Deliberativum pro M. Cicerone
by: Q. Pomponius Atticus
PARS I | PARS II | PARS III | PARS IV | PARS V | PARS VI | PARS VII
Today, citizens of Rome, I have the almost comical task to argue whether our laws allowed our Res Publica to survive or not.
For Publius Clodius Pulcher, your patrician Tribunus Plebis, has accused the man who saved this City from its near ruin of not observing the proprieties of law in time of most imminent danger and emergency - Clodius, who himself has violated our most sacred religious institutions and was justly accused for that by the accused of this trial, Marcus Tullius Cicero.
I don’t think many further arguments are required to convince you that Clodius’ motives for taking my client to court at this moment, eleven years after the fact and in the year of the charge against himself, are nothing less then ordinary personal revenge and that his accusation is a consciously contrived strategem, perhaps implausible or ridiculous even to the plaintiff himself. His translucid treacherousness shows itself sufficiently eye-catching as not to demand further explication.
Personal revenge, against the man who not only sought to maintain the sanctity of this city’s religious institutions but who also rescued the city itself from near doom. The weapons lay ready, the districts of Rome were divided and arsonists to burn the different parts of the city were appointed; Catilina himself was with his legions, preparing for his final march against Rome; while in Rome itself, small pawns of his sought to assassinate our consul in an almost ridiculous and, thank the Gods, failed attempt.
For what would’ve happened if consul Cicero had been killed, or if he didn’t react as swiftly and effectively as he ultimately did? Our great city would have been lying in ashes, Catilina celebrating his triumphal procession in its rubble, followed by his barbarian hordes. The city looted all over, sensible people – his enemies - slaughtered, Catilina himself King of a dead city.
With this most realistic nightmare in mind, what else could our noble consul do but react swiftly and without any hesitation, as soon as the ultimate proofs of an imminent coup d’état were present? Was not his panic, for public as well as personal safety (for who else would’ve saved Rome if its highest magistrate were killed?), understandable, and his zeal to prevent it from happening justified, by all means?
Wouldn’t the Gods themselves have cursed Cicero’s soul if he had allowed this chosen city to be sacked, burned and ruled by a power-mad maniac such as Catilina? Wouldn’t the citizens of Rome, or at least the ones who would have survived the massacres, curse the all-too-just consul who allowed his country to be sacked .. in a legal way ? And was not the assassination of 6 people, even if outside Cicero’s powers at that moment, to be preferred over an open war in the streets of Rome, possibly resulting in its enslavement?
Further, I wish to point to the fact that my client was in no way after Catilina’s head, or after the heads of his fellow conspirators. In fact, before the evidence of a conspiration was crystal clear, he showed himself extremely clement and skeptical, for he did not wish to act rashly and unjustly before weighty evidence was present, in a case of this importance. But once indisputable evidence was present, immediate action was necessary. And it is for this reason, saving the republic from its near ruin, and not from any other motive, that consul Cicero decided to eliminate the worst among the conspirators, as if quickly hitting 6 heads of the Hydra to prevent it from growing too strong to be beaten. But even with this ultimate action – necessary as it proved itself - the consul was uncomfortable. For it was only after long deliberation in the Senate, and after the strong and convincing speech by Senator Cato, that he was persuaded to hunt down these traitors.
I urge you, citizens of Rome, not to bring the shame on this city and its Gods of convicting the man who saved it from near ruin, and not to yield to the treacherous plans of this young criminal, who seeks to eliminate his political opponent by presenting to us a deceitful case.