Cicero, pro Flacco (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Cic. Flac.].
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11 And yet with what modesty, with what trembling and paleness did he say what he did! How ready to give evidence was Publius Septimius; how angry was he about some former trial, and about his steward: yet he hesitated; yet his scrupulousness was at times at variance with his anger. Marcus Caelius was an enemy to Flaccus, because, as Flaccus had thought it wrong for one publican to decide on the case of another publican, though the case was ever so evident he had been removed from the list of judges. And yet he restrained himself; and brought nothing into the court which could injure Flaccus except his own inclination to do so.

ch. 5

If these men had been Greeks, and if our habits and principles had not had more influence than indignation and hostility, they all would have said that they had been plundered, and harassed, and stripped of their fortunes. When a Greek witness comes forward with a desire to injure a man, he does not think of the words of his oath, but of what he can say to injure him. He thinks it a most shameful thing to be defeated, to be detected, to allow his enemy's innocence to be proved. That is the contest for which he prepares himself; he cares for nothing beyond. Therefore, it is not the best men, nor the wisest, but the most impudent and talkative men who are selected as witnesses.

12 But you, even in private trials about the most trifling matters, carefully weigh the character of a witness; even if you know the person of the man, and his name and his tribe, still you think it right to inquire into his habits. And when a man of our citizens gives his evidence, how carefully does he restrain himself, how scrupulously does he regulate all his expressions, how fearful is he, and anxious not to say anything covetously or angrily,— not to say one word more or less than necessary! Do you think that those Greeks are so too? men to whom an oath is a joke, evidence a plaything, your opinion of them a shadow, men who place all their credit and profit and reputation, and triumph telling the most impudent lies. But I will not spin out what I have got to say. Indeed, my speech would be interminable if I were to take it into my head to unfold the faithlessness of the whole nation in giving evidence. But I will come nearer home; I will speak of these witnesses whom you have brought forward.


We have got a most zealous prosecutor, O judges, and an enemy in every respect violent and furious against us. I trust that he may be of great use to his friends and to the republic; but at all events, he has undertaken this case and this prosecution, as if he were impelled by some most extraordinary eagerness. What a company attended him while pursuing his investigations! company, do I say? rather, what an army! what profusion! what expense! what prodigality was there! And though these statements are of service to my case, still I do not make them without apprehension lest Laelius should think that I am seeking by my oration to make him talked about, or to excite odium against him, in a business which he has undertaken for the sole object of acquiring credit.

ch. 6

Therefore, I will pass over all this part of the subject. I will only beg of you, O judges, if you have heard anything yourselves by common report and in ordinary conversation about force, and violence, and arms, and troops, to recollect it and to remember, because of the unpopularity of such conduct, that by this recent law, a certain number of companions has been fixed as the greatest number that ought to attend a man while prosecuting such an inquiry.

14 However, to say nothing of violence, what conduct is this? which, since it was adopted according to the privileges and customs of prosecutors we cannot impeach, but still we are compelled to complain if it. I mean, first of all, the making a statement which has been bruited abroad over all Asia, (different people having had regular districts assigned to them, in which they were to

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spread the report,) that Cnaeus Pompeius, because he is a most zealous enemy to Lucius Flaccus, had begged of Decimus Laelius, his father's and his own most intimate friend, to prosecute him on this charge, and that he placed at his disposal for the furtherance of this business, all his own authority, and influence, and resources, and riches. And this appeared all the more probable to the Greeks, because a little before they had seen Laelius in the same province with Flaccus, and on terms of great intimacy with him. And as the authority of Pompeius is great with every one, as indeed it ought to be, so especially is it predominant in that province which he has lately delivered from the war which pirates and kings were waging against it. He did this besides: those who did not wish to leave their homes he terrified with a summons to give their evidence; those who could not remain at home, he provided with a large and liberal sum for travelling expenses.

15 And thus this young man, full of ability, worked on the wealthy by fear, on the poor by bribes, on the stupid by leading them into mistakes; and by these means he extorted those beautiful decrees which have been read to you,—decrees which were not passed by any formal vote or regular authority, nor under the sanction of an oath, but carried by holding up the hand, and by the loud shouts of an excited multitude.

ch. 7

O for the admirable customs and principles which we received from our ancestors, if we could but keep them! but somehow or other they have slipped through our fingers. For our ancestors, those wise and upright men, would not permit the public assembly to have any authority to make laws; they chose that whatever the common people decided, or whatever the burgesses wished to enact should be ordered or forbidden, after the assembly was adjourned, and after all the parts had been properly arranged, by the different ranks, classes, and ages, distributed in their tribes and centuries, after having listened to the advocates of the proposal on which the vote was to be taken, and after the proposal itself had been for many days before the people, and had had its merits inquired into.

Cicero, pro Flacco (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Cic. Flac.].
<<Cic. Flac. 8 Cic. Flac. 13 (Latin) >>Cic. Flac. 18

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