Page images
PDF
EPUB

I

valued his worth very highly, but to have generally looked upon his plans as unpractical, in fact as a useless protest against the degeneracy of the times (ad Att i 18 $ 7, 11 I § 8, IV 16 $ 12, XI 7 § 4, and de off III § 88, de divinat i § 24, parad § 1, pro Mur passim, etc....). In the year B C 46, when the Pompeian cause in Africa had been lost at the battle of Thapsus, Cato withdrew to Utica, and after deliberation slew himself, feeling that he had no further mission to perform. Even under the Caesars the praises of Cato were sung by the poets in their choicest lines : see in par. ticular Hor carm 12 35, III 24, A P 14, Virg Aen VIII 670 ; a 'speech of Cato when at the point to die' formed a favourite rhetorical exercise in the schools (Persius III 45): but his true epitaph was written by Lucan (Phars i 128).

victrix causa deis placuit, sed victa Catoni. The following lines (11 380 foll) also deserve quotation :

...hi mores, haec duri immota Catonis
secta fuit; servare modum finemque tenere,
naturamque sequi patriaeque impendere vitam;

nec sibi sed toti genitum se credere mundo. And again (11 388, 9).

..urbi pater est, urbique maritus;

iustitiae cultor, rigidi servator honesti. Such was the man who declared before this consular election that he would prosecute any candidate whom he found to have been guilty of corrupt practices as defined by the existing law (pro Mur § 62, Plut Cato 21). But Catiline fled from Rome to join the rebel band of Gaius Manlius, which section of the conspirators had already raised in Etruria the standard of open revolt. One of the successful candidates, Silanus, was married to Cato's sister, and Cato yielded so far as to spare a brother-in-law. The course which he finally adopted was, to join forces with Sulpicius, then getting up his case. The latter then gave up his designs against Silanus, took Cato to be a subscriptor, and the two directed their whole strength against Murena. Cato was at this time tribuneelect. Though a Stoic, he was a fine speaker (Brutus 8 118).

(3) Servius Sulpicius Rufus, another subscriptor in this case, is generally represented as the son of the accuser. But had this been so we must have found some allusion to it in the speech.

upon st the , XI 7

Mur use in

Halm then is right in leaving his identity undefined. In § 57 the titulus speaks of him as adulescens, and from $ 56 we learn that his father was a friend of Murena.

ew to

(4) Gaius Postumus seems to have been the name of the third subscriptor, about whom nothing more seems to be known than is to be found in the speech, $$ 54, 56, 57, 69.

Ed no

ses of

par

VIII urite

iii. For the Defence.

[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

(1) Marcus Tullius M F M N Cicero was born at Arpinum BC 106. To attempt any remarks on his character would be out of place here. The facts connected with him which have most to do with the present case are these. In the year of his consulship (B C 63) he was brought face to face with one of the most serious dangers that ever threatened Rome, the foul conspiracy of Catiline. His watchfulness and energy thwarted all the plans of the band of traitors, and without doubt saved the State, as he is never weary of telling us. The story is written in Roman history and needs no repetition here. Early in the same year, following the declared will of the Senate, he had carried a law to supplement the lex Calpurnia de ambitu, imposing more stringent penalties and defining more accurately the practices regarded by the law as 'corrupt' (see notes on $$ 46, 47). When Murena was accused of ambitus, the consul, to the surprise of some, came forward to defend him. His reasons for this course were,—

(a) He had been returning officer at the election, and felt

bound to support the man whom he had declared duly

elected. $$ 1, 3. (b) He had been exposed to great dangers in his own year

of office, and must needs feel for his successor, who would

have to carry out what he had begun. $$ 3, 4. (c) Murena was an old friend. $$ 5, 8, 10. (d) Murena was innocent. $§ 5, 67–77. (e) One who had risen to be praetor and consul by his

efforts as a pleader could not refuse the brief. $$ 8, 9, 10. (1) The safety of the State demanded the acquittal of the

consul-elect. $ 4, 78–85. Cic. pro L Mur.

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

These are stated in the speech with more or less sincerity, and some serve as arguments for the defence. But from his own admissions (see note on 79) it is pretty clear that only (f) and perhaps (c) can really have had much weight with him.

(2) Quintus Hortensius, who seems also to have borne the name Hortalus (ad Att II 25 $1, IV 15 $4), the famous rival of Cicero in the forum, was born BC 114, and early gave proofs of great talent (Brutus § 228). At the age of 19 he made his first appearance as a speaker, and won the approval of even the most exacting connoisseurs (ib § 229). His reputation increased with his experience (ib § 301), and he became the leading orator of the day. He was noted for almost preternatural powers of memory (ib § 301), for intense interest in and application to his profession (ib § 302), and for the nicely-balanced arrangement both of his opening speeches and replies (ib § 302). His style of oratory is characterized as tasteful finished and rich, the result of great ability strengthened by constant practice (ib § 303). He never failed to bring out all the points of his argument and make the best of his case (ib § 303). His voice was ringing and clear, his delivery pleasing ; but he was inclined to overdo movement and gesture (ib § 303). He died in B C 50 (ib § 229). He had ranked above Cicero as a pleader until the great Verres case (B C 70), after which Cicero stood out with a decided superiority (see I in Verrem $ 35 and Mr Forsyth's life of Cicero, ch 4, for the tactics of the Defence in that trial). Cicero, when he became consul, changed his politics and supported the party of the optimates. This is why we find the latter pleading on the same side as Hortensius in the present trial.

(3) Marcus Licinius P F Crassus, a contemporary of Hortensius (Brutus § 233), with little learning and less ability, rose by his diligent mastery of cases and by his personal influence to the front rank of advocates (ib § 233), a position which he maintained for many years. His language was terse and correct, the matter handled with care ; but he lacked brilliancy of diction. Though he got very excited, he never betrayed it in his voice, but spoke in a passionless unvarying tone (ib § 233), which may perhaps be accounted for by his deafness (Tusc disp v § 116).

Though not born to wealth (Plut Crass 1) he attained by frugality and judicious speculation to a vast fortune, so that he was nicknamed “millionaire' (dives) and is spoken of proverbially (Crasso invidere, Cic ad Att II 4 § 2) as the wealthiest man of his day. He fell BC 53 in an ambuscade during an expedition against the Parthians (Lucan 1 104), and is placed by Plutarch alongside of the Athenian Nikias as an instance of an awful end following upon a moderate and circumspect life.

iv. The Trial.

Murena was tried in the latter half of November, BC 63. Catiline had left Rome ($$ 78, 83), and this was on Nov 7th, (Mr Wilkins' ed of Catil speeches, intr $$ 18, 19); again, Cato had not yet entered on his office of tribune ($ 58, 81), and this took place on Dec roth. Cases of ambitus were dealt with by one of the quaestiones perpetuae (first established BC 149 in cases of repetundae, Cic Brutus § 106), the jury being presided over by one of the praetors. For the state of the laws concerning bribery, see notes on § 46, and for the composition of the jury, Appendix B. The names of the pleaders on both sides and a short notice of each are given above. Murena was also supported by the appearance in court of several men of mark, the most prominent being Lucius Licinius Lucullus (§ 20). Whether the accused was guilty of the charges brought against him is not certain ; but from the stress laid by Cicero on the political exigencies of the time (S$ 4, 79), and the orator's own boast (pro Flacco $ 98, cf Quintil VI I § 35), we naturally infer that he was. At any rate he was acquitted, for he held the consulship in the following year.

C. Remarks on the Speech.

Mr Forsyth well says 'it is a striking proof of the elastic energy of Cicero's mind that, at the very moment of the explosion of the conspiracy, and in the midst of the most awful danger, he was able to deliver in defence of one of his friends a speech distinguished by its light wit and good-humoured raillery.' If we put ourselves for a moment at that point of the case where the consul rises to speak we see that (1) He had been charged with inconsistency and with con

doning illegal acts by undertaking the defence. (2) Murena's life had been painted in glaring colours as

profligate and unworthy of the consulship. (3) Murena had been charged with corrupt practices at the

election. (4) Sulpicius had been held up as a model candidate, who

would have been elected but for these practices; and

Cicero himself had supported his candidature. It was clear that the first three of these points would only bear very gentle handling, and (3) had been dealt with in detail by the juniors. The case was otherwise with regard to (4). Sulpicius had taken a false step when he made light of Murena's services in the field : it was easy to retort on him with double force by attacking the ‘nice sharp quillets' of the jurists in a tone of bantering raillery. There was also an opening for retort in (3); for Cato had put forward the specific charges not merely as open violations of the written law, but as opposed to the moral principles of the Stoic school. It was self-evident that a playful exposure of the unpractical nature of the Stoic paradoxes would seriously weaken the force of those charges which were formidable chiefly from the reputation of Cato. But no one knew better than Cicero that the real key to the defence lay the political situation of the moment. Catiline's conspiracy was discovered but not crushed : the ringleader was still in arms, the capital was thought to be full of his accomplices. There were then three lines of defence to be employed. (1) The commonwealth needs all its officers at this crisis :

but the meeting of the centuries for the election of a new consul before Jan I may be prevented by dozens of things (e g religious scruples about an omen):

therefore, keep the consuls you have.
(2) The man for the time must be a man of action, not of

forms and quibbles :
Murena is the former : Sulpicius the latter :

« PreviousContinue »