Demonstrativum in M. Ciceronem
by: Marcus Horatius Piscinus
PARS I | PARS II | PARS III | PARS IV | PARS V | PARS VI | PARS VII
Were a man to enter our courts using bombast to extol vile men, slander to denigrate honorable men, would we regard such a man deserving of esteem? What of a man who condemns a person for a crime, then commits the same? What of a man who accuses others of making false allegations, then makes his own even more outlandishly? And if this man were to pose himself as some pillar of morality when his character was known to be otherwise, and if he posed himself to be privy to the councils of the Gods when in private he denied Them and ridiculed those who had faith, posed himself to be "the savior of (his) nation," revelling in his "glorious victory" of executing unarmed and untried men, claiming his actions met "the approval of the whole world" when even his closest allies refused his entreaties to laud him, would we not regard such a man a mockery and a hypocrite? Who was such a man who became the spokesman in our courts for self-interest over justice, who promenaded to the Rostra as though he had himself drank from the waters of Aganippe, that sacred fountain at the foot of Helicon where Muses wet their voice, and thereby used the gifts granted him by the gods to speak as if among the Abderitiae rather than the forthright Romani? Here is a man, Quirites, famed for his eloquence, attaining the highest offices, so that he might deceive through obfuscation and disguise crimes committed that would make even a Sulla blush. How should I speak of such a man than in the manner he had himself used against others?
O, how unfortunate for Rome that day when descended from the skies above Marcus Cicero, who claimed to take council among the Gods Themselves, to be the self-appointed guardian of our public morals. Or perhaps it was that he crawled out from rustic cloaca as a soiled Tages on turgid cloud. "Wherever Marcus Tullius is, is he the defender of the laws, the courts and the state, and does he ever lord it over in the Comitia as if he were the sole survivor of the family of the illustrious Scipio Africanus?" (Sallust 1-1) dreaming of attaining his own glory by hanging onto the hems of others. But how did you come to buy that purple stripe, Marce? Sallustius claimed of you what you had so often claimed of your opponents: "O, pray, Marce Tulli, are your deeds unknown to us? Have you not lived such a life from childhood, that you thought nothing a disgrace to your body which any other's desire prompted? Did you not in fact learn all your unchecked torrent of disgraceful language beneath Marcus Piso at the expense of squandering your chastity?" (Sallust 1-2) Who do the common street whores deride as an anemic lawyer-philosopher and call "the Danube Basin" whose seas were so often plowed in his youth? (Juvenal II) The lanky, long-necked young litigator stood with his quivering, squeaky monotone when he stood to challenge Sulla's Chrysogonus and denounced the Greeks as though he would not board passage among those goat-herders by offering himself instead. "Fornicator, embrace like kind, grasp three-hundred, none truly loving, and repeatedly, again and again, force open that bursting passage to your vital parts." (Catullus) How the great orator has grown fat on his diet of colyphia, and his basket crammed, learned in how to twist a swelling spindle or a tale of innocence like some Arachne or unkempt Antiope astride her curule stool (Juvenal II). "May the gods love me, I know not whether his mouth or his ass smells so rank." (Catullus) Unfaithful Cicero of who it was said once rubbed his backside against his Greek teachers, now turns his back towards them, as so often he employed the talents of his mouth to either this side or that, whichever offered his price. Scorn he shed on a woman as a "four-penny Clytemnestra" when truly he sought a heavier purse.
"Truly, I suppose, your spirits are lifted by the brilliance of your home, by a wife guilty of sacrilege and dishonored by perjury, by a daughter who is her mother's rival and is more compliant and submissive to you than a daughter ought to be towards any parent." (Sallust 2-1) In a time when political constituencies were built by sharing your wife's bed, "when each pimp of a husband takes gifts from his wife's lover - if she is barred in law from inheriting legacies - and, while they paw at each other, tactfully stares at the ceiling (Juvenal I)," Cicero held up a woman to public ridicule for being better at politics than any man, implying too without benefit of husband to pimp her. Out of jealousy, or on account of political hypocrisy? Others sold their daughters for political profit to some Pompei, Cicero only lent his out so that he might equally enjoy her tainted irrumatrix' kisses. "Even your house, fatal to yourself and family, you obtained by violence and robbery; doubtless in order to remind us how our country has changed, when you, vilest of men that you are, live in the house which was once the property of that most distinguished man Publius Crassus." (Sallust 2-3) Then, as though you had inherited a seat on one of Sulla's benches, "after your consulship, in company with your wife Terentia, when you were holding trials under the leges Plautiae at your home and condemning some of the conspirators to pay fines; when one built your country estate at Tusculum, another that at Pompeii, and still another furnished your house for you. But the man who could do nothing for you was most liable to false accusation; he it was who had come to attack your house, or who had plotted against the Senate; in short you were quite convinced of his guilt." (Sallust 2-3) Were you really in such danger and dread for your life as you so often pleaded before the Senate, when you surrounded your house with a private army, fortified it as though a military camp, when Catilina came alone and unarmed to stand before that host of mercenaries behind which you hid, and pleaded to be arrested so that he might answer your false allegations against him? You refused his arrest even then, Marce Tulli, lest Catilina be allowed to be heard. "If my charges are false, render an account of the amount of the patrimony which you inherited, and of what has come to you from lawsuits, and tell us where you got the money to buy your house and build your villas at Tusculum and Pompeii regardless of expense. If you are silent, who can doubt but that you amassed that wealth from the blood and wretchedness of the citizens of Rome?" (Sallust 2-4)
That same house of yours, ill-gained and so desecrated by your actions, offering as you did to your lares the blood of untried Roman citizens, was then razed and rededicated as a temple in recompense to the Gods for the debauchery, the licentiousness, the prideful abuse of authority that you brought to Rome. Just as you had pleaded to the Senate that your house alone needed to be safeguarded in order to save our city from uncertain harm, you then went before the pontifices to plead for its return. "And if ever a case of great importance has depended on the judgement and authority of the priests of the Roman people, then surely this case before you now is of such magnitude that the whole prestige of state, the well-being of all citizens, their lives, their liberty, their altars, their hearths, their household gods, their property, their prosperity, their homes - all these things seem to have been entrusted and made over to your good sense, your impartiality, your authority." (Cicero, On his House 1.1) What utter presumptuous arrogance? "But why should I enlarge upon your presumption, when you declare that Minerva taught you all your arts, that Jupiter, greatest and kindest of the Gods, admitted you to Their council, and that Italia brought you back from exile upon her shoulders?" (Sallust 4-7) What incredulous audacity, what bold impiety must you possess to think that the interests of the state are so entwined with your own, and yourself a companion of the Gods? "What third-rate advocate's blood ever stained the rostra? 'O fortunate Rome, born in my great Consulship!'" (Juvenal X) "O Romulus of Arpinum, who by your transcendent merits surpass every Paulus, Fabius and Scipio," or so you claim, "enough, have done with it, Cicero, I beseech you, it is enough for us to have endured it; will you also burden our ears with your hatred, and ever pursue us with that tiresome refrain?" (Sallust 3-6) No wonder the people of Rome shout for your severed hand as well as your head to be placed on the rostra that you so defiled.
If any here would think that thus far I have impugned unjustly on Cicero's reputation by innuendo and crass suggestion, it is only that I repeat what others have said, others who knew him far better, and take the same ploy he himself often used against others. But I rely too greatly on the invective that you, Cicero, have inspired from others. Let us turn more directly on the actions you made throughout your career. After all, Marce, did you not defend Caelius by asking we forgive the man of the wantonness of his youth, while you condemned the woman with whom he indulged? Should we be so less kind to you? I may incline to forgive your youthful peccadilloes. Do you also ask forgiveness for impugning the reputation of others? Was there any need in your speech to the people to say that Catilina's supporters were in the "habit of dancing naked at parties," or was this just a ploy to demonize your political opponents through innuendo, suggestion, and inference? As you put it to Clodia, "without mentioning any particular woman by name - that much I will leave to inference." Preferring instead to name a lady as "the Medea of the Palatine" and slurring her with other epitaphs, yet calling her by name when you said, "the fact that the woman's lover - sorry, I mean brother, I always make that slip." Ah, but then you always did resort to such crude means to denigrate your opponents. What rhetorical skills did you bring to Rome other than argumenta ad hominem, ad feminem, ad effeminem, ad odium? You made vague suggestion of incestuous relations, promiscuity with her slaves, licentious behavior in the public baths, even alluding to her as murdering her husband when she had already been cleared of such spurious charges, never offering any evidence to substantiate your claims against her, but instead relying on innuendo to titillate the judges' attention (Pro Caelio Rufo).
Let us also speak of your defense of Sextus Roscius, a man perhaps less guilty of murders than Caelius when you set out to besmirch Clodia. In your oration Pro Roscio you offered no evidence as to his innocence. Instead you tried to shift the blame on his kinsmen T. Roscius Magnus and T. Roscius Capita for the murder of their father. And how did you implicate them? Was it by presenting incriminating evidence, or did you think that by merely offering a subtle slur you could prejudice the court against them. "Look, there is Glaucia!. And is not Magnus there too? Yes, there he is, setting his Automedon in the chariot with his own hands, to carry the news of his horrible crime and evil victory." (Pro Roscio 34,98) Was it lost upon your listeners that day that your allusion to the charioteer of Greek Achilles was meant to imply a lovers' relationship between these three men, or that by saying Magnus had set Glaucia "with his own hands" you implied something more distasteful to Romans than loving relationships between men might conjure in them? And what evidence did you ply against Chrysogonus, who you claimed to have been behind the murder? Was it enough to mention he was Greek, to say he entertained in Greek fashion, to say he maintained a household of debauchery? (Conviviis 46, 134) Did you build your case against him by drawing attention to his appearance, "And look at Chrysogonus himself, gentlemen. Take a glance at his curls and scented hair, as he flutters from one end of the Forum to the other." (ibid. 46, 135) Mocking him, you pranced about as though on a stage, with hands lithely raised, your toga thus exposing your ankles in an effeminate display. Do you think a man established of guilt by such little comments? How great then must be your guilt, Cicero, when Sallustius speaks in the same manner of you?
While a praetor you defended Cluentius, a man who only eight years earlier had brought the greatest ill-repute to Roman courts by bribing its iudices into convicting his own father, convicting by a single vote that Oppianicus had attempted to murder Cluentius. Cluentius now stood implicated in the death of Oppianicus. Cicero, your defense did not consider facts, did not offer any alibi for Cluentius or any witnesses to dispute the allegations. Instead you spent nearly half your oration defaming the victim! In a long and involved tale, with lurid details and many fictitions, designed to confuse the iudices beyond an ability to decide the matter, you sought to draw attention away from Cluentius. As became so typical of your defenses, Cicero, you shifted blame upon others, without evidence but only by inference, through exaggeration, outlandish stories, and invective. You defended Rabirius against the charge of perduellio for desecrating graves, although it was well known that Rabirius displayed the pickled head of Saturninus as a centerpiece at his dinner parties, choosing as a defense to attack Titus Fortunatus with implied fornications. Into the political arena you brought your invective, too. Was your opposition to that agrarian bill proposed by Servilius Rullus a deliberation over his plan, or more of your wild exaggeration? Was your threat to invoke a senatusconsultum ultimum and use it to murder Servilius a rhetorical ploy? Did you also not begin your oration by calling that honorable man, of an honorable house, one who had allowed himself to be debauched (De lege agraria 1.1: ut impurus helluo) and insidiously repeated your slurs on Servilius?
If any doubt this had been Cicero's style, then they need only look upon your recorded speeches. Continually you prefer to call into question the credibility of witnesses by alluding to rumors of debauchery. Or else you divert attention through exaggeration, digressions, pure fictions, and special pleadings. Then, too, let them look at Caelius, who was admittedly your protege, learning his rhetorical skills from you alone. Caelius twice prosecuted your friend Calpurnius Bestia, or rather should I say he prosecuted Bestia's finger. Holding up his own finger in vivid illustration, a gesture during his famed and bitter peroration, denouncing Bestia's finger for applying aconite between the folds of the pudendae of his wives, each in turn to writhe and swoon to their death by that poison (Pliny Natural History XXVII.4). Let us not forget your other pupil, Atratinus, whose education your friend Bestia entrusted to you and who employed the same lurid tactics in prosecuting Caelius. You, Marce Cicero, and your disciples, transformed our courts of law into theaters of the most base comic farces, posing crass mimes as advocates performing song-and-dance routines of improbable plots and wild gesticulations. Where men of dignity once argued over noble principles, and all still deferred to justice, Cicero and his mimes submitted to greed, personal ambitions, self-interest politics and personal jealousies, and did so with the substitution of theatrics for sober deliberation.
By bluster and bombast, by lewdness and low deals, by fictitious plots and fallacious argument, you managed to attain a seat in the Senate. There too you made a mockery of that once distinguished assembly. With feigned indignation and supercilious pantomime you paraded yourself before the Senate, emoting like some third-rate actor. O, what great peril you risked, against unarmed men? O, what mockery you had to endure, from silenced foes? And when no one was willing to sing your praises you took it upon yourself to write a horrid little poem, renowned for its self-serving mediocrity, declaring yourself as "savior of my nation," as no one, not even your closest allies, was willing to say about such a petulant and vile man as you are, Marce Cicero. What other judgement should we recommend on you than that given by Metellus Nepos, "He who had put others to death unheard should himself be denied a hearing."