Cicero, pro Rabirio Perduellionis Reo (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Cic. Rab. Perd.].
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Although, Roman citizens, my custom at the outset of speaking has never been to offer in return the reason why I am defending someone, especially since I have always considered a just cause enough of a bond for me with all citizens in their legal perils, in this defense of Gaius Rabirius' life and citizenship, his reputation, and all his fortunes the rationale underlying my sense of duty, it seems, must be explained, since the reason that seemed to me most just for defending him ought to seem to you the very one for acquitting him.

2 My long friendship with Gaius Rabirius, the honor of the man, considerations of civilized behavior, and the unbroken custom of my life have urged me to defend him, but, in truth, the survival of the Republic, my duty as consul, and, finally, the consulship itself which, along with the welfare of the Republic, you have entrusted to me have compelled me to do so with my every effort.

Criminal negligence, Roman citizens, has not summoned Rabirius into a crisis of his life and citizenship, neither has jealousy inspired by his life nor any lasting, just, and grievous enmity. Rather, that the most important support for the majesty of our empire handed down to us by our ancestors be abolished from the Republic, and that henceforth the influence of the senate, the consul's civilian authority, and the meeting of the minds of good men be utterly powerless against the pernicious plague upon the citizen body, for these aims and purposes and toward overturning these institutions, have one man's old age, frailty, and privacy come under assault.

3 Accordingly, if it is the mark of a good consul, when he sees all the supports of the Republic being undermined and wrest asunder, to bring help to the fatherland, to succor the common health and fortunes, to invoke the integrity of citizens, and to consider his own survival of less importance than the common survival, it is as well the mark of good and brave citizens, men like you who have emerged in every crisis facing the Republic, to cut off all avenues for sedition, to fortify the bulwarks of the Republic, to reckon that the supreme command resides in the consuls, the utmost deliberation in the senate, and to judge that man who has followed their leadership worthy of praise and glory, not penalties and capital punishment.

4 Accordingly, the task of defending this man is primarily mine, but the ardor for preserving the man ought to be ours, yours and mine, in common.

ch. 2Thus, you are duty-bound to hold, Roman citizens, that, within the memory of men, no affair more important, more fraught with peril, and more in need of caution on your part has been undertaken by a tribune of the commoners, defended by a consul, and laid before the Roman people. Nothing other is at stake in this case, Roman citizens, [except] that henceforth in the Republic there be no public policy, no meeting of the minds of good men against the mad rage and effrontery of reprobates, no refuge for the Republic in its hours of extreme danger, no bulwark for its survival.

5 Since this is true, first, that which in such a struggle for Gaius Rabirius' life and citizenship, his reputation, and all his fortunes must be done, from Jupiter Best and Greatest and from the rest of the gods and goddesses by whose power and support far more than by men's reasoning and decisions is this Republic guided, I seek harmony and favor. And I beg of them that they allow this day to have dawned for preserving the welfare of my client and for founding the Republic. Secondly, you, Roman citizens, whose power very nearly approaches that of the immortal gods to work their will, I beseech you, I implore you, since the life of Gaius Rabirius, a most wretched and blameless man, as well as the survival of the Republic are committed at one and the same time to your hands and voting ballots, that you bring pity to the fortunes of the man and to the salvation of the Republic your customary wisdom.

6Now, Titus Labienus, since you have obstructed my careful preparations by your limitations on my time and forced me from the usually allotted time for a defense into a scant half hour, compliance will be granted both to a prosecutor's condition, which is very unfair, and, what is most deplorable, to the power of a personal enemy. Although with this ruling of a half hour, you left me the role of an advocate, you have taken away that of a consul, since the time, nearly sufficient for mounting a defense, will be truly too little for sounding complaints.

7 Unless perhaps you think that you are owed a lengthy response concerning the sacred places and groves that you alleged were violated by my client. In this charge, you said nothing except that the charge was leveled against Gaius Rabirius by Gaius Macer. I am amazed that you remembered what Macer, a personal enemy, leveled at Gaius Rabirius, but you forgot what judgment fair and impartial judges returned.

ch. 3

8 Or must a long speech be delivered about the theft of public funds or the arson of a public archive? Of this charge, Gaius Rabirius' kinsman, Gaius Curtius, by virtue of his own good character, was most honorably acquitted by a very distinguished court of justice. Rabirius himself, in fact, not only was never summoned to court on these charges, but he was not even called into the slightest suspicion by word of mouth. Or must a more thorough rebuttal be offered concerning his sister's son whom you alleged was murdered by my client when a death in the family was needed as a plea for a stay in the trial? What is as likely as a sister's husband being dearer to Rabirius than a sister's son and so much dearer that the life of the one was cut short in the most savage way when a postponement in the trial of two days was needed for the other? Or is more to be said about the retention of slaves not his own in violation of a Fabian law or the scourging of Roman citizens against a Porcian law, when Gaius Rabirius was honored enthusiastically by all Apulia and wholeheartedly by Campania? When not only men but nearly entire regions themselves, aroused rather more broadly than his name or boundaries of his neighborhood warranted, rallied to fight off his legal perils? Why would I prepare a long speech in answer to declarations made in this same proposal of a fine, namely, that my client spared neither his virtue and decency nor those of another?

Cicero, pro Rabirio Perduellionis Reo (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Cic. Rab. Perd.].
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