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32. [89]

If you, O Erucius, had so many and such strong arguments against a criminal, how long you would speak; how you would plume yourself,—time indeed would fail you before words did. In truth, on each of these topics the materials are such that you might spend a whole day on each. And I could do the same; for I will not derogate so much from my own claims, though I arrogate nothing, as to believe that you can speak with more fluency than I can. But I, perhaps, owing to the number of advocates, may be classed in the common body; the battle of Cannae 1 has made you a sufficiently respectable accuser. We have seen many men slain, not at Thrasymenus, but at Servilius. 2 [90] “ “Who was not wounded there with Phrygian3 steel?”
” I need not enumerate all,—the Curtii, the Marii, the Mamerci, whom age now exempted from battles; and, lastly, the aged Priam himself, Antistius, 4 whom not only his age, but even the laws excused from going to battle. There are now six hundred men, whom nobody even mentions by name because of their meanness, who are accusers of men on charges of murdering and poisoning; all of whom, as far as I am concerned, I hope may find a livelihood. For there is no harm in there being as many dogs as possible, where there are many men to be watched, and many things to be guarded. [91] But, as is often the case, the violence and tumultuous nature of war brings many things to pass without the knowledge of the generals. While he who was administering the main government was occupied in other matters, there were men who in the meantime were curing their own wounds; who rushed about in the darkness and threw everything into confusion as if eternal night had enveloped the whole Republic. And by such men as these I wonder that the courts of justice were not burnt, that there might be no trace left of any judicial proceedings; for they did destroy both judges and accusers. There is this advantage, that they lived in such a manner that even if they wished it, they could not put to death all the witnesses; for as long as the race of men exists, there will not be wanting men to accuse them: as long as the state lasts, trials will take place. But as I began to say, both Erucius, if he had these arguments to use which I have mentioned, in any cause Of his, would be able to speak on them as long as he pleased, and I can do the same. But I choose, as I said before, to pass by them lightly, and only just to touch on each particular, so that all men may perceive that I am not accusing men of my own inclination, but only defending my own client from a sense of duty.

1 There is a little dispute as to Cicero's exact meaning here. Some think there is a sort of pun on the similarity of sound between Cannensis and Cinnanensis and that allusion is intended to the destruction of Cinna's army, in which a great number of Roman knights were slain. Facciolati thinks that the battle of Cannae is mentioned, not on account of the battle itself but of what followed it; so that as, after the battle of Cannae, the dictator was forced to intrust arms even to slaves, now, after the proscriptions of Sulla, the most worthless men were allowed to put themselves forth as accusers.

2 The Lacus Servilius was at Rome, and was the place where Sulla murdered a great many Romans, and set up their heads, even the heads of senators, to public view; so that Seneca says of the lake, id enim proscriptionis Sullanae spoliorum est.”

3 This is a fragment of a play of Ennius; by the words, “Phrygian steel” he points out that these murders were chiefly committed by slaves, great numbers of whom had lately been imported from Phrygia. Facciolati thinks too that allusion is made to the Oriental and luxurious manners of Sulla.

4 In the Brutus Cicero speaks of Antistius as a tolerable speaker; he calls him here Priam, meaning that he acted as a sort of leader and king among the accusers.

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