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I say that it was not possible, according to our common rights, and according to those laws which are in force in this city, for any citizen to be exposed to such disaster as mine without a formal trial. I say that this was the law in this state even at the time when the kings existed; I say that this was the principle handed down to us from our ancestors; I say, moreover, that this is the inalienable characteristic of a free state,—that no infringement on the liberties or property of a citizen can take place without the formal decision of the senate, or of the people, or of those persons who have been appointed as judges in each separate matter. [34] Do you not see that I am destroying all your proceedings by the roots? that I am arguing, what is manifest, that you did nothing whatever according to law,—that you were not a tribune of the people at all? I say this, that you are a patrician. I say so before the priests; the augurs are present. I take my stand on the common public law. What, O priests is the law concerning adoption? Why that he may adopt children who is no longer able to have children himself, and who failed in having them when he was of an age to expect it. What reason, then, any one has for adopting children, what considerations of family or dignity are involved what principles of religion are concerned, are questions which are accustomed to be put to the college of priests. What if all these circumstances are found to exist in that adoption? The person who adopts him is twenty years old; a minor adopts a senator. Does he do so for the sake of having children? He is of an age to have them of his own. He has a wife; he has actually got children of his own. The father, then, will be disinheriting his own son. [35] What? why should all the sacred rites of the Clodian family perish, as far as it depends on you? And that must have been the idea of all the priests when you were adopted. Unless, perchance, the question was put to you in this way,—whether you were intending to disturb the republic by seditions, and whether you wished to be adopted with that object, not in order to become that man's son, but only in order to be made a tribune of the people, and by that means utterly to overthrow the state? You answered, I presume, that your object was only to be made a tribune. That appeared to the priests to be a sufficient reason. They approved of it. No questions were asked about the age of the man who was adopting you; as was done in the case of Cnaeus Aufidius and Marcus Pupius, each of whom, within our recollection, when extremely old, adopted as sons, the one Orestes, and the other Piso. And these adoptions, like others, more than I can count, were followed by the inheritance of the name and property and sacred rites of the family. You are not Fonteius, as you ought to be, nor the heir of your new father; nor, though you have lost your right to the sacred ceremonies of your own family, have you availed yourself of those which belong to you by adoption. And so, having thrown the ceremonies of religion into confusion,—having polluted both families, both the one which you have abandoned and the one which you have entered,—having violated the legitimate practices of the Romans with respect to guardianships and inheritances, you have been made, contrary to all the requirements of religion, the son of that man of whom you were old enough to be the father.

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