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39.

O ye immortal got! what can be more miserable than this? We who wrested fire and sword out of the hands of Publius Lentulus, are trusting now to the judgment of an ignorant multitude, and are in dread of the sentence of chosen men and most honourable citizens. [98] Our fathers by their decision delivered Marcus Aquillius, who had been convicted of many charges of avarice, proved by abundant evidence, because he had behaved gallantly in the Servile war. I, when consul, lately defended Cnaeus Piso; who, because he had been a gallant and fearless consul, was preserved to the republic uninjured. I, when consul, defended also Lucius Murena, the consul elect. Not one of the judges in that case—though they were most eminent men who were the prosecutors—thought that they ought to entertain for one moment the accusation of bribery, because, while Catiline was still waging war against the republic, they agreed with me that it was necessary for them to have two consuls on the first of January. Aulus Thermius, an innocent and virtuous man, and one adorned with every sort of distinction, has been twice acquitted this year, when I have defended him. How great was the joy, how great were the congratulations of the Roman people at that event, for the sake of the republic! Wise and grave judges have always, when deciding in criminal trials, considered what the interests of the state, and the general safety, and the present necessities of the republic required. [99] When the voting tablets are given to you, O judges, it will not be Flaccus alone who will be interested in their verdict; the generals and all those who are leaders in the preservation of the city will all be interested; all good men will be interested; you yourselves will be interested; your children, your own lives, your country, the general safety, will all be interested in your vote. In this cause you are not determining about foreign nations, or about the allies; you are deciding on the welfare of your own selves and your own republic.


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