Philippicae X en XIV, Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 v. Chr.)
Soon after the delivery of the last speech, dispatches were received from Brutus by the consuls, giving an account of his success against Caius Antonius in Macedonia; stating that he had secured Macedonia, Illyricum, and Greece, with the armies in those countries; that Caius Antonius had retired to Apollonia with seven cohorts; that a legion under Lucius Piso had surrendered to young Cicero, who was commanding his cavalry; that Dolabella’s cavalry had deserted to him; and that Vatinius had surrendered Dyrrachium and its garrison to him: He likewise praised Quintus Hortensius, the proconsul of Macedonia, as having assisted him in gaining over the Grecian provinces and the armies in those districts.
As soon as Pansa received the dispatches, he summoned the senate to have them read; and in a set speech greatly extolled Brutus, and moved a vote of thanks to him; but Calenus, who followed him, declared his opinion that as Brutus had acted without any public commission or authority, he should be required to give up his army to the proper governors of the provinces, or to whoever the senate should appoint to receive it. After he had sat down, Cicero rose, and delivered the following speech.
I. We all, O Pansa, ought both to feel and to show the greatest gratitude to you, who,–though we did not expect that you would hold any senate today,–the moment that you received the letters of Marcus Brutus, that most excellent citizen, did not interpose even the slightest delay to our enjoying the most excessive delight and mutual congratulation at the earliest opportunity. And not only ought this action of yours to be grateful to us all, but also the speech which you addressed to us after the letters had been read. For you showed plainly, that that was true which I have always felt to be so, that no one envied the virtue of another who was confident of his own. Therefore I, who have been connected with Brutus by many mutual good offices and by the greatest intimacy, need not say so much concerning him; for the part that I had marked out for myself your speech has anticipated me in. But, O conscript fathers, the opinion delivered by the man who was asked for his vote before me, has imposed upon me the necessity of saying rather more than I otherwise should have said; and I differ from him so repeatedly at present, that I am afraid (what certainly ought not to be the case) that our continual disagreement may appear to diminish our friendship.
What can be the meaning of this argument of yours, O Calenus? what can be your intention? How is it that you have never once since the first of January been of the same opinion with him who asks you your opinion first? How is it that the senate has never yet been so full as to enable you to find one single person to agree with your sentiments? Why are you always defending men who in no point resemble you? why, when both your life and your fortune invite you to tranquillity and dignity, do you approve of those measures, and defend those measures, and declare those sentiments, which are adverse both to the general tranquillity and to your own individual dignity?
II. For to say nothing of former speeches of yours, at all events. I can not pass over in silence this which excites my most especial wonder. What war is there between you and the Bruti? Why do you alone attack those men whom we are all bound almost to worship? Why are you not indignant at one of them being besieged, and why do you–as far as your vote goes–strip the other of those troops which by his own exertions and by his own danger he has got together by himself, without any one to assist him, for the protection of the republic, not for himself? What is your meaning in this? What are your intentions? Is it possible that you should not approve of the Bruti, and should approve of Antonius? that you should hate those men whom every one else considers most dear? and that you should love with the greatest constancy those whom every one else hates most bitterly? You have a most ample fortune; you are in the highest rank of honor; your son, as I both hear and hope, is born to glory,–a youth whom I favor not only for the sake of the republic, but for your sake also. I ask, therefore, would you rather have him like Brutus or like Antonius? and I will let you choose whichever of the three Antonii you please. God forbid! you will say. Why, then, do you not favor those men and praise those men whom you wish your own son to resemble? For by so doing you will be both consulting the interests of the republic, and proposing him an example for his imitation.
But in this instance, I hope, O Quintus Fufius, to be allowed to expostulate with you, as a senator who greatly differs from you, without any prejudice to our friendship. For you spoke in this matter, and that too from a written paper; for I should think you had made a slip from want of some appropriate expression, if I were not acquainted with your ability in speaking. You said “that the letters of Brutus appeared properly and regularly expressed.” What else is this than praising Brutus’s secretary, not Brutus? You both ought to have great experience in the affairs of the republic, and you have. When did you ever see a decree framed in this manner? or in what resolution of the senate passed on such occasions. (and they are innumerable), did you ever hear of its being decreed that the letters had been well drawn up? And that expression did not–as is often the case with other men–fall from you by chance, but you brought it with you written down, deliberated on, and carefully meditated on.
III. If any one could take from you this habit of disparaging good men on almost every occasion, then what qualities would not be left to you which every one would desire for himself? Do, then, recollect yourself; do at last soften and quiet that disposition of yours; do take the advice of good men, with many of whom you are intimate; do converse with that wisest of men, your own son-in-law, oftener than with yourself; and then you will obtain the name of a man of the very highest character. Do you think it a matter of no consequence (it is a matter in which I, out of the friendship which I feel for you, constantly grieve in your stead), that this should be commonly said out of doors, and should be a common topic of conversation among the Roman people, that the man who delivered his opinion first did not find a single person to agree with him? And that I think will be the case today.
You propose to take the legions away from Brutus:–which legions? Why, those which he has gained over from the wickedness of Caius Antonius, and has by his own authority gained over to the republic. Do you wish then that he should again appear to be the only person stripped of his authority, and as it were banished by the senate? And you, O conscript fathers, if you abandon and betray Marcus Brutus, what citizen in the world will you ever distinguish? Whom will you ever favor? Unless, indeed, you think that those men who put a diadem on a man’s head deserve to be preserved, and those who have abolished the very name of kingly power deserve to be abandoned. And of this divine and immortal glory of Marcus Brutus I will say no more; it is already embalmed in the grateful recollection of all the citizens, but it has not yet been sanctioned by any formal act of public authority. Such patience! O ye good gods! such moderation! such tranquillity and submission under injury! A man who, while he was praetor of the city, was driven from the city, was prevented from sitting as judge in legal proceedings, when it was he who had restored all law to the republic; and, though he might have been hedged round by the daily concourse of all virtuous men, who were constantly flocking round him in marvelous numbers, he preferred to be defended in his absence by the judgment of the good, to being present and protected by their force;–who was not even present to celebrate the games to Apollo, which had been prepared in a manner suitable to his own dignity and to that of the Roman people, lest he should open any road to the audacity of most wicked men.
IV.Although, what games or what days were ever more joyful than those on which at every verse that the actor uttered, the Roman people did honor to the memory of Brutus, with loud shouts of applause? The person of their liberator was absent, the recollection of their liberty was present, in which the appearance of Brutus himself seemed to be visible. But the man himself I beheld on those very days of the games, in the country-house of a most illustrious young man, Lucullus, his relation, thinking of nothing but the peace and concord of the citizens. I saw him again afterward at Velia, departing from Italy, in order that there might be no pretext for civil war on his account. Oh what a sight was that! grievous, not only to men but to the very waves and shores. That its savior should be departing from his country; that its destroyers should be remaining in their country! The fleet of Cassius followed a few days afterward; so that I was ashamed, O conscript fathers, to return into the city from which those men were departing. But the design with which I returned you heard at the beginning, and since that you have known by experience. Brutus, therefore, bided his time. For, as long as he saw you endure every thing, he himself behaved with incredible patience; after that he saw you roused to a desire of liberty, he prepared the means to protect you in your liberty.
But what a pest, and how great a pest was it which he resisted? For if Caius Antonius had been able to accomplish what he intended in his mind (and he would have been able to do so if the virtue of Marcus Brutus had not opposed his wickedness), we should have lost Macedonia, Illyricum, and Greece. Greece would have been a refuge for Antonius if defeated, or a support to him in attacking Italy; which at present, being not only arrayed in arms, but embellished by the military command and authority and troops of Marcus Brutus, stretches out her right hand to Italy, and promises it her protection. And the man who proposes to deprive him of his army, is taking away a most illustrious honor, and a most trustworthy guard from the republic. I wish, indeed, that Antonius may hear this news as speedily as possible, so that he may understand that it is not Decimus Brutus whom he is surrounding with his ramparts, but he himself who is really hemmed in.
V. He possesses three towns only on the whole face of the earth. He has Gaul most bitterly hostile to him; he has even those men the people beyond the Po, in whom he placed the greatest reliance, entirely alienated from him; all Italy is his enemy. Foreign nations, from the nearest coast of Greece to Egypt, are occupied by the military command and armies of most virtuous and intrepid citizens. His only hope was in Caius Antonius; who being in age the middle one between his two brothers, rivaled both of them in vices. He hastened away as if he were being driven away by the senate into Macedonia, not as if he were prohibited from proceeding thither. What a storm, O ye immortal gods! what a conflagration! what a devastation! what a pestilence to Greece would that man have been, if incredible and godlike virtue had not checked the enterprise and audacity of that frantic man. What promptness was there in Brutus’s conduct! what prudence! what valor! Although the rapidity of the movement of Caius Antonius also is not despicable; for if some vacant inheritances had not delayed him on his march, you might have said that he had flown rather than traveled. When we desire other men to go forth to undertake any public business, we are scarcely able to get them out of the city; but we have driven this man out by the mere fact of our desiring to retain him. But what business had he with Apollonia? what business had he with Dyrrachium? or with Illyricum? What had he to do with the army of Publius Vatinius, our general? He, as he said himself, was the successor of Hortensius. The boundaries of Macedonia are well defined; the condition of the proconsul is well known; the amount of his army, if he has any at all, is fixed. But what had Antonius to do at all with Illyricum and with the legions of Vatinius?
But Brutus had nothing to do with them either. For that, perhaps, is what some worthless man may say. All the legions, all the forces which exist any where, belong to the Roman people. Nor shall those legions which have quitted Marcus Antonius be called the legions of Antonius rather than of the republic; for he loses all power over his army, and all the privileges of military command, who uses that military command and that army to attack the republic.
VI. But if the republic itself could give a decision, or if all rights were established by its decrees, would it adjudge the legions of the Roman people to Antonius or to Brutus? The one had flown with precipitation to the plunder and destruction of the allies, in order, wherever he went, to lay waste, and pillage, and plunder everything, and to employ the army of the Roman people against the Roman people itself. The other had laid down this law for himself, that wherever he came he should appear to come as a sort of light and hope of safety. Lastly, the one was seeking aids to overturn the republic; the other to preserve it. Nor, indeed, did we see this more clearly than the soldiers themselves; from whom so much discernment in judging was not to have been expected.
He writes, that Antonius is at Apollonia with seven cohorts, and he is either by this time taken prisoner (may the gods grant it!) or, at all events, like a modest man, he does not come near Macedonia, lest he should seem to act in opposition to the resolution of the senate. A levy of troops has been held in Macedonia, by the great zeal and diligence of Quintus Hortensius; whose admirable courage, worthy both of himself and of his ancestors, you may clearly perceive from the letters of Brutus. The legion which Lucius Piso, the lieutenant of Antonius, commanded, has surrendered itself to Cicero, my own son. Of the cavalry, which was being led into Syria in two divisions, one division has left the quaestor who was commanding it, in Thessaly, and has joined Brutus; and Cnaeus Domitius, a young man of the greatest virtue and wisdom and firmness, has carried off the other from the Syrian lieutenant in Macedonia. But Publius Vatinius, who has before this been deservedly praised by us, and who is justly entitled to farther praise at the present time, has opened the gates of Dyrrachium to Brutus, and has given him up his army.
The Roman people then is now in possession of Macedonia, and Illyricum, and Greece. The legions there are all devoted to us, the light-armed troops are ours, the cavalry is ours, and, above all, Brutus is ours, and always will be ours–a man born for the republic, both by his own most excellent virtues, and also by some especial destiny of name and family, both on his father’s and on his mother’s side.
VII. Does any one then fear war from this man, who, until we commenced the war, being compelled to do so, preferred lying unknown in peace to flourishing in war? Although he, in truth, never did lie unknown, nor can this expression possibly be applied to such great eminence in virtue. For he was the object of regret to the state; he was in every one’s mouth, the subject of every one’s conversation. But he was so far removed from an inclination to war, that, though he was burning with a desire to see Italy free, he preferred being wanting to the zeal of the citizens, to leading them to put every thing to the issue of war. Therefore, those very men, if there be any such, who find fault with the slowness of Brutus’s movements, nevertheless at the same time admire his moderation and his patience.
But I see now what it is they mean: nor, in truth, do they use much disguise. They say that they are afraid how the veterans may endure the idea of Brutus having an army. As if there were any difference between the troops of Aulus Hirtius, of Caius Pansa, of Decimus Brutus, of Caius Caesar, and this army of Marcus Brutus. For if these four armies which I have mentioned are praised because they have taken up arms for the sake of the liberty of the Roman people, what reason is there why this army of Marcus Brutus should not be classed under the same head? Oh, but the very name of Marcus Brutus is unpopular among the veterans.–More than that of Decimus Brutus?–I think not; for although the action is common to both the Bruti, and although their share in the glory is equal, still those men who were indignant at that deed were more angry with Decimus Brutus, because they said, that it was more improper for it to be executed by him. What now are all those armies laboring at, except to effect the release of Decimus Brutus from a siege? And who are the commanders of those armies? Those men, I suppose, who wish the acts of Caius Caesar to be overturned, and the cause of the veterans to be betrayed.
VIII. If Caesar himself were alive, could he, do you imagine, defend his own acts more vigorously than that most gallant man Hirtius defends them? or, is it possible that any one should be found more friendly to the cause than his son? But the one of these, though not long recovered from a year long attack of a most severe disease, has applied all the energy and influence which he had to defending the liberty of those men by whose prayers he considered that he himself had been recalled from death; the other, stronger in the strength of his virtue than in that of his age, has set out with those very veterans to deliver Decimus Brutus. Therefore, those men who are both the most certain and at the same time the most energetic defenders of the acts of Caesar, are waging war for the safety of Decimus Brutus; and they are followed by the veterans. For they see that they must fight to the uttermost for the freedom of the Roman people, not for their own advantages. What reason, then, is there why the army of Marcus Brutus should be an object of suspicion to those men who with the whole of their energies desire the preservation of Decimus Brutus?
But, moreover, if there were any thing which were to be feared from Marcus Brutus, would not Pansa perceive it? Or if he did perceive it, would not he, too, be anxious about it? Who is either more acute in his conjectures of the future, or more diligent in warding off danger? But you have already seen his zeal for, and inclination toward Marcus Brutus. He has already told us in his speech what we ought to decree, and how we ought to feel with respect to Marcus Brutus. And he was so far from thinking the army of Marcus Brutus dangerous to the republic, that he considered it the most important and the most trusty bulwark of the republic. Either, then, Pansa does not perceive this (no doubt he is a man of dull intellect), or he disregards it. For he is clearly not anxious that the acts which Caesar executed should be ratified,–he, who in compliance with our recommendation is going to bring forward a bill at the comitia centuriata for sanctioning and confirming them.
IX. Let those, then, who have no fear, cease to pretend to be alarmed, and to be exercising their foresight in the cause of the republic. And let those who really are afraid of every thing, cease to be too fearful, lest the pretense of the one party and the inactivity of the other be injurious to us. What, in the name of mischief! is the object of always opposing the name of the veterans to every good cause? For even if I were attached to their virtue, as indeed I am, still, if they were arrogant I should not be able to tolerate their airs. While we are endeavoring to break the bonds of slavery, shall any one hinder us by saying that the veterans do not approve of it? For they are not, I suppose, beyond all counting who are ready to take up arms in defense of the common freedom! There is no man, except the veteran soldiers, who is stimulated by the indignation of a freeman to repel slavery! Can the republic then stand, relying wholly on veterans, without a great reinforcement of the youth of the state? Whom, indeed, you ought to be attached to, if they be assistants to you in the assertion of your freedom, but whom you ought not to follow if they be the advisers of slavery.
Lastly (let me at last say one true word, one word worthy of myself!)–if the inclinations of this order are governed by the nod of the veterans, and if all our words and actions are to be referred to their will, death is what we should wish for, which has always, in the minds of Roman citizens, been preferable to slavery. All slavery is miserable; but some may have been unavoidable. Do you think, then, that there is never to be a beginning of our endeavors to recover our freedom? Or, when we would not bear that fortune which was unavoidable, and which seemed almost as if appointed by destiny, shall we tolerate the voluntary bondage! All Italy is burning with a desire for freedom. The city can not endure slavery any longer We have given this warlike attire and these arms to the Roman people much later than they have been demanded of us by them.
X. We have, indeed, undertaken our present course of action with a great and almost certain hope of liberty. But even if I allow that the events of war are uncertain, and that the chances of Mars are common to both sides, still it is worth while to fight for freedom at the peril of one’s life. For life does not consist wholly in breathing; there is literally no life at all for one who is a slave. All nations can endure slavery. Our state can not. Nor is there any other reason for this, except that those nations shrink from toil and pain, and are willing to endure any thing so long as they may be free from those evils; but we have been trained and bred up by our forefathers in such a manner, as to measure all our designs and all our actions by the standard of dignity and virtue. The recovery of freedom is so splendid a thing that we must not shun even death when seeking to recover it. But if immortality were to be the result of our avoidance of present danger, still slavery would appear still more worthy of being avoided, in proportion as it is of longer duration. But as all sorts of death surround us on all sides night and day, it does not become a man, and least of all a Roman, to hesitate to give up to his country that breath which he owes to nature.
Men flock together from all quarters to extinguish a general conflagration. The veterans were the first to follow the authority of Caesar and to repel the attempts of Antonius; afterward the Martial legion checked his frenzy; the fourth legion crushed it. Being thus condemned by his own legions, he burst into Gaul which he knew to be adverse and hostile to him both in word and deed. The armies of Aulus Hirtius and Caius Caesar pursued him, and afterward the levies of Pansa roused the city and all Italy. He is the one enemy of all men. Although he has with him Lucius his brother, a citizen very much beloved by the Roman people, the regret for whose absence the city is unable to endure any longer! What can be more foul than that beast? what more savage? who appears born for the express purpose of preventing Marcus Antonius from being the basest of all mortals. They have with them Trebellius, who, now that all debts are canceled, is become reconciled to them; and Titus Plancus, and other like them; who are striving with all their hearts, and whose sole object is to appear to have been restored against the will of the republic. Saxa and Capho, themselves rustic and clownish men, men who never have seen and who never wish to see this republic firmly established, are tampering with the ignorant classes; men who are not upholding the acts of Caesar but those of Antonius; who are led away by the unlimited occupation of the Campanian district; and who I marvel are not somewhat ashamed when they see that they have actors and actresses for their neighbors.
XI. Why then should we be displeased that the army of Marcus Brutus is thrown into the scale to assist us in overwhelming these pests of the commonwealth? It is the army, I suppose, of an intemperate and turbulent man. I am more afraid of his being too patient; although in all the counsels and actions of that man there never has been any thing either too much or too little. The whole inclinations of Marcus Brutus, O conscript fathers, the whole of his thoughts, the whole of his ideas, are directed toward the authority of the senate and the freedom of the Roman people. These are the objects which he proposes to himself; these are what he desires to uphold. He has tried what he could do by patience; as he did nothing, he has thought it necessary to encounter force by force. And, O conscript fathers, you ought at this time to grant him the same honors which on the nineteenth of December you conferred by my advice on Decimus Brutus and Caius Caesar, whose designs and conduct in regard to the republic, while they also were but private individuals, was approved of and praised by your authority. And you ought to do the same now with respect to Marcus Brutus, by whom an unhoped for and sudden reinforcement of legions and cavalry, and numerous and trusty bands of allies, have been provided for the republic.
Quintus Hortensius also ought to have a share of your praise, who, being governor of Macedonia, joined Brutus as a most faithful and untiring assistant in collecting that army. For I think that a separate motion ought to be made respecting Marcus Appuleius, to whom Brutus bears witness in his letters that he has been a prime assistant to him in his endeavors to get together and equip his army. And since this is the case,
“As Caius Pansa the consul has addressed to us a speech concerning the letters which have been received from Quintus Caepio Brutus, proconsul, and have been read in this assembly, I give my vote in this matter thus:
“Since, by the exertions and wisdom and industry and valor of Quintus Caepio Brutus, proconsul, at a most critical period of the republic, the province of Macedonia, and Illyricum, and all Greece, and the legions and armies and cavalry, have been preserved in obedience to the consuls and senate and people of Rome; Quintus Caepio Brutus, proconsul, has acted well, and in a manner advantageous to the republic, and suitable to his own dignity and to that of his ancestors, and to the principles according to which alone the affairs of the republic can be properly managed; and that conduct is and will be grateful to the senate and people of Rome.
“And moreover, as Quintus Caepio Brutus, proconsul, is occupying and defending and protecting the province of Macedonia, and Illyricum, and all Greece, and is preserving them in safety; and as he is in command of an army which he himself has levied and collected, he is at liberty if he has need of any, to exact money for the use of the military service, which belongs to the public, and can lawfully be exacted, and to use it, and to borrow money for the exigencies of the war from whomsoever he thinks fit, and to exact corn, and to endeavor to approach Italy as near as he can with his forces. And as it has been understood from the letters of Quintus Caepio Brutus, proconsul, that the republic has been greatly benefited by the energy and valor of Quintus Hortensius, proconsul, and that all his counsels have been in harmony with those of Quintus Caepio Brutus, proconsul, and that that harmony has been of the greatest service to the republic; Quintus Hortensius has acted well and becomingly, and in a manner advantageous to the republic. And the senate decrees that Quintus Hortensius, proconsul, shall occupy the province of Macedonia with his quaestors, or proquaestors and lieutenants, until he shall have a successor regularly appointed by a resolution of the senate.”
After the last speech was delivered, Brutus gained great advantages in Macedonia over Caius Antonius, and took him prisoner. He treated him with great lenity, so much so as to displease Cicero, who remonstrated with him strongly on his design of setting him at liberty. He was also under some apprehension as to the steadiness of Plancus’s loyalty to the senate; but on his writing to that body to assure them of his obedience, Cicero procured a vote of some extraordinary honors to him,
Cassius also about the same time was very successful in Syria, of which he wrote Cicero a full account. Meantime reports were being spread in the city by the partisans of Antonius, of his success before Mutina; and even of his having gained over the consuls. Cicero too was personally much annoyed at a report which they spread of his having formed the design of making himself master of the city and assuming the title of Dictator, but when Apuleius, one of his friends and a tribune of the people, proceeded to make a speech to the people in Cicero’s justification, the people all cried out that he had never done any thing which was not for the advantage of the republic. About the same time news arrived of a victory gained over Antonius at Mutina.
Pansa was now on the point of joining Hirtius with four pew legions and Antonius endeavored to surprise him on the road before he could effect that junction. A severe battle ensued, in which Hirtius came to Pansa’s aid, and Antonius was defeated with great loss. On the receipt of the news, the populace assembled about Cicero’s house, and carried him in triumph to the Capitol. The next day Marcus Cornutus, the praetor, summoned the senate to deliberate on the letters received from the consuls and Octavius, giving an account of the victory. Servilius declared his opinion that the citizens should relinquish the sagum, or robe of war; and that a supplication should be decreed in honor of the consuls and Octavius. Cicero rose next and delivered the following speech, objecting to the relinquishment of the robe of war, and blaming Servilius for not calling Antonius an enemy.
The measures which he himself proposed were carried.
I. If, O conscript fathers, while I learned from the letters which have been read that the army of our most wicked enemies had been defeated and routed, I had also learned what we all wish for above all things, and which we do suppose has resulted from that victory which has been achieved,–namely, that Decimus Brutus had already quitted Mutina,–then I should without any hesitation give my vote for our returning to our usual dress out of joy at the safety of that citizen on account of whose danger it was that we adopted the robe of war, But before any news of that event which the city looks for with the greatest eagerness arrives, we have sufficient reason indeed for joy at this most important and most illustrious battle; but reserve, I beg you, your return to your usual dress for the time of complete victory. But the completion of this war is the safety of Decimus Brutus.
But what is the meaning of this proposal that our dress shall be changed just for today, and that tomorrow we should again come forth in the garb of war? Rather when we have once turned to that dress which we wish and desire to assume, let us strive to retain it forever; for this is not only discreditable, but it is displeasing also to the immortal gods, to leave their altars, which we have approached in the attire of peace, for the purpose of assuming the garb of war. And I notice, O conscript fathers, that there are some who favor this proposal: whose intention and design is, as they see that that will be a most glorious day for Decimus Brutus on which we return to our usual dress out of joy for his safety, to deprive him of this great reward, so that it may not be handed down to the recollection of posterity that the Roman people had recourse to the garb of war on account of the danger of one single citizen, and then returned to their gowns of pence on account of his safety. Take away this reason, and you will find no other for so absurd a proposal. But do you, O conscript fathers, preserve your authority, adhere to your own opinions, preserve in your recollection what you have often declared, that the whole result of this entire war depends on the life of one most brave and excellent man.
II. For the purpose of effecting the liberation of Decimus Brutus, the chief men of the state were sent as ambassadors, to give notice to that enemy and parricidal traitor to retire from Mutina; for the sake of preserving that same Decimus Brutus, Aulus Hirtius, the consul, went by lot to conduct the war; a man the weakness of whose bodily health was made up for by the strength of his courage, and encouraged by the hope of victory; Caesar, too, after he, with an army levied by his own resources and on his own authority, had delivered the republic from the first dangers that assailed it, in order to prevent any subsequent wicked attempts from being originated, departed to assist in the deliverance of the same Brutus, and subdued some family vexation which he may have felt by his attachment to his country. What other object had Caius Pansa in holding the levies which he did, and in collecting money, and in carrying the most severe resolutions of the senate against Antonius, and in exhorting us, and in inviting the Roman people to embrace the cause of liberty, except to insure the deliverance of Decimus Brutus? For the Roman people in crowds demanded at his hands the safety of Decimus Brutus with such unanimous outcries, that he was compelled to prefer it not only to any consideration of his own personal advantage, but even to his own necessities. And that end we now, O conscript fathers, are entitled to hope is either at the point of being achieved, or is actually gained; but it is right for the reward of our hopes to be reserved for the issue and event of the business, lest we should appear either to have anticipated the kindness of the gods by our over precipitation, or to have despised the bounty of fortune through our own folly.
But since the manner of your behavior shows plainly enough what you think of this matter, I will come to the letters which have arrived from the consuls and the propraetor, after I have said a few words relating to the letters themselves.
III. The swords, O conscript fathers, of our legions and armies have been stained with, or rather, I should say, dipped deep in blood in two battles which have taken place under the consuls, and a third, which has been fought under the command of Caesar. If it was the blood of enemies, then great is the piety of the soldiers; but it is nefarious wickedness if it was the blood of citizens. How long, then, is that man, who has surpassed all enemies in wickedness, to be spared the name of enemy? unless you wish to see the very swords of our soldiers trembling in their hands while they doubt whether they are piercing a citizen or an enemy. You vote a supplication; you do not call Antonius an enemy. Very pleasing indeed to the immortal gods will our thanksgivings be, very pleasing too the victims, after a multitude of our citizens has been slain! “For the victory” says the proposer of the supplication, “over wicked and audacious men.” For that is what this most illustrious man calls them; expressions of blame suited to lawsuits carried on in the city, not denunciations of searing infamy such as deserved by internecine war. I suppose they are forging wills, or trespassing on their neighbors, or cheating some young men; for it is men implicated in these and similar practices that we are in the habit of terming wicked and audacious. One man, the foulest of all banditti, is waging an irreconcilable war against four consuls. He is at the same time carrying on war against the senate and people of Rome. He is (although he is himself hastening to destruction; through the disasters which he has met with) threatening all of us with destruction, and devastation, and torments, and tortures. He declares that that inhuman and savage act of Dolabella’s, which no nation of barbarians would have owned, was done by his advice; and what he himself would do in this city, if this very Jupiter, who now looks down upon us assembled in his temple, had not repelled him from this temple and from these walls, he showed, in the miseries of those inhabitants of Parma, whom, virtuous and honorable men as they were, and most intimately connected with the authority of this order, and with the dignity of the Roman people, that villain and monster, Lucius Antonius, that object of the extraordinary detestation of all men, and (if the gods hate those whom they ought) of all the gods also, murdered with every circumstance of cruelty. My mind shudders at the recollection, O conscript fathers, and shrinks from relating the cruelties which Lucius Antonius perpetrated on the children and wives of the citizens of Parma. For whatever infamy the Antonii have willingly undergone in their own persons to their own infamy, they triumph in the fact of having inflicted on others by violence. But it is a miserable violence which they offered to them; most unholy lust, such as the whole life of the Antonii is polluted with.
IV. Is there then any one who is afraid to call those men enemies, whose wickedness he admits to have surpassed even the inhumanity of the Carthaginians? For in what city, when taken by storm, did Hannibal even behave with such ferocity as Antonius did in Parma, which he filched by surprise? Unless, perhaps, Antonius is not to be considered the enemy of this colony, and of the others toward which he is animated with the same feelings. But if he is beyond all question the enemy of the colonies and municipal towns, then what do you consider him with respect to this city which he is so eager for to satiate the indigence of his band of robbers? which that skillful and experienced surveyor of his, Saxa, has already marked out with his rule. Recollect, I entreat you, in the name of the immortal gods, O conscript fathers, what we have been fearing for the last two days, in consequence of infamous rumors carefully disseminated by enemies within the walls. Who has been able to look upon his children or upon his wife without weeping? who has been able to bear the sight of his home, of his house, and his household gods? Already all of us were expecting a most ignominious death, or meditating a miserable flight. And shall we hesitate to call the men at whose hands we feared all these things enemies? If any one should propose a more severe designation I will willingly agree to it; I am hardly content with this ordinary one, and will certainly not employ a more moderate one.
Therefore, as we are bound to vote, and as Servilius has already proposed a most just supplication for those letters which have been read to you; I will propose altogether to increase the number of the days which it is to last, especially as it is to be decreed in honor of three generals conjointly. But first of all I will insist on styling those men imperator by whose valor, and wisdom, and good fortune we have been released from the most imminent danger of slavery and death. Indeed, who is there within the last twenty years who has had a supplication decreed to him without being himself styled imperator, though he may have performed the most insignificant exploits, or even almost none at all. Wherefore, the senator who spoke before me ought either not to have moved for a supplication at all, or he ought to have paid the usual and established compliment to those men to whom even new and extraordinary honors are justly due.
V. Shall the senate, according to this custom which has now obtained, style a man imperator if he has slain a thousand or two of Spaniards, or Gauls, or Thracians; and now that so many legions have been routed, now that such a multitude of enemies has been slain,–yes, enemies, I say, although our enemies within the city do not fancy this expression,–shall we pay to our most illustrious generals the honor of a supplication, and refuse them the name of imperator? For with what great honor, and joy, and exultation ought the deliverers of this city themselves to enter into this temple, when yesterday, on account of the exploits which they have performed, the Roman people carried me in an ovation, almost in a triumph from my house to the Capitol, and back again from the Capitol to my own house? That is indeed in my opinion a just and genuine triumph, when men who have deserved well of the republic receive public testimony to their merits from the unanimous consent of the senate. For if, at a time of general rejoicing on the part of the Roman people, they addressed their congratulations to one individual, that is a great proof of their opinion of him; if they gave him thanks, that is a greater still; if they did both, then nothing more honorable to him can be possibly imagined.
Are you saying all this of yourself? some one will ask. It is indeed against my will that I do so; but my indignation at injustice makes me boastful, contrary to my usual habit. Is it not sufficient that thanks should not be given to men who have well earned them, by men who are ignorant of the very nature of virtue? And shall accusations and odium be attempted to be excited against those men who devote all their thoughts to insuring the safety of the republic? For you well know that there has been a common report for the last few days, that the day before the wine feast,1 that is to say, on this very day, I was intending to come forth with the fasces as dictator. One would think that this story was invented against some gladiator, or robber, or Catiline, and not against a man who had prevented any such step from ever being taken in the republic. Was I, who defeated and overthrew and crushed Catiline, when he was attempting such wickedness, a likely man myself all on a sudden to turn out Catiline? Under what auspices could I, an augur, take those fasces? How long should I have been likely to keep them? to whom was I to deliver them as my successor? The idea of any one having been so wicked as to invent such a tale! or so mad as to believe it! In what could such a suspicion, or rather such gossip, have originated?
VI. When, as you know, during the last three or four days a report of bad news from Mutina has been creeping abroad, the disloyal part of the citizens, inflated with exultation and insolence, began to collect in one place, at that senate-house which has been more fatal to their party than to the republic. There, while they were forming a plan to massacre us, and were distributing the different duties among one another, and settling who was to seize on the Capitol, who on the rostra, who on the gates of the city, they thought that all the citizens would flock to me. And in order to bring me into unpopularity, and even into danger of my life, they spread abroad this report about the fasces. They themselves had some idea of bringing the fasces to my house; and then, on pretense of that having been done by my wish, they had prepared a band of hired ruffians to make an attack on me as on a tyrant, and a massacre of all of you was intended to follow. The fact is already notorious, O conscript fathers, but the origin of all this wickedness will be revealed in its fitting time.
Therefore Publius Apuleius, a tribune of the people, who ever since my consulship has been the witness and partaker of, and my assistant in all my designs and all my dangers, could not endure the grief of witnessing my indignation. He convened a numerous assembly, as the whole Roman people were animated with one feeling on the subject. And when in the harangue which he then made, he, as was natural from our great intimacy and friendship, was going to exculpate me from all suspicion in the matter of the fasces, the whole assembly cried out with one voice, that I had never had any intentions with regard to the republic which were not excellent. After this assembly was over, within two or three hours, these most welcome messengers and letters arrived, so that the same day not only delivered me from a most unjust odium, but increased my credit by that most extraordinary act with which the Roman people distinguished me
I have made this digression, O conscript fathers, not so much for the sake of speaking of myself (for I should be in a sorry plight if I were not sufficiently acquitted in your eyes without the necessity of making a formal defense), as with the view of warning some men of too groveling and narrow minds, to adopt the line of conduct which I myself have always pursued, and to think the virtue of excellent citizens worthy of imitation, not of envy. There is a great field in the republic, as Crassus used very wisely to say; the road to glory is open to many.
VII. Would that those great men were still alive, who, after my consulship, when I myself was willing to yield to them, were themselves desirous to see me in the post of leader. But at the present moment, when there is such a dearth of wise and fearless men of consular rank, how great do you not suppose must be my grief and indignation, when I see some men absolutely disaffected to the republic, others wholly indifferent to every thing, others incapable of persevering with any firmness in the cause which they have espoused; and regulating their opinions not always by the advantage of the republic, but sometimes by hope, and sometimes by fear. But if any one is anxious and inclined to struggle for the leadership–though struggle there ought to be none–he acts very foolishly, if he proposes to combat virtue with vices. For as speed is only outstripped by speed, so among brave men virtue is only surpassed by virtue. Will you, if I am full of excellent sentiments with respect to the republic, adopt the worst possible sentiments yourself for the purpose of excelling me? Or if you see a race taking place for the acquisition of honors, will you summon all the wicked men you can find to your banner? I should be sorry for you to do so; first of all, for the sake of the republic, and secondly, for that of your own dignity. But if the leadership of the state were at stake, which I have never coveted, what could be more desirable for me than such conduct on your part? For it is impossible that I should be defeated by wicked sentiments and measures,–by good ones perhaps I might be, and I willingly would be.
Some people are vexed that the Roman people should see, and take notice of, and form their opinion on these matters. Was it possible for men not to form their opinion of each individual as he deserved? For as the Roman people form a most correct judgment of the entire senate, thinking that at no period in the history of the republic was this order ever more firm or more courageous; so also they all inquire diligently concerning every individual among us; and especially in the case of those among us who deliver our sentiments at length in this place, they are anxious to know what those sentiments are; and in that way they judge of each one of us, as they think that he deserves. They recollect that on the nineteenth of December I was the main cause of recovering our freedom; that from the first of January to this hour I have never ceased watching over the republic; that day and night my house and my ears have been open to the instruction and admonition of everyone; that it has been by my letters, and my messengers, and my exhortations, that all men in every part of the empire have been roused to the protection of our country; that it is owing to the open declaration of my opinion ever since the first of January, that no ambassadors have been ever sent to Antonius; that I have always called him a public enemy, and this a war; so that I, who on every occasion have been the adviser of genuine peace, have been a determined enemy to this pretense of fatal peace.
Have not I also at all times pronounced Ventidius an enemy, when others wished to call him a tribune of the people? If the consuls had chosen to divide the senate on my opinion, their arms would long since have been wrested from the hands of all those robbers by the positive authority of the senate.
VIII. But what could not be done then, O conscript fathers, at present not only can be, but even must be done. I mean, those men who are in reality enemies must be branded in plain language, must be declared enemies by our formal resolution. Formerly, when I used the words War or Enemy, men more than once objected to record my proposition among the other propositions. But that can not be done on the present occasion. For in consequence of the letters of Caius Pansa and Aulus Hirtius, the consuls, and of Caius Caesar, propraetor, we have all voted that honors be paid to the immortal gods. The very man who lately proposed and carried a vote for a supplication, without intending it pronounced those men enemies; for a supplication has never been decreed for success in civil war. Decreed, do I say? It has never even been asked for in the letters of the conqueror. Sulla as consul carried on a civil war; he led his legions into the city and expelled whomsoever he chose; he slew those whom he had in his power: there was no mention made of any supplication. The violent war with Octavius followed. Cinna the conqueror had no supplication voted to him. Sulla as imperator revenged the victory of Cinna, still no supplication was decreed by the senate. I ask you yourself, O Publius Servilius, did your colleague send you any letters concerning that most lamentable battle of Pharsalia? Did he wish you to make any motion about a supplication? Certainly not. But he did afterward when he took Alexandria; when he defeated Pharnaces; but for the battle of Pharsalia he did not even celebrate a triumph. For that battle had destroyed those citizens whose, I will not say lives, but even whose victory might have been quite compatible with the safety and prosperity of the state. And the same thing had happened in the previous civil wars. For though a supplication was decreed in my honor when I was consul, though no arms had been had recourse to at all, still that was voted by a new and wholly unprecedented kind of decree, not for the slaughter of enemies, but for the preservation of the citizens. Wherefore, a supplication on account of the affairs of the republic having been successfully conducted must, O conscript fathers, be refused by you even though your generals demand it; a stigma which has never been affixed on any one except Gabinius; or else, by the mere fact of decreeing a supplication, it is quite inevitable that you must pronounce those men, for whose defeat you do decree it, enemies of the state.
IX. What then Servilius did in effect, I do in express terms, when I style those men imperators. By using this name, I pronounce those who have been already defeated, and those who still remain, enemies in calling their conquerors imperators. For what title can I more suitably bestow on Pansa? Though he has, indeed, the title of the highest honor in the republic. What, too, shall I call Hirtius? He, indeed, is consul; but this latter title is indicative of the kindness of the Roman people; the other of valor and victory. What? Shall I hesitate to call Caesar imperator, a man born for the republic by the express kindness of the gods? He who was the first man who turned aside the savage and disgraceful cruelty of Antonius, not only from our throats but from our limbs and bowels? What numerous and what important virtues, O ye immortal gods, were displayed on that single day. For Pansa was the leader of all in engaging in battle and in combating with Antonius; O general worthy of the Martial legion, legion worthy of its general! Indeed, if he had been able to restrain its irresistible impetuosity, the whole war would have been terminated by that one battle. But as the legion, eager for liberty, had rushed with too much precipitation against the enemy’s line of battle, and as Pansa himself was fighting in the front ranks, he received two dangerous wounds, and was borne out of the battle, to preserve his life for the republic. But I pronounce him not only imperator, but a most illustrious imperator; who, as he had pledged himself to discharge his duty to the republic either by death or by victory, has fulfilled one half of his promise; may the immortal gods prevent the fulfillment of the other half!
X. Why need I speak of Hirtius? who, the moment he heard of what was going on, with incredible promptness and courage led forth two legions out of the camp; that noble fourth legion, which, having deserted Antonius, formerly united itself to the Martial legion; and the seventh, which, consisting wholly of veterans, gave proof in that battle that the name of the senate and people of Rome was dear to those soldiers who preserved the recollection of the kindness of Caesar. With these twenty cohorts, with no cavalry, while Hirtius himself was bearing the eagle of the fourth legion,–and we never heard of a more noble office being assumed by any general,–he fought with the three legions of Antonius and with his cavalry, and overthrew, and routed, and put to the sword those impious men who were the real enemies to this temple of the all good and all powerful Jupiter, and to the rest of the temples of the immortal gods, and the houses of the city, and the freedom of the Roman people, and our lives and actual existence; so that that chief and leader of robbers fled away with a very few followers, concealed by the darkness of night, and frightened out of all his senses.
Oh what a most blessed day was that, which, while the carcasses of those parricidal traitors were strewed about every where, beheld Antonius flying with a few followers, before he reached his place of concealment.
But will any one hesitate to call Caesar imperator? Most certainly his age will not deter any one from agreeing to this proposition, since he has gone beyond his age in virtue. And to me, indeed, the services of Caius Caesar have always appeared the more deserving of thanks, in proportion as they were less to have been expected from a man of his age. For when we conferred military command on him we were in fact encouraging the hope with which his name inspired us and now that he has fulfilled those hopes, he has sanctioned the authority of our decree by his exploits. This young man of great mind, as Hirtius most truly calls him in his letter, with a few cohorts defended the camp of many legions and fought a successful battle And in this manner the republic has on one day been preserved in many places by the valor and wisdom, and good fortune of three imperators of the Roman people.
XI.I therefore propose supplications of fifty days in the joint names of the three. The reasons I will embrace in the words of the resolution, using the most honorable language that I can devise.
But it becomes our good faith and our piety to show plainly to our most gallant soldiers how mindful of their services and how grateful for them we are; and accordingly I give my vote that our promises, and those pledges too which we promised to bestow on the legions when the war was finished, be repeated in the resolution which we are going to pass this day. For it is quite fair that the honor of the soldiers, especially of such soldiers as those, should be united with that of their commanders. And I wish, O conscript fathers, that it was lawful for us to dispense rewards to all the citizens, although we will give those which we have promised with the most careful usury. But that remains, as I well hope, to the conquerors, to whom the faith of the senate is pledged; and, as they have adhered to it at a most critical period of the republic, we are bound to take care that they never have cause to repent of their conduct. But it is easy for us to deal fairly by those men whose very services, though mute, appear to demand our liberality. This is a much more praiseworthy and more important duty, to pay a proper tribute of grateful recollection to the valor of those men who have shed their blood in the cause of their country. And I wish more suggestions could occur to me in the way of doing honor to those men. The two ideas which principally do occur to me, I will at all events not pass over; the one of which has reference to the everlasting glory of those bravest of men; the other may tend to mitigate the sorrow and mourning of their relations.
XII. I therefore give my vote, O conscript fathers, that the most honorable monument possible be erected to the soldiers of the Martial legion, and to those soldiers also who died fighting by their side. Great and incredible are the services done by this legion to the republic. This was the first legion to tear itself from the piratical band of Antonius; this was the legion which encamped at Alba; this was the legion that went over to Caesar; and it was in imitation of the conduct of this legion that the fourth legion has earned almost equal glory for its virtue. The fourth is victorious without having lost a man; some of the Martial legion fell in the very moment of victory. Oh happy death, which, due to nature, has been paid in the cause of one’s country! But I consider you men born for your country; you whose very name is derived from Mars, so that the same god who begot this city for the advantage of the nations, appears to have begotten you for the advantage of this city. Death in flight is infamous; in victory glorious. In truth, Mars himself seems to select all the bravest men from the battle array. Those impious men whom you slew, shall even in the shades below pay the penalty of their parricidal treason. But you, who have poured forth your latest breath in victory, have earned an abode and place among the pious. A brief life has been allotted to us by nature; but the memory of a well-spent life is imperishable. And if that memory were no longer than this life, who would be so senseless as to strive to attain even the highest praise and glory by the most enormous labors and dangers?
You then have fared most admirably, being the bravest of soldiers while you lived, and now the most holy of warriors, because it will be impossible for your virtue to be buried, either through the forgetfulness of the men of the present age, or the silence of posterity, since the senate and Roman people will have raised to you an imperishable monument, I may almost say with their own hands. Many armies at various times have been great and illustrious in the Punic, and Gallic, and Italian wars; but to none of them have honors been paid of the description which are now conferred on you. And I wish that we could pay you even greater honors, since we have received from you the greatest possible services. You it was who turned aside the furious. Antonius from this city; you it was who repelled him when endeavoring to return. There shall therefore be a vast monument erected with the most sumptuous work and an inscription engraved upon it as the everlasting witness of your godlike virtue And never shall the most grateful language of all who either see or hear of your monument cease to be heard And in this manner you, in exchange for your mortal condition of life, have attained immortality.
XIII. But since, O conscript fathers, the gift of glory is conferred on these most excellent and gallant citizens by the honor of a monument, let us comfort their relations, to whom this indeed is the best consolation. The greatest comfort for their parents is the reflection that they have produced sons who have been such bulwarks of the republic; for their children, that they will have such examples of virtue in their family; for their wives, that the husbands whom they have lost are men whom it is a credit to praise, and to have a right to mourn for; and for their brothers, that they may trust that, as they resemble them in their persons, so they do also in their virtues.
Would that we were able by the expression of our sentiments and by our votes to wipe away the tears of all these persons; or that any such oration as this could be publicly addressed to them, to cause them to lay aside their grief and mourning, and to rejoice rather, that, while many various kinds of death impend over men, the most honorable kind of all has fallen to the lot of their friends; and that they are not unburied, nor deserted; though even that fate, when incurred for one a country, is not accounted miserable; nor burned with equable obsequies in scattered graves, but entombed in honorable sepulchers, and honored with public offerings; and with a building which will be an altar of their valor to insure the recollection of eternal ages.
Wherefore it will be the greatest possible comfort to their relations, that by the same monument are clearly displayed the valor of their kinsmen, and also their piety, and the good faith of the senate, and the memory of this most inhuman war, in which, if the valor of the soldiers had been less conspicuous, the very name of the Roman people would have perished by the parricidal treason of Marcus. Antonius. And I think also, O conscript fathers, that those rewards which we promised to bestow on the soldiers when we had recovered the republic, we should give with abundant usury to those who are alive and victorious when the time comes; and that in the case of the men to whom those rewards were promised, but who have died in the defense of their country, I think those same rewards should be given to their parents or children, or wives or brothers.
XIV.But that I may reduce my sentiments into a formal motion, I give my vote that, “As Caius Pansa, consul, imperator, set the example of fighting with the enemy in a battle in which the Martial legion defended the freedom of the Roman people with admirable and incredible valor, and the legions of the recruits behaved equally well; and as Caius Pansa, consul, imperator, while engaged in the middle of the ranks of the enemy received wounds; and as Aulus Hirtius, consul, imperator, the moment that he heard of the battle, and knew what was going on, with a most gallant and loyal soul, led his army out of his camp and attacked Marcus Antonius and his army, and put his troops to the sword, with so little injury to his own army that he did not lose one single man; and as Caius Caesar, propraetor, imperator, with great prudence and energy defended the camp successfully, and routed and put to the sword the forces of the enemy which had come near the camp:
“On these accounts the senate thinks and declares that the Roman people has been released from the most disgraceful and cruel slavery by the valor, and military skill, and prudence, and firmness, and perseverance, and greatness of mind and good fortune of these their generals. And decrees that, as they have preserved the republic, the city, the temples of the immortal gods, the property and fortunes and families of all the citizens, by their own exertions in battle, and at the risk of their own lives; on account of these virtuous and gallant and successful achievements, Caius Pansa and Aulus Hirtius, the consuls, imperators, one or both of them, or, in their absence, Marcus Cornutus, the city praetor, shall appoint a supplication at all the altars for fifty days.And as the valor of the legions has shown itself worthy of their most illustrious generals, the senate will with great eagerness, now that the republic is recovered, bestow on our legions and armies all the rewards which it formerly promised them. And as the Martial legion was the first to engage with the enemy, and fought in such a manner against superior numbers as to slay many and take some prisoners; and as they shed their blood for their country without any shrinking; and as the soldiers of the other legions encountered death with similar valor in defense of the safety and freedom of the Roman people;–the senate does decree that Caius Pansa and Aulus Hirtius, the consuls, imperators, one or both of them if it seems good to them, shall see to the issuing of a contract for, and to the erecting, the most honorable possible monument to those men who shed their blood for the lives and liberties and fortunes of the Roman people, and for the city and temples of the immortal gods; that for that purpose they shall order the city quaestors to furnish and pay money, in order that it may be witness for the everlasting recollection of posterity of the wickedness of our most cruel enemies, and the godlike valor of our soldiers. And that the rewards which the senate previously appointed for the soldiers, be paid to the parents or children or wives or brothers of those men who in this war have fallen in defence of their country; and that all honours be bestowed on them which should have been bestowed on the soldiers themselves if those men had lived who gained the victory then by death.”