« AnteriorContinua »
XXIV. Cicero's oration for Milo.
But if, my lords, you are not yet convinced, though the thing shines out with such strong and full evidence, that Milo returned to Rome with an innocent mind, un. stained with guilt, undisturbed by fear, and free from the accusations of conscience; call to mind, I beseech you by the immortal gods, the expedition with which he came back, his entrance into the forum while the senatehouse was in flames, the greatness of soul he discovered, the look he assumed, the speech he made on the occa. sion. He delivered himself up, not only to the people, but even to the senate; nor to the senate alone, but even to guards appointed for the public security; nor merely to them, but even to the authority of him whom the senate had entrusted with the care of the whole republic, all the youth of Italy, and all the military force of Rome: to whom he would never have delivered himself, if he had not been confident of the goodness of his cause; especially as that person heard every report, was appre. hensive of very great danger, had many suspicions, and gave credit to some stories. Great, my lords, is the force of conscience; great, both in the innocent and the guilty : the first have no fears, while the others imagine their punishment is continually before their eyes. Nor, indeed, is it without good reason that Milo's cause has ever been approved by the enate; for those wise men perceived the justice of his cause, his presence of mind, and the resolution with which he made his defence. Have you-forgot, my lords, when the news of Clodius's death had reached us, what were the reports and opinions that prevailed, not only amongst the enemies of Milo, but even amongst some other weak persons, who affirmed that Milo would not return ) Rome? For, if he committed the fact in the heat of passion, from a principle of resentment, they imagined he would look upon the death of P. Clodius as of such consequence, that he could be content to go into banishment after having satiated his revenge. with the blood of his enemy: or, if he put him to death with a view to the safety of his courgtry, they were of opinion that the same brave man, after he had saved the state, by exposing his own life to dan. ger, would cheerfully submit to the laws; and, leaving us to enjoy the blessings he had preserved, be satisfied himself with immortal glory. Others talked in a more frightful manner, and called him a Cataline: he will break out, said they; he will seize -some strong place; he will make war upon his countryHow wretched is often the fate of those citizens who have done the most important services to their country! Their noblest actions are'not only forgotten, but they are even suspected of the most impious. These suggestions, therefore, were groundless : yet they must have proved too well founded, had Milo done any thing that could not be defended with truth and justice.
Why should I mention the calumnies that were afterwards heaped upon him? And though they were such as would have filled with terror any breast that had the least consciousness of guilt, yet how he bore them!Immortal gods !-bore them, did I say? Nay, how he despised and set them at nought! Though a guilty person, even of the greatest courage, nor an innocent person, unless endued with the greatest fortitude, could never have neglected them. It was whispered about, that a vast number of shields, swords, bridles, darts, and javelins might be found; that there was not a street, nor lane, in the city, where Milo had not hired a house; that arms were conveyed down the Tiber to his seat at Ocriculum; that his house on the Capitoline-hill was filled with shields; and that every other place was full of hand-grenades for firing the city. These stories were not only reported, but almost believed; nor were they looked upon as groundless till after a search was made. I could not, indeed, but applaud the wonderful diligence of Pompey upon the occasion: but, to tell you freely, my lords, what I think, those who are charged with the care of the whole republic, are obliged to hear too many stories; nor, indeed, is it in their power to avoid it. He could not refuse an audience to a paltry fellow of a priest, (Licinius I think he is called,) who gave information that Milo's slaves, having got drunk at his house, confessed to him a plot they had formed to murder
Pompey, and that afterwards one of them had stabbed him, to prevemt his discovering it. Pompey received this intelligence at his gardens. I was sent for immedi. ately; and, by the advice of his friends, the affair was laid before the senate. I could not help being in the greatest consternation, to see the guardian, both of me and my country, under so great an apprehension; yet I could not help wondering that such credit was given to a butcher; that the confessions of a parcel of drunken slaves should be read; and that a wound in the side, which seemed to be the prick only of a needle, should be taken for the thrust of a gladiator. But, as I understand, Pompey was shewing his caution, rather than his fear; and was disposed to be suspicious of every thing, that you might have reason to fear nothing. There was a rumour also, that the house of C. Cæsar, for his rank and courage, was attacked for several hours in the night. Nobody heard, nobody perceived any thing of it, though the place was so publie; yet the affair was thought fit to be enquired inte. I could never suspect a man of Pompey's distinguished valour, of being timorous; nor yet think any caution too great in one who has taken upon himself 'the defence of the whole republic. A senator too, in a full house, affirmed lately in the capitol, that Milo had a dagger under his gown the very time: upon which he stript himself, in that most sacred temple, that, since his life and manuers could not gain him credit, the thing itself might speak for him.
These stories were all discovered to be false, malicious forgeries": but if, after all, Milo must still be feared; it is no longer the affair of Clodius, but your suspicions, Pompey, which we dread: your, your suspicions, I say; and speak it so that you may hear me. of Milo; if you imagine that he is either now forming, or has ever before contrived, any wicked design against your life; if the forces of Italy, as some of your agents alledge, if this armed force, if the capitoline troops, if these sentries and guards, if the chosen band of young men that guard your person and your house, is armed against the assaults of Milo; if all these precautions are taken, and pointed against him; great, undoubtedly, pust be his strength, and incredible his valo!r, far sus.
If you are afraid
passing the forces and power of a single man, since the most eminent of all our generals is tixed upon, and the whole republic armed to resist him. But who does not know that all the infirm and feeble parts of the state are committed to your care, to be restored and strengthened by this armed force ? Could Milo have found an opportunity, he would immediately have convinced you, that no man ever had a stronger aflection for another, than he has for you, that he never declined any danger, where your dignity was concerned; that, to raise your glory, he often encountered that monster Clodius; that his tribunate was employed, under your direction, in securing my safety, which you had then so much at heart, that
you afterwards protected him when his life was in danger, and used your interest for him when he stood for the prætorship; that there were two persons whose warmest friendship he hoped he might always depend upon; yourself, on account of the obligations you laid him under; and me, on account of the favours I received from him. If he had failed in the proof of all this; if your suspicions had been so deeply rooted as not to be removed ; if Italy, in a word, must never have been free from new levies, nor the city from arms, without Milo's destruction; he would not have scrupled, such is his nature and principles, to bid adieu to his country: but first he would have called upon thee, O thou great one, as he now does.
XXV. Cicero's oration for Milo:
CONSIDER how uncertain and variable the condition of life is, how unsettled and inconstant a thing fortune; what unfaithfulness is to be found amongst friends; what disguises suited to times and circumstances; what
what cowardice in our dangers, even of those who are dearest to us. There will there will, I say, be a time, and the day will certainly come, when yon, with safety still, I hope to your fortunes, though changed perhaps by some turn of the common tiines, which, as
experionce shews, will often happen to us all, may want the affection of the friendless, the fidelity of the wor. thiest, and the courage of the bravest man living. Though who can believe that Pompey, so well skilled in the laws of Rome, in ancient usages, and the constitution of his country, when the senate had given it him in charge to see that the republic received no detriment; -a sentence always sufficient for arning the consuls, without assigning them an armed force;-that he, I say, when an army and a chosen band of soldiers were as. signed him, should wait the event of this trial, and defend the conduct of the man who wanted to abolish trials? It was sufficient that Pompey cleared Milo from those charges that were advanced against him, by enacting a law, according to which, in my opinion, Milo ought, and, by the confession of all, might lawfully be acquitted. But by sitting in that place, attended by a numerous guard assigned him by public authority, he sufficiently declares his intention is not to overawe, (for what can be more unworthy a man of his character, than to oblige you to condemn a person, whom, from numerous preee. dents, and by virtue of his own authority, he might have punished himself ?) but to protect you : he means only to convince you that, notwithstanding yesterday's riotous assembly, you are at full liberty to pass sentence according to your own judgments.
But, my lords, the Clodian accusation gives me no concern; for I am not so stupid, so void of all experi. cnce, or so ignorant of your sentiments, as not to know your opinion in relation to the death of Clodius : and, though I had not refuted the charge, as I have done, yet Milo might, with safety, have made the following glorious declaration in public, though a false one :
66 I have slain, not a Sp. Mælius, who was suspected of aiming at the regal power, because he courted the favour of the people by lowering the price of corn, and bestowing extravagant presents to the ruin of his own estate; not a Tiberius Gracchus, who seditiously deposed his col. league from his magistracy; though even their destroyers have filled the world wh the glory of their exploits: but I have slain the mail (for he had a right to use this language, who had saved his country at the hazard of his own life) whose abominable adulteries our noblest