Cicero, pro S. Roscio Amerino (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Cic. S. Rosc.].
<<Cic. S. Rosc. 51 Cic. S. Rosc. 58 (Latin) >>Cic. S. Rosc. 66

56

It is a useful thing for there to be many accusers in the city, in order that audacity may be kept in check by fear; but it is only useful with this limitation, that we are not to be manifestly mocked by accusers. A man is innocent. But although he is free from guilt he is not free from suspicion. Although it is a lamentable thing, still I can, to some extent, pardon a man who accuses him. For when be has anything which he can say, imputing a crime, or fixing a suspicion, he does not appear knowingly to be openly mocking and calumniating. On which account we all easily allow that there should be as many accusers as possible; because an innocent man, if he be accused, can be acquitted; a guilty man, unless or he be accused cannot be convicted. But it is more desirable that an innocent man should be acquitted, than that a guilty man should not be brought to trial. Food for the geese is contracted for at the public expense, and dogs are maintained in the Capitol, to give notice if thieves come. But they cannot distinguish thieves. Accordingly they give notice if any one comes by night to the Capitol; and because that is a suspicious thing, although they are but beasts, yet they oftenest err on that side which is the more prudent one. But if the dogs barked by day also, when any one came to pay honour to the gods, I imagine their legs would be broken for being active then also, when there was no suspicion. The notion of accusers is very much the same.

57 Some of you are geese, who only cry out, and have no power to hurt, some are dogs who can both bark and bite. We see that food is provided for you; but you ought chiefly to attack those who deserve it. This is most pleasing to the people; then if you will, then you may bark on suspicion when it seems probable that some one has committed a crime. That may be allowed. But if you act in such a way as to accuse a man of having murdered his father, without being able to say why or how; and if you are only barking without any ground for suspicion, no one, indeed, will break your legs; but if I know these judges well, they will so firmly affix to your heads that letter [Note] to which you are so hostile that you hate all the Calends too, that you shall hereafter be able to accuse no one but your own fortunes.

ch. 21

58

What have you given me to defend my client against, my good accuser? And what ground have you given these judges for any suspicion? He was afraid of being disinherited. I hear you. But no one says what ground he had for fear. His father had it in contemplation. Prove it. There is no proof; there is no mention of any one with whom he deliberated about it—whom he told of it; there is no circumstance from which it could occur to your minds to suspect it. When you bring accusations in this manner, O Erucius, do you not plainly say this? “I know what I have received, but I do not know what to say. I have had regard to that alone which Chrysogonus said, that no one would be his advocate; that there was no one who would dare at this time to say a word about the purchase of the property, and about that conspiracy.” This false opinion prompted you to this dishonesty. You would not in truth have said a word if you had thought that any one would answer you.

59 It were worth while, if you have noticed it, O judges, to consider this man's carelessness in bringing forward his accusations. I imagine, when he saw what men were sitting on those benches, that he inquired whether this man or that man was going to defend him; that he never even dreamt of me, because I have never pleaded any public cause before. After he found that no one was going to defend him of those men who have the ability and are in the habit of so doing, he began to be so careless that, when it suited his fancy he sat down, then he walked about, sometimes he even called his boy, I suppose to give him orders for supper, and utterly overlooked your assembly and all this court as if it had been a complete desert.

ch. 22

60

At length he summed up. He sat down. I got up. He seemed to breathe again because no one else rose to speak other than I. I began to speak. I noticed, O judges, that he was joking and doing other things, up to the time when I named Chrysogonus; but as soon as I touched him, my man at once raised himself up. He seemed to be astonished. I knew what had pinched him. I named him a second time, and a third. After, men began to run hither arid thither, I suppose to tell Chrysogonus that there was some one who dared to speak contrary to his will, that the cause was going on differently from what he expected, that the purchase of the goods was being ripped up; that the conspiracy was being severely handled; that his influence and power was being disregarded; that the judges were attending diligently; that the matter appeared scandalous to the people.

61 And since you were deceived in all this, O Erucius, and since you see that everything is altered; that the cause on behalf of Sextus Roscius is argued, if not as it should be, at all events with freedom, since you see that be is defended whom you thought was abandoned, that those who you expected would deliver him up to you are judging impartially, give us again, at last, some of your old skill and prudence; confess that you came hither with the hope that there would he a robbery here, not a trial. A trial is held on a charge of parricide, and no reason is alleged by the accuser why the son has slain his father.

62 That which, in even the least offences and in the more trifling crimes, which are more frequent and of almost daily occurrence, is asked most earnestly and as the very first question, namely what motive there was for the offence; that Erucius does not think necessary to be asked in a case of parricide. A charge which, O judges, even when many motives appear to concur, and to be connected with one another, is still not rashly believed, nor is such a case allowed to depend on slight conjecture, nor is any uncertain witness listened to, nor is the matter decided by the ability of the accuser. Many crimes previously committed must be proved, and a most profligate life on the part of the prisoner, and singular audacity, and not only audacity, but the most extreme frenzy and madness. When all these things are proved, still there must exist express traces of the crime: where, in what manner, by whose means, and at what time the crime was committed. And unless these proofs are numerous and evident—so wicked, so atrocious, so nefarious a deed cannot be believed.



Cicero, pro S. Roscio Amerino (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Cic. S. Rosc.].
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