12.  In truth, I have seen and heard of many men in this city, not only men who had just tasted this kind of life with the edge of their lips, and touched it, as people say, with the tips of their fingers, but men who had devoted the whole of their youth to pleasures, who have at last emerged from them, and have be taken themselves to prudent courses, and have become sensible and eminent citizens. For by the common consent of all men, some indulgence is given to this age, and nature itself suggests desires to youth; and if they break out without injuring any one else a life, or overturning any one else's house, they are generally accounted endurable and pardonable.  But you seemed to me to wish to bring Caelius into some sort of odium by means of the common irregularities into which youth is apt to fall. And, therefore, all that silence with which your speech was received was produced by the fact that, though we had but one criminal before us, we were thinking of the vices of many. It is an easy matter to declaim against luxury. The day would fail me if I were to attempt to enumerate everything that may be said on that subject. The field of seductions, and adulteries and wantonness, and extravagance is boundless. Even though you do not fix your eyes on any particular criminal, but only on the vices themselves, still they are capable of being made the objects of very eloquent and fluent vituperation. But it becomes your wisdom, O judges, not to be diverted from the case of the man who is on his trial before you; nor to let loose against an individual, and him too on his trial, the stings with which your severity and dignity is armed when the accuser has sought to rouse them against the general fact of luxury, against vices in general and the present state of morals, and the present times while by this means the defendant is not being impeached for any crime of his own, but is having unjust odium excited against him on account of the vices of many others.  Therefore I do not venture to make the reply to your severe judgment which I ought to make. For it was my duty to plead for some sort of exemption from several rules for youth, to claim some indulgence. I do not venture, I say, to do this. I will not have recourse to any door of escape which my client's age might open to me; I will not mention the privileges which are allowed to all other men; I only ask that if at this time there is a general feeling of discontent at the debts, and wantonness, and licentious conduct of the youth of the city,—and I see that such a feeling does exist to a great extent—the offences of others, and the vices of the youth of others and of the times, may not prejudice my client. And while I ask this, I do at the same time offer no objection to being called on to reply most carefully to all the charges which are directed against him in consequence of any conduct of his own.
This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
THE SPEECH OF M. T. CICERO AGAINST PUBLIUS VATINIUS; CALLED ALSO, THE EXAMINATION OF PUBLIUS VATINIUS.
THE SPEECH OF M. T. CICERO IN DEFENCE OF MARCUS CAELIUS.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.