Cicero, pro Cluentio (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Cic. Clu.].
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I have observed, O judges, that the whole speech of the accuser is divided into two parts, one of which appeared to me to rely upon, and to put its main trust in, the inveterate unpopularity of the trial before Junius; [Note] the other, just for the sake of usage, to touch very lightly and diffidently On the method pursued in cases of accusations of poisoning; concerning which matter this form of trial is appointed by law. And, therefore, I have determined to preserve the same division of the subject in my defence, speaking separately to the question of unpopularity and to that of the accusation, in order that every one may understand that I neither wish to evade any point by being silent with respect to it, nor to make anything obscure by speaking of it.

2 But when I consider how much pains I must take with each branch of the question, one division—that, namely, which is the proper subject of your inquiry, the question of the fact of the poisoning—appears to me a very short one, and one which is not likely to give occasion to any great dispute. But with the other division, which, properly, is almost entirely unconnected with the case, and which is better adapted to assemblies in a state of seditious excitement, than to tranquil and orderly courts of justice, I shall, I can easily see, have a great deal of difficulty in dealing, and a great deal of trouble.

3 But in all this embarrassment, O judges, this thing still consoles me,—that you have been accustomed to hear accusations under the idea that you will afterwards hear their refutation from the advocate; that you are bound not to give the defendant more advantages towards ensuring his acquittal, than his counsel can procure for him by clearing him of the charges brought against him, and by proving his innocence in his speech. But as regards the odium into which they seek to bring him, you ought to deliberate together, considering not what is said by us, but what ought to be said. For while we are dealing with the accusations, it is only the safety of Aulus Cluentius that is at stake; but by the odium sought to be excited against him, the common safety of all men is imperilled. Accordingly, we will treat one division of the case as men who are giving you information, and the other division, as men who are addressing entreaties to you. In the first division we must beg of you to give us your diligent attention; in the second, we must implore the protection of your good faith. There is no one who can withstand the popular feeling when excited against him without the assistance of you and of men like you.

4 As far as I myself am concerned. I hardly know which way to turn. Shall I deny that there is any ground for the disgraceful accusation, —that the judges were corrupted at the previous trial? Shall I deny that that matter has been agitated at assemblies of the people? that it has been brought before the courts of justice? that it has been mentioned in the senate? Can I eradicate that belief from men's minds? a belief so deeply implanted in them—so long established. It is out of the power of my abilities to do so. It is a matter requiring your aid, O judges; it becomes you to come to the assistance of the innocence of this man attacked by such a ruinous calumny, as you would in the case of a destructive fire or of a general conflagration.

ch. 2


Indeed, as in some places truth appears to have but little foundation to rest upon, and but little vigour, so in this place unpopularity arising on false grounds ought to be powerless. Let it have sway in assemblies, but let it be overthrown in courts of justice; let it influence the opinions and conversation of ignorant men, but let it be rejected by the dispositions of the wise; let it make sudden and violent attacks, but when time for examination is given, and when the facts are ascertained, let it die away. Lastly, let that definition of impartial tribunals which has been handed down to us from our ancestors be still retained; that in them crimes are punished without any regard being had to the popularity or unpopularity of the accused party; and unpopularity is got rid of without any crime being supposed to have been ever attached to it.

6 And, therefore, O judges, I beg this of you before I begin to speak of the cause itself; in the first place, as is most reasonable, that you will bring no prejudice into court with you. In truth, we shall lose not only the authority, but even the name of judges, unless we judge from the facts which appear in the actual trials, and if we bring into court with us minds already made up on the subject at home. In the second place, I beg of you, if you have already adopted any opinion in your minds, that if reason shall eradicate it,—if my speech shall shake it,—if, in short, truth shall wrest it from you, you will not resist, but will dismiss it from your minds, if not willingly, at all events, impartially. I beg you, also, when I am speaking to each particular point, and effacing any impression my adversary may have made, not silently to let your thoughts dwell on the contrary statement to mine, but to wait to the end, and allow me to maintain the order of my arguments which I propose to myself; and when I have summed up, then to consider in your minds whether I have passed over anything.

ch. 3


I, O judges, am thoroughly aware that I am under taking a cause which has now for eight years together been constantly discussed in a spirit opposed to the interests of my client, and which has been almost convicted and condemned by the silent opinion of men; but if any god will only incline your good-will to listen to me patiently, I will show you that there is nothing which a man has so much reason to dread as envy,—that when he has incurred envy, there is nothing so much to be desired by an innocent man as an impartial tribunal, because in this alone can any end and termination be found at last to undeserved disgrace. Wherefore, I am in very great hope, if I am able fully to unravel all the circumstances of this case, and to effect all that I wish by my speech, that this place, and this bench of judges before whom I am pleading, which the other side has expected to be most terrible and formidable to Aulus Cluentius, will be to him a harbour at last, and a refuge for the hitherto miserable and tempest-tossed bark of his fortunes.

Cicero, pro Cluentio (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Cic. Clu.].
<<Cic. Clu. 1 Cic. Clu. 1 (Latin) >>Cic. Clu. 10

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