Cicero undertakes the defence in default of any abler advocate. By this skillfully modest opening, Cicero not only explains why he, an obscure young advocate, appears in so important a case, but he indicates on which side are the sympathies of the best citizens, and he contrives at the same time to suggest the odds against which Roscius and his counsel must contend. Thus the remarks are not merely personal and introductory, but form an essential part of the argument. A famous modern example of similar art is Erskine's Exordium in his Defence of Lord George Gordon on a charge of high treason.
ego: not emphatic itself, but expressed merely to set off vos, which is. The Latin is so fond of putting pronouns in contrast that one is often (as here) expressed for the mere purpose of antithesis. judices: not judges, but rather jurors. They were persons selected by law to try facts (under the presidency of a praetor or judex quaestionis), and varied in number from a single one to fifty or more. They were originally selected from the Senators, but C. Gracchus had transferred the right to sit as judices to the equites or wealthy middle class). Sulla, whose reforms went into operation B.C. 80, had restored this right to the Senators, and the present case was the first to occur under the new system. It was brought in the Quaestio inter sicarios (or court for the trial of murder), under the presidency of the praetor M. Fannius. quid sit quod. Why it is that. quod (causal) . . . surrexerim expresses a fact, and takes the subj. of informal ind. disc. as depending on the indirect question quid sit. § 592, 1 (341, b); cf. B. 323; G. 663.1; H. 652 (529,ii) H-B. 535, I, a. summi oratores hominesque nobilissimi: notice the chiastic order: § 598, f (344, f); B. 350, II, c; G. 682; H. 666, 2 (562) H-B 628 cum sedeant: cum has a slight concessive force: render by when or while; though would be too strong. Since Sulla's victory had restored the aristocracy to power, it might be expected that men of rank (nobilissimi) would have courage to come forward and defend Roscius: their presence showed their sympathies, though they did not rise to defend him. ego: emphatic, as opposed to the orators and men of rank. potissimum, rather than any other aetate: Cicero was but twenty-six years old. sim: in direct disc. this might be either subj. to indicate the character of Cicero, or indic. to denote a mere fact about him; here it is necessarily subj. as being an integral part of the clause quod . . . surrexerim, which is itself dependent on quid sit; § 593 (342); B. 324,1; (G. 663,1; H. 652, I (529, ii); H.-B. 539. sedeant, sit still, instead of rising to speak: subj. of integral part, dependent on sim ... comparandus. hi: strongly demonstrative; accompanied, perhaps, with a gesture, these men here. injuriam, injustice. novo scelere (abl. of means), the strange (almost = unheard of) charge (of parricide). oportere: this verb is always impersonal ; its subject here is the clause injuriam defendi. defendi, defendere: see Vocab.; supply but (suggested in Latin by the close juxtaposition of the two infs.) before defendere in translating. iniquitatem temporum, i.e. the disturbed state of politics, while the wounds of the Civil War were still fresh. ita fit: the subject is the clause ut adsint, etc. adsint, they attend: opposed to taceant; the position of taceant indicates this antithesis. The friends of any party to a suit attended court to give him the advantage of their presence and influence (cf. Caes. B.G. 1. 4). Such friends were technically called advocati, but they did not, like the modern advocate, speak in court. officium, duty, arising from their relations to the murdered man, who had stood in the relation of hospitality (see hospes in Vocab.) with some of the highest families.
audacissimus, i.e. is it that I have more effrontery than any of the rest? ne . . . quidem, not . . . either, endorsing, as usual, the emphatic word: § 322, f (151, e); B. 151, e; G. 448, N.2; H. (569, iii, 2). istius, i.e. that which is in your thoughts: § 297, c (102, c); B. 87; G. 306; H.507, 3 (450); H.-B. 271, a. sim, conjunctivus modestiae: § 447, vi (311, b); Cf. B. 280, 2 ; G. 257,1; H. 556 (486, i); H.-B. 519,1, b. aliis, dat.: § 381 (229); B. 180, 2, d; G. 345; H. 429, 2 (386, 2); H.-B. 371. praereptam: prae- gives here the force of getting the start of others in snatching it (cf. prevent, from praevenio). me: so emphatic as to throw igitur out of its usual place. reciperem, undertake a case offered; suscipere is to take up of one's own motion. amplitudo, position, from birth, wealth, office, or the like. id quod, a thing which: § 307, d (200, e); G. 614, R.2; H.399,6 (445, 7); H.-B. 325, a and N.2. dixisset, an integral part of putaretur. putaretur: apodosis of fecisset; § 517 (308); B. 304, I; G. 597; H. 579 (510); H.-B. 581. The whole from si verbum through putaret is the apodosis of si quis dixisset in 1.14. Translate, if any one had spoken, in case he had made any allusion to politics, he would, etc.
ego, etc., but in MY case, even if I, etc. etiamsi . . . dixero, . . . poterit: § 516, c (307, c); B. 264, a; G. 244, 2; H. 574, 2 (508, 2); cf. H.-B. 494 and 579, a. similiter, in like manner, i.e. as if a man of rank had spoken. exire, etc., i.e. this speech will not be quoted and talked over, and hence any allusions to politics which it may contain will not seem more significant than they really are. emanare not to be confounded with manere. deinde quod: the second reason, corresponding to quia in 1. 14. ceterorum, opposed to ego in 1.6, below. dictum: noun, limited by ceterorum; dicto (l.5) is also a noun, though modified by an adv. ; § 321, b (207, c) ; G. 437, R. ; H.-B. 250, 2, b, N. concedi, impersonal: § 372 (230); B. 187, ii, b; G. 217; H.426, 3 (384, 5); H.-B. 364, 2. nondum . . . accessi, I have not yet gone into public life, i.e. become candidate for any office. Cicero began his political career five years later, with the quaestorship. tametsi, although, in its so-called "corrective" use, — the concession coming after the general statement, as a kind of limitation of it. ignoscendi ratio, the idea of pardon. The vaguely general word ratio with the gen. of the gerund expresses little more than our word pardoning alone. The Latin, being poor in abstract words, has to resort to such shifts as this to supply their place. So cognoscendi consuetudo, the habit of judicial investigation, is almost equivalent to judicial investigation simply. This was a bold speech to make under the rule of the tyrant Sulla.
accedit, there is in addition: used as a kind of passive of addo. illa, this, i.e. the following (a common use of this pronoun). quod, that: § 572(333); B. 299,1,b; G. 525, 1; H.588,3 (540, iv); H.-B. 549,550, 552, 1. a ceteris,from the others, i.e. the nobles. petitum sit: for subjunctive see § 447, a and N. (334,g and N.) ; G. 457, 2, N.; H. (p.267, footnote 1); H.-B. 517,1. ut dicerent [causam], subst. clause of purpose, subj. of petitum sit: § 566 (331, h) ; G. 546; H.565, 2 (499, 3); cf. H.-B. 502, 3, a. dicere causam is the technical expression for defending a case. ut . . . arbitrarentur: a clause of result, dependent on ita petitum sit: § 537 and N.2 (319 and a.) ; B. 284, 1; G. 552; H. 591 (500 and N.1); H.-B. 521, 2 and a. utrumvis, either [course, i.e. to speak or be silent], at their choice ; lit. either [of the two] you please. salvo officio (abl. of manner), without a breach of duty. arbitrarentur: imperf. following petitum sit, which is regarded as a secondary tense since it represents the perf. indic. ; § 485, a (287, a) ; B. 268, I; G. 511, N.2; H.546 (495, i); H.-B. 481. a me autem, etc., lit. but from me, etc. (opposed to a ceteris above). The emphasis may be preserved by changing the construction in English: but as for myself, men have urged it [i.e. that I should undertake the defence of Roscius] on me who, etc. ei, men ; here used simply as a correlative to qui, and not in a really demonstrative sense. The reference is of course to the noble friends of Roscius debeam, subj. of characteristic: § 535(320); B. 283,1; G. 631, 2; H. 591, I (503, i); H.-B. 521, 1. his, emphatic, summing up the reasons he has given for undertaking the case, ego (next line), emphatic as opposed to the others present. patronus, advocate, the word advocati having a different meaning (see note on p. 2, l. 7, above). unus, as the one man. uti ne: in purpose clauses the double form is often used instead of ne alone. desertus, etc.: observe that Cicero not only attempts to win the sympathies of the jurors for the helpIessness of his client, but that he also contrives to suggest, in advance of the formal statement of facts, that there is a combination or conspiracy of some kind against young Roscius The same thing was insinuated in sect. vi by the use of conflatam (1.6).