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

29 Say, rather, that you yourself are increasing his difficulties. For he destroyed the fleets of the pirates, their cities, and harbours, and places of refuge. By his surpassing valour and incredible rapidity of motion he established a maritime peace; but this he neither undertook nor ought to have undertaken,—namely, to submit to appear worthy of prosecution if a single pirate's boat was anywhere seen. Therefore he himself in Asia, when he had terminated every war, both by land and sea, nevertheless levied a fleet on those self-same cities. And if he then thought that step was necessary, when everything might have been safe and tranquil through fear of his name, while he was still in those countries, what do you think that Flaccus ought to have decided on and to have done after he had departed?

ch. 13


What? did not we decree, by the advice of Pompeius himself, in the consulship of Silanus and Murena, that a fleet should put to sea to sail round Italy? Did not we, at the very same time that Lucius Flaccus was levying sailors in Asia, exact four millions three hundred thousand sesterces for fleets to defend the Mediterranean and Adriatic? What did we do the year after? was not money exacted for the use of the fleet when Marcus Curius and Publius Sextilius were quaestors? What? were there not all this time cavalry on the sea-coast? for that is the surpassing glory of Pompeius,—first of all, that those pirates who, when the conduct of the maritime war was first entrusted to him, wandered about straggling over the whole sea, were soon reduced under our power; in the next place, that Syria is ours, that Cilicia is occupied by us, that Cyprus, through the instrumentality of king Ptolemaeus, is reduced to a state in which it can venture to do nothing; moreover, that Crete, owing to the valour of Metellus, is ours; that the pirates have now no ports from which they can set out none to which they can return; that all the bays, and promontories, and shores, and islands, and maritime cities, are now contained within the barriers of our empire.

31 But if, when Flaccus was praetor, there had been not one pirate at sea, still his diligence would not have deserved to be blamed. For I should think that the reason of there being no pirates at sea was, because he had a fleet. What will you say if I prove by the evidence of Lucius Oppius, of Lucius Agrius, of Caius Cestius, Roman knights, and also of this most industrious man here present, Cnaeus Domitius, who was an ambassador in Asia at the time, that at that very time in which you yourself affirm that there was no need of a fleet, numbers of men were taken prisoners by the pirates? Still, will the wisdom of Flaccus, as shown in raising crews for the fleet, be found fault with? What if a man of high rank, a citizen of Adramyttium, was even slain by the pirates,—a man whose name is known to nearly all of us, Atyanas the boxer, a victor at Olympia? and this victory is considered among the Greeks (since we are speaking of their wisdom) a greater and more glorious thing than to have had a triumph is reckoned at Rome. “But you took no prisoners.” How many most illustrious men have had the command of the sea-coast, who, though they had taken no pirate prisoner, still made the sea safe? For taking prisoners depends on chance, on place, on accident, on opportunity. And the caution which shows itself in defence has an easy task; being aided not only by lurking places in concealed spots, but by the sudden fall or change of winds and weather.

ch. 14

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