C.D. Yonge translation
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Book II chapters 31-39
XXXI. The admission of the fact takes place, when the accused person does not justify the fact itself, but demands to be pardoned for it. And the parts of this division of the case are two: purgation and deprecation. Purgation is that by which (not the action, but) the intention of the person who is accused, is defended. That has three subdivisions,-- ignorance, accident, necessity.
Ignorance is when the person who is accused declares that he did not know something or other. As, "There was a law in a certain nation that no one should sacrifice a calf to Diana. Some sailors, when in a terrible tempest they were being tossed about in the open sea, made a vow that if they reached the harbour which they were in sight of, they would sacrifice a calf to the god who presided over that place. Being ignorant of the law, when they landed, they sacrificed a calf." They are prosecuted. The accusation is, "You sacrificed a calf to a god to whom it was unlawful to sacrifice a calf." The denial consists in the admission which has been already stated. The reason is, "I was not aware that it was unlawful." The argument brought to invalidate that reason is, "Nevertheless, since you have done what was not lawful, you are according to the law deserving of punishment." The question for the decision of the judge is, "Whether, as he did what he ought not to have done, and was not aware that he ought not to have done so, he is worthy of punishment or not."
But accident is introduced into the admission when it is proved that some power of fortune interfered with his intention; as in this case:--"There was a law among the Lacedaemonians, that if the contractor failed to supply victims for a certain sacrifice, he should be accounted guilty of a capital offence; and accordingly, the man who had contracted to supply them, when the day of the sacrifice was at hand, began to drive in cattle from the country into the city. It happened on a sudden that the river Eurotus, which flows by Lacedaemon, was raised by some violent storms, and became so great and furious that the victims could not by any possibility be conveyed across.
The contractor, for the
sake of showing his own willingness, placed all the victims on the bank of
the river, in order that every one on the other side of the river might be
able to see them. But though everyone was aware that it was the
unexpected rise of the river which hindered him from giving
effect to his zeal, still, some people prosecuted him on the capital
charge." The charge was, "The victims which you were bound to furnish
for the sacrifice were not furnished." The reply was an admission of the
fact. The reason alleged was, "For the river rose on a sudden, and on that
account it was impossible to convey them across." The argument used to
invalidate that reason was, "Nevertheless, since what the law enjoins was
not done, you are deserving of punishment." The question for the
decision of the judges was, "Whether, as in that respect the contractor did
not comply with the law, being prevented by the unexpected rise of the
river which hindered his giving effect to his zeal, he is deserving of
XXXII But the plea of necessity is introduced when the accused person is defended as having done what he is accused of having done under the influence of compulsion. In this way:-- "There is a law among the Rhodians, that if any vessel with a beak is caught in their harbour, it shall be confiscated. There was a violent storm at sea; the violence of the winds compelled a vessel, against the will of her crew, to take refuge in the harbour of the Rhodians. On this the quaestor claims the vessel for the people. The captain of the ship declared that it was not just that it should be confiscated. The charge is, "A ship with a beak was caught in the harbour." The reply is an admission of the fact. The reason given is, "We were driven into the harbour by violence and necessity." The argument brought to invalidate that reason is, "Nevertheless, according to the law that ship ought to become the property of the people." The question for the decision of the judge is, "Whether, as the law confiscates every ship with a beak which is found in the harbour, and as this ship, in spite of the endeavours of her crew, was driven into the harbour by the violence of the tempest, it ought to be confiscated."
We have collected these examples of these three kinds of cases into one place, because a similar rule for the arguments required for these prevails in all of them. For in all of them, in the first place, it is desirable, if the case itself affords any opportunity of doing so, that a conjecture should be introduced by the accuser, in order that that which it will be stated was not done intentionally, may be demonstrated by some suspicious circumstances, to have been done intentionally. In the next place, it will be well to introduce a definition of necessity, or of accident, or of ignorance, and to add instances to that definition, in which ignorance, or accident, or necessity appear to have operated; and to distinguish between such instances and the allegations put forward by the accused person; (that is to say, to show that there is no resemblance between them;) because this was a lighter or an easier matter, or one which did not admit of any one's being ignorant respecting it, or one which gave no room for accident or necessity. After that it must be shown that it might have been avoided; and, that the accused person might have prevented it if he had done this thing, or that thing; or that he might have guarded against being forced to act in such a manner. And it is desirable to prove by definitions that this conduct of his ought not to be called imprudence, or accident, or necessity; but indolence, indifference, or fatuity.
And if any necessity alleged appears to have in it anything discreditable, it will be desirable for the opponent, by a chain of common topics, to prove that it would have been better to suffer anything, or even to die, rather than to submit to a necessity of the sort. And then, from these topics, which have been already discussed when we spoke of the question of fact, it will be desirable to inquire into the nature of law and equity, and, as if we were dealing with an absolute juridical question, to consider this point by itself separately from all other points. And in this place, if there should be an opportunity, it will be desirable to employ instances in which there can be no room for any similar excuse; and also to institute a comparison, showing that there would have been more reason to allow it in them; and by reference to the divisions of deliberation, it may be shown that it is admitted that that action which was committed by the adversary is confessed to have been discreditable and useless; that it is a matter of great importance, and one likely to cause great mischief, if such conduct is overlooked by those who have authority to punish it.
XXXIII. But the advocate for the defence will be able to convert all these arguments, and then to use them for his own purposes. And he will especially dwell on the defence of his intentions, and in exaggerating the importance of that which was an obstacle to his intentions; and he will show that he could not have done more than he did do; and he will urge that in all things the will of the doer ought to be regarded, and that it is quite impossible that he should be justly convicted of not being free from guilt; and that under his name the common powerlessness of mankind is sought to be convicted. Then, too, he will say that nothing can be more scandalous than for a man who is free from guilt, not also to be free from punishment. But the common topics for the prosecutor to employ are these, one resting on the confession of the accused person, and the other pointing out what great licence for the violation of the law will follow, if it is once laid down that the thing to be inquired into is not the action, but the cause of the action. The common topics for the advocate for the defence to employ are, a complaint of that calamity which has taken place by no fault of his, but in consequence of some overruling power; and a complaint also of the power of fortune and the powerless state of men, and an entreaty that the judges should consider his intentions, and not the result. And in the employment of all these topics it will be desirable that there should be inserted a complaint of his own unhappy condition, and indignation at the cruelty of his adversaries.
And no one ought to marvel, if in these or other instances he sees a dispute concerning the letter of the law added to the rest of the discussion. And we shall have hereafter to speak of this subject separately, because some kinds of causes will have to be considered by themselves, and with reference to their own independent merits; and some connect with themselves some other kind of question also. Wherefore, when everything is cleared up, it will not be difficult to transfer to each cause whatever is suitable to that particular kind of inquiry; as in all these instances of admission of the fact, there is involved that dispute as to the law, which is called the question as to the letter and spirit of the law. But as we were speaking of the admission of the fact we gave rules for it. But in another place we will discuss the letter and the spirit of the law. At present we will limit our consideration to the other division of the admission of the fact.
XXXIV. Deprecation is when it is not attempted to defend the action in question, but entreaties to be pardoned are employed. This kind of topic can hardly be approved of in a court of justice, because, when the offence is admitted, it is difficult to prevail on the man who is bound to be the chastiser of offences to pardon it. So that it is allowable to employ that kind of address only when you do not rest the whole cause on it. As for instance, if you were speaking in behalf of some illustrious or gallant man, who has done great services to the republic, you might, without appearing to have recourse to deprecation, still employ it in this manner:--"But if, O judges, this man, in return for the services which he has done you, and the zeal which he has displayed in your cause at all times, were now, when he himself is in such peril, to entreat you, in consideration of his many good actions, to pardon this one error, it would only be what is due both to your own character for clemency, and to his virtue, O judges, for you to grant him this indulgence at his request." Then it will be allowable to dwell upon the services which he has done, and by the use of some common topic to lead the judges to feel an inclination to pardon him.
Wherefore, although this kind of address has no proper place in judicial proceedings, except to a certain limited extent; still, because both the portion which is allowable must be employed at times, and because it is often to be employed in all its force in the senate or in the council, we will give rules for it also. For there was a long deliberation in the senate and in the council about Syphax; and there was a long discussion before Lucius Opimius and his bench of assessors respecting Quintus Numitorius Pullus; and in this case the entreaty for pardon had more influence than the strict inquiry into the case. For he did not find it so easy to prove that he had always been well affected towards the Roman people, by employing the statement of the case founded on conjecture, as to show that it was reasonable to pardon him on account of his subsequent services, when he added the topics of deprecation to the rest of his defence
XXXV. It will be desirable, therefore, for the man who entreats to be pardoned for what he admits that he has done, to enumerate whatever services of his he is able to, and, if possible, to show that they are greater than those offences which he has committed, so that it may appear that more good than evil has proceeded from him; and then to put forward also the services done by his ancestors, if there are any such; and also to show that he did what he did, not out of hatred, or out of cruelty, but either through folly, or owing to the instigation of some one, or for some other honourable or probable cause; and after that to promise and undertake that he has been taught by this error of his, and confirmed in his resolution also by the kindness of those who pardon him, to avoid all such conduct in future. And besides this, he may hold out a hope that he will hereafter be able, in some respect or other, to be of great use to those who pardon him now; he will find it serviceable to point out that he is either related to the judges, or that he has been as far back as possible an hereditary friend of theirs; and to express to them the earnestness of his good-will towards them, and the nobility of the blood and dignity of those men who are anxious for his safety. And all other qualities and circumstances which, when attributable to persons, confer honour and dignity on them, he, using no complaint, and avoiding all arrogance, will point out as existing in himself, so that he may appear to deserve some honour rather than any kind of punishment; and after that it will be wise of him to mention other men who have been pardoned for greater offences.
And he will do himself a great deal of good if he shows that he himself, when in power, was merciful and inclined to pardon others. And the offence of which he is now accused must be extenuated and made to appear as trifling as possible; and it must be shown to be discreditable, or at all events inexpedient, to punish such a man as he is. After that it will be advisable to seek to move pity by use of common topics, according to those rules which have been laid down in the first book.
XXXVI. But the adversary will exaggerate the offences; he will say that nothing was done ignorantly, but that everything was the result of deliberate wickedness and cruelty. He will show that the accused person has been pitiless, arrogant, and (if he possibly can) at all times disaffected, and that he cannot by any possibility be rendered friendly. If he mentions any services done by him, he will prove that they were done for some private object, and not out of any goodwill; or else he will prove that he has conceived hatred since; or else that all those services have been effaced by his subsequent offences; or else that his services are of less importance than his injuries; or that, as he has already received adequate honours for his services, he ought also to have punishment inflicted on him for the injuries which he has committed. In the next place, he will urge that it is discreditable or pernicious that he should be pardoned. And besides that, it will be the very extremity of folly not to avail oneself of one's power over a man, over whom one has often wished to have power; and that it is proper to consider what feelings, or rather what hatred they ought to entertain towards him. But one common topic to be employed will be indignation at his offence; and another will be the argument, that it is right to pity those who are in distress, owing to misfortune, and not those who are in such a plight through their own wickedness.
Since, then, we have been dwelling so long on the general statement of the case, on account of the great number of its divisions, in order to prevent any one's mind from being so distracted by the variety and dissimilarity of circumstances, and so led into some errors; it appears right also to remind the reader of what remains to be mentioned of that division of the subject, and why it remains. We have said, that that was the juridical sort of examination in which the nature of right and wrong, and the principles of reward and punishment, were investigated. We have explained the causes in which inquiry into right and wrong is proceeded with. It remains now to explain the principles which regulate the distribution of rewards and punishments.XXXVII. For there are many causes which consist of a demand of some reward. For there is often question before the judges of the rewards to be conferred on prosecutors, and very often some reward is claimed for them from the senate, or from the bench of judges. And it is not advisable that any one should think that, when we are adducing some instance which is under discussion in the senate, we by so doing are abandoning the class of judicial examples. For whatever is said with reference to approving or disapproving of a person, when the consideration of the opinions of the judges is adapted to that form of expression, that, even although it is treated with reference to the language in which the opinion is couched, is a deliberative argument; still, because it has especial reference to some person, it is to be accounted also judicial. And altogether, a man who has diligently investigated the meaning and nature of all causes will perceive that they differ both in character and in form; but in the other divisions he will see them all consistent with each other, and every one connected with the other. At present, let us consider the question of rewards. Lucius Licinius Crassus, the consul, pursued and destroyed a band of people in the province of the Nearer Gaul, who were collected together under no known or regular leader, and who had no name or number of sufficient importance to be entitled enemies of the Roman people; but still they made the province unsafe by their constant sallies and piratical outbreaks. He returns to Rome. He demands a triumph. Here, as also in the case of the employment of deprecation, it does not at all concern us to supply reasons to establish and to invalidate such a claim, and so to come before the judges; because, unless some other statement of the case is also put forth, or some portion of such statement, the matter for the decision of the judges will be a simple one, and will be contained in the question itself. In the case of the employment of deprecation, in this manner: "Whether so and so ought to be punished." In this instance, in such a manner: "Whether he ought to be rewarded."
XXXVIII. The principle, then, on which rewards are conferred is distributable into four divisions: as to the services done; the person who has done them; the kind of reward which is to be conferred; and the means of conferring it. The services done will be considered with reference to their own intrinsic merits, and to the time, and to the disposition of the man who did them, and to their attendant circumstances. They will he examined with reference to their own intrinsic merits, in this manner:--Whether they are important or unimportant; whether they were difficult or easy; whether they are of a common or extraordinary nature; whether they are considered honourable on true or false principles. And with reference to the time at which they were done:--If they were done at a time when we had need of them; when other men could or would not help them; if they were done when all other hope had failed. With reference to the disposition of the man who did them:--If he did not do them with a view to any advantage of his own, but if he did everything else for the express purpose of being able to do this afterwards. And with reference to the attendant circumstances:--If what was done appears not to have been done by chance, but in consequence of some deliberate design, or if chance appears to have hindered the design.
But, with respect to the man who did the service in question, it will be requisite to consider in what manner he has lived, and what expense or labour he has devoted to that object; whether he has at any time done any other similar action; whether he is claiming a reward for himself for what is in reality the result of another person's exertions, or of the kindness of the gods. Whether he has ever, in the case of any one else, pronounced that he ought not to be rewarded for such a reason; or, whether he has already had sufficient honour paid to him for what he has done; or, whether what has been done is an action of such a sort that, if he had not done it, he would have been deserving of punishment; but that he does not deserve reward for having done it; or, whether he is premature in his demand for a reward, and is proposing to sell an uncertain hope for a certain reward; or, whether he claims the reward in order to avoid some punishment, by its appearing as if the case had already been decided in his favour.
XXXIX. But as to the question of the reward, it will be necessary to consider what reward, how great a reward is claimed, and why it is claimed; and also, to what reward, and to how great a reward, the conduct in question is entitled. And in the next place, it will be requisite to inquire what men had such honours paid them in the time of our ancestors, and for what causes those honours were paid. And, in the next place, it will be urged that they ought not to be made too common. And this will be one common topic for any one who speaks in opposition to a person who claims a reward; --that rewards for virtue and eminent services ought to be considered serious and holy things, and that they ought not to be conferred on worthless men, or to be made common by being bestowed on men of no particular eminence. And another will be, to urge that men will become less eager to practice virtue when the reward of virtue has been made common; for those things which are scarce and difficult of attainment appear honourable and acceptable to men. And a third topic is, to put the question, whether, if there are any instances of men who, in the times of our ancestors, were thought worthy of such honours on account of their eminent virtue, they will not be likely to think it some diminution of their own glory, when they see that such men as these have such rewards conferred on them. And then comes the enumeration of those men, and the comparison of them with those against whom the orator is speaking. But the topics to be used by the man who is claiming the reward are, first of all, the exaggeration of his own action; and next, the comparison of the actions of those men who have had rewards conferred on them with his own; and lastly, he will urge that other men will be repelled from the pursuit of virtue if he himself is denied the reward to which he is entitled.
But the means of conferring the rewards are taken into consideration when any pecuniary reward is asked for; for then it is necessary to consider whether there is an abundance of land, and revenue, and money, or a dearth of them. The common topics are,--that it is desirable to increase the resources of the state, not to diminish them; and that he is a shameless man who is not content with gratitude in requital of his services, but who demands also solid rewards. But on the other hand, it may be urged, that it is a sordid thing to argue about money, when the question is about showing gratitude to a benefactor; and that the claimant is not asking wages for a piece of work, but honour such as is due for an important service.
And we have now said enough about the statements of cases; now it seems necessary to speak of those controversies which turn upon the letter of the law.
Cicero, tr. C.D. Yonge
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