14.  There are two occupations which can place men in the highest rank of dignity; one, that of a general the other, that of an accomplished orator. For by the latter the ornaments of peace are preserved, by the former the dangers of war are repelled. But the other virtues are of great importance from their own intrinsic excellence, such as justice, good faith, modesty, temperance; and in these, O Servius, all men know that you are very eminent. But at present I am speaking of those pursuits calculated to aid men in the attainment of honours, and not about the intrinsic excellency of each pursuit. For all those occupations are dashed out of our hands at once, the moment the slightest new commotion begins to have a warlike sound. In truth, as an ingenious poet and a very admirable author says, the moment there is a mention of battle, “away is driven” not only your grandiloquent pretences to prudence, but even that mistress of all things, “wisdom. Everything is done by violence. The orator,” not only he who is troublesome in speaking, and garrulous, but even “the good orator is despised; the horrid soldier is loved.” But as for your profession, that is trampled under foot; “men seek their rights not by law, but hand to hand by the sword,” says he. And if that be the case, then I think, O Sulpicius, the forum must yield to the camp; peace must yield to war, the pen to the sword, and the shade to the sun. That in fact must be the first thing in the city, by means of which the city itself is the first of all cities.  But Cato is busy proving that we are making too much of all these things in our speech; and that we have forgotten that that Mithridatic war was carried on against nothing better than women. However, my opinion is very different, O judges; and I will say a little on that subject; for my cause does not depend on that. For if all the wars which we have carried on against the Greeks are to be despised, then let the triumph of Marcus Curius over king Pyrrhus be derided; and that of Titus Flamininus over Philip; and that of Marcus Fulvius over the Aetolians; and that of Lucius Paullus over king Perses; and that of Quintus Metellus over the false Philip; and that of Lucius Mummius over the Corinthians. But, if all these wars were of the greatest importance, and if our victories in them were most acceptable, then why are the Asiatic nations and that Asiatic enemy despised by you? But, from our records of ancient deeds; I see that the Roman people carried on a most important war with Antiochus; the conqueror in which war, Lucius Scipio, who had already gained great glory when acting in conjunction with his brother Publius, assumed the same honour himself by taking a surname from Asia, as his brother did, who, having subdued Africa, paraded his conquest by the assumption of the name of Africanus.  And in that war the renown of your ancestor Marcus Cato was very conspicuous; but he, if he was, as I make no doubt that he was, a man of the same character as I see that you are, would never have gone to that war, if he had thought that it was only going to be a war against women. Nor would the senate have prevailed on Publius Africanus to go as lieutenant to his brother, when he himself; a little while before, having forced Hannibal out of Italy, having driven him out of Africa, and having crushed the power of Carthage, had delivered the republic from the greatest dangers, if that war had not been considered an important and formidable war.
This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
THE ORATION OF M. T. CICERO IN DEFENCE OF L. MURENA, PROSECUTED FOR BRIBERY.
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.