Ciceros Pro Caelio
THE DEFENSE OF CAELIUS is
wit, its classic apology of wildoat-sowing, and the historical interest of the personalities
involved. The summation (of which the present speech is a revision for publication) must
have been delivered
Mother. The chief prosecutor Atratinus, who was only seventeen at the time, had a
double motive for instituting proceedings: Caelius had not only accused his father, but
had preceded himself
in the affections of Clodia, "the Medea of the
doubtless undertook the defense to avenge himself on Clodia and her brother Publius
Clodius, who had caused his exile. Clodia is the famous "Lesbia" of Catullus, who lost
her to Caelius, if he is indeed the Rufus whom Catullus berates as a successful rival. The
references to bathing and fourpenny pieces suggest that she entertained her lovers in the
bath. Caelius himself is said to have called her "the fourpenny Clytemnestra," for she
was rumored to have poisoned her husband Metellus Celer three years previously and
the fourpenny piece was the regular admission to the baths. Another lover, Vattius, was
said to have sent her a fourpenny piece when they severed relations. Caelius was
acquitted, and Clodia appears to have gone into complete social and moral eclipse, as
Catullus 58 suggests:
O Caelius, our Lesbia, that Lesbia
That Lesbia, she whom Catullus only
Loved, more than his own soul or any other,
Now at the crossroads, in the narrow alleys,
Preys on the random sons of Father Remus.
Caelius met no better fate. He joined Caesar at the out, break of the civil war, but grew
dissatisfied with his share of the spoils and organized a revolt, in which he was killed in
1.Gentlemen of the jury: Suppose that by some chance a stranger to our laws and law-courts and way of life were to come upon this scene and notice that this is the only court in session while the holidays and public games have caused all the other business in the forum to be suspended: doubtless be would wonder what atrocious crime was indicated in this case, and would surely conclude that the defendant was being accused of some deed of such enormity that the commonwealth would collapse if he were to go unapprehended. And suppose our stranger were told that the law in this case is one that takes no account of holidays, but absolutely required judicial investigation whenever seditious and criminal citizens have taken up arms and laid siege to the senate-house or offered violence to magistrates or attacked the republic: of such a law be could scarcely disapprove, but he would ask about the particular charge in this trial. And when he had heard that there is no ques. tion here of crime, no question of brazen insolence, no question of illegal violence, that rather a youth of distinguished talents, an industrious young man who commands many friends, is being prosecuted by the son of one whom he himself is now arraigning and has arraigned before in the past, that furthermore a certain lady of great influence but no reputation is the source of the attack, our bypothetical
friend would say: "Atratinus is not to blame; be is doing what any good son would do. But may I Suggest that you Romans would do well to keep female wantonness within bounds? And as for these jurymen, why, they are burdened beyond all sense and reason; everyone else is at leisure, but only they are allowed no leisure.
For if you are willing, gentlemen, to attend closely to the whole case and weigh everything objectively, you will conclude, first, that no one would have proceeded to make an accusation like this if he were acting as a free agent, and secondly, that he would have done so without hope, unless his hopes were founded on someone's ungovernable wantonness and over-bitter hatred. But I forgive my friend Atratinus; he is a cultivated young man and an excellent one; he can offer as excuse filial duty or compulsion or age. If he was willing to prosecute, well after all he is a son; if he did so under orders, he is not his own master; if he hoped for something, well, he is only a boy. But for the others, my motto is "No forgiveness, but resistance to the end."
2. Seeing that Marcus Caelius is still quite a young man, I think my best course is to begin this defenso by replying to the prosecution's attempt to blacken his character and blast his reputation. They have used his father variously as a basis for detraction. They have said either that he lives too shabbily or that he has been badly treated by his son. Marcus Caelius the elder does not need any help from me in defending his dignity. For those who know him well and for the older people present he easily counters that charge without having to say a word. But as for some time now because of advancing age be has been less active among us in the forum, he may not be so well known to some of you. To them let me say that whatever respect may be consonant with the position of a Roman knight-and surely that can be a very great deal-sucb respect has always in the highest degree been accorded Marcus Caelius, and is so still by anyone with whom he has any dealings whatever. Is it a disgrace to be the son of a Roman knight? So says the prosecution-scarcely a view to commend itself to some of the jurors here, not to mention myself, the counsel for the defense. And as to what you prosecutors have said about Caelius' treatment of his father, we may form what judgment we will, but the final word must certainly come from the father himself. You will bear what our opinion is from the character-witnesses; but what the parents themselves feel is clear from this mother here in tears and anguish, from this father here dissolved in grief and clothed in mourning. The prosecution further alleges that the young man bad a bad name with his fellow-townsmen. To that I need only point out that the citizens of Interamnia never conferred any greater honors on a resident than they gave to Marcus Caelius after he moved away. Though he was a non-resident, they made him a member of their highest governing body, and without his requesting it gave him what many bad sought in vain. In addition they have sent a choice deputation of senators and Roman knights to present to the court their sincere and detailed commendation.
I flatter myself I have now laid the foundations of my defense, resting as it does on the testimony of those bound to the defendant by the closest of ties. For you might well have looked with a cold eye on a man so young if he were really an object of aversion not only to his worthy father but to his distinguished and upright townsmen as well.
3. In fact, if I may be allowed to inject a personal note, I myself rose to fame from such origins as these, and, whatever glory I have gained in the courts and the government, the esteem of those closest to me has seconded it in no small degree.
We come now to the charge of immorality. Here the prosecution has been long on rumor and gossip, but lamentably short on specific details. And nothing they have said has upset my client enough to make him regret that be is naturally handsome. That sort of talk is the usual lot of any young man who happens to be good-looking. But gossip is one thing, criminal pro secution quite another. The latter calls for an exact presentation of the evidence, positive identification of the criminal, reasoned proof, and confirmation by witnesses; whereas slander has no aim -or task except to spatter with infamy. If the job is done in ill temper, we call it abuse, but if with grace, we call it wit. I was shocked and mortified to see that Atratinus had been assigned this part of the prosecution. This was unseemly. It was incongruous in view of his age, and you no doubt noticed that the modesty of a well-brought-up young man was a considerable embarrassment to him in treating of these matters. I would prefer for some of you more toughened veterans to have handled the role of slanderer, for then I would feel less compunction in speaking boldly and baldly in rebuttal. But I will treat you more gently, Atratinus, and will tone down my language out of consideration for your modesty and the friendly feeling I have for you and your father. But let me give you a bit of advice. First, if you want people to think of you as you really are, you bad better keep your speech as free from immodesty as your conduct is. And second, I warn you not to ascribe to another something you would blush to bear if falsely retorted on yourself. Anyone, you know, can play at that game. Remember you are vulnerable too if someone in a fit of spleen cared to spread gossip about you. For even where there is no ground for suspicion, the mere fact of being a young man of some personal charm lends the charge a show of plausibility. But your assuming that role was the fault of those who compelled you to speak. All due credit then to your sense of modesty, since you obviously spoke unwillingly, and to your ingenuity, since you managed all so carefully and elegantly.
4. Still I can make short work of refuting what you had to say, The fact is, during the whole time that Caelius was young enough to lend some credibility to the suspicion, he was protected not merely by his own modest nature but by his father's watchful eye and careful upbringing. I say nothing here of my own influence on him; that may be as you like; I simply say that as soon as the boy bad assumed the toga of manhood I took him under my wing -at the father's request. So that all in all, while Caelius was passing through this dangerous age, no one ever saw him except occupied with the tasks of liberal education, and in the company of his father or myself or within the chaste walls of Marcus Crassus'home.
The prosecution has brought up Caelius' intimacy with Catiline.
But that by no means substantiates the charge of immorality. You know when Caelius was
still quite young Catiline and I were both campaigning for the consulship. And one must
admit that a number of young men fell under the arch-villain's spell. But you are at
liberty to suppose that Caelius really was too intimate with Catiline only if you can
prove that he cultivated his acquaintance, or- for that matter ever left my side at the
time. "But," you say, "we know that subsequently Caelius was one of his
friends. We saw it with our own eyes." Who
denies that? But we are not concerned at the moment with that "subsequently." I
am dealing with that period in my client's life that is weak in itself and particularly
exposed to the lust of others. While I was praetor Caelius went with me everywhere; he did
not even know Catiline, who at the time was propraetor in
5. Finally, after spending all these years in the public eye without being sullied by a shadow of suspicion or ill-repute, Caelius supported Catiline in his second campaign for consul.
Now just how long do you think tender youth ought to be protected? When I was a boy of that age, while we passed our probationary year, we had to refrain from all extravagant gestures when we wore the toga, and we had to exercise and play on the Campus Martius in our tunics. Or if we began our military service, straightway a similar system of discipline prevailed in the camp. And even under that regimen if a boy did not show himself earnest and upright, if he failed to add a sort of natural innocence to the instruction he had received at home, he could not escape infamy, and deserving it too, regardless of how closely he was watched. But if he kept himself pure and proof against temptation in those early stages, no one had a word to say against his reputation afterwards when he bad matured and taken his place as a man among men. Be that as it may, after Caelius had been some years in public life already, he espoused the cause of Catiline. And so did many others of every rank and age. For Catiline had, you may recall, a great show of good qualities, not fully realized to be sure, but in outline. He numbered a pack of rascals among his friends, but also pretended to be devoted heart and soul to other men of the best sort. A master at luring into vice, he could also inspire men to effort and exertion. The torch of debauchery burned brightly in him, yet he had everything needed for a good soldier. I dont suppose there was ever such another anomalous creature on earth, compounded of such contrary, diverse, and mutually conflicting inclinations and desires.
6. When the occasion demanded, was there ever another man more ingratiating to the decent elements of society, or more intimate with the indecent? Was there ever another who at times yielded more fervent support to the constitutional party, only to show himself at other times the state's bitterest enemy? Was ever anyone more befouled by vice, more persevering in effort? In greed, who could have equaled him, or in liberality? The man was, in short, astoundingly accomplished, gentlemen: be had troops of friends, be danced attendance on them, he shared what he had with every comer, his purse was open to everybody, he was at your beck and call, would use his influence for you, wear himself out for you, go any lengths for you, even to committing a crime if you liked, he changed his nature to meet every emergency, twisted and turned hither and thither, puritan to the serious-minded, hail-fellow-well-met to the lax, model of decorum to the elderly, good companion to the young, virtuoso of cutthroats, nonpareil of debauchery. Thanks to this protean and shifting personality, when all the wretches and rascals of earth had flocked to his banner, it is not surprising that many worthy men too were taken in by his specious and pretended virtues. His heinous assault on the foundations of our state would never have been so successful if his monstrous bestiality bad not been firmly based on a character of astounding perseverance and adaptability. And so we might as well throw out that line of thought, gentlemen; the charge of intimacy with Catiline simply will not stick. If you throw mud from that sty, there are too many good men who will get spattered. I myself-yes, I freely admit it-I myself at one time was almost deceived. He seemed to me a good citizen, a partisan of the best men, a firm and faithful friend. I had to see with my own eyes before I could bring myself to believe in his criminality. I had to have the proofs thrust into my own hands before I suspected the truth. So Caelius made one in that mob of friends? Then let him repent of his mistake as I have repented, but do not make him tremble at the charge, "This man was a friend of Catiline."
7. Next the prosecution, after trying to make their slanderous point about immorality, took up the invidious business of the conspiracy. Hesitantly and obliquely they sidled into the position that since this man was a friend of Catiline's he must have taken part in the plot against the state. At this juncture, not only did the charge not hold, but the argument of my inexperienced young friend hardly held together. Are you saying that Caelius is a lunatic? that his character or career bears any marks of such a weakness" When was the name of Caelius ever breathed in connection with such a suspicion? You waste my time making me answer such a thing. I will say only this. Caelius proved conclusively that he was not associated with the conspiracy, proved on the contrary that he was one of its most relentless opponents, when he made his debut in public life by prosecuting one of the conspirators. And since I am on the subject, I rather think the same reply could be made to those charges about illegal electioneering and campaign bribery. Would Caelius ever have been such a madman as to arraign another man for dirty politics if he had himself been spotted with the same filth? Would he have demanded 3orneone else's suspicious conduct be investigated if be hoped to have a free band forevermore to conduct himself similarly? If be had imagined he would ever even once have to undergo trial for illegal campaigning, would he have called a man to account on the same charge not once, but twice? Which be did not wisely, in my opinion, and much against my will. But still his eagerness was such that be seemed rather to be persecuting an innocent man than harboring any fears about himself.
Now about his debts. You chided his extravagance and ordered him to produce his accounts. The demand is easily disposed of, to wit: a man still by law under his father's jurisdiction keeps no accounts. Caelius has never contracted one debt to pay off another. You base the charge of extravagance on one thing, that be pays a high rent. You put it at thirty thousand sesterces. I was nonplussed at first, but then I saw the light. I am given to understand that Publius Clodius has put up for sale the block of houses where Caelius lives-paying I am told a rent of only ten thousand. To gratify Clodius the prosecution has inflated the truth a little so that be may make a better sale. Next they blame Caelius because he moved away from his father's. Considering his age, there are no grounds for blame. When be bad emerged from his first law-case covered with glory-much to my chagrin, I may say, but greatly to his credit-and when it was time for him to enter politics, not only did his father allow him to move, he even encouraged him to do so. The family home was far from the forum, so Caelius rented a place at a reasonable figure on the Palatine Hill, to be near our houses and more accessible to his own supporters.
8. At this point I might echo the quotation used by my friend Marcus Crassus when he was lamenting King Ptolemy's arrival in Rome: "Oh, would that never in the Pelian grove-" Except for my purpose I might proceed even further into the passage: "For never would my lady then have strayed-" Nor ever would we have been brought to this pass by that "Medea, soul-sick, struck with savage love." For even so, gentlemen of the jury, you will find, as I shall show when I come to it, that this Medea of the Palatine and this setting out into the great world were the occasions of all our young man's misfortunes, or rather of all the gossip about him.
And so relying on your good sense, gentlemen, I have no reason to fear the other feints and fictions of the prosecution. They say for instance that they are going to produce a senator to testify that he was assaulted by Caelius during the pontifical elections. If the senator does put in an appearance, I will ask him first why be did not institute legal action at once. And if he says that he preferred complaining about the offense to taking legal action, I will ask why instead of acting on his own be waits to be produced by you and why be has chosen so long afterwards to complain. And if he gives me sharp and clever answers, then I will force him to tell me who is behind him. If be is appearing on his own initiative I may be moved-I usually am by such accounts. But if he is a mere rill and rivulet flowing from the very fountainhead of the prosecution, then I will felicitate myself that only one senator can be found to gratify you, seeing that all your proceedings are backed by persons of such means and influence.
In any case, neither do I quail before that other class of eyewitnesses: I mean the night-owls. For the prosecutors have said that they will produce men who will swear that their wives were criminally attacked by Caelius on their way home from dining out. Very respectable fellows, I must say, who will have the cheek to say this under oath, thereby confessing that though sorely injured they did not try even to make a settlement out of court.
9. But you can see in advance, gentlemen, what their whole line of attack is likely to be. So you should be in position to repel it when it comes. The nominal accusers are not the ones who are really attacking Marcus Caelius. The weapons thrown at him openly are being brought up from far behind the lines. Don't misunderstand me; I am not saying that the open opposition is acting from base rather than creditable motives. They are doing their duty, defending their own, acting as good men usually act: wronged, they are indignant; angered, they strike out; challenged, they fight. But just because my honorable opponents have good and sufficient reason for speaking against Caelius, you ought to have enough discrimination, jurymen, to see that this does not constitute good and sufficient reason for you to abandon your duty to your oath out of pity for someone else's wrongs. Take a glance around the forum. What a throng of men! what a variety of races and interests and types! Out of this multitude how many do you suppose would not hurry to offer their services to powerful, influential, clever men, even to the extent of appearing as witnesses if they thought they needed them. So if some of this kind appear in this trial, be shrewd enough to discount their interested zeal, gentlemen. Remember that not only are my client's career and your own honor at stake, but also involved is the question of what is to happen to any citizen beset by the rich and powerful. I want to put the matter on quite another footing than the testimony of witnesses. I will not allow the integrity of this court, which may by no means be tampered with, to be dependent on the wit, nesses' eagerness to please, than which nothing is easier to direct, deflect, and manipulate. I will base my contentions on proof and refute the charges with evidence clear as daylight. I shall fight point with point, reason with reason. inference with inference.
10. Therefore I am happy that Marcus Crassus has already dealt in
detailed and convincing fashion with that part of the case that has to do with the riots
11. I noticed, gentlemen, that you were very attentive to my friend Lucius Herennius. For the most part he held you by his cleverness and admirable style of declamation, bui at times listening I began to be nervous for fear the subject matter of his speech, so subtly arranged to lead to incrimination, might win you over gradually and insensibly. He had much to say about riotous living, sexual laxity, the waywardness of youth, the morals of our times, and though in his private life be is mild-mannered, cultured, pleasant, and suave, just the type that almost everyone nowadays is delighted with, here he showed himself like a puritanical uncle or censor or schoolmaster. He dragged Caelius over the coals as no father ever dragged his son. He favored us with a long discourse on incontinence and intemperance.
What more could you ask, gentlemen? I can understand your listening so closely; my own flesh crawled when I beard that hard, harsh mode of speech. But the first part had less effect on me, the part where he said that Caelius had been on good terms with my friend Bestia, had dined with him, visited his home many times, and supported his campaign for praetor. These statements did not affect me much, since they were manifestly untrue. For he named as fellow-diners at Bestia's house several who either are not in court or have no choice but to stick to the prosecution's story. Nor do I care much for what be said about Caelius' being a fellow-member of the Luperci. Well, we all know that this pack of wolf-priests has a history that antedates law and civilization, but I never thought it was still such a rustic and countrified brotherhood that its members would not only denounce each other, but would actually mention their common membership in a prosecuting ad, dress, as though afraid someone might remain ignorant of the fact. But enough of this; I pass on to things that affected me more.
The sermon against loose living was long but milder, and being more argumentative than harsh was listened to all the more attentively. For when my dear friend Publius Clodius was making the heavens to resound with his virtuous and stringent denunciations, when in the flame of his righteousness he was putting to use his forceful vocabulary, his stentorian voice, I was moved to admire his power in speaking out so, but I was not very much frightened, for I remembered that several times before be bad lost his case. But let me answer Balbus first, though I do it with a prayer on my lips that it not be considered treason or blasphemy man who never refuses a dinner-invitation, sometimes goes to garden-parties, has been known to dab on a bit of perfume, and even puts in an appearance now and then at Baiae.
12. To tell the truth, I have not merely take a sip of this of men in this republic who did sort of life, dabble in it as we say with their fingertips, but who actually plunged their whole youth long into pleasure. Yet they finally came out with their beads above water as we say, regained their equilibrium and lived to work some good in the world and turn into upstanding men. By general consent we concede a young man a few wild oats. Nature herself showers adolescence with a veritable spate of desires. if the dam bursts without endangering anyone's life or breaking up anyone s home, we put up with it easily and cheerfully. But out of the bad things that are generally said about young men, you seemed to me to be fashioning some particular weapon aimed at Caelius alone. During all the time we were listening in respectful silence to your speech, though the defendant bad been set up as a scapegoat, we were thinking in the silence of the sins of many. It is easy to denounce profligacy. The sun would set on me if I tried to exhaust what can be said on the topic. Seduction, adultery, impudence, extravagance-what fuel for speech is there! As long as you propose to talk not about the defendant but about vice in general, you have abundant means for playing the censor and the accuser. But, gentlemen of the jury, do not in your wisdom allow your view to be drawn away from the defendant, and when the prosecution has aroused you against the vices and degenerate morals of our day, do not discharge the sting of your censure upon a single man, and that man my client, who would thereby have to suffer the venom excited not by his own acts but by the fault of his age. So I dont dare to answer your strictures as I ought. I had intended to bring out the license we extend to youth and ask for indulgence on those grounds. But now, as I said, I don't dare. I have to throw away all those excuses that have to do with age; everyone else may use them, but my client not. This only I ask. Regardless of what indignation you may feel these days about the debts, bad manners, and dissipations of the young people and I see you feel a great deal-still do not let the misdeeds of others, the vices of his age and times, be a detriment to Caelius here. And I for my part, granted this, will not refuse to reply as carefully as I can to the charges which properly apply.
13. There are two charges then, one about the gold and one about the poison. And one and the same person is implicated in both. He got the gold from Clodia, he wanted the poison to give to Clodia, they say. Nothing else is basis for legal action; all else is simple slander, fitter for a quarrel than a public inquiry. "You adulterer! You libertine! You bribery-agent!" This is the language of abuse, not of legal prosecution. There is no foundation for such accusations. They are the rash insults of an irritated accuser acting without authority. But of the two aforenamed items I see the author, I see the fountainhead, the fixed responsibility, the prime mover. He needed gold; he got it from Clodia, got it without a witness, kept it as long as he liked. A signal proof this of a somewhat special intimacy! He wished to kill the said Clodia; he secured poison, suborned her slaves, brewed his broth, laid the scene for the crime, and brought the potion thither. Could it have been that when they fell out so cruelly there was some consequent ill-feeling on her side?
Our whole concern in this case, jurors, is with Clodia, a woman not only noble but even notorious. Of her I will say no more than is necessary to refute the charges. And you too, Gnaeus Domitius, sensible man that you are, you understand that our whole business here is with her and her only. If she does not admit that she obliged Caelius with the loan of the gold, if she does not accuse him of preparing poison for her, then my behavior is ungentlemanly in dragging in a matron's name otherwise than the respect due to ladies requires. But if on the contrary aside from that woman their case against Caelius is deprived of all strength and foundation, what else can I do as an advocate but repel those who press the assault? Which I would do all the more vehemently if I did not have cause for ill-feeling toward that woman's lover-I am sorry; I meant to say "brother." I am always making that slip. But now I will handle her with moderation, and proceed no further than my honor and the case itself demand. I have never thought it right to take up arms against a lady, especially against one whose arms are so open to all.
14. First I would like to ask her: "Shall I deal with you
severely and strictly and as they would have done in the good old days? Or would you
prefer something more indulgent, bland, sophisticated?" If in that austere mode and
manner, I shall have to call up someone from the dead, one of those old gentlemen bearded
not with the modern style of fringe that so titillates her, but with one of those bristly
bushes we see on antique statues and portrait-busts. And be will scold the woman and speak
for me and keep her from getting angry with me as she might otherwise do. So let us call
up some ancestor of hers, preferably old blind Appius Claudius himself. He will be the
least likely to be grieved, since he won't have to look at her. Doubtless if he rose among
us be would say something about like this: "Woman,
what business did you have with Caelius, a man scarce out of his teens, a man not your
husband? Why were you so friendly with him as to lend him gold? Or how did you grow so
unfriendly as to fear his poison? Did you never hear that your father, uncle, grandfather,
great-grandfather, great-great-grandfather, and great-great-great-grandfather were
consuls? Did you forget that only recently you were the wife of Quintus Metellus, a
gentleman of the highest type, a distinguished patriot who had only to show his face to
eclipse almost all other citizens in character, reputation, dignity? Born of a
high-ranking family, married into a prominent family, how did it happen that you admitted
Caelius to such familiarity? Was he a relative or friend of your husband? Not at all. What
was it then but hot and headstrong passion? If the portraits of us male ancestors meant
nothing to you, how could my granddaughter, Quinta Claudia, have failed to inspire you to
emulate her domestic virtue and womanly glory? Or that vestal virgin of our name who kept
her arms around her father throughout his triumph and foiled the tribune's attempt to drag
him from his chariot? Why choose to imitate your brother's vices in preference to the good
qualities of your father and grandfather and of men and women of our line on back to
myself? Did I break the agreement with King Pyrrhus that you might every day enter into
disgusting agreements with your paramours? Did
I bring in the Appian Aqueduct that you might put its waters to your dirty uses? Did I
15. But perhaps it was a mistake for me to introduce such an august personage, gentlemen. He might suddenly turn on Caelius and make him feel the weight of his censorial powers. Though I will see to this later; I am convinced I can justify Marcus Caelius' behavior to the most captious of critics. But as for you, woman-I am not speaking to you now through the mouth of another-if you have in mind to make good what you are doing, saying, pretending, plotting, and alleging, you had better do some explaining as well, and account for this extraordinarily intimate association. The prosecutors have been lavish with their tales of affairs, amours, adulteries, Baiae, beach-picnics, banquets, drinking-bouts, songfests, musical ensembles, and yachting parties. And they indicate that they are describing all this with your full permission. Since for some rash, mad purpose you have been willing to have all these stories come out at a trial in the forum, you must either tone down their effect by showing they are groundless, or else admit that no one need believe your charges and your testimony.
But if you would rather I dealt with you more suavely, I will take this tack: I will whisk that old fellow off the scene, unfeeling rustic that he is, and will bring on someone of your own day, your younger brother, say, the most sophisticated of all that crew. He loves you dearly. When be was a young sprout he used to sleep with big sister because, I am told, he was subject to mysterious nervousness and fanciful fears at night. Suppose we let him talk to you: "Why are you making such a fuss, sister? Why are you behaving like an insane woman?
Why, with shout and speech inflate A little thing into a great?
You saw a young man living nearby. He bad a fresh complexion. He
was tall. He was handsome. His eyes were attractive. You were much taken with all this.
You wanted to see him more often. You met sometimes on the same suburban estates. A woman
of means, you thought to bind the young man with fetters of gold, still dependent on a
tightfisted father. But you can't. He kicks, be spits, he bucks. He doesn't set much value
on your presents. Well, go somewhere else. You have gardens on the
16. I come now to you, Caelius. It is your turn now, and I must assume the authority and severity of a father. But I am in doubt as to what type of parent I ought to be. Shall I enact that choleric, flinty specimen in Caecilius:
Now at length my soul is burning, Now my heart is heaped with wrath.
Or that other one:
You wretch! You rascal!
Overbearing and past all bearing are fathers of that ilk:
What shall I wish? What shall I say?
You swine! your faults in every way
Cause all I wish to go astray!
Such a father would say:
"Why did you move to that whorish neighborhood? Why didn't
you escape when you saw the snares?"
Why did you flirt with another man's wife?
Scatter your pennies like peas?
Well, in your hour of trouble and strife
Don't come to me if you please.
I mean to hug for the rest of my life
Myself in my own bed of ease.
To such a disagreeable, blunt old curmudgeon Caelius might reply that it was not monetary considerations that made him stray. "What proof of that?" His lack of exorbitant expenses, lavish outlay, need to refinance debts. "But what about the stories?" How many people can escape gossip, especially in a town that dotes on it so? Do you wonder that the woman's neighbor was talked about when her own brother couldnt keep nasty people from spreading rumors? Suppose I play the part of the kind and forgiving father, the one, you know, who says:
So my son has demolished the door?
We'll rebuild it once more.
Has he ripped all his wardrobe to tatters?
Well, not that that matters.
Then Caelius will have an easy time of it. For he will have no trouble defending all his conduct. I am not saying anything against that woman now; but if there were someone-not the same as her, you understand-some woman who made herself cheap and easy to approach, who always bad some man or other banging about openly acknowledged as her current interest, in whose gardens and home and place at Baiae anybody and everybody could arrange assignations with her permission, who even boarded young men and made up deficiencies in their allowances out of her own purse, if this person, being widowed, lived loosely, being forward, lived wantonly, being rich, lived extravagantly, being prurient, lived like a harlot, am I to think a man an adulterer if he does not address her exactly like a lady?
17. Someone will say, "Are these the lessons you taught him? Is this the way you educate young men? Was ft for this that the father entrusted his boy to you? To waste his youth in love and sensual pleasure, and then bring you in to defend his conduct and his inclinations?" In answer I might say this, gentlemen: if there ever lived a man so upright and naturally virtuous and continent that he disdained all temptations of the flesh, sacrificed body and intellect to attain his ambitions, shut his ears to the call of rest and recreation and play and the distracting voices of his fellows, and thought nothing in life worth aiming at but what is consonant with honor and dignity, such a man to my way of thinking was singularly blessed by heaven. I imagine that our Camilli, Fabricii, and Curii fell into that category, and all the heroes who did so much with so little.
But we look in vain for such paragons as things are today, and are hard put to find them even in books. The blueprints of that ancient austerity are crumbling with age. And not only in our own country, where this stem regimen was honored more in action than in words; the learned Greeks too, who used at least to be able to talk and write nobly even if they failed to live up to their teachings, have changed their code with the change in their fortunes. So some of them have taught that the wise make pleasure then universal criterion, a disgusting line of reasoning that even men of culture have dallied with. Others have opined that, the life of honor ought to be combined with the life of pleasure, glibly yoking together a pair that are sure to kick each other out of the traces. While those who say, "No, the way to glory leads straight through the land of toil and self-sacrifice," hear their words resound in almost empty lecture-halls. For nature herself woos us with honeyed words, till virtue is lulled and can scarce hold up her eyelids, and then takes her by the band and shows her those lubricious paths where she can hardly go or stay without disastrous trip or slip, and lastly indicates that wondrously enticing and richly varied world of pleasure and whispers, "Take it; it is yours." Is it any wonder that youth falls, when even seasoned climbers have been known to take the plunge? So if someone here and there is found to avert his eyes from the gorgeous surface of things, refuse to fall prey to the lures of scent and touch and taste, deaden his ears to all that sweet siren-song, I and a few others call him a darling of the gods, but the most of mankind will say he is a man of singularly morose disposition.
18. In consequence the path of rectitude lies deserted now. No one bothers to keep it open, and weed and thicket grow wild. Give youth some leeway then; allow our young men to stray a little; do not rein in every pleasure; let the ideal and forthright life suffer an occasional check; let reason give way now and then to appetite and desire. Provided that in all this some bounds are not overstepped. Let youth retain some measure of innocence; let it not corrupt another man's wife, throw away its patrimony, or whelm itself in debt; let it spare the homes and families of others, nor ruin the chaste nor wreck the righteous nor shame the good; let it abstain from violence, dangerous intrigue, and crime. So that at last when it has paid its respects to the demands of the flesh and allotted due time to boyish sport and the silly desires of the young and fervent blood, it may call a halt at last and face the claims of family, career, and country, and what reason in advance could not dissipate mere satiety may put away and experience despise.
We know many outstanding citizens, and our fathers and forefathers knew many more, gentlemen, whose youth blazed up in a holocaust of desire, only to leave in maturity a substantial residue of excellent qualities. I would rather not name names, but you can think of examples yourselves. I see no point in reviewing here the record of any illustrious life merely to smirch it by mention of some minor peccadillo. I could instance, if I liked, any number of famous men: this one as a youth chafed at the bit, that one squandered his substance on riotous living, a third was laid low by debt and extravagance, a fourth reveled in lust. But all these faults were palliated by the virtues that developed later, and anyone who cared might excuse them with the simple words, "Yes, but the man was young. "
19. But the fact is, Marcus Caelius' case is different. I can speak a little more confidently now about his more creditable activities, since I rely on your good common sense and boldly paint both sides of the picture. You will find no riotous living, no extravagance or debt in him, no ungovernable urge to go to carouses and dens of ill-repute. Not to mention the vice of gluttony, which in fact is not so characteristic of youth as of age. And the so-called delights of love, which are not generally bothersome to the more intelligent type of men when they mature-the desire flowers and withers early-never had so much power as to hold him completely enthralled. You heard him when he defended himself, you have beard him before in the role of prosecutor. (I say this not to boast of my pupil, but because his defense demands it.) And you have perception enough to understand what oratorical ability, what ease, what a wealth of words and sentiments he commands. And you saw that it was not merely a matter of natural talent, which often shines bright of itself when the light has not been nurtured by training, but rather that he had in him, unless my fondness deceivers me, a systematic knowledge that could only be the product of education and practice, of toil and midnight oil.
Well, consider, gentlemen. Those vices that Caelius is charged with and these accomplishments I am discussing can hardly coexist in the same man. It is impossible for a mind enslaved to lust, love, longing, and desire, a mind distracted by either too much or too little of that sort of thing, to meet the standards of oratory, however low they may be set. A man of that kind could not deliver a good speech; he could not even prepare one. Or do you perhaps suppose there is some other reason why there are and always have been so few men who take the pains to speak well, although there are so many rewards in fame, satisfaction, influence, and honor to be gained by it? To reach the goal you have to keep recreation at a minimum, give up your hobbies, your sport, your moments of levity, your social life, and practically cut out seeing your friends. It is the labor involved that frightens men away, and not so much that their talents or early training are deficient. If my client had lived the life of pleasure, would he, while still a very young man, have haled an ex-consul into court? If he were a mere voluptuary afraid of work, would he engage every day in legal battles, making enemies, starting suits, exposing his own neck to the axe, and in general, for months on end, with the whole Roman people as audience, fighting the fight whose end is either glory or extinction?
20. "But," you say, "I get a whiff of something rotten when think about his moving to that neighborhood and when I remember the gossip about him. And don't those trips to Baiae hint at something?" Not merely hint, they shout to heaven that a certain woman is so far gone in vice that, far from hunting for shadows and solitude to conceal her wantonness, she flaunts her outrageous conduct in broad day in the most frequented places. Anyone who thought young men ought to be forbidden to visit prostitutes would certainly be the virtuous of the virtuous, that I cannot deny. But he would be out of step not only with this easy-going age but also our ancestors, who customarily made youth that concession. Was there ever a time when this was not habitual practice, when it was censured and not permitted, in short when what is allowable was not allowed?
Here I will get to the root of the matter, without mentioning any woman's name: so much I leave to be inferred. Imagine a woman with no husband who turns her house into a house of assignation, openly behaves like a harlot, entertains at her table men who are perfect strangers, and does all this in town, in her suburban places, and in the crowded vacation land around Baiae; in fine, imagine that her walk, her way of dressing, the company she keeps, her burning glances, her free speech, to say nothing of her embraces and kisses or her capers at beach-parties and banquets and yachting-parties, are all so suggestive that she seems not merely a whore but a particularly shameless and forward specimen of the profession. Well, if a young man bad some desultory relations with her, would you call him an adulterer, Lucius Herennius, or simply a lover? Would you say he was laying siege to her innocence, or simply gratifying her lust?
Clodia, I am not thinking now of the wrongs you have done me. I am putting to one side the memory of my humiliation. I pass over your cruel treatment of my family while I was away. Consider that nothing I have said has been said against you. But I would like to ask you a few questions since the prosecutors say they have their evidence from you and are using you as their chief witness. If there were any such woman as I have just described, a woman unlike you, who lived and acted like a common prostitute, would you think it very disgraceful or dishonorable for a young man to have something to do with her? If you are not such a woman-and I hope indeed you are not-then what do you complain of in Caelius? Put if they mean to say you are, then why are we to fear such an indictment, when you yourself snap your fingers at it? Answer, and establish the defense. Either be modest and admit that Marcus Caelius did nothing out of order, or flaunt your impudence and thereby give him and all the others an excellent wherewithal to defend themselves.
21. I think my speech has now escaped the reefs and crags, and the rest of the course is clear sailing. The two principal charges have to do with serious crimes, both involving the same woman. Caelius is alleged to have got from Clodia a sum in gold, and to have prepared poison for the purpose of killing the Clodia aforesaid. He got the gold, they say, to give to Lucius Lucceius' slaves, to get them to murder Dion the Alexandrian, who was staying with Lucceius at the time. A serious charge, whether we think of it as plotting against a foreign ambassador or as suborning slaves to kill one of their master's guests. A design truly criminal in its audacity.
But first I would like to know, did Caelius tell Clodia what he wanted the money for, or not? If not, why did she give it? If he told her, then she was an accessory before the fact. Tell me, Clodia, did you dare to hand over the gold from your safe, to despoil that Venus of yours of her ornaments, as she had despoiled so many others, knowing all the while what a crime he wanted it for, knowing that it would be used to murder a legate and stain forever the name of that god-fearing, upright man, Lucius Lucceius? Your spirit ought not to have been privy to such a design, your popular home should not have been accessory to it, not your hospitable Venus made a confederate. Balbus foresaw this danger. He declared that Clodia knew nothing, that Caelius had got her to listen by saying that he wanted the gold for some shows he intended to give. If Caelius was as intimate with Clodia as you wotild picture him when you rave about his viciousness, then surely he must have told her what he wanted with it. But if he was not that intimate, I say she gave him nothing. And so, my dear lady, though I know you hate restraint, I must present you with a rather narrow choice. Either Caelius told you all, in which case you knowingly gave the gold for a criminal purpose, or he did not dare tell, in which case you did not give it at all.
22. Now need I bring forward any of the manifold reasons for disbelieving the charge? Need I point out that Marcus Caelius' character is utterly inconsistent with such a heinous crime? Is it conceivable that a man of his intelligence would not have realized he ought not to trust another mans unknown slaves in an enterprise of such danger? And as I and all other lawyers do at times, I can ask the prosecution to furnish additional information. Where did Caelius meet with Lucceius' slaves? How did he have access to them? If he approached them on his own, be was incredibly rash. But if he used an intermediary, who was it? I can discuss the thing step by step, I can flush every suspicion from cover, but not a motive will I find, nor flaw in the alibi, nor opportunity, nor accomplice nor hope of carrying the deed through and keeping it bidden, nor rational basis for action, nor clue such as a crime of that magnitude would leave. But these are the stock in trade of the advocate. And though they might have some result, I could set them before you thanks not to any ingenuity of mine but rather to my long practice and experience. Yet since they would seem mere elaborations of my own, I will leave them aside for brevitys sake.
Instead, gentlemen, I give you Lucius Lucceius himself, the best of witnesses in this regard. He is a man of highest integrity, and you will allow he is bound to be scrupulously loyal to his oatb. If be bad beard that Caelius had tendered such an affront to his fame and fortunes, he would never have overlooked it or borne it in silence. A man of such culture, interested in philosophy and its techniques and tenets, how could be have been indifferent to the danger of one whom be esteemed for attainment in that very field? How could he have failed to guard against a crime aimed at a friend in his own house, when he would be deeply shocked to hear of such a plot against another's guest? He would be indignant if told that such a thing had been done by persons unknown. Would he be indulgent on learning it bad been attempted by his own slaves? He would censure the deed if done in a field or a public square. Would he shrug it off when tried in the city under his own roof? He would not ignore such a danger if offered to some country fellow or other. But with all his education would he think a plot against a great scholar's life ought to be cloaked in silence? But why keep you longer, gentlemen? Hear his own words given under oath. Attend carefully to the details of his testimony, and remember that you are listening to a man of scrupulous integrity.
Let the deposition of Lucius Lucceius be read. [Deposition is read by clerk.] What more would you have? Are you waiting for Truth herself to stand up and tell you the facts? This is the defense that innocence offers; these are the facts themselves speaking; this is the very voice of Truth. The charge is bolstered by no suspicious circumstance. No evidence has been presented. They say that a certain act was committed, but give not a scrap of proof as to expressed intention or place or time. They name no witness, no accomplice. Their whole case was concocted in a house that specializes in hatred, defamation, cruelty, lust, and crime whereas the home where they say the vile deed was attempted is a place of honor, dignity, respect for duty and morality. You heard the words of the master of that household delivered under oath. Now you must squarely face the choice of which to believe. Did a headstrong, dissolute, angry woman manufacture this accusation? Or did a serious, wise, and temperate man give false testimony against all his scruples?
23. We have the business of the poison left to dispose of. And of that I cannot, in a very real sense, make head or tail. What motive bad Caelius for poisoning the woman? To get out of paying back the gold? But she had not dunned him for it, bad she? To get rid of an accomplice? No one had charged him with anything, bad they? And most important, would this trial ever have taken place if Caelius himself had not brought on someone else's trial? Why it was even admitted that Lucius Herennius would never have had one word to say against Caelius if Caelius had not prosecuted his friend twice on the same account.
Are we to believe then that the attempt was unmotivated? Don't you see, gentlemen, they have invented that whole story about Dion just to provide Caelius with a motive for poisoning Clodia? Well, who was trusted with the task? Who was his helper, confederate, accomplice? Who was to do the deed? Whose bands did be put his life into? The woman's slaves? so they say. You credit him with a little intelligence, gentlemen, even if you were to agree with the prosecution in not allowing him anything else. Well, was this intelligent man so insane as to trust all his fortunes to somebody else's slaves? And what sort of slaves? Certainly not the ordinary sort, but ones that be knew lived on pretty free and easy terms with their mistress. Who can fail to see, gentlemen, that slaves are not really slaves in a house where a Roman lady lives like a prostitute, where nothing is done that she can afford to have aired in public, and where the order of the day is not just your run-of-the mill type of orgy and debauchery, but enormities and vices undreamt of? In such a household the slaves would have to be trusted to carry out the orders, take part in the brawls, and keep things under cover. And no doubt they would get their share of their mistress's overflowing bounty. Do you suppose Caelius had not understood that? If he was as intimate with the woman as you would have him, he must have known that the slaves were equally intimate. But if he did not frequent the house as much as you insinuate, how could he have become so friendly with the help?
24. Again, what is the story about the poison itself? Where did it come from? How was it procured? Who was the go-between? How? Where? They allege that Caelius bad it in his house and tested its efficiency on a slave that he had brought in for the purpose. And that when the slave speedily turned up his heels, my client gave the potion his stamp of approval.-O gods above, why do you wink at the most monstrous crimes now and then, and take your time about punishing the sinner?
I was present, and saw with my own eyes, and drained the bitterest cup of my life, when Quintus Metellus was snatched away from the bosom of his fatherland. A fine man, never doubting that he had been born to serve his country well. I remember him a short time before he died. He was active in his public duties, came to the senate house, spoke from the rostra. He was in the prime of life, bad a rugged constitution, looked to be in the best of health. But three days later he was gone, an irreparable loss to the conservative party and the nation as a whole. I remember how be died. His mental faculties had begun to desert him, but his country was in his thoughts to the last. As I was weeping beside him, be looked at me, and, his words faltering, his voice failing, be warned me what a storm was threatening me, what a tempest was overhanging the state. And time and again he struck the wall that partitioned his room from the house next door where Quintus Catulus had lived, and called out, "Catulus! Catulus!" And then be would call my name. But more than anything he spoke of the republic. His chief mortification was not so much that he was dying, as that be would no longer be here to protect his country or me. This was the kind of man he was. When he was consul and his brother-in-law, being then in the first stages of his insanity, was bellowing out something or other, Metellus declared in the hearing of the senate that be would kill Clodius with his own band. What wouldn't he have done when the lunacy was full-blown, if he had not suddenly, violently, and nefariously been whisked off the scene? And is it from his home that this woman dares to saunter forth and spread tales about swift working poisons? One would suppose that she would be afraid the very house might speak, that she would shudder to behold those guilty walls or recall that night of gloom and travail. But let me get back to the charge. For even to mention that good man's name weighs my heart with grief and renders me scarce able to speak for tears.
25. Still there is nothing said about where the poison came from or bow it was procured. They say it was given to Publius Licinius, a modest young man of good character, one of Caelius' friends. The slaves, they say, had instructions to go to the Senian baths. Licinius was to meet them there and band over the poison in a little wooden box. I would like to know first why they agreed to meet at that particular place? Why didn't the slaves come to Caelius' house? If he was still on such excellent terms with Clodia, what would have been suspicious about one of her slaves being seen at his place? But on the other band if they had had a quarrel and broken off, and no longer had anything to do with each other, in that case doubtless one might say: "Hence those tears!" Here one would have the explanation for all those crimes be is accused of.
"No, no! That isn't it at all," says my opponent. 'When the slaves had revealed to their mistress the full extent of Caelius' wickedness, the clever lady told them to promise him anything, but, so as to catch Licinius in the very act of handing over the poison, she directed them to make a rendezvous at the Senian baths. And she was going to post friends there to lurk around in the shadows till Licinius had appeared and was handing the poison over, and then they were to jump out and lay hold of their man."
26. Well, gentlemen, the whole story takes very little refuting. Why did she settle on a public bathhouse? That hardly appears to me to afford a hiding-place for men in their togas. If they had stayed in the vestibule of the building, they would have been in plain sight. But if they wanted to go farther inside, they could not very comfortably have done so with their boots and clothes on, and would probably not have been admitted. (Though they might have been, of course, assuming that that lady of influence, a member of the bathkeeper's guild herself, in a manner of speaking, might have got them in by making a bargain with the bathman to exchange services in kind.) Really I was breathlessly waiting to learn who those worthy men were who could testify to catching the malefactors in the act. And waiting I am still, for not a name has been named. But I don't doubt they are frightfully respectable, seeing that they are bosom friends of this lady, and went forth on this mission for her, and squeezed all together into some cranny at the baths, which for all her power she would never have gotten any but the most reputable and dignified of men to do. But why do I bother about their dignity? just consider their diligence and valor. "They were shrouded in darkness at the bathhouse." Fine eyewitnesses! "Then they jumped out without a thought-." Wonderful examples of selfrestraint! For that is the story you tell. Licinius arrives. He has the drug container in his hand. He is about to band it over. He has not yet handed it over, when all of a sudden out fly those witnesses of yours, who have such good reputations but no names. Too late, bowever! Licinius, who already had his hand stretched out to give up the poison-box, draws it back, and the sudden assault makes him take to his heels. Great, oh great is the power of truth, that can easily defend itself against the sly, ingenious, cleverly-contrived plots of men!
27. For instance, how miserably the plot fails to work out in the whole imaginary drama we have been viewing! How impossible for the lady-dramatist to provide a denouement, though an old hand at the trade with quite an extensive list of productions. I refer of course to the alleged fact that Licinius slipped right through the bands of so many men. For there would have bad to be a good many to make sure of holding the culprit and to corroborate one another's testimony. Why did they let him escape? Was it any less feasible to catch him when he drew back and failed to band over the container than if be bad banded it over? They were stationed there to catch Licinius redhanded, and this could have been done regardless of whether be kept back the piece of evidence or had already surrendered it. This was the woman's whole plan of campaign, and this was what the men obliging her were assigned to do. And I fail to see why you say they jumped out thoughtlessly and prematurely. That was what they bad been asked to do and put there to do; they were supposed to flush into the open the poison and the plot and the whole nasty business. What better time to pounce than when Licinius bad arrived and was holding the box of poison in his hand? If the lady's friends had waited to make their sudden sally from the baths and seize their prey after the slaves had already received the poison, Licinius would protest his innocence and deny ever having laid a finger on the box. And bow would they prove be was lying? By saying they saw him? In the first place they would invite prosecution on a very serious charge, and secondly they would claim to have seen something impossible to see from where they were posted. Consequently they came out on cue when Licinius had appeared and was taking out the box, stretching forth his hand, and delivering up the poison. Well, this is a closing scene worthy of broad farce, not serious drama. When the author is at a loss how to work out his plot, he throws in a chase and gives somebody the slip. Then clogdance by the whole company, and curtain!
28. Licinius stumbles, turns this way and that, backs away, tries to flee. And yet that womanish handful of men come away empty-handed. Why? I would like to know. Why didn't they take him? Why didn't they nail down the charge by catching him with the goods before a crowd of witnesses and making him confess? Were they afraid so many strong, nimble fellows could not overpower one poor, weak, frightened youth? There is no proof in fact, no basis for suspicion as to motive, and the accusation leads nowhere. Consequently their whole case rests on the reliability of their witnesses, since there is no question here of proof, inference, or evidence, all of which are the usual prerequisites for finding out the truth.
I am waiting for these witnesses, gentlemen. Far from being nervous about them, I rather hope to be entertained. I am simply agog to see them. First the young friends, fresh from the bath, of a lady rich and highly-born. And then the brave men the she-general stationed in ambuscade as guardians of the bath. I am anxious to know how they hid and where. Did they all crawl under a bathtub? Or was there a Trojan horse there to take in and conceal the host of invincible heroes waging their womans war? I will make them answer me: Why did so many men, and such men too, fail to capture this lone weak boy you see here while he was still standing there? Or why didn't they overtake him when he ran? They will never worm their way out if I once get them into the witness-box. Granted they may be glib and witty at the dinner table and even eloquent now and then over wine. But the forum and a dining room are two very different places. The same appeal can't be made to a court bench as to a banquet-couch. Jurors and tipplers see things through different eyes. And the sun sheds quite another sort of light than a ceiling-lamp. So I am prepared to parry all their foolish fun, if they appear. But I would like to say to them: "Listen to me. Do a favor if you like. Curry favor where you like. Show off otherwise as you please. Be as lovesome to that woman as your strength allows, outrival the others in spending, get as close to her as possible, stretch out prostrate, let her use you as she will. But do not, I beg of you, try to ruin an innocent man."
29. Moreover, acting on the advice of her prominent and aristocratic relatives, she freed those slaves we were talking about. At last we find her doing something out of regard for distinguished family. I would be curious to know what the act of freeing them means. Was it done to trump up a charge against Caelius? Or to keep them from being put to the question? Or was it necessary to reward the slaves, who had been privy to her multitudinous activities? "No, I did it because my relatives advised me to," she says. "Why wouldn't they advise you, since you told them you had discovered the affair yourself and no one else knew of it? I wonder if that dirty story going the rounds was a consequence of that imaginary box? Anything can happen to a woman like that. Everyone knows of it and talks of it. (You see, gentlemen, I have been talking for some time as I please, or rather as I dont please.) Well, if the tale is based on fact, certainly Caelius had nothing to do with the fact. Why should he have bothered? 'Probably some young sport who has more wit than modesty is to blame. But if fiction, it is indelicate, I grant, but a pretty telling anecdote. Would we all be whispering and believing it so delightedly if anything so filthy didn't, if I may say so, hit the fourpenny nail on the head?
My plea is spoken and done, gentlemen of the jury. Now you understand what matters of weighty import depend on your decision. You have been impaneled to judge a case of aggravated assault. The law involved is the one Quintus Catulus passed when the stage was almost on its last legs during armed civil conflict. It is a law vital to the sovereignty, majesty, and well-being of our country, a law that safeguards the lives and persons of all, a law under which the last smoking embers of conspiracy were extinguished after the main conflagration had been stamped out in my consulship. And this is the law now being invoked to put Caelius' young head on the block, to satisfy, not the exigencies of the nation, but the lust and caprice of one woman.
30. And yet at this point they even cite as precedents the condemnation of Marcus Camurtius and Gaius Caesernius. Foolishness! Or should I say astounding impudence? Do you dare, coming from that woman, to mention those names? Do you dare remind us of that nasty business, which time has glossed over but not blotted out quite? What was the crime they were convicted of? Nothing else but that they took vengeance for Vettius' outrageous conduct to placate this same woman's injured resentment. Did you drag Camurtius and Caesernius into the case just to bring in the Vettian affair and repeat the veteran story of the copper-piece? Of course they were not really liable to the law of aggravated assault, but they were so deeply implicated in the piece of mischief they did not deserve to escape the noose of justice.
But why is Marcus Caelius being baled into this court? Nothing he
is charged with falls within the province of this judicial body, or even, the law aside,
under the bane of your censure. His early youth was entirely devoted to training those
skills that I myself use in forum and administration as a means to honor, prestige, and
glory. His circle of friends includes such older men as he particularly wished to imitate
in industry and self-control, and such of the finest and noblest of his contemporaries as
were aiming like him at careers in the government. When be had grown a little older and
steadier he went to
31. 1 wish his appetite for fame had led him in some other direction, but then the occasion of our difference is gone and forgotten. He accused Gaius Antonius, my colleague in the consulship. Antonius unfortunately could not make the memory of his signal services to his country outweigh the impression produced by his alleged misdeeds. No one else of his age ever after that outshone Caelius in the forum, or outdid him in helping friends in business or in the courts, and no one in those circles was more widely popular. Then, at the turning-point of his career-you are all sensible, cultivated men of the world, and I have nothing to hide--as our young man's car was rounding the bend of the racecourse, his reputation suffered a slight check. He was introduced to a new lady-friend, a new and unlucky neighborhood, a hitherto unsampled life of pleasure. Now desire, when it has been repressed too long, dammed up and hemmed in throughout early youth, sometimes suddenly breaks the barrier and pours out in a flood. From this sort of life-or rather from this alleged sort of life, since it was never so bad as people made out, but be that as it may-he emerged, completely and totally rescued himself. And he is so far from being on friendly terms with her today that it is her enmity and hatred he is busy repelling.
Then to put a stop to all the gossip about his being caught in the toils of sloth and dalliance, he prosecuted a friend of mine for illegal electioneering-much against my will, but still he did it, though I exerted all my influence. And when the man was acquitted, he called for a retrial. He pays no attention to any of us and is more vehement than I would like. But I am not talking about wisdom now, something not to be expected in one of his age; I am talking about the keenness of his mind, his desire to win or die, his consuming passion for glory. Such appetites in men of our age ought to be pruned down. But when they appear in youth, like green shoots they show what a harvest of virtue and industry there will be when the crop is ripe. Young men of parts always have to be reined in rather than spurred on to fame. More has to be clipped than sown at that age, if there is to be any blossoming at all of talent. So if he boils over now and then, if he seems excessively violent and fierce and stubborn in making enemies or carrying on feuds, if anyone is offended by trifles in him, his rich purple robe, his gangs of friends, his splendid, elegant appearance, reflect that those things will soon pass into thin air, that age and time and circumstance soon will have mellowed them all.
32. Do not then, gentlemen, rob the state of an accomplished citizen whose heart is, politically speaking, in the right place. I promise you and go surety to the republic that, if ever I myself have given her satisfactory service, this young man will follow the path where I have led the way. This I say not only on the basis of the friendship between us, but because be has already obligated himself in the strictest possible way by his own conduct. No one who has prosecuted an ex-consul for malfeasance in office can afford to cause trouble to the state. No man who has not even acquiesced in the acquittal of one be accused of illegal electioneering can ever afterwards get away with buying votes Marcus Caelius has given the state two prosecutions, gentlemen, which may serve either as guarantees of his good behavior or as hostages against his causing any danger.
A few days ago Sextus Clodius was acquitted. For the past two
years be has been either helper or bead man at every riot. A wretch equally innocent of
property, propriety, probity, prospects, or prosperity, foul-faced, foul-tongued,
foul-banded, foul everything, with his own bands he set fire to one of our holy temples
and consumed the census lists and official records of the Roman people. He defaced
Catulus' monument, razed my residence, burned my brotber's, and on the Palatine Hill while
the whole city looked on aghast called on the slaves to rise and burn
And when you consider Caelius' youth, consider too this poor old man, who is wrapped up in his only son, who rests all his hopes on him and trembles for his fate. He appeals to your pity, puts himself entirely in your hands. And if he is not prostrate at your feet it is because be relies on your moral sensibilities. Remember your own parents, your delight in your own children, and lift him up. Here you may make another's grief the occasion of indulging your own family feeling and native goodness of heart. Gentlemen, the elder Caelius is failing fast. Do not deal him such a blow as to make him long for extinction before the time that nature has ordained. And Caelius the younger, now in the green of youth, are you to lay him low as by a sudden storm? Do not rob father of son and son of father. Do not despise an old man now all but in despair. And this young man, so full of hope, who waits for your nurturing hand, will you smite and uproot instead? Give him back to us, to his loved ones, to his country, and you will bind him to serve you and your children all his natural life, and you yourselves will enjoy the rich and abundant fruit of all his labor and effort.