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Accusatores. There was no official public prosecutor at Rome; it was left to private persons to prefer the accusations in criminal trials, and if they proved their case they were rewarded. Hence during the reigns of terror accusation amounted to a trade for earning a livelihood; accusers were hired, as in the present case (§ 55); even clubs or associations of accusers were formed. ut ne, in sense = ut caveatur ne; provided that we are not, etc. Cf. ad Fam. 16. 9.3, sed tamen ita velim, ut ne quid properes. abest a culpa; as in § 95, longe absum ab cius modi crimine. tametsi. . . ignoscere forms the apodosis to the protasis innocens . . . non caret, though in form the two are co-ordinate. For the position of tamen, cf. Phil. 2. § 39, homines, quamvis in turbidis rebus sint, tamen, etc possum: see § 53, note. criminose ac suspiciose, so as to imply guilt and arouse suspicions : cf. § 76, argui suspiciose; Brut. 131, qui suspiciosius aut criminosius diceret, audivi neminem. calumniari: see above on leqem Remmiam. sciens, knowingly; scienter would mean cleverly. There is a similar difference between prudens, imprudens feci and prudenter, imprudenter feci. absolvi, i.e. (to be accused and) acquitted. causam non dicere here = reum non fieri; see on § 5. anseribus: cf. Pun. N.H. 10. § 51, est et anseri vigil cura (i.e. the goose is a wakeful bird), Capitolio testata defenso, per id tempus canum silentio proditis rebus; quam ob causam cibaria anserum censores in primis locant. locantur, the technical term for letting out contracts for purposes of state. significent, absolute, make a sign, give warning. at fures internoscere non possunt. Cicero anticipates the objection : It is true they cannot distinguish thieves; but yet (tamen) they give a sign, etc. tametsi bestiae sunt, etc., i.e. though they are brute creatures, they err on the side of caution; they are cautious to a fault. salutatum = veneratum.
est ratio, the case is the same with. The comparison, though it must have amused and delighted the audience, fails in several points : e.g. the geese were not kept to guard the Capitol, but by way of reward (cf. sacri Iunonis, Liv. 5.47); and accusers were not officially paid by the State. cibaria answers to the money given to Erucius by Magnus and Capito, §§ 30, 55, 58. commisisse, absolute, has been guilty of a crime; unless aliquid has fallen out from confusion with aliquem, as Hotoman conjectures : cf. § 67. litteram iliam, viz. K, perhaps referring to the voting tablets with which the jurors voted for a condemnation, which had K marked on them, standing for the initial of condemno. If so, the expression seems metaphorical; caput = civic status. With such energy will bring to bear upon your position as citizens that letter which . . . etc. K has also been explained as the initial of calumniator, and it has been alleged that false accusers were actually branded with a K. In either case there is a punning allusion to K as = Kalendae, the day on which debtors had to pay interest. Cicero implies, as Mr. Stock remarks, that the accusers were an impecunious set. For the above note I am chiefly indebted to Mr. W. Y. Fausset's article, Classical Review 1893, p.128. neminem; the calumniator besides being branded incurred infamia, and could not act again as accuser. fortunas suas accusare was said proverbially of those who suffered through their own fault. In the sense of fortunes, destiny, the singular is more common; cf. pro Sulla, § 66, Halm's note.
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