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

21 But even suppose those documents were not tampered with in their own city, still what authority or what credit can they now have here? The law orders them to be brought to the praetor within three days, and to be sealed up with the seals of the judges; they are scarcely brought within thirty days. In order that the writings may not be easily tampered with, therefore the law orders that after they have been sealed up they shall be kept in a public office; but these are sealed up after they have been tampered with. What difference, then, does it make, whether they are brought to the judges so long after the proper time, or whether they are not brought at all?

ch. 10

What shall we say if the zeal of the witnesses is in partnership, as it were, with the prosecutor? shall they still be considered witnesses? What then, is become of that expectation which ought to have a place in courts of justice? For formerly, when a prosecutor had said anything with bitterness and vehemence, and when the counsel for the defence had made a supplicatory and submissive reply, the third step expected was the appearance of the witnesses who either spoke without any partisanship at all, or else they in some degree concealed their desires. But what is the case here?

22 They are sitting with the prosecutor; they rise up from the prosecutor's bench; they use no concealment; they feel no apprehension. Do I complain of where they sit? They come with him from his house, if they trip at one word, they will have no place to return to. Can any one be a witness, when the prosecutor can examine him without any anxiety and have not the slightest fear of his giving him any answer which he is unwilling to hear? Where, then, is the oratorical skill, which formerly used to be looked for either in the prosecutor or in the counsel for the defence? “He examined the witness cleverly; he came up to him cunningly; he scolded him; he led him where he pleased; he convicted him and made him dumb.”

23 Why need you ask a man questions, Laelius, who, even before you have pronounced the words “I ask you,” will pour out more assertions than you enjoined him before you left home? And why should I, the counsel for the defence, ask him questions, since the course to be taken with respect to witnesses is either to invalidate their testimony or to impeach their characters? But by what discussion can I refute the evidence of men who say “We gave,” and no more? Am I then to make a speech against the man, when my speech can find no room for argument? What can I say against an utter stranger? I must then be content with complaining and lamenting, as I have been some time doing, the general iniquity of the whole prosecution, and, in the first place, the whole class of witnesses; for that nation is the witness which is the least scrupulous of all in giving evidence. I come nearer;—I say that that is not evidence which you yourself call decrees; but that it is only the grumbling of needy men, and a sort of random movement of a miserable Greek

-- 436 --

assembly. I will come in still further,—he who has done it is not present; he who is said to have paid the money is not brought hither; no private letters are produced; the public documents have been retained in the power of the prosecutors. The main point of my argument concerns the witnesses. These men are living with our enemies, they come into court with our adversaries, they are dwelling in the same house with our prosecutors.



Cicero, pro Flacco (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Cic. Flac.].
<<Cic. Flac. 14 Cic. Flac. 21 (Latin) >>Cic. Flac. 26

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