was followed by Lucius Cornelius Balbus,a and Cicero then completed the proceedings.
Laelius was the prime mover in the prosecution and had as his colleague, in addition to Decianus and Balbus, a certain Lucceius. Cicero represents, as also apparently had Hortensius, that the prosecution’s chief concern was to attack Flaccus, as they had attacked Gaius Antonius, because he had actively helped Cicero in the suppression of the Catilinarian conspiracy; and that by means of their attack on Flaccus they hoped to smash Cicero himself. A stronger motive seems to have been the desire of the Triumvirs to eliminate Flaccus as a member of the nobility opposing their interests,b and in Pompey’s case another motive was his genuine concern for good provincial government. In Asia the view was widely held that Pompey’s hostility lay behind Laelius’ prosecution and the freedom with which he had been able to prepare his case.c Cicero does not
- aFor the identification of this Balbus, see Valerius Maximus 7. 8. 7: “L. Valerius, cui cognomen Heptachordo fuit, togatum hostem Cornelium Balbum expertus, utpote opera eius et consilii compluribus privatis litibus vexatus ad ultimumque subiecto accusatore capitali crimine accusatus, praeteritis advocatis et patronis suis solum heredem reliquit” and the scholiast (p. 93, ed. Stangl): “<subscri>bentibus L. Balbo et Appuleio Deciano”; also F. Münzer in Pauly-Wissowa, Realencyclopädie IV. 1 (1900), L. Cornelius Balbus (69), 1260-1268 and R. Gardner’s introduction to the speech pro Balbo (Loeb Classical Library), 617. After his record of numerous private cases against Flaccus he was now a devoted adherent of Caesar and Pompey. It has been suggested that Flaccus’ nick-name may have been the subject of Cicero’s joke.
- bEven if they did not secure his condemnation, they prevented him from becoming consul in 58.
- c14, p. 456. Cf. his disapproval of Antonius Hybrida’s administration in Macedonia; see ad Atticum 1. 12. 1.
dare to deny this, and his brother Quintus was apparently unable to halt the proceedings against his predecessor in the province. Neither Pompey, whose subordinate Flaccus had been, nor Pupius Piso, whose quaestor he had been and who had been consul in 61, came forward to speak on his behalf. The only men under whom he had served who did speak up for him were Publius Servilius Vatia Isauricus and Quintus Caecilius Metellus Creticus, both opponents of the Triumvirs.a
In the face of these disadvantages Cicero makes the best use of the material available on his client’s behalf; the maintenance of a fleet against the pirates rings true of a homo militaris, the ban on the export of gold may well have had sound economic reasons behind it,b Flaccus’ legal decisions may have been perfectly good, even though they laid him open to personal revenge.
Yet, when everything has been said on Flaccus’ behalf, even without Macrobius’ explicit testimony, the picture is of a guilty man. The specific indictments of the prosecution go unanswered and in the place of any effective reply there are generalizations, evasions, sarcasm and appeals to prejudice. Combined with these tactics the partisan appeal for sympathy with those who helped Cicero in 63 does nothing to strengthen our belief in Flaccus’ innocence.
Flaccus appears to have been acquitted and there is good reason to feel that he owed the favourable verdict more to his counsel’s powers of persuasion