4.  Will you then listen to others as witnesses on those points, respecting which you yourselves ought rather to bear witness to others? And what witnesses are they? In the first place, I will say that they are Greeks, (that is the case of them all.) Not that I, for my own part, would be more inclined than others to refuse credit to that nation; for if ever there was any one of our countrymen not averse to that race of men, and proving himself so by zeal and good-will, I think that I am that man, and that I was so even more when I had more leisure; but there are in that body many virtuous, many learned, many modest men, and they have not been brought hither to this trial. There are also many impudent, illiterate, worthless persons, and those I see here, impelled by various motives. But I say this of the whole race of Greeks; I allow them learning, I allow them a knowledge of many arts; I do not deny them wit in conversation, acuteness of talents, and fluency in speaking; even if they claim praise for other sorts of ability, I will not make any objection; but a scrupulous regard to truth in giving their evidence is not a virtue that that nation has ever cultivated; they are utterly ignorant what is the meaning of that quality, they know nothing of its authority or of its weight.  Where does that expression, “Give evidence for me, and I will give evidence for you,” come from? is it supposed to be a phrase of the Gauls, or of the Spaniards? It belongs wholly to the Greeks; so that even those who do not understand Greek know what form of expression is used by the Greeks for this. Therefore, when they give their evidence, remark with what a countenance, with what confidence they give it; and then you will become aware how scrupulous they are as to what evidence they give. They never reply precisely to a question. They always answer an accuser more than he asks them. They never feel any anxiety to make what they say seem probable to any one; but are solicitous only how to get out what they have got to say. Marcus Lurco gave evidence against Flaccus, being angry (as he said himself) because his freedman had been condemned by a decision of his involving infamy. He said nothing which could injure him, though he was eager to do so; for his conscientious regard to his oath prevented him.  And yet with what modesty, with what trembling and paleness did he say what he did! How ready to give evidence was Publius Septimius; how angry was he about some former trial, and about his steward: yet he hesitated; yet his scrupulousness was at times at variance with his anger. Marcus Caelius was an enemy to Flaccus, because, as Flaccus had thought it wrong for one publican to decide on the case of another publican, though the case was ever so evident he had been removed from the list of judges. And yet he restrained himself; and brought nothing into the court which could injure Flaccus except his own inclination to do so.
This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
THE SPEECH OF M. T. CICERO IN DEFENCE OF LUCIUS FLACCUS.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.
An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.