69.  But suddenly, O judges, while speaking of the dignity and renown of those valiant and most illustrious citizens, and while I was preparing to say still more on that subject, I have been checked in the onward progress of my speech by the sight of these men. I see Publius Sestius the defender and upholder and chief maintainer of my safety and of your authority, and of the cause of the commonwealth on his trial as a criminal; I see his young son present here before you, gazing on me with tearful eyes, I see Milo the vindicator of your liberty, the guardian of my safety the support and defence of the afflicted republic, the extinguisher of the piratical attempts of our domestic enemies, the repressor of daily bloodshed, the defender alike of the temples of the gods and of the houses of individuals the bulwark of the senate-house, in mourning apparel, and under a prosecution. I see Publius Lentulus, to whose father I pay my salutations as the protecting deity and parent of my fortune and my name, and of my brother, and of all my hopes and property in the miserable garb and squalid condition of an impeached man: I see the man who in the course of last year received the robe of manhood by the will of his father, and the purple robe by the deliberate choice1 of the people, now, in this year, in the same robe seeking to avert by his entreaties the sudden infliction of this most iniquitous decree, supplicating you on behalf of his most gallant father, and your most illustrious citizen.  And these mourning robes of so many and of such illustrious citizens, and these signs of grief, and these tokens of abasement have all been put on for my single sake; because they defended me, because they grieve for my misfortune and for my grief, because, in compliance with the entreaties of all of you, they restored me to my mourning country, to the senate who demanded me back, and to Italy who entreated my recall. What great wickedness is imputed to me? What great crime did I commit on that day; on that day, I say, when I laid before you the proofs against, and the letters and confessions of those men who were seeking the general destruction; when I obeyed your commands? But, if it be a wicked thing to love one's country, still I have suffered punishment enough; my house has been pulled down, my property has been pillaged; my children have been scattered abroad, my wife has been insulted, my most excellent brother, a man of incredible affection and unheard-of devotion to me, has fallen, with all the emblems of most bitter grief, at the feet of my bitterest enemies; I have been driven from my altars, from my hearth, from my household gods; I have been separated from my friends and torn from my country, which (to say the very least) I had most undoubtedly shielded; I have endured the cruelty of my enemies, the wickedness of faithless men, and the dishonesty of envious ones.  If this is not enough, because all this appears to be defaced by my return; it were better—it were far better, I say, for me, O judges, to fall back again into the same misfortune as before, than to bring such calamity on my defenders and preservers. Would it be possible for me to remain in this city after those men have been driven away from it, who alone enabled me again to enjoy this city? I cannot do so—it will not be possible for me, O judges,—nor shall this boy, who now, by his tears, shows how great his filial affection is, ever behold me in safety if he loses the presence of his father on account of his kindness to me; nor shall he, as often as he sees me, groan, and say that he beholds a man who has been the ruin of himself and of his father. I, in every fortune, whatever may befall me, will cling to you; nor shall any fortune ever separate me from those men whom you, O judges, behold in mourning apparel for my sake. Nor shall those nations to whom the senate recommended me, and to whom it gave thanks for their treatment of me, ever see this man as an exile on account of his conduct to me, without seeing me as his companion.  But the immortal gods, who received me on my arrival in their temples, accompanied by these men and by Publius Lentulus the consul, and the republic itself, than which there is nothing more holy, have entrusted these things, O judges, to your power. You are able by your decision to encourage the minds of all virtuous men, and to check the designs of the wicked; you are able by your decision to avail yourselves of the services of the virtuous citizens, to strengthen me, and to renew the republic. Wherefore, I beseech and entreat you, if you wish for my safety, to save those men by whose instrumentality you have recovered me.
This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
THE SPEECH OF M. T. CICERO IN DEFENCE OF PUBLIUS SESTIUS.
THE SPEECH OF M. T. CICERO AGAINST PUBLIUS VATINIUS; CALLED ALSO, THE EXAMINATION OF PUBLIUS VATINIUS.
1 Publius Lentulus had been named one of the college of augurs, in spite of his youth, which was a legal disqualification for such an office, in compliment to his father.
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