To the Senate after his return

Speech: To the Senate after his return (Post Reditum in Senatu)  (57 BC) 
by Marcus Tullius Cicero, translated by Charles Duke Yonge

Upon his return from exile Cicero gave this speech thanking the Senate for their efforts in securing his return. The speech was given on the Nones of September, that is, September 5, 57 BC. Cicero refers to the speech and the welcome he received in Rome in a letter to Titus Pomponius Atticus (ad Att. 4.1).

I. If, O conscript fathers, I return you thanks in a very inadequate manner for your kindness to me, and to my brother, and to my children, (which shall never be forgotten by us,) I beg and entreat you not to attribute it so much to any coldness of my disposition, as to the magnitude of the service which you have done me. For what fertility of genius, what copiousness of eloquence can be so great, what language can be found of such divine and extraordinary power, as to enable any one, I will not say to do due honour to the universal kindness of you all towards us, but even to count up and enumerate all the separate acts of kindness which we have received from you? You have restored to me my brother; whom I have wished for above all things; you have restored me to my most affectionate brother; you have restored us parents to our children, and our children to us; you have restored to us our dignity, our rank, our fortunes, the republic, which we reverence above all things, and our country, than which nothing can be dearer to us; you have restored us, in short, to ourselves.

2 And if we ought to consider our parents most dear to us, because by them our life, our property, our freedom, and our rights as citizens have been given to us; if we love the immortal gods, by whose kindness we have preserved all those things, and have also had other benefits added to them; if we are most deeply attached to the Roman people owing to the honours paid to us by whom we have been placed in this most noble council, and in the very highest rank and dignity and in this citadel of the whole earth, if we are devoted to this order of the senate by which we have been frequently distinguished by most honourable decrees in our favour, surely it is a boundless and infinite obligation which we are under to you, who, by your singular zeal and unanimity on my behalf, have combined at one time the benefits done us by our parents, the bounty of the immortal gods, the honours conferred on us by the Roman people, and your own frequent decisions in my case; in such a manner that, owing, as we do, much to you, and great gratitude to the Roman people, and innumerable thanks to our parents, and everything to the immortal gods, the honours and enjoyments which we had separately before by their instrumentality, we have now recovered all together by your kindness.

II. 3 Therefore, O conscript fathers, we seem by your agency to have obtained a species of immortality, a thing too great to be even wished for by men. For what time will there ever be in which the memory and fame of your kindnesses to me will perish? The memory of your kindness, who, at the very time that you were besieged by violence and arms and terror and threats, not long after my departure all agreed in recalling me, at the motion of Lucius Ninnius, a most fearless and virtuous man, the most faithful and (if it had come to a battle) the least timid defender of my safety that that fatal year could produce. After the honour of making a formal decree to that effect was refused to you by the means of that tribune of the people, who as he was unable of himself to injure the republic, destroyed it as far as he could by the wickedness of another, you never kept silence concerning me, you never ceased to demand my safety from those consuls who had sold it. 4 Therefore, at last it was owing to your authority and your zeal that that very year which I had preferred to have fatal to myself rather than to my country, elected these men as tribunes, who proposed a law concerning my safety, and constantly brought it under your notice. For the consuls being modest men, and having a regard for the laws, were hindered by a law, not by the one which had been passed concerning me, but by one respecting themselves, when my enemy had carried a clause, that when those men had come to life again who nearly destroyed the state, then I might return to the city. By which action he confessed two things—both that he longed for them to be living, and also that the republic would be in great peril, if either the enemies and murderers of the republic came to life again, or if I did not return.

Therefore, in that very year when I had departed, and when the chief man of the state was forced to defend his own life, not by the protection of the laws, but by that of his own walls,—when the republic was without consuls, and bereft, like an orphan, not only of its regular parents, but even of its annual guardians,—when you were forbidden to deliver your opinions,—when the chief clause of my proscription was repeatedly read,—still you never hesitated to consider my safety as united with the general welfare.

III. 5 But when, by the singular and admirable virtue of Publius Lentulus the consul, you began on the first of January to see light arising in the republic out of the clouds and darkness of the preceding year,—when the great reputation of Quintus Metellus, that most noble and excellent man, and the virtue and loyalty of the praetors, and of nearly all the tribunes of the people, had likewise come to the aid of the republic,—when Cnaeus Pompeius, the greatest man for virtue, and glory, and achievements that any nation or any age has ever produced, the most illustrious man that memory can suggest thought that he could again come with safety into the senate,—then your unanimity with respect to my safety was so great that my body only was absent, my dignity had already returned to this country. 6 And that month you were able to form an opinion as to what was the difference between me and my enemies. I abandoned my own safety, in order to save the republic from being (for my sake) stained with the blood of the citizens; they thought fit to hinder my return, not by the votes of the Roman people, but by a river of blood. Therefore, after those events, you gave no answers to the citizens, or the allies, or to kings; the judges gave no decisions; the people came to no vote on any matter; this body issued no declarations by its authority; you saw the forum silent the senate-house mute, the city dumb and dispirited. 7 And then, too, when he had gone away, who, being authorized by you, had resisted murder and conflagration, you saw men rushing all over the city with sword and firebrand; you saw the houses of the magistrates attacked, the temples of the gods burnt, the faces of a most admirable man and illustrious consul burnt, the holy person of a most fearless and virtuous officer, a tribune of the people, not only laid hands on and insulted, but wounded with the sword and killed. And by that murder some magistrates were so alarmed, that partly out of fear of death, partly out of despair for the republic, they in some degree forsook my cause; but others remained behind, whom neither terror, nor violence, nor hope, nor fear, nor promises, nor threats, nor arms, nor firebrands, could influence so as to make them cease to stand by your authority, and the dignity of the Roman people, and my safety.

IV. 8 The chief of those men was Publius Lentulus, the parent and god of my life, and fortune, and memory, and name. He thought that the best proof that he could give of his virtue, the best indication that he could afford of his disposition, the greatest ornament with which he could embellish his consulship would be the restoration of me to myself, to my friends, to you, and to the republic. And as soon as ever he was appointed consul elect he never hesitated to express an opinion concerning my safety worthy both of himself and of the republic. When the veto was interposed by the tribune of the people,—when that admirable clause was read: “That no one should make any motion before you that no one should propose any decree to you that no one should raise any discussion, or make any speech or take any vote or frame any law;” he thought all that as I have said before, a proscription and not a law, by which a citizen who had deserved well of the republic was by name and without any trial, taken from the senate and the republic at the same time. But as soon as he entered on his office, I will not say what did he do before, but what else did he do at all, except labour by my preservation to establish your authority and dignity on a firm basis for the future? 9 O ye immortal gods! what great kindness do you appear to have shown me, in making Publius Lentulus consul this year. How much greater still would your bounty bare been, had he been so the preceding year; for I should not have been in want of such medicine as a consul could give, unless I had fallen by a wound inflicted by a consul. I had been often told by one of the wisest of men and one of the most virtuous of citizens, Quintus Catulus, that it was not often that there was one wicked consul, but that there had never been two at the same time since the foundation of Rome, except in that terrible time of Cinna. Wherefore, he used to say that my interest would always be firmly secured, as long as there was even one virtuous consul in the republic. And he would have spoken the truth, if that state of things with respect to consuls could have remained lasting and perpetual, that, as there never had been two bad ones in the republic, so there never should be. But if Quintus Metellus had been at that time consul, who was then my enemy, do you doubt what would have been his feelings with regard to my preservation, when you see that he was a mover and seconder of the measure proposed for my restoration? 10 But at that time there were two consuls, whose minds, narrow, contemptible, mean, groveling, dark, and dirty, were unable to look properly at, or to uphold, or to support the mere name of the consulship, much less the splendour of that honour, and the importance of that authority. They were not consuls, but dealers in provinces, and sellers of your dignity. One of whom demanded back from me, in the hearing of many, Catiline, his lover; the other reclaimed Cethegus, his cousin;—the two most wicked men in the memory of man, who (I will not call them consuls, but robbers) not only deserted, in a cause in which, above all others, the welfare of the republic and the dignity of the consulship was concerned, but betrayed me, and opposed me, and wished to see me stripped of all aid, not only from themselves, but also from you and from the other orders of the state. One of them, however, deceived neither me nor any one else.

V. 11 For who ever could have any hope of any good existing in that man, the earliest period of whose life was made openly subservient to everyone's lusts; who had not the heart to repel the obscene impurity of men from the holiest portion of his person? who, after he had ruined his own estate with no less activity than he afterwards displayed in his endeavours to ruin the republic, supported his indigence and his luxury by every sort of pandering and infamy; who, if he had not taken refuge at the altar of the tribuneship, would not have been able to escape from the authority of the praetor, nor the multitude of his creditors, nor the seizure of his goods. And if he had not while in discharge of that office, passed that law about the piratical war, he, in truth, would have yielded to his own poverty and wickedness, and had recourse to piracy himself; and who would have done so with less injury to the republic than he did by remaining within our walls as an impious enemy and robber. It was he who was inspecting victims, and sitting in the discharge of that duty, when a tribune of the people procured a law to be passed that no regard should be had to the auspices,—that no one should on that account be allowed to interrupt the assembly or the comitia, or to put his veto on the passing of a law; and that the Aelian and Fufian2 laws should have no validity, which our ancestors had enacted, intending them to be the firmest protection of the republic against the insanity of the tribunes. 12 And he also afterwards, when a countless multitude of virtuous men had come to him from the Capitol as suppliants, and in morning garments, and when all the most noble young men of Rome, and all the Roman knights, had thrown themselves at the feet of that most profligate pander, with what an expression of countenance did that curled and perfumed debauchee reject, not only the tears of the citizens, but even the prayers of his country! Nor was he content with that but he even went up to the assembly, and there said what even if his man Catiline had come to life again he would not have dared to say,—that he would make the Roman knights pay for the nones of December of my consulship, and for the Capitoline Hill; and he not only said this, but he even summoned those before him that suited him. And this imperious consul actually banished from the city Lucius Lamia, a Roman knight, a man of the highest character, and a very eager advocate of my safety, because of his intimacy with me, and very much attached to the state, as it was likely that a man of his fortune would be. And when you had passed a resolution to change your garments, and had changed them, and though, indeed, all virtuous men had already done the same thing, he, reeking with perfumes, clad in his toga praetexta, which all the praetors and aediles had at that time laid aside, derided your mourning garb, and the grief of a most grateful city, and did what no tyrant ever did,—he issued an edict that you should lament your disasters in secret and not presume openly to bewail the miseries of your country.

VI. 13 And when in the Circus Flaminius3 (I will not say the consul had been conducted into the assembly by a tribune of the people, but) the archpirate had been brought in by another robber, he came first a man of what exceeding dignity, full of wine, sleep, and debauchery! with hair dripping with ointments, with carefully arranged locks, with heavy eyes, moist cheeks, a husky and drunken voice; and he, a grave authority, said that he was greatly displeased at citizens having been executed without having been formally condemned. Where is it that this great authority has lain hid so long out of our sight? Why has the extraordinary virtue of this ringletted dunce been wasted so long in scenes of debauchery and gluttony? For that other man, Caesoninus Calventius, from his youth up has been habituated to the forum, though, except his assumed and crafty melancholy, there was no single thing to recommend him,—no knowledge of the law, no skill in speaking, no knowledge of military affairs or of men, no liberality. And if, while passing him, you noticed how ungentlemanlike, and rough, and sulky he looked, though you might think him a barbarian and a boor, still you would not suppose him to be lascivious and profligate. 14 You would think it made no difference whether you were standing in the forum with this man, or with a barbarian from Aethiopia; there he was, in that sense, without flavour, a mute, slow, uncivilized piece of goods. You would be apt to suppose him a Cappadocian just escaped out of a lot of slaves for sale. Then, again, how lustful was he at home,—how impure, how intemperate. He was not like a front-door, open for the reception of legitimate pleasures, but when he began to devote himself to literature, and, beastly rather a postern for all sorts of secret gratification. And glutton that he was, to learn philosophy with the Greeks, then he became an Epicurean, not because he was really much devoted to that sect such as it is, but because he was caught by that one expression about pleasure. And he has masters, none of those foolish fellows who go on for whole days discussing duty and virtue,—who exhort men to labour, to industry, to encounter dangers for the sake of their country, but men who argue that no hour ought to be unoccupied by pleasure; that in every part of the body there ought always to be some joy and delight to be perceived. 15 He uses his masters as a sort of superintendents of his lusts; they seek out and scent out all sorts of pleasures; they are the seasoners and furnishers of his banquets they appraise and value the different pleasures, they give a formal decision and judgment as to how much indulgence ought to be allowed to each separate pleasure. He, becoming accomplished in all these arts, despised this most prudent city to such a degree that he thought that all his lusts and all his atrocities could be concealed, if he only thrust his ill-omened face into the forum.

VII. He deceived me, though I will not so much say me (for I know, from my connection with the Pisos how much the Transalpine blood on his mother's side had removed him from the qualities of that family) but he deceived you and the Roman people, not by his wisdom or his eloquence, as is often the case with many men, but by his wrinkled brow and solemn look. 16 Lucius Piso, did you dare at that time with that eye (I will not say with that mind ) with that forehead (I will not say with what character,) and with that arrogance (for I cannot say, after such achievements,) to unite with Aulus Gabinius in forming plans for my ruin? Did not the odour of that man's perfumes, or his breath reeking with wine, or his forehead marked with the traces of the curling-iron, lead you to think that as you were like him in reality, you were no longer able to use the impenetrability of your countenance to conceal such enormous atrocities? Did you dare to continue with that man to abandon the consular dignity,—the existing condition of the republic,—the authority of the senate,—the fortunes of a citizen who had above all others deserved well of the republic, to the provinces? While you were consul, according to your edicts and commands, it was not allowed to the Roman senate or people to come to the assistance of the republic, I will not say by their votes and their authority, but even by their grief and their mourning garb.

17 Did you think that you were consul at Capua, a city where there was once the abode of arrogance, or at Rome, where all the consuls that ever existed before you were obedient to the senate? Did you dare, when you were brought forward in the Flaminian Circus, with your colleague, to say that you had always been merciful? by which expression you declared that the senate and all virtuous men were cruel at the time that I warded off ruin from the republic. You were a merciful man when you handed me over,—me, your own relation,—me, whom at your comitia you had appointed as chief guardian of the prerogative tribe, whose opinions on the calends of January you had asked then, bound and helpless to the enemies of the republic! You repelled my son-in-law, your own kinsman; you repelled your own near relation, my daughter, with most haughty and inhuman language, from your knees; and you, also, O man of singular mercy and clemency, when I, together with the republic, had fallen, not by a blow aimed by a tribune, but by a wound inflicted by a consul, behaved with such wickedness and such intemperance, that you did not allow one single hour to elapse between the time of my disaster and your plunder; you did not allow even time for the lamentations and groans of the city to die away. 18 It was not yet openly known that the republic had fallen, when you thought fit to arrange its interment. At one and the same moment my house was plundered and set on fire, my property from my house on the Palatine Hill was taken to the house of the consul who was my neighbour, the goods from my Tusculan villa were also taken to the house of my neighbour there, the other consul; when, while the same mob of artisans were giving their votes, the same gladiator proposing and passing laws, the forum being unoccupied, not only by virtuous men, but even by free citizens, and being entirely empty, the Roman people being utterly ignorant what was going on, the senate being beaten down and crushed, there being two wicked and impious consuls, the treasury, the prisoners, the legions, allies and military commands, were given away as they pleased.

VIII. But the ruin wrought by these consuls you, O consuls, have prevented from spreading further by your virtue, being assisted as you have been by the admirable loyalty and diligence of the tribunes of the people and the praetors. 19 What shall I say of that most illustrious man, Titus Annius? 4 or, who can ever speak of such a citizen in an adequate or worthy manner? For when he saw that a wicked citizen, or, it would be more correct to say, a domestic enemy, required (if it were only possible to employ the laws) to be crushed by judicial proceedings, or that if violence hindered and put an end to the courts of justice, in that case audacity must be put down by virtue, madness by courage, rashness by wisdom, hand by hand, violence by violence, he first of all prosecuted him for violence; when he saw that the very man whom he was prosecuting had destroyed the courts of justice, he took care that he should not be able to carry everything by violence. He taught us that neither private houses, nor temples, nor the forum, nor the senate-house could be defended from the bands of domestic robbers without the greatest gallantry, and large resources and numerous forces. He was the first man after my departure who relieved the virtuous from fear, and deprived the audacious of hope; who delivered this august body from alarm, and the city from slavery. 20 And Publius Sextius following the same line of conduct with equal virtue, courage, and loyalty, thought that there were no enmities, no efforts of violence, no attacks, no dangers even to his life, which it became him to shun, in defence of my safety, of your authority, and of the constitution of the state. He, by his diligence, so recommended the cause of the senate, thrown into disorder as it was by the harangues of wicked men, to the multitude, that your name soon became the most popular of all names, your authority the object of the greatest affection to all men. He defended me by every means that a tribune of the people could employ; and supported me by every sort of kind attention, just as if he had been my own brother; by his clients, and freedmen, and household, and resources, and letters, I was so much supported, that he seemed to be not only my assistant under, but my partner in calamity. 21 Now you have seen the kindness and zeal of the others; how devoted to me was Caius Cestilius, how attached to you, how uniformly faithful to our cause. What did Marcus Cispius do? I know how much I owe to him and to his father and brother; and they, though they had some personal grudge against me on their own private account, still disregarded their private dislike out of recollection of my services to the state. Also, Titus Fadius, who was my quaestor, and Marcus Curtius, to whose father I was quaestor, cherished the memory of our connection with all zeal, and affection, and courage. Caius Messius made many speeches in my behalf, for the sake both of our friendship and of the republic. And he at the beginning proposed a special law respecting my safety. 22 If Quintus Fabricius could only have effected, in spite of violence and arms, what he endeavoured to do in my behalf, we should have recovered our position in the month of January. His own inclination prompted him to labour for my safety, violence checked him, your authority recalled him.

IX. Of what disposition towards me the praetors were, you were able to form an opinion when Lucius Caecilius, in his private character, laboured to support me from his own resources, and in his public capacity proposed a law respecting my safety, in concert with all his colleagues, and refused the plunderers of my property permission to support their actions by legal proceedings. But Marcus Calidius, the moment he was elected, showed by his vote how dear my safety was to him. 23 Caius Septimius, Quintus Valerius, Publius Crassus, Sextus Quintilius, and Caius Cornutus, all devoted all their energies to the promotion of my interests and those of the republic.

And while I gladly make mention of these things, I am not unwilling to pass over the wicked actions done by some people with a view to injure me. It is not suited to my fortunes at present to remember injuries, which, even if I were able to revenge them, I still would rather forget. All my life is to be devoted to a different object: to that of showing my gratitude to those who have deserved well of me; to preserving those friendships which have been tried in the fire; to waging war against my open enemies; to pardoning my timid friends; to avoiding the showing those who deserted me any indignation at having been forced to leave the city; to console those who promoted my return by a proper display of my dignity. 24 And if I had no other duty before me for all the rest of my life, except to appear sufficiently grateful to the very originators and prime movers and authors of my safety, still I should think the period that remains to me of life too brief; I will not say for requiting, but even for enumerating the kindnesses which have been shown to me. For, when shall I, or when will all my relations, be able to show proper gratitude to this man and to his children? What memory, what force of genius, what amount of deference and respect will be a fit return for such numerous and immense services? He was the first man who held out to me the promise and faith of a consul when I was overwhelmed and miserable; he it was who recalled me from death to life, from despair to hope, from destruction to safety. His affection for me, his zeal for the republic, was so great, that he kept thinking how he might not only relieve my calamity, but how he might even make it honourable. For what could be more honourable, what could happen to me more creditable, than that which you decreed on his motion, that all people from all Italy, who desired the safety of the republic, should come forward for the sole purpose of supporting and defending me, a ruined and almost broken-hearted man? So that the senate summoned the citizens and the whole of Italy to come from all their lands and from every town to the defence of one man, with the very same force of expression which had never been used but three times before since the foundation of Rome, and at those times it was the consul who used it in behalf of the entire republic, addressing himself to those only who could hear his voice.

X. 25 What could I leave to my posterity more glorious than the fact, that the senate had declared its judgment that any citizen who did not defend me, did not desire the safety of the republic? Therefore your authority, and the preeminent dignity of the consul, had this great effect, that every one thought that he was committing a shameful crime if he did not come to that summons. And this same consul, when that incredible multitude, when Italy itself I might almost say, had come to Rome, summoned you repeatedly to the Capitol; and at that time you had an opportunity of seeing what great power excellence of natural disposition and true nobleness have. For Quintus Metellus, himself an enemy of mine, and a brother of an enemy of mine, as soon as he was assured of your inclinations, laid aside his own private dislike to me and allowed Publius Servilius, a most illustrious man, and also a most virtuous one, and a most intimate friend of my own, to recall him, by what I may call the divine influence of his authority and eloquence, to the exploits and virtues of his race and of their common family, so as to take to his counsels his brother, in the shades below, the companion of my fortunes, and all the Metelli, those most admirable citizens, summoning them as it were from Acheron; and among them the great conqueror of Numidia, whose departure from his country formerly seemed grievous to all the citizens, but scarcely even vexatious to himself. 26 He, therefore, turns out now, not only a defender of my safety, having been previously to this one kindness of his always my enemy, but even the seconder of my restoration to my dignity. And on that day when you met in the senate to the number of four hundred and seventeen, and when all these magistrates were present one alone dissented; he who thought that the conspirators could by his law be awakened from the shades below. And on that day when in most weighty and copious language you delivered your decision, that the republic had been preserved by my counsels, he as consul again took care that the same things should be said by the chief men of the state in the assembly the next day; and he then spoke on my behalf with the greatest eloquence, and brought the assembly into such a state, all Italy standing by and listening, that no one would listen to the hateful and detested voice of any of my hired or profligate enemies.

XI. 27 To these acts of his, being not only aids to my safety, but even ornaments of my dignity, you yourselves added the rest that was wanting. You decreed that no one should by any means whatever hinder that matter from proceeding; that if any one did try to interpose any obstacle, you would be very angry and indignant; that he would be acting in a manner contrary to the interests of the republic, and the safety of good men, and the unanimous wish of the citizens; and that such a man was instantly to be reported to you. And you passed a vote that if they persisted in interposing obstacles, I was to return in spite of them. Why need I tell how thanks were given to all those who had come up from the municipal towns; or that they were entreated to be present with equal eagerness on that day when the whole affair was consummated? Lastly, why need I tell what you did on that day which Publius Lentulus has made as a birthday to me, and to my brother, and to our children, to be recollected not only by us, who are now alive, but by all our race for ever? On which day, in the comitia centuriata, which our ancestors rightly called and considered the real comitia, he summoned us back to our country, so that the same centuries which had made me consul should declare their approval of my consulship. 28 On that day what citizen was there who thought it right, whatever his age or state of health might be, to deny himself the opportunity of giving his vote for my safety? When did you ever see such a multitude assembled in the Campus, such a splendid show of all Italy and of all orders of men? when did you ever see movers, and tellers, and keepers of the votes all of such high rank? Therefore, through the active, and admirable, and godlike kindness of Publius Lentulus, we were not allowed to return to our country, as some most eminent citizens have been, but we were brought back in triumph, borne by white horses in a gilded car.

29 Can I ever appear grateful enough to Cnaeus Pompeius, who said, not only among you who all were of the same opinion, but also before the whole Roman people, that the safety of the republic had been preserved by me, and was inseparably connected with mine? who recommended my cause to the wise, and taught the ignorant, and at the same time checked the wicked by his authority, and encouraged the good; who not only exhorted the Roman people to espouse my cause, but even entreated them to do so, as if he were speaking for a brother or a parent; who, at a time when he was forced to keep within his house from fear of contests and bloodshed, begged even of the preceding tribunes to propose and carry a law respecting my safety; who in a colony lately erected, where he himself was discharging the duties of a magistrate in it, where there was no bribed interrupter, declared that the privilegium5 passed against me was violent and cruel, confirming that declaration by the authority of most honourable men, and by public letters, and, being the chief man there, gave his opinion that it was becoming to implore the protection of all Italy for my safety; who, when he himself had always been a most firm friend to me, laboured also to make all his own friends also to me.

XII. 30 And by what services can I requite the kindness of Titus Annius to me? all whose actions, the whole of whose conduct and thoughts, the whole of whose tribuneship, in short, was nothing else except a consistent, continual, gallant, unwearied advocacy of my safety.

Why need I speak of Publius Sextius? who showed his good-will and faithful attachment to me, not only by his grief of mind, but even by the wounds which he received on his person.

But to you, O conscript fathers, and to each individual of you, I have both declared, and I will continue to declare my gratitude. I declared it at the beginning to your whole body, as well as I could; to declare it with sufficient eloquence is what I am totally unable to do. And although I have received special favours from many persons, about which it is impossible for me to keep silence, still it is impossible at the present time, and with the apprehensions which I feel, to endeavour to enumerate the kindnesses which I have received from individuals. For it is difficult to avoid passing over some, and yet it would be impious to forget any one. I, O conscript fathers, ought to reverence every one of you as I do the immortal gods. But as, even in the case of the immortal gods themselves, we are wont not always to pay worship and to offer prayers to the same deities, but sometimes we pray to one and sometimes to another; so in the case of the men who have behaved to me with such godlike service, my whole life shall be devoted to celebrating their kindness towards me, and showing my reverent sense of it. 31 But on this day I have thought that it became me to return thanks especially to the different magistrates by name, and also to one private individual, who for the sake of my safety, had visited all the municipal towns and colonies, had as a suppliant addressed his entreaties to the Roman people, and had declared that opinion which you followed when you restored me to my dignities. You always distinguished me when I was prosperous; when I was in distress you defended me to the extent of your power, by the change of your garments, and your general mourning, There have been times within our own recollection when senators did not dare to change their robes even in their own personal dangers; but in my danger the whole senate changed its garments as far as it was allowed to do without interruption from the edicts of those men who wished to deprive me in my peril not only of all protection from them, but of even the benefit of your prayers in my behalf.

32 And when I was in such circumstances as these, when I saw that I as a private individual had to contend with the same array which as consul I had defeated, using not arms but your authority, I deliberated much with myself.

XIII. The consul had said that he would make the Roman knights pay for the scenes on the Capitoline Hill. Some were summoned by name, others were prosecuted, some were banished. All access to the temples was prevented, not merely by their being garrisoned or occupied with a strong force, but by their being demolished. The other consul, not content with only abandoning me and the republic, unless he could also betray us to the enemies of the republic, had bound those enemies to him by promising them the rewards which they coveted. There was another man at the gates with a command6 given to him for many years, and with a large army. I do not say that he was an enemy of mine, but I do know that he did nothing when he was stated to be my enemy. 33 As there were thought to be two parties in the republic, the one was supposed, out of its enmity to me, to demand that I should be given up to it; the other, to defend me, but timidly out of fear of bloodshed. But those who seemed to require me to be given up to them increased the fear of a contest by their conduct as they never diminished the suspicions and anxieties of men by denying what they were suspected of. Wherefore, when I saw the senate deprived of leaders, and myself attacked by some of the magistrates, betrayed by some, and abandoned by others; when I saw that slaves were being enlisted by name under some pretence of forming guilds; 7 that all the troops of Catiline were recalled to their original hopes of massacre and conflagration under almost the same leaders as before; that the Roman knights were under the same fear of proscription as before; that the municipal towns were in dread of being pillaged, and every one in fear of his life; I might—I might, I say, O conscript fathers, still have been able to defend myself by force of arms, and many wise and brave men advised me to do so; nor was I wanting in the same courage which I had shown before, and which was not unknown to you. But I saw that if I defeated my present enemy, I had still too many others behind who must also be defeated; that if I were beaten myself; many virtuous men would fall for my sake, and with me, and even after me; and that the avengers of the blood of the tribunes were present, but that all satisfaction for my death must he exacted by the slow progress of the law, and reserved for posterity.

XIV. 34 I did not choose, after I had as consul maintained the general safety of the state without having recourse to arms, to take arms as a private individual in my own cause; I preferred that virtuous men should grieve for my fortune rather than despair of their own; and if I were slain by myself; that I thought would be a shameful end for me; but if I were slain with many others, that I thought would be fatal to the republic. If I had supposed that eternal misery was before me, I would rather have endured death than everlasting agony. But I felt sure that I should not be absent from this city any longer than the constitution itself was, and, while that was banished, I thought it no longer desirable for myself that I should remain in it; and in accordance with my expectation, as soon as ever the constitution was restored, it brought me back in triumph as its companion. The laws were all banished as well as I, the courts of justice were banished as well as I; the prerogatives of the magistrates, the authority of the senate, the liberty of the citizens, even the fruitfulness of the land, all piety and all religion, whether it was with respect to men or gods, were all banished from the state when I was banished. And if they had been lost to you for ever, I should mourn over your fortunes rather than regret the loss of my home amongst you; but if they were ever restored, I was quite sure that I should be enabled to return with them.

35 And of these feelings of mine, he who was the protector of my life is also my most indisputable witness, namely Cnaeus Plancius, who, disregarding all the distinctions and emoluments which might have been derived from a province, devoted his whole quaestorship to supporting and preserving me. If he had been my quaestor when I was commander-in-chief; he would have stood in the relation of a son to me; now he surely shall be looked upon by me as a parent, since he has been my quaestor, not while in authority, but in grief.

36 Wherefore, O conscript fathers, since I have been restored to the republic at the same time with the constitution of the republic, in whatever I do for the defence of it, I will not only not in the slightest degree abridge my former liberty, but I will even increase it.

XV. In truth, if I defended the republic at a time when it was under some obligations to me, what ought I to do now when I owe everything to it? For what is there that can crush or even weaken my spirit, when you see that calamity itself is in my case not a witness of any error; but of most extraordinary services rendered to the republic? For these disasters were brought on me by my defence of the state; they were undergone by me of my own free will, in order that the republic which had been defended by me should not be brought into the very extremity of peril. 37 It was not in my case, as in that of Publius Popillius, a most noble man, my young sons, or a multitude of my relations that entreated the Roman people in my behalf; it was not in my case, as in the case of Quintus Metellus, a most admirable and most illustrious man, a youthful son of proved virtue who strove for me; it was not Lucius and Caius Metellus, men of consular rank, nor their sons; nor Quintus Metellus Nepos, who was at that very moment a candidate for the consulship, nor the Luculli or Servilii, or Scipios, sons of the Metelli, who with tears and in mourning garments addressed their supplications to the Roman people; but one single brother, who behaved to me with the dutiful affection of a son, who fortified me like a parent with his counsels, and loved me like a brother (as indeed he was), by his mourning robe and his tears and daily prayers kept alive the regret of me which existed, and the recollection of my name and services; and while he had made up his mind, that unless by your votes he could recover me here, he would encounter the same fortune himself, and choose the same abode both in life and death, still he never was alarmed either at the greatness of the business, or at his own solitary and unassisted condition, nor at the violence and warlike measures of my adversaries.

38 There was another upholder and assiduous defender of my fortunes, Caius Piso, my son-in-law, a man of the greatest virtue and piety, who disregarded the threats of my enemies, the hostility of my connection, and his own near relation, the consul; who, as quaestor, passed over Pontus and Bithynia for the sake of ensuring my safety. The senate never decreed anything respecting Publius Popillius; no mention was ever made in this assembly of Quintus Metellus. They were restored by motions made by the tribunes, after their enemies had been slain, and, above all, they were not restored by the interposition of any authority on the part of the senate, though one of them had done what he did in obedience to the senate, the other had fled from violence and bloodshed. For Caius Marius, the only man of consular dignity in the memory of man who was ever driven from the city in times of civil discord before me, was not only not restored by the senate, but by his return almost destroyed the senate. There was no unanimity of magistrates in their cases,—no summoning of the Roman people to come to the defence of the republic,—no commotion throughout Italy,—no decrees of municipalities and colonies in their favour.

39 Wherefore, since your authority has summoned me,—since the Roman people his recalled me,—since the republic has begged me to return,—since almost all Italy has brought me back in triumph on its shoulders, I will take care, O conscript fathers, now that those things have been restored to me, the restoration of which did not depend on myself, not to appear wanting in those qualities with which I can provide myself; I will take care, now that I have recovered those things which I had lost, never to lose my virtue and loyal attachment to you.

This work was published before January 1, 1928, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.