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22.

Why need I now bring forward arguments, of which I have a great number, to repel this accusation? I might say that the habits of Marcus Caelius are wholly foreign to such atrocious wickedness; that it is absolutely incredible that it should never have occurred to so able and prudent a man, that a deed of such guilt was not to be entrusted to the slaves of another man, slaves of whom he had himself no knowledge. I might put these questions also to the prosecutor, in accordance with the custom of other pleaders in defence of accused persons and with my own,—where Caelius met with the slaves of Lucceius? how he got access to them? If he negotiated with them by himself, what rashness it was! if he employed the agency of another, who was that other? I might, in the course of my speech, go through every circumstance beneath which suspicion could be supposed to lurk. No cause, no opportunity, no facility, no accomplice, no hope either of effecting or of concealing the crime, no means whatever of executing it; in short, no trace of such enormous guilt can be found connected with Caelius. [54] But all these topics, which belong peculiarly to the orator, and which might do some service in my hands if I were to work them up and dilate upon them in this presence, not because of any natural ability that I possess, but because of my constant practice in, and habit of, speaking, I, from a view to brevity, forbear to urge. For I have, O judges, a man whom you will willingly allow to be connected with you by the religious obligation of taking a similar oath with yourselves, Lucius Lucceius, a most religious man, and a most conscientious witness; who if such guilt so calculated to compromise his credit and his fortunes had been brought into his household by Caelius, could not have failed to hear of it, and would never have been indifferent to it and would never have borne it. Could such a man as he, a man of such humanity, a man devoted to such pursuits as his, and embued with all his learning and accomplishments, have been indifferent to the imminent danger of that man to whom he had become attached on account of these very studies and pursuits? And when he would have been most indignant at hearing of such a crime if it had been committed against a stranger, would he have omitted taking any notice of it when it affected his own guest? When he would have grieved if he had found out that such a deed had been perpetrated by strangers, would he have thought nothing of it when attempted by his own household? An action which he would blame if done in the fields or in public places, was he likely to think lightly of when it was begun in his own city and in his own house? What he would not have concealed if it threatened any country person with danger, can he, a learned man himself, be supposed to have kept secret when a plot was laid against a most learned man? [55] But why, O judges, do I detain you so long? You shall have the authority and scrupulous faith of the man himself on his oath before you, and listen carefully to every word of his evidence. Read the evidence of Lucius Lucceius. [The evidence of Lucceius is read.] What more do you wait for? Do you think that the case itself, or even that truth of itself can utter any actual words in its own defence? This is the defence made by innocence,—this is the language of the cause itself,—this is the single, unassisted voice of truth.

In the circumstances of the crime itself there is no suspicion; in the facts of the case there is no argument. In the negotiation which is said to have been carried on, there is no trace of any conversation, of any opportunity, of either time or place. No one is named as having been a witness of it. No one is accused of having been privy to it. The whole accusation proceeds from a house that is hostile to him,—that is of infamous character, cruel, criminal, and lascivious. And that house, on the other hand, which is said to have been tampered with, with a view to this nefarious wickedness, is one full of integrity, dignity, kindness and piety. And from this last you have had read to you a most authoritative declaration under the sanction of an oath. So that the matter which you have to decide upon is one on which very little doubt can arise,—namely, whether a rash, libidinous, furious woman appears to have invented an accusation, or a dignified, and wise, and virtuous man is to be believed to have given his evidence with a scrupulous regard to truth.


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