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Such, O men of Athens ! were your ancestors : so glorious in the eye of the world; so bountiful and munificent to their country; so sparing, so modest, so self-denying to themselves. What resemblance can we find, in the present generation, of these great men? At a time, when your ancient competitors have left you a clear stage; when the Lacedemonians are disabled; the Thebans employed in troubles of their own; when no other state whatever is in a condition to rival or molest you ; in short, when you are at full liberty; when you have the opportunity and the power to become, once more, the sole arbiters of Greece; you permit, patiently, whole provinces to be wrested from you; you lavish the public money in scandalous and obscure uses; you suffer your allies to perish in time of peace, whom you preserved in time of war; and, to sum up all, you yourselves, by your mercenary court, and servile resignation to the will and pleasure of designing, insidious leaders, abet, encourage, and strengthen the most dangerous and formidable of your enemies. Yes, Athenians, I repeat it, you yourselves are the contrivers of your own ruin. Lives there a man who has confidence enough to deny it? let him arise and assign, if he can, any other cause of the success and prosperity of Philip. “But,” you reply, “what Athens may have lost in reputation abroad, she has gained in splendour at home. Was there ever a greater appearance of prosperity; a greater face of plenty? Is not the city enlarged ? Are not the streets better paved, houses repaired and beautified?” Away with such trifles ! shall I be paid with counters? An old square new vamped up! a fountain ! an aqueduct! Are these acquisitions to boast of ? Cast your eyes upon the magistrate, under whose ministry you boast these precious improvements. Behold the despicable creature raised, all at once, from dirt to opulence; from the lowest obscurity to the highest honours. Have not some of these upstarts built private houses and seats vieing with the most sumptuous of our public palaces? And how have their fortunes and their power increased, but as the Commonwealth has been ruined and impoverished !
To what are we to impute these disorders; and to what cause assign the decay of a state so powerful and flourishing in past times? The reason is plain. The servant is now become the master. The magistrate was then subservient to the people; punishments and rewards were properties of the people; all honours, and dignities, and preferments, were disposed by the voice and favour of the people ; but the magistrate, now, has usurped the right of the people, and exercises an arbitrary authority over his ancient and natural lord. You miserable people! the meanwhile, without money, without friends; from being the ruler are become the servant; from being the master, the dependent: happy that, these governors, into whose hands you have thus resigned your own power, are so good and so gracious as to continue your poor allowance to see plays.
Believe me, Athenians, if, recovering from this lethargy, you would assume the ancient freedom and spirit of your fathers; if you would be your own soldiers and your own commanders, confiding no longer your affairs in foreign or mercenary hands; if you would charge yourselves with your own defence, employing abroad, for the public, what you waste in unprofitable pleasures at home; the world might, once more, behold you making a figure worthy of Athenians, “You would have us then (you say) do service in our armies, in our own persons; and, for so doing, you would have the pensions we receive in time of peace accepted as pay in time
Is it thus we are to understand you ?” Yes, Athenians, 'tis my plain meaning. I would make it a standing rule, that no person, great or little, should be the better for the public money, who should grudge to employ it for the public service. Are we in peace? the public is charged with your subsistence. Are we in war, or under a necessity, as at this time, to enter into a war ? let your gratitude oblige you to accept, as pay, in defence of your benefactors, what you re
ceive in peace, as mere bounty. Thus, without any innovation; without altering or abolishing any thing, but pernicious novelties, introduced for the encouragement of sloth and idleness ; by converting only, for the future, the same funds, for the use of the serviceable, which are spent, at present, upon the unprofitable; you may be well served in your armies; your troops regularly paid; justice duly administered; the public revenues reformed and increased; and every member of the Commonwealth rendered useful to his country, according to his age and ability, without any further burden to the state.
This, O men of Athens ! is what my duty prompted me to represent to you upon this occasion. May the gods inspire you to determine upon such measures, as may be most expedient, for the particular and general good of our country!
II.CICERO AGAINST VERRES.
The time is come, Fathers, when that which has long been wished for, towards allaying the envy your order has been subject to, and removing the imputations against trials, is effectually put in our power. An opinion has long prevailed, not only here at home, but likewise in foreign countries, both dangerous to you, and pernicious to the state_that in prosecutions men of wealth are always safe, however clearly convicted. There is now to be brought upon his trial before you, to the confusion, I hope, of the propagators of this slanderous imputation, one whose life and actions condemn him in the opinion of all impartial persons; but who, according to his own reckoning, and declared dependence upon his riches, is already acquitted ; I mean Caius Verres. I demand justice of you, Fathers, upon the robber of the public treasury, the oppressor of Asia Minor and Pamphylia, the invader of the rights and privileges of Romans, the scourge and curse of Sicily. If that sentence is passed upon him which his crimes deserve, your authority, Fathers, will be venerable and sacred in the eyes of the public; but if his great riches should bias you in his favour, I shall still gain one point, to make it apparent to all the world, that what was wanting in this case was not a criminal nor a prosecutor, but justice and adequate punishment. To
pass over the shameful irregularities of his youth, what does his quæstorship, the first public employment he held, what does it exhibit, but one continued scene of villanies ? Cneius Carbo plundered of the public money by his own treasurer, a consul stripped and betrayed, an army deserted and reduced to want, a province 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
But his prætorship in Sicily crowns all his works of wickedness, and finishes a lasting monument of 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 Roman 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 violated all law, all precedent, all right. The sums he has, 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 harbours, 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 provinces, suffered to perish. The ancient monuments of either Sicilian or Roman greatness, the statutes of heroes and princes, carried off; 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, 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 prætor, 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 Syracuse, whence he had just made his escape? The unhappy man, arrested as he was going to embark for his native country, is brought before