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

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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.

24 Do you think that this is an examination and an inquiry into the truth, or an endeavour to fix a stain, and bring ruin upon innocence? for there are many things of such a sort, O judges, that even if they deserve to be neglected, as far as the individual whom they more immediately affect is concerned, are still to be dreaded, because of the state of facts of which they betoken the existence, and because of the precedents which they afford.

ch. 11

If I were defending a man of the lowest rank, of no splendour of reputation, and recommended by no innocence of character, still, relying on the rights of common humanity and mercy, I should beg from citizens, on behalf of another citizen, that you would not give up your fellow-citizen and your suppliant to witnesses who are strangers to you; who are urged on to give their evidence; who are the companions, and messmates, and comrades of the prosecutor; to men who from their fickleness are Greeks, but who, as far as cruelty goes, are barbarians: I should entreat you not to leave posterity so dangerous a precedent for their imitation.

25 But when the interests of Lucius Flaccus are at stake, a man of whom I may say that the first man who was made consul of his family [Note] was the first man that was ever consul in this city; a man by whose valour the kings were banished, and liberty was established in this republic; a family which has endured to this time with a continued series of honours and commands, and of glorious achievements; and when Lucius Flaccus has not only not degenerated from this everlasting and well-attested virtue of his ancestors, but as praetor has especially devoted himself to the glory of asserting the liberty of his country, seeing that that was the especial glory and characteristic of his family,—can I fear lest any mischievous precedent be established in the case of this defendant when, even if he had committed any slight fault, all good men would think that they ought rather to connive at it?

26 That, however, I not only do not request, but I beg and entreat you, O judges, to scrutinise the whole case most vigilantly, with all your eyes, as they say. None of the charges will be found borne witness to with conscientiousness, or founded in truth, or extorted by indignation; but, on the contrary, you will see that it is all redolent of lust, passion, party spirit, bribery, and perjury.

ch. 12


Now that the universal cupidity of those men is ascertained, I will proceed to the separate complaints and charges of the Greeks. They complain that money was levied from the cities under the name of money for a fleet. And we admit, O judges, that that was done. But if this be a crime, the guilt must consist either in the fact that it was not lawful so to levy money; or in the fact that the ships were not wanted; or in the third alternative, that no fleet put to sea while he was praetor. That you may see that this levy was lawful, listen, I pray you, to what the senate decreed, when I was consul, in which it did not depart at all from the former decrees of many years running. [The resolution of the senate is read.] The next thing is for us to inquire whether there was need of the fleet or not. Is it then the Greeks or any foreign nations who are to be judges of this, or your praetors, your generals, your commanders-in-chief? I indeed think that in a district and province of that sort which is surrounded by the sea, dotted all over with harbours, and girt with islands, a fleet is requisite not only for the sake of protection, but as an ornament of the empire.

28 For there were these principles and there was this greatness of mind in our ancestors, that while in their private affairs, and as to their own personal expenses, they lived contented with a little, and without the smallest approach to luxury; where the empire and the dignity of the state was concerned, they brought everything up to a high pitch of splendour and magnificence. For in a man's private affairs he desires the credit of moderation, but in public affairs dignity is the object aimed at. But even if he had a fleet for the sake of protection, who will be so unjust as to blame it?—“There were no pirates.” What? who could certify beforehand that there would be none? “You are taking away,” said he, “from the glory of Pompeius.”

Cicero, pro Flacco (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Cic. Flac.].
<<Cic. Flac. 19 Cic. Flac. 25 (Latin) >>Cic. Flac. 31

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