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23. [61]

And if you do not yet see with sufficient clearness, (though the transaction is evident of itself by so many and such irresistible arguments and proofing) that Milo was returning to Rome with a pure and guiltless intention, with no taint of wickedness, under no apprehension, without any consciousness of crime to disquiet him; recollect, I implore you, in the name of the immortal gods, how rapid his speed while returning was; how he entered the forum while the senate-house was all on fire with eagerness; how great was the magnanimity which he displayed; how he looked, and what he said. Nor did he trust himself to the people only, but also to the senate; nor to the senate only, but also to the public guards and their arms; nor to them only, but also to the power of that man to whom the senate had already entrusted1 the whole republic, all the youth of Italy, and all the arms of the Roman people. And surely he never would have put himself in his power, if he had not been confident in the justice of his cause; especially as he was one who heard everything, and feared great danger, and suspected many things, and even believed some. The power of conscience is very great, O judges, and is of great weight on both sides: so that they fear nothing who have done no wrong, and they, on the other hand, who have done wrong think that banishment is always hanging over them.

[62] Nor, indeed, is it without good reason that Milo's cause has always been approved of by the senate. For these wisest of men took into their consideration the whole circumstances of the case; Milo's presence of mind, and vigour in defending himself. Have you forgotten, O judges, when the news of Clodius's death was still recent, the opinions and the language which was held, not only by Milo's enemies, but also by other ignorant people? They said that he would not return to Rome at all. [63] For if he had committed the deed in a passionate and excited mood, so that he had slain his enemy while under the influence of strong hatred, they thought that he would consider the death of Publius Clodius an event of such importance, that he would bear being deprived of his country with equanimity, as he had sated his hatred in the blood of his enemy; or, if he had deliberately intended to deliver his country by the slaughter of Clodius, then they thought that he, as a brave man, would not hesitate, after having brought safety to his country at his own risk, to submit with equanimity to the laws, to carry off with himself everlasting renown, and to leave those things to us to enjoy which he had preserved for us himself

Many also spoke of Catiline and the monsters of his train. “We shall have another Catiline breaking out. He will occupy some strong place; he will make war on his country.” Wretched sometimes is the fate of those citizens who have faithfully served the republic! when men not only forget the illustrious exploits which they have performed, but even suspect them of the most nefarious designs! [64] Therefore, all those things were false, which would certainly have turned out true if Milo had committed any action which he could not defend with honour and with truth.


1 The disturbances on the death of Clodius arose to such a height, that the senate at last passed a resolution that Marcus Lepidus the Interrex, assisted by the tribunes of the people and Pompeius, should take care that the republic received no injury. And at last the senate appointed Pompeius consul without a colleague, who immediately published several new laws, and among them the one under which this trial was conducted, (see note on chap.1) and he now limited the duration of trials, allowing only three days for the examination of witnesses, and on the fourth day the accuser was only allowed two hours to enforce the accusation, and the defendant three hours to speak in his defence. Caelius endeavoured to arrest these laws by his veto as tribune, declaring that they were framed solely with a view to crush Milo, whom Pompeius certainly desired to get rid of; to effect which he even descended to the artifice of pretending to believe that Milo had laid a plot to assassinate him.

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