Lepidus was in the suburbs of Rome with a regular army, ready to depart for the government of Spain, which had been assigned to him with a part of Gaul. To the conspirators he professed friendship, sent his son among them as a hostage of his sincerity, and so deluded them, that Brutus supped with Lepidus, and Cassius with Antonius. Cicero also left Rome, disapproving greatly of the vacillation and want of purpose in the conspirators. On the first of June Antonius assembled the senate to deliberate on the affairs of the republic, and in the interval visited all parts of Italy.
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Lepidus was in the suburbs of Rome with a regular army, ready to depart for the government of Spain, which had been assigned to him with a part of Gaul. To the conspirators he professed friendship, sent his son among them as a hostage of his sincerity, and so deluded them, that Brutus supped with Lepidus, and Cassius with Antonius.
Cicero also left Rome, disapproving greatly of the vacillation and want of purpose in the conspirators. On the first of June Antonius assembled the senate to deliberate on the affairs of the republic, and in the interval visited all parts of Italy.
Edition: current; Page: [ 2 ]. He was now between eighteen and nineteen years of age. At the end of May Cicero began to return towards Rome, in order to arrive there in time for the meeting of the senate on the first of June; but many of his friends dissuaded him from entering the city, and at last he determined not to appear in the senate on that day, but to make a tour in Greece; to assist him in which, Dolabella named him one of his lieutenants.
Antonius also gave Brutus and Cassius commissions to buy corn in Asia and Sicily for the use of the republic, in order to keep them out of the city. Meantime Sextus Pompeius, who was at the head of a considerable army in Spain, addressed letters to the consuls proposing terms of accommodation, which after some debate, and some important modifications, were agreed to, and he quitted Spain, and came as far as Marseilles on his road towards Rome. After this conference Cicero returned to Rome, where he was received with unexampled joy, immense multitudes thronging out to meet him, and to escort him into the city.
He arrived in Rome on the last day of August. The next day the senate met, to which he was particularly summoned by Antonius, but he excused himself as not having recovered from the fatigue of his journey. The next day also the senate met, and Antonius absented himself; but Cicero came down and delivered the following speech, which is the first of that celebrated series of fourteen speeches made in opposition to Antonius and his measures, and called Philippics from the orations of Demosthenes against Philip, to which the Romans were in the habit of comparing them.
Before, O conscript fathers, I say those things concerning the republic which I think myself bound to say at the present time, I will explain to you briefly the cause of my departure from, and of my return to the city. When I hoped that the republic was at last recalled to a proper respect for your wisdom and for your authority, I thought that it became me to remain in a sort of sentinelship, which was imposed upon me by my position as a senator and a man of consular rank.
Nor did I depart anywhere, nor did I ever take my eyes off from the republic, from the day on which we were summoned to meet in the temple of Tellus; 2 in which temple, I, as far as was in my power, laid the foundations of peace, and renewed the ancient precedent set by the Athenians; I even used the Greek word, 3 which that city employed in those times in allaying discords, and gave my vote that all recollection of the existing dissensions ought to be effaced by everlasting oblivion.
He invited the chief men of the state to those deliberations which he held at his own house concerning the state of the republic; he referred all the most important matters to this order.
Were any exiles restored? He said that one was, and only one. Were any immunities granted? He answered, None. I pass over many other things, all excellent—for I am hastening to come to a very extraordinary act of virtue of Marcus Antonius. He utterly abolished from the constitution of the republic the Dictatorship, which had by this time attained to the authority of regal power. And that measure was not even offered to us for discussion.
He brought with him a decree of the senate, ready drawn up, ordering what he chose to have done: and when it had been read, we all submitted to his authority in the matter with the greatest eagerness; and, by another resolution of the senate, we returned him thanks in the most honourable and complimentary language.
A new light, as it were, seemed to be brought over us, now that not only the kingly power which we had endured, but all fear of such power for the future, was taken away from us; and a great pledge appeared to have been given by him to the republic that he did wish the city to be free, when he utterly abolished out of the republic the name of dictator, which had often been a legitimate title, on account of our late recollection of a perpetual dictatorship.
A few days afterwards the senate was delivered from the danger of bloodshed, and a hook 1 was fixed into that runaway slave who had usurped the name of Caius Marius. And all these things he did in concert with his colleague.
Some other things that were done were the acts of Dolabella alone; but, if his colleague had not been absent, would, I believe, have been done by both of them in concert. For when enormous evil was insinuating itself into the republic, and was gaining more strength day by day; and when the same men were erecting a tomb 2 in the forum, who had performed that irregular funeral; and when abandoned men, with slaves like themselves, were every day threatening with more and more vehemence all the houses and temples of the city; so severe was the rigour of Dolabella, not only towards the Edition: current; Page: [ 5 ] audacious and wicked slaves, but also towards the profligate and unprincipled freemen, and so prompt was his overthrow of that accursed pillar, that it seems marvellous to me that the subsequent time has been so different from that one day.
For behold, on the first of June, on which day they had given notice that we were all to attend the senate, everything was changed. Nothing was done by the senate, but many and important measures were transacted by the agency of the people, though that people was both absent and disapproving.
The consuls elect said, that they did not dare to come into the senate. The liberators of their country were absent from that city from the neck of which they had removed the yoke of slavery; though the very consuls themselves professed to praise them in their public harangues and in all their conversation. Those who were called Veterans, men of whose safety this order had been most particularly careful, were instigated not to the preservation of those things which they had, but to cherish hopes of new booty.
And as I preferred hearing of those things to seeing them, and as I had an honorary commission as lieutenant, I went away, intending to be present on the first of January, which appeared likely to be the first day of assembling the senate. I have now explained to you, O conscript fathers, my design in leaving the city. Now I will briefly set before you, also, my intention in returning, which may perhaps appear more unaccountable. As I had avoided Brundusium, and the ordinary route into Greece, not without good reason, on the first of August I arrived at Syracuse, because the passage from that city into Greece was said to be a good one.
And that city, with which I had so intimate a connexion, could not, though it was very eager to do so, detain me more than one night.
I was afraid that my sudden arrival among my friends might cause some suspicion if I remained there at all. But after the winds had driven me, on my departure from Sicily, to Leucopetra, which is a promontory of the Rhegian district, I went up the gulf from that point, with the view of crossing over. And I had not advanced far before I was driven back by a foul wind to the very place which I had just quitted. And as the night was stormy, and as I had lodged that night in the villa of Publius Valerius, my companion and intimate friend, and as I remained all the next day at his house waiting for a Edition: current; Page: [ 6 ] fair wind, many of the citizens of the municipality of Rhegium came to me.
And of them there were some who had lately arrived from Rome; from them I first heard of the harangue of Marcus Antonius, with which I was so much pleased that, after I had read it, I began for the first time to think of returning.
And not long afterwards the edict of Brutus and Cassius is brought to me; which perhaps because I love those men, even more for the sake of the republic than of my own friendship for them appeared to me, indeed, to be full of equity. They added besides, for it is a very common thing for those who are desirous of bringing good news to invent something to make the news which they bring seem more joyful, that parties were coming to an agreement; that the senate was to meet on the first of August; that Antonius having discarded all evil counsellors, and having given up the provinces of Gaul, was about to return to submission to the authority of the senate.
But on this I was inflamed with such eagerness to return, that no oars or winds could be fast enough for me; not that I thought that I should not arrive in time, but lest I should be later than I wished in congratulating the republic; and I quickly arrived at Velia, where I saw Brutus; how grieved I was, I cannot express.
For it seemed to be a discreditable thing for me myself, that I should venture to return into that city from which Brutus was departing, and that I should be willing to live safely in a place where he could not. But he himself was not agitated in the same manner that I was; for, being elevated with the consciousness of his great and glorious exploit, he had no complaints to make of what had befallen him, though he lamented your fate exceedingly.
And it was from him that I first heard what had been the language of Lucius Piso, in the senate of August; who, although he was but little assisted for that I heard from Brutus himself by those who ought to have seconded him, still according to the testimony of Brutus, and what evidence can be more trustworthy? I hastened hither, therefore, in order that as those who were present had not seconded him, I might do so; not with the hope of doing any good, for I neither hoped for that, nor did I well see how it was possible; but in order that if anything Edition: current; Page: [ 7 ] happened to me, and many things appeared to be threatening me out of the regular course of nature, and even of destiny, I might still leave my speech on this day as a witness to the republic of my everlasting attachment to its interests.
Since, then, O conscript fathers, I trust that the reason of my adopting each determination appears praiseworthy to you, before I begin to speak of the republic, I will make a brief complaint of the injury which Marcus Antonius did me yesterday; to whom I am friendly, and I have at all times admitted having received some services from him which make it my duty to be so. What reason had he then for endeavouring, with such bitter hostility, to force me into the senate yesterday?
Was I the only person who was absent? Have you not repeatedly had thinner houses than yesterday? Or was a matter of such importance under discussion, that it was desirable for even sick men to be brought down? Hannibal, I suppose, was at the gates, or there was to be a debate about peace with Pyrrhus; on which occasion it is related that even the great Appius, old and blind as he was, was brought down to the senate-house.
There was a motion being made about some supplications; a kind of measure when senators are not usually wanting; for they are under the compulsion, not of pledges, but of the influence of those men whose honour is being complimented; and the case is the same when the motion has reference to a triumph.
The consuls are so free from anxiety at these times, that it is almost entirely free for a senator to absent himself if he pleases. And as the general custom of our body was well known to me, and as I was hardly recovered from the fatigue of my journey, and was vexed with myself, I sent a man to him, out of regard for my friendship to him, to tell him that I should not be there.
But he, in the hearing of you all, declared that he would come with masons to my house; this was said with too much passion and very intemperately. For, for what crime is there such a heavy punishment appointed as that, that any one should venture to say in this assembly that he, with the assistance of a lot of common operatives, would pull down a house which had been built at the public expense in accordance with a vote of the senate?
And who ever employed such compulsion as the threat of such an injury as that to a senator? But if he had known what opinion I should have delivered on the subject, he would have remitted somewhat of the rigour of his compulsion. Do you think, O conscript fathers, that I would have voted for the resolution which you adopted against your own wills, of mingling funeral obsequies with supplications?
I say nothing about who the man was. Even had he been that great Lucius Brutus who himself also delivered the republic from kingly power, and who has produced posterity nearly five hundred years after himself of similar virtue, and equal to similar achievements—even then I could not have been induced to join any dead man in a religious observance paid to the immortal gods; so that a supplication should be addressed by public authority to a man who has nowhere a sepulchre at which funeral obsequies may be celebrated.
I, O conscript fathers, should have delivered my opinion, which I could easily have defended against the Roman people, if any heavy misfortune had happened to the republic, such as war, or pestilence, or famine; some of which, indeed, do exist already, and I have my fears lest others are impending. But I pray that the immortal gods may pardon this act, both to the Roman people, which does not approve of it, and to this order, which voted it with great unwillingness.
Let me have only the power to come into this house, and I will never shrink from the danger of declaring my opinion! And, O conscript fathers, would that I had been able to be present on the first of August; not that I should have been able to do any good, but to prevent any one saying that not one senator of consular rank as was the case then was found worthy of that honour and worthy of the republic.
And this circumstance indeed gives me great pain, that men who have enjoyed the most honourable distinctions which the Roman people can confer, did not second Lucius Piso, the proposer of an excellent opinion. Is it for this that the Roman people made us consuls, that, being placed on the loftiest and most Edition: current; Page: [ 9 ] honourable step of dignity, we should consider the republic of no importance?
Not only did no single man of consular dignity indicate his agreement with Lucius Piso by his voice, but they did not venture even to look as if they agreed with him. What, in the name of all that is horrible, is the meaning of this voluntary slavery?
Wherefore, in the first place, I both feel and acknowledge great obligations to Lucius Piso, who considered not what he was able to effect in the republic, but what it was his own duty to do; and, in the next place, I entreat of you, O conscript fathers, even if you have not quite the courage to agree with my speech and to adopt my advice, at all events to listen to me with kindness as you have always hitherto done.
I wish that Antonius himself were present, provided he had no advocates with him. But I suppose he may be allowed to feel unwell, a privilege which he refused to allow me yesterday. And shall the acts which he caused to be engraved on brass, in which he declared that the edicts and laws passed by the people were valid for ever, be considered as of no power? Suppose he gave any one a promise, is that to be ratified, even if it were a promise that Edition: current; Page: [ 10 ] he himself was unable to perform?
As, in fact, he has failed to perform many promises made to many people. And a great many more of those promises have been found since his death, than the number of all the services which he conferred on and did to people during all the years that he was alive would amount to.
But all those things I do not change, I do not meddle with. Nay, I defend all his good acts with the greatest earnestness. Would that the money remained in the temple of Opis! Bloodstained, indeed, it may be, but still needful at these times, since it is not restored to those to whom it really belongs. Is there anything whatever that can be called so peculiarly the act of that man who, while clad in the robe of peace, was yet invested with both civil and military command in the republic, as a law of his?
Ask for the acts of Gracchus, the Sempronian laws will be brought forward; ask for those of Sylla, you will have the Cornelian laws.
What more? Why, in his laws. But what is that third decury? The decury of centurions, says he. The income of the men, says he, was exactly defined.
Certainly, not only in the case of a centurion, but in the case, too, of a Roman knight. Therefore, men of the highest honour and of the greatest bravery, who have acted as centurions, are and have been judges. I am not asking about those men, says he. Whoever has acted as centurion, let him be a judge. Oh what an insulting compliment it is to those men whom you summon to act as judges though they never expected it!
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Before, O conscript fathers, I say those things concerning the republic which I think myself bound to say at the present time, I will explain to you briefly the cause of my departure from, and of my return to the city. When I hoped that the republic was at last recalled to a proper respect for your wisdom and for your authority, I thought that it became me to remain in a sort of sentinelship, which was imposed upon me by my position as a senator and a man of consular rank. Nor did I depart anywhere, nor did I ever take my eyes off from the republic, from the day on which we were summoned to meet in the temple of Tellus; in which temple, I, as far as was in my power, laid the foundations of peace, and renewed the ancient precedent set by the Athenians; I even used the Greek word, which that city employed in those times in allaying discords, and gave my vote that all recollection of the existing dissensions ought to be effaced by everlasting oblivion. He invited the chief men of the state to those deliberations which he held at his own house concerning the state of the republic; he referred all the most important matters to this order. He said that one was, and only one. Were any immunities granted? He answered, None.
M. TVLLI CICERONIS PHILIPPICAE
Contexts and Paratexts. While we should not imagine early and mid-republican Rome as a conflict-free zone where sober ancestors beholden to a set of peasant values practised consensual politics in happy harmony, the murderous savagery of civil warfare, so familiar from the last generation of the Roman republic, did not really take off until the second half of the second century BCE. True, narratives that bemoan a decline in personal and political morality began to circulate from c. This led to the establishment of the principate, an autocratic form of government prefigured, not least, by the dictatorships of Sulla and Caesar.