ex tumultu, bellum ex bello serunt, Saturnini olim, post Sulpici, dein Mari Damasippique, nunc Lepidi satellites. 8Praeterea Etruria atque omnes reliquiae belli adrectae, Hispaniae armis sollicitae; Mithridates in latere vectigalium nostrorum quibus adhuc sustentamur, diem bello circumspicit; quin praeter idoneum ducem nihil abest ad subvortundum imperium.
9“Quod ego vos oro atque obsecro, patres conscripti, ut animadvortatis neu7 patiamini licentiam scelerum quasi rabiem ad integros contactu procedere. Nam ubi malos praemia secuntur, haud facile quisquam gratuito bonus est. 10An expectatis dum exercitu rursus admoto ferro atque flamma urbem invadat? Quod multo propius est ab eo quo agitat statu, quam ex pace et concordia ad arma civilia, quae ille advorsum divina et humana omnia cepit, non pro sua aut quorum simulat iniuria, sed legum ac libertatis subvortundae. 11Agitur enim ac laceratur animi cupidine et noxarum metu, expers consili, inquies, haec atque illa temptans, metuit otium, odit bellum; luxu atque licentia
war after war, [fr. 67]these former minions of Saturninus, afterward of Sulpicius, next of Marius and Damasippus,10 and now of Lepidus. Moreover, Etruria and all the other smoldering embers of war are aroused; the Spanish provinces are disturbed by arms;11 Mithridates, on the flank of our tribute-paying territories from which we still receive support,12 is on the lookout for an opportune time for war; indeed, nothing is lacking for the overthrow of our dominion except a suitable leader.
“Therefore, I beg and implore you, Members of the Senate, to pay attention to this and not to allow the license of crime, like a frenzy, to infect those who are as yet sound. For when rewards attend the wicked, it is not at all easy for anyone to be gratuitously virtuous. Or are you waiting until Lepidus brings up his army again13 and attacks the City with sword and fire? And it is a much shorter step to that state of affairs from the position in which he is now operating than is the gap between harmonious peace and civil warfare, which Lepidus has undertaken in defiance of all that is human and divine, not in order to avenge a wrong done to him personally or to those whom he pretends to represent, but to overthrow our laws and our liberty. For he is hounded and tormented in mind by ambition and dread of punishment, is devoid of purpose, restless, trying now this, now that course of action. He dreads tranquility, hates war; he sees that he must abstain
- 10All four men met violent deaths while promoting revolutionary activity: L. Saturninus and P. Sulpicius as tribunes in 100 and 88, respectively, the younger Marius as consul, and Damassipus (see Cat. 51.32n.) as praetor in 82. Less likely did S. have in mind Marius senior.
- 11The rebel Q. Sertorius, who had been put in command of Spain by the anti-Sullan government in 83/82, carried on highly successful guerrilla warfare until his death in 73.
- 12Mithridates, king of Pontus on the Black Sea, posed a threat to the province of Asia, whose revenues surpassed those of all other Roman territories (cf. Cic. De imp. Cn. Pomp. 14).
- 13Late in the previous year, 78, Lepidus had approached Rome with his army and then withdrawn to the north, after negotiations (Gran. Lic. p. 35F)