Page images

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 ir 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.

[blocks in formation]

Murena was tried in the latter half of November, B C 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 (S$ 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 in 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 :

therefore, do not condemn a Murena, to make room for a

(3) The needs of the moment are more pressing than the

dangers of ambitus:
granting that Murena may have been guilty to some
extent of the latter, he is the very man to meet the
former :
therefore, look to the more patriotic side, and acquit

Murena. Such were the arguments which procured an acquittal; and, for aught I can see, they are very good ones. It mattered little that they were irrelevant to the charge (see Appendix A): they were such as Roman jurors could not resist; and the object was to persuade these. As to the style of the speech, it displays a decided archness and humour, as in the treatment of jurisprudence (S$ 19-30), and in that of the paradoxical dogmas of the Porch ($S 61–65), in the description of Sulpicius' want of electioneering tact (88 43-47, cf Quintil XI 1 § 69), and of Cato's perverse refusal to recognize ordinary practices ($S 68–77, cf Quintil XI I § 70). X It is also remarkable for its moderation. This is without doubt due to the circumstances in which the speaker was placed. He was pleading on the opposite side to Cato and Sulpicius, two intimate friends; and it would not only have been distasteful, but have weakened his case, had he given the rein to oratorical vehemence. It is not to be wondered at that when Cicero fell upon the Stoics Cato smiled, and turning to the bystanders said 'sirs, how witty our consul is' (Plut Cato 21). If we turn to the scornful attack on the Epicureans in pro Sestio § 23 foll, we see how different a tone the orator could take when it suited him : and we know well that neither Cato nor Sulpicius made any difference in their feelings or behaviour towards Cicero after the delivery of this speech.

To give some idea of the opinion entertained of the speech by a great critic, it may be well to mention that it is alluded to by Quintilian no less than sixteen times, most of these taking the form of quotations in illustration of some rhetorical figure or device. It supplies also a first-rate instance of varied expression, for jurisprudence and its practice are spoken of by seventeen different names (S$ 9, 19, 22—25, 28-30). The humorous appli

cation of the phraseology of the Porch (S$ 3, 60, 77) is also worthy of notice, while the artful introduction of the argument from stateexpediency (S$ 78–80) is beyond all praise. The inaccuracies as to matters of fact, which are commented on in the notes, do not detract from the merit of the speech : as instances of oratorical intensification (delvwois, Quintil y 2 § 24) we may refer to the pictures of Mithridates ($$ 32—34) and of the dangers to be dreaded from the accomplices of Catiline (S$ 78—85).

It is always to be remembered that we have the speech not as it was delivered (see on § 57), but as it was prepared for publication ; and it is not unlikely that some of the more finished passages (such as $ş 62—65) received their last touch after the trial.

[Sed in his quidem, in quibus vel iudici vel etiam astantibus ratio nostrae moderationis probari debet, minor est labor; illic plus difficultatis, ubi ipsos, contra quos dicimus, veremur offendere. duae simul huiusmodi personae Ciceroni pro Murena dicenti obstiterunt, M Catonis Serviique Sulpicii. quam decenter tamen Sulpicio, cum omnes concessisset virtutes, scientiam petendi consulatus ademit! quid enim aliud esset, quo se victum homo nobilis et iuris antistes magis ferret ? ut vero rationem defensionis suae reddidit, cum se studuisse petitioni Sulpicii contra honorem Murenae, non idem debere actioni contra caput, diceret ! quam molli autem articulo tractavit Catonem! cuius naturam summe admiratus non ipsius vitio sed Stoicae sectae quibusdam in rebus factam duriorem videri volebat ; ut inter eos non forensem contentionem sed studiosam disputationem crederes incidisse. haec est profecto ratio, et certissimum praeceptorum genus illius viri observatio, ut, cum aliquid detrahere salva gratia velis, concedas alia omnia : in hoc solo vel minus peritum quam in ceteris, adiecta, si poterit fieri, etiam causa, cur id ita sit, vel paulo pertinaciorem vel credulum vel iratum, vel impulsum ab aliis. hoc illis commune remedium est, nisi in tota actione aequaliter appareat non honor modo sed etiam caritas. praeterea causa sit nobis iusta sic dicendi, neque id moderate tantum faciamus sed etiam necessario. Quintil XI 1 SS 68-72.)

« PreviousContinue »