Although many men of importance stood for the praetorship along with Cicero, he was appointed first of them all;1
and men thought that he managed the cases which came before him with integrity and fairness. It is said, too, that Licinius Macer, a man who had great power in the city on his own account and also enjoyed the help of Crassus, was tried before Cicero for fraud, and that, relying upon his influence and the efforts made in his behalf,
he went off home while the jurors were still voting, hastily trimmed his hair and put on a white toga in the belief that he had been acquitted, and was going forth again to the forum; but Crassus met him at the house-door and told him that he had been convicted unanimously, whereupon he turned back, lay down upon his bed, and died.
And the case brought Cicero the reputation of having been a scrupulous presiding officer. Again, there was Vatinius, a man who had a harsh manner and one which showed contempt for the magistrates before whom he pleaded; his neck also was covered with swellings. As this man once stood at Cicero's tribunal and made some request of him, Cicero did not grant it at once, but took a long time for deliberation, whereupon Vatinius said that he himself would not have stuck at the matter had he been praetor. At this Cicero turned upon him and said:
‘But I have not the neck that you have.’
Two or three days before his term of office expired, Manilius was brought before him on a charge of fraudulent accounting. This Manilius had the good will and eager support of the people, since it was thought that he was prosecuted on Pompey's account, being a friend of his. On his demanding several days in which to make his defence, Cicero granted him only one, and that the next; and the people were indignant because it was customary for the praetor to grant ten days at least to the accused.
And when the tribunes brought Cicero to the rostra and denounced him, he begged for a hearing, and then said that he had always treated defendants, so far as the laws allowed, with clemency and kindness, and thought it an unfortunate thing that Manilius should not have this advantage; wherefore, since only one day was left to his disposal as praetor, he had purposely set this day for the trial, and surely it was not the part of one who wished to help Manilius to defer it to another praetor's term.
These words produced a wonderful change in the feelings of the people, and with many expressions of approval they begged Cicero to assume the defence of Manilius. This he willingly consented to do, chiefly for the sake of Pompey, who was absent, and once more mounting the rostra harangued the people anew, vigorously attacking the oligarchical party and those who were jealous of Pompey.