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C.D. Yonge translation

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Book II chapters 23-30

XXIII. The juridical inquiry is that in which the nature of justice and injustice, and the principle of reward or punishment, is examined. Its divisions are two; one of which we call the absolute inquiry, and the other the one which is accessory. That is the absolute inquiry which itself contains in itself the question of right and not right, not as the inquiry about facts does, in an overhand and obscure manner, but openly and intelligibly. It is of this sort:--When the Thebans had defeated the Lacedaemonians in war, as it was a nearly universal custom among the Greeks, when they were waging war against one another, for those who were victorious to erect some trophy on their borders, for the sake only of declaring their victory at present, not that it might remain for ever as a memorial of the war, they erected a brazen trophy. They are accused before the Amphictyons, that is, before the common council of Greece. The charge is, "They ought not to have done so." The denial is, "We ought." The question is, "Whether they ought." The reason is, "For we gained such glory by our valour in that war that we wished to leave an everlasting memorial of it to posterity." The argument adduced to invalidate this is: "But still it is not right for Greeks to erect an eternal memorial of their enmity to Greeks." The question to be decided is: "As for the sake of celebrating their own excessive valour Greeks have erected an imperishable monument of their enmity to Greeks, whether they have done well or ill?" We, therefore, have now put this reason in the mouth of the Thebans, in order that this class of cause which we are now considering might be thoroughly understood. For if we had furnished them with that argument which is perhaps the one which they actually used, "We did so because our enemies warred against us without any considerations of justice and piety," we should then be digressing to the subject of retorting an accusation, of which we will speak hereafter. But it is manifest that both kinds of question are incidental to this controversy. And arguments must be derived for it from the same topics as those which are applicable to the cause depending on matters of fact, which has been already treated of. But to take many weighty common topics both from the cause itself, if there is any opportunity for employing the language of indignation or complaint, and also from the advantage and general character of the law, will be not only allowable, but proper, if the dignity of the cause appears to require such expedients.

XXIV. At present let us consider the assumptive portion of the juridical inquiry. But it is then called assumptive, when the fact cannot be proved by its own intrinsic evidence, but is defended by some argument brought from extraneous circumstances. Its divisions are four in number: comparison, the retort of the accusation, the refutation of it as far as regards oneself, and concession.

Comparison is when any action which intrinsically cannot be approved, is defended by reference to that for the sake of which it was done. It is something of this sort:--"A certain general, when he was blockaded by the enemy and could not escape by any possible means, made a covenant with them to leave behind his arms and his baggage, on condition of being allowed to lead away his soldiers in safety. And he did so. Having lost his arms and his baggage, he saved his men, beyond the hopes of any one. He is prosecuted for treason." Then comes the definition of treason. But let us consider the topic which we are at present discussing.

The charge is, "He had no business to leave behind the arms and baggage." The denial is, "Yes, he had." The question is, "Whether he had any right to do so?" The reason for doing so is, "For else he would have lost all his soldiers." The argument brought to invalidate this is either the conjectural one, "They would not have been lost," or the other conjectural one, "That was not your reason for doing so." And from this arise the questions for decision: " Whether they would have been lost?" and, " Whether that was the reason why he did so?" Or else, this comparative reason which we want at this minute: "But it was better to lose his soldiers than to surrender the arms and baggage to the enemy." And from this arises the question for the decision of the judges: "As all the soldiers must have been lost unless they had come into this covenant, whether it was better to lose the soldiers, or to agree to these conditions?"

It will be proper to deal with this kind of cause by reference to these topics, and to employ the principles of, and rules, for the other statements of cases also. And especially to employ conjectures for the purpose of invalidating that which those who are accused will compare with the act which is alleged against them as a crime. And that will be done if either that result which the advocates for the defence say would have happened unless that action had been performed which is now brought before the court, be denied to have been likely to ensue; or if it can be proved that it was done with a different object and in a different manner from that stated by the man who is on his trial. The confirmation of that statement, and also the argument used by the opposite party to invalidate it, must both be derived from the conjectural statement of the case. But if the accused person is brought before the court, because of his action coming under the name of some particular crime, (as is the case in this instance, for the man is prosecuted for treason), it will be desirable to employ a definition and the rules for a definition.

XXV. And this usually takes place in this kind of examination, so that it is desirable to employ both conjecture and definition. But if any other kind of inquiry arises, it will be allowable on similar principles to transfer to it the rules for that kind of inquiry. For the accuser must of all things take pains to invalidate, by as many reasons as possible, the very fact on account of which the person on his trial thinks that it is granted to him that he was right. And it is easy to do so, if he attempts to overturn that argument by as many statements of the case as he can employ.

But comparison itself, when separated from the other kinds of discussion, will be considered according to its own intrinsic power, if that which is mentioned in the comparison is shown, either not to have been honourable, or not to have been useful, or not to have been necessary, or not so greatly useful, or not so very honourable, or not so exceedingly necessary.

In the next place it is desirable for the accuser to separate the action which he himself is accusing, from that which the advocate for the defence compares with it. And he will do that if he shows that it is not usually done in such a manner, and that it ought not to be done so, and that there is no reason why this thing should be done on this account; for instance, that those things which have been provided for the sake of safety, should be surrendered to the enemy for the sake of safety. Afterwards it will be desirable to compare the injury with the benefit, and altogether to compare the action which is impeached with that which is praised by the advocate for the defence, or which is attempted to be proved as what must inevitably have ensued; and then, by disparaging the one, at the same time to exaggerate the importance of the mischief caused by the other. That will be effected if it be shown that that which the person on his trial avoided was more honourable, more advantageous, and more necessary than that which he did. But the influence and character of what is honourable, and useful, and necessary, will be ascertained in the rules given for deliberation.

In the next place, it will be desirable to explain that comparative kind of judicial decision as if it were a deliberative cause, and then afterwards to discuss it by the light thrown on it by rules for deliberation. For let this be the question for judicial decision which we have already mentioned:--"As all the soldiers would have been lost if they had not come to this agreement, was it better for the soldiers to be lost, or to come to this agreement?" It will be desirable that this should be dealt with with reference to the topics concerning deliberation, as if the matter were to come to some consultation.

XXVI. But the advocate for the defence will take the topics in accordance with which other statements of the case are made by the accuser, and will prepare his own defence from those topics with reference to the same statements. But all other topics which belong to the comparison, he will deal with in the contrary manner.

The common topics will be these;--the accuser will press his charges against the man who confesses some discreditable or pernicious action, or both, but still seeks to make some defence, and will allege the mischievous or discreditable nature of his conduct with great indignation. The advocate for the defence will insist upon it, that no action ought to be considered pernicious or discreditable, or, on the other hand, advantageous or creditable, unless it is ascertained with what intention, at what time, and on what account it was done. And this topic is so common, that if it is well handled in this cause it is likely to be of great weight in convincing the hearers. And there is another topic, by means of which the magnitude of the service done is demonstrated with very great amplification, by reference to the usefulness, or honourableness, or necessity of the action. And there is a third topic, by means of which the matter which is expressed in words is placed before the eyes of those men who are the hearers; so that they think that they themselves also would have done the same things, if the same circumstances and the same cause for doing so had happened to them at the same time.

The retorting of a charge takes place, when the accused person, having confessed that of which he is accused, says that he did it justifiably, being induced by the sin committed against him by the other party. As in this case:--"Horatius, when he had slain the three Curiatii and lost his two brothers, returned home victorious. He saw his sister not troubled about the death of her brothers, but at the same time calling on the name of Curiatius, who had been betrothed to her, with groans and lamentation. Being indignant, he slew the maid." He is prosecuted.

The charge is, "You slew your sister wrongfully." The refutation is, "I slew her lawfully." The question is, "Whether he slew her lawfully." The reason is, "Yes; for she was lamenting the death of enemies, and was indifferent to that of her brothers; she was grieved that I and the Roman people were victorious." The argument to invalidate this reason is, "Still she ought not to have been put to death by her brother without being convicted." On this the question for the decision of the judges is, "Whether when Horatia was showing her indifference to the death of her brothers, and lamenting that of the enemy, and not rejoicing at the victory of her brother and of the Roman people, she deserved to be put to death by her brother without being condemned."

XXVII. For this kind of cause, in the first place, whatever is given out of the other statements of cases ought to be taken, as has been already enjoined when speaking of comparison. After that, if there is any opportunity of doing so, some statement of the case ought to be employed by which he to whom the crime is imputed may be defended. In the next place, we ought to argue that the fault which the accused person is imputing to another, is a lighter one than that which he himself committed; in the next place, we ought to employ some portion of a demurrer, and to show by whom, and through whose agency, and how, and when that matter ought to have been tried, or adjudged, or decided. And at the same time, we ought to show that it was not proper that punishment should have been inflicted before any judgment was pronounced. Then we must also point out the laws and the course of judicial proceeding by which that offence which the accused person punished of his own accord, might have been chastised according to precedent, and by the regular course of justice. In the next place, it will be right to deny that it is proper to listen to the charge which is brought by the accused person against his victim, when he who brings it did not choose to submit it to the decision of the judges; and it may be urged that one ought to consider that on which no decision has been pronounced, as if it had not been done; and after that to point out the impudence of those men who are now before the judges accusing the man whom they themselves condemned without consulting the judges; and are now bringing him to trial on whom they have already inflicted punishment. After this we may say that it is bringing irregularity into the courts of justice, and that the judges will be advancing further than their power authorizes them, if they pronounce judgment at the same time in the case of the accused person, and of him whom the accused person impeaches. And in the next place, we may point out if this rule is established, and if men avenge one offence by another offence, and one injury by another injury, what vast inconvenience will ensue from such conduct; and that if the person who is now the prosecutor had chosen to do so too, there would have been no need of this trial at all; and that if every one else were to do so, there would be an end of all courts of justice.

After that it may be pointed out, that even if the maiden who is now accused by him of this crime had been convicted, he would not himself have had any right to inflict punishment on her; so that it is a shameful thing that the man who would have had no right to punish her, even if she had been convicted, should have punished her without her being even brought to trial at all. And then the accused person may be called upon to produce the law which he says justifies his having acted in such a manner.

After that, as we have enjoined when speaking of comparison, that that which is mentioned in comparison should be disparaged by the accuser as much as possible; so, too, in this kind of argument, it will be advantageous to compare the fault of the party on whom the accusation is retorted with the crime of the accused person who justified his action as having been lawfully done. And after that it is necessary to point out that that is not an action of such a sort, that on account of it this other crime ought to have been committed. The last point, as in the case of comparison, is the assumption of a judicial decision, and the dilating upon it in the way of amplification, in accordance with the rules given respecting deliberation.

XXVIII. But the advocate for the defence will invalidate what is urged by means of other statements from those topics which have already been given. But the demurrer itself he will prove first of all, by dwelling on the guilt and audacity of the man to whom he imputes the crime, and by bringing it before the eyes of the judges with as much indignation as possible if the case admits of it, and also with vehement complaint; and afterwards by proving that the accused person chastised the offence more lightly than the offender deserved, by comparing the punishment inflicted with the injury done. In the next place, it will be desirable to invalidate by opposite arguments those topics which are handled by the prosecutor in such a way that they are capable of being refuted and retorted; of which kind are the three last topics which I have mentioned. But that most vehement attack of the prosecutors, by which they attempt to prove that irregularity will be introduced into all the courts of justice if power is given to any man of inflicting punishment on a person who has not been convicted, will have its force much weakened, first of all, if the injury be shown to be such as appears intolerable not only to a good man, but absolutely to any freeman; and in the next place, to be so manifest that it could not have been denied even by the person who had done it; and moreover, of such a kind that the person who did chastise it was the person who above all others was bound to chastise it. So that it was not so proper nor so honourable for that matter to be brought before a court of justice, as for it to be chastised in that manner in which, and by that person by whom it was chastised; and lastly, that the case was so notorious that there was no occasion whatever for a judicial investigation into it. And here it will be proper to show, by arguments and by other similar means, that there are very many things so atrocious and so notorious, that it is not only not necessary, but that it is not even desirable to wait for the slow proceedings of a judicial trial.

There is a common topic for an accuser to employ against a person, who, when he cannot deny the fact of which he is accused, still derives some hope from his attempt to show that irregularity will be introduced into all courts of justice by such proceedings. And here there will come in the demonstration of the usefulness of judicial proceedings, and the complaint of the misfortune of that person who has been punished without being condemned; and the indignation to be expressed against the audacity and cruelty of the man who has inflicted the punishment. There is also a topic for the advocate for the defence to employ, in complaining of the audacity of the person whom he chastised; and in urging that the case ought to be judged of, not by the name of the action itself, but with reference to the intention of the person who committed it, and the cause for which, and the time at which it was committed. And in pointing out what great mischief will ensue either from the injurious conduct, or the wickedness of some one, unless such excessive and undisguised audacity were chastised by him whose reputation, or parents, or children, or something else which either necessarily is, or at least ought to be dear to every one, is affected by such conduct

XXIX. The transference of an accusation takes place when the accusation of that crime which is imputed to one by the opposite party is transferred to some other person or circumstance. And that is done in two ways. For sometimes the motive itself is transferred, and sometimes the act. We may employ this as an instance of the transference of the motive: --"The Rhodians sent some men as ambassadors to Athens. The quaestors did not give the ambassadors the money for their expenses which they ought to have given them. The ambassadors consequently did not go. They are impeached." The charge brought against them is, "They ought to have gone." The denial is, "They ought not." The question is, "Whether they ought." The reason alleged is, "Because the money for their expenses, which is usually given to ambassadors from the public treasury, was not given to them by the quaestor." The argument brought to invalidate that reason is, "Still you ought to have discharged the duty which was entrusted to you by the public authority." The question for the decision of the judges is, "Whether, as the money which ought to have been supplied from the public treasury was not furnished to those men who were appointed ambassadors, they were nevertheless bound to discharge the duties of their embassy." In this class of inquiry, as in all the other kinds, it will be desirable to see if anything can be assumed, either from a conjectural statement of the case, or from any other kind of statement. And after that, many arguments can be brought to bear on this question, both from comparison, and from the transference of the guilt to other parties.

But the prosecutor will, in the first place, if he can, defend the man through whose fault the accused person says that that action was done; and if he cannot, he will declare that the fault of the other party has nothing to do with this trial, but only the fault of this man whom he himself is accusing. Afterwards he will say that it is proper for every one to consider only what is his own duty; and that if the one party did wrong, that was no reason for the other doing wrong too. And in the next place, that if the other man has committed a fault, he ought to be accused separately as this man is, and that the accusation of the one is not to be mixed up with the defence of the other.

But when the advocate for the defence has dealt with the other arguments, if any arise out of other statements of the case, he will argue in this way with reference to the transference of the charge to other parties. In the first place, he will point out to whose fault it was owing that the thing happened; and in the next place, as it happened in consequence of the fault of some one else, he will point out that he either could not or ought not to have done what the prosecutor says he ought: that he could not, will be considered with reference to the particulars of expediency, in which the force of necessity is involved; that he ought not, with reference to the honourableness of the proceeding. We will consider each part more minutely when talking of the deliberative kind of argument. Then he will say, that everything was done by the accused person which depended on his own power; that less was done than ought to have been, was the consequence of the fault of another person. After that, in pointing out the criminality of that other person, it will be requisite to show how great the good-will and zeal of the accused person himself was. And that must be established by proofs of this sort:--by his diligence in all the rest of the affair; by his previous actions, or by his previous expressions. And it may be well to show that it would have been advantageous to the man himself to have done this, and disadvantageous not to have done it; and that to have done it would have been more in accordance with the rest of his life, than the not having done it, which was owing to the fault of the other party.

XXX. But if the criminality is not to be transferred to some particular person, but to some circumstance, as in this very case--"If the quaestor had been dead, and on that account the money had not been given to the ambassadors," then, as the accusation of the other party, and the denial of the fault is removed, it will be desirable to employ the other topics in a similar manner, and to assume whatever is suitable to one's purpose from the divisions of admitted facts. But common topics are usually nearly the same to both parties, and then, after the previous topics are taken for granted, will suit either to the greatest certainty. The accuser will use the topic of indignation at the fact; the defender, when the guilt belongs to another and does not attach to himself, will urge that he does not deserve to have any punishment inflicted on him.

But the removal of the criminality from oneself is effected when the accused person declares, that what is attributed to him as a crime did not affect him or his duty; and asserts that if there was any criminality in it, it ought not to be attributed to him. That kind of dispute is of this sort:--"In the treaty which was formerly made with the Samnites, a certain young man of noble birth held the pig which was to be sacrificed, by the command of the general. But when the treaty was disavowed by the senate, and the general surrendered to the Samnites, one of the senators asserted that the man who held the pig ought also to be given up." The charge is, "He ought to be given up." The denial is, "He ought not." The question is, "Whether he ought or not." The reason is, "For it was no particular duty of mine, nor did it depend on my power, being as young as I was, and only a private individual, and while the general was present with the supreme authority and command, to take care that the treaty was solemnised with all the regular formalities.'' The argument to invalidate this reason is, "But since you became an accomplice in a most infamous treaty, sanctioned with the most formal solemnities of religion, you ought to be surrendered.'' The question for the judges to decide is, "Whether, since a man who had no official authority was present, by the command of the general, aiding and abetting in the adopting of the treaty, and in that important religious ceremony, he ought to be surrendered to the enemy or not." This kind of question is so far different from the previous one; because in that the accused person admits that he ought to have done what the prosecutor says ought to have been done; but he attributes the cause to some particular circumstance or person; which was a hindrance to his own intention; without having recourse to any admission. For that has greater force; which will be understood presently. But in this case a man ought not to accuse the opposite party, nor to attempt to transfer the criminality to another, but he ought to show that that has not and never has had any reference whatever to himself, either in respect of power or duty. And in this kind of cause there is this new circumstance; that the prosecutor often works up a fresh accusation out of the topics employed, to remove the guilt from the accused person. As for instance,--"If any one accuses a man who, while he was praetor, summoned the people to take up arms for an expedition, at a time when the consuls were in the city." For as in the previous instance the accused person showed that the matter in question had no connexion with his duty or his power, so in this case also, the prosecutor himself, by removing the action done from the duty and power of the person who is put on his trial, confirms the accusation by this very argument. And in this case it will be proper for each party to examine, by means of all the divisions of honour and expediency, by examples, and tokens, and by arguing what is the duty, or right, or power of each individual, and whether he had that right, and duty, and power which is the subject of the present discussion, or not. But it will be desirable for common topics to be assumed from the case itself, if there is any room in it for expressions of indignation or complaint.


Cicero, tr. C.D. Yonge

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