Cicero, pro Flacco (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Cic. Flac.].
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56 What then? “This you had no right to touch.” Presently I will see to that; but first of all I will deal with this. A dignified, a wealthy, a noble city complains that it is not allowed to retain what does not belong to it. It says that it has been plundered, because it has not in its possession what never was its own. What can be said or imagined more shameless than this? A town was selected in which, above all others, the money contributed by all Asia for the honours of Lucius Flaccus should be deposited. All this money was transferred from the purpose of doing him honour, and employed in gainful traffic and usury. Many years afterwards it was recovered.

ch. 24


What injury was done to the city? “But the city is very indignant at it.” I dare say. For the profit is wrenched from it contrary to its hopes, which had already been devoured in expectation. “But it complains;” and a most impudent complaint it is. For we cannot reasonably complain of everything at which we are annoyed. “But it accuses him in the severest language.” Not the city, but ignorant men do so, who have been stirred up by Maeandrius. And while on this topic I beg you over and over again to recollect how great is the rashness of a multitude,—how great the peculiar levity of Greeks,—and how great is the influence of a seditious speech in a public assembly. Even here, in this most dignified and well-regulated of cities, when the forum is full of courts of justice, full of magistrates, full of most excellent men and citizens,—when the senate-house, the chastiser of rashness, the directress in the path of duty, commands and surveys the rostra, still what storms do we see excited in the public assemblies? What do you think is the case at Tralles? is it the same as is the case at Pergamus? Unless, perchance, these cities wish it to be believed that they could more easily be influenced by one letter of Mithridates, and impelled to violate the claims of their friendship with the Roman people, and their own plighted faith, and all the rights and duties of humanity, than to injure by their evidence the son of a man whom they had thought it necessary to drive from their walls by force of arms.

58 Do not, then, oppose to me the names of those noble cities, for those whom this family has scorned as enemies, it will never be afraid of as witnesses. But you must confess, if your cities are governed by the counsels of your chief men, that it was not by the rashness of the multitude, but by the deliberate counsel of the nobles, that war was undertaken by those cities against the Roman people; or if that disturbance was at that time caused by the rashness of the ignorant mob, then permit me to separate the errors of the Roman people from the general cause.

ch. 25


“But he had no right to lay hands on that money.” Had his father Flaccus a right to touch it or not? If he had a right, as he undoubtedly had, to take money which had been contributed for the purposes of his honours, then the son did right in taking away the money belonging to his father from those men from whom he on his own account took nothing; but if the father Flaccus had not a right to take it, still after his death, not only his son, but any heir, must have had a perfect right to take it. And at that time, indeed, the Trallians, as they themselves had been for many years putting out that money at high interest nevertheless obtained from Flaccus all that they desired; nor were they so shameless as to venture to say what Laelius said,—namely, that Mithridates had taken this money from them. For who was there who did not know that Mithridates was more anxious about adorning Tralles than plundering it?

60 And if I were to speak of these matters as they ought to be spoken of, I should, O judges, press more strongly than I have as yet done, the point of how much credit it was reasonable for you to give Asiatic witnesses. I should recall your recollections to the time of the Mithridatic war, to that miserable and inhuman massacre of all the Roman citizens, in so many cities, at one and the same moment. I should remind you of our praetors who were surrendered, of our ambassadors who were thrown into prison, of almost all memory of the Roman name and every trace of its empire effaced, not only from the habitations of the Greeks, but even from their writings. They called Mithridates a god, they called him their father and the preserver of Asia, they called him Evius, Nysius, Bacchus, Liber.

61 It was the same time, when all Asia shut its gates against Lucius Flaccus, the consul, and not only received that Cappadocian into their cities, but even spontaneously invited him. Let us be allowed, if not to forget these things, at least

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to be silent respecting them. Let me be allowed rather to complain of the inconstancy of the Greeks than of their cruelty. Are these two men to have influence with a people which they wished utterly to destroy? For whomsoever they could they slew while in the garb of peace; as far as depended on them they annihilated the name of Roman citizens.

ch. 26

Shall they then give themselves airs in a city which they hate? among those people whom, if they had their will, they would not look upon? in that republic to the destruction of which it was their power that was unequal, and not their inclination? Let them behold this noble body of ambassadors and panegyrists of Flaccus who have come from the real honest Greece. Then let them weigh themselves in the balance, let them compare themselves with these men;

62 then, if they dare, let them compare their dignity with that of these men.

Athenians are here, citizens of that city from which civilization, learning, religion, corn, laws, and institutions are supposed to have arisen, and to have been disseminated over the whole earth—that city, for the possession of which there is said to have been, by reason of its beauty, a contest even among the gods: a city which is of that antiquity that she is said to have produced her citizens from her own womb, so that the same land is called the parent, and nurse, and country of her people. And she is of such authority that the name of Greece, now enfeebled and almost broken, rests upon the glory of this city.

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