Cicero, Pro Balbo

LCL 447: 730-731

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Pro Balbo

enemies of his friends. Balbus himself has no real enemies and, though he was associated with Caesar at a time of violent political conflict (59–58 b.c.), he never gave offence to any member of the senatorial party. During my exile Balbus was kindness itself to my family, a service which I am now repaying. His worst enemies are attacking Pompey through him, but, if I may speak from my own recent experience, they would be well advised to drop that unequal struggle. Political conflicts, commendable though they may be to a point, should not be carried to the disadvantage of the State.

I abandoned my unsuccessful opposition to Caesar, for I myself proposed the great distinctions which the Senate has recently conferred upon him. Political behaviour should be adjusted to the conditions of the moment. The enemies of Pompey and Caesar should not attack adherents like Balbus, but those leaders themselves. Balbus’ friendship with Caesar, the reward of his services, should stand to his credit. Do not let Caesar hear that Balbus has been condemned, and not for any crime but for his association with him. Pompey’s act of enfranchisement, for which Balbus is on trial, is strongly supported by precedents. Indeed this charge is an indictment of many famous commanders, some now dead, of the Senate, of the Roman People, of our jurors, of states allied with us. Save Balbus from condemnation, not for any offence but for having won the friendship of illustrious men. “You are about to judge, not whether Lucius Cornelius has committed an offence, but whether Gnaeus Pompeius has rendered a service.”

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Pro Balbo

V. The Later Career of L. Cornelius Balbus

Balbus’ later career may now be traced. After his acquittal he continued as Caesar’s agent in Rome, but occasionally visited him in Gaul, as for example in 54 b.c. when he made two journeys.a Cicero, who was then on the best of termsb with Balbus, was grateful to him for his interest in his brother Quintus,c then one of Caesar’s officers, and in C. Trebatius Testa,d a young lawyer who was seeking his fortune in Gaul.

During the drift towards civil war Balbus still appears as a loyal Caesarian, and, though ready to expostulate with such leading Pompeians as Q. Metellus Scipio,e he was at the same time in friendly association with them.f On the eve of war his diplomacy was employed, but in vain, in seconding Caesar’s efforts to win over Cicero.g In the war itself he took no active part, but continued to keep on good terms with both sides, and on better terms with the stronger. In spite of his obligations to Pompey and to Lentulus Crus (consul 49 b.c.), he was soon busy with Caesarian propaganda. Caesar’s famous letter, proclaiming clemency and generosity as novel methods of victory in civil war, was addressed to Balbus and to his colleague C. Oppius, although it was intended for a wider circulation.h But the frequent letters which passed between Cicero and Balbus before the former left for Pompey’s camp in June 49 b.c. show Cicero

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DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.marcus_tullius_cicero-pro_balbo.1958