Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

Life of Cicero by Anthony Trollope

Part 2 out of 6

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.7 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

Marius, indeed, was nearly fifty years of age when his fellow-townsman
was born, and had become a distinguished soldier, and, though born of
humble parents, had pushed himself to the Consulate. His quarrel with
Sulla had probably commenced, springing from jealousy as to deeds done
in the Jugurthine war. But it is not matter of much moment, now that
Marius had proved himself to be a good and hardy soldier, excepting
in this, that, by making himself a soldier in early life, he enabled
himself in his latter years to become the master of Rome.

Sulla, too, was born thirty-two years before Cicero--a patrician of
the bluest blood--and having gone, as we say, into public life, and
having been elected Quaestor, became a soldier by dint of office, as a
man with us may become head of the Admiralty. As Quaestor he was sent
to join Marius in Africa a few months before Cicero was born. Into
his hands, as it happened, not into those of Marius, Jugurtha was
surrendered by his father-in-law, Bocchus, who thought thus to curry
favor with the Romans. Thence came those internecine feuds, in which,
some twenty-five years later, all Rome was lying butchered. The cause
of quarrelling between these two men, the jealousies which grew in the
heart of the elder, from the renewed successes of the younger, are not
much to us now; but the condition to which Rome had been brought, when
two such men could scramble for the city, and each cut the throats of
the relatives, friends, and presumed allies of the other, has to be
inquired into by those who would understand what Rome had been, what
it was, and what it was necessarily to become.

When Cicero was of an age to begin to think of these things, and had
put on the "toga virilis", and girt himself with a sword to fight
under the father of Pompey for the power of Rome against the Italian
allies who were demanding citizenship, the quarrel was in truth rising
to its bitterness. Marius and Sulla were on the same side in that
war. But Marius had then not only been Consul, but had been six times
Consul; and he had beaten the Teutons and the Cimbrians, by whom
Romans had feared that all Italy would be occupied. What was not
within the power of such a leader of soldiers? and what else but a
leader of soldiers could prevail when Italy and Rome, but for such a
General, had been at the mercy of barbaric hordes, and when they had
been compelled to make that General six times Consul?

Marias seems to have been no politician. He became a soldier and then
a General; and because he was great as a soldier and General, the
affairs of the State fell into his hands with very little effort. In
the old days of Rome military power had been needed for defence, and
successful defence had of course produced aggressive masterhood and
increased territory. When Hannibal, while he was still lingering in
Italy, had been circumvented by the appearance of Scipio in Africa and
the Romans had tasted the increased magnificence of external conquest,
the desire for foreign domination became stronger than that of native
rule. From that time arms were in the ascendant rather than policy.
Up to that time a Consul had to become a General, because it was his
business to look after the welfare of the State. After that time a man
became a Consul in order that he might be a General. The toga was made
to give way to the sword, and the noise of the Forum to the trumpets.
We, looking back now, can see that it must have been so, and we are
prone to fancy that a wise man looking forward then might have read
the future. In the days of Marius there was probably no man so wise.
Caesar was the first to see it. Cicero would have seen it, but that
the idea was so odious to him that he could not acknowledge to himself
that it need be so. His life was one struggle against the coming
evil--against the time in which brute force was to be made to dominate
intellect and civilization. His "cedant arma togae" was a scream, an
impotent scream, against all that Sulla had done or Caesar was about
to do. The mischief had been effected years before his time, and
had gone too far ahead to be arrested even by his tongue. Only, in
considering these things, let us confess that Cicero saw what was good
and what was evil, though he was mistaken in believing that the good
was still within reach.

Marius in his way was a Caesar--as a soldier, undoubtedly a very
efficient Caesar-having that great gift of ruling his own appetites
which enables those who possess it to conquer the appetites of others.
It may be doubted whether his quickness in stopping and overcoming the
two great hordes from the north, the Teutons and the Cimbrians, was
not equal in strategy to anything that Caesar accomplished in Gaul. It
is probable that Caesar learned much of his tactics from studying the
manoeuvres of Marius. But Marius was only a General. Though he became
hot in Roman politics, audacious and confident, knowing how to use and
how to disregard various weapons of political power as they had been
handed down by tradition and law, the "vetoes" and the auguries, and
the official dignities, he used them, or disregarded them, in quest
only of power for himself. He was able to perceive how vain was law
in such a period as that in which he lived; and that, having risen by
force of arms, he must by force of arms keep his place or lose his
life. With him, at least, there was no idea of Roman liberty, little
probably of Roman glory, except so far as military glory and military
power go together.

Sulla was a man endowed with a much keener insight into the political
condition of the world around him. To make a dash for power, as a dog
might do, and keep it in his clutch as a dog would, was enough
for Marius. Sulla could see something of future events. He could
understand that, by reducing men around him to a low level, he could
make fast his own power over them, and that he could best do this by
cutting off the heads of all who stood a little higher than their
neighbors. He might thus produce tranquillity, and security to himself
and others. Some glimmer of an idea of an Augustan rule was present to
him; and with the view of producing it, he re-established many of the
usages of the Republic, not reproducing the liberty but the forms of
liberty. It seems to have been his idea that a Sullan party might rule
the Empire by adherence to these forms. I doubt if Marius had any
fixed idea of government. To get the better of his enemies, and then
to grind them into powder under his feet, to seize rank and power and
riches, and then to enjoy them, to sate his lust with blood and
money and women, at last even with wine, and to feed his revenge by
remembering the hard things which he was made to endure during
the period of his overthrow--this seems to have been enough for
Marius.[53] With Sulla there was understanding that the Empire must
be ruled, and that the old ways would be best if they could be made
compatible, with the newly-concentrated power.

The immediate effect upon Rome, either from one or from the other,
was nearly the same. In the year 87 B.C. Marius occupied himself in
slaughtering the Sullan party--during which, however, Sulla escaped
from Rome to the army of which he was selected as General, and
proceeded to Athens and the East with the object of conquering
Mithridates; for, during these personal contests, the command of this
expedition had been the chief bone of contention among them. Marius,
who was by age unfitted, desired to obtain it in order that Sulla
might not have it. In the next year, 86 B.C., Marius died, being then
Consul for the seventh time. Sulla was away in the East, and did not
return till 83 B.C. In the interval was that period of peace, fit for
study, of which Cicero afterward spoke. "Triennium fere fuit urbs sine
armis."[54] Cicero was then twenty-two or twenty-three years old,
and must well have understood, from his remembrance of the Marian
massacres, what it was to have the city embroiled by arms. It was not
that men were fighting, but that they were simply being killed at
the pleasure of the slaughterer. Then Sulla came back, 83 B.C., when
Cicero was twenty-four; and if Marius had scourged the city with rods,
he scourged it with scorpions. It was the city, in truth, that
was scourged, and not simply the hostile faction. Sulla began by
proscribing 520 citizens declaring that he had included in his list
all that he remembered, and that those forgotten should be added on
another day. The numbers were gradually raised to 4,7OO! Nor did this
merely mean that those named should be caught and killed by some
miscalled officers of justice.[55] All the public was armed against
the wretched, and any who should protect them were also doomed to
death. This, however, might have been comparatively inefficacious to
inflict the amount of punishment intended by Sulla. Men generally do
not specially desire to imbrue their hands in the blood of other men.
Unless strong hatred be at work, the ordinary man, even the ordinary
Roman, will hardly rise up and slaughter another for the sake of the
employment. But if lucre be added to blood, then blood can be made to
flow copiously. This was what Sulla did. Not only was the victim's
life proscribed, but his property was proscribed also; and the man
who busied himself in carrying out the great butcher's business
assiduously, ardently, and unintermittingly, was rewarded by the
property so obtained. Two talents[56] was to be the fee for mere
assassination; but the man who knew how to carry on well the work of
an informer could earn many talents. It was thus that fortunes were
made in the last days of Sulla. It was not only those 520 who were
named for killing. They were but the firstlings of the flock--the few
victims selected before the real workmen understood how valuable a
trade proscription and confiscation might be made. Plutarch tells us
how a quiet gentleman walking, as was his custom, in the Forum, one
who took no part in politics, saw his own name one day on the list. He
had an Alban villa, and at once knew that his villa had been his ruin.
He had hardly read the list, and had made his exclamation, before
he was slaughtered. Such was the massacre of Sulla, coming with an
interval of two or three years after those of Marius, between which
was the blessed time in which Rome was without arms. In the time of
Marius, Cicero was too young, and of no sufficient importance, on
account of his birth or parentage, to fear anything. Nor is it
probable that Marius would have turned against his townsmen. When
Sulla's turn came, Cicero, though not absolutely connected with the
Dictator, was, so to say, on his side in politics. In going back even
to this period we may use the terms Liberals and Conservatives for
describing the two parties. Marius was for the people; that is to say,
he was opposed to the rule of the oligarchy, dispersed the Senate, and
loved to feel that his own feet were on the necks of the nobility. Of
liberty, or rights, or popular institutions he recked nothing; but not
the less was he supposed to be on the people's side. Sulla, on the
other hand, had been born a patrician, and affected to preserve the
old traditions of oligarchic rule; and, indeed, though he took all the
power of the State into his own hands, he did restore, and for a time
preserve, these old traditions. It must be presumed that there was
at his heart something of love for old Rome. The proscriptions began
toward the end of the year 82 B.C., and were continued through eight
or nine fearful months--up to the beginning of June, 81 B.C. A day
was fixed at which there should be no more slaughtering--no more
slaughtering, that is, without special order in each case, and no more
confiscation--except such as might be judged necessary by those who
had not as yet collected their prey from past victims. Then Sulla, as
Dictator, set himself to work to reorganize the old laws. There should
still be Consuls and Praetors, but with restricted powers, lessened
almost down to nothing. It seems hard to gather what was exactly the
Dictator's scheme as the future depositary of power when he should
himself have left the scene. He did increase the privileges of the
Senate; but thinking of the Senate of Rome as he must have thought of
it, esteeming those old men as lowly as he must have esteemed them, he
could hardly have intended that imperial power should be maintained
by dividing it among them. He certainly contemplated no follower
to himself, no heir to his power, as Caesar did. When he had been
practically Dictator about three years--though he did not continue the
use of the objectionable name--he resigned his rule and walked down,
as it were, from his throne into private life. I know nothing in
history more remarkable than Sulla's resignation; and yet the writers
who have dealt with his name give no explanation of it. Plutarch,
his biographer, expresses wonder that he should have been willing to
descend to private life, and that he who made so many enemies should
have been able to do so with security. Cicero says nothing of it. He
had probably left Rome before it occurred, and did not return till
after Sulla's death. It seems to have been accepted as being in no
especial way remarkable.[57] At his own demand, the plenary power of
Dictator had been given to him--power to do all as he liked, without
reference either to the Senate or to the people, and with an added
proviso that he should keep it as long as he thought fit, and lay it
down when it pleased him. He did lay it down, flattering himself,
probably, that, as he had done his work, he would walk out from his
dictatorship like some Camillus of old. There had been no Dictator in
Rome for more than a century and a quarter--not since the time of
Hannibal's great victories; and the old dictatorships lasted but for a
few months or weeks, after which the Dictator, having accomplished the
special task, threw up his office. Sulla now affected to do the same;
and Rome, after the interval of three years, accepted the resignation
in the old spirit. It was natural to them, though only by tradition,
that a Dictator should resign--so natural that it required no special
wonder. The salt of the Roman Constitution was gone, but the remembrance
of the savor of it was still sweet to the minds of the Romans.

It seems certain that no attempt was made to injure Sulla when he
ceased to be nominally at the head of the army, but it is probable
that he did not so completely divest himself of power as to be without
protection. In the year after his abdication he died, at the age
of sixty-one, apparently strong as regards general health, but, if
Plutarch's story be true, affected with a terrible cutaneous disease.
Modern writers have spoken of Sulla as though they would fain have
praised him if they dared, because, in spite of his demoniac cruelty,
he recognized the expediency of bringing the affairs of the Republic
again into order. Middleton calls him the "only man in history in whom
the odium of the most barbarous cruelties was extinguished by
the glory of his great acts." Mommsen, laying the blame of the
proscriptions on the head of the oligarchy, speaks of Sulla as being
either a sword or a pen in the service of the State, as a sword or
a pen would be required, and declares that, in regard to the total
"absence of political selfishness--although it is true in this respect
only--Sulla deserves to be named side by side with Washington."[58] To
us at present who are endeavoring to investigate the sources and the
nature of Cicero's character, the attributes of this man would be but
of little moment, were it not that Cicero was probably Cicero because
Sulla had been Sulla. Horrid as the proscriptions and confiscations
were to Cicero--and his opinion of them was expressed plainly enough
when it was dangerous to express them[59]--still it was apparent to
him that the cause of order (what we may call the best chance for the
Republic) lay with the Senate and with the old traditions and laws of
Rome, in the re-establishment of which Sulla had employed himself. Of
these institutions Mommsen speaks with a disdain which we now cannot
but feel to be justified. "On the Roman oligarchy of this period," he
says "no judgment can be passed save one of inexorable and remorseless
condemnation; and, like everything connected with it, the Sullan
constitution is involved in that condemnation."[60] We have to admit
that the salt had gone out from it, and that there was no longer left
any savor by which it could be preserved. But the German historian
seems to err somewhat in this, as have also some modern English
historians, that they have not sufficiently seen that the men of the
day had not the means of knowing all that they, the historians, know.
Sulla and his Senate thought that by massacring the Marian faction
they had restored everything to an equilibrium. Sulla himself seems to
have believed that when the thing was accomplished Rome would go on,
and grow in power and prosperity as she had grown, without other
reforms than those which he had initiated. There can be no doubt that
many of the best in Rome--the best in morals, the best in patriotism,
and the best in erudition--did think that, with the old forms, the old
virtue would come back. Pompey thought so, and Cicero. Cato thought
so, and Brutus. Caesar, when he came to think about it, thought the
reverse. But even now to us, looking back with so many things made
clear to us, with all the convictions which prolonged success
produces, it is doubtful whether some other milder change--some such
change as Cicero would have advocated--might not have prevented
the tyranny of Augustus, the mysteries of Tiberius, the freaks of
Caligula, the folly of Claudius, and the madness of Nero.

It is an uphill task, that of advocating the cause of a man who
has failed. The Caesars of the world are they who make interesting
stories. That Cicero failed in the great purpose of his life has to be
acknowledged. He had studied the history of his country, and was aware
that hitherto the world had produced nothing so great as Roman power;
and he knew that Rome had produced true patriotism. Her Consuls, her
Censors, her Tribunes, and her Generals had, as a rule, been true to
Rome, serving their country, at any rate till of late years, rather
than themselves. And he believed that liberty had existed in Rome,
though nowhere else. It would be well if we could realize the idea of
liberty which Cicero entertained. Liberty was very dear to him--dear
to him not only as enjoying it himself, but as a privilege for the
enjoyment of others. But it was only the liberty of a few. Half the
population of the Roman cities were slaves, and in Cicero's time
the freedom of the city, which he regarded as necessary to liberty,
belonged only to a small proportion of the population of Italy. It was
the liberty of a small privileged class for which he was anxious. That
a Sicilian should be free under a Roman Proconsul, as a Roman citizen
was entitled to be, was abhorrent to his doctrine. The idea of
cosmopolitan freedom--an idea which exists with us, but is not common
to very many even now--had not as yet been born: that care for freedom
which springs from a desire to do to others as we would that they
should do to us. It required Christ to father that idea; and Cicero,
though he was nearer to Christianity than any who had yet existed, had
not reached it. But this liberty, though it was but of a few, was so
dear to him that he spent his life in an endeavor to preserve it.
The kings had been expelled from Rome because they had trampled on
liberty. Then came the Republic, which we know to have been at its
best no more than an oligarchy; but still it was founded on the idea
that everything should be done by the votes of the free people. For
many years everything was done by the votes of the free people. Under
what inducements they had voted is another question. Clients were
subject to their patrons, and voted as they were told. We have heard
of that even in England, where many of us still think that such a way
of voting is far from objectionable. Perhaps compulsion was sometimes
used--a sort of "rattening" by which large bodies were driven to the
poll to carry this or the other measure. Simple eloquence prevailed
with some, and with others flattery. Then corruption became rampant,
as was natural, the rich buying the votes of the poor; and votes were
bought in various ways--by cheap food as well as by money, by lavish
expenditure in games, by promises of land, and other means of bribery
more or less overt. This was bad, of course. Every freeman should have
given a vote according to his conscience. But in what country--the
millennium not having arrived in any--has this been achieved? Though
voting in England has not always been pure, we have not wished to do
away with the votes of freemen and to submit everything to personal
rule. Nor did Cicero.

He knew that much was bad, and had himself seen many things that were
very evil. He had lived through the dominations of Marius and Sulla,
and had seen the old practices of Roman government brought down to the
pretence of traditional forms. But still, so he thought, there was
life left in the old forms, if they could be revivified by patriotism,
labor, and intelligence. It was the best that he could imagine for the
State--infinitely better than the chance of falling into the bloody
hands of one Marius and one Sulla after another. Mommsen tells us
that nothing could be more rotten than the condition of oligarchical
government into which Rome had fallen; and we are inclined to agree
with Mommsen, because we have seen what followed. But that Cicero,
living and seeing it all as a present spectator, should have hoped
better things, should not, I think, cause us to doubt either Cicero's
wisdom or his patriotism. I cannot but think that, had I been a Roman
of those days, I should have preferred Cicero, with his memories of
the past, to Caesar, with his ambition for the future.

Looking back from our standing-point of to-day, we know how great Rome
was--infinitely greater, as far as power is concerned, than anything
else which the world has produced. It came to pass that "Urbis et
orbis" was not a false boast. Gradually growing from the little nest
of robbers established on the banks of the Tiber, the people of Rome
learned how to spread their arms over all the known world, and to
conquer and rule, while they drew to themselves all that the ingenuity
and industry of other people had produced. To do this, there must have
been not only courage and persistence, but intelligence, patriotism,
and superior excellence in that art of combination of which government
consists. But yet, when we look back, it is hard to say when were the
palmy days of Rome. When did those virtues shine by which her power
was founded? When was that wisdom best exhibited from which came her
capacity for ruling? Not in the time of her early kings, whose mythic
virtues, if they existed, were concerned but in small matters; for the
Rome of the kings claimed a jurisdiction extending as yet but a few
miles from the city. And from the time of their expulsion, Rome,
though she was rising in power, was rising slowly, and through such
difficulties that the reader of history, did he not know the future,
would think from time to time that the day of her destruction had come
upon her. Not when Brennus was at Rome with his Gauls, a hundred and
twenty-five years after the expulsion of the kings, could Rome be said
to have been great; nor when, fifty or sixty years afterward, the
Roman army--the only army which Rome then possessed--had to lay down
its arms in the Caudine Forks and pass under the Samnite yoke.
Then, when the Samnite wars were ended, and Rome was mistress in
Italy--mistress, after all, of no more than Southern Italy--the Punic
wars began. It could hardly have been during that long contest with
Carthage, which was carried on for nearly fifty years, that the palmy
days of Rome were at their best. Hannibal seems always to be the
master. Trebia, Thrasymene and Canne, year after year, threaten
complete destruction to the State. Then comes the great Scipio; and no
doubt, if we must mark an era of Roman greatness, it would be that of
the battle of Zama and the submission of Carthage, 201 years before
Christ. But with Scipio there springs up the idea of personal
ambition; and in the Macedonian and Greek wars that follow, though the
arm of Rome is becoming stronger every day, and her shoulders broader,
there is already the glamour of her decline in virtue. Her dealings
with Antiochus, with Pyrrhus, and with the Achaeans, though
successful, were hardly glorious. Then came the two Gracchi, and
the reader begins to doubt whether the glory of the Republic is not
already over. They demanded impossible reforms, by means as illegal as
they were impossible, and were both killed in popular riots. The
war with Jugurtha followed, in which the Romans were for years
unsuccessful, and during which German hordes from the north rushed
into Gaul and destroyed an army of 80,000 Romans. This brings us to
Marius and to Sulla, of whom we have already spoken, and to that
period of Roman politics which the German historian describes as
being open to no judgment "save one of inexorable and remorseless

But, in truth, the history of every people and every nation will
be subject to the same criticism, if it be regarded with the same
severity. In all that man has done as yet in the way of government,
the seeds of decay are apparent when looked back upon from an age in
advance. The period of Queen Elizabeth was very great to us; yet by
what dangers were we enveloped in her days! But for a storm at sea, we
might have been subjected to Spain. By what a system of falsehood and
petty tyrannies were we governed through the reigns of James I. and
Charles I.! What periods of rottenness and danger there have been
since! How little glorious was the reign of Charles II.! how full of
danger that of William! how mean those of the four Georges, with the
dishonesty of ministers such as Walpole and Newcastle! And to-day, are
there not many who are telling us that we are losing the liberties
which our forefathers got for us, and that no judgment can be passed
on us "save one of inexorable and remorseless condemnation?" We are
a great nation, and the present threatenings are probably vain.
Nevertheless, the seeds of decay are no doubt inherent in our policies
and our practices--so manifestly inherent that future historians will
pronounce upon them with certainty.

But Cicero, not having the advantage of distance, having simply in his
mind the knowledge of the greatness which had been achieved, and in
his heart a true love for the country which had achieved it, and
which was his own, encouraged himself to think that the good might
be recovered and the bad eliminated. Marius and Sulla--Pompey
also, toward the end of his career, if I can read his character
rightly--Caesar, and of course Augustus, being all destitute of
scruple, strove to acquire, each for himself, the power which the weak
hands of the Senate were unable to grasp. However much, or however
little, the country of itself might have been to any of them, it
seemed good to him, whether for the country's sake or for his own,
that the rule should be in his own hands. Each had the opportunity,
and each used it, or tried to use it. With Cicero there is always
present the longing to restore the power to the old constitutional
possessors of it. So much is admitted, even by his bitter enemies; and
I am sometimes at a loss whether to wonder most that a man of letters,
dead two thousand years ago, should have enemies so bitter or a friend
so keenly in earnest about him as I am. Cicero was aware quite as well
as any who lived then, if he did not see the matter clearer even than
any others, that there was much that was rotten in the State. Men
who had been murderers on behalf of Marius, and then others who had
murdered on behalf of Sulla--among whom that Catiline, of whom we have
to speak presently, had been one--were not apt to settle themselves
down as quiet citizens. The laws had been set aside. Even the law
courts had been closed. Sulla had been law, and the closests of
his favorites had been the law courts. Senators had been cowed and
obedient. The Tribunes had only been mock Tribunes. Rome, when Cicero
began his public life, was still trembling. The Consuls of the day
were men chosen at Sulla's command. The army was Sulla's army. The
courts were now again opened by Sulla's permission. The day fixed by
Sulla when murderers might no longer murder--or, at any rate, should
not be paid for murdering--had arrived. There was not, one would say,
much hope for good things. But Sulla had reproduced the signs of
order, and the best hope lay in that direction. Consuls, Praetors,
Quaestors, Aediles, even Tribunes, were still there. Perhaps it might
be given to him, to Cicero, to strengthen the hands of such officers.
At any rate, there was no better course open to him by which he could
serve his country.

The heaviest accusation brought against Cicero charges him with being
insincere to the various men with whom he was brought in contact in
carrying out the purpose of his life, and he has also been accused of
having changed his purpose. It has been alleged that, having begun
life as a democrat, he went over to the aristocracy as soon as he had
secured his high office of State. As we go on, it will be my object
to show that he was altogether sincere in his purpose, that he never
changed his political idea, and that, in these deviations as to men
and as to means, whether, for instance, he was ready to serve Caesar
or to oppose him, he was guided, even in the insincerity of his
utterances, by the sincerity of his purpose. I think that I can
remember, even in Great Britain, even in the days of Queen Victoria,
men sitting check by jowl on the same Treasury bench who have been
very bitter to each other with anything but friendly words. With us
fidelity in friendship is, happily, a virtue. In Rome expediency
governed everything. All I claim for Cicero is, that he was more
sincere than others around him.


[52] It was then that the foreign empire commenced, in ruling which
the simplicity and truth of purpose and patriotism of the Republic
were lost.

[53] The reverses of fortune to which Marius was subjected, how he was
buried up to his neck in the mud, hiding in the marshes of Minturne,
how he would have been killed by the traitorous magistrates of that
city but that he quelled the executioners by the fire of his eyes;
how he sat and glowered, a houseless exile, among the ruins of
Carthage--all which things happened to him while he was running from
the partisans of Sulla--are among the picturesque episodes of history.
There is a tragedy called the _Wounds of Civil War_, written by Lodge,
who was born some eight years before Shakspeare, in which the story of
Marius is told with some exquisite poetry, but also with some ludicrous
additions. The Gaul who is hired to kill Marius, but is frightened by
his eyes, talks bad French mingled with bad English, and calls on Jesus
in his horror!

[54] Brutus, ca.xc.

[55] Florus tells us that there were 2000 Senators and Knights, but
that any one was allowed to kill just whom he would. "Quis autem illos
potest computare quos in erbe passim quisquis voluit occidit" (lib.
iii., ca. 21).

[56] About L487 10s. In Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman
Antiquities the Attic talent is given as being worth L243 15s. Mommsen
quotes the price as 12,000 denarii, which would amount to about the
same sum.

[57] Suetonius speaks of his death. Florus mentions the proscriptions
and abdication. Velleius Paterculus is eloquent in describing the
horrors of the massacres and confiscation. Dio Cassius refers again
and again to the Sullan cruelty. But none of them give a reason for
the abdication of Sulla.

[58] Vol.iii., p.386. I quote from Mr. Dickson's translation, as I do
not read German.

[59] In defending Roscius Amerinus, while Sulla was still in power, he
speaks of the Sullan massacres as "pugna Cannensis," a slaughter as
foul, as disgraceful, as bloody as had been the defeat at Canne.

[60] Mommsen, vol.iii., p.385.



[Sidenote: B.C. 80, _aetat._ 27]

We now come to the beginning of the work of Cicero's life. This at
first consisted in his employment as an advocate, from which he
gradually rose into public or political occupation, as so often
happens with a successful barrister in our time. We do not know with
absolute certainty even in what year Cicero began his pleadings, or
in what cause. It may probably have been in 81 B.C., when he was
twenty-five, or in his twenty-sixth year. Of the pleadings of which
we know the particulars, that in the defence of Sextus Roscius Amerinus,
which took place undoubtedly in the year 80 B.C., etat twenty-seven,
was probably the earliest. As to that, we have his speech nearly entire,
as we have also one for Publius Quintius, which has generally been
printed first among the orator's works. It has, however, I think, been
made clear that that spoken for Sextus Roscius came before it. It is
certain that there had been others before either of them. In that for
Sextus he says that he had never spoken before in any public cause,[61]
such as was the accusation in which he was now engaged, from which the
inference has to be made that he had been engaged in private causes;
and in that for Quintius he declares that there was wanting to him in
that matter an aid which he had been accustomed to enjoy in others.[62]
No doubt he had tried his 'prentice hand in cases of less importance.
That of these two the defence of Sextus Roscius came first, is also to
be found in his own words. More than once, in pleading for Quintius, he
speaks of the proscriptions and confiscations of Sulla as evils then
some time past. These were brought nominally to a close in June, 81;
but it has been supposed by those who have placed this oration
first that it was spoken in that very year. This seems to have been
impossible. "I am most unwilling," says he, "to call to mind that
subject, the very memory of which should be wiped out from our
thoughts."[63] When the tone of the two speeches is compared, it will
become evident that that for Sextus Roscius was spoken the first. It
was, as I have said, spoken in his twenty-seventh year, B.C. 80, the
year after the proscription lists had been closed, when Sulla was
still Dictator, and when the sales of confiscated goods, though no
longer legal, were still carried on under assumed authority. As to
such violation of Sulla's own enactment, Cicero excuses the Dictator
in this very speech, likening him to Great Jove the Thunderer. Even
"Jupiter Optimus Maximus," as he is whose nod the heavens, the earth,
and seas obey--even he cannot so look after his numerous affairs but
that the winds and the storms will be too strong sometimes, or the
heat too great, or the cold too bitter. If so, how can we wonder that
Sulla, who has to rule the State, to govern, in fact, the world,
should not be able himself to see to everything? Jove probably found
it convenient not to see many things. Such must certainly have been
the case with Sulla.

I will venture, as other biographers have done before, to tell the
story of Sextus Roscius of Ameria at some length, because it is in
itself a tale of powerful romance, mysterious, grim, betraying guilt
of the deepest dye, misery most profound, and audacity unparalleled;
because, in a word, it is as interesting as any novel that modern
fiction has produced; and also, I will tell it, because it lets in a
flood of light upon the condition of Rome at the time. Our hair is
made to stand on end when we remember that men had to pick their steps
in such a State as this, and to live if it were possible, and, if
not, then to be ready to die. We come in upon the fag-end of the
proscription, and see, not the bloody wreath of Sulla as he triumphed
on his Marian foes, not the cruel persecution of the ruler determined
to establish his order of things by slaughtering every foe, but the
necessary accompaniments of such ruthless deeds--those attendant
villanies for which the Jupiter Optimus Maximus of the day had neither
ears nor eyes. If in history we can ever get a glimpse at the real
life of the people, it is always more interesting than any account of
the great facts, however grand.

The Kalends of June had been fixed by Sulla as the day on which
the slaughter legalized by the proscriptions should cease. In the
September following an old gentleman named Sextus Roscius was murdered
in the streets of Rome as he was going home from supper one night,
attended by two slaves. By whom he was murdered, probably more
than one or two knew then, but nobody knows now. He was a man of
reputation, well acquainted with the Metelluses and Messalas of the
day, and passing rich. His name had been down on no proscription list,
for he had been a friend of Sulla's friends. He was supposed, when he
was murdered, to be worth about six million of sesterces, or something
between fifty and sixty thousand pounds of our money. Though there was
at that time much money in Rome, this amounted to wealth; and though
we cannot say who murdered the man, we may feel sure that he was
murdered for his money.

Immediately on his death his chattels were seized and sold--or
divided, probably, without being sold--including his slaves, in whom,
as with every rich Roman, much of his wealth was invested; and his
landed estates--his farms, of which he had many--were also divided.
As to the actual way in which this was done, we are left much in the
dark. Had the name of Sextus Roscius been on one of the lists, even
though the list would then have been out of date, we could have
understood that it should have been so. Jupiter Optimus Maximus could
not see everything, and great advantages were taken. We must only
suppose that things were so much out of order that they who had been
accustomed to seize upon the goods of the proscribed were able to
stretch their hands so as to grasp almost anything that came in their
way. They could no longer procure a rich man's name to be put down on
the list, but they could pretend that it had been put down. At any
rate, certain persons seized and divided the chattels of the murdered
man as though he had been proscribed.

Old Roscius, when he was killed, had one son, of whom we are told that
he lived always in the country at Ameria, looking after his father's
farms, never visiting the capital, which was distant from Ameria
something under fifty miles; a rough, uncouth, and probably honest
man--one, at any rate, to whom the ways of the city were unknown, and
who must have been but partially acquainted with the doings of the
time.[64] As we read the story, we feel that very much depends on the
character of this man, and we are aware that our only description of
him comes from his own advocate. Cicero would probably say much which,
though beyond the truth, could not be absolutely refuted, but would
state as facts nothing that was absolutely false. Cicero describes him
as a middle-aged man, who never left his farm, doing his duty well
by his father, as whose agent he acted on the land--a simple,
unambitious, ignorant man, to whom one's sympathies are due rather
than our antipathy, because of his devotion to agriculture. He was now
accused of having murdered his father. The accusation was conducted by
one Erucius, who in his opening speech--the speech made before that
by Cicero--had evidently spoken ill of rural employments. Then Cicero
reminds him, and the judges, and the Court how greatly agriculture
had been honored in the old days, when Consuls were taken from the
ploughs. The imagination, however, of the reader pictures to itself
a man who could hardly have been a Consul at any time--one silent,
lonely, uncouth, and altogether separate from the pleasant
intercourses of life. Erucius had declared of him that he never took
part in any festivity. Cicero uses this to show that he was not likely
to have been tempted by luxury to violence. Old Roscius had had two
sons, of whom he had kept one with him in Rome--the one, probably,
whose society had been dearest to him. He, however, had died, and our
Roscius--Sextus Roscius Amerinus, as he came to be called when he was
made famous by the murder--was left on one of the farms down in the
country. The accusation would probably not have been made, had he not
been known to be a man sullen, silent, rough, and unpopular--as to
whom such a murder might be supposed to be credible.

Why should any accusation have been made unless there was clear
evidence as to guilt? That is the first question which presents
itself. This son received no benefit from his father's death. He had
in fact been absolutely beggared by it--had lost the farm, the farming
utensils, every slave in the place, all of which had belonged to his
father, and not to himself. They had been taken, and divided; taken
by persons called "Sectores," informers or sequestrators, who took
possession of and sold--or did not sell--confiscated goods. Such men
in this case had pounced down upon the goods of the murdered man at
once and swallowed them all up, not leaving an acre or a slave to our
Roscius. Cicero tells us who divided the spoil among them. There were
two other Rosciuses, distant relatives, probably, both named Titus;
Titus Roscius Magnus, who sojourned in Rome, and who seems to have
exercised the trade of informer and assassin during the proscriptions,
and Titus Roscius Capito, who, when at home, lived at Ameria, but of
whom Cicero tells us that he had become an apt pupil of the other
during this affair. They had got large shares, but they shared also
with one Chrysogonus, the freedman and favorite of Sulla, who did the
dirty work for Jupiter Optimus Maximus when Jupiter Optimus Maximus
had not time to do it himself. We presume that Chrysogonus had the
greater part of the plunder. As to Capito, the apt pupil, we are told
again and again that he got three farms for himself.

Again, it is necessary to say that all these facts come from Cicero,
who, in accordance with the authorized practice of barristers, would
scruple at saying nothing which he found in his instructions. How
instructions were conveyed to an advocate in those days we do not
quite know. There was no system of attorneys. But the story was
probably made out for the "patronus" or advocate by an underling,
and in some way prepared for him. That which was thus prepared he
exaggerated as the case might seem to require. It has to be understood
of Cicero that he possessed great art and, no doubt, great audacity
in such exaggeration; in regard to which we should certainly not bear
very heavily upon him now, unless we are prepared to bear more heavily
upon those who do the same thing in our own enlightened days. But
Cicero, even as a young man, knew his business much too well to put
forward statements which could be disproved. The accusation came
first; then the speech in defence; after that the evidence, which was
offered only on the side of the accuser, and which was subject to
cross-examination. Cicero would have no opportunity of producing
evidence. He was thus exempted from the necessity of proving his
statements, but was subject to have them all disproved. I think we may
take it for granted that the property of the murdered man was divided
as he tells us.

If that was so, why should any accusation have been made? Our Sextus
seems to have been too much crushed by the dangers of his position to
have attempted to get back any part of his father's wealth. He had
betaken himself to the protection of a certain noble lady, one
Metella, whose family had been his father's friends, and by her and
her friends the defence was no doubt managed. "You have my farms," he
is made to say by his advocate; "I live on the charity of another. I
abandon everything because I am placid by nature, and because it must
be so. My house, which is closed to me, is open to you: I endure it.
You have possessed yourself of my whole establishment; I have not one
single slave. I suffer all this, and feel that I must suffer it. What
do you want more? Why do you persecute me further? In what do you
think that I shall hurt you? How do I interfere with you? In what do I
oppose you? Is it your wish to kill a man for the sake of plunder? You
have your plunder. If for the sake of hatred, what hatred can you feel
against him of whose land you have taken possession before you had
even known him?"[65] Of all this, which is the advocate's appeal to
pity, we may believe as little as we please. Cicero is addressing the
judge, and desires only an acquittal. But the argument shows that no
overt act in quest of restitution had as yet been made. Nevertheless,
Chrysogonus feared such action, and had arranged with the two Tituses
that something should be done to prevent it. What are we to think of
the condition of a city in which not only could a man be murdered for
his wealth walking home from supper--that, indeed, might happen in
London if there existed the means of getting at the man's money when
the man was dead--but in which such a plot could be concerted in order
that the robbery might be consummated?

"We have murdered the man and taken his money under the false
plea that his goods had been confiscated. Friends, we find, are
interfering--these Metellas and Metelluses, probably. There is a son
who is the natural heir. Let us say that he killed his own father. The
courts of law, which have only just been reopened since the dear days
of proscription, disorder, and confiscation, will hardly yet be alert
enough to acquit a man in opposition to the Dictator's favorite. Let
us get him convicted, and, as a parricide, sewed up alive in a bag and
thrown into the river"--as some of us have perhaps seen cats drowned,
for such was the punishment--"and then he at least will not disturb
us." It must have thus been that the plot was arranged.

It was a plot so foul that nothing could be fouler; but not the less
was it carried out persistently with the knowledge and the assistance
of many. Erucius, the accuser, who seems to have been put forward on
the part of Chrysogonus, asserted that the man had caused his father
to be murdered because of hatred. The father was going to disinherit
the son, and therefore the son murdered the father. In this there
might have been some probability, had there been any evidence of such
an intention on the father's part. But there was none. Cicero declares
that the father had never thought of disinheriting his son. There
had been no quarrel, no hatred. This had been assumed as a reason
--falsely. There was in fact no cause for such a deed; nor was it
possible that the son should have done it. The father was killed in
Rome when, as was evident, the son was fifty miles off. He never left
his farm. Erucius, the accuser, had said, and had said truly, that
Rome was full of murderers.[66] But who was the most likely to have
employed such a person: this rough husbandman, who had no intercourse
with Rome, who knew no one there, who knew little of Roman ways, who
had nothing to get by the murder when committed, or they who had long
been concerned with murderers, who knew Rome, and who were now found
to have the property in their hands?

The two slaves who had been with the old man when he was killed,
surely they might tell something? Here there comes out incidentally
the fact that slaves when they were examined as witnesses were
tortured, quite as a matter of course, so that their evidence might be
extracted. This is spoken of with no horror by Cicero, nor, as far
as I can remember, by other Roman writers. It was regarded as an
established rule of life that a slave, if brought into a court of
law, should be made to tell the truth by such appliances. This was so
common that one is tempted to hope, and almost to suppose that the
"question" was not ordinarily administered with circumstances of
extreme cruelty. We hear, indeed, of slaves having their liberty given
them in order that, being free, they may not be forced by torture to
tell the truth;[67] but had the cruelty been of the nature described
by Scott in "Old Mortality," when the poor preacher's limbs were
mangled, I think we should have heard more of it. Nor was the torture
always applied, but only when the expected evidence was not otherwise
forth-coming. Cicero explains, in the little dialogue given below, how
the thing was carried on.[68] "You had better tell the truth now, my
friend: Was it so and so?" The slave knows that, if he says it was so,
there is the cross for him, or the "little horse;" but that, if he
will say the contrary, he will save his joints from racking. And yet
the evidence went for what it was worth.

In this case of Roscius there had certainly been two slaves present;
but Cicero, who, as counsel for the defence, could call no witnesses,
had not the power to bring them into court; nor could slaves have been
made to give evidence against their masters. These slaves, who
had belonged to the murdered man, were now the property either of
Chrysogonus or of the two Tituses. There was no getting at their
evidence but by permission of their masters, and this was withheld.
Cicero demands that they shall be produced, knowing that the demand
will have no effect. "The man here," he says, pointing to the accused,
"asks for it, prays for it. What will you do in this case? Why do you

By this time the reader is brought to feel that the accused person
cannot possibly have been guilty; and if the reader, how much more the
hearer? Then Cicero goes on to show who in truth were guilty. "Doubt
now if you can, judges, by whom Roscius was killed: whether by him
who, by his father's death, is plunged into poverty and trouble--who
is forbidden even to investigate the truth--or by those who are afraid
of real evidence, who themselves possess the plunder, who live in the
midst of murder, and on the proceeds of murder."[70]

Then he addresses one of the Tituses, Titus Magnus, who seems to have
been sitting in the court, and who is rebuked for his impudence in
doing so: "Who can doubt who was the murderer--you who have got all
the plunder, or this man who has lost everything? But if it be added
to this that you were a pauper before--that you have been known as a
greedy fellow, as a dare-devil, as the avowed enemy of him who has
been killed--then need one ask what has brought you to do such a deed
as this?"[71]

He next tells what took place, as far as it was known, immediately
after the murder. The man had been killed coming home from supper, in
September, after it was dark, say at eight or nine o'clock, and the
fact was known in Ameria before dawn. Travelling was not then very
quick; but a messenger, one Mallius Glaucia, a man on very close terms
with Titus Magnus, was sent down at once in a light gig to travel
through the night and take the information to Titus Capito Why was all
this hurry? How did Glaucia hear of the murder so quickly? What cause
to travel all through the night? Why was it necessary that Capito
should know all about it at once? "I cannot think," says Cicero, "only
that I see that Capito has got three of the farms out of the thirteen
which the murdered man owned!" But Capito is to be produced as a witness,
and Cicero gives us to understand what sort of cross-examination he will
have to undergo.

In all this the reader has to imagine much, and to come to conclusions
as to facts of which he has no evidence. When that hurried messenger
was sent, there was probably no idea of accusing the son. The two real
contrivers of the murder would have been more on their guard had they
intended such a course. It had been conceived that when the man was
dead and his goods seized, the fear of Sulla's favorite, the still
customary dread of the horrors of the time, would cause the son to
shrink from inquiry. Hitherto, when men had been killed and their goods
taken, even if the killing and the taking had not been done strictly in
accordance with Sulla's ordinance, it had been found safer to be silent
and to endure; but this poor wretch, Sextus, had friends in Rome--friends
who were friends of Sulla--of whom Chrysogonus and the Tituses had
probably not bethought themselves. When it came to pass that more stir
was made than they had expected, then the accusation became necessary.

But, in order to obtain the needed official support and aid, Chrysogonus
must be sought. Sulla was then at Volaterra, in Etruria perhaps 150 miles
north-west from Rome, and with him was his favorite Chrysogonus. In four
days from the time of this murder the news was earned thither, and, so
Cicero states, by the same messenger--by Glaucia--who had taken it to
Ameria. Chrysogonus immediately saw to the selling of the goods, and from
this Cicero implies that Chrysogonus and the two Tituses were in partner-

But it seems that when the fact of the death of old Roscius was known
at Ameria--at which place he was an occasional resident himself, and
the most conspicuous man in the place--the inhabitants, struck with
horror, determined to send a deputation to Sulla. Something of what
was being done with their townsman's property was probably known,
and there seems to have been a desire for justice. Ten townsmen were
chosen to go to Sulla, and to beg that he would personally look into
the matter. Here, again, we are very much in the dark, because this
very Capito, to whom these farms were allotted as his share, was not
only chosen to be one of the ten, but actually became their spokesman
and their manager. The great object was to keep Sulla himself in the
dark, and this Capito managed to do by the aid of Chrysogonus. None
of the ten were allowed to see Sulla. They are hoaxed into believing
that Chrysogonus himself will look to it, and so they go back to
Ameria, having achieved nothing. We are tempted to believe that the
deputation was a false deputation, each of whom probably had his
little share, so that in this way there might be an appearance of
justice. If it was so, Cicero has not chosen to tell that part of
the story, having, no doubt, some good advocate's reason for omitting

So far the matter had gone with the Tituses, and with Chrysogonus who
had got his lion's share. Our poor Roscius, the victim, did at first
abandon his property, and allow himself to be awed into silence. We
cannot but think that he was a poor creature, and can fancy that
he had lived a wretched life during all the murders of the Sullan
proscriptions. But in his abject misery he had found his way up among
the great friends of his family at Rome, and had there been charged
with the parricide, because Chrysogonus and the Tituses began to be
afraid of what these great friends might do.

This is the story as Cicero has been able to tell it in hiss speech.
Beyond that, we only know that the man was acquitted. Whether he got
back part of his father's property there is nothing to inform us.
Whether further inquiry was made as to the murder; whether evil befell
those two Tituses or Chrysogonus was made to disgorge, there has been
no one to inform us. The matter was of little importance in Rome,
where murders and organized robberies of the kind were the common
incidents of every-day life. History would have meddled with nothing
so ordinary had not it happened that the case fell into the hands of a
man so great a master of his language that it has been worth the while
of ages to perpetuate the speech which he made in the matter. But the
story, as a story of Roman life, is interesting, and it gives a slight
aid to history in explaining the condition of things which Sulla had

The attack upon Chrysogonus is bold, and cannot but have been
offensive to Sulla, though Sulla is by name absolved from immediate
blame. Chrysogonus himself, the favorite, he does not spare, saying
words so bitter of tone that one would think that the judges--Sulla's
judges--would have stopped him, had they been able. "Putting aside
Sextus Roscius," he says, "I demand, first of all, why the goods of an
esteemed citizen were sold; then, why have the goods been sold of one
who had not himself been proscribed, and who had not been killed while
defending Sulla's enemies? It is against those only that the law is
made. Then I demand why they were sold when the legal day for such
sales had passed, and why they were sold for such a trifle."[72] Then
he gives us a picture of Chrysogonus flaunting down the streets. "You
have seen him, judges, how, his locks combed and perfumed, he swims
along the Forum "--he, a freedman, with a crowd of Roman citizens
at his heels, that all may see that he thinks himself inferior to
none--"the only happy man of the day, the only one with any power in
his hands."[73]

This trial was, as has been said, a "causa publica," a criminal
accusation of such importance as to demand that it should be tried
before a full bench of judges. Of these the number would be uncertain,
but they were probably above fifty. The Preter of the day--the Preter
to whom by lot had fallen for that year that peculiar duty--presided,
and the judges all sat round him. Their duty seems to have consisted
in listening to the pleadings, and then in voting. Each judge could
vote[74] "guilty," "acquitted," or "not proven," as they do in
Scotland. They were, in fact, jurymen rather than judges. It does not
seem that any amount of legal lore was looked for specially in the
judges, who at different periods had been taken from various orders
of the citizens, but who at this moment, by a special law enacted by
Sulla, were selected only from the Senators. We have ample evidence
that at this period the judges in Rome were most corrupt. They were
tainted by a double corruption: that of standing by their order
instead of standing by the public--each man among them feeling that
his turn to be accused might come--and that also of taking direct
bribes. Cicero on various occasions--on this, for instance, and
notably in the trial of Verres, to which we shall come soon--felt
very strongly that his only means of getting a true verdict from the
majority of judges was to frighten them into temporary honesty by the
magnitude of the occasion. If a trial could be slurred through with
indifferent advocates, with nothing to create public notice, with no
efforts of genius to attract admiration, and a large attendance and
consequent sympathy the judgment would, as a matter of course, be
bought. In such a case as this of Sextus Roscius, the poor wretch
would be condemned, sewed up in his bag, and thrown into the sea, a
portion of the plunder would be divided among the judges, and nothing
further would be said about it. But if an orator could achieve for
himself such a reputation that the world would come and listen to him,
if he could so speak that Rome should be made to talk about the trial,
then might the judges be frightened into a true verdict. It may
be understood, therefore, of what importance it was to obtain the
services of a Cicero, or of a Hortensius, who was unrivalled at the
Roman bar when Cicero began to plead.

There were three special modes of oratory in which Cicero displayed
his powers. He spoke either before the judges--a large body of
judges who sat collected round the Praetor, as in the case of Sextus
Roscius--or in cases of civil law before a single judge, selected by
the Praetor, who sat with an assessor, as in the case of Roscius the
actor, which shall be mentioned just now. This was the recognized work
of his life, in which he was engaged, at any rate, in his earlier
years; or he spoke to the populace, in what was called the Concio, or
assembly of the people--speeches made before a crowd called together
for a special purpose, as were the second and third orations against
Catiline; or in the Senate, in which a political rather than a
judicial sentence was sought from the votes of the Senators. There was
a fourth mode of address, which in the days of the Emperors became
common, when the advocate spoke "ad Principem;" that is, to the
Emperor himself, or to some ruler acting for him as sole judge. It
was thus that Cicero pleaded before Caesar for Ligarius and for
King Deiotarus, in the latter years of his life. In each of these a
separate manner and a distinct line had to be adopted, in all of which
he seems to have been equally happy, and equally powerful. In judging
of his speeches, we are bound to remember that they were not probably
uttered with their words arranged as we read them. Some of those we
have were never spoken at all, as was the case with the five last
Verrene orations, and with the second, by far the longest of the
Philippics. Some, as was specially the case with the defence of Milo,
the language of which is perhaps as perfect as that of any oration
which has reached us from ancient or modern days, were only spoken
in part; so that that which we read bears but small relation to that
which was heard. All were probably retouched for publication.[75] That
words so perfect in their construction should have flowed from a man's
mouth, often with but little preparation, we cannot conceive. But
we know from the evidence of the day, and from the character which
remained of him through after Roman ages, how great was the immediate
effect of his oratory. We can imagine him, in this case of Sextus
Roscius, standing out in the open air in the Forum, with the movable
furniture of the court around him, the seats on which the judges sat
with the Praetor in the midst of them, all Senators in their white
robes, with broad purple borders. There too were seated, we may
suppose on lower benches, the friends of the accused and the
supporters of the accusation, and around, at the back of the orator,
was such a crowd as he by the character of his eloquence may have
drawn to the spot. Cicero was still a young man; but his name had made
itself known and we can imagine that some tidings had got abroad as
to the bold words which would be spoken in reference to Sulla and
Chrysogonus. The scene must have been very different from that of one
of our dingy courts, in which the ermine is made splendid only by the
purity and learning of the man who wears it. In Rome all exterior
gifts were there. Cicero knew how to use them, so that the judges
who made so large a part in the pageant should not dare to disgrace
themselves because of its publicity. Quintilian gives his pupils much
advice as to the way in which they should dress themselves[76] and
hold their togas--changing the folds of the garment so as to suit the
different parts of the speech--how they should move their arms, and
hold their heads, and turn their necks; even how they should comb
their hair when they came to stand in public and plead at the bar. All
these arts, with many changes, no doubt, as years rolled on, had come
down to him from days before Cicero; but he always refers to Cicero as
though his were the palmy days of Roman eloquence. We can well believe
that Cicero had studied many of these arts by his twenty-seventh
year--that he knew how to hold his toga and how to drop it--how to
make the proper angle with his elbow--how to comb his hair, and yet
not be a fop--and to add to the glory of his voice all the personal
graces which were at his command. Sextus Roscius Amerinus, with all
his misfortunes, injustices, and miseries, is now to us no more than
the name of a fable; but to those who know it, the fable is, I think,
more attractive than most novels.

We know that Cicero pleaded other causes before he went to Greece in
the year 79 B.C., especially those for Publius Quintius, of which we
have his speech, and that for a lady of Arretium, in which he defended
her right to be regarded as a free woman of that city. In this speech
he again attacked Sulla, the rights of the lady in question having
been placed in jeopardy by an enactment made by the Dictator; and
again Cicero was successful. This is not extant. Then he started on
his travels, as to which I have already spoken. While he was absent
Sulla died, and the condition of the Republic during his absence was
anything but hopeful. Lepidus was Consul during these two years, than
whom no weaker officer ever held rule in Rome--or rebelled against
Rome; and Sertorius, who was in truth a great man, was in arms against
Rome in Spain, as a rebel, though he was in truth struggling to create
a new Roman power, which should be purer than that existing in Italy.
What Cicero thought of the condition of his country at this time we
have no means of knowing. If he then wrote letters, they have not been
preserved. His spoken words speak plainly enough of the condition
of the courts of law, and let us know how resolved he was to oppose
himself to their iniquities. A young man may devote himself to
politics with as much ardor as a senior, but he cannot do so if he
be intent on a profession. It is only when his business is so well
grasped by him as to sit easily on him, that he is able to undertake
the second occupation.

There is a rumor that Cicero, when he returned home from Greece,
thought for awhile of giving himself up to philosophy, so that he
was called Greek and Sophist in ridicule. It is not, however, to be
believed that he ever for a moment abandoned the purpose he had formed
for his own career. It will become evident as we go on with his life,
that this so-called philosophy of the Greeks was never to him a matter
of more than interesting inquiry. A full, active, human life, in which
he might achieve for himself all the charms of high rank, gilded by
intelligence, erudition, and refined luxury, in which also he might
serve his country, his order, and his friends--just such a life as our
leading men propose to themselves here, to-day, in our country--this
is what Cicero had determined to achieve from his earliest years, and
it was not likely that he should be turned from it by the pseudo logic
of Greek philosophers, That the logic even of the Academy was false to
him we have ample evidence, not only in his life but in his writings.
There is a story that, during his travels, he consulted the oracle at
Delphi as to his future career, and that on being told that he must
look to his own genius and not to the opinion of the world at large,
he determined to abandon the honors of the Republic. That he should
have talked among the young men of the day of his philosophic
investigations till they laughed at him and gave him a nickname, may
be probable, but it cannot have been that he ever thought of giving up
the bar.

In the year of his return to Rome, when he was thirty, he married
Terentia, a noble lady, of whom we are informed that she had a good
fortune, and that her sister was one of the Vestal Virgins.[77] Her
nobility is inferred from the fact that the virgins were, as a rule,
chosen from the noble families, though the law required only that they
should be the daughters of free parents, and of persons engaged in no
mean pursuits. As to the more important question of Terentia's fortune
there has never been a doubt. Plutarch, however, does not make it out
to have been very great, assuming a sum which was equal to about L4200
of our money. He tells us at the same time that Cicero's own fortune
was less than L4000. But in both of these statements, Plutarch, who
was forced to take his facts where he could get them, and was not very
particular in his authority, probably erred. The early education of
Cicero, and the care taken to provide him with all that money could
purchase, is, I think, conclusive of his father's wealth; and the mode
of life adopted by Cicero shows that at no period did he think it
necessary to live as men do live with small incomes.

We shall find, as we go on, that he spent his money freely, as men did
at Rome who had the command of large means. We are aware that he was
often in debt. We find that from his letters. But he owed money not as
a needy man does, but as one who is speculative, sanguine, and quite
confident of his own resources. The management of incomes was not so
fixed a thing then as it is with us now. Speculation was even more
rampant, and rising men were willing and were able to become indebted
for enormous sums, having no security to offer but the promise of
their future career. Caesar's debts during various times of his life
were proverbial. He is said to have owed over L300,000 before he
reached his first step in the public employment. Cicero rushed into no
such danger as this. We know, indeed, that when the time came to him
for public expenditure on a great scale, as, for instance, when he was
filling the office of Aedile, he kept within bounds, and he did not
lavish money which he did not possess. We know also that he refrained,
altogether refrained, from the iniquitous habits of making large
fortunes which were open to the great politicians of the Republic. To
be Quaestor that he might be Aedile, Aedile that he might be Praetor
and Consul, and Praetor and Consul that he might rob a province--pillage
Sicily, Spain, or Asia, and then at last come back a rich man, rich
enough to cope with all his creditors, and to bribe the judges should
he be accused for his misdeeds--these were the usual steps to take by
enterprising Romans toward power, wealth, and enjoyment. But it will be
observed, in this sequence of circumstances, the robbery of the province
was essential to success. This was sometimes done after so magnificent
a fashion as to have become an immortal fact in history. The instance of
Verres will be narrated in the next chapter but one. Something of
moderation was more general, so that the fleeced provincial might still
live, and prefer sufferance to the doubtful chances of recovery. A Pro-
consul might rob a great deal, and still return with hands apparently
clean, bringing with him a score of provincial Deputies to laud his
goodness before the citizens at home. But Cicero robbed not at all.
Even they who have been most hard upon his name, accusing him of
insincerity and sometimes of want of patriotism, because his Roman
mode of declaring himself without reserve in his letters has been
perpetuated for us by the excellence of their language, even they have
acknowledged that he kept his hands studiously clean in the service of
his country, when to have clean hands was so peculiar as to be regarded
as absurd.

There were other means in which a noble Roman might make money, and
might do so without leaving the city. An orator might be paid for his
services as an advocate. Cicero, had such a trade been opened to him,
might have made almost any sum to which his imagination could have
stretched itself. Such a trade was carried on to a very great extent.
It was illegal, such payment having been forbidden by the "Lex Cincia
De Muneribus," passed more than a century before Cicero began his
pleadings.[78] But the law had become a dead letter in the majority
of cases. There can be no doubt that Hortensius, the predecessor and
great rival of Cicero, took presents, if not absolute payment. Indeed,
the myth of honorary work, which is in itself absurd, was no more
practicable in Rome than it has been found to be in England, where
every barrister is theoretically presumed to work for nothing. That
the "Lex Cincia," as far as the payment of advocates went, was absurd,
may be allowed by us all. Services for which no regular payment can be
exacted will always cost more than those which have a defined price.
But Cicero would not break the law. It has been hinted rather than
stated that he, like other orators of the day, had his price. He
himself tells us that he took nothing; and no instance has been
adduced that he had ever done so. He is free enough in accusing
Hortensius of having accepted a beautiful statuette, an ivory sphinx
of great value. What he knew of Hortensius, Hortensius would have
known of him, had it been there to know; and what Hortensius or others
had heard would certainly have been told. As far as we can learn,
there is no ground for accusing Cicero of taking fees or presents
beyond the probability that he would do so. I think we are justified
in believing that he did not do so, because those who watched his
conduct closely found no opportunity of exposing him. That he was paid
by different allied States for undertaking their protection in the
Senate, is probable, such having been a custom not illegal. We know
that he was specially charged with the affairs of Dyrrachium, and
had probably amicable relations with other allied communities. This,
however, must have been later in life, when his name was sufficiently
high to insure the value of his services, and when he was a Senator.

Noble Romans also--noble as they were, and infinitely superior to the
little cares of trade--were accustomed to traffic very largely in
usury. We shall have a terrible example of such baseness on the part
of Brutus--that Brutus whom we have been taught to regard as almost
on a par with Cato in purity. To lend money to citizens, or more
profitably to allied States and cities, at enormous rates of interest,
was the ordinary resource of a Roman nobleman in quest of revenue. The
allied city, when absolutely eaten to the bone by one noble Roman,
who had plundered it as Proconsul or Governor, would escape from its
immediate embarrassment by borrowing money from another noble Roman,
who would then grind its very bones in exacting his interest and his
principal. Cicero, in the most perfect of his works--the treatise De
Officiis, an essay in which he instructs his son as to the way in
which a man should endeavor to live so as to be a gentleman--inveighs
both against trade and usury. When he tells us that they are to be
accounted mean who buy in order that they may sell, we, with our later
lights, do not quite agree with him, although he founds his assertion
on an idea which is too often supported by the world's practice,
namely, that men cannot do a retail business profitably without
lying.[79] The doctrine, however, has always been common that retail
trade is not compatible with noble bearing, and was practised by all
Romans who aspired to be considered among the upper classes. That
other and certainly baser means of making money by usury was, however,
only too common. Crassus, the noted rich man of Rome in Caesar's day,
who was one of the first Triumvirate, and who perished ignominiously
in Parthia, was known to have gathered much of his wealth by such
means. But against this Cicero is as staunchly severe as against
shopkeeping. "First of all," he says, "these profits are despicable
which incur the hatred of men, such as those of gatherers of custom
and lenders of money on usury."[80]

Again, we are entitled to say that Cicero did not condescend to enrich
himself by the means which he himself condemns, because, had he done
so, the accusations made against him by his contemporaries would have
reached our ears. Nor is it probable that a man in addressing his son
as to rules of life would have spoken against a method of gathering
riches which, had he practised it himself, must have been known to his
son. His rules were severe as compared with the habits of the time.
His dear friend Atticus did not so govern his conduct, or Brutus, who,
when he wrote the De Officiis, was only less dear to him than Atticus.
But Cicero himself seems to have done so faithfully. We learn from his
letter that he owned house-property in Rome to a considerable extent,
having probably thus invested his own money or that of his wife. He
inherited also the family house at Arpinum. He makes it a matter for
boasting that he had received in the course of his life by legacies
nearly L200,000 (twenty million sesterces), in itself a source of
great income, and one common with Romans of high position.[81] Of the
extent of his income it is impossible to speak, or even make a guess.
But we do know that he lived always as a rich man--as one who regards
such a condition of life as essentially proper to him; and that though
he was often in debt, as was customary with noble Romans, he could
always write about his debts in a vein of pleasantry, showing that
they were not a heavy burden to him; and we know that he could at all
times command for himself villas, books, statues, ornaments, columns,
galleries, charming shades, and all the delicious appendages of
mingled wealth and intelligence. He was as might be some English
marquis, who, though up to his eyes in mortgages, is quite sure that
he will never want any of the luxuries befitting a marquis. Though we
have no authority to tell us how his condition of life became what it
was, it is necessary that we should understand that condition if we
are to get a clear insight into his life. Of that condition we have
ample evidence. He commenced his career as a youth upon whose behalf
nothing was spared, and when he settled himself in Rome, with the
purport of winning for himself the highest honors of the Republic, he
did so with the means of living like a nobleman.

But the point on which it is most necessary to insist is this: that
while so many--I may almost say all around him in his own order--were
unscrupulous as to their means of getting money, he kept his hands
clean. The practice then was much as it is now. A gentleman in our
days is supposed to have his hands clean; but there has got abroad
among us a feeling that, only let a man rise high enough, soil will
not stick to him. To rob is base; but if you rob enough, robbery will
become heroism, or, at any rate, magnificence. With Caesar his debts
have been accounted happy audacity; his pillage of Gaul and Spain, and
of Rome also, have indicated only the success of the great General;
his cruelty, which in cold-blooded efficiency has equalled if not
exceeded the blood-thirstiness of any other tyrant, has been called
clemency.[82] I do not mean to draw a parallel between Caesar and
Cicero. No two men could have been more different in their natures
or in their career. But the one has been lauded because he was
unscrupulous, and the other has incurred reproach because, at every
turn and twist in his life, scruples dominated him. I do not say that
he always did what he thought to be right. A man who doubts much can
never do that. The thing that was right to him in the thinking became
wrong to him in the doing. That from which he has shrunk as evil when
it was within his grasp, takes the color of good when it has been
beyond his reach. Cicero had not the stuff in him to rule the Rome and
the Romans of his period; but he was a man whose hands were free from
all stain, either of blood or money; and for so much let him, at any
rate, have the credit.

Between the return of Cicero to Rome in 77 B.C. and his election as
Quaestor in 75, in which period he married Terentia, he made various
speeches in different causes, of which only one remains to us, or
rather, a small part of one. This is notable as having been spoken in
behalf of that Roscius, the great comic actor, whose name has become
familiar to us on account of his excellence, almost as have those of
Garrick, of Siddons, and of Talma. It was a pleading as to the value
of a slave, and the amount of pecuniary responsibility attaching to
Roscius on account of the slave, who had been murdered when in his
charge. As to the murder, no question is made. The slave was valuable,
and the injury done to his master was a matter of importance. He,
having been a slave, could have no stronger a claim for an injury done
to himself than would a dog or a horse. The slave, whose name was
Panurge--a name which has since been made famous as having been
borrowed by Rabelais, probably from this occurrence, and given to
his demon of mischief--showed aptitude for acting, and was therefore
valuable. Then one Flavius killed him; why or how we do not know; and,
having killed him, settled with Roscius for the injury by giving him
a small farm. But Roscius had only borrowed or hired the man from one
Chaerea--or was in partnership with Chaerea as to the man--and on
that account paid something out of the value of the farm for the loss
incurred; but the owner was not satisfied, and after a lapse of time
made a further claim. Hence arose the action, in pleading which Cicero
was successful. In the fragment we have of the speech there is nothing
remarkable except the studied clearness of the language; but it
reminds us of the opinion which Cicero had expressed of this actor
in the oration which he made for Publius Quintius, who was the
brother-in-law of Roscius. "He is such an actor," says Cicero, "that
there is none other on the stage worthy to be seen; and such a man
that among men he is the last that should have become an actor."[83]
The orator's praise of the actor is not of much importance. Had not
Roscius been great in his profession, his name would not have come
down to later ages. Nor is it now matter of great interest that the
actor should have been highly praised as a man by his advocate; but it
is something for us to know that the stage was generally held in such
low repute as to make it seem to be a pity that a good man should have
taken himself to such a calling.

In the year 76 B.C. Cicero became father of a daughter, whom we shall
know as Tullia--who, as she grew up, became the one person whom he
loved best in all the world--and was elected Quaestor. Cicero tells
us of himself that in the preceding year he had solicited the
Quaestorship, when Cotta was candidate for the Consulship and
Hortensius for the Praetorship. There are in the dialogue De Claris
Oratoribus--which has had the name of Brutus always given to it--some
passages in which the orator tells us more of himself than in any
other of his works. I will annex a translation of a small portion
because of its intrinsic interest; but I will relegate it to an
appendix, because it is too long either for insertion in the text or
for a note.[84]


[61] Pro Sexto Roscio, ca.xxi.: "Quod antea causam publicam nullam
dixerim." He says also in the Brutus, ca. xc., "Itaque prima causa
publica, pro Sex. Roscio dicta." By "publica causa" he means a
criminal accusation in distinction from a civil action.

[62] Pro Publio Quintio, ca.i: "Quod mihi consuevit in ceteris causis
esse adjumento, id quoque in hac causa deficit."

[63] Pro Publio Quintio, ca.xxi: "Nolo eam rem commemorando renovare,
cujus omnino rei memoriam omnem tolli funditus ac deleri arbitor

[64] Pro Roscio, ca.xlix. Cicero says of him that he would be sure to
suppose that anything would have been done according to law of which
he should be told that it was done by Sulla's order. "Putat homo
imperitus noram, agricola et rusticus, ista omnia, que vos per Sullam
gesta esse diciis, more, lege, jure gentium facta."

[65] Pro Sexto Roscio, ca.1.

[66] Pro Sexto Roscio, ca.xxix.: "Ejusmodi tempus erat, inquit, ut
homines vulgo impune occiderentur."

[67] Pro T. A. Milone, ca.xxi.: "Cur igitur cos manumisit? Metuebat
scilicit ne indicarent; ne dolorem perferre non possent."

[68] Pro T. A. Milone, ca.xxii.: "Heus tu, Ruscio, verbi gratia,
cave sis mentiaris. Clodius insidias fecit Miloni? Fecit. Certa crux.
Nullas fecit. Sperata libertas."

[69] Pro Sexto Roscio, ca.xxviii.

[70] Ibid.

[71] Ibid, ca.xxxi.

[72] Pro Sexto Roscio, ca.xlv.

[73] Pro Sexto Roscio, ca.xlvi. The whole picture of Chrysogonus, of
his house, of his luxuries, and his vanity, is too long for quotation,
but is worth referring to by those who wish to see how bold and how
brilliant Cicero could be.

[74] They put in tablets of wax, on which they recorded their
judgement by inscribing letter, C, A, or NL--Condemno, Absolvo, or Non
liquent--intending to show that the means of coming to a decision did
not seem to be sufficient.

[75] Quintilian tells us, lib.x., ca.vii., that Cicero's speeches as
they had come to his day had been abridged--by which he probably means
only arranged--by Tiro, his slave and secretary and friend. "Nam
Ciceronis ad praesens modo tempus aptatos libertus Tiro contraxit."

[76] Quintilian, lib.xi., ca.iii.: "Nam et toga, et calecus, et
capillus, tam nimia cura, quam negligentia, sunt reprehendenda."
----"Sinistrum brachium eo usque allevandum est, ut quasi normalem
illum angulum faciat." Quint., lib.xii., ca.x., "ne hirta toga sit;"
don't let the toga be rumpled; "non serica:" the silk here interdicted
was the silk of effeminacy, not that silk of authority of which our
barristers are proud. "Ne intonsum caput; non in gradus atque annulos
comptum." It would take too much space were I to give here all the
lessons taught by this professor of deportment as to the wearing of
the toga.

[77] A doubt has been raised whether he was not married when he went
to Greece, as otherwise his daughter would seem to have become a wife
earlier than is probable. The date, however, has been generally given
as it is stated here.

[78] Tacitus, Annal., xl, 5, says, "Qua cavetiur antiquitus, ne quis,
ob causam orandam, pecuniam donumve accipiat."

[79] De Off, lib.i., ca.xlii.: "Sordidi etiam putandi, qui mercantur
a mercatoribus, quod statim vendant. Nihil enim proficiunt, nisi
admodum mentiantur."

[80] De Off, lib.i, ca.xlii.: "Primum improbantur ii quaestus, qui in
odia hominum incurrant: ut portitorum ut foeneratorum." The Portitores
were inferior collectors of certain dues, stationed at seaports, who
are supposed to have been extremely vexatious in their dealings with
the public.

[81] Philipp, 11-16.

[82] Let any who doubt this statement refer to the fate of the
inhabitants of Alesia and Uxellodunum. Caesar did not slay or torture
for the sake of cruelty, but was never deterred by humanity when
expediency seemed to him to require victims. Men and women, old and
young, many or few, they were sacrificed without remorse if his
purpose required it.

[83] Pro Pub. Quintio, ca.xxv.

[84] See Appendix B, Brutus, ca.xcii., xciii.



Cicero was elected Quaestor in his thirtieth year, B.C. 76. He was
then nearly thirty-one. His predecessors and rivals at the bar, Cotta
and Hortensius, were elected Consul and Praetor, respectively, in the
same year. To become Quaestor at the earliest age allowed by the law
(at thirty-one, namely) was the ambition of the Roman advocate who
purposed to make his fortune by serving the State. To act as Quaestor
in his thirty-second year, Aedile in his thirty-seventh, Praetor in
his forty-first, and Consul in his forty-fourth year, was to achieve,
in the earliest succession allowed by law, all the great offices of
trust, power, and future emolument. The great reward of proconsular
rapine did not generally come till after the last step, though
there were notable instances in which a Propraetor with proconsular
authority could make a large fortune, as we shall learn when we come
to deal with Verres, and though Aediles, and even Quaestors, could
find pickings. It was therefore a great thing for a man to begin as
early as the law would permit, and to lose as few years as possible in
reaching the summit. Cicero lost none. As he himself tells us in the
passage to which I have referred in the last chapter, and which is to
be found in the Appendix, he gained the good-will of men--that is, of
free Romans who had the suffrage, and who could therefore vote either
for him or against him--by the assiduity of his attention to the cases
which he undertook, and by a certain brilliancy of speech which was
new to them.[85] Putting his hand strenuously to the plough, allowing
himself to be diverted by none of those luxuries to which Romans
of his day were so wont to give way, he earned his purpose by a
resolution to do his very best. He was "Novus Homo"--a man, that is,
belonging to a family of which no member had as yet filled high office
in the State. Against such there was a strong prejudice with the
aristocracy, who did not like to see the good things of the Republic
dispersed among an increased number of hands.

The power of voting was common to all Roman male citizens; but the
power of influencing the electors had passed very much into the hands
of the rich. The admiration which Cicero had determined to elicit
would not go very far, unless it could be produced in a very high
degree. A Verres could get himself made Praetor; a Lepidus some years
since could receive the Consulship; or now an Antony, or almost a
Catiline. The candidate would borrow money on the security of his own
audacity, and would thus succeed--perhaps with some minor gifts of
eloquence, if he could achieve them. With all this, the borrowing and
the spending of money, that is, with direct bribery, Cicero would have
nothing to do; but of the art of canvassing--that art by which he
could at the moment make himself beloved by the citizens who had a
vote to give--he was a profound master.

There is a short treatise, De Petitione Consulatus, on canvassing for
the Consulship, of which mention may be made here, because all the
tricks of the trade were as essential to him, when looking to be
Quaestor, as when he afterward desired to be Consul, and because the
political doings of his life will hurry us on too quickly in the days
of his Consulship to admit of our referring to these lessons. This
little piece, of which we have only a fragment, is supposed to have
been addressed to Cicero by his brother Quintus, giving fraternal
advice as to the then coming great occasion. The critics say that
it was retouched by the orator himself. The reader who has studied
Cicero's style will think that the retouching went to a great extent,
or that the two brothers were very like each other in their power of

The first piece of advice was no doubt always in Cicero's mind, not
only when he looked for office, but whenever he addressed a meeting of
his fellow-citizens. "Bethink yourself what is this Republic; what it
is you seek to be in it, and who you are that seek it. As you go down
daily to the Forum, turn the answer to this in your mind: 'Novus sum;
consulatum peto; Roma est'--'I am a man of an untried family. It is
the Consulship that I seek. It is Rome in which I seek it.'" Though
the condition of Rome was bad, still to him the Republic was the
greatest thing in the world, and to be Consul in that Republic the
highest honor which the world could give.

There is nobility in that, but there is very much that is ignoble in
the means of canvassing which are advocated. I cannot say that they
are as yet too ignoble for our modern use here in England, but they
are too ignoble to be acknowledged by our candidates themselves, or
by their brothers on their behalf. Cicero, not having progressed far
enough in modern civilization to have studied the beauty of truth, is
held to be false and hypocritical. We who know so much more than he
did, and have the doctrine of truth at our fingers' ends, are wise
enough to declare nothing of our own shortcomings, but to attribute
such malpractices only to others. "It is a good thing to be thought
worthy of the rank we seek by those who are in possession of it." Make
yourself out to be an aristocrat, he means. "Canvass them, and cotton
to them. Make them believe that in matters of politics you have always
been with the aristocracy, never with the mob;" that if "you have at
all spoken a word in public to tickle the people, you have done so for
the sake of gaining Pompey." As to this, it is necessary to understand
Pompey's peculiar popularity at the moment, both with the Liberals and
with the Conservatives. "Above all, see that you have with you the
'jeunesse doree.' They carry so much! There are many with you already.
Take care that they shall know how much you think of them."

He is especially desired to make known to the public the iniquities of
Catiline, his opponent, as to whom Quintus says that, though he has
lately been acquitted in regard to his speculations in Africa, he has
had to bribe the judges so highly that he is now as poor as they were
before they got their plunder. At every word we read we are tempted
to agree with Mommsen that on the Roman oligarchy of the period no
judgment can be passed save one, "of inexorable condemnation."[86]

"Remember," says Quintus, "that your candidature is very strong in
that kind of friendship which has been created by your pleadings. Take
care that each of those friends shall know what special business is
allotted to him on the occasion; and as you have not troubled any of
them yet, make them understand that you have reserved for the present
moment the payment of their debts." This is all very well; but the
next direction mingles so much of business with its truth, that no one
but Machiavelli or Quintus Cicero could have expressed it in words.
"Men," says Quintus, "are induced to struggle for us in these
canvassings by three motives--by memory of kindness done, by the hope
of kindness to come, and by community of political conviction. You
must see how you are to catch each of these. Small favors will induce
a man to canvass for you; and they who owe their safety to your
pleadings, for there are many such, are aware that if they do not
stand by you now they will be regarded by all the world as sorry
fellows. Nevertheless, they should be made to feel that, as they are
indebted to you, you will be glad to have an opportunity of becoming
indebted to them. But as to those on whom you have a hold only by
hope--a class of men very much more numerous, and likely to be very
much more active--they are the men whom you should make to understand
that your assistance will be always at their command."

How severe, how difficult was the work of canvassing in Rome, we learn
from these lessons. It was the very essence of a great Roman's life
that he should live in public; and to such an extent was this carried
that we wonder how such a man as Cicero found time for the real work
of his life. The Roman patron was expected to have a levee every
morning early in his own house, and was wont, when he went down into
the Forum, to be attended by a crowd of parasites. This had become
so much a matter of course that a public man would have felt himself
deserted had he been left alone either at home or abroad. Rome was
full of idlers--of men who got their bread by the favors of the
great, who lounged through their lives--political quidnuncs, who made
canvassing a trade--men without a conviction, but who believed in the
ascendency of this or the other leader, and were ready to fawn or to
fight in the streets, as there might be need. These were the Quirites
of the day--men who were in truth fattened on the leavings of the
plunder which was extracted from the allies; for it was the case now
that a Roman was content to live on the industry of those whom his
father had conquered. They would still fight in the legions; but the
work of Rome was done by slaves, and the wealth of Rome was robbed
from the Provinces. Hence it came about that there was a numerous
class, to whom the name "assectatores" was given, who of course became
specially prominent at elections. Quintus divides all such followers
into three kinds, and gives instructions as to the special treatment
to be applied to each. "There are those who come to pay their respects
to you at your own house"--"Salutatores" they were called; "then those
who go down with you into the Forum"--"Deductores;" "and after these
the third, the class of constant followers"--"Assectatores," as
they were specially named. "As to the first, who are the least in
consequence, and who, according to our present ways of living, come in
great numbers, you should take care to let them know that their doing
even so much as this is much esteemed by you. Let them perceive that
you note it when they come, and say as much to their friends, who will
repeat your words. Tell themselves often if it be possible. In this
way men, when there are many candidates, will observe that there is
one who has his eyes open to these courtesies, and they will give
themselves heart and soul to him, neglecting all others. And mind you,
when you find that a man does but pretend, do not let him perceive
that you have perceived it. Should any one wish to excuse himself,
thinking that he is suspected of indifference, swear that you have
never doubted him, nor had occasion to doubt.

"As to the work of the 'Deductores,' who go out with you--as it is
much more severe than that of those who merely come to pay their
compliments, let them understand that you feel it to be so, and, as
far as possible, be ready to go into town with them at fixed hours."
Quintus here means that the "Deductores" are not to be kept waiting
for the patron longer than can be helped. "The attendance of a daily
crowd in taking you down to the Forum gives a great show of character
and dignity.

"Then come the band of followers which accompanies you diligently
wherever you go. As to those who do this without special obligation,
take care that they should know how much you think of them. From those
who owe it to you as a duty, exact it rigorously. See that they who
can come themselves do come themselves, and that they who cannot, send
others in their places." What an idea does this give as to the labor
of a candidate in Rome! I can imagine it to be worse even than the
canvassing of an English borough, which to a man of spirit and honor
is the most degrading of all existing employments not held to be
absolutely disgraceful.

Quintus then goes on from the special management of friends to the
general work of canvassing. "It requires the remembering of men's
names"--"nomenclationem," a happy word we do not possess--"flattery,
diligence, sweetness of temper, good report, and a high standing in
the Republic. Let it be seen that you have been at the trouble to
remember people, and practise yourself to it so that the power may
increase with you. There is nothing so alluring to the citizen as
that. If there be a softness which you have not by nature, so affect
it that it shall seem to be your own naturally. You have indeed a way
with you which is not unbecoming to a good-natured man; but you must
caress men--which is in truth vile and sordid at other times, but is
absolutely necessary at elections. It is no doubt a mean thing to
flatter some low fellow, but when it is necessary to make a friend
it can be pardoned. A candidate must do it, whose face and look and
tongue should be made to suit those he has to meet. What perseverance
means I need not tell you. The word itself explains itself. As a
matter of course, you shall not leave the city; but it is not enough
for you to stick to your work in Rome and in the Forum. You must seek
out the voters and canvass them separately; and take care that no one
shall ask from another what it is that you want from him. Let it have
been solicited by yourself, and often solicited." Quintus seems to
have understood the business well, and the elder brother no doubt
profited by the younger brother's care.

It was so they did it at Rome. That men should have gone through all
this in search of plunder and wealth does not strike us as being
marvellous, or even out of place. A vile object justifies vile means.
But there were some at Rome who had it in their hearts really to serve
their country, and with whom it was at the same time a matter of
conscience that, in serving their country, they would not dishonestly
or dishonorably enrich themselves. There was still a grain of salt
left. But even this could not make itself available for useful purpose
without having recourse to tricks such as these!

[Sidenote: B.C. 75, aetat 32.]

In his proper year Cicero became Quaestor, and had assigned to him
by lot the duty of looking after the Western Division of Sicily. For
Sicily, though but one province as regarded general condition, being
under one governor with proconsular authority, retained separate
modes of government, or, rather, varied forms of subjection to Rome,
especially in matters of taxation, according as it had or had not
been conquered from the Carthaginians.[87] Cicero was quartered at
Lilybaeum, on the west, whereas the other Quaestor was placed at
Syracuse, in the east. There were at that time twenty Quaestors
elected annually, some of whom remained in Rome; but most of the
number were stationed about the Empire, there being always one as
assistant to each Proconsul. When a Consul took the field with an
army, he always had a Quaestor with him. This had become the case so
generally that the Quaestor became, as it were, something between
a private secretary and a senior lieutenant to a governor. The
arrangement came to have a certain sanctity attached to it, as though
there was something in the connection warmer and closer than that of
mere official life; so that a Quaestor has been called a Proconsul's
son for the time, and was supposed to feel that reverence and
attachment that a son entertains for his father.

But to Cicero, and to young Quaestors in general, the great attraction
of the office consisted in the fact that the aspirant having once
become a Quaestor was a Senator for the rest of his life, unless he
should be degraded by misconduct. Gradually it had come to pass that
the Senate was replenished by the votes of the people, not directly,
but by the admission into the Senate of the popularly elected
magistrates. There were in the time of Cicero between 500 and 600
members of this body. The numbers down to the time of Sulla had been
increased or made up by direct selection by the old Kings, or by the
Censors, or by some Dictator, such as was Sulla; and the same thing
was done afterward by Julius Caesar. The years between Sulla's
Dictatorship and that of Caesar were but thirty--from 79 to 49 B.C.
These, however, were the years in which Cicero dreamed that the
Republic could be re-established by means of an honest Senate, which
Senate was then to be kept alive by the constant infusion of new
blood, accruing to it from the entrance of magistrates who had been
chosen by the people. Tacitus tells us that it was with this object
that Sulla had increased the number of Quaestors.[88]Cicero's
hopes--his futile hopes of what an honest Senate might be made to
do--still ran high, although at the very time in which he was elected
Quaestor he was aware that the judges, then elected from the Senate,
were so corrupt that their judgment could not be trusted. Of this
popular mode of filling the Senate he speaks afterward in his treatise
De Legibus. "From those who have acted as magistrates the Senate is
composed--a measure altogether in the popular interest, as no one can
now reach the highest rank"--namely, the Senate--"except by the votes
of the people, all power of selecting having been taken away from the
Censors.[89] In his pleadings for P. Sextus he makes the same boast as
to old times, not with absolute accuracy, as far as we can understand
the old constitution, but with the same passionate ardor as to the
body. "Romans, when they could no longer endure the rule of kings,
created annual magistrates, but after such fashion that the Council of
the Senate was set over the Republic for its guidance. Senators were
chosen for that work by the entire people, and the entrance to that
order was opened to the virtue and to the industry of the citizens at
large."[90] When defending Cluentius, he expatiates on the glorious
privileges of the Roman Senate. "Its high place, its authority, its
splendor at home, its name and fame abroad, the purple robe, the ivory
chair, the appanage of office, the fasces, the army with its command,
the government of the provinces!"[91] On that splendor "apud exteras
gentes," he expatiates in one of his attacks upon Verres.[92] From all
this will be seen Cicero's idea of the chamber into which he had made
his way as soon as he had been chosen Quaestor.

In this matter, which was the pivot on which his whole life
turned--the character, namely, of the Roman Senate--it cannot but be
observed that he was wont to blow both hot and cold. It was his
nature to do so, not from any aptitude for deceit, but because he was
sanguine and vacillating--because he now aspired and now despaired. He
blew hot and cold in regard to the Senate, because at times he would
feel it to be what it was--composed, for the most part, of men who
were time-serving and corrupt, willing to sell themselves for a price
to any buyer; and then, again, at times he would think of the Senate
as endowed with all those privileges which he names, and would dream
that under his influence it would become what it should be--such a
Senate as he believed it to have been in its old palmy days. His
praise of the Senate, his description of what it should be and might
be, I have given. To the other side of the picture we shall come soon,
when I shall have to show how, at the trial of Verres, he declared
before the judges themselves how terrible had been the corruption of
the judgment-seat in Rome since, by Sulla's enactment, it had been
occupied only by the Senators. One passage I will give now, in order
that the reader may see by the juxtaposition of the words that he
could denounce the Senate as loudly as he would vaunt its privileges.
In the column on the left hand in the note I quote the words with
which, in the first pleading against Verres, he declared "that every
base and iniquitous thing done on the judgment-seat during the ten
years since the power of judging had been transferred to the Senate
should be not only denounced by him, but also proved;" and in that on
the right I will repeat the noble phrases which he afterward used in
the speech for Cluentius when he chose to speak well of the order.[93]
Contra Verrem, Act. i, ca. xiii.: "Omnia non modo commemorabuntur,
sed etiam, expositis certis rebus, agentur, quae inter decem annos,
posteaquam judicia ad senatum translata sunt, in rebus judicandis
nefarie flagitioseque facta sunt."

It was on the Senate that they who wished well for Rome must
depend--on the Senate, chosen, refreshed, and replenished from among
the people; on a body which should be at the same time august
and popular--as far removed on the one side from the tyranny of
individuals as on the other from the violence of the mob; but on a
Senate freed from its corruption and dirt, on a body of noble Romans,
fitted by their individual character and high rank to rule and to
control their fellow-citizens. This was Cicero's idea, and this the
state of things which he endeavored to achieve. No doubt he dreamed
that his own eloquence and his own example might do more in producing
this than is given to men to achieve by such means. No doubt there was
conceit in this--conceit and perhaps, vanity. It has to be admitted
that Cicero always exaggerated his own powers. But the ambition was
great, the purpose noble, and the course of his whole life was such as
to bring no disgrace on his aspirations. He did not thunder against
the judges for taking bribes, and then plunder a province himself. He
did not speak grandly of the duty of a patron to his clients, and then
open his hands to illicit payments. He did not call upon the Senate
for high duty, and then devote himself to luxury and pleasure. He had
a _beau ideal_ of the manner in which a Roman Senator should live and
work, and he endeavored to work and live up to that ideal. There was
no period after his Consulship in which he was not aware of his own
failure. Nevertheless, with constant labor, but with intermittent
struggles, he went on, till, at the end, in the last fiery year of his
existence, he taught himself again to think that even yet there was
a chance. How he struggled, and in struggling perished, we shall see

What Cicero did as Quaestor in Sicily we have no means of knowing. His
correspondence does not go back so far. That he was very active, and
active for good, we have two testimonies, one of which is serious,
convincing, and most important as an episode in his life. The other
consists simply of a good story, told by himself of himself; not
intended at all for his own glorification, but still carrying with it
a certain weight. As to the first: Cicero was Quaestor in Lilybaeum in
the thirty-second year of his life. In the thirty-seventh year he was
elected Aedile, and was then called upon by the Sicilians to attack
Verres on their behalf. Verres was said to have carried off from
Sicily plunder to the amount of nearly L400,000,[94] after a misrule
of three years' duration. All Sicily was ruined. Beyond its pecuniary
losses, its sufferings had been excruciating; but not till the end had
come of a Governor's proconsular authority could the almost hopeless
chance of a criminal accusation against the tyrant be attempted.
The tyrant would certainly have many friends in Rome. The injured
provincials would probably have none of great mark. A man because he
had been Quaestor was not, necessarily, one having influence, unless
he belonged to some great family. This was not the case with Cicero.
But he had made for himself such a character during his year of office
that the Sicilians declared that, if they could trust themselves to
any man at Rome, it would be to their former Quaestor. It had been a
part of his duty to see that the proper supply of corn was collected
in the island and sent to Rome. A great portion of the bread eaten in
Rome was grown in Sicily, and much of it was supplied in the shape of
a tax. It was the hateful practice of Rome to extract the means of
living from her colonies, so as to spare her own laborers. To this,
hard as it was, the Sicilians were well used. They knew the amount
required of them by law, and were glad enough when they could be quit
in payment of the dues which the law required; but they were seldom
blessed by such moderation on the part of their rulers. To what extent
this special tax could be stretched we shall see when we come to the
details of the trial of Verres. It is no doubt only from Cicero's own
words that we learn that, though he sent to Rome plenteous supplies,
he was just to the dealer, liberal to the pawns, and forbearing to the
allies generally; and that when he took his departure they paid him
honors hitherto unheard of.[95] But I think we may take it for granted
that this statement is true; firstly, because it has never been
contradicted; and then from the fact that the Sicilians all came to
him in the day of their distress.

As to the little story to which I have alluded, it has been told so
often since Cicero told it himself, that I am almost ashamed to repeat
it. It is, however, too emblematic of the man, gives us too close
an insight both into his determination to do his duty and to his
pride--conceit, if you will--at having done it, to be omitted. In his
speech for Plancius[96] he tells us that by chance, coming direct from
Sicily after his Quaestorship, he found himself at Puteoli just at the
season when the fashion from Rome betook itself to that delightful
resort. He was full of what he had done--how he had supplied Rome with
corn, but had done so without injury to the Sicilians, how honestly he
had dealt with the merchants, and had in truth won golden opinions on
all sides--so much so that he thought that when he reached the city
the citizens in a mob would be ready to receive him. Then at Puteoli
he met two acquaintances. "Ah," says one to him, "when did you leave
Rome? What news have you brought?" Cicero, drawing his head up, as we
can see him, replied that he had just returned from his province. "Of
course, just back from Africa," said the other. "Not so," said Cicero,
bridling in anger--"stomachans fastidiose," as he describes it
himself--"but from Sicily." Then the other lounger, a fellow who
pretended to know everything, put in his word. "Do you not know that
our Cicero has been Quaestor at Syracuse?" The reader will remember
that he had been Quaestor in the other division of the island, at
Lilybaeum. "There was no use in thinking any more about it," says
Cicero. "I gave up being angry and determined to be like any one else,
just one at the waters." Yes, he had been very conceited, and well
understood his own fault of character in that respect; but he would
not have shown his conceit in that matter had he not resolved to do
his duty in a manner uncommon then among Quaestors, and been conscious
that ho had done it.

Perhaps there is no more certain way of judging a man than from his
own words, if his real words be in our possession. In doing so, we are
bound to remember how strong will be the bias of every man's mind in
his own favor, and for that reason a judicious reader will discount a
man's praise of himself. But the reader, to get at the truth, if he be
indeed judicious, will discount them after a fashion conformable with
the nature of the man whose character he is investigating. A reader
will not be judicious who imagines that what a man says of his own
praises must be false, or that all which can be drawn from his own
words in his own dispraise must be true. If a man praise himself for
honor, probity, industry, and patriotism, he will at any rate show
that these virtues are dear to him, unless the course of his life has
proved him to be altogether a hypocrite in such utterances. It has not
been presumed that Cicero was a hypocrite in these utterances. He was
honest and industrious; he did appreciate honor and love his country.
So much is acknowledged; and yet it is supposed that what good he has
told us of himself is false. If a man doubt of himself constantly; if
in his most private intercourse and closest familiar utterances he
admit occasionally his own human weakness; if he find himself to have
failed at certain moments, and says so, the very feelings that have
produced such confessions are proof that the highest points which
have not been attained have been seen and valued. A man will not
sorrowfully regret that he has won only a second place, or a
third, unless he be alive to the glory of the first. But Cicero's
acknowledgments have all been taken as proof against himself. All
manner of evil is argued against him from his own words, when an ill
meaning can be attached to them; but when he speaks of his great
aspirations, he is ridiculed for bombast and vanity. On the strength
of some perhaps unconsidered expression, in a letter to Atticus, he
is condemned for treachery, whereas the sentences in which he has
thoughtfully declared the purposes of his very soul are counted as

No one has been so frequently condemned out of his mouth as Cicero,
and naturally. In these modern days we have contemporary records as to
prominent persons. Of the characters of those who lived in long-past
ages we generally fail to have any clear idea, because we lack those
close chronicles which are necessary for the purpose. What insight
have we into the personality of Alexander the Great, or what insight
had Plutarch, who wrote about him? As to Samuel Johnson, we seem to
know every turn of his mind, having had a Boswell. Alexander had no
Boswell. But here is a man belonging to those past ages of which I
speak who was his own Boswell, and after such a fashion that, since
letters were invented, no records have ever been written in language
more clear or more attractive. It is natural that we should judge out
of his own mouth one who left so many more words behind him than did
any one else, particularly one who left words so pleasant to read. And
all that he wrote was after some fashion about himself. His letters,
like all letters, are personal to himself. His speeches are words
coming out of his own mouth about affairs in which he was personally
engaged and interested. His rhetoric consists of lessons given by
himself about his own art, founded on his own experience, and on his
own observation of others. His so-called philosophy gives us the
workings of his own mind. No one has ever told the world so much about
another person as Cicero has told the world about Cicero. Boswell
pales before him as a chronicler of minutiae. It may be a matter of
small interest now to the bulk of readers to be intimately acquainted
with a Roman who was never one of the world's conquerors. It may be
well for those who desire to know simply the facts of the world's
history, to dismiss as unnecessary the aspirations of one who lived so
long ago. But if it be worth while to discuss the man's character, it
must be worth while to learn the truth about it.

"Oh that mine adversary had written a book!" Who does not understand
the truth of these words! It is always out of a man's mouth that you
may most surely condemn him. Cicero wrote many books, and all about
himself. He has been honored very highly. Middleton, in the preface to
his own biography, which, with all its charms, has become a by-word
for eulogy; quotes the opinion of Erasmus, who tells us that he loves
the writings of the man "not only for the divine felicity of his
style, but for the sanctity of his heart and morals." This was the
effect left on the mind of an accurate thinker and most just man. But
then also has Cicero been spoken of with the bitterest scorn. From Dio
Cassius, who wrote two hundred and twenty years after Christ, down to
Mr. Froude, whose Caesar has just been published, he has had such hard
things said of him by men who have judged him out of his own mouth,
that the reader does not know how to reconcile what he now reads with
the opinion of men of letters who lived and wrote in the century next
after his death--with the testimony of such a man as Erasmus, and with
the hearty praises of his biographer, Middleton. The sanctity of his
heart and morals! It was thus that Erasmus was struck in reading his
works. It is a feeling of that kind, I profess, that has induced me to
take this work in hand--a feeling produced altogether by the study of
his own words. It has seemed to be that he has loved men so well, has
been so anxious for the true, has been so capable of honesty when
dishonesty was common among all around him, has been so jealous in the
cause of good government, has been so hopeful when there has been but
little ground for hope, as to have deserved a reputation for sanctity
of heart and morals.

Of the speeches made by Cicero as advocate after his Quaestorship, and
before those made in the accusation of Verres, we have the fragment
only of the second of two spoken in defence of Marcus Tullius Decula,
whom we may suppose to have been distantly connected with his family.
He does not avow any relationship. "What," he says, in opening his
argument, "does it become me, a Tullius, to do for this other Tullius,
a man not only my friend, but my namesake?" It was a matter of no
great importance, as it was addressed to judges not so called, but
to "recuperatores," judges chosen by the Praetor, and who acted in
lighter cases.


[85] Brutus, ca. xciii.: "Animos hominum ad me dicendi novitate

[86] It must be remembered that this advice was actually given when
Cicero subsequently became a candidate for the Consulship, but it is
mentioned here as showing the manner in which were sought the great
offices of State.

[87] Cicero speaks of Sicily as divided into two provinces,
"Quaestores utriusque provinciae" There was, however, but one Praetor
or Proconsul. But the island had been taken by the Romans at two
different times.

Lilybaeum and the west was obtained from the Carthaginians at the end
of the first Punic war, whereas, Syracuse was conquered by Marcellus
and occupied during the second Punic war.

[88] Tacitus, Ann., lib.xi., ca.xxii.: "Post, lege Sullae, viginti
creati supplendo senatui, cui judica tradiderat."

[89] De Legibus, iii, xii.

[90] Pro P. Sexto, lxv.

[91] Pro Cluentio, lvi.

[92] Contra Verrem, Act.iv., ca.xi.: "Ecquae civitas est, non modo in
provinciis nostris, verum etiam in ultimis nationibus, aut tam potens,
aut tam libera, aut etiam am immanis ac barbara; rex denique ecquis
est, qui senatorem populi Romani tecto ac domo non invitet?"

[93] Contra Verrem, Act.i, ca.xiii.: "Omnia non modo
commemorabuntur, sed etiam, expositis certis rebus, agentur, quae
inter decem annos, posteaquam judicia ad senatum translata sunt, in
rebus judicandis nefarie flagitioseque facta sunt." Pro Cluentio,
lvi.: "Locus, auctoritas, domi splendor, apud exteras nationes nomen
et gratia, toga praetexta, cella curulis, insignia, fasces, exercitus,
imperia, provincia."

[94] Contra Verrem, Act.i., ca.xviii.: "Quadringenties sestertium ex
Sicilia contra leges abstulisse." In Smith's Dictionary of Grecian and
Roman Antiquities we are told that a thousand sesterces is equal in
our money to L8 17s.1d. Of the estimated amount of this plunder we
shall have to speak again.

[95] Pro Plancio, xxvi.

[96] Pro Plancio, xxvi.



There are six episodes, or, as I may say, divisions in the life of
Cicero to which special interest attaches itself. The first is the
accusation against Verres, in which he drove the miscreant howling out
of the city. The second is his Consulship, in which he drove Catiline
out of the city, and caused certain other conspirators who were joined
with the arch rebel to be killed, either legally or illegaly. The
third was his exile, in which he himself was driven out of Rome. The
fourth was a driving out, too, though of a more honorable kind, when
he was compelled, much against his will, to undertake the government
of a province. The fifth was Caesar's passing of the Rubicon, the
battle of Pharsalia, and his subsequent adherence to Caesar. The last
was his internecine combat with Antony, which produced the Philippics,
and that memorable series of letters in which he strove to stir into
flames the expiring embers of the Republic. The literary work with
which we are acquainted is spread, but spread very unequally, over his
whole life. I have already told the story of Sextus Roscius Amerinus,
having taken it from his own words. From that time onward he wrote
continually; but the fervid stream of his eloquence came forth from
him with unrivalled rapidity in the twenty last miserable months of

Book of the day:
Facebook Google Reddit StumbleUpon Twitter Pinterest