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brought gold, but who received it as the price of treachery, and still retains it,-Demosthenes it is unblushingly proposed to invest with a golden crown!” From those who fell at Marathon and at Platæa; from Themistocles ; from the very sepulchres of your ancestors, issues the protesting groan of condemnation and rebuke! . .
I neither envy the habits of Demosthenes nor blush for my own; nor would I retract the speeches I have spoken among you ; nor, had I spoken as he has, would I be content to live ; for my silence, Demosthenes, has been occasioned by the simplicity of my life. I am satisfied with little, and covet not the dishonest acquisition of more ; so that I can be silent, and can speak advisedly, and not when constrained by innate extravagance; while you, I should say, are silent when your hand is full, and clamorous when it is empty, and speak, not when you choose, nor what you please, but whenever your employers instruct you,-for you are never ashamed of exaggerations which are immediately detected.
You censure me for coming before the city not continuously, but at intervals, and flatter yourself that you can escape detection in propounding this principle, which is not of democracy but a different form of government; for under an oligarchy not he who would, but he who has power, prefers indictments; but under a democracy, whoever chooses, and whenever he thinks proper. Besides, to appear occasionally in public is an indication of a policy suggested by opportunity of advantage ; but to make no intermission, even of a day, is the proof of a traitor and a hireling.
And yet, by the Gods of Olympus, of all that I understand Demosthenes intends to say, I am most indignant at what I am going to mention. He compares my talents, it seems, to the Sirens, for their hearers (he says) are not so much enchanted as lured to destruction—and hence the evil reputation of their minstrelsy. In like manner my rhetorical skill and abilities prove the ruin of my hearers. And, although I believe no man whatever is justified in any such assertion respecting me--for it is discreditable for an accuser not to be able to prove the truth of his allegations-yet if the assertion must be made, it should not have been by Demosthenes, but by some military commander who had rendered important services to the state and was deficient in eloquence; and who therefore envied the talents of his adversaries because he was conscious of his inability to proclaim his achievements, while he saw an adversary capable of representing to his audience what he had never performed as though they were actual achievements. Yet when a man made up altogether of words—bitter and superfluously elaborate words—comes back to the simplicity of facts, who can tolerate it? A man whose tongue, like that of the flageolet, if you remove, the rest is nothing.
MARCUS PORCIUS CATO (234-149 B. C.)
AN EMINENT ROMAN ORATOR
F the orators of Rome, there is only one, the far-famed Cicero,
whose productions have come down to us in assured form.
Of the others, including Cæsar, and the two Catos, we have what purport to be orations spoken by them, in the pages of Livy, Sallust and other historians. These, while perhaps not their exact words, may closely approach orations actually delivered by them. There were two Catos, eminent as orators, who bore the above name, Cato, the Elder, or the Censor, and his great grandson, Cato, the Younger. It is with the former that we are here concerned. Poor by birth and a farmer by profession, his ability as an orator, and his eminence as a model of the severer virtues, raised him through various positions to the office of consul, and finally to that of censor. In the latter, his severity in correcting abuses and enforcing his principles of economy and sobriety made him many enemies. As a senator he became noted, in the third Punic war, for the famous phrase, Delendu est Carthago (“ Carthage must be destroyed ”).
WOMEN IN POLITICS [Livy gives Cato credit for the following specimen of oratory, of interest for its peculiar subject, the political activity of women. It is certainly a surprise, with the ideas usually entertained of the seclusion of women in ancient times, to find them as active in their efforts to take part in public affairs as the advocates of women's rights of to-day, while Cato played the part of the modern opponents of these “rights.”]
If, Romans, every individual among us had made it a rule to maintain the prerogative and authority of a husband with respect to his own wife, we should have less trouble with the whole sex. But now, our privileges, overpowered at home by female contumacy, are, even here in the forum,
MARCUS PORCIUS CATO
spurned and trampled under foot; and because we are unable to withstand each separately, we now dread their collective body. I was accustomed to consider it a fabulous and fictitious tale, that in a certain island the whole race of males was utterly extirpated by a conspiracy of the women. But the utmost danger may be apprehended equally from either sex, if you suffer cabals and secret consultations to be held ; scarcely, indeed, can I determine, in my own mind, whether the act itself, or the precedent which it affords, is of more pernicious tendency. The latter of these more particularly concerns us consuls and other magistrates ; the former, you my fellow-citizens: for whether the measure proposed to your consideration be profitable to the State or not is to be determined by you, who are to vote on the occasion.
As to the outrageous behavior of these women, whether it be merely an act of their own, or owing to your instigations, Marcus Fundanius and Lucius Valerius, it unquestionably implies culpable conduct in magistrates. I know not whether it reflects greater disgrace on you, tribunes, or on the consuls; on you, certainly, if you have brought these women hither for the purpose of raising tribunitian sedition ; on us, if we suffer laws to be imposed upon us by a secession of women, as was done formerly by that of the common people.
It was not without painful emotions of shame that I, just now, made my way into the forum through the midst of a band of women. Had I not been restrained by respect for the modesty and dignity of some individuals among them, rather than of the whole number, and been unwilling that they should be seen rebuked by a consul, I should not have refrained from saying to them : “What sort of practice is this of running out into the public, besetting the streets, and addressing other women's husbands. Could not each have made the same request to her husband at home? Are your blandishments more seducing in public than in private, and with other women's husbands than with your own ? Although, if females would let this modesty confine them within the limits of their own rights, it did not become you, even at home, to concern yourselves about any laws that might be passed or repealed here."
Our ancestors thought it not proper that women should perform any, even private business, without a director ; but that they should be ever under the control of parents, brothers, or husbands. We, it seems, suffer them now to interfere in the management of State affairs, and to thrust themselves into the forum, into general assemblies, and into assemblies of election ; for what are they doing at this moment in your streets and lanes ? What, but arguing, some in support of the motion of tribunes, others contending for the repeal of the law.
CAIUS GRACCHUS (159-121 B. C.)
ROME'S MOST ELOQUENT TRIBUNE
OST of us are familiar with the story told of Cornelia, the mother
of Caius and Tiberius Gracchus. A Campanian lady visiting
her, boasted of her jewels, and asked to see those of her host
In reply Cornelia presented her sons, saying, “ These are the only jewels of which I can boast.” These jewels of sons grew up to be leaders of the people in their struggle against the aristocrats. Tiberius, a valiant soldier, was elected tribune of the people, and enacted laws by which serious abuses were reformed. He sustained his position with great eloquence, but in a second election was attacked and massacred by the partisans of the aristocratic party. Caius, his younger brother, in time succeeded him in the tribunate, and two years afterward was, like him, murdered. They lived when the liberties of Rome were near their overthrow.
THE PEOPLE'S RIGHTS ABOVE PRIVILEGE [Caius Sempronius Gracchus was endowed with great talents and excelled in eloquence. In the words of Plutarch, he was “ a noble specimen of every virtue.” We have no direct example of his oratory, but extract from Livy what professes to be one of his speeches to the people when a candidate before them for the office of tribune.]
It is now ten years, O Romans, since my brother, Tiberius Gracchus, was elected your tribune. In what a condition did he find you! The great mass of the people pined in abject poverty. Thousands, eager to work, without a clod of dirt they could call their own, actually wanted daily bread. A few men, calling themselves “the aristocracy,” having enormous wealth gotten by extortion and fraud, lorded it over you with remorseless rigor. The small land proprietors had disappeared. Mercenary idlers, their fingers actually itching for bribes, tricky demagogues, insatiate usurers, desperate gamblers, all the vilest abettors of lawless
power, had usurped the places of men who had been the glory and strength of the Republic. What a state of things ! infinite wretchedness to the millions, but riches and prodigality to the hundreds. The rich could plunder the poor at will, for your rulers and judges were corrupt, cowardly and venal, and money could buy them to do anything. Bribery at elections, open, unblushing, flagrant, kept the very men in power who were sucking the life-blood of the country. Do I exaggerate? Oh, no! It is too faint a picture of the woe and degradation of the people, and of the rapacity, arrogance, and depravity of their oppressors.
At such a time my brother, Tiberius Gracchus, presented himself, and was elected tribune. His heart had been wrung by your distresses. He resolved to rescue the oppressed and down-trodden people. He defied your tyrants. He swiftly ended the fraud which had robbed you of your lands. No shelter of wealth, no rank or place, could shield from his fiery wrath. In vain did they hurl at him the cheap words “demagogue," “ factionist," "anarchist.” There was that truth in his tones, that simplicity and nobility in his bearing, that gentle dignity in his very rage at the wrongs done, that carried conviction of his sincerity to every heart.
Oh ! how pale with anger were those " aristocrats," as they styled themselves, as their power melted away, as they saw the people resume their rights under the resistless eloquence of that young, devoted spirit! But he must be silenced, this audacious tribune, this incorruptible critic of the privileged class, this friend and saviour of the people. A bloody revenge must quiet their fears, lest they should lose their illegal plunder.
Alas! the foul deed was done! In a tumult instigated for the purpose, your tribune-champion of the poor, and friend of the friendless—was slain. Even his body was refused to his friends ; but the sacred Tiber was made more sacred by receiving to its bosom all of Tiberius Gracchus that could perish.
And now, men of Rome, if you ask, as those who fear me do ask, why I left my quæstorship in Sardinia without leave of the Senate, here is my answer : I had to come without leave or not at all. Why, then, did I come at all? To offer myself for the office my brother held, and for serving you in which he was brutally murdered. I have come to vindicate his memory, to re-inaugurate his policy, to strip the privileged class of its privileges, to restore popular rights, to lift up the crushed, to break down the oppressor. And, O Romans, I come with clean hands, with no coffers filled with gold wrenched from desolated provinces and a ruined people. I can offer no bribe for votes. I come back poor as I went; poor indeed in all but hatred of tyrants and zeal to serve my country. Shall I be your tribune?