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Bill Thayer

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This webpage reproduces part of the fragmentary


published in the Loeb Classical Library,
1921 (revised 1931)

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!

 p397  Sallust
Histories (fragments)

The Speech of Philippus in the Senate1

1 [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] I could wish above everything, Fathers of the Senate, that our country might be at peace, or that amidst dangers, it might be defended by its ablest citizens; or at any rate that evil designs should prove the ruin of their contrivers. But on the contrary, everything is in disorder as the result of civil dissensions, which are aroused by those whose duty it rather was to suppress them; and finally, the wise and good are forced to do what the worst and most foolish of men have resolved. 2 For even though you may detest war and arms, yet you must take them up because it is the will of Lepidus, unless haply anyone is disposed to grant him peace and at the same time to suffer war.2

3 [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] O ye gods, who still watch over this city, for which we take no thought, Marcus Aemilius, the lowest of all criminals — and it is not easy to say whether he is more vicious or more cowardly — has an army for the purpose of overthrowing our liberties, from contemptible has made himself terrible! You,3 meanwhile, muttering and shrinking, trusting to the predictions and incantations of soothsayers,4 pray rather than fight for peace, and you do not  p399 realise that by your irresolute decrees you are losing your prestige, he his fear. 4 And naturally enough, for since his robberies have made his consul, his acts of sedition have given him a province and an army, what might he not have gained by good conduct, when you have rewarded this crimes so generously?

5 [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] But perhaps it is those who up to the very last have voted for embassies, for peace, for harmony, and the like, that have won his favour. Nay, despised, held unworthy of a share in the state, they are regarded as plunder, since fear makes them sue for peace, which fear had made them lose. 6 For my own part, at the very outset, when I saw Etruria conspiring, the proscribed recalled, and the state rent asunder5 by bribery, I thought that there was no time to be lost and with a few others I followed the standard of Catulus. But those who lauded the great deeds of the Aemilian family, and the clemency which had made the Roman people great, said that even then Lepidus had taken no decisive step, although he had taken up arms on his own responsibility to crush out liberty; and thus while seeking power or protection for themselves each of them perverted the public counsels.

7 [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] At that time, however, Lepidus was a mere brigand at the head of a few camp-followers and cut-throats, any one of whom would have sold his life for a day's wages;6 now he is a proconsul with military power which he did not buy, but which you gave him, with subordinates who are still7 bound by law to obey him; the most vicious characters of every class flock to his standard, inflamed by poverty  p401 and greed, driven on by the consciousness of their crimes, men who find repose in discord, disquiet in time of peace. These are the men who rouse rebellion after rebellion, war after war, followers now of Saturninus,8 then of Sulpicius,9 next of Marius and Damasippus,10 and now of Lepidus. 8 Moreover, Etruria is aroused, as well as all the other smouldering fires of war; the Spanish provinces are stirred to revolt, Mithridates, who is close beside those of our tributaries from whom we still receive support, is watching for an opportunity for war; in short, for the overthrow of our empire nothing is lacking save a competent leader.

9 [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] Therefore, Fathers of the Senate, take heed, I beg and implore you, and do not allow the licence of crime, like a madness, to infect those who are as yet sound. For when the wicked are rewarded, it is not easy for anyone to be virtuous without price. 10 Or are you waiting for Lepidus to come again with an army and enter our city with fire and sword? Verily, such an act is much nearer the condition in which he now finds himself than are peace and concord to civil arms. 11 And these arms he took up in defiance of all human and divine law, not in order to avenge his own wrongs or the wrongs of those whom he pretends to represent, but to overthrow our laws and our liberty. For he is hounded and tormented in mind by ambition and terror because of his crimes, uneasy and at his wits' end, resorting now to this plan, now to that. He fears peace, hates war; he sees that he must sacrifice  p403 luxury and licence, and meanwhile he takes advantage of your indolence.

12 [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] As to your conduct, I lack sufficient wisdom to know whether to call it cowardice, weakness or madness, when each one of you seems to pray that the evils which threaten you like a thunderbolt may not touch him, and yet makes not the slightest effort to prevent them.

13 [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] I pray you consider how the order of things is inverted; formerly public mischief was planned secretly, public defence openly; and hence the good easily forestalled the wicked. Nowadays peace and harmony are disturbed openly, defended secretly; those who desire disorder are in arms; you are in fear. What are you waiting for, unless perchance you are ashamed or weary of well doing? 14 Are you influenced by the demands of Lepidus? He says that he wishes to render unto each his own, and keeps the property of others; to annul laws established in time of war, while he uses armed compulsion; to establish the citizenship of those from whom he denies that it has been taken, and in the interests of peace to restore the power of the tribunes, from which all our discords were kindled.

15 [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] O vilest and most shameless of men, do you take to heart the poverty and grief of the citizens, when you have nothing in your possession which was not seized by arms or by injustice! You ask for a second consulship, as if you had ever given up your first. You seek harmony through war, by which the harmony which we had attained is broken, a traitor to us, unfaithful to your party, the enemy of all good citizens. Are you not ashamed either before  p405 men or before the gods, whom you have insulted by your perfidy or perjury?

16 [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] Since such is your character, I urge you to be true to your purpose and to retain your arms, lest by deferring your rebellious plans you may be uneasy yourself and keep us in a ferment. Neither the provinces, nor the laws, nor your country's gods tolerate you as a citizen. Continue as you have begun, in order that as soon as possible you may meet with your deserts.

17 [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] But you, Fathers of the Senate, how long will your hesitation leave your country undefended, and how long will you meet arms with words? Forces have been levied against you, money extorted from individuals and from the treasury, garrisons removed from one place and stationed in another, the laws interpreted in accordance with caprice, and in the meantime you are preparing to send envoys and make decrees. But, by Heaven! the more eagerly you seek peace, the more cruel will the war be, when he finds that he can more safely rely upon your fears than upon the justice and righteousness of his cause. 18 In truth, whoever says that he hates disturbance and the death of citizens, and therefore keeps you unarmed while Lepidus is in arms, is in reality advising you to suffer what the conquered must endure, when you might yourselves visit it upon others. Such counsellors advise you to keep peace with him and encourage him to make war upon you. 19 If this is your intention, if such torpor has stolen upon your spirits that forgetting the crimes of Cinna, upon whose return to our city the flower of this order perished,11 you will nevertheless entrust yourselves, your wives, and your children to Lepidus, what  p407 need is there of decrees? What need of Catulus' help? Surely it is in vain that he and other good citizens are taking thought for the republic.

20 [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] But have your way! Gain the protection of Cethegus and the other traitors, who are eager to renew the reign of pillage and fire and once more to arm their hands against our country's gods. Or if you prefer liberty and justice, pass decrees worthy of your reputation, and thus increase the courage of your brave defenders. 21 A new army is ready, besides the colonies of veterans, all the nobles, and the best leaders; fortune attends the stronger; soon the forces which our negligence has assembled will melt away.

22 [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] Therefore this is my recommendation: whereas Marcus Lepidus, in defiance of the authority of this body and in concert with the worst enemies of their country, is leading against this city an army raised on his own authority, therefore be it resolved that Appius Claudius the interrex,12 with Quintus Catulus, the proconsul and others who have military power, shall defend the city and see to it that no harm come to our country.13

The Editor's Notes:

1 When Lepidus demanded a second consulship and the restitution of the powers of the tribunes, the leader of the aristocracy, L. Marcius Philippus, opposed his demands and convinced the senate that Lepidus ought to be punished.

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2 cf. Livy 42.13.5, videbam quam impar esset sors, cum ille vobis bellum pararet, vos ei securam pacem praestaretis.

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3 Addressed to the senators.

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4 The Sybilline books had been burned with the Capitol in 83 B.C., but many other prophetic writings were in circulation; see Suet., Aug. 31.1.

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5 That is, divided into opposing factions.

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6 On the inversion of the price and the object bought see Horace, Serm. 2.7.109, with the notes of Lejay, Palmer, and others.

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7 Since Lepidus has not yet been outlawed by the senate.

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8 In 100 B.C. Lucius Saturninus, who was then tribune of the commons, set on foot a rebellion and was condemned to death by Marius.

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9 Sulpicius, tribune in 88 B.C., proposed and carried through the bill by which the command of the war against Mithridates was taken from Sulla and given to Marius. He was put to death at Laurentum.

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10 See Cat. li.32.

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11 During the proscriptions of 87 B.C.

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12 Taking the place of the consuls for 77 B.C., who at this time (the end of January) had not yet been elected.

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13 See Cat. xxix.2‑3.

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Page updated: 12 Dec 11