51. I beseech you, O priests, compare man with man, the one time with the other, this case with that case. The one man was a censor of the greatest moderation and of the highest character; the other was a tribune of the people, of preeminent wickedness and audacity. That period was one of tranquillity, when the people enjoyed a full measure of liberty, and the senate all its legitimate authority; but your time was a time when the liberty of the Roman people was oppressed, and when the authority of the senate was destroyed.  The proposed measure was one full of justice, wisdom, and dignity. For the censor, to whose power (though you have abolished that) our ancestors chose to commit the decision respecting the dignity of each member of the senate, wished the statue of Concord to be in the senate-house, and wished also to dedicate the senate-house to that goddess. It was a noble intention, and one worthy of all praise. For he thought that by that measure he was enjoining that opinions should be delivered without party spirit or dissension, if he bound the place itself and the temple of public counsel by the religions reverence due to the goddess Concord. You, when you were keeping down the enslaved and oppressed city by the sword, by fear, by edicts, by privileges, by bands of abandoned men constantly present, and by the fear of the army which was absent and by threats of bringing it up, and by the assistance of the consuls, and by your nefarious agreement with them, erected a statue of Liberty in a mocking and shameless spirit, rather than with even any pretence to religion. He was dedicating a thing in the senate-house, which he was able to dedicate without any inconvenience to any one. You have erected an image not of public Liberty, but of licentiousness, on what I may call the blood and bones of that citizen who of all others has deserved best of the republic.  And moreover he referred his design to the sacred college: to whom did you refer yours? If you deliberated at all, if you had anything which you wished to expiate, or any domestic sacrifice which you desired to institute, still according to the ancient practice of other men you should have referred the matter to the priests. When you were beginning a new temple in the most beautiful spot in the city, with some wicked and unheard of object, did you not think that you ought to refer the matter to the public priests? But if you did not think it desirable to consult the whole college of priests, was there no single one of them who seemed to you a suitable man (of those who are eminent among all the citizens for age and honour and authority) for you to communicate your intention about the dedication to him? The truth was, not that you despised, but that you were afraid of their dignity.
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THE SPEECH OF M. T. CICERO FOR HIS HOUSE. ADDRESSED TO THE PRIESTS
THE SPEECH OF M. T. CICERO AGAINST PUBLIUS VATINIUS; CALLED ALSO, THE EXAMINATION OF PUBLIUS VATINIUS.
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