Cicero, Pro Roscio Amerino 147-151

 

147. You know that the man has nothing, dares do nothing, has no power, has never harbored a thought against your estate; and yet you attack him whom you cannot fear, and ought not to hate; and when you see he has nothing left which you can take away from him--unless you are indignant at this, that you see him sitting with his clothes on in this court whom you turned naked out of his patrimony, as if off a wreck; as if you did not know that he is both fed and clothed by Caecilia, the daughter of Balearicus, the sister of Nepos, a most incomparable woman, who, though she had a most illustrious father, most hnorable uncles, a most accomplished brother, yet, though she was a woman, carried her virtue so far, as to confer on them no less honor by her character than she herself received from their dignity. 

LI. 148. Does it appear to you a shameful thing that he is defended with earnestness? Believe me, if, in return for the hospitality and kindness of his father, all his hereditary friends were to choose to be present and dared to speak with freedom, he would be defended numerously enough; and if, because of the greatness of the injury, and because the interests of the whole republic are imperilled by his danger, they all were to punish this conduct, you would not in truth be able to sit in that place. Now he is defended so that his adversaries ought not to be indignant at it, and ought not to think that they are surpassed in power. 149. What is done at home is done by means of Caecilia; the management of what takes place in the forum and court of justice, Messala, as you, O judges, see, has undertaken. And if he were of an age and strength equal to it, he would speak himself for Sextus Roscius. But since his age is an obstacle to his speaking, and also his modesty which sets off his age, he has entrusted the cause to me, who he knew was desirous of it for his sake, and who ought to be so. He himself, by his assiduity, by his wisdom, by his influence, and by his industry, has taken care that the life of Sextus Roscius, having been saved out of the hands of assassins, should be committed to the decisions of the judges. Of a truth, O judges, it was for this nobility that the greatest part of the city was in arms; this was all done that the nobles might be restore to the state, who would act as you see Messala acting; who would defend the life of an innocent man; who would resist injury; who would rather show what power they had in procuring the safety than the destruction of another. And if all who were born in the same rank did the same, the republic would be less harassed by them, and they themselves would be less harassed by envy. 

LII. 150. But if, O judges, we cannot prevail with Chrysogonus to be content with our money, and not to aim at our life; if he cannot be induced, when he has taken from us everything which was our private property, not to wish to take away this light of life also which we have in common with all the world; if he does not consider it sufficient to glut his avarice with money, if he be not also dyed with blood cruelly shed,--there is one refuge, O judges; there is one hope left to Sextus Roscius, the same which is left to the republic,--your ancient kindness and mercy; and if that remain, we can even yet be saved. But if that cruelty which at present stalks abroad in the republic has made your dispositions also more harsh and cruel, (but that can never be the case,) then there is an end of everything, O judges; it is better to live among brute beasts than in such a savage state of things as this. 151. Are you reserved for this? Are you chosen for this? to condemn those whom cut-throats and assassins have not be able to murder? Good generals are accustomed to do this, when they engage in battle,--to place soldiers in that spot where they think the enemy will retreat, and then if any escape from the battle they make an onset on them unexpectedly. I suppose in the same way those purchasers of property think that you, that such men as you, are sitting here to catch those who have escaped out of their hands. God forbid, O judges, that this which our ancestors thought fit to style the public council should now be considered a guard to brokers!

 

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