Cicero, pro Rabirio Postumo (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Cic. Rab. Post.].
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If there is any one, O judges, who thinks Caius Rabirius to be blamed for having entrusted his securely founded and well-established fortunes to the power and caprice of a sovereign, he may back his opinion by a reference not only to mine, but also to the feelings of the man himself who did so. For there is no one who is more grieved at the line of conduct which he then adopted than he is himself. Although we are very much in the habit of judging of the wisdom of a plan

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by the result, and of saying that the man whose designs have succeeded has shown a great deal of foresight, and that he who has failed has shown none at all. If the king had had any honesty, nothing would have been considered more sagacious than the conduct of Postumus; but because the king deceived him he is said to have acted as madly as possible; so that it appears now that nothing is a proof of a man being wise, unless he can foresee the future.

2 But still, if there he any one who thinks that Postumus's conduct, whether it proceeded from a vain hope, or from a not sufficiently considered calculation or (to use the strongest possible terms) from pure rashness deserves to be blamed, I will not object to his entertaining that opinion. But I do beg this, that as he sees that his designs have been punished with the greatest cruelty by fortune himself, he will not think it necessary to add any additional bitterness to the ruin with which he is already overwhelmed. It is quite enough not to help to set men up again who have fallen through imprudence; but to press down those already fallen, or to increase their impetus when falling, is unquestionably most barbarous. Especially, O judges, when this principle is almost implanted by nature in the race of man, that those men who are of a family which considerable glory has already distinguished, should with the greatest eagerness pursue the same path as their ancestors, seeing that the virtue of their fathers is celebrated in the recollection and conversation of all men; just as not only did Scipio imitate Paullus in his renown gained by military exploits; not only did his son imitate Maximus; but his own son also imitated Decius in the devotion of his life, and the exact manner of his death. Let small things, O judges, be compared in this way to great things.

ch. 2


For, when we were children, this man's father Caius Curius was a most gallant chief of the equestrian order, and a most extensive farmer of the public revenues, a man whose greatness of spirit as displayed in carrying on his business men would not have so greatly esteemed, if an incredible kindness had not also distinguished him; so that while increasing his property, he seemed not so much to be seeking to gratify his avarice, as to procure additional means for exerting his kindness.

4 My client, being this man's son, although he had never seen his father, still under the guidance of nature

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herself,—who is a very powerful guide,—and instigated by the continual conversation of every one in his family, was naturally led on to adopt a similar line of conduct to that of his father. He engaged in extensive business. He entered into many contracts. He took a great share of the public revenues. He trusted different nations. His transactions spread over many provinces. He devoted himself also to the service of kings. He had already previously lent a large sum of money to this very king of Alexandria; and in the meantime he never ceased enriching his friends; sending them on commissions; giving them a share in his contracts; increasing their estates or supporting them with his credit. Why need I say more? He gave a faithful representation of his father's career and habits of life in his own magnanimity and liberality.

In the meantime, Ptolemaeus being expelled from his kingdom with treachery, with evil designs (as the Sibyl said, expression of which Postumus found out the meaning) came to Rome. This unhappy man lent him money, as he was in want and asked for it; and that was not the first time, (for he had lent him money before while he was king, without seeing him.) And he thought that he was not lending his money rashly, because no one doubted that he would be restored to his kingdom by the senate and people of Rome.

5 But he went still further in making him presents and loans. And he lent him not his own money only, but also that of his friends. A very foolish thing to do—who denies it? at all events, who is there who does not now remind him of it? How could one think that a sensible proceeding which has turned out ill? But it is difficult not to carry out to the end a line of conduct which one has begun with sanguine hopes.

ch. 3

The king was a suppliant to him. He asked him every sort of favour; he promised him every sort of recompense. So that Postumus was at last compelled to fear that he might lose what he had already lent if he put a stop to his loans. But no one could possibly be more affable, no one could be more kind than the king; so that it was easier to repent having begun to lend than to find out how to stop.


Here first rises a charge against my client. They say that the senate was bribed. O ye immortal gods! is this that much-desired impartiality of the courts of justice? Those who have bribed us are put on their trial, we who have been

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bribed are exposed to no such dangers. What, then, shall I do? Shall I here defend the senate, O judges? I ought indeed, to do so here and everywhere, so well has that body deserved at my hands. But that is not the question at the present moment; nor is that affair in the least connected with the cause of Postumus. Although money was supplied by Postumus for the expense of his journey, and for the splendour of his appointments, and for the royal retinue, and though contracts were drawn up in the Alban villa of Cnaeus Pompeius when he left Rome; still he who supplied the money had no right to ask on what he who received the money was spending it. For he was lending it not to a robber, but to a king; nor to a king who was an enemy of the Roman people, but to him whose return to his kingdom he saw was granted to him by the senate, and entrusted to the consul to provide for; nor to a king who was a stranger to this empire, but to one with whom he had seen a treaty made in the Capitol.

Cicero, pro Rabirio Postumo (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Cic. Rab. Post.].
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