On the Republic, Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 v. Chr.)
Marcus Tullius Cicero was the eldest son of an equestrian, though not noble, family. He was born 105 B.C. and was beheaded by Antony’s soldiers in 43 B.C. The path open for political honors to a “new man” [i.e., no one of whose family had held a magistracy in Rome] was through the law, and at twenty-six, after a thorough Greek and Latin education, Cicero pleaded his first case. The next year he successfully defended Publius Sextus Roscius against the favorite of Sulla, the dictator, and thought it best, during the rest of Sulla’s dictatorship, to travel for his education and his health. At thirty-two he was elected quaestor to Sicily, and because of his integrity while holding this magistracy, was soon afterwards chosen by the Sicilians to prosecute their former governor Verres for extortion. Cicero was curule aedile in 69 B.C., praetor urbanus in 66 B.C. In this year he supported Pompey for the eastern command, and the two never quite ceased to be friends. Cicero was consul in 63 B.C., and put down the conspiracy of Catiline.
Sulla’s constitution had been gradually changing since his death, and Cicero slowly came to side with the optimates as against the populares and to try to carry the equestrians with him. He might have been a member of the “First Triumvirate” but perhaps preferred the existing institutions to such high-handed measures. In 58 B.C. he was exiled through the efforts of the demagogue Publius Clodius, but was recalled the next year. When civil war broke out between Caesar and Pompey, Cicero tried to side with neither, but at length joined Pompey’s army in Epirus. After the defeat of the latter at Pharsalus, Cicero, whom sickness had kept from the battle, returned to Italy and sought pardon of Caesar. When Caesar was assassinated four years later, Cicero saw visions of the old republican government revived once more, and delivered his fierce philippics against Antony; but upon the coalition of Octavius and Antony, was proscribed by Antony and killed by the latter’s soldiers.
35. Then Laelius said: But you have not told us, Scipio, which of these three forms of government you yourself most approve.
Scipio: You are right to shape your question, which of the three I most approve, for there is not one of them which I approve at all by itself, since, as I told you, I prefer that government which is mixed and composed of all these forms, to any one of them taken separately. But if I must confine myself to one of the particular forms simply and exclusively, I must confess I prefer the royal one, and praise that as the first and best. In this, which I here choose to call the primitive form of government, I find the title of father attached to that of king, to express that he watches over the citizens as over his children, and endeavors rather to preserve them in freedom than reduce them to slavery. So that it is more advantageous for those who are insignificant in property and capacity to be supported by the care of one excellent and eminently powerful man. The nobles here present themselves, who profess that they can do all this in much better style; for they say that there is much more wisdom in many than in one, and at least as much faith and equity. And, last of all, come the people, who cry with a loud voice, that they will render obedience neither to the one nor to the few; that even to brute beasts nothing is so dear as liberty; and that all men who serve either kings or nobles are deprived of it. Thus, the kings attract us by affection, the nobles by talent, the people by liberty; and in the comparison it is hard to choose the best.
Laelius: I think so, too, but yet it is impossible to dispatch the other branches of the question, if you leave this primary point undetermined.
36. Scipio: We must, then, I suppose, imitate Aratus, who, when he prepared himself to treat of great things, thought himself in duty bound to begin with Jupiter.
Laelius: Why Jupiter? And what is there in this discussion which resembles that poem?
Scipio: Why, it serves to teach us that we cannot better commence our investigations than by invoking him whom, with one voice, both learned and unlearned extol as the universal king of all gods and men.
Laelius: How so?
Scipio: Do you, then, believe in nothing which is not before your eyes? Whether these ideas have been established by the chiefs of states for the benefit of society, that there might be believed to exist one Universal Monarch in heaven, at whose nod (as Homer expresses it) all Olympus trembles, and that he might be accounted both king and father of all creatures; for there is great authority, and there are many witnesses, if you choose to call all many, who attest that all nations have unanimously recognized, by the decrees of their chiefs, that nothing is better than a king, since they think that all the gods are governed by the divine power of one sovereign; or if we suspect that this opinion rests on the error of the ignorant, and should be classed among the fables, let us listen to those universal testimonies of erudite men, who have, as it were, seen with their eyes those things to the knowledge of which we can hardly attain by report.
Laelius: What men do you mean?
Scipio: Those who, by the investigation of nature, have arrived at the opinion that the whole universe [is animated] by a single Mind. . . . [Text missing].
37. Scipio: But if you please, my Laelius, I will bring forward evidences, which are neither too ancient, nor in any respect barbarous.
Laelius: Those are what I want.
Scipio: You are aware, that it is now not four centuries since this city of ours has been without kings.
Laelius: You are correct, it is less than four centuries.
Scipio: Well, then, what are four centuries in the age of a state or city; is it a long time ?
Laelius: It hardly amounts to the age of maturity.
Scipio: You say truly, and yet not four centuries have elapsed since there was a king in Rome.
Laelius: And he was a proud king.
Scipio: But who was his predecessor?
Laelius: He was an admirably just one; and, indeed, we must bestow the same praise on all his predecessors, as far back as Romulus, who reigned about six centuries ago.
Scipio: Even he, then, is not very ancient.
Laelius: No, he reigned when Greece was already becoming old.
Scipio: Agreed. Was Romulus, then, think you, king of a barbarous people?
Laelius: Why, as to that, if we are to follow the example of the Greeks, who say that all people are either Greeks or barbarians, I am afraid that we must confess that he was a king of barbarians; but if this name belong rather to manners than to languages, then I believe the Greeks were just as barbarous as the Romans.
Scipio: But with respect to the present question, we do not so much need to inquire into the nation as into the disposition. For if intelligent men, at a period so little remote, desired the governing of kings, you will confess that I am producing authorities that are neither antiquated, rude, nor insignificant.
38. Laelius: I see, Scipio, that you are very sufficiently provided with authorities; but with me, as with every fair judge, authorities are worth less than arguments.
Scipio: Then, Laelius, you shall yourself make use of an argument derived from your own senses.
Laelius: What senses do you mean ?
Scipio: The feelings which you experience when at any time you happen to feel angry at anyone.
Laelius: That happens rather oftener than I could wish.
Scipio: Well, then, when you are angry, do you permit your anger to triumph over your judgment?
Laelius: No, by Hercules! I imitate the famous Archytas of Tarentum, who, when he came to his villa, and found all its arrangements were contrary to his orders, said to his steward “Ah! you unlucky scoundrel, I would flog you to death, if it were not that I am in a rage with you.”
Scipio: Capital. Archytas, then, regarded unreasonable anger as a kind of sedition and rebellion of nature, which he sought to appease by reflection. And so, if we examine avarice, the ambition of power or glory, or the lusts of concupiscence and licentiousness, we shall find a certain conscience in the mind of man, which, like a king, sways by the force of counsel all the inferior faculties and propensities; and this, in truth, is the noblest portion of our nature; for when conscience reigns, it allows no resting place to lust, violence, or temerity.
Laelius: You have spoken the truth.
Scipio: Well, then, does a mind thus governed and regulated meet your approbation ?
Laelius: More than anything on earth.
Scipio: Then you would not approve that the evil passions, which are innumerable, should expel conscience, and that lusts and animal propensities should assume an ascendancy over us?
Laelius: For my part, I can conceive nothing more wretched than a mind thus degraded, or a man animated by a soul so licentious.
Scipio: You desire, then, that all the facilities of the mind should submit to a ruling power, and that conscience should reign over them all?
Laelius: Certainly, that is my wish.
Scipio: How, then, can you doubt what opinion to form on the subject of the commonwealth? in which, if the state is thrown into many hands, it is very plain that there will be no presiding authority; for if power be not united, it soon comes to nothing.
39. Laelius: But what difference is there, I should like to know, between the one and the many, if justice exists equally in many?
Scipio: Since I see, my Laelius, that the authorities I have adduced have no great influence on you, I must continue to employ yourself as my witness in proof of what I am saying.
Laelius: In what way are you going to make me again support your argument?
Scipio: Why thus. I recollect when we were lately at Formiae that you told your servants repeatedly to obey the orders of not more than one master only.
Laelius: To be sure, those of my steward.
Scipio: What do you at home? do you commit your affairs to the hands of many persons?
Laelius: No, I trust them to myself alone.
Scipio: Well, in your whole establishment, is there any other master but yourself ?
Laelius: Not one.
Scipio: Then I think you must grant me that as respects the state, the government of single individuals, provided they are just, is superior to any other.
Laelius: You have conducted me to this conclusion, and I entertain very nearly that opinion.
40. Scipio: You would still further agree with me, my Laelius, if, omitting the common comparisons, that one pilot is better fitted to steer a ship, and a physician to treat an invalid, provided they be competent men in their respective professions, than many could be, I should come at once to more illustrious examples.
Laelius: What examples do you mean?
Scipio: Do you observe that it was the cruelty and pride of one single Tarquin only, that made the title of king unpopular among the Romans ?
Laelius: Yes, I acknowledge that.
Scipio: You are also aware of this fact, on which I think I shall debate in the course of the coming discussion, that after the expulsion of King Tarquin, the people were transported by a wonderful excess of liberty. Then, innocent men were driven into banishment; then the estates of many individuals were pillaged, consulships were made annual, public authorities were overawed by mobs, popular appeals took place in all cases imaginable; then secessions of the lower orders ensued; and lastly, those proceedings which tended to place all powers in the hands of the populace.
Laelius: I must confess this all too true.
Scipio: All these things now happened during periods of peace and tranquility, for licence is wont to prevail when there is too little to fear, as in a calm voyage, or a trifling disease. But as we observe the voyager and invalid implore the aid of some competent director, as soon as the sea grows stormy and the disease alarming! so our nation in peace and security commands, threatens, resists, appeals from, and insults its magistrates, but in war obeys them as strictly as kings; for public safety is after all rather more valuable than popular licence. And in the most serious wars, our countrymen have even chosen the entire command to be deposited in the hands of some single chief, without a colleague; the very name of which magistrate indicates the absolute character of his power. For though he is evidently called dictator because he is appointed, yet do we still observe him, my Laelius, in our sacred books entitled Magister Populi, the master of the people.
Laelius: This is certainly the case.
Scipio: Our ancestors, therefore, acted wisely.
Book VI ( Scipio’s Dream)
9. When I had arrived in Africa, where I was, as you are aware, military tribune of the fourth legion under the consul Manilius, there was nothing of which I was more earnestly desirous than to see King Massinissa, who, for very just reasons, had been always the especial friend of our family. When I was introduced to him, the old man embraced me, shed tears, and then, looking up to heaven, exclaimed I thank thee, O supreme Sun, and you also, you other celestial beings, that before I departed from this life I behold in my kingdom, and in my palace, Publius Cornelius Scipio, by whose mere name I seem to be reanimated; so complete and indelibly is the recollection of that best and most invincible of men, Africanus, imprinted in my mind.
After this, I inquired of him concerning the affairs of his kingdom. He, on the other hand, questioned me about the condition of our commonwealth, and in this mutual interchange of conversation we passed the whole of that day.
10. In the evening, we were entertained in a manner worthy the magnificence of a king, and carried on our discourse for a considerable part of the night. And during all this time the old man spoke of nothing but Africanus, all whose actions, and even remarkable sayings, he remembered distinctly. At last, when we retired to bed, I fell in a more profound sleep than usual, both because I was fatigued with my journey, and because I had sat up the greatest part of the night.
Here I had the following dream, occasioned, as I verily believe, by our preceding conversation—for it frequently happens that the thoughts and discourses which have employed us in the daytime, produce in our sleep an effect somewhat similar to that which Ennius writes happened to him about Homer, of whom, in his waking hours, he used frequently to think and speak.
Africanus, I thought, appeared to me in that shape, with which I was better acquainted from his picture, than from any personal knowledge of him. When I perceived it was he, I confess I trembled with consternation; but he addressed me, saying, Take courage, my Scipio, be not afraid, and carefully remember what I am saying to you.
11. Do you see that city Carthage, which, though brought under the Roman yoke by me, is now renewing former wars, and cannot live in peace? (and he pointed to Carthage from a lofty spot, full of stars, and brilliant and glittering;) to attack which city you are this day arrived in a station not much superior to that of a private soldier. Before two years, however, are elapsed, you shall be consul, and complete its overthrow; and you shall obtain, by your own merit, the surname of Africanus, which, as yet, belongs to you no otherwise than as derived from me. And when you have destroyed Carthage, and received the honor of a triumph, and been made censor, and, in quality of ambassador, visited Egypt, Syria, Asia, and Greece, you shall be elected a second time consul in your absence, and by utterly destroying Numantia, put an end to a most dangerous war.
But when you have entered the Capitol in your triumphal car, you shall find the Roman commonwealth all in a ferment, through the intrigues of my grandson Tiberius Gracchus.
12. It is on this occasion, my dear Africanus, that you show your country the greatness of your understanding, capacity and prudence. But I see that the destiny, however, of that time is, as it were, uncertain; for when your age shall have accomplished seven times eight revolutions of the sun, and your fatal hours shall be marked out by the natural product of these two numbers, each of which is esteemed a perfect one, but for different reasons,—then shall the whole city have recourse to you alone, and place its hopes in your auspicious name. On you the senate, all good citizens, the allies, the people of Latium, shall cast their eyes; on you the preservation of the state shall entirely depend. In a word, if you escape the impious machinations of your relatives, you will, in the quality of dictator, establish order and tranquility in the commonwealth.
When on this Laelius made an exclamation, and the rest of the company groaned loudly, Scipio, with a gentle smile, said—I entreat you,do not wake me out of my dream, but have patience, and hear the rest.
13. Now, in order to encourage you, my dear Africanus, continued the shade of my ancestor, to defend the state with the greater cheerfulness, be assured that for all those who have in any way conduced to the preservation, defense, and enlargement of their native country, there is a certain place in heaven, where they shall enjoy an eternity of happiness. For nothing on earth is more agreeable to God, the Supreme Governor of the universe, than the assemblies and societies of men united together by laws, which are called States. It is from heaven their rulers and preservers came, and there they return.
14. Though at these words I was extremely troubled, not so much at the fear of death, as at the perfidy of my own relations; yet I recollected myself enough to inquire, whether he himself, my father Paulus, and others whom we look upon as dead, were really living. Yes, truly, replied he, they all enjoy life who have escaped from the chains of the body as from a prison. But as to what you call life on earth, that is no more than one form of death. But see, here comes your father Paulus towards you! And as soon as I observed him, my eyes burst out into a flood of tears; but he took me in his arms, and bade me not weep.
15. When my first transports subsided, and I regained the liberty of speech, I addressed my father thus: You best and most venerable of parents, since this, as I am informed by Africanus, is the only substantial life, why do I linger on earth, and not rather hasten to come hither where you are? That, replied he, is impossible; unless that God, whose temples is all that vast expanse you behold, shall free you from the fetters of the body, you can have no admission into this place. Mankind have received their being on this very condition, that they should labor for the preservation of that globe, which is situated, as you see, in the midst of this temple, and is called earth.
Men are likewise endowed with a soul, which is a portion of the eternal fires, which you call stars and constellations; and which, being round, spherical bodies, animated by divine intelligence, perform their cycles and revolutions with amazing rapidity. It is your duty, there fore, my Publius, and that of all who have any veneration for the gods, to preserve this wonderful union of soul and body; nor without the express command of him who gave you a soul, should the least thought be entertained of quitting human life, lest you seem to desert the post assigned to you by God himself.
But rather follow the example of your grandfather here, and of me, your father, in paying a strict regard to justice and piety; which is due in a great degree to parents and relations, but most of all to our country. Such a life as this is the true way to heaven, and to the company of those, who, after having lived on earth and escaped from the body, inhabit the place which you now behold.
16. This was the shining circle, or zone, whose remarkable brightness distinguishes it among the constellations, and which, after the Greeks, you call the Milky Way. From thence, as I took a view of the universe, everything appeared beautiful and admirable; for there, those stars are to be seen that are never visible from our globe, and everything appears of such magnitude as we could not have imagined. The least of all the stars, was that removed furthest from heaven, and situated next to earth; I mean our moon, which shines with a borrowed light. Now the globes of the stars far surpass the magnitude of our earth, which at that distance appeared so exceedingly small, that I could not but he sensibly affected on seeing our whole empire no larger than if we touched the earth with a point.
17. And as long as I continued to observe the earth with great attention, How long, I pray you, said Africanus, will your mind be fixed on that object; why don’t you rather take a view of the magnificent temples among which you have arrived? The universe is composed of nine circles, or rather spheres, one of which is the heavenly one, and is exterior to all the rest, which it embraces; being itself the Supreme God, and bounding and containing the whole. In it are fixed those stars which revolve with never-varying courses. Below this are seven other spheres, which revolve in a contrary direction to that of the heavens. One of these is occupied by the globe which on earth they call Saturn. Next to that is the star of Jupiter, so benign and salutary to mankind. The third in order, is that fiery and terrible planet called Mars. Below this again, almost in the middle region, is the Sun—the leader, governor, the prince of the other luminaries; the soul of the world, which it regulates and illumines, being of such vast size that it pervades and gives light to all places. Then follow Venus and Mercury, which attend, as it were, on the Sun. Lastly, the Moon, which shines only in the reflected beams of the Sun, moves in the lowest sphere of all. Below this, if we except that gift of the gods, the soul, which has been given by the liberality of the gods to the human race, every thing is mortal, and tends to dissolution, but above the moon all is eternal. For the Earth, which is in the ninth globe, and occupies the center, is immoveable, and being the lowest, all others gravitate towards it.
18. When I had recovered myself from the astonishment occasioned by such a wonderful prospect, I thus addressed Africanus Pray what is this sound that strikes my ears in so loud and agreeable a manner? To which he replied It is that which is called the music of the spheres, being produced by their motion and impulse; and being formed by unequal intervals, but such as are divided according to the most just proportion, it produces, by duly tempering acute with grave sounds, various concerts of harmony. For it is impossible that motions so great should be performed without any noise; and it is agreeable to nature that the extremes on one side should produce sharp, and on the other flat sounds. For which reason the sphere of the fixed stars, being the highest, and being carried with a more rapid velocity, moves with a shrill and acute sound; whereas that of the moon, being the lowest, moves with a very flat one. As to the Earth, which makes the ninth sphere, it remains immovably fixed in the middle or lowest part of the universe. But those eight revolving circles, in which both Mercury and Venus are moved with the same celerity, give out sounds that are divided by seven distinct intervals, which is generally the regulating number of all things.
This celestial harmony has been imitated by learned musicians, both on stringed instruments and with the voice, whereby they have opened to themselves a way to return to the celestial regions, as have likewise many others who have employed their sublime genius while on earth in cultivating the divine sciences.
By the amazing noise of this sound, the ears of mankind have been in some degree deafened, and indeed, hearing is the dullest of all the human senses. Thus, the people who dwell near the cataracts of the Nile, which are called Catadupa, are, by the excessive roar which that river makes in precipitating itself from those lofty mountains, entirely deprived of the sense of hearing. And so inconceivably great is this sound which is produced by the rapid motion of the whole universe, that the human ear is no more capable of receiving it, than the eye is able to look steadfastly and directly on the sun, whose beams easily dazzle the strongest sight.
While I was busied in admiring the scene of wonders, I could not help casting my eyes every now and then on the earth.
19. On which Africanus said, I perceive that you are still employed in contemplating the seat and residence of mankind. But if it appears to you so small, as in fact it really is, despise its vanities, and fix your attention for ever on these heavenly objects. Is it possible that you should attain any human applause or glory that is worth the contending for? The earth, you see, is peopled but in a very few places, and those too of small extent; and they appear like so many little spots of green scattered through vast uncultivated deserts. And those who inhabit the earth are not only so remote from each other as to be cut off from all mutual correspondence, but their situation being in oblique or contrary parts of the globe, or perhaps in those diametrically opposite to yours, all expectation of universal fame must fall to the ground.
20. You may likewise observe that the same globe of the earth is girt and surrounded with certain zones, whereof those two that are most remote from each other, and lie under the opposite poles of heaven, are congealed with frost; but that one in the middle, which is far the largest, is scorched with the intense heat of the sun. The other two are habitable, one towards the south—the inhabitants of which are your Antipodes, with whom you have no connection—the other, towards the north, is that which you inhabit, whereof a very small part, as you may see, falls to your share. For the whole extent of what you see, is as it were but a little island, narrow at both ends and wide in the middle, which is surrounded by the sea which on earth you call the great Atlantic ocean, and which, notwithstanding this magnificent name, you see is very insignificant. And even in these cultivated and well-known countries, has yours, or any of our names, ever passed the heights of the Caucasus, or the currents of the Ganges? In what other parts to the north or the south, or where the sun rises and sets, will your names ever be heard? And if we leave these out of the question, how small a space is there left for your glory to spread itself abroad? and how long will it remain in the memory of those whose minds are now full of it?
21. Besides all this, if the progeny of any future generation should wish to transmit to their posterity the praises of any one of us which they have heard from their forefathers, yet the deluges and combustions of the earth which must necessarily happen at their destined periods will prevent our obtaining, not only an eternal, but even a durable glory. And after all, what does it signify, whether those who shall hereafter be born talk of you, when those who have lived before you, whose number was perhaps not less, and whose merit certainly greater, were not so much as acquainted with your name?
22. Especially since not one of those who shall hear of us is able to retain in his memory the transactions of a single year. The bulk of mankind, indeed, measure their year by the return of the sun, which is only one star. But, when all the stars shall have returned to the place whence they set out, and after long periods shall again exhibit the same aspect of the whole heavens, that is what ought properly to be called the revolution of a year, though I scarcely dare attempt to enumerate the vast multitude of ages contained in it. For as the sun in old time was eclipsed, and seemed to be extinguished, at the time when the soul of Romulus penetrated into these eternal mansions, so, when all the constellations and stars shall revert to their primary position, and the sun shall at the same point and time be again eclipsed, then you may consider that the grand year is completed. Be assured, however, that the twentieth part of it is not yet elapsed.
23. Why, if you have no hopes of returning to this place, where great and good men enjoy all that their souls can wish for, of what value, pray, is all that human glory, which can hardly endure for a small portion of one year?
If, then, you wish to elevate your views to the contemplation of this eternal seat of splendor, you will not be satisfied with the praises of your fellow-mortals, nor with any human rewards that your exploits can obtain; but Virtue herself must point out to you the true and only object worthy of your pursuit. Leave to others to speak of you as they may, for speak they will. Their discourses will be confined to the narrow limits of the countries you see, nor will their duration be very extensive, for they will perish like those who utter them, and will be no more remembered by their posterity.
24. When he had ceased to speak in this manner, I said Oh, Africanus, if indeed the door of heaven is open to those who have deserved well of their country, although, indeed, from my childhood, I have always followed yours and my father’s steps, and have not neglected to imitate your glory, still I will from henceforth strive to follow them more closely.
Follow them, then, said he, and consider your body only, not yourself, as mortal. For it is not your outward form which constitutes your being, but your mind; not that substance which is palpable to the senses, but your spiritual nature. Know, then, that you are a god—for a god it must be which flourishes, and feels, and recollects, and foresees, and governs, regulates and moves the body over which it is set, as the Supreme Ruler does the world which is subject to him. For as that Eternal Being moves whatever is mortal in this world, so the immortal mind of man moves the frail body with which it is connected.
25. For whatever is always moving must be eternal, but that which derives its motion from a power which is foreign to itself, when that motion ceases must itself lose its animation. That alone, then, which moves itself can never cease to be moved, because it can never desert itself. Moreover, it must be the source, and origin, and principle of motion in all the rest. There can be nothing prior to a principle, for all things must originate from it, and it cannot itself derive its existence from any other source, for if it did it would no longer be a principle. And if it had no beginning it can have no end, for a beginning that is put an end to will neither be renewed by any other cause, nor will it produce anything else of itself. All things, therefore, must originate from one source. Thus it follows, that motion must have its source in something which is moved by itself, and which can neither have a beginning nor an end. Otherwise all the heavens and all nature must perish, for it is impossible that they can of themselves acquire any power of producing motion in themselves.
26. As, therefore, it is plain that what is moved by itself must be eternal, who will deny that this is the general condition and nature of minds? For, as everything is inanimate which is moved by an impulse exterior to itself, so what is animated is moved by an interior impulse of its own; for this is the peculiar nature and power of mind. And if that alone has the power of self-motion it can neither have had a beginning, nor can it have an end.
Do you, therefore, exercise this mind of yours in the best pursuits. And the best pursuits are those which consist in promoting the good of your country. Such employments will speed the flight of your mind to this its proper abode; and its flight will be still more rapid, if, even while it is enclosed in the body, it will look abroad, and disengage itself as much as possible from its bodily dwelling, by the contemplation of things which are external to itself.
This it should do to the utmost of its power. For the minds of those who have given themselves up to the pleasures of the body, paying as it were a servile obedience to their lustful impulses, have violated the laws of God and man; and therefore, when they are separated from their bodies, flutter continually round the earth on which they lived, and are not allowed to return to this celestial region, till they have been purified by the revolution of many ages.
Thus saying he vanished, and I awoke from my dream.
The Roman Candidate (Quintus Cicero)
Almost every day as you go down to the Forum you must say to yourself, “I am a novus homo [i.e. without noble ancestry]. “I am a candidate for the consulship.” “This is Rome.” For the “newness” of your name you will best compensate by the brilliance of your oratory. This has ever carried with it great political distinction. A man who is held worthy of defending ex-consuls, cannot be deemed unworthy of the constitution itself. Therefore approach each individual case with the persuasion that on it depends as a whole your entire reputation. For you have, as few novi homines have had—all the tax-syndicate promoters, nearly the whole equestrian ordo, and many municipal towns, especially devoted to you, many people who have been defended by you, many trade guilds, and besides these a large number of the rising generation, who have become attached to you in their enthusiasm for public speaking, and who visit you daily in swarms, and with such constant regularity!
See that you retain these advantages by reminding these persons, by appealing to them, and by using every means to make them understand that this, and this only, is the time for those who are in your debt now, to show their gratitude, and for those who wish for your services in the future, to place you under an obligation. It also seems possible that a novus homo may be much aided by the fact that he has the good wishes of men of high rank, and especially of ex-consuls. It is a point in your favor that you should be thought worthy of this position and rank by the very men to whose position you are wishing to attain.
All these men must be canvassed with care, agents must be sent to them, and they must be convinced that we have always been at one with the Optimates, that we have never been dangerous demagogues in the very least. Also take pains to get on your side the young men of high rank, and keep the friendship of those whom you already have. They will contribute much to your political position. Whosoever gives any sign of inclination to you, or regularly visits your house, you must put down in the category of friends. But yet the most advantageous thing is to be beloved and pleasant in the eyes of those who are friends on the more regular grounds of relationship by blood or marriage, the membership in the same club, or some close tie or other. You must take great pains that these men should love you and desire your highest honor.
In a word, you must secure friends of every class, magistrates, consuls and their tribunes to win you the vote of the centuries: men of wide popular influence. Those who either have gained or hope to gain the vote of a tribe or a century, or any other advantage, through your influence, take all pains to collect and to secure. So you see that you will have the votes of all the centuries secured for you by the number and variety of your friends. The first and obvious thing is that you embrace the Roman senators and equites, and the active and popular men of all the other orders. There are many city men of good business habits, there are many freedmen engaged in the Forum who are popular and energetic: these men try with all your might, both personally and by common friends, to make eager in your behalf. Seek them out, send agents to them, show them that they are putting you under the greatest possible obligation. After that, review the entire city, all guilds, districts, neighborhoods. If you can attach to yourself the leading men in these, you will by their means easily keep a hold upon the multitude. When you have done that, take care to have in your mind a chart of all Italy laid out according to the tribes in each town, and learn it by heart, so that you may not allow any chartered town, colony, prefecture—in a word, any spot in Italy to exist, in which you have not a firm foothold.
Trace out also individuals in every region, inform yourself about them, seek them out, secure that in their own districts they shall canvas for you, and be, as it were, candidates in your interest.
After having thus worked for the “rural vote”, the centuries of the equites too seem capable of being won over if you are careful. And you should be strenuous in seeing as many people as possible every day of every possible class and order, for from the mere numbers of these you can make a guess of the amount of support you will get on the balloting. Your visitors are of three kinds: one consists of morning callers who come to your house, a second of those who escort you to the Forum, the third of those who attend you on your canvass. In the case of the mere morning callers, who are less select, and according to present-day fashion, are decidedly numerous, you must contrive to think that you value even this slight attention very highly. It often happens that people when they visit a number of candidates, and observe the one that pays special heed to their attentions, leave off visiting the others, and little by little become real supporters of this man.
Secondly, to those who escort you to the Forum: since this is a much greater attention than a mere morning call, indicate clearly that they are still more gratifying to you; and with them, as far as it shall lie in your power, go down to the Forum at fixed times, for the daily escort by its numbers produces a great impression and confers great personal distinction.
The third class is that of people who continually attend you upon your canvass. See that those who do so spontaneously understand that you regard yourself as forever obliged by their extreme kindness; from these on the other hand. who owe you the attention for services rendered frankly demand that so far as their age and business allow they should be constantly in attendance, and that those who are unable to accompany you in person, should find relatives to substitute in performing this duty. I am very anxious and think it most important that you should always be surrounded with numbers. Besides, it confers a great reputation, and great distinction to be accompanied by those whom you have defended and saved in the law courts. Put this demand fairly before them—that since by your means, and without any fee—some have retained property, others their honor, or their civil rights, or their entire fortunes—and since there will never be any other time when they can show their gratitude, they now should reward you by this service.
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