Cicero, de Domo sua (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Cic. Dom.].
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Many things, O priests, have been devised and established with divine wisdom by our ancestors; but no action of theirs was ever more wise than their determination that the same men should superintend both what relates to the religious worship due to the immortal gods, and also what concerns the highest interests of the state, so that they might preserve the republic as the most honourable and eminent of the citizens, by governing it well, and as priests by wisely interpreting the requirements of religion. But if there has ever been a time when an important cause has depended on the decision and power of the priests of the Roman people, this indeed is that cause; being such that the dignity of the whole republic, the safety of all the citizens, their lives, their liberties, their altars, their hearths, their household gods, their properties and condition as citizens, and their homes, all appear to be committed and entrusted to your wisdom integrity, and power.

2 You have got to decide this day whether you prefer for the future to deprive frantic and profligate magistrates of the protection of wicked and unprincipled citizens, or even to arm them with the cloak of religion and of the respect due to the immortal gods. For if that pest and conflagration of the republic succeeds in defending his own mischievous and fatal tribunate by appeals to divine religion, when he cannot maintain it by any considerations of human equity, then we must seek for other ceremonies, for other ministers of the immortal gods, for other interpreters of the requirements of religion. But if those things which were done by the madness of wicked men in the republic at a time when it was oppressed by one party, deserted by another, and betrayed by a third, are annulled by your authority and your wisdom, O priests, then we shall have cause rightly and deservedly to praise the wisdom of our ancestors in selecting the most honourable men of the state for the priesthood.

3 But since that madman has thought that he should find a ready road to your attention by blaming the sentiments that I in the last few days have expressed in the senate concerning the republic, I will deviate from the natural arrangement of my speech, and I will make a reply to what I will not call the speech of that furious fellow, (for that is more than he is capable of,) but to his abuse, that being an employment which he has fortified himself in the practice of by his own intolerable bad temper, and by the length of time that he has been allowed to indulge it with impunity.

ch. 2

And in the first place, I ask you this, O you insane and frantic man, what excessive punishment for your wickednesses and crimes is it that distracts you so as to make you think that these men—men of their high character, who support the dignity of the republic, not only by their wisdom, but also by their dignified appearance—are angry with me, because in delivering my opinion I connected the safety of the citizens with the honour of Cnaeus Pompeius, and that they are likely at this present time to have different feelings with respect to the general interests of religion from those which they entertained when I was absent?

4“Oh,” says he, “you had the advantage before the priests, but now you must inevitably get worst off since you have had recourse to the people.” Is it so? Will you transfer that which is the greatest defect in the ignorant multitude,—namely, its fickleness and inconstancy, and change of opinion, as frequent as the changes of the weather, to these men, whose gravity protects them from inconsistency, while their fixed and definite principles of religion and the antiquity of precedents, and the authority of written records and monuments, effectually deters them from all capricious change of sentiment? “Are you,” says he, “the man whom the senate was unable to do without? whom the good lamented? whom the republic regretted? by whose restoration we expected that the authority of the senate was restored? and who destroyed that authority the very first thing you did?” I am not at present speaking of my own matters; I will first of all reply to your impudence.

ch. 3


Did you then, O you deadly pest of the republic, by means of the sword and arms, by the terror of an armed force, by the wickedness of the consuls, and the threats of most audacious men,—by enlisting slaves, by besieging the temples, by occupying the forum, by oppressing the senate, contrive to compel the departure of that citizen from his home and from his country, in order to prevent actual battles between the virtuous and wicked citizens,—though you now confess that he was regretted and sent for back and recalled by the senate, by all good men, and by the whole of Italy, as the only means of preserving the republic? “But on that day of disturbance you ought not,” says he, “to have come into the senate, you ought not to have entered the Capitol.”

6But I did not come, and I kept in my own house as long as that disturbance lasted; while it was notorious that your slaves had come with you armed into the Capitol, ready for plunder and for the massacre of all good men, with all that band of wicked and profligate partisans of yours. And when this was reported to me, I know that I remained at home, and would not give you and your gladiators power of renewing the massacre. After news was brought to me that the Roman people had assembled at the Capitol, because of their fear for, and difficulty of procuring corn, and that the ministers of your crimes had been frightened and had fled, some having dropped their swords, and some having had them taken from them, I came forward not only without any armed band, but with only a very few friends.

Cicero, de Domo sua (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Cic. Dom.].
<<Cic. Dom. 1 Cic. Dom. 1 (Latin) >>Cic. Dom. 9

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