Cicero, pro Q. Roscio comoedo (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Cic. Q. Rosc.].
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... He, forsooth, excellent man, and of singular integrity, endeavours in his own cause to bring forward his account-books as witnesses. Men are accustomed to say.... [Note] Did I endeavour to corrupt such a man as that, so as to induce him to make a false entrance for my sake? I am waiting till Chaerea uses this argument. Was I able to induce this hand to be full of falsehood, and these fingers to make a false entry? But if he produces his accounts, Roscius will also produce his.

2 These words will appear in the books of the one, but not in those of the other. Why should you trust one rather than the other? Oh, would he ever have written it if he had not borne this expense by his authority? No, says the other, would he not have written it if he had given the authority? For just as it is discreditable to put down what is not owed, so it is dishonest not to put down what you do owe. For his accounts are just as much condemned who omits to make an entry of the truth, as his who puts down what is false. But see now to what, relying on the abundance and cogency of my arguments, I am now coming. If Caius Fannius produces in his own behalf his accounts of money received and paid, written at his own pleasure, I do not object to your giving your decision in his favour.

3 What brother would show so much indulgence to a brother, what father to a son, as to consider whatever he entered in this manner proof of a fact? Oh, Roscius will ratify it. Produce your books; what you were convinced of, he will be convinced of; what was approved of by you, will be approved of by him. A little while ago we demanded the accounts of Marcus Perperna, and of Publius Saturius. Now, O Caius Fannius Chaerea, we demand your accounts alone, and we do not object to the action being decided by them—Why then do you not produce them?

4 Does he not keep accounts? Indeed he does most carefully. Does he not enter small matters in his books? Indeed be does everything. Is this a small and trifling sum? It is 100,000 sesterces. How is it that such an extraordinary sum us omitted?—how is it that a hundred thousand sesterces, received and expended, are not down in the books? Oh, ye immortal gods that there should be any one endued with such audacity, as to dare to demand a sum which he is afraid to enter in his account-books; not to hesitate to swear before the court to what, when not on his oath, he scrupled to put on paper; to endeavour to persuade another of what he is unable to make out to his own satisfaction.

ch. 2


He says that I am indignant, and sent the accounts too soon; he confesses that he has not this sum entered in his book of money received and expended; but he asserts that it does occur in his memoranda. Are you then so fond of yourself, have you such a magnificent opinion of yourself, as to ask for money from us on the strength, not of your account-books, but of your memoranda? To read one's account-books instead of producing witnesses, is a piece of arrogance; but is it not insanity to produce mere notes of writings and scraps of paper?

6 If memoranda have the same force and authority, and are arranged with the same care as accounts, where is the need of making an account-book? of making out careful lists? of keeping a regular order? of making a permanent record of old writings? But if we have adopted the custom of making account-books, because we put no trust in flying memoranda, shall that which, by all individuals, is considered unimportant and not to be relied on, be considered important and holy before a judge?

7 Why is it that we write down memoranda carelessly, that we make up account-books carefully? For what reason? Because the one is to last a month, the other for ever; these are immediately expunged those are religiously preserved; these embrace the recollection of a short time, those pledge the good faith and honesty of a man for ever; these are thrown away, those are arranged in order. Therefore, no one ever produced memoranda at a trial; men do produce accounts, and read entries in books.

ch. 3

You, O Caius Piso, a man of the greatest good faith, and virtue, and dignity, and authority, would not venture to demand money on the strength of memoranda.

8 I need not say any more about matters in which the custom is so notorious; but I ask you this, which is very material to the question, How long ago is it, O Fannius, that you made this entry in your memoranda? He blushes; he does not know what to answer; he is at a loss for anything to invent off-hand. “It is two months ago,” you will say; yet it ought to have been copied into the account-book of money received and paid. “It is more than six months.” Why then is it left so long in the memorandum-book? What if it is more than three years ago? How is it that, when every one else who makes up account-books transfers his accounts every month almost into his books you allow this sum to remain among your memoranda more than three years?

9 Have you all other sums of money received and expended regularly entered, or not? If not, how is it that you make up your books? If you have, how is it that, when you were entering all other items in regular order, you leave this sum, which was one of the greatest of all in amount, for more than three years in your memoranda? “You did not like it to be known that Roscius was in your debt.” Why did you put it down at all? “You were asked not to enter it.” Why did you put it down in your memoranda? But, although I think this is strong enough, yet I cannot satisfy myself unless I get evidence from Caius Fannius himself that this money is not owed to him. It is a great thing which I am attempting; it is a difficult thing which I am undertaking; yet I will agree that Roscius shall not gain the verdict unless he has the same man both for his adversary and for his witness.

ch. 4

Cicero, pro Q. Roscio comoedo (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Cic. Q. Rosc.].
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