Cicero, Pro Cluentio

LCL 198: 226-227

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Cicero

parum virium veritas habet, sic in hoc loco falsa invidia imbecilla esse debet: dominetur in contionibus, iaceat in iudiciis: valeat in opinionibus ac sermonibus imperitorum, ab ingeniis prudentium repudietur: vehementes habeat repentinos impetus, spatio interposito et causa cognita consenescat: denique illa definitio iudiciorum aequorum, quae nobis a maioribus tradita est, retineatur, ut in iudiciis et sine invidia culpa plectatur et sine culpa invidia ponatur.

6Quam ob rem a vobis, iudices, ante quam de ipsa causa dicere incipio, haec postulo: primum id, quod aequissimum est, ut ne quid huc praeiudicati adferatis (etenim non modo auctoritatem, sed etiam nomen iudicum amittemus, nisi hic ex ipsis causis iudicabimus ac si ad causas iudicia iam facta domo deferemus); deinde si quam opinionem iam vestris mentibus comprehendistis, si eam ratio convellet, si oratio labefactabit, si denique veritas extorquebit, ne repugnetis eamque animis vestris aut libentibus aut aequis remittatis; tum autem, cum ego una quaque de re dicam et diluam, ne ipsi, quae contraria sint, taciti cogitationi vestrae subiciatis, sed ad extremum exspectetis meque meum dicendi ordinem servare patiamini: cum peroraro, tum, si quid erit praeteritum, animo requiratis.

7III. Ego me, iudices, ad eam causam accedere,

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In Defence of Cluentius

lacking in support and efficiency, in this place it is false prejudice that should display weakness: prejudice may lord it at a public meeting, but must hide its head in a court of law; it may thrive in the minds and in the talk of laymen, but should be refused admittance by trained intellects; it may gain strength from the suddenness of its onslaught, but should decline in vigour after a lapse of time and an examination of the case. Finally, let us stand by that prime characteristic of a fair trial, which we hold as an heritage from our forefathers—that, in courts of law, though there be no prejudice, guilt is punished; and if there be no guilt, prejudice is put aside.

For this reason, then, before I begin to deal with6 the case proper, I have a request to make to you, gentlemen. First, that, as is only just, you bring to this court no preconceived judgements (for indeed men will cease, not only to respect us as judges, but even to call us judges, unless in this place we base our judgements on the facts of the case, instead of applying to the facts the ready-made judgements we have brought from home). Next—supposing you already to have formed some opinion—that, if it be dislodged by reason, shaken by argument, or finally uprooted by truth itself, you dismiss it without resistance from your minds, if not gladly, at least without reluctance. And lastly, as I proceed to a detailed refutation of the charge, do not on your part make a mental note of any point against me, but wait till the end and allow me to develop the defence in my own way: the conclusion of my speech will be time enough for you to ask yourselves the reason for any omissions I may have made.

III. I can easily understand, gentlemen, that the7

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DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.marcus_tullius_cicero-pro_cluentio.1927