previous next

5.

If these men had been Greeks, and if our habits and principles had not had more influence than indignation and hostility, they all would have said that they had been plundered, and harassed, and stripped of their fortunes. When a Greek witness comes forward with a desire to injure a man, he does not think of the words of his oath, but of what he can say to injure him. He thinks it a most shameful thing to be defeated, to be detected, to allow his enemy's innocence to be proved. That is the contest for which he prepares himself; he cares for nothing beyond. Therefore, it is not the best men, nor the wisest, but the most impudent and talkative men who are selected as witnesses. [12] But you, even in private trials about the most trifling matters, carefully weigh the character of a witness; even if you know the person of the man, and his name and his tribe, still you think it right to inquire into his habits. And when a man of our citizens gives his evidence, how carefully does he restrain himself, how scrupulously does he regulate all his expressions, how fearful is he, and anxious not to say anything covetously or angrily,— not to say one word more or less than necessary! Do you think that those Greeks are so too? men to whom an oath is a joke, evidence a plaything, your opinion of them a shadow, men who place all their credit and profit and reputation, and triumph telling the most impudent lies. But I will not spin out what I have got to say. Indeed, my speech would be interminable if I were to take it into my head to unfold the faithlessness of the whole nation in giving evidence. But I will come nearer home; I will speak of these witnesses whom you have brought forward. [13]

We have got a most zealous prosecutor, O judges, and an enemy in every respect violent and furious against us. I trust that he may be of great use to his friends and to the republic; but at all events, he has undertaken this case and this prosecution, as if he were impelled by some most extraordinary eagerness. What a company attended him while pursuing his investigations! company, do I say? rather, what an army! what profusion! what expense! what prodigality was there! And though these statements are of service to my case, still I do not make them without apprehension lest Laelius should think that I am seeking by my oration to make him talked about, or to excite odium against him, in a business which he has undertaken for the sole object of acquiring credit.


Creative Commons License
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.

load focus Latin (Albert Clark, 1909)
hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: