Cicero, pro Murena (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Cic. Mur.].
<<Cic. Mur. 31 Cic. Mur. 36 (Latin) >>Cic. Mur. 41

34 This I do say:—If this war, and this enemy,—if that king was a proper object for contempt the senate and Roman people would not have thought it one to be undertaken with such care, nor would they have carried it on for so many years, nor would the glory of Lucullus be as great as it is. Nor would the Roman people have entrusted the care of putting a finishing stroke to it to Cnaeus Pompeius; though of all his battles, numberless as they are, that appears to me to have been the most desperate and to have been maintained on both sides with the greatest vigour, which he fought against the king. And when Mithridates had escaped from that battle, and had fled to the Bosphorus, a place which no army could approach, still, even in the extremity of his fortunes, and as a fugitive, he retained the name of a king. Therefore, Pompeius himself; having taken possession of his kingdom, having driven the enemy away from all his coasts, and from all his usual places of resort still thought that so much depended on his single life, that though, by his victory, he had got possession of everything which he had possessed, or had approached, or even had hoped for, still he did not think the war entirely over till he drove him from life also. And do you, O Cato, think lightly of this man as an enemy, when so many generals warred against him for so many years, with so long a series of battles? when, though driven out and expelled from his kingdom, his life was still thought of such importance, that it was not till the news arrived of his death, that we thought the war over? We then say in defence of Lucius Murena, that as a lieutenant in this war he approved himself a man of the greatest courage, of singular military skill, and of the greatest perseverance; and that all his conduct at that time gave him no less a title to obtain the consulship than this forensic industry of ours gave us.

ch. 17


“But in the standing for the praetorship, Servius was elected first.” Are you going (as if you were arguing on some written bond) to contend with the people that whatever place of honour they have once given any one, that same rank they are bound to give him in all other honours? For what sea, what Euripus do you think exists, which is liable to such commotions,—to such great and various agitations of waves, as the storms and tides by which the comitia are influenced? The interval of one day,—the lapse of one night—often throws everything into confusion. The slightest breeze of rumour sometimes changes the entire opinions of people. Often, even, everything is done without any apparent cause, in a manner entirely at variance with the opinions that have been expressed, or that indeed, are really entertained; so that sometimes the people marvels that that has been done which has been done, as if it were not itself that has done it.

36 Nothing is more uncertain than the common people,—nothing more obscure than men's wishes,—nothing more treacherous

-- 348 --

than the whole nature of the comitia. Who expected that Lucius Philippus, a man of the greatest abilities, and industry, and popularity, and nobleness of birth, could be beaten by Marcus Herennius? who dreamt of Quintus Catulus, a man eminent for all the politer virtues, for wisdom and for integrity, being beaten by Cnaeus Mallius? or Marcus Scaurus, a man of the highest character, an illustrious citizen, a most intrepid senator, by Quintus Maximus? Not only none of all these things were expected to happen, but not even when they had happened could anyone possibly make out why they had happened. For as storms arise, often being heralded by some well-known token in the heavens, but often also quite unexpectedly from no imaginable reason, but from some unintelligible cause; so in the popular tempests of the comitia you may often understand by what signs a storm was first raised, but often, too, the cause is so obscure, that the tempest appears to have been raised by chance.

ch. 18


But yet if an account of them must be given, two qualities were particularly missed in the praetorship, the existence of which in Murena now was of the greatest use to him in standing for the consulship: one was the expectation of a largess, which had got abroad through some rumour, and owing to the zeal and conversation of some of his competitors; the other, that those men who had been witnesses of all his liberality and virtue in the province and in the discharge of his office as lieutenant, had not yet left Rome. Fortune reserved each of these advantages for him, to aid him in his application for the consulship. For the army of Lucius Lucullus, which had come hither for his triumph, was also present at the comitia in aid of Lucius Murena, and his praetorship afforded a most splendid proof of his liberality, of which there was no mention when he was standing for the praetorship.

38 Do these things appear to you trifling supports and aids towards obtaining the consulship? Is the good-will of the soldiery a trifle? who are both intrinsically powerful through their own numbers, and also by their influence among their connections, and who in declaring a consul have great weight among the entire Roman people. Are the votes of the army a trifle? No; for it is generals, and not interpreters of words, who are elected at the consular comitia. Most influential, then, is such a speech as this—“He refreshed me when I was wounded. He gave me a share of the plunder. He was the general when we took that camp—when we fought that battle. He never imposed harder work on the soldier than he underwent himself. He was as fortunate as he is brave.” What weight do you not suppose this must have to gaining a reputation and good-will among men? Indeed, if there is a sort of superstition in the comitia, that up to this time the omen to be drawn from the vote of the prerogative [Note] tribe has always proved true, what wonder is there that in such a meeting the reputation of good fortune and such discourse as this has had the greatest weight?

ch. 19

But if you think these things trifling, though they are most important; and if you prefer the votes of these quiet citizens to those of the soldiers; at all events, you cannot think lightly of the beauty of the games exhibited by this man, and the magnificence of his theatrical spectacles; and these things were of great use to him in this last contest. For why need I tell you that the people and the great mass of ignorant men are exceedingly taken with games? It is not very strange. And that is a sufficient reason in this case; for the comitia are the comitia of the people and the multitude. If, then, the magnificence of games is a pleasure, to the people, it is no wonder that it was of great service to Lucius Murena with the people.

Cicero, pro Murena (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Cic. Mur.].
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