previous next


But I ask, since I am the prime mover in and the chief cause of this vote, what fault is found with the vote itself? Was there not good reason for adopting an unprecedented plan? Was not I as much concerned as any one in that matter? or, had we any other resource? What circumstances, what reasons could there be of greater consequence than famine? than sedition? than the designs of you and your partisans? who thought that, if an opportunity was given them of inflaming the minds of the ignorant, you, under the pretence afforded by the scarcity of provisions, would be able to renew your wicked and fatal practices.

[11] As for corn, some of the countries which usually supply it had not got it; some had sent it into other countries, I imagine because of the great variety of sellers; and some were keeping it back, shut up in their stores, in order suddenly to send it, so that the supply might be more acceptable if they seemed to come to our aid when we were in a state of actual famine. The matter was not one of uncertain opinions, it was a case of actually existing danger, present to our eyes; it was not one which we were looking forward to in conjecture, but one which we were actually beholding by present experience. For when the scarcity was getting more severe, so that it was actually want and famine that was dreaded, and not mere dearness of price, there was a rush towards the Temple of Concord, when the consul Metellus summoned the senate to meet in that place. And if that was the genuine effect of the grief of men suffering under famine, certainly the consuls had good reason to undertake the affair, certainly the senate had good reason to adopt some determination or other.

But if the scarcity was the pretext, and if you in reality were the exciter and kindler of sedition, ought we not all to have striven to take away all shadow of pretext for your madness? [12] What, if both these causes existed,—if there was both famine to excite men, and you too like a nail working into this ulcer? was there not all the more need to apply some remedy, which might put an end to both the evil caused by nature, and to the other mischief imported into the case? There was then both present dearness and impending famine; that is not enough; men were attacked with stones. If that arose from the indignation of the common people, without any one having stirred them up, it is a great misfortune; but if, it was caused by the instigation of Publius Clodius, it is only the habitual wickedness of a wicked man: if both these causes existed,—if there was both a fact sufficient of itself to excite the feelings of the multitude, and if there were leaders of sedition ready and forearmed; then, does it not seem natural for the republic to have had recourse to the protection of the consul and the loyalty of the senate? But it is quite plain that one of these causes did exist; that there was a difficulty of obtaining provisions, and an extreme scarcity of corn, so that men were afraid not only of a continuance of high prices, but of actual famine. No one denies it. But I do not wish you, O priests, to suspect that that enemy of all tranquillity and peace was likely to seize on this as a pretext for conflagration, and massacre, and rapine, unless you see it proved. [13]

Who are the men who were openly named in the senate by Quintus Metellus,—your brother, O Metellus,—the consul, by whom he said that he had been attacked with stones and actually hit? He named Lucius Sergius and Marcus Lollius. Who is that Lollius? A man who is not even at this moment by your side without his sword; who, while you were tribune of the people, demanded (I will say nothing of his designs against myself) to have the murder of Cnaeus Pompeius entrusted to him. Who is Sergius? The armour-bearer of Catiline, your own body-guard, the standard-bearer of sedition, the exciter of the shopkeepers, a man who has been convicted of assault, an assassin, a stoner of men, a man who has depopulated the forum, and blockaded the senate-house. With these leaders and others like them, when you, at the time when provisions were dear, under pretence of espousing the cause of the poor and ignorant, were preparing for sudden attacks on the consuls, on the senate, on the property and fortunes of the, rich; when it was impossible for you to find safety if affairs remained in a tranquil state; when, the leaders being all desperate men, you had your bands of profligates regularly enrolled and distributed into decuries,—did it not behoove the senate to take good care that that fatal firebrand did not fall upon these vast materials for sedition?

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: