To the citizens for Gaius Rabirius on a charge of treason

Although, O Romans, it is not my custom at the beginning of a speech to give any reason why I am defending each particular defendant, because I have always considered that the mere fact of the danger of any citizen was quite sufficient reason for my considering myself connected with him, still, in this instance, when I come forward to defend the life, and character, and all the fortunes of Caius Rabirius, I think I ought to give a reason for my undertaking this duty; because the very same reason which has appeared to me a most adequate one to prompt me to undertake his defence, ought also to appear to you sufficient to induce you to acquit him. For the ancientness of my friendship with him, and the dignity of the man, and a regard for humanity, and the uninterrupted practice of my life, have instigated me to defend Caius Rabirius; and also the safety of the republic, my duty as consul, the very fact of my being consul since when I was made consul, the safety of the republic, and also that of each individual citizen in it was entrusted to me, compel me to do so with the greatest zeal. For it is not the actual offence, nor any desire to deprive Caius Rabirius in particular of life, nor is it any old, well grounded, serious enmity on the part of any citizen, which has brought him into this peril of his life. But the true design of this prosecution is, that that great aid which the majesty of the state and our dominion enjoys, and which has been handed down to us from our ancestors, may be banished from the republic; that the authority of the senate, and the absolute power of the consul, and the unanimity of all good men, may henceforth be of no avail against any mischief or ruin designed to the state; and therefore, as a handle for the destruction of all these weighty obstacles, the old age, and infirmity, and solitary condition of one man is attacked.

Wherefore, if it is the part of a virtuous consul when he sees all the bulwarks of the republic undermined and weakened, to come to the assistance of his country; to bring succour to the safety and fortunes of all men; to implore the good faith of the citizens; to think his own safety of secondary consideration when put in competition with the common safety of all; it is the part also of virtuous and fearless citizens, such as you have shown yourself in all the emergencies of the republic, to block up all the avenues or sedition, to fortify the bulwarks of the state, to think that the supreme power is vested in the consuls, the supreme wisdom in the senate; and to judge the man who acts in obedience to them, worthy of praise and honour, rather than of condemnation and punishment. Wherefore the labour in defending this man falls principally to my share; but the zeal for his preservation ought to be equally felt by me and by you.

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This work was published before January 1, 1925, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.


This work was published before January 1, 1925, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.