Cicero, pro Flacco (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Cic. Flac.].
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With what charges, then, O Laelius, do you attack my client being such a man as he is? He was in Cilicia a military tribune when Publius Servilius was the general; not a word is said about that. He was quaestor to Marcus Piso in Spain; not a word has been uttered about his quaestorship. He was present at the greater part of the Cretan war, and went through all its hardships in the company of that consummate general. The accusation is dumb with regard to this period. His discharge of his duties as judge during his praetorship,—a business of great intricacy, and affording numberless causes for suspicion and enmities, is not touched. Nay more, though it fell in a most critical and perilous time of the republic, it is praised even by his enemies. “Oh, but damaging evidence has been given against him.” Before I say by whom it was given, by what hopes, by what violence, by what means the witnesses were urged on, and what insignificant, needy, treacherous, audacious men they were, I will speak of their whole class, and of the condition in which all of us are placed. In the name of the immortal gods, O judges, will you ask of unknown witnesses in what way the man decided trials in Asia, who the year before had sat as judge at Rome? And will you yourselves form no conjectures on the subject? In a jurisdiction so various, many decrees were issued,—many desires of influential men were set at nought; and yet, what words, (I will not say of suspicion, for that is often false, but) of anger or indignation were ever once uttered against him? And is that man to be put on his trial for covetousness, who, when employed on a business affording numerous opportunities for such conduct, shunned all base gain,—who, in a city much given to evil speaking, and in an office surrounded with suspicion avoided, not only all accusation, but even a single hard name? I pass over points which I ought not to pass over that in his private affairs no covetous action, no eagerness about money matters, no sordid conduct in the management of his estate can be alleged against him. By what witnesses, then, can I refute these men except by you?

8 Shall that villager from near Tmolus,—a man not only a stranger to us, but not even known among his own neighbours,—teach you what sort of a man Lucius Flaccus is, whom you yourselves have known to be most modest as a youth, whom our most extensive provinces have found to be a most conscientious man and whom our armies know by experience to be a thoroughly brave soldier and vigilant general, and of a lieutenant and quaestor most moderate; whom you yourselves, being witnesses on the spot of his conduct, have judged to be a thoroughly wise and consistent senator, a most upright praetor, and a citizen wholly devoted to the republic.

ch. 4


Will you then listen to others as witnesses on those points, respecting which you yourselves ought rather to bear witness to others? And what witnesses are they? In the first place, I will say that they are Greeks, (that is the case of them all.) Not that I, for my own part, would be more inclined than others to refuse credit to that nation; for if ever there was any one of our countrymen not averse to that race of men, and proving himself so by zeal and good-will, I think that I am that man, and that I was so even more when I had more leisure; but there are in that body many virtuous, many learned, many modest men, and they have not been brought hither to this trial. There are also many impudent, illiterate, worthless persons, and those I see here, impelled by various motives. But I say this of the whole race of Greeks; I allow them learning, I allow them a knowledge of many arts; I do not deny them wit in conversation, acuteness of talents, and fluency in speaking; even if they claim praise for other sorts of ability, I will not make any objection; but a scrupulous regard to truth in giving their evidence is not a virtue that that nation has ever cultivated; they are utterly ignorant what is the meaning of that quality, they know nothing of its authority or of its weight.

10 Where does that

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expression, “Give evidence for me, and I will give evidence for you,” come from? is it supposed to be a phrase of the Gauls, or of the Spaniards? It belongs wholly to the Greeks; so that even those who do not understand Greek know what form of expression is used by the Greeks for this. Therefore, when they give their evidence, remark with what a countenance, with what confidence they give it; and then you will become aware how scrupulous they are as to what evidence they give. They never reply precisely to a question. They always answer an accuser more than he asks them. They never feel any anxiety to make what they say seem probable to any one; but are solicitous only how to get out what they have got to say. Marcus Lurco gave evidence against Flaccus, being angry (as he said himself) because his freedman had been condemned by a decision of his involving infamy. He said nothing which could injure him, though he was eager to do so; for his conscientious regard to his oath prevented him.

11 And yet with what modesty, with what trembling and paleness did he say what he did! How ready to give evidence was Publius Septimius; how angry was he about some former trial, and about his steward: yet he hesitated; yet his scrupulousness was at times at variance with his anger. Marcus Caelius was an enemy to Flaccus, because, as Flaccus had thought it wrong for one publican to decide on the case of another publican, though the case was ever so evident he had been removed from the list of judges. And yet he restrained himself; and brought nothing into the court which could injure Flaccus except his own inclination to do so.

ch. 5

If these men had been Greeks, and if our habits and principles had not had more influence than indignation and hostility, they all would have said that they had been plundered, and harassed, and stripped of their fortunes. When a Greek witness comes forward with a desire to injure a man, he does not think of the words of his oath, but of what he can say to injure him. He thinks it a most shameful thing to be defeated, to be detected, to allow his enemy's innocence to be proved. That is the contest for which he prepares himself; he cares for nothing beyond. Therefore, it is not the best men, nor the wisest, but the most impudent and talkative men who are selected as witnesses.

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