The Ancient Library

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last days of the republic. Cicero, in his oration against Vatinius, which has come down to us, describes him as one of the greatest scamps and villains that ever lived ; and without believing all that Cicero says against him, it appears pretty certain that he was, like most other public men of his age, possessed of little or no principle, and ready to sell his services to the highest bidder. His personal appearance was unprepossessing ; his face and neck were covered with swellings, to which Cicero alludes more than once, ^calling him the struma civitatis. (Cic. pro Sest. 65 ; comp. Plut. Cic. 9 ; " struma Vatinii," ad Ait. ii. 9; " fuit strumosa facie et maculoso corpore," Schol. Bob.jwo Sest. p. 310, ed. Orelli.) Vatinius com­menced public life as quaestor in b. c. 63. According to Cicero he owed his election simply to the in­fluence of one of the consuls of the preceding year, and was returned last on the list. Cicero, who was consul, sent him to Puteoli to prevent the gold and silver from being carried away from that place ; but his extortions were so oppressive that the inhabitants were obliged to complain of his conduct to the consul. After his quaestorship he went to Spain as legatus of C Cosconius, the pro­consul, where, according to Cicero, he was again guilty of robbery and extortion. In b. c. 59 he was tribune of the plebs and sold his services to Caesar, who was then consul along with Bibulus. He took an active part in all the measures which were brought forward in this year, many of which he proposed himself. [caesar, p. 543.] Cicero accuses him of setting the auspices at defiance, of offering violence to the consul Bibulus, of filling the forum with soldiers, and of crushing the veto of his colleagues in the tribunate by force of arms ; all of which accusations we can readily believe, as he was the most active partizan of Caesar among the magistrates of the year. It was Vatinius who proposed the bill to the people, by which Caesar received the provinces of Cisalpine Gaul and II-lyricum for five years, to which the senate after­wards added the province of Transalpine Gaul. It was during his tribunate that Vatinius brought forward the informer L. Vettius, who accused many of the most distinguished men in the state, and among others Cicero, of a plot against the life of Pompey. [vettius.]

, In return for these services Vatinius was ap­pointed by Caesar one of his legates, but he did not remain long in Gaul, as he was for the present intent upon gaining the higher honours of the state. Notwithstanding the patronage of Caesar, he was unsuccessful in his first application for the praetor-ship, and he did not even obtain the votes of his own tribe, the Sergia, which had never previously failed to vote in favour of their own tribesman. In b. c. 56 he appeared as a witness against Milo and Sestius, two of Cicero's friends, who had taken a leading part hi obtaining his recal from banish­ment. Cicero had long had a grudge against Vatinius, because he had induced Vettius to accuse him of being privy to the plot against Pompey's life ; and his resentment was now increased by the testimony Vatinius had given against Milo and Sestius. The trial of Milo occurred earlier in the year than that of Sestius. Cicero took no no­tice of the conduct of Vatinius in the former case, but when he came forward against Sextius also, on whose acquittal Cicero had set his heart, the orator made a vehement attack upon the character


of Vatinius in the speech which has come down to us. Nevertheless, he carefully avoids saying a word against Caesar, of whom Vatinius had been only the instrument. The elections at Rome this year were attended with the most serious riots. The aristocracy strained every nerve to prevent the election of Pompey and Crassus to the consulship ; and so great were the tumults that it was not till the beginning of the following year (b. c. 55) that the elections took place, and Pompey and Crassus were declared consuls. [Vol. III. p. 486, a.] Not succeeding in securing the consulship for their own party, the aristocracy brought forward M. Cato as a candidate for the praetorship ; but Pompey and Crassus, aware that the election of so formidable an opponent to so high a dignity would prove a serious obstacle to their projects, used all their in­fluence to secure the praetorship for Vatinius. To make the matter more certain, they obtained a decree of the senate, in virtue of which those who might be elected praetors were to enter on their office forthwith, without letting the time fixed by law intervene, during which the magistrates elect might be prosecuted for bribery. Having thus removed one obstacle, they employed their money most freely, and by bribery as well as by force defeated Cato and carried the election of Vatinius. (Plut. Cat. 42, Pomp. 52.) During his year of office (b. c. 55) Vatinius was safe from prosecu­tion ; but in the following year (b. c. 54) he was accused of bribery by C. Licinius Calvus. It ap­pears, though the matter is involved in some ob­scurity, that Licinius had accused Vatinius twice before, once in b. c. 58 of Vis, on account of his proceedings in his tribunate (comp. Cic. in Vatin. 14, with the Schol. Bob. in Vatin. p. 323, ed. Orelli), and again in b. c. 56, about the same time that Cicero also attacked him. (Comp. Cic. in Vatin. 4, with the Schol. Bob. p. 316 ; Cic. ad Q. Fr. i. 2. § 4.) The most celebrated prosecution of Licinius, however, was in b. c. 54, and the speech which he delivered on this occasion is men­tioned in terms of the highest praise by Quintilian and others. His oratory produced such a powerful impression upon all who heard it, that Vatinius started up in the middle of the speech, and inter­rupted him with the exclamation, " I ask you, judges, if I am to be condemned because the ac­cuser is eloquent." (Senec. Controv. iii. 19.) On this occasion, to the surprise of all his friends, Cicero, who had only two years before attacked Vatinius in such unmeasured terms, came forward to defend him. The protection of the triumvir's, rather than the eloquence of his advocate, secured the acquittal of Vatinius. Cicero's conduct in de­fending Vatinius is not difficult to explain, and he has himself given an elaborate justification of him­self in an interesting letter to Lentulus Spinther, the proconsul of Cilicia, who had written to ask him his reasons for defending Vatinius (ad Fam. i. 9). The plain fact was, that Cicero had offended Caesar by his former attack upon Vatinius, and that, fearing to be again handed over by the tri­umvirs to the vengeance of Clodius, he now, in opposition to his conscience and sense of duty, as­serted what he knew to be false in order to secure the powerful protection of Caesar and Pompey. (Respecting the accusations of Vatinius by Licin us Calvus, see Meyer, Orator. Roman. Fragm. p. 4 74, foil., 2nd ed.)

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