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Formerly, O judges, I had determined to conduct this cause in a different manner, thinking that our adversaries would deny that their household was implicated in such a violent and atrocious murder. Accordingly, I came with a mind free from care and anxiety, because I was aware that I could easily prove that by witnesses. But now, when it has been confessed, not only by that most honourable man, Lucius Quinctius, but when Publius Fabius himself has not hesitated to admit the facts which are the subject of this trial, I come forward to plead this cause in quite a different manner from that in which I was originally prepared to argue it. For then my anxiety was to be able to prove what I asserted had been done. Now all my speech is to be directed to this point, to prevent our adversaries from being in a better position, merely because they have admitted what they could not possibly deny though they greatly wished to do so.
2Therefore, as matters stood at first your decision was more difficult, but my defence was easy. For I originally rested my whole case on the evidence; now I rest it on the confession of my adversary; and to oppose his audacity in acts of violence, his impudence in a court of justice, may fairly be considered as the task of your power, not of my abilities.— For what is easier than to decide on the case of a man who confesses the fact? But it is difficult for me to speak with sufficient force of that which cannot be by language made out worse than it is in reality, and cannot be made more plain by my speech than it is by the confession of the parties actually concerned.
As, therefore, on account of the reasons which I have stated, my system of defence must be changed, I must also forget for a little time, in the case of Publius Fabius, that lenity of mine which I practiced at the previous trial, when I restrained myself from using any arguments which might have the appearance of attacking him, so much that I seemed to be defending his reputation with no less care than the cause of Marcus Tullius. Now, since Quinctius has thought it not foreign to the subject to introduce so many statements, false for the most part and most wickedly invented, concerning the life and habits and character of Marcus Tullius, Fabius must pardon me for many reasons, if I do not now appear to spare his character so much, or to show the same regard for it now as I did previously.
4At the former trial I kept all my stings sheathed; but since, in that same previous trial, he thought it a part of his duty to show no forbearance whatever to his adversary, how ought I to act, I, a Tullius for another Tullius, a man kindred to me in disposition not less than in name? And it seems to me, O judges, that I have more need to feel anxious as to whether my conduct will be approved in having said nothing against him before, than blamed for the reply I now make to him.
5But I both did at that time what I ought to have done, and I shall do now what I am forced to do. For when it was a dispute about money matters, because we said that Marcus Tullius had sustained damage, it appeared foreign to my character to say anything of the reputation of Quintus Fabius; not because the case did not open the door to such statements. What is my conduct then? Although the cause does require it, still, unless when he absolutely compels me against my will, I am not inclined to condescend to speak ill of him. Now that I am speaking under compulsion, if I say anything strong, still I will do even that with decency and moderation, and only in such a way that, as he could not consider me hostile to him at the former trial, so he may now know that I am a faithful and trustworthy friend to Marcus Tullius.
One thing, O Lucius Quinctius, I should wish to obtain from you, which, although I desire because it is useful for me, still I request of you because it is reasonable and just,—that you would regulate the time that you take to yourself for speaking, so as to leave the judges some time for coming to a decision. For the time before, there was no end to your speech in his defence; night alone set bounds to your oration. Now, if you please, do not do the same; this I beg of you. Nor do I beg it on this account, because I think it desirable for me that you should pass over some topics, or that you should fail to state them with sufficient elegance, and at sufficient length; but because I do think it enough for you to state each fact only once. And if you do that, I have no fear that the whole day will be taken up in talking.
The subject of this trial which comes before you, O judges, is, What is the pecuniary amount of the damage inflicted on Marcus Tullius by the malice of the household of Quintus Fabius, by men armed and banded together in a violent manner. Those damages we have taxed; the valuation is yours; the decision given is that the amends shall be fourfold.
As all laws and all legal proceedings which seem at all harsh and severe have originated in the dishonesty and injustice of wicked men, so this form of procedure also has been established within these few years on account of the evil habits and excessive licentiousness of men. For when many families were said to be wandering armed about the distant fields and pasture lands, and to be committing murders, and as that fact appeared to concern not merely the estates of individuals, but the main interests of the republic, Marcus Lucullus, who often presided as judge with the greatest equity and wisdom, first planned this tribunal, and had regard to this object, that all men should so restrain their households that they should not only not go about armed to inflict damage on any one, but, even if they were attacked, should defend themselves by law, rather than by arms;