Cicero, pro Plancio (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Cic. Planc.].
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3 Although I do not assume so much, or claim so much importance for myself, O judges, as to think that Cnaeus Plancius is entitled to impunity on account of his kindness towards me. If I do not display to you that his life is most upright, his habits most virtuous, his good faith unimpeachable,—if I do not prove him to be a man of perfect temperance, piety, and innocence, I will not object to your punishing him; but if I establish that he has every quality which may be expected in the character of a virtuous man, then I will beg of you, O judges, to grant, at my entreaty, your pity to that man, through whose pity it is that I myself have been preserved in safety. In truth, in addition to the labour which I am devoting to this cause, in a greater degree than I think necessary in other trials. I have this anxiety also, that I have not only to speak on behalf of Cnaeus Plancius, whose safety I am bound to defend equally with my own, but on behalf of myself also, since the prosecutors have said almost more about me than they have about the merits of the case, and about the real defendant.

ch. 2


Although, O judges, if they have found any fault in me which is not connected with the case of my present client, I am not much disturbed about that; for I am not afraid that, because it is a very rare thing to meet with grateful men, on that account it can really be considered as a charge against me when those men say that I am too grateful. But as for the points that have been urged by them, when they have said either that the services done me by Cnaeus Plancius were of less importance than I make them out to be; or that if they were ever so great, still they ought not to have that weight with you which I considered them entitled to; these

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points, O judges, must be touched on by me with moderation, indeed, lest I should give any offence myself; and not until I have fully replied to the accusations brought against him, lest my client should seem to have been defended not so much by his own innocence, as by the recollection of his conduct at the time of my necessity.


But, considering how plain and simple my case is, O judges, the line to be taken by me in defending it is exceedingly difficult and slippery. For if it were merely necessary for me to argue against Laterensis, yet even this would be a very vexatious thing, considering our great friendship and intimacy; for it is an old principle of genuine and real friendship, such as subsists between him and me, that friends should always have the same wishes; nor is there any surer bond of friendship than an agreement in and community of designs and wishes. But the most annoying circumstance to me in the case is, not that I have merely to argue against him, but much more, that I have to argue against him in a cause in which it seems impossible to avoid drawing some comparison between the parties themselves.

6 For Laterensis asks, and presses this point above all others, in what virtue, in what sort of renown or worth Plancius is superior to himself. And so, if I admit his high qualifications,—and he has plenty of them, and important ones too—I must not only run the risk of Plancius losing this dignity which he has obtained, but he must submit also to the suspicion of bribery. If I speak of my client as superior to him, then my speech will be considered insulting, and I shall be supposed to say, (as he puts the question himself,) that Laterensis was surpassed by Plancius in real worth. And so I must either hurt the feelings of a man who is a great friend of mine, if I follow the line taken by the prosecutor, or else I must abandon the safety of one who has behaved to me with the greatest kindness.

ch. 3

But I, O Laterensis, will confess that I should be conducting this cause in the most blind and headlong manner, if I were to say that you could be surpassed in worth by either Plancius, or any one else. Therefore I will discard that comparison to which you invite me and will proceed to those arguments to which the cause itself naturally conducts me.

7 What? Do you think that the people is judge of a man's worth? Perhaps it is sometimes. I wish indeed it were so

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always. But it is very seldom the case, and if it ever is, it is so when the question is concerning the election of those magistrates to whom it considers that its own safety is entrusted. At the less important comitia, honours are gained by the diligence and influence of the candidates, and not by those high qualities which we see exist in you. For, as to what concerns the people, that man must always be an incompetent judge of worth who either envies any one or favours any one, although you cannot, O Laterensis, point to any good quality in yourself, as peculiarly entitled to praise, which Plancius has not in common with you.

8 But all this shall be discussed presently. At present I am only arguing about the right of the people, which both can and sometimes does pass over worthy men; and it does not follow because a man has been passed over by the people who ought not to have been, that he who has not been passed over is to be condemned by the judges. For if that were the case, the judges would have that power which the senate itself could not maintain in the times of our ancestors,—namely, that of being correctors of the comitia: or a power which is even more intolerable than that; for at that time a man who had been elected did not enter upon the duties of his office if the senators had not approved of his election; but now it is required of you to correct the judgment of the Roman people by the banishment of the man who has been elected by them. Therefore, although I have entered upon the cause by a door which I did not wish to open, still I seem to hope, O Laterensis, that my speech will be so far removed from all suspicion of being intended to give you offence, that I may rather reprove you for bringing your own dignity into an unreasonable contest, than attempt myself to disparage it by any injurious expressions on my part.

ch. 4

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