Cicero, pro Plancio (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Cic. Planc.].
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This is what the people says to you. But what I say to you, O Laterensis, is this: that the judge has nothing to do with inquiring why you were defeated, as long as you were not defeated through bribery. For it as often as any man is passed over who ought not to have been passed over, the man who has been elected is to be condemned, there will no longer be any reason for canvassing the people at all. There will be no reason in waiting for the polling or for addressing entreaties to the magistrates or for the final declaration of the state of the poll; the moment that I see who are standing I shall say—“This man is of a consular family that man is of a praetorian one;

15 I see that all the rest are of equestrian rank; they are all without stain all equally virtuous and upright men but it is necessary that the distinctions of rank should be observed that the praetorian family should yield to the consular, and that the equestrian body should not contend with a praetorian house.” There is an end to all eagerness for any candidate, an end to all voting; there are no longer any contests; the people has no longer any liberty of choice in electing magistrates; there is no anxiety to see how the votes will be given; nothing will ever happen, (as is so often the case,) contrary to the general expectation; there will be for the future no variety in the comitia. But if it is constantly happening that we marvel why some men have been

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elected, and why some men have not; if the Campus Martius and those waves of the comitia, like a deep and wide sea, swell in such a manner, as if through some tide or other, that they approach one party and recede from another; why, when the impulse of party spirit is so great and when so much is done with precipitation, are we to seek for any rational explanation, any deliberate intention or any system in such a case?

16 Do not then, O Laterensis, insist on my drawing any comparison between you. In truth, if the voting tablet is dear to the people, which shows the countenances of men, while it conceals their intentions, and which gives them the liberty of doing whatever they please, while they can promise whatever they are asked, why do you require that to be done in a court of justice which is not done in the Campus Martius?—This man is more worthy than that man. It is a very grave assertion to make. What then is it more reasonable to say? Say this, (and this is the question, this is sufficient for the judge)—This is the man who has been elected. Why should he have been elected rather than I? Either I do not know, or I do not choose to say, or lastly, (which, however, would be a very vexatious thing to me to say, and yet I ought to be able to say with impunity), he ought not to have been. For what would you gain if I were to have recourse to this last defence, that the people had done what it chose, and not what it ought to have done?

ch. 7


What will you say, if, besides, I defend the act of the people, O Laterensis, and prove that Cnaeus Plancius did not creep by underhand means to that honour, but that he arrived at it by the regular course which has at all times been open to men born in this equestrian rank of ours; can I, by this argument expunge from your speech the comparison between you two, which cannot be handled without an appearance of insult, and can I thus bring you at last to the merits of the case itself and of your accusation? If, because he is the son of a Roman knight he ought to have been inferior to you, all the rest who were candidates at the same time with you were the sons of Roman knights. I say no more: but this I do wonder at, why you should be angry with this man above all the rest who was the furthest removed from you. In truth, if, at any time, as is sometimes the case, I am pushed about in the crowd, I do not find fault with

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that man who is on the very crown of the Via Sacra, when I am pushed up against the arch of Fabius; but with him who was against me and pushes me. But you are not angry with Quintus Pedius, a very gallant man; nor with Aulus Plotius, [Note] whom I see here, a most accomplished citizen, and my own intimate friend; but you think yourself defeated by him who has also defeated them, rather than by those who were nearest yourself in the number of votes, and who therefore pressed more immediately on you.


But, nevertheless, you compare yourself with Plancius, in the first place as to your race and family, in which he is beaten by you. For why should not I confess what cannot he denied? But he is not more inferior to you in this respect than I was to my competitors, both on other occasions, and when I was a candidate for the consulship. But beware lest these very particulars for which you look down upon him may have told in his favour. For let us make the comparison in this way—You are descended from a consular family on both sides. Have you any doubt then that all those who favour the nobility of birth, who think that the finest of all things, who are influenced by the images and great names of your ancestors, all voted for you as aedile. I myself have not a doubt of it. But if the number of those who are thus devoted to high birth is not very large, is that our fault? In truth, let us go back to the head and origin of each of your families.

ch. 8


You are of that most ancient municipal town of Tusculum, from which many of our consular families are derived, among which is also the Juventian family; there have not so many families of that rank proceeded from all the other municipal towns put together. Plancius comes from the prefecture of Atina; certainly a less ancient and distinguished abode, and not so near to the city. How much difference do you think this ought to make in standing for an office? In the first place, which people do you suppose are most eager to support their own fellow-citizens; the people of Atina, or those of Tusculum? The one, (for this is a matter with which I may easily be well acquainted, on account of my neighbourhood to them,) when they saw the

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father of this most accomplished and excellent man, Cnaeus Saturninus, elected aedile, and afterwards, when they saw him elected praetor, were delighted in a most extraordinary manner, because he was the first man who had ever brought a curule honour, not only into that family, but even into that prefecture. But I never understood that the others (I suppose because that municipality is crammed full of consuls, for I know to a certainty that they are not an ill-natured people) were particularly delighted at any honour obtained by their fellow-citizens. This is our feeling, and it is the feeling of our municipal towns.

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