III. Pro M. Caelio Oratio
1I. Si quis, iudices, forte nunc adsit ignarus legum, iudiciorum, consuetudinis nostrae, miretur profecto, quae sit tanta atrocitas huiusce causae, quod diebus festis ludisque publicis, omnibus forensibus negotiis intermissis unum hoc iudicium exerceatur, nec dubitet, quin tanti facinoris reus arguatur, ut eo neglecto civitas stare non possit; idem cum audiat esse legem, quae de seditiosis consceleratisque civibus, qui armati senatum obsederint, magistratibus vim attulerint, rem publicam oppugnarint, cotidie quaeri iubeat: legem non improbet, crimen quod versetur in iudicio, requirat; cum audiat nullum facinus, nullam audaciam, nullam vim in iudicium vocari, sed adulescentem illustri ingenio, industria, gratia accusari ab eius filio, quem ipse in iudicium et vocet et vocarit, oppugnari
III. A Speech In Defence of Marcus Caelius
I. If, gentlemen, anyone should happen to be1 present who is ignorant of our laws, our tribunals and customs, he would, in my opinion, wonder what special gravity there is in this case, in that this trial alone is being held amid festivities and public games, at a time when all legal business is suspendeda; and he would have no doubt that the defendant is guilty of a crime so heinous that, if it were treated with indifference, the constitution could not survive. The same person when he hears that there is a law, which, when seditious and wicked citizens have made armed onslaught against the Senate, have laid violent hands on magistrates, and have attacked the State, prescribes that an inquiry be held on any and every day,b while he would not disapprove of the law, he would seek to know the kind of charge that was before the court. When he hears that no crime, no reckless act, no deed of violence is being tried, but that a young man of brilliant intellect, remarkable application, and influential position, is accused by the sonc of a man whom he both is preparing to prosecute and has already prosecuted, and that above all he is being attacked
- aCicero spoke on 4 April 56 b.c., the opening day of the Ludi Megalenses.
- bCaelius was being tried under the lex Plautia de vi, dated to 65–64 b.c. Trials under this law were not subject to adjournment owing to public holidays. On the latest interpretation, its operation was limited to cases of vis contra privatos; the lex Lutatia de vi (78 b.c.) dealt with vis contra rem publicam. See J. Cousin, “Lex Lutatia de Vi” (Revue historique de Droit français et étranger 1943, pp. 88–94). See also p. 32.
- cL. Sempronius Atratinus, seventeen-year-old son of L. Calpurnius Bestia, who was successfully defended by Cicero when prosecuted by Caelius on 11 Feb. 56 b.c. Caelius then began fresh proceedings against Bestia.