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Two Romans literally had molten gold poured down their throats as a consequence of their avarice: Manius Aquillius and Marcus Licinius Crassus.


The greed that compelled both Aquillius and Crassus to intervene in the East drove Pompey, as well.

Pro Lege Manilia (also called De Imperio Cn. Pompei) was Cicero's first political speech. Delivered in 66 BC, when he had been elected praetor, it supported the nomination of Pompey to command the war against Mithridates, who severly defeated the Romans at Zela the year before and, by then, had been at war with Rome for twenty-three years. Cicero argued that

"this whole system of credit and finance which exists here in the Forum of Rome is directly linked and bound up with money that is invested in Asia. If that is lost, then our Roman finances, too, are inevitably involved in the same process of upheaval and collapse. It is your duty, then, to prosecute the war with all the earnestness within your power. Your glorious prestige must be defended; and so must the safety of your allies. You have also got to protect your principal sources of income, and the fortunes of a large number of individual citizens--which cannot be separated from the interests of the state" (VII).

Indeed, Pompey would return triumphant to Rome in 61 BC, enriched with the spoils of Asia.


Reference: Selected Political Speeches of Cicero (1973) translated by Michael Grant (Penguin Classics).

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