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This webpage reproduces
The Invective against Cicero


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.
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 p493  An Invective against Marcus Tullius
(attributed to Sallust)​1

1 [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] I should be troubled and angered by your abuse, Marcus Tullius, if I were sure that your impudence was the result of intention rather than of a disordered mind. But since I perceive in you neither moderation nor any modesty, I shall answer you; so that if you have derived any pleasure from reviling, you may lose it by listening to censure.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] Where shall I make complaint, Fathers of the Senate, that our country is being rent asunder and is the victim of all the most reckless of men; to whom shall I appeal? Shall I turn to the Roman people, who are so corrupted by largess that they offer themselves and all their fortunes for sale? Shall I appeal to you, Fathers of the Senate, whose authority is the plaything of all the basest and most criminal of men? Wherever Marcus Tullius is, is he the defender of the laws, the courts and the state, and does he lord it in this assembly as if he were the sole survivor of the family of the illustrious Scipio Africanus and not a parvenu citizen  p495 but recently grafted upon this city?​2 2 Or pray, Marcus Tullius, are your deeds and words unknown to us? Have you not lived such a life from childhood, that you thought nothing a disgrace to your body which any other's desire prompted? Did you not in fact learn all your unchecked torrent of language under Marcus Piso at the expense of your chastity? It is, therefore, not at all surprising that you trade upon it shamefully, when you acquired it most shamefully.

2 [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] But, I suppose, your spirits are raised by the brilliance of your home, by a wife guilty of sacrilege and dishonoured by perjury, by a daughter who is her mother's rival and is more compliant and submissive to you than a daughter should be to a parent. Even your house, fatal to yourself and your family, you obtained by violence and robbery; 3 doubtless in order to remind us how our country has changed, when you, vilest of men that you are, live in the house which was once the property of that most distinguished man Publius Crassus. And in spite of all this, Cicero declares that he was present at the council of the immortal gods,​3 from which he, a man who makes disaster to his country the means of his own glorification, was sent as a protector to this city and its citizens, and not as its executioner. As if, forsooth, your consul­ship was not the cause of that conspiracy, and as if the reason why the commonwealth was not rent asunder at that time was because it had you for a protector.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] But, I suppose, you are raised to a higher pinnacle by what you planned for the state after your consul­ship, in company with your wife Terentia, when you  p497 were holding trials under the Plautian law​4 at your own home and condemning some of the conspirators to pay fines; when one built your country house at Tusculum, another that at Pompeii, and still another bought your house for you.​5 But the man who could do nothing for you was the most liable to false accusation; he it was who had come to attack your house, or who had plotted against the senate; in short, you were quite convinced of his guilt. 4 If my charges are false, render an account of the amount of the patrimony which you inherited, and of what has come to you from lawsuits, and tell us where you got the money to buy your house and build your villas at Tusculum and Pompeii regardless of expense. If you are silent, who can doubt but that you amassed that wealth from the blood and wretchedness of the citizens?

3 [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] But, I suppose, a parvenu Arpinate of the breed of Marcus Crassus​6 imitates that great man's merits, scorns the enmity of the nobles, holds the state dear, 5 and is deflected from the truth neither by fear nor by favour, such are his loyalty and virtuous spirit. On the contrary, he is the most unstable of men, a suppliant to his enemies, insulting to his friends, an adherent now of this party and now of that, loyal to no one, an unstable senator, a mercenary counsel, free from disgrace in no member of his body, with a false tongue, thievish hands, a bottomless gullet, fleeing feet; most dishonoured in that part of his body which cannot honourably be named.7  p499 And although such is his character, he yet has the assurance to say, "Fortunate Rome, born in my consulate."​8 "Fortunate in having you for her consul," Cicero? Nay, ill-starred and wretched in having endured that most ruthless proscription, when after embroiling your country and filling all virtuous citizens with fear, you forced them to obey your cruel mandates; when all the courts and all the laws were subservient to your will; when after annulling the Porcian law​9 and robbing us all of our freedom, you alone took the power of life and death over all of us into your own hands. 6 And not content with having done all this with impunity, you even insult us by recalling it, and you do not allow these men to forget their slavery. Do, Cicero, I beseech you, have done, have accomplished, what you wish: it is enough for us to have endured it; will you also burden our ears with your hatred, and even pursue us with the tiresome refrain, "Let arms yield to the toga, the laurel to the tongue"?​10 Just as if it were in the toga and not in arms that you did what you boast of, and as if there were any difference between you and a dictator like Sulla except the mere title of your office.

4 [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] But why should I enlarge upon your presumption, when you declare 7 that Minerva taught you all the arts, that Jupiter, greatest and kindest of the gods, admitted you to their council, and that Italy brought you back from exile upon its shoulders? I beseech you, O Romulus of Arpinum, who by your transcendent merit surpass every Paulus, Fabius and Scipio, what place, pray you, do you hold in this  p501 state? What part in public life do you desire? Who is your friend and who your enemy? You play maidservant to the man against whom you plotted in the state. You follow the one through whose influence you returned from your exile at Dyrrachium. You truckle to the power of those whom you formerly called tyrants. Those who once seemed to you the best of citizens you now call mad and frenzied. You plead the cause of Vatinius, you think ill of Sestius, you assail Bibulus with impudent language, you praise Caesar, you are most obsequious to him whom you most hated; you think one thing about the state when you stand up, another when you sit; you revile some, hate others, vile turncoat that you are, showing loyalty neither to one side nor to the other.

The Editor's Notes:

1 See Introd. pp. xviii f.

2 cf. Cass. Dio 46.20.2, καίτοι πολλὰ μὲν τῶν νόμων, πολλὰ δὲ περὶ τῶν δικαστηρίων ἀεὶ καὶ πανταχοῦ (= ubiubi) θρυλῶν.

3 A sarcastic allusion to Cicero's recognition of the help of the gods; e.g. in Cat. 2.13.29, etc.

4 See Cat. xxxi.4.

5 That is, furnished the money for them through the fines which they paid.

6 He is called "of the breed of Crassus," because he gained money in any and every way. cf. Velleius 2.46.2 (Crassus) vir cetera sanctissimis immunisque voluptatibus neque in pecunia neque in gloria concupiscenda aut modum norat aut capiebat terminum.

7 cf. the Epistle to Caesar, ix.2.

8 A line from Cicero's poem "On his Consulship," ridiculed by Juvenal (X.123) and others because of the jingle fortunatam natam.

9 See Cat. li.22.

10 Another line from Cicero's poem "On his Consulship."

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