And I think, O conscript fathers, that we ought not to pass over that fact either
in silence,—that those illustrious men who are acting as ambassadors,
Lucius Paullus, Quintus Thermus, and Caius Fannius, whose inclinations toward
the republic you are thoroughly acquainted with, and also with the constancy and
firmness of that favorable inclination, report that they turned aside to
for the purpose of
conferring with Pompeius, and that they found him in a disposition very much
inclined to go with his troops to Mutina
, if he had not been afraid of offending the minds of the
veterans. But he is a true son of that father who did quite as many things
wisely as he did bravely. Therefore you perceive that his courage was quite
ready, and that prudence was not wanting to him.
And this, too, is what Marcus Lepidus ought to take care of,—not to
appear to act in any respect with more arrogance than suits his character.
For if he alarms us with his army he is
forgetting that that army belongs to the senate, and to the Roman people, and to
the whole republic, not to himself. “But he has the power to use it as
if it were his own.” What then? Does it become virtuous men to do
every thing which it is in their power to do? Suppose it to be a base thing?
Suppose it to be a mischievous thing? Suppose it be absolutely unlawful to do
But what can be more base, or more shameful, or more utterly unbecoming, than to
lead an army against the senate, against one's fellow-citizens, against one's
country? Or what can deserve greater blame than doing that which is unlawful.
But it is not lawful for any one to lead an army against his country? if indeed
we say that that is lawful which is permitted by the laws or by the usages and
established principles of our ancestors. For it does not follow that whatever a
man has power to do is lawful for him to do; nor, if he is not hindered, is he
on that account permitted to do so. For to you, O Lepidus, as to your ancestors,
your country has given an army to be employed in her cause. With this army you
are to repel the enemy, you are to extend the boundaries of the empire, you are
to obey the senate and people of Rome
if by any chance they direct you to some other object.