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13. [30]

What? did not we decree, by the advice of Pompeius himself, in the consulship of Silanus and Murena, that a fleet should put to sea to sail round Italy? Did not we, at the very same time that Lucius Flaccus was levying sailors in Asia, exact four millions three hundred thousand sesterces for fleets to defend the Mediterranean and Adriatic? What did we do the year after? was not money exacted for the use of the fleet when Marcus Curius and Publius Sextilius were quaestors? What? were there not all this time cavalry on the sea-coast? for that is the surpassing glory of Pompeius,—first of all, that those pirates who, when the conduct of the maritime war was first entrusted to him, wandered about straggling over the whole sea, were soon reduced under our power; in the next place, that Syria is ours, that Cilicia is occupied by us, that Cyprus, through the instrumentality of king Ptolemaeus, is reduced to a state in which it can venture to do nothing; moreover, that Crete, owing to the valour of Metellus, is ours; that the pirates have now no ports from which they can set out none to which they can return; that all the bays, and promontories, and shores, and islands, and maritime cities, are now contained within the barriers of our empire.

[31] But if, when Flaccus was praetor, there had been not one pirate at sea, still his diligence would not have deserved to be blamed. For I should think that the reason of there being no pirates at sea was, because he had a fleet. What will you say if I prove by the evidence of Lucius Oppius, of Lucius Agrius, of Caius Cestius, Roman knights, and also of this most industrious man here present, Cnaeus Domitius, who was an ambassador in Asia at the time, that at that very time in which you yourself affirm that there was no need of a fleet, numbers of men were taken prisoners by the pirates? Still, will the wisdom of Flaccus, as shown in raising crews for the fleet, be found fault with? What if a man of high rank, a citizen of Adramyttium, was even slain by the pirates,—a man whose name is known to nearly all of us, Atyanas the boxer, a victor at Olympia? and this victory is considered among the Greeks (since we are speaking of their wisdom) a greater and more glorious thing than to have had a triumph is reckoned at Rome. “But you took no prisoners.” How many most illustrious men have had the command of the sea-coast, who, though they had taken no pirate prisoner, still made the sea safe? For taking prisoners depends on chance, on place, on accident, on opportunity. And the caution which shows itself in defence has an easy task; being aided not only by lurking places in concealed spots, but by the sudden fall or change of winds and weather.


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