« PreviousContinue »
entire year for exercising his prætorship; that is, for Overturning the commonwealth. Being sensible he must be controlled and cramped in the exercise of his prætorian authority under Milo, "who, he plainly saw, would be chosen consul, by the unanimous consent of the Roman people; he joined the candidates that opposed -Milo, but in such a manner that he overruled them in every thing, had the sole management of the election, and, as he often used to boast, bore all the comitia upon his own shoulders. He assembled the tribes; he thrust himself into their councils; and formed a new tribe of the most abandoned of the citizens. The more confusion and disturbance he made, the more Milo prevailed. When this wretch, who was bent upon all manner of wickedness, saw that so brave a man, and his most inveterate enemy would certainly be consul; when he perceived this, not only by the discourses, but by the votes of the Roman people, he began to throw off all disguise, and to declare openly that Milo must be killed. He often intimated this in the Senate, and declared it expressly before the people; insomuch, that when Favonius, that brave man, asked him what prospect he could have of carrying on his furious designs, while Milo was alivehe replied, that in three or four days at most he should be taken out of the way; which reply Favonius immediately communicated to Cato.
In the mean time, as soon as Clodius knew (nor indeed was there any difficulty to come to the intelligence) that Milo was obliged by the 18th of January to be at Lanuvium, where he was dictator, in order to nominate a priest, a duty which the laws rendered necessary to be performed every year; he went suddenly from Rome the day before, in order as appears by the events, to waylay Milo, on his own grounds; and this at a time when he was obliged to leave a tumultuous assembly which he had summoned that very day, where his presence was necessary to carry on his mad designs; a thing he never would have done, if he had not been desirous to take the advantage of that particular time and place, for. perpetrating his villany. But Milo, after having staid in the Senate that day till the house was broke up, went home, changed his clothes, waited a while, as usu
al, till his wife had got ready to attend him, and then set forward, about the time that Clodius, if he had proposed to come back to Rome that day, might have returned. He meets Clodius near his own estate, a little before sunset, and is immediately attacked by a body of men, who throw their darts at him from an eminence, and kill his coachman. Upon which he threw off his cloak, leaped from his chariot, and defended himself with great bravery. In the mean time Clodius' attendants drawing their swords, some of them ran back to the chariot, in order to attack Milo in the rear; whilst others, thinking that he was already killed, fell upon his servants who were behind; these being resolute and faithful to their master, were some of them slain; whilst the rest, seeing a warm engagement near the chariot, being prevented from going to their master's assistance, hearing besides from Clodius himself that Milo was killed, and believing it to be a fact, acted upon this occasion (I mention it not with a view to elude the accusation, but because it was the true state of the case) without the orders, without the knowledge, without the presence of their master, as every man would wish his own servants should act in the like circumstances.
This, my Lords, is a faithful account of the matter of fact; the person who lay in wait was himself overcome, and force subdued by force, or rather audaciousness chastized by true valor. I say nothing of the advantage which accrues to the state in general, to yourselves in particular, and to all good men; I am content to waive the argument I might draw from hence in favor of my client, whose destiny was so peculiar, that he could not secure his own safety, without securing yours, and that of the republic at the same time. If he could not do it * lawfully, there is no room for attempting his defence. But if reason teaches the learned, necessity the barbarian, common custom all nations in general, and even na ture itself instructs the brutes to defend their bodies, himbs and lives when attacked, by all possible methods, you cannot pronounce this action criminal, without determining, at the same time, that whosoever falls into the hands of a highwayman, must of necessity perish either of the sword or your decisions. Had Milo been
of this opinion, he would certainly have chosen to have fallen by the hands of Clodius, who had more than once before this made an attempt upon his life, rather than be executed by your order, because he had not tamely yielded himself a victim to his rage. But if none of you are of this opinion, the proper question is, not whether Clodius was killed; for that we grant: But whether justly or unjustly. If it appears that Milo was the aggressor, we ask no favor; but if Clodius, you will then acquit him of the crime that has been laid to his charge.
What method, then, can we take to prove that Clodius lay in wait for Milo? It is sufficient, considering what an audacious abandoned wretch he was, to show that he lay under a strong temptation to it, that he formed great hopes, and proposed to himself great advantages, from Milo's death. By Milo's death, Clodius would not only have gained his point of being prætor, without that restraint which his adversary's power as consul, would have laid upon his wicked designs, but likewise that of being prætor under those consuls, by whose connivance, at least, if not assistance, he hoped he should be able to betray the state into the mad schemes he had been forming; persuading himself, that, as they thought themselves under so great an obligation to him, they would have no inclination to oppose any of his attempts, even if they should have it in their power; and that if they. were inclined to do it, they would, perhaps, be scarce able to control the most profligate of all men, who had been confirmed and hardened in his audaciousness, by a long series of villanies.
Milo is so far from receiving any benefit from Clodius' death, that he is really a sufferer by it. But it may be said, that hatred prevailed, that anger and resentment urged him on, that he avenged his own wrongs and redressed his own grievances. Now, if all these particulars may be applied, not merely with greater propriety to Clodius than to Milo, but with the utmost propriety to the one, and not the least to the other; what more can you desire? For why should Milo bear any other hatred to Clodius, who furnished him with such a rich harvest of glory, but that which every patriot must bear to all bad men? As to Clodius, he had motives enough for
bearing ill will to Milo; first, as my protector and guardian: then, as the opposer of his mad schemes, and the controller of his armed force: and, lastly, as his accuser.
Every circumstance, my Lords, concurs to prove that it was for Milo's interest, Clodius should live; that, on the contrary, Milo's death was a most desirable event for answering the purposes of Clodius; that on the one side there was a most implacable hatred; on the other, not the least; that the one had been continually employing. himself in acts of violence, the other only in opposing them; that the life of Milo was threatened, and his death publiely foretold by Clodius; whereas nothing of that kind was ever heard from Milo; that the day fixed for Milo's journey, was well known by his adversary; while Mile knew not when Clodius was to return; that Milo's journey was necessary, but that of Clodius rather the contrary; that the one openly declared his intention of leaving Rome that day, while the other concealed his intention of returning; that Milo made no alteration in his measures, but that Clodius feigned an excuse for altering his; that if Milo had designed to waylay Clodius, he would have waited for him near the city, till it was dark; but that Clodius, even if he had been under no apprehensions from Milo, ought to have been afraid of coming to town so late at night.
Let us now consider, whether the place where they encountered, was most favorable to Milo, or to Clodius. But can there, my Lords, be any room for doubt, or deliberation upon that? It was near the estate of Clodius, where at least a thousand able bodied men were employed in his mad schemes of building. Did Milo think he should have an advantage by attacking him from an eminence, and did he, for this reason, pitch upon that spot for the engagement; or was he not rather expected in that place by his adversary, who hoped the situation would favor his assault? The thing, my Lords, speaks for itself, which must be allowed to be of the greatest importance in determining the question. Were the af fair to be represented only by painting, instead of being expressed by words, it would even then clearly appear which was the traitor, and which was free from all mischievous designs; when the one was sitting in his char
iot, muffled up in his cloak, and his wife along with him. Which of these circumstances was not a very great incumbrance ?—the dress, the chariot, or the companion? How could he be worse equipped for an engagement, when he was wrapped up in a cloak, embarrassed with a chariot, and almost fettered by his wife? Observe the other, now, in the first place, sallying out on a sudden from his seat for what reason? In the evening, what urged him? Late, to what purpose, especially at that season? He calls at Pompey's seat; with what view? To see Pompey? He knew he was at Alsium: To see his house? He had been at it a thousand times., What, then, could be the reason of his loitering and shifting about? He wanted to be on the spot when Milo came up.
But if, my Lords, you are not yet convinced, though the thing shines out with such strong and full evidence, that Milo returned to Rome with an innocent mind, unstained with guilt, undisturbed with fear, and free from the accusations of conscience; call to mind, I beseech you, by the immortal gods, the expedition with which he came back, his entrance into the forum while the senate house was in flames, the greatness of soul he discovered, the look he assumed, the speech he made on the occasion. He delivered himself up, not only to the people, but even to the senate: nor to the senate alone, but even to guards appointed for the public security; nor merely to them, but even to the authority of him whom the senate had entrusted with the care of the whole republic; to whom he never would have delivered himself, if he had not been confident of the goodness of his cause.
What now remains, but to beseech and adjure you, my Lords, to extend that compassion to a brave man, which he disdains to implore, but which I, even against his consent, implore and earnestly intreat. Though you have not seen him shed a single tear, while all are weeping around him, though he has preserved the same steady countenance, the same firmness of voice and language, do not on this account withhold it from him.
On you, on you I call, ye heroes, who have lost so much blood in the service of your country! To you, ye centurians, ye soldiers, I appeal, in this hour of danger