« PředchozíPokračovat »
robbed, the civil and religious rights of a people violated. The employment he held in Asia Minor and Pamphylia, What did it produce but the ruin of those countries? -in which houses, cities and temples were robbed by him. What was his conduct in his prætorship here at home? Let the plundered temples, and public works, neglected (that he might embezzle the money intended for carrying them on) bear witness. How did he discharge the office of a judge? Let those who suffered by his injustice answer. But his prætorship in Sicily crowns all his works of wickedness,and finishes a lasting monument to his infamy. The mischiefs done by him in that unhappy country, during the three years of his iniquitous administration, are such, that many years, under the wisest and best of prætors, will not be sufficient to restore things to the condition in which he found them; for, it is notorious, that during the time of his tyranny, the Sicilians neither enjoyed the protection of their own original laws, of the regulations made for their benefit by the Romon Senate, upon their coming under the protection of the commonwealth, nor of the natural and unalienable rights of men. His nod has decided all causes in Sicily for these three years: and his decisions have broke all law, all precedent, all right. The sums he bas, by arbitrary taxes and unheard of impositions, extorted from the industrious poor, are not to be computed. The most faithful allies of the commonwealth have been treated as enemies. Roman citizens have, like slaves, been put to death with tortures. The most atrocious criminals, for money, have been exempted from the deserved punishments; and men of the most unexceptionable characters,condemned and banished unheard.. The harbors, though sufficiently fortified, and the gates of strong towns opened to pirates and ravagers. The soldiery and sailors, belonging to a province under the protection of the commonwealth, starved to death. Whole fleets, to the great detriment of the province, suffered to perish. The ancient monuments of either Sicilian or Roman greatness, the statues of heroes and princes carried of; and the temples stripped of the images. Having, by his iniquitous sentences, filled the
prisons with the most industrious and deserving of the people, he then proceeded to order numbers of Roman citizens to be strangled in the gaols; so that the exclamation." I am a citizen of Rome!" which has often, in the most distant regions, and among the most barbarous people, been a protection, was of no service to them; but on the contrary, brought a speedier and more severe punishment upon them.
I ask now Verres, what you have to advance against this charge? Will you pretend to deny it? Will you pretend that any thing false, that even any thing aggravated, is alleged against you? Had any prince, or any state, committed the same outrage against the privilege of Roman citizens, should we not think we had sufficient ground for declaring immediate war against them? What punishment ought, then, to be inflicted upon a tyrannical and wicked praetor, who dared, at no greater distance than Sicily, within sight of the Italian coast, to put to the infamous death of crucifixion, that unfortunate and innocent citizen, Publius Gavius Cosanus, only for his having asserted his privilege of citizenship, and declared his intention of appealing to the justice of his country, against a cruel oppressor, who had unjustly confined him in prison, at Syracusa, whence be had just made his escape? The unhappy man, arrested as he was going to embark for his native country, is brought before the wicked praetor. With eyes darting fury, and a countenance distorted with cruelty, he orders the helpless victim of his rage to be stripped, and rods to be brought, accusing him, but without the least shadow of evidence, or even of suspicion, of having come to Sicily as a spy. It was in vain that the unhappy man cried out, "I am a Roman citizen; I have served under Lucius Pretius, who is now at Panormus, and will attest my innocence." The blood thirsty praetor, deaf to all he could urge in his own defence, ordered the infamous punishment to be inflicted. Thus, Fathers, was an innocent Roman citizen publicly mangled with scourging; whilst the only words he uttered amidst his cruel sufferings, were, "I am a Roman citizen!" With these he hoped to defend himself from violence and infamy. But of so little
service was this privilege to him, that while he was thus asserting his citizenship, the order was given for his execution for his execution upon the cross!
O liberty 1-0 sound once delightful to every Roman ear!-- sacred privilege of Roman citizenship ;once sacred-now trampled upon !-but what then!Is it come to this ? shall an inferior magistrate, a governor, who holds his whole power of the Roman people,. in a Roman province, within sight of Italy, bind, scourge, torture with fire, and red hot plates of iron, and at last put to the infamous death of the cross, a Roman citizen? Shall neither the cries of innocence, expiring in agony, nor the tears of pitying spectators, nor the majesty of the Roman commonwealth, nor the fear of the justice of his country, restrain the licentious and wanton cruelty of a monster, who in confidence of his riches, strikes at the root of liberty, and sets mankind at defiance ?
I conclude with expressing my hopes, that your wisdom and justice, fathers, will not, by suffering the atrocious and unexampled insolence of Caius Verres to escape the due punishment, leave room to apprehend the danger of a total subversion of authority, and introduc-tion of general anarchy and confusion.
II.-Cicero for Milo...
THAT you may be able the more easily to determineupon this point before you, I shall beg the favor of an attentive hearing, while, in a few words, I lay open the whole affair.-Clodius being determined, when created praetor, to harrass his country with every species of oppression, and finding the comitia had been delayed so long the year before, that he could not hold this office many months, all on a sudden threw up his own year, and reserved himself to the next; not from any relig ious scruple, but that he might have, as he said himself, a full, entire year for exercising his praetorship; that is, for overturning the commonwealth. Being sensible he must be controlled and cramped in the exercise of his praetorian authority under Mito, 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 overrule them in every thing, had the soul 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 alive-he 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 hewas obliged to leave a tumultuous assembly which he had suminoned 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 usual, till his wife had got ready to attend him, and then set forward, about the time that Clodious, 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 wave 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, aud 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 ali nations in general, and even nature itselfinstructs the brutes to defend their bodies, limbs and lives when attacked, by all possible methods, you cannot pronounce this action criminal without determining at the same time, that whoever 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 failen by the hands of Clodius, who had more than once before this made an attempt upon his