Cicero, Pro Cluentio

LCL 198: 221

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Egnatius, in disinheriting his son, commented on the corruption at Oppianicus’s trial; but no conclusion can be based on that.

9. (xlix.) Nor upon the Senate’s resolution: they could not avoid passing one, but it was intentionally vague and noncommittal.

10. (1.) My own opinion, expressed in some speech, is quoted against me. I knew no more of the case then than other people, and, in any case, spoke only as an advocate. (li.) Quotations of this kind have often been proved worthless.

The actual Charges against Cluentius A. The Legal Issue, §§ 143–160

(lii.) I propose to rely on the merits of my case rather than on its purely legal aspect; though, actually, the statute under which Cluentius is accused is not applicable to him. (liii.) You cannot tamper with the law, on which all our institutions rest. (liv.) Examine the statute: Cluentius, as a knight, is not among those to whom it applies, (lv.) and you cannot extend its provisions to cover his case: (lvi.) similar attempts have been defeated in the past; (lvii.) otherwise no one would be safe. (lviii.) The jurors are bound to vote in accordance with the law as it is.

B. The Substance of the Charges, §§ 160–194

(lix.) All the trumpery scandal raked up in eight years is not enough to embarrass Cluentius.

(lx.) He is charged 1. with poisoning Cappadox: but Cappadox died a natural death. 2. With attempting to poison the present prosecutor: the story is improbable and will not bear examination. 3. (lxi.) With poisoning Oppianicus the elder: but he had no motive for doing so, and (lxii.) the story again breaks down. Oppianicus actually died from an accident.

(lxiii.) On the death of Oppianicus Sassia tried to wring from his slaves a confession incriminating Cluentius, but in vain, (lxiv.) After three years, she secured a hold on young Oppianicus by betrothing him to her daughter, and then reopened the inquest, and this time (lxv.) she claims to have extorted the desired confession; (lxvi.) but the records are a clumsy forgery.

What an unnatural monster Sassia must be! She has ceaselessly plotted against her son, (lxvii.) and is here now to support the prosecution which she organized, (lxviii.) Her journey to Rome was marked by the execration of the countryside.

Peroration §§ 194–202

(lxix.) Save Cluentius from such a mother. See the enthusiasm inspired by his high character both near and far. (lxx.) All good men are eager for his safety—against him is his mother alone, (lxxi.) Banish prejudice and let justice be done at last.

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.marcus_tullius_cicero-pro_cluentio.1927