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Monday, March 7, 2016

Cato the Elder: in support of the Oppian law

Cato the Elder, enemy of Carthage, gave a speech supporting a repressive measure against women. Part of his speech is below.

If, Romans, every individual among us had made it a rule to maintain the prerogative and authority of a husband with respect to his own wife, we should have less trouble with the whole sex. But now our privileges, overpowered at home by female contumacy, are, even here in the Forum, spurned and trodden under foot; and because we are unable to withstand each separately we now dread their collective body. I was accustomed to think it a fabulous and fictitious tale that in a certain island the whole race of males was utterly extirpated by a conspiracy of the women.

But the utmost danger may be apprehended equally from either sex if you suffer cabals and secret consultations to be held: scarcely indeed can I determine, in my own mind, whether the act itself, or the precedent that it affords, is of more pernicious tendency. The latter of these more particularly concerns us consuls and the other magistrates; the former, you, my fellow citizens: for, whether the measure proposed to your consideration be profitable to the state or not, is to be determined by you, who are to vote on the occasion.

As to the outrageous behavior of these women, whether it be merely an act of their own, or owing to your instigations, Marcus Fundanius and Lucius Valerius, it unquestionably implies culpable conduct in magistrates.  I know not whether it reflects greater disgrace on you, tribunes, or on the consuls: on you certainly, if you have brought these women hither for the purpose of raising tribunitian seditions; on us, if we suffer laws to be imposed on us by a secession of women, as was done formerly by that of the common people. It was not without painful emotions of shame that I, just now, made my way into the Forum through the midst of a band of women.

Had I not been restrained by respect for the modesty and dignity of some individuals among them, rather than of the whole number, and been unwilling that they should be seen rebuked by a consul, I should not have refrained from saying to them, "What sort of practice is this, of running out into public, besetting the streets, and addressing other women's husbands? Could not each have made the same request to her husband at home? Are your blandishments more seducing in public than in private, and with other women's husbands than with your own?  Although if females would let their modesty confine them within the limits of their own rights, it did not become you, even at home, to concern yourselves about any laws that might be passed or repealed here." Our ancestors thought it not proper that women should perform any, even private business, without a director; but that they should be ever under the control of parents, brothers, or husbands. We, it seems, suffer them, now, to interfere in the management of state affairs, and to thrust themselves into the Forum, into general assemblies, and into assemblies of election: for what are they doing at this moment in your streets and lanes? What, but arguing, some in support of the motion of tribunes; others contending for the repeal of the law?

Will you give the reins to their intractable nature, and then expect that themselves should set bounds to their licentiousness, and without your interference? This is the smallest of the injunctions laid on them by usage or the laws, all which women bear with impatience: they long for entire liberty; nay, to speak the truth, not fol liberty, but for unbounded freedom in every particular: for what will they not attempt if they now come off victorious? Recollect all the institutions respecting the sex, by which our forefathers restrained their profligacy and subjected them to their husbands; and yet, even with the help of all these restrictions, they can scarcely be kept within bounds. If, then, you suffer them to throw these off one by one, to tear them all asunder, and, at last, to be set on an equal footing with yourselves, can you imagine that they will be any longer tolerable? Suffer them once to arrive at an equality with you, and they will from that moment become your superiors.

But, indeed, they only object to any new law being made against them; they mean to deprecate, not justice, but severity. Nay, their wish is that a law which you have admitted, established by your suffrages, and found in the practice and experience of so many years to be beneficial, should now be repealed; and that by abolishing one law you should weaken all the rest. No law perfectly suits the convenience of every member of the community; the only consideration is, whether, on the whole, it be profitable to the greater part. If, because a law proves obnoxious to a private individual, it must therefore be canceled and annulled, to what purpose is it for the community to enact laws, which those, whom they were particularly intended to comprehend, could presently repeal? Let us, however, inquire what this important affair is which has induced the matrons thus to run out into public in this indecorous manner, scarcely restraining from pushing into the Forum and the assembly of the people.  Is it to solicit that their parents, their husbands, children, and brothers may be ransomed from captivity under Hannibal?

By no rneans: and far be ever from the commonwealth so unfortunate a situation. Yet, when such was the case, you refused this to the prayers which, on that occasion, their duty dictated. But it is not duty, nor solicitude for their friends; it is religion that has collected them together.  They are about to receive the Idaean Mother, coming odt of Phrygia from Pessinus.

What motive, that even common decency will not allow to be mentioned, is pretended for this female insurrection? Hear the answer:

That we may shine in gold and purple; that, both on festival and common days, we may ride through the city in our chariots, triumphing over vanquished and abrogated law, after having captured and wrested from you your suffrages; and that there may be no bounds to our expenses and our luxury. 

Often have you heard me complain of the profuse expenses of the women---often of those of the men; and that not only of men in private stations, but of the magistrates; and that the state was endangered by two opposite vices, luxury and avarice; those pests which have ever been the ruin of every great state. These I dread the more, as the circumstances of the commonwealth grow daily more prosperous and happy; as the empire increases; as we have passed over into Greece and Asia, places abounding with every kind of temptation that can inflame the passions; and as we have begun to handle even royal treasures: for I greatly fear that these matters will rather bring us into caprivity than we them.

Believe me, those statues from Syracuse made their way into this city with hostile effect. I already hear too many commending and admiring the decorations of Athens and Corinth, and ridiculing the earthen images of our Roman gods that stand on the fronts of their temples. For my part, I prefer these gods,---propitious as they are, and I hope will continue, if we allow them to remain in their own mansions.

In the memory of our fathers, Pyrrhus, by his ambassador Cineas, made trial of the dispositions, not only of our men, but of our women also, by offers of presents: at that time the Oppian law, for restraining female luxury, had not been made; and yet not one woman accepted a present.  What, think you, was the reason? That for which our ancestors made no provision by law on this subject: there was no luxury existing which might be restrained.

As diseases must necessarily be known before their remedies, so passions come into being before the laws which prescribe limits to them.  What called forth the Licinian law, restricting estates to five hundred acres, but the unbounded desire for enlarging estates? What the Cineian law, concerning gifts and presents, but that the plebeians had become vassals and tributaries to the senate? It is not, therefore, in any degree surprising that no want of the Oppian law, or of any other, to limit the expenses of the women, was felt at that time, when they refused to receive gold and purple that was thrown in their way and offered to their acceptance. If Cineas were now to go round the city with his presents, he would find numbers of women standing in the public streets ready to receive them.

There are some passions the causes or motives of which I can no way account for. To be debarred of a liberty in which another is indulged may perhaps naturally excite some degree of shame or indignation; yet, when the dress of all is alike, what inferiority in appearance can any one be ashamed of? Of all kinds of shame, the worst, surely, is the being ashamed of frugality or of poverty; but the law relieves you with regard to both; you want only that which it is unlawful for you to have.

This equalization, says the rich matron, is the very thing that I cannot endure. Why do not I make a figure, distinguished with gold and purple?  Why is the poverty of others concealed under this cover of a law, so that it should be thought that, if the law permitted, they would have such things as they are not now able to procure? Romans, do you_wish to excite among your wives an emulation of this sort, that the rich should wish to have what no other can have; and that the poor, lest they should be despised as such, should extend their expenses beyond their abilities?  Be assured that when a woman once begins to be ashamed of what she ought not to be ashamed of, she will not be ashamed of what she ought.  She who can, will purchase out of her own purse; she who cannot, will ask her husband.

Unhappy is the husband, both he who complies with the request, and he who does not; for what he will not give himself, another will. Now they openly solicit favors from other women's husbands; and, what is more, solicit a law and votes. From some they obtain them; although, with regard to you, your property, or your children, you would find it hard to obtain anything from them. If the law ceases to limit the expenses of your wife, you yourself will never be able to limit them. Do not suppose that the matter will hereafter be in the same state in which it was before the law was made on the subject. It is safer that a wicked man should never be accused than that he should be acquitted; and luxury, if it had never been meddled with, would be more tolerable than it will be, now, like a wild beast, irritated by having been chained and then let loose. My opinion is that the Oppian law ought on no account to be repealed.  Whatever determination you may come to, I pray all the gods to prosper it. 

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Demosthenes: against Philip the Macedon

Demosthenes is generally acclaimed as one of the greatest orator of all time. His second oration "Against Philip the Macedon" is the most famous.

Athenians! when the hostile attempts of Philip, and those outrageous violations of the peace which he is perpetually committing, are at any time the subject of our debates, the speeches on your side I find humane and just, and that the sentiments of those who inveigh against Philip never fail of approbation; but as to the necessary measures, to speak out plainly, not one has been pursued, nor anything effected even to reward the attention to these harangues. Nay, to such circumstances is our state reduced, that the more fully and evidently a man proves that Philip is acting contrary to his treaty, and harboring designs against Greece, the greater is his difficulty in pointing our your duty.                                                                                                                                                         

The reason is this. They who aspire to an extravagant degree of power are to be opposed by force and action, not by speeches; and yet in the first place, we public speakers are unwilling to recommend or to propose anything to this purpose, from the fear of your displeasure; but confine ourselves to general representations of the grievous, of the outrageous nature of his conduct, and the like. Then you who attend are better qualified than Philip, either to plead the justice of your cause or to apprehend it when enforced by others; but as to any effectual opposition to his present designs, in this you are entirely inactive. You see, then, the consequence, the necessary, the natural consequence, each of you excels in that has engaged your time and application, he in acting, which you in speaking.  And if, on this occasion, it be sufficient that we speak with a superior force of truth and justice, this may be done with the utmost ease; but if we are to consider how to rectify our present disorders, how to guard against the danger of plunging inadvertently into still greater, against the progress of a power which may at last bear down all opposition-then must our debates proceed in a different manner; and all they who speak, and all you who attend, must prefer the best and most salutary measures to the easiest and most agreeable.

First, then, Athenians, if there be a man who feels no apprehensions at the view of Philip's power, and the extent of his conquests, who imagines that these portend no danger to the state, or that his designs are not all aimed against you, I am amazed! and must entreat the attention of you all while I explain those reasons briefly which induce me to entertain different expectations, and to regard Philip as our real enemy; that if I appear to have looked forward with the more penetrating eye, you may join with me if they who are thus secure and confident in this man, you may yield to their direction.

In the first place, therefore, I consider the acquisitions made by Philip, when the peace was just concluded, Thermopylae, and the command of Phocis. What use did he make of these? He chose to serve the interest of Thebes, not that of Athens. And why? As ambition is his great universal empire the sole object of his views; not peace' not passion, not tranquility, not any just purpose: he knew this well, that neither our constitution nor our principles would admit him to prevail on you by anything he could promise, by anything he could do, to - sacrifice one state of Greece to your private interest; but that, as you have the due regard to justice, as you have an abhorrence of the least stain on your honor, and as you have that quick discernment which nothing can escape, the moment his attempt was made, You would oppose him with the same vigor as if you yourselves had been immediately attacked. The Thebans, he supposed (and the event confirmed his opinion), would, for the sake of any private advantage, suffer him to act toward others as or impeding his designs, would, be ready at his command to fight at his side.  From the same persuasion he now heaps his favors on the Messenians and Argians. And this reflects the greatest luster on you, my countrymen; for by thele proceedings you are declared the only invariable assertors of the rights of Greece--the only persons whom no private attachment, no views of interest, can seduce from their affection to the Greeks.

And that it is with reason he entertains these sentiments of you, and sentiments so different of the Thebans and the Argians, he may be convinced, not from the present only, but from a review of former times; for he must have been informed, I presume he cannot but have heard, that your ancestors, when, by submitting to the king, they might have purchased the sovereignty of Greece, not only scorned to listen when Alexander, this man's ancestor, was made the messenger of such terms, but chose to abandon their city, encountered every possible difficulty, and after all this performed such exploits as men are ever eager to recite, yet with the just force and dignity no man could ever express; and therefore it becomes me to be silent on this subject; for in reality their actions are superior to the power of words. As to the ancestors of the Thebans and the Argians, the one, he knows, fought for the barbarian; the others did not oppose him. He knew, then, that both these people would attend but their private interest, without the least regard to the common cause of Greece. Should he choose you for allies, you would serve him so far only as justice would permit; but if he attached himself to them, he gained assistants in all the schemes of his ambition. This it is that then determined him, this it is that now determines him to their side rather than to yours: not that he sees they have a greater naval force than we; or that, having gained the sovereignty in the inland countries, he declines the command of the seas and the advantages of commerce; or that he has forgotten those pretenses, those promises which obtained him the peace.

But I may be told: It is true, he did act thus; but not from ambition, or from any of those motives of which I accuse him; but as he thought the cause of Thebes more just than ours. This of all pretenses he cannot now allege. Can he, who commands the Lacedaemonians to quit their claim to Messene, pretend that, in giving up Orchomenus and Coronea to the Thebans, he acted from regard to justice? But now comes his last subterfuge. He was compelled, and yielded these places quite against his inclinations, being encompassed by the Thessalian horse and Theban infantry.  Fine pretense! Just so, they cry, he is to  entertain suspicions of the Thebans; and some spread rumors of their own framing, that he is to fortify Elatea.Yes! these things are yet to be, and so they will remain, in my opinion; but his attack on Lacedaemon, in conjunction with the Thebans and Argians, is nor yet to be made. No: he is actually detaching forces, supplying money, and is himself expected as the head of a formidable army. The Lacedaemonians, therefore, the enemies of Thebes, he now infests. And will he then restore the Phocians, whom he has but just now ruined? Who can believe this? I, for my part, can never think, if Philip had been forced into those former measures, or if he had now abandoned the Thebans, that he would make this continued opposition to their enemies.. No, his present measures prove that all his past conduct was the effect of choice; and from all his actions, it appears that all his actions are directly leveled against this state; and there is in some sort a necessity for this. Consider, he aims at empire, and from you alone he expects opposition. He has long loaded us with injuries; and of this he himself is most intimately conscious; for those of our possessions which he has reduced to his service he uses as a barrier to his other territories: so that, if he should give up Amphipolis and Potidaea, he would not think himself secure even in Macedon. He is therefore sensible that he entertains designs against you, and that you perceive them. Then, as he thinks highly of your wisdom, he concludes that you must hold him in that abhorrence which he merits; hence is he alarmed, expecting to feel some effects of your resentment (if you have any favorable opportunity) unless he prevent you by his attack. Hence is his vigilance awakened; his arms raised against the state; he courts some of the Thebans, and such of the Peloponnesians as have the same views with him; whom he deems too mercenary to regard anything but present interest, and too perversely stupid to foresee any consequences. And yet persons of but moderate discernment may have some manifest examples to alarm them, which I had occasion to mention to the Messenians and to the Argians. perhaps it may be proper to repeat them here.

"Messenians!" said I, "how highly, think ye, would the Olynthians have been offended if any man had spoken against Philip at that time when he gave them up Anthemus, a city which the former kings of Macedon had ever claimed? when he drove out the Athenian colony and gave them Potidaea? when he took all our resentment on himself, and left them to enjoy our dominions? Did they expect to have suffered thus?  Had it been foretold, would they have believed it? You cannot think it! Yet, after a short enjoyment of the territories of others, they have been forever despoiled of their own by this man. Inglorious has been their fall, not conquered only, but betrayed and sold by one another; for those intimate correspondences with tyrants ever portend mischief to free states."--"'Turn your eyes," said I, "to the Thessalians! think ye, that when he first expelled their tyrants, when he then gave them up Nicaea and Magnesia, that they expected ever to have been subjected to those governors now imposed on them? or that the man who restored them to their seat in the amphictyonic council would have deprived them of their own proper revenues? yet, that such was the event, the world can testify.  In like manner, you now behold Philip lavishing his gifts and promises on you. If you are wise, you will pray that he may never appear to have deceived and abused you. Various are the contrivances for the defense and security of cities; as battlements, and walls, and trenches, and every other kind of fortification; all which are the effects of labor, and attended with continual expense. But there is one common bulwark with which men of prudence are naturally provided, the guard and security of all people, particularly of free states, against the assaults of tyrants. What is this? Dirtrust. Of this be mindful: to this adhere: preserve this carefully, and no calamity can affect you."--"What is it you seek?" said I. "Liberty?  And do ye not perceive that nothing can be more adverse to this than the very titles of Philip? Every monarch, every tyrant is an enemy to liberty, and the opposer of laws. Will ye not then be_careful lest, while ye seek to be freed from war, you find yourselves his slaves?"

It would be just, Athenians, to call the men before you who gave those promises which induced you to conclude the peace; for neither would I have undertaken the embassy, nor would you, I am convinced, have laid down your arms, had it been suspected that Philip would have acted thus when he had obtained peace. No: the assurances he then gave were quite different from the present actions. There are others also to be summoned. Who are these? The men who, at my return from the second embassy (sent for the ratification of the treaty), when I saw the state abused, and warned you of your danger, and testified the truth, and opposed with all my power the giving up Thermopylae and Phocis--the men, I say, who then cried out that I, the water-drinker, was morose and peevish; but that Philip, if permitted to pass, would act agreeably to your desires; would fortify Thespia and Plataea; restrain the insolence of Thebes; cut through the Chersonesus at his own expense, and give you up Euboea and Oropus, as an equivalent for Amphipolis. That all this was positively affirmed you cannot, I am sure, forget, though not remarkable for remembering injuries. And, to complete the disgrace, you have engaged your posterity to the same treaty, in full dependence on those promises; so entirely have you been seduced.

And now, to what purpose do I mention this? and why do I desire that these men should appear? I call the gods to witness, that without the least evasion I shall boldly declare the truth! Not that, by breaking out into incentives, I may expose myself to the like treatment, and once more give my old enemies an opportunity of receiving Philip's gold; nor yet that I may indulge an impertinent vanity of haranguing.; but I apprehend the time must come when Philip's actions will give you more concern than at present. His designs, I see, are ripening. I wish my apprehensions may not prove just; but I fear that time is not far off.  And when it will no longer be in your power to disregard events; when neither mine nor any other person's information, but your own knowledge, your own senses will assure you of the impending danger, then will your severest resentment break forth. And as your ambassadors have concealed certain things, influenced (as they themselves are conscious) by corruption, I fear that they who endeavor to restore what these men have ruined may feel the weight of your displeasure; for there are some, I find, who generally point their anger, nor at the deserving objects, but those most immediately at their mercy.

While our affairs, therefore, remain not absolutely desperate--while it is yet in our_ power to debate-give me leave to remind you all of one thing, though none can be ignorant of it. Who was the man that persuaded you to give up Phocis and Thermopylae? which once gained, he also gained free access for his troops to Attica and to Peloponnesus, and obliged us to turn our thoughts from the rights of Greece, from all foreign interests, to a defensive war, in these very territories; whose approach must be severely felt by every one of us; and that very day gave birth to it; for had we not been then deceived, the state could have nothing to apprehend. His naval power could not have been great enough to attempt Attica by sea; nor could he have passed by land through Thermopylae and Phocis. But he must have either confined himself within the bounds of justice and lived in a due observance of his treaty, or have instantly been involved in a war equal to that which obliged him to sue for peace.

Thus much may be sufficient to recall past actions to your view. May all the gods forbid that the event should confirm my suspicions! for I by no means desire that any man should meet even the deserved punishment of his crimes, when the whole community is in danger of being involved in his destruction.

Hannibal: speech to his soldiers

Hannibal the famous Carthaginian general, delivered this speech to his soldiers after his army crossed the Alps and entered Italy in 218BC.

If, soldiers, you shall by and by, in judging of your own fortune, preserve the same feelings which you experienced a little before in the example of the fate of others, we have already conquered; for neither was that merely a spectacle, but, as it were, a certain representation of your condition. And I know not whether fortune has not thrown around you still stronger chains and more urgent necessities than around your captives.  On the right and left two seas enclose you, without your possessing even a single ship for escape. The river Po around you, the Po larger and more impetuous than the Rhone; the Alps behind, scarcely passed by you when fresh and vigorous, hem you in.

Here, soldiers, where you have first met the enemy, you must conquer or die; and the same fortune which has imposed the necessity of fighting holds out to you, if victorious, rewards than which men are not wont to desire greater, even from the immortal gods. If we were only about to recover by our valor Sicily and Sardinia, wrested from our fathers, the recompense would be sufficiently ample; but whatever, acquired and amassed by so many triumphs, the Romans possess, all, with its masters themselves, will become yours. To gain this rich reward, hasten, then, and seize your arms, with the favor of the gods.

Long enough, in pursuing cattle among the desert mountains of Lusitania and Celtiberia, you have seen no emolument from so many toils and dangers; it is time to make rich and profitable campaigns, and to gain the great reward of your labors, after having accomplished such a length of journey over so many mountains and rivers, and so many nations in arms. Here fortune has granted you the termination of your labors; here she will bestow a reward worthy of the service you have undergone. Nor, in proportion as the war is great in name, ought you to consider that the victory will be difficult. A despised enemy has often maintained a sanguinary contest, and renowned States and kings have been conquered by a very slight effort.

For, setting aside only the splendor of the Roman name, what remains in which they can be compared to you? To pass over in silence your service for twenty years, distinguished by such valor and success, you have made your way to this place from the pillars of Hercules, from the ocean and the remotest limits of the world, advancing victorious through so many of the fiercest nations of Gaul and Spain; you will fight with a raw army, which this very summer was beaten, conquered, and surrounded by the Gauls, as yet unknown to its general, and ignorant of him. Shall I compare myself---almost born, and certainly bred, in the tent of my father, that most illustrious commander, myself the subjugator of Spain and Gaul, the conqueror too not only of the Alpine nations, but, what is much more, of the Alps themselves---with this six-months’ general, the deserter of his army?---to whom, if anyone, having taken away their standards, should to-day show the Carthaginians and Romans, I am sure that he would not know of which army he was consul.

I do not regard it, soldiers, as of small account that there is not a man among you before whose eyes I have not often achieved some military exploit; and to whom, in like manner, I, the spectator and witness of his valor, could not recount his own gallant deeds, particularized by time and place. With soldiers who have a thousand times received my praises and gifts, I, who was the pupil of you all before I became your commander, will match out in battle-array against those who are unknown to and ignorant of each other.

On whatever side I turn my eyes I see nothing but what is full of courage and energy: a veteran infantry; cavalry, both those with and those without the bridle, composed of the most gallant nations,---you, our most faithful and valiant allies, you Carthaginians, who are about to fight as well for the sake of your country as from the justest resentment. We are the assailants in the war, and descend into Italy with hostile standards, about to engage so much more boldly and bravely than the foe, as the confidence and courage of the assailants are greater than those of him who is defensive. Besides, suffering, injury, and indignity inflame and excite our minds: they first demanded me, your leader, for punishment, and then all of you who had laid siege to Saguntum; and had we been given up they would have visited us with the severest tortures.

That most cruel and haughty nation considers everything its own, and at its own disposal; it thinks it right that it should regulate with whom we are to have war, with whom peace; it circumscribes and shuts us up by the boundaries of mountains and rivers which we must not pass, and then does not adhere to those boundaries which it appointed. Pass not the Iberius; have nothing to do with the Saguntines. Saguntum is on the Iberius; you must not move a step in any direction. Is it a small thing that you take away my most ancient provinces---Sicily and Sardinia? Will you take Spain also? And should I withdraw thence, will you cross over into Africa?

Will cross, did I say? They have sent the two consuls of this year, one to Africa, the other to Spain: there is nothing left to us in any quarter, except what we can assert to ourselves by arms. Those may be cowards and dastards who have something to look back upon; whom, flying through safe and unmolested roads, their own lands and their own country will receive: there is a necessity for you to be brave, and, since all between victory and death is broken off from you by inevitable despair, either to conquer, or if fortune should waver, to meet death rather in battle than in flight. If this be well fixed and determined in the minds of you all, I will repeat, you have already conquered; no stronger incentive to victory has been given to man by the immortal gods.