become your dignity, and the other would have been suited to your prudence. This, O Marcus Antonius, was at all times my advice both respecting Pompeius and concerning the republic. And if it had prevailed, the republic would still be standing, and you would have perished through your own crimes, and indigence, and infamy.
But these are all old stories now. This charge, however, is quite a modern one: that Cæsar was slain by my contrivance. I am afraid, O conscript fathers, lest I should appear to you to have brought up a sham accuser against myself (which is a most disgraceful thing to do); a man not only to distinguish me by the praises which are my due, but to load me also with those which do not belong to me. For who ever heard my name mentioned as an accomplice in that most glorious action? and whose name has been concealed who was in the number of that gallant band? Concealed, do I say? Whose name was there which was not at once made public? I should sooner say that some men had boasted in order to appear to have been concerned in that conspiracy, tho they had in reality known nothing of it, than that any one who had been an accomplice in it could have wished to be concealed.
Moreover, how likely it is, that among such a number of men, some obscure, some young men who had not the wit to conceal any one, my name could possibly have escaped notice? Indeed, if leaders were wanted for the purpose of delivering the country, what need was there of my instigating the Bruti, one of whom saw every day in his house the image of Lucius Brutus, and the other saw also the image of Ahala? Were these the men to seek counsel from the ancestors of others rather than from their own? and out of doors rather than at home? What! Caius Cassius, a man of that family which could not endure, I will not say the domination, but even the power of any individual,he, I suppose, was in need of me to instigate him? a man who, even without the assistance of these other most illustrious men, would have accomplished this same deed in Cilicia, at the mouth of the river Cydnus, if Cæsar had brought his ships to that bank of the river which he had intended, and not to the opposite one. Was Cnæus Domitius spurred on to seek to recover his dignity, not by the death of his father, a most illustrious man, nor by the death of his uncle, nor by the deprivation of his own dignity, but by my advice and authority? Did I persuade Caius Trebonius, a man whom I should not have ventured even to advise? On which account the republic owes him even a larger debt of gratitude, because he preferred the liberty of the Roman people to the friendship of one man, and because he preferred overthrowing arbitrary power to sharing it. Was I the instigator whom Lucius Tillius Cimber followed? a man whom I admired for having performed that action, rather than ever expected that he would perform it; and I admired him on this account, that he was unmindful of the personal kindnesses which he had received, but mindful of his country. What shall I say of the two Servilii? Shall I call them Cascas, or Ahalas? And do you think that those men were instigated by my authority rather than by their affection for the republic? It would take a long time to go through all the rest; and it is a glorious thing for the republic that they were so numerous, and a most honorable thing also for themselves.
But recollect, I pray you, how that clever man convicted me of being an accomplice in the business. When Cæsar was slain, says he, Marcus Brutus immediately lifted up on high his bloody dagger, and called on Cicero by name, and congratulated him on liberty being recovered. Why on me above all men? Because I knew of it beforehand? Consider rather whether this was not his reason for calling on me, that, when he had performed an action very like those which I myself had done, he called me above all men to witness that he had been an imitator of my exploits. But you, O stupidest of all men, do not you perceive, that if it is a crime to have wished that Cæsar should be slainwhich you accuse me of having wishedit is a crime also to have rejoiced at his death? For what is the difference between a man who has advised an action, and one who has approved of it? or what does it signify whether I wished it to be done, or rejoice that it has been done? Is there any one then, except you yourself and those men who wished him to become a king, who was unwilling that that deed should be done, or who disapproved of it after it was done? All men, therefore, are guilty as far as this goes. In truth, all good men, as far as it depended on them, bore a part in the slaying of Cæsar. Some did not know how to contrive it, some had not courage for it, some had no opportunity,every one had the inclination.
Shall we then examine your conduct from the time when you were a boy? I think so. Let us begin at the beginning. Do you recollect that, while you were still clad in the pretexta, you became a bankrupt? That was the fault of your father, you will say. I admit that. In truth, such a defense is full of filial affection. But it is peculiarly suited to your own audacity, that you sat among the fourteen rows of the knights, tho by the Roscian law there was a place appointed for bankrupts, even if any one had become such by the fault of fortune and not by his own. You assumed the manly gown, which you soon made a womanly one; at first a public prostitute, with a regular price for your wickedness, and that not a low one. But very soon Curio stepped in, who carried you off from your public trade, and, as if he had bestowed a matrons robe upon you, settled you in a steady and durable wedlock. No boy bought for the gratification of passion was ever so wholly in the power of his master as you were in Curios. How often has his father turned you out of his house? How often has he placed guards to prevent you from entering? while you, with night for your accomplice, lust for your encourager, and wages for your compeller, were let down through the roof. That house could no longer endure your wickedness.
Do you not know I am speaking of matters with which I am thoroughly acquainted? Remember that time when Curio, the father, lay weeping in his bed; his son throwing himself at my feet with tears recommended to me you; he entreated me to defend you against his own father, if he demanded six millions of sesterces of you; for that he had been bail for you to that amount. And he himself, burning with love, declared positively that because he was unable to bear the misery of being separated from you, he should go into banishment. And at that time what misery of that most flourishing family did I allay, or rather did I remove! persuaded the father to pay the sons debts; to release the young man, endowed as he was with great promise of courage and ability, by the sacrifice of part of his family estate; and to use his privileges and authority as a father to prohibit him not only from all intimacy with, but from every opportunity of meeting you. When you recollected that all this was done by me, would you have dared to provoke me by abuse if you had not been trusting to those swords which we behold.
But let us say no more of your profligacy and debauchery. There are things which it is not possible for me to mention with honor; but you are all the more free for that, inasmuch as you have not scrupled to be an actor in scenes which a modest enemy can not bring himself to mention.
Mark now, O conscript fathers, the rest of his life, which I will touch upon rapidly. For my inclination hastens to arrive at those things which he did in the time of the civil war, amid the greatest miseries of the republic, and at those things which he does every day. And I beg of you, tho they are far better known to you than they are to me, still to listen attentively, as you are doing, to my relation of them. For in such cases as this, it is not the mere knowledge of such actions that ought to excite the mind, but the recollection of them also. And we must at once go into the middle of them, lest otherwise we should be too long in coming to the end.
He was very intimate with Clodius at the time of his tribuneshiphe, who now enumerates the kindnesses which he did me. He was the firebrand to handle all conflagrations; and even in his house he attempted something. He himself well knows what I allude to. From thence he made a journey to Alexandria, in defiance of the authority of the senate, and against the interests of the republic, and in spite of religious obstacles; but he had Gabinius for his leader, with whom whatever he did was sure to be right. What were the circumstances of his return from thence? What sort of return was it? He went from Egypt to the farthest extremity of Gaul before he returned home. And what was his home? For at that time every man had possession of his own house; and you had no house anywhere, O Antonius. House, do you say? What place was there in the whole world where you could set your foot on anything that belonged to you, except Mienum, which you farmed with your partners, as if it had been Sisapo?
You came from Gaul to stand for the questorship. Dare to say that you went to your own father before you came to me. I had already received Cæsars letters, begging me to allow myself to accept of your excuses; and, therefore, I did not allow you even to mention thanks. After that, I was treated with respect by you, and you received attentions from me in your canvass for the questorship. And it was at that time, indeed, that you endeavored to slay Publius Clodius in the forum, with the approbation of the Roman people; and tho you made the attempt of your own accord, and not at my instigation, still you clearly alleged that you did not think, unless you slew him, that you could possibly make amends to me for all the injuries which you had done me. And this makes me wonder why you should say that Milo did that deed at my instigation; when I never once exhorted you to do it, who of your own accord attempted to do me the same service. Altho, if you had persisted in it, I should have preferred allowing the action to be set down entirely to your own love of glory rather than to my influence.
It was you, you, I say, O Marcus Antonius, who gave Caius Cæsar, desirous as he already was to throw everything into confusion, the principal pretext for waging war against his country. For what other pretense did he allege? What cause did he give for his own most frantic resolution and action, except that the power of interposition by the veto had been disregarded, the privileges of the tribunes taken away, and Antoniuss rights abridged by the senate? I say nothing of how false, how trivial these pretenses were; especially when there could not possibly be any reasonable cause whatever to justify any one in taking up arms against his country. But I have nothing to do with Cæsar. You must unquestionably allow, that the cause of that ruinous war existed in your person.
O miserable man, if you are aware, more miserable still if you are not aware, that this is recorded in writings, is handed down to mens recollection, that our very latest posterity in the most distant ages will never forget this fact, that the consuls were expelled from Italy, and with them Cnæus Pompeius, who was the glory and light of the empire of the Roman people; that all the men of consular rank, whose health would allow them to share in that disaster and that flight, and the pretors, and men of pretorian rank, and the tribunes of the people, and a great part of the senate, and all the flower of the youth of the city, and, in a word, the republic itself was driven out and expelled from its abode. As, then, there is in seeds the cause which produces trees and plants, so of this most lamentable war you were the seed. Do you, O conscript fathers, grieve that these armies of the Roman people have been slain? It is Antonius who slew them. Do you regret your most illustrious citizens? It is Antonius, again, who has deprived you of them. The authority of this order is overthrown; it is Antonius who has overthrown it. Everything, in short, which we have seen since that time (and what misfortune is there that we have not seen?) we shall, if we argue rightly, attribute wholly to Antonius. As Helen was to the Trojans, so has that man been to this republicthe cause of war, the cause of mischief, the cause of ruin. The rest of his tribuneship was like the beginning. He did everything which the senate had labored to prevent, as being impossible to be done consistently with the safety of the republic. And see, now, how gratuitously wicked he was in accomplishing his wickedness.
Then in this same tribuneship, when Cæsar while on his way into Spain had given him Italy to trample on, what journeys did he make in every direction! how did he visit the municipal towns! I know that I am only speaking of matters which have been discussed in every ones conversation, and that the things which I am saying and am going to say are better known to every one who was in Italy at that time, than to me, who was not. Still I mention the particulars of his conduct, altho my speech can not possibly come up to your own personal knowledge. When was such wickedness ever heard of as existing upon earth? or such shamelessness? or such open infamy?
The tribune of the people was borne along in a chariot, lictors crowned with laurels preceded him, among whom, on an open litter, was carried an actress; whom honorable men, citizens of the different municipalities, coming out from their towns under compulsion to meet him, saluted not by the name by which she was well known on the stage, but by that of Volumnia.3 A car followed full of pimps; then a lot of debauched companions; and then his mother, utterly neglected, followed the mistress of her profligate son, as if she had been her daughter-in-law. Oh, the disastrous fecundity of that miserable woman! With the marks of such wickedness as this did that fellow stamp every municipality, and prefecture, and colony, and, in short, the whole of Italy.
When victorious, you returned with the legions from Thessaly to Brundusium. There you did not put me to death. It was a great kindness! for I confess that you could have done it. But there was no one of those men who were with you at that time, who did not think that I ought to be spared. For so great is mens affection for their country, that I was sacred even in the eyes of your legions, because they recollected that the country had been saved by me. However, grant that you did give me what you did not take away from me, and that I have my life as a present from you, since it was not taken from me by you; was it possible for me, after all your insults, to regard that kindness of yours as I regarded it at first, especially after you saw that you must hear this reply from me?
You came to Brundusium, to the bosom and embraces of your actress. What is the matter? Am I speaking falsely? How miserable is it not to be able to deny a fact which it is disgraceful to confess! If you had no shame before the municipal towns, had you none even before your veteran army? For what soldier was there who did not see her at Brundusium? who was there who did not know that she had come so many days journey to congratulate you? who was there who did not grieve that he was so late in finding out how worthless a man he had been following?
Again, you made a tour through Italy, with that same actress for your companion. Cruel and miserable was the way in which you led your soldiers into the towns; shameful was the pillage in every city, of gold and silver, and above all, of wine. And besides all this, while Cæsar knew nothing about it, as he was at Alexandria, Antonius, by the kindness of Cæsars friends, was appointed his master of the horse. Then he thought that he could live with Hippia by virtue of his office, and that he might give horses which were the property of the state to Sergius the buffoon. At that time he had selected for himself to live in, not the house which he now dishonors, but that of Marcus Piso. Why need I mention his decrees, his robberies, the possessions of inheritances which were given him, and those, too, which were seized by him? Want compelled him; he did not know where to turn. That great inheritance from Lucius Rubrius, and that other from Lucius Turselius, had not yet come to him. He had not yet succeeded as an unexpected heir to the place of Cnæus Pompeius, and of many others who were absent. He was forced to live like a robber, having nothing beyond what he could plunder from others.
However, we will say nothing of these things, which are acts of a more hardy sort of villainy. Let us speak rather of his meaner descriptions of worthlessness. You, with those jaws of yours, and those sides of yours, and that strength of body suited to a gladiator, drank such quantities of wine at the marriage of Hippia, that you were forced to vomit the next day in the sight of the Roman people. O action disgraceful not merely to see, but even to hear of. If this had happened to you at supper amid those vast drinking cups of yours, who would not have thought it scandalous? But in an assembly of the Roman people, a man holding a public office, a master of the horse, to whom it would have been disgraceful even to belch, vomiting filled his own bosom and the whole tribunal with fragments of what he had been eating reeking with wine. But he himself confesses this among his other disgraceful acts. Let us proceed to his more splendid offenses.
Cæsar came back from Alexandria, fortunate, as he seemed at least to himself; but in my opinion no one can be fortunate who is unfortunate for the republic. The spear was set up in front of the temple of Jupiter Stator, and the property of Cnæus Pompeius Magnus(miserable that I am, for even now that my tears have ceased to flow, my grief remains deeply implanted in my heart)the property, I say, of Cnæus Pompeius the Great was submitted to the pitiless voice of the auctioneer. On that one occasion the state forgot its slavery, and groaned aloud; and tho mens minds were enslaved, as everything was kept under by fear, still the groans of the Roman people were free. While all men were waiting to see who would be so impious, who would be so mad, who would be so declared an enemy to gods and to men as to dare to mix himself up with that wicked auction, no one was found except Antonius, even tho there were plenty of men collected round that spear4 who would have dared anything else. One man alone was found to dare to do that which the audacity of every one else had shrunk from and shuddered at. Were you, then, seized with such stupidityor, I should rather say, with such insanityas not to see that if you, being of the rank in which you were born, acted as a broker at all, and above all as a broker in the case of Pompeiuss property, you would be execrated and hated by the Roman people, and that all gods and all men must at once become and forever continue hostile to you? But with what violence did that glutton immediately proceed to take possession of the property of that man, to whose valor it had been owing that the Roman people had been more terrible to foreign nations, while his justice had made it dearer to them.
When, therefore, this fellow had begun to wallow in the treasures of that great man, he began to exult like a buffoon in a play, who has lately been a beggar, and has become suddenly rich. But, as some poet or other says,
It is an incredible thing, and almost a miracle, how he in a few, not months, but days, squandered all that vast wealth. There was an immense quantity of wine, an excessive abundance of very valuable plate, much precious apparel, great quantities of splendid furniture, and other magnificent things in many places, such as one was likely to see belonging to a man who was not indeed luxurious, but who was very wealthy. Of all this in a few days, there was nothing left. What Charybdis was ever so voracious? Charybdis, do I say? Charybdis, if she existed at all, was only one animal. The ocean, I swear most solemnly, appears scarcely capable of having swallowed up such numbers of things so widely scattered, and distributed in such different places, with such rapidity. Nothing was shut up, nothing sealed up, no list was made of anything. Whole storehouses were abandoned to the most worthless of men. Actors seized on this, actresses on that; the house was crowded with gamblers, and full of drunken men; people were drinking all day, and that, too, in many places; there were added to all this expense (for this fellow was not invariably fortunate) heavy gambling losses. You might see in the cellars of the slaves couches covered with the most richly embroidered counterpanes of Cnæus Pompeius. Wonder not, then, that all these things were so soon consumed. Such profligacy as that could have devoured not only the patrimony of one individual, however ample it might have been (as indeed his was), but whole cities and kingdoms.
And then his houses and gardens! Oh, the cruel audacity! Did you dare to enter into that house? Did you dare to cross that most sacred threshold? and to show your most profligate countenance to the household gods who protect that abode? A house which for a long time no one could behold, no one could pass by without tears! Are you not ashamed to dwell so long in that house? one in which, stupid and ignorant as you are, still you can see nothing which is not painful to you.
When you behold those beaks of ships in the vestibule, and those warlike trophies, do you fancy that you are entering into a house which belongs to you? It is impossible. Altho you are devoid of all sense and all feelingas in truth you arestill you are acquainted with yourself, and with your trophies, and with your friends. Nor do I believe that you, either waking or sleeping, can ever act with quiet sense. It is impossible but that. were you ever so drunk and franticas in truth you arewhen the recollection of the appearance of that illustrious man comes across you, you should be roused from sleep by your fears, and often stirred up to madness if awake. I pity even the walls and the roof. For what had that house ever beheld except what was modest, except what proceeded from the purest principles and from the most virtuous practise. For that man was, O conscript fathers, as you yourselves know, not only illustrious abroad, but also admirable at home; and not more praiseworthy for his exploits in foreign countries, than for his domestic arrangements. Now in his house every bedchamber is a brothel, and every dining-room a cookshop. Altho he denies thisdo not, do not make inquiries: he is become economical. He desired that mistress of his to take possession of whatever belonged to her, according to the laws of the Twelve Tables. He has taken his keys from her, and turned her out of doors. What a well-tried citizen! of what proved virtue is he! the most honorable passage in whose life is the one when he divorced himself from this actress.
Tho you yourself took no personal share in it, partly through timidity, partly through profligacy, you had tasted, or rather had sucked in, the blood of fellow citizens: you had been in the battle of Pharsalia as a leader; you had slain Lucius Domitius, a most illustrious and highborn man; you had pursued and put to death in the most barbarous manner many men who had escaped from the battle, and whom Cæsar would perhaps have saved, as he did some others.
And, after having performed these exploits, what was the reason why you did not follow Cæsar into Africaespecially when so large a portion of the war was still remaining? And accordingly, what place did you obtain about Cæsars person after his return from Africa? What was your rank? He whose questor you had been when general, whose master of the horse when he was dictator, to whom you had been the chief cause of war, the chief instigator of cruelty, the sharer of his plunder, his son, as you yourself said, by inheritance, proceeded against you for the money which you owed for the house and gardens, and for the other property which you had bought at that sale. At first you answered fiercely enough; and that I may not appear prejudiced against you in every particular, you used a tolerably just and reasonable argument. What, does Caius Cæsar demand money of me? Why should he do so, any more than I should claim it of him? Was he victorious without my assistance? No; and he never could have been. It was I who supplied him with a pretext for civil war; it was I who proposed mischievous laws; it was I who took up arms against the consuls and generals of the Roman people, against the senate and people of Rome, against the gods of the country. against its altars and hearths, against the country itself. Has he conquered for himself alone? Why should not those men whose common work the achievement is, have the booty also in common? You were only claiming your right, but what had that to do with it? He was the more powerful of the two.
Oh, how splendid was that eloquence of yours, when you haranged 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 mans 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 Cæsar, perpetual dictator; and that Cæsar 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. 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 Mælius, and Marcus Manlius were slain; that many years afterward a king might be established at Rome by Marcus Antonius, tho the bare idea was impiety? However, let us return to the auspices.
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? Altho 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?
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; tho 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 Cæsar bequeathed to the people, together with his gardens, those he carried away, some to the house which belonged to Pompeius, and some to Scipios villa.
And are you then diligent in doing honor to Cæsars 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 you not inaugurated? Choose a day. select some one to inaugurate you; we are colleags; 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 Cæsar? Why are we not all clad in the pretexta? Why are we permitting the honor which by your law was appointed for Cæsar 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.
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 ones 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 Cæsar; 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, tho 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 appearance 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 burnt into the republic, there is still this good: that the Roman people has now learnt 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 learnt 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 be restored by my death.
Note 1. The second oration against Antony (here abridged) was never actually delivered by Cicero, the reason being explained in the argument prefixed to Mr. Yonges translation, as follows: The senate met in the temple of Concord, but Cicero himself was persuaded not to attend by his friends, who were afraid of Antony proceeding to actual violence against him (and indeed he brought a strong guard of armed men with him to the senate). He spoke with the greatest fury against Cicero, charging him with having been the principal author and contriver of Cæsars murder, hoping by this to inflame the soldiers, whom he had posted within hearing of his harang. Soon after this, Cicero removed to a villa near Naples for greater safety, and here he composed this second philippic, which he did not publish immediately, but contented himself at first with sending a copy to Brutus and Cassius, who were much pleased with it. [back]
Note 2. It has been pointed out that Cicero here means to insinuate that Mark Antony had been forging Cæsars handwriting and signature. [back]
Note 3. A note to Mr. Yonges translation explains that this woman was a courtezan who had been enfranchised by her master Volumnius, and that the name of Volumnia was dear to the Romans as that of the wife of Coriolanus, to whose entreaties he had yielded when he drew off his army from the neighborhood of Rome. [back]
Note 4. Mr. Yonge observes that the custom of erecting a spear wherever an auction was held is well known; it is said to have arisen from the ancient practise of selling under a spear the booty acquired in war. [back]