Translated with the sanction of the author by William Purdie Dickson
Cato and Cicero Removed
Ultimately therefore they were content with a few isolated victims. It was of primary importance to remove Cato, who made no secret of his conviction as to the nullity of all the Julian laws, and who was a man to act as he thought. Such a man Marcus Cicero was certainly not, and they did not give themselves the trouble to fear him. But the democratic party, which played the leading part in the coalition, could not possibly after its victory leave unpunished the judicial murder of the 5th December 691, which it had so loudly and so justly censured. Had they wished to bring to account the real authors of the fatal decree, they ought to have seized not on the pusillanimous consul, but on the section of the strict aristocracy which had urged the timorous man to that execution.
But in formal law it was certainly not the advisers of the consul, but the consul himself, that was responsible for it, and it was above all the gentler course to call the consul alone to account and to leave the senatorial college wholly out of the case; for which reason in the grounds of the proposal directed against Cicero the decree of the senate, in virtue of which he ordered the execution, was directly described as supposititious. Even against Cicero the holders of power would gladly have avoided steps that attracted attention; but he could not prevail on himself either to give to those in power the guarantees which they required, or to banish himself from Rome under one of the feasible pretexts on several occasions offered to him, or even to keep silence. With the utmost desire to avoid any offence and the most sincere alarm, he yet had not self-control enough to be prudent; the word had to come out, when a petulant witticism stung him, or when his self- conceit almost rendered crazy by the praise of so many noble lords gave vent to the well-cadenced periods of the plebeian advocate.
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