10 Relying on your integrity and wisdom, I have undertaken a greater burden than, I am well aware, I am able to bear. If you, in some degree, lighten this burden, O judges, I will bear it as well as I can with zeal and industry. But if, as I do not expect, I am abandoned by you, still I will not fail in courage, and I will bear what I have undertaken as well as I can. But if I cannot support it, I had rather be overwhelmed by the weight of my duty, than either through treachery betray, or through weakness of mind desert, that which has been once honestly entrusted to me.
11 I also, above all things, entreat you, O Marcus Fannius, to show yourself at this present time both to us and to the Roman people the same man that you formerly showed yourself to the Roman people when you before presided at the trial in this same cause. [Note]
You see how great a crowd of men has come to this trial. You are aware how great is the expectation of men, and how great their desire that the decisions of the courts of law should be severe and impartial. After a long interval, this is the first cause about matters of bloodshed which has been brought into court, though most shameful and important murders have been committed in that interval. All men hope that while you are praetor, these trials concerning manifest crimes, and the daily murders which take place, will be conducted with no less severity than this one.
12 We who are pleading this cause adopt the exclamations which in other trials the accusers are in the habit of using. We entreat of you, O Marcus Fannius, and of you, O judges, to punish crimes with the greatest energy; to resist audacious men with the greatest boldness; to consider that unless you show in this cause what your disposition is, the covetousness and wickedness, and audacity of men will increase to such a pitch that murders will take place not only secretly, but even here in the forum, before your tribunal, O Marcus Fannius; before your feet, O judges, among the very benches of the court.
13 In truth, what else is aimed at by this trial, except that it may be lawful to commit such acts? They are the accusers who have invaded this man's fortunes. He is pleading his cause as defendant, to whom these men have left nothing except misfortune. They are the accusers, to whom it was an advantage that the father of Sextus Roscius should be put to death. He is the defendant, to whom the death of his father has brought not only grief, but also poverty. They are the accusers, who have exceedingly desired to put this man himself to death. He is the defendant who has come even to this very trial with a guard, lest he should be slain here in this very place, before your eyes. Lastly, they are the accusers whom the people demand punishment on, as the guilty parties.
14 He is the defendant, who remains as the only one left after the impious slaughter committed by them. And that you may be the more easily able to understand, O judges, that what has been done is still more infamous than what we mention, we will explain to you from the beginning how the matter was managed, so that you may the more easily be able to perceive both the misery of this most innocent man, and their audacity, and the calamity of the republic.
Sextus Roscius, the father of this man, was a citizen [Note] of Ameria, by far the first man not only of his municipality, but also of his neighbourhood, in birth, and nobility and wealth, and also of great influence, from the affection and the ties of hospitality by which he was connected with the most noble men of Rome. For he had not only connections of hospitality with the Metelli, the Servilii, and the Scipios, but he had also actual acquaintance and intimacy with them; families which I name, as it is right I should, only to express my sense of their honour and dignity. And of all his property he has left this alone to his son,—for domestic robbers have possession of his patrimony, which they have seized by force the fame and life of this innocent man is defended by his paternal connections [Note] and friends.
16 As he had at all times been a favourer of the side of the nobility, so, too, in this last disturbance, when the dignity and safety of all the nobles was in danger, he, beyond all others in that neighbourhood, defended that party and that cause with all his might, and zeal, and influence. He thought it right, in truth, that he should fight in defence of their honour, on account of whom he himself was reckoned most honourable among his fellow-citizens. After the victory was declared, and we had given up arms, when men were being proscribed, and when they who were supposed to be enemies were being taken in every district, he was constantly at Rome, and in the Forum, and was daily in the sight of every one; so that he seemed rather to exult in the victory of the nobility, than to be afraid lest any disaster should result to him from it.
17 He had an ancient quarrel with two Roscii of Ameria, one of whom I see sitting in the seats of the accusers, the other I hear is in possession of three of this man's farms; and if he had been as well able to guard against their enmity as he was in the habit of fearing it, he would be alive now. And, O judges, he was not afraid without reason. In these two Roscii, (one of whom is surnamed Capito; the one who is present here is called Magnus,) are men of this sort. One of them is an old and experienced gladiator, who has gained many victories, but this one here has lately betaken himself to him as his tutor: and though, before this contest, he was a mere tyro in knowledge, he easily surpassed his tutor himself in wickedness and audacity.