Cicero, pro Flacco (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Cic. Flac.].
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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.

16 But all the republics of the Greeks are governed by the rashness of the assembly while sitting. Therefore, to say no more of this Greece, which has long since been overthrown and crushed through the folly of its own counsels; that ancient country, which once flourished with riches, and rower, and glory, fell owing to that one evil, the immoderate liberty and licentiousness of the popular assemblies. When inexperienced men, ignorant and uninstructed in any description of business whatever, took their seats in the theatre, then they undertook inexpedient wars; then they appointed seditious men to the government of the republic; then they banished from the city the citizens who had deserved best of the state.

17 But if these things were constantly taking place at Athens, when that was the first city, not only in Greece, but in almost all the world, what moderation do you suppose there was in the assemblies in Phrygia and Mysia? It is usually men of those nations who throw our own assemblies into confusion; what do you suppose is the case when they are by themselves? Athenagoras, that celebrated man of Cyme, was beaten with rods, because, at a time of famine, he had ventured to export corn. An assembly was summoned at the request of Laelius. Athenagoras came forward, and, being a Greek among Greeks, he said a good deal, not about his fault, but in the way of complaining of his punishment. They voted by holding up their hands. A decree was passed. Is this evidence? The men of Pergamus, having been lately feasted, having been a little while before glutted with every sort of present,—I mean, all the cobblers and girdle-makers in Pergamus,—cried out whatever Mithridates (who governed that multitude, not by his authority, but by fattening them up) chose. Is this the testimony of that city? I brought witnesses from Sicily in pursuance of the public resolution of the island. But the evidence that I brought was the evidence not of an excited assembly, but of a senate on its oath.

18 So that I am not now arguing against the reception of evidence; but you are to decide whether these statements are to be considered evidence.

ch. 8

A virtuous young man, born in an honourable rank, and eloquent, comes with a most numerous and splendidly appointed train into a town of the Greeks. He demands an assembly. He frightens wealthy men and men of authority from opposing him by summoning them to give evidence; he tempts the needy and worthless by the hope of being employed on the commission, and by a public grant for the expenses of their journey, and also by his own private liberality. What trouble is it to excite artisans, and shopkeepers, and all such dregs of a city, against any man, and especially against one who has lately had the supreme authority there, and could not possibly be very popular, on account of the odium attached to the very name of supreme power?

19 And is it strange that those men who abominate the sight of our faces, who detest our name, who hate our tax on pastures, and our tenths, and our harbour dues, more than death itself, should gladly seize on every opportunity of injuring us that presents itself? Remember, therefore, that when you hear decrees you are not hearing evidence; that you are listening to the rashness of the common people; that you are listening to the assertions of all the most worthless men; that you are listening to the murmurs of the ignorant, to the voice of an inflamed assembly of a most worthless nation. Therefore examine closely into the nature and motive of all their accusations, and you will find no reason for them except the hopes by which they have been led on, or the terrors and threats by which they have been driven

ch. 9

20

The cities have nothing in the treasury, nothing in their revenues. There are two ways of raising money,—by tribute, or by loan. No lists of creditors are brought forward; no exaction of tribute is accounted for. But I pray you to remark how cheerfully they are in the habit of producing false accounts, and of entering in their accounts whatever suits them, forming your opinions by the letters of Cnaeus Pompeius to Hypsaeus, and of Hypsaeus to Pompeius. [The letters of Pompeius and of Hypsaeus are read.] Do not we appear to prove to you clearly enough, by the authority of these men, the profligate habits and impudent licentiousness of the Greeks? Unless, perchance, we suppose that those men who deceived Cnaeus Pompeius, and that too, when he was on the spot and when there was no one tempting them to do so, were likely now to be either timid or scrupulous, when Laelius urged them to bear witness against Lucius Flaccus in his absence.



Cicero, pro Flacco (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Cic. Flac.].
<<Cic. Flac. 12 Cic. Flac. 17 (Latin) >>Cic. Flac. 23

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