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You recognize, Maximus, the theory of Plato, as far as I have been able to give it a lucid explanation in the time at my disposal. I put my trust in him when he says that the cause of epilepsy is the overflowing of this pestilential humour into the head. My inquiry therefore was, I think, reasonable when I asked the woman whether her head felt heavy, her neck numb, her temples throbbing, her ears full of noises. The fact that she acknowledged these noises to be more frequent in her right ear was proof that the disease had gone home. For the right-hand organs of the body are the strongest, and therefore their infection with the disease leaves small hope of recovery. Indeed Aristotle has left it on record in his Problems that whenever in the case of epileptics the disease begins on the right side, their cure is very difficult. It would be tedious were I to repeat the opinion of Theophrastus also on the subject of epilepsy. For he has left a most excellent treatise on convulsions. He asserts, however, in another book on the subject of animals ill-disposed towards mankind, that the skins of newts -- which like other reptiles they shed at fixed intervals for the renewal of their youth -- form a remedy for fits. But unless you snatch up the skin as soon as it be shed, they straightway turn upon it and devour it, whether from a malign foreknowledge of its value to men or from a natural taste for it.
I have mentioned these things, I have been careful to quote the arguments of renowned philosophers, and to mention the books where they are to be found, and have avoided any reference to the works of physicians or poets, that my adversaries may cease to wonder that philosophers have learnt the causes of remedies and diseases in the natural course of their researches.
Well then, since this woman was brought to be examined by me in the hope that she might be cured, and since it is clear both from the evidence of the physician who brought her and from the arguments I have just set forth that such a course was perfectly right, my opponents must needs assert that it is the part of a magician and evildoer to heal disease, or, if they do not dare to say that, must confess that their accusations in regard to this epileptic boy and woman are false, absurd, and indeed epileptic.
Yes, Aemilianus, if you would hear the truth, you are the real sufferer from the falling sickness, so often have your false accusations failed and cast you helpless to the ground. Bodily collapse is no worse than intellectual, and it is as important to keep one's head as to keep one's feet, while it is as unpleasant to be loathed by this distinguished gathering as to be spat upon in one's own chamber. But you perhaps think yourself sane because you are not confined within doors, but follow the promptings of your madness whithersoever it lead you: and yet compare your frenzy with that of Thallus; you will find that there is but little to choose between you, save that Thallus confines his frenzy to himself, while you direct yours against others; Thallus distorts his eyes, you distort the truth; Thallus contracts his hands convulsively, you not less convulsively contract with your advocates; Thallus dashes himself against the pavement, you dash yourself against the judgement-seat. In a word, whatever he does, he does in his sickness erring unconsciously; but you, wretch, commit your crimes with full knowledge and with your eyes open, such is the vehemence of the disease that inspires your actions. You bring false accusations as though they were true; you charge men with doing what has never been done; though a man's innocence be clear to you as daylight, you denounce him as though he were guilty.
Nay, further, though I had almost forgotten to mention it, there are certain things of which you confess your ignorance, and which nevertheless you make material for accusation as though you knew all about them. You assert that I kept something mysterious wrapped up in a handkerchief among the household gods in the house of Pontianus. You confess your ignorance as to what may have been the nature or appearance of this object; you further admit that no one ever saw it, and yet you assert that it was some instrument of magic. You are not to be congratulated on this method of procedure. Your accusation reveals no shrewdness, and has not even the merit of impudence. Do not think so for a moment. No! It shows naught save the ill-starred madness of an embittered spirit and the pitiable fury of cantankerous old age.
The words you used in the presence of so grave and perspicacious a judge amounted to something very like this. `Apuleius kept certain things wrapped in a cloth among the household gods in the house of Pontianus. Since I do not know what they were, I therefore argue that they were magical. I beg you to believe what I say, because I am talking of that of which I know nothing.' What a wonderful argument, in itself an obvious refutation of the charge. `It must have been this, because I do not know what it was.' You are the only person hitherto discovered who knows that which he does not know. You so far surpass all others in folly, that whereas philosophers of the most keen and penetrating intellect assert that we should not trust even the objects that we see, you make statements about things which you have never seen or heard.
If Pontianus still lived and you were to ask him what the cloth contained, he would reply that he did not know. There is the freedman who still has charge of the keys of the place; he is one of your witnesses, but he says that he has never examined these objects, although, as the servant responsible for the books kept there, he opened and shut the doors almost daily, continually entered the room, not seldom in my company but more often alone, and saw the cloth lying on the table unprotected by seal or cord. Quite natural, was it not? Magical objects were concealed in the cloth, and for that reason I took little care for its safe custody, but left it about anyhow for any one to examine and inspect, if he liked, or even to carry it away! I entrusted it to the custody of others, I left it to others to dispose of at their pleasure!
What credence do you expect us to give you after this? Are we to believe that you, on whom I have never set eyes save in this court, know that of which Pontianus, who actually lived under the same roof, was ignorant? Or shall we believe that you, who have never so much as approached the room where they were placed, have seen what the freedman never saw, although he had every opportunity to inspect them during the sedulous performance of his duties?
Suppose that what you never saw was such as you say. Yet, you fool, if this very day you had succeeded in getting that handkerchief into your hands, I should deny the magical nature of whatever you might produce from it.
I give you full leave; invent what you like, rack your memory and your imagination to discover something that might conceivably seem to be of a magical nature. Even then, should you succeed in so doing, I should argue the point with you. I should say that the object in question had been substituted by you for the original, or that it had been given as a remedy, or that it was a sacred emblem that had been placed in my keeping, or that a vision had bidden me to carry it thus. There are a thousand other ways in which I might refute you with perfect truth and without giving any explanation which is abnormal or lies outside the limits of common observation. You are now demanding that a circumstance, which, even if it were proved up to the hilt, would not prejudice me in the eyes of a good judge, should be fatal to me when, as it is, it rests on vague suspicion, uncertainty, and ignorance.
You will perhaps, as is your wont, say, `What, then, was it that you wrapped in a linen cloth and were so careful to deposit with the household gods?' Really, Aemilianus! Is this the way you accuse your victims? You produce no definite evidence yourself, but ask the accused for explanations of everything.' `Why do you search for fish?' `Why did you examine a sick woman?' `What had you hidden in your handkerchief?' Did you come here to accuse me or to ask me questions? If to accuse me, prove your charges yourself; if to ask questions, do not anticipate the truth by expressing opinions on that concerning which your ignorance compels you to inquire.
If this precedent is followed, if there is no necessity for the accuser to prove anything, but on the contrary he is given every facility for asking questions of the accused, there is not a man in all the world but will be indicted on some charge or other. In fact, everything that he has ever done will be used as a handle against any man who is charged with sorcery. Have you written a petition on the thigh of some statue? You are a sorcerer! Else why did you write it? Have you breathed silent prayers to heaven in some temple? You are a sorcerer! Else tell us what you asked for? Or take the contrary line. You uttered no prayer in some temple! You are a sorcerer! Else why did you not ask the gods for something? The same argument will be used if you have made some votive dedication, or offered sacrifice, or carried sprigs of some sacred plant. The day will fail me if I attempt to go through all the different circumstances of which, on these lines, the false accuser will demand an explanation. Above all, whatever object he has kept concealed or stored under lock and key at home will be asserted by the same argument to be of a magical nature, or will be dragged from its cupboard into the light of the law-court before the seat of judgement.
I might discourse at greater length on the nature and importance of such accusations, on the wide range for slander that this path opens for Aemilianus, on the floods of perspiration that this one poor handkerchief will cause his innocent victims. But I will follow the course I have already pursued. I will acknowledge what there is no necessity for me to acknowledge, and will answer Aemilianus' questions. You ask, Aemilianus, what I had in that handkerchief.
Although I might deny that I had deposited any handkerchief of mine in Pontianus' library, or even admitting that it was true enough that I did so deposit it, I might still deny that there was anything wrapped up in it. If I should take this line, you have no evidence or argument whereby to refute me, for there is no one who has ever handled it, and only one freedman, according to your own assertion, who has ever seen it. Still, as far as I am concerned I will admit the cloth to have been full to bursting. Imagine yourself, please, to be on the brink of a great discovery, like the comrades of Ulysses who thought they had found a treasure when they stole the bag that contained all the winds. Would you like me to tell you what I had wrapped up in a handkerchief and entrusted to the care of Pontianus' household gods? You shall have your will.
I have been initiated into various of the Greek mysteries, and preserve with the utmost care certain emblems and mementoes of my initiation with which the priests presented me. There is nothing abnormal or unheard of in this. Those of you here present who have been initiated into the mysteries of father Liber alone, know what you keep hidden at home, safe from all profane touch and the object of your silent veneration. But I, as I have said, moved by my religious fervour and my desire to know the truth, have learned mysteries of many a kind, rites in great number, and diverse ceremonies. This is no invention on the spur of the moment; nearly three years since, in a public discourse on the greatness of Aesculapius delivered by me during the first days of my residence at Oea, I made the same boast and recounted the number of the mysteries I knew. That discourse was thronged, has been read far and wide, is in all men's hands, and has won the affections of the pious inhabitants of Oea not so much through any eloquence of mine as because it treats of Aesculapius.
Will anyone, who chances to remember it, repeat the beginning of that particular passage in my discourse? You hear, Maximus, how many voices supply the words. I will order this same passage to be read aloud, since by the courteous expression of your face you show that you will not be displeased to hear it.
Can anyone, who has the least remembrance of the nature of religious rites, be surprised that one who has been initiated into so many holy mysteries should preserve at home certain talismans associated with these ceremonies, and should wrap them in a linen cloth, the purest of coverings for holy things? For wool, produced by the most stolid of creatures and stripped from the sheep's back, the followers of Orpheus and Pythagoras are for that very reason forbidden to wear as being unholy and unclean. But flax, the purest of all growths and among the best of all the fruits of the earth, is used by the holy priests of Egypt, not only for clothing and raiment, but as a veil for sacred things.
And yet I know that some persons, among them that fellow Aemilianus, think it a good jest to mock at things divine. For I learn from certain men of Oea who know him, that to this day he has never prayed to any god or frequented any temple, while if he chances to pass any shrine, he regards it as a crime to raise his hand to his lips in token of reverence. He has never given firstfruits of crops or vines or flocks to any of the gods of the farmer, who feed him and clothe him; his farm holds no shrine, no holy place, nor grove. But why do I speak of groves or shrines? Those who have been on his property say they never saw there one stone where offering of oil has been made, one bough where wreaths have been hung. As a result, two nicknames have been given him: he is called Charon, as I have said, on account of his truculence of spirit and of countenance, but he is also -- and this is the name he prefers -- called Mezentius, because he despises the gods. I therefore find it the easier to understand that he should regard my list of initiations in the light of a jest. It is even possible that, thanks to his rejection of things divine, he may be unable to induce himself to believe that it is true that I guard so reverently so many emblems and relics of mysterious rites.
But what Mezentius may think of me, I do not care a straw; to others I make this announcement clearly and unshrinkingly: if any of you that are here present had any part with me in these same solemn ceremonies, give a sign and you shall hear what it is I keep thus. For no thought of personal safety shall induce me to reveal to the uninitiated the secrets that I have received and sworn to conceal.
I have, I think, Maximus, said enough to satisfy the most prejudiced of men and, as far as the handkerchief is concerned, have cleared myself of every speck of guilt. I shall run no risk in passing from the suspicions of Aemilianus to the evidence of Crassus, which my accusers read out next as if it were of the utmost importance.
You heard them read from a written deposition, the evidence of a gorging brute, a hopeless glutton, named Junius Crassus, that I performed certain nocturnal rites at his house in company with my friend Appius Quintianus, who had taken lodgings there. This, mark you, Crassus says that he discovered (in spite of the fact that he was as far away as Alexandria at the time!) from finding the feathers of birds and traces of the smoke of a torch. I suppose that while he was enjoying a round of festivities at Alexandria -- for Crassus is one who is ready even to encroach upon the daylight with his gluttonies -- I suppose, I say, that there from his reeking-tavern he espied, with eye keen as any fowler's, feathers of birds wafted towards him from his house, and saw the smoke of his home rising far off from his ancestral rooftree. If he saw this with his eyes, he saw even further than Ulysses prayed and yearned to see. For Ulysses spent years in gazing vainly from the shore to see the smoke rising from his home, while Crassus during a few months' absence from home succeeded, without the least difficulty, in seeing this same smoke as he sat in a wine-shop! If, on the other hand, it was his nose that discerned the smoke, he surpasses hounds and vultures in the keenness of his sense of smell. For what hound, what vulture hovering in the Alexandrian sky, could sniff out anything so far distant as Oea? Crassus is, I admit, a gourmand of the first order, and an expert in all the varied flavours of kitchen-smoke, but in view of his love of drinking, his only real title to fame, it would have been easier to reach him at Alexandria for the fumes of his wine rather than the fumes of his chimney.
Even he saw that this would pass belief. For he is said to have sold this evidence before eight in the morning while he was still fasting from food and drink! And so he wrote that he had made his discovery in the following manner. On his return from Alexandria he went straight to his house, which Quintianus had by this time left. There in the entrance-hall he came across a large quantity of birds' feathers: the walls, moreover, were blackened with soot. He asked the reason of this from the slave whom he had left at Oea, and the latter informed him of the nocturnal rites carried out by myself and Quintianus.
What an ingenious lie! What a probable invention! That I, had I wished to do anything of the sort, should have done it there rather than in my own house! That Quintianus, who is supporting me here today, and whom I mention with the greatest respect and honour for the close love that binds him to me, for his deep erudition and consummate eloquence, that this same Quintianus, supposing him to have dined off some birds or, as they assert, killed them for magical purposes, should have had no slave to sweep up the feathers and throw them out of doors! Or further that the smoke should have been strong enough to blacken the walls and that Quintianus should have suffered such defacement of his bedroom for as long as he lived there! Nonsense, Aemilianus! There is no probability in the story, unless indeed Crassus on his return went not to the bedroom, but after his fashion made straight for the kitchen.
And what made his slave suspect that the walls had been blackened by night in particular? Was it the colour of the smoke? Does night smoke differ from day smoke in being darker? And why did so suspicious and conscientious a slave allow Quintianus to leave the house before having it cleaned? Why did those feathers lie like lead and await the arrival of Crassus for so long? Let not Crassus accuse his slave. It is much more likely that he himself fabricated this mendacious nonsense about feathers and soot, being unable even in his evidence to divorce himself further from his kitchen.
And why did you read out this evidence from a written deposition? Where in the world is Crassus? Has he returned to Alexandria out of disgust at the state of his house? Is he washing his walls? Or, as is more likely, is the glutton feeling ill after his debauch? I myself saw him yesterday here at Sabrata belching in your face, Aemilianus, in the most conspicuous manner in the middle of the market-place. Pray, Maximus, ask your slaves whose duty it is to keep you informed of people's names -- although, I admit, Crassus is better known to the keepers of taverns -- yet ask them, I say, whether they have ever seen Junius Crassus, a citizen of Oea, in this place. They will answer `yes'. Let Aemilianus then produce this most admirable young man on whose testimony he relies.
You notice the time of day. I tell you that Crassus has long since been snoring in a drunken slumber or has taken a second bathe and is now evaporating the sweat of intoxication at the bath that he may be equal to a fresh drinking bout after supper. He presents himself in writing only. That is the way he speaks to you, Maximus. Even he is not so dead to sense of shame as to be able to lie to your face without a blush. But there is perhaps another reason for his absence. He may have been unable to abstain from drunkenness sufficiently long to keep sober against this moment.
Or it may be that Aemilianus took good care not to subject him to your severe and searching gaze, lest you should damn the brute with his close-shaven cheeks and his disgusting appearance by a mere glance at his face, when you saw a young man with his features stripped of the beard and hair that should adorn them, his eyes heavy with wine, his lids swollen, his <...> grin, his slobbering lips, his harsh voice, his trembling hands, his breath reeking of the cook-shop. He has long since devoured his fortune; nothing is left him of his patrimony save a house that serves him for the sale of his false witness, and never did he make a more remunerative contract than he has done with regard to this evidence he offers today. For he sold Aemilianus his drunken fictions for 3,000 sesterces, as every one at Oea is aware.
We all knew of this before it actually took place. I might have prevented the transaction by denouncing it, but I knew that so foolish a lie would be prejudicial to Aemilianus, who wasted his money to secure it, rather than to myself, who treated it with the contempt it deserved. I wished not only that Aemilianus should lose his money, but that Crassus should have his reputation ruined by his disgraceful perjury. It was but the day before yesterday that the transaction took place in the most open manner at the house of Rufinus, of whom I shall soon have something to say. Rufinus and Calpurnianus acted as middlemen and entreated him to comply to their wishes. The former carried out the task with all the more readiness because he was certain that his wife, at whose misconduct he knowingly connives, would be sure to recover from Crassus a large proportion of his fee for perjury.
I noticed that you also, Maximus, as soon as this written evidence was produced, suspected with your usual acuteness that they had formed a league and conspiracy against me; and I saw from your face that the whole affair excited your disgust. Finally my accusers, in spite of their being paragons of audacity and monsters of shamelessness, noticed that Crassus' evidence smelled after faex and did not dare to read it out in full or to build anything upon it. I have mentioned these facts not because I am afraid of these dreadful feathers and stains of soot -- least of all with you to judge me -- but that Crassus might meet with due punishment for having sold mere smoke to a helpless rustic like Aemilianus.
And after all this, they have also come up, on reading Pudentilla's letters, concerning the manufacture of a seal. This seal, they assert, I had fashioned of the rarest wood by some secret process for purposes of the black art. They add that, although it is loathly and horrible to look upon, being in the form of a skeleton, I yet give it especial honour and call it in the Greek tongue, basileus, my king. I think I am right in saying that I am following the various stages of their accusation in due order and reconstructing the whole fabric of their slander detail by detail.
Now how can the manufacture of this seal have been secret, as you assert, when you are sufficiently well acquainted with the maker to have summoned him to appear in court? Here is Cornelius Saturninus, the artist, a man whose skill is famous among his townsfolk and whose character is above reproach. A little while back, in answer, Maximus, to your careful cross-examination, he explained the whole sequence of events in the most convincing and truthful manner. He said that I visited his shop and, after looking at many geometrical patterns all carved out of boxwood in the most cunning and ingenious manner, was so much attracted by his skill that I asked him to make me certain mechanical devices and also begged him to make me the image of some god to which I might pray after my custom. The particular god and the precise material I left to his choice, my only stipulation being that it should be made of wood. He therefore first attempted to work in boxwood. Meanwhile, during my absence in the country, Sicinius Pontianus, my step-son, wishing it to be made for me, procured some ebony tablets from that excellent lady Capitolina and brought them to his shop, exhorting him to make what I had ordered out of this rarer and more durable material: such a gift, he said, would be most gratifying to me. Our artist did as Pontianus suggested, as far as the size of the ebony tablets permitted. By careful dove-tailing of minute portions of the tablets he succeeded in making a small figure of Mercury.
You heard all the evidence just as I repeat it. Moreover, it receives exact confirmation from the answers given to you in cross-examination by Capitolina's son, a youth of the most excellent character, who is here in court today. He said that Pontianus asked for the tablets, that Pontianus took them to the artist Saturninus. Nor does he deny that Pontianus received the completed signet from Saturninus and afterwards gave it me.
All these things have been openly and manifestly proved. What remains, in which any suspicion of sorcery can lie concealed? Nay, what is there that does not absolutely convict you of obvious falsehood? You said that the seal was of secret manufacture, whereas Pontianus, a distinguished member of the equestrian order, gave the commission for it. The figure was carved in public by Saturninus as he sat in his shop. He is a man of sterling character and recognized honesty. The work was assisted by the munificence of a distinguished married lady, and many both among the slaves and the acquaintances who frequented my house were aware both of the commission for the work and its execution. You were not ashamed falsely to pretend that I had searched high and low for the requisite wood through all the town, although you know that I was absent from Oea at that time, and although it has been proved that I gave a free hand as to the material.
Your third lie was that the figure which was made was the lean, eviscerated frame of a gruesome corpse, utterly horrible and ghastly as any ghost. If you had discovered such definite proof of my sorceries, why did you not insist on my producing it in court? Was it that you might have complete freedom for inventing lies in the absence of the subject of your slanders? If so, the opportunity afforded you for mendacity has been lost you, thanks to a certain habit of mine which comes in most opportunely. It is my wont wherever I go to carry with me the image of some god kept among my books and to pray to him on feast days with offerings of incense and wine and sometimes even of victims. When, therefore, I heard persistent though outrageously mendacious assertions that the figure I carried was that of a skeleton, I ordered some one to go and bring from my house my little image of Mercury, the same that Saturninus had made for me at Oea. You here, give it them! Let them see it, hold it, examine it. There you see the image which that scoundrel called a skeleton. Do you hear these cries of protest that arise from all present? Do you hear the condemnation of your lie? Are you not at last ashamed of all your slanders? Is this a skeleton, this a ghost, is this the familiar spirit you asserted it to be? Is this a magic symbol or one that is common and ordinary?
Take it, I beg you, Maximus, and examine it. It is good that a holy thing should be entrusted to hands as pure and pious as yours. See there, how fair it is to view, how full of all a wrestler's grace and vigour! How cheerful is the god's face, how comely the down that creeps on either side his cheeks, how the curled hair shows upon his head beneath the shadow of his hat's brim, how neatly the tiny pair of pinions project about his brows, how daintily the cloak is drawn about his shoulders! He who dares call this a skeleton, either never sees an image of a god or if he does ignores it. Indeed, he who thinks this to represent a ghost is evoking ghosts.
But in return for that lie, Aemilianus, may that same god who goes between the lords of heaven and the lords of hell grant you the hatred of the gods of either world and ever send to meet you the shadows of the dead with all the shades, with all the fiends, with all the spectrets, with all the ghosts of all the world, and thrust upon your eyes all the terror that walks by night, all the dread dwellers in the tomb, all the horrors of the sepulchre, although your age and character have brought you near enough to them already.
But we of the family of Plato know naught save what is bright and joyous, majestic and heavenly and of the world above us. Nay, in its zeal to reach the heights of wisdom, the Platonic school has explored regions higher than heaven itself and has stood triumphant on the outer circumference of this our universe. Maximus knows that I speak truth, for in his careful study of the Phaedrus he has read of the `place being builded on heaven's back.' Maximus also clearly understands -- I am now going to reply to your accusation about the name -- who he is whom not I but Plato was first to call the `King'. `All things,' he says, `depend upon the King of all things and for him only all things exist.' Maximus knows who that `King' is, even the cause and reason and primal origin of all nature, the lord and father of the soul, the eternal saviour of all that lives, the unwearying builder of his world. Yet he builds without labour, yet he saves without care, he is father without begetting, he knows no limitation of space or time or change, and therefore few may conceive and none may tell of his power.
I will even go out of my way to aggravate the suspicion of sorcery; I will not tell you, Aemilianus, who it is that I worship as my king. Even if the proconsul should ask me himself who my god is, I am dumb.
About the name I have said enough for the present. For the rest I know that some of my audience are anxious to hear why I wanted the figure made not of silver or gold, but only of wood, though I think that their desire springs not so much from their anxiety to see me cleared of guilt as from eagerness for knowledge. They would like to have this last doubt removed, even although they see that I have amply rebutted all suspicion of any crime. Listen, then, you who would know, but listen with all the sharpness and attention that you may, for you are to hear the very words that Plato wrote in his old age in the last book of the Laws.
The man of moderate means when he makes offerings to the gods should do so in proportion to his means. Now, earth and the household hearths of all men are holy to all the gods. Let no one therefore dedicate any shrines to the gods over and above these.
He forbids this with the purpose of preventing men from venturing to build private shrines; for he thinks that the public temples suffice his citizens for the purposes of sacrifice. He then continues,
Gold and silver in other cities, whether in the keeping of private persons or of temples, are invidious possessions; ivory taken from a body wherefrom the life has passed is not a welcome offering; iron and bronze are instruments of war. Whatsoever a man dedicates, let it be of wood and wood only, or if it be of stone, of stone only.
The general murmur of assent shows, Maximus, and you, gentlemen, who have the honour to assist him, that I am adjudged to have made admirable use of Plato, not only as a guide in life, but as an advocate in court, to whose laws, as you see, I obey.
It is now time for me to turn first and foremost to the letters of Pudentilla, or rather to retrace the whole course of events a little further back still. For I desire to make it abundantly clear that I, whom they keep accusing of having forced my way into Pudentilla's house solely through love of money, ought really never to have come near that house, had the thought of money ever crossed my mind. My marriage has for many reasons brought me the reverse of prosperity and, but for the fact that my wife's virtues are compensation for any number of disadvantages, it would be contrary to my interests.
Disappointment and envy are the sole causes that have involved me in this trial, and even before that gathered many mortal perils about my path. What motiva for resentment has Aemilianus against me, even assuming him to be correctly informed when he accuses me of magic? No least word of mine has ever injured him in such a way as to give him the appearance of pursuing a just revenge. It is certainly no lofty ambition that prompts him to accuse me, ambition such as fired Marcus Antonius to accuse Cnaeus Carbo, Caius Mucius to accuse Aulus Albucius, Publius Sulpicius to accuse Cnaeus Norbanus, Caius Furius to accuse Marcus Aquilius, Caius Curio to accuse Quintus Metellus. They were young men of admirable education and were led by ambition to undertake these accusations as the first step in a forensic career, that by the conduct of some `cause celebre' they might make themselves a name among their fellow citizens. This privilege was conceded by antiquity to young men just entering public life as a means of winning glory for their youthful genius. The custom has long since become obsolete, but even if the practice were still common, it would not apply to Aemilianus. It would not have been becoming to him to make any display of his eloquence, for he is rude and unlettered; nor to show a passion for renown, since he is a mere barbarian bumpkin; nor thus to open his career as an advocate, for he is an old man on the brink of the grave. The only hypothesis creditable to him would be that he is perhaps giving an example of his austerity of character and has undertaken this accusation through sheer hatred of wrongdoing and to assert his own integrity. But I should hardly accept such an hypothesis even in the case of a greater Aemilianus, not our African friend here, but the conqueror of Africa and Numantia, who held, moreover, the office of censor at Rome. Much less will I believe that this dull blockhead, I will not say, hates sin, but recognizes it when he sees it.
What then was his motive? It is as clear as day to any one that envy is the sole motive that has spurred him and Herennius Rufinus, his instigator -- of whom I shall have more to say later -- and the rest of my enemies, to fabricate these false charges of sorcery.
Well, there are five points which I must discuss. If I remember aright, their accusations as regards Pudentilla were as follows. Firstly, they said that after the death of her first husband she resolutely set her face against re-marriage, but was seduced by my incantations. Secondly, there are her letters, which they regard as an admission that I used sorcery. Thirdly and fourthly, they object that she made a lovematch at the advanced age of sixty and that the marriage contract was sealed not in the town but at a country house. Lastly, there is the most invidious of all these accusations, namely, that which concerns the dowry. It is into this charge they have put all their force and all their venom; it is this that vexes them most of all. They assert that at the very outset of our wedded life I forced my devoted wife in the absolute seclusion of her country house to make over to me a large dowry.
I will show that all these statements are so false, so worthless, so unsubstantial, and I shall refute them so easily and unquestionably, that in good truth, Maximus, and you, gentlemen, his assessors, I fear you may think that I have suborned my accusers to bring these charges, that I might have the opportunity of publicly dispelling the hatred of which I am the victim. I will ask you to believe now what you will understand when the facts are before you, that I shall need to put out all my strength to prevent you from thinking that such a baseless accusation is a cunning device of my own rather than a stupid enterprise of my enemies.
I shall now briefly retrace events and force Aemilianus himself to admit, whenhe has heard the facts, that his envy was groundless and that he has strayed far from the truth. In the meantime I beg you, as you have already done, or if possible yet more than you have already done, to give the best of your attention to me as I trace the whole case to its fount and source.
Aemilia Pudentilla, now my wife, was once the wife of a certain Sicinius Amicus. By him she had two sons, Pontianus and Pudens. These two boys were left by their father's death under the guardianship of their paternal grandfather -- for Amicus predeceased his father -- and were brought up by their mother with remarkable care and affection for about fourteen years. She was in the flower of her age, and it was not of her own choosing that she remained a widow for so long. But the boys' grandfather was eager that she should, in spite of her reluctance, take his son, Sicinius Clarus, for her second husband and with this in view kept all other suitors at a distance. He further threatened her that if she married elsewhere he would by his will exclude her sons from the possession of any of their father's heritage. When she saw that nothing could move him to alter the condition that he had laid down, such was her wisdom, and so admirable her maternal affection, that to prevent her sons' interests suffering any damage in this respect, she made a contract of marriage with Sicinius Clarus in accordance with her father-in-law's bidding, but by various evasions managed to avoid the marriage until the boys' grandfather died, leaving them as his heirs, with the result that Pontianus, the elder son, became his brother's guardian.
She was now freed from all embarrassment, and being sought in marriage by many distinguished persons resolved to remain a widow no longer. The dreariness of her solitary life she might have borne, but her bodily infirmities had become intolerable. This chaste and saintly lady, after so many years of blameless widowhood, without even a breath of scandal, owing to her long absence from a husband's embraces, began to suffer internal pains so severe that they brought her to the brink of the grave. Doctors and wise women agreed that the disease had its origin in her long widowhood, that the evil was increasing daily and her sickness steadily assuming a more serious character; the remedy was that she should marry before her youth finally departed from her.
There were many who welcomed this recommendation, but none more so than that fellow Aemilianus, who a little while back asserted with the most unhesitating mendacity that Pudentilla had never thought of marriage until I compelled her to be mine by my exercise of the black art; that I alone had been found to outrage the virgin purity of her widowhood by incantations and love philtres. I have often heard it said with truth that a liar should have a good memory. Had you forgotten, Aemilianus, that before I came to Oea, you wrote to her son Pontianus, who had then attained to man's estate and was pursuing his studies at Rome, suggesting that she should marry?
Give me the letter, or better give it to Aemilianus and let him refute himself in his own voice with his own words. Is this your letter? Why do you turn pale? We know you are past blushing. Is this your signature? Read a little louder, please, that all may realize how his written words belie his speech and how much more he is at variance with himself than with me.
Did you, Aemilianus, write what has just been read out? `I know that she is willing to marry and that she ought to do so, but I do not know the object of her choice.' You were right there. You knew nothing about it. For Pudentilla, though she admitted that she wished to marry again, said nothing to you about her suitor. She knew the intrusive malignity of your nature too well. But you still expected her to marry your brother Clarus and were induced by your false hopes to go further and to urge her son to assent to the match.
And of course, if she had wedded Clarus, a boorish and decrepit old man, you would have asserted that she had long desired to marry him of her own free will without the intervention of any magic. But now that she has married a young man of the elegance which you attribute to him, you say that she had always refused to marry and must have done so under compulsion! You did not know, you villain, that the letter you had written on the subject was being preserved, you did not know that you would be convicted by your own testimony. The fact is that Pudentilla, knowing your changeableness and unreliability no less than your shamelessness and mendacity, rather than forward the letter preferred to keep it as clear evidence of your intentions.
Furthermore, she wrote a letter of her own on the same subject to her son Pontianus at Rome, in which she gave full reasons for her determination. She told him pretty fully about the state of her health; there was no longer any reason for her to persist in remaining a widow; she had so remained for thus long and had sacrificed her health solely to procure him the inheritance of his grandfather's fortune, a fortune to which she had by the exercise of the greatest care made considerable additions; Pontianus himself was now by the grace of heaven ripe for marriage and his brother for the garb of manhood; she begged them to suffer her at length to solace her lonely existence and to relieve her ill health; they need have no fears as to her final choice or as to her motherly affection; she would still be as a wife what she had been as a widow. I will order a copy of this letter to her son to be read aloud.
This letter makes it, I think, sufficiently clear that it needed no incantations of mine to move Pudentilla from her resolve to remain a widow, but that she had been for some time by no means averse to marriage, when she chose me -- it may be in preference to others. I cannot see why such a choice by so excellent a woman should be brought against me as matter for reproach rather than honour. But I admit feeling surprise that Aemilianus and Rufinus should be annoyed at the lady's decision, when those who were actually suitors for her hand acquiesce in her preference for myself.
She was indeed guided in making her choice less by her personal inclination than by the advice of her son, a fact which Aemilianus cannot deny. For Pontianus on receiving his mother's letter hastily flew hither from Rome, fearing that, if the man of her choice proved to be avaricious, she might, as often happens, transfer her whole fortune to the house of her new husband. This anxiety tormented him not a little. All his own expectations of wealth together with those of his brother depended on his mother. His grandfather had left but a moderate fortune, his mother possessed 4,000,000 sesterces. Of this sum, it is true, she owed a considerable portion to her sons, but they had no security for this, relying, naturally enough, on her word alone. He gave but silent expression to his fears; he did not venture to show any open opposition for fear of seeming to distrust her.
Things being in this delicate position owing to the mother's request and the son's fear, chance or destiny brought me to Oea on my way to Alexandria. Did not my respect for my wife prevent me, I would say `Would God it had never happened.' It was winter when this occurred. Overcome by the fatigues of the journey, I was laid up for a considerable number of days in the house of my friends the Appii, whom I name to show the affection and esteem with which I regard them. There Pontianus came to see me; for not so very long before certain common friends had introduced him to me at Athens, and we had afterwards lodged together and come to know each other intimately. He greeted me with the utmost courtesy, inquired anxiously after my health, and touched dexterously on the subject of love. For he thought that he had found an ideal husband for his mother to whom he could without the slightest risk entrust the whole fortune of the house. At first he sounded me as to my inclinations in somewhat ambiguous language, and seeing that I was desirous of resuming my journey and was not in the least disposed to take a wife, he begged me at any rate to remain at Oea for a little while, as he himself was desirous of travelling with me. Since my physical infirmity had made it impossible for me to profit by the present winter, he urged that it would be well to wait for the next owing to the danger presented by the passage of the Syrtes and the risk of encountering wild beasts. His urgent entreaty induced my friends the Appii to allow me to leave them and to become his guest in his mother's house. I should find the situation healthier, he said, and should get a freer view of the sea -- a special attraction in my eyes.
He had shown the greatest eagerness in inducing me to come to this decision, and strongly recommended his mother and his brother -- that boy there -- to my consideration. I gave them some help in our common studies and a marked intimacy sprang up between us. Meanwhile I gradually recovered my health. At the instance of my friends I gave a discourse in public. This took place in the basilica, which was thronged by a vast audience. I was greeted with many expressions of approval, the audience shouted `bravo! bravo!' like one man, and besought me to remain and become a citizen of Oea. On the dispersal of the audience Pontianus approached me, and by way of prelude said that such universal enthusiasm was nothing less than a sign from heaven. He then revealed to me that it was his cherished design -- with my permission -- to bring about a match between myself and his mother, for whose hand there were many suitors. He added that I was the only friend in the world in whom he could put implicit trust and confidence. If I were to refuse to undertake such a responsibility, simply because it was no fair heiress that was offered me, but a woman of plain appearance nd the mother of children -- if I were moved by these considerations and insisted on reserving myself for a more attractive and wealthier match, my behaviour would be unworthy of a friend and a philosopher.
It would take too long -- even if I were willing to tell you what I replied and how long and how frequently we conversed on the subject, with how many pressing entreaties he plied me, never ceasing until he finally won my consent. I had had ample opportunity for observing Pudentilla's character, for I had lived for a whole year continually in her company and had realized how rich was her endowment of good qualities; but my desire for travel led me to desire to refuse the match as an impediment. But I soon began to love her for her virtues as ardently as though I had wooed her of my own initiative. Pontianus had also persuaded his mother to give me the preference over all her other suitors, and showed extraordinary eagerness for the marriage to take place at the earliest possible date. We could scarcely induce him to consent to the very briefest postponement to such time as he himself should have taken a wife and his brother in due course have assumed the garb of manhood. That done, we would be married at once.
Would to heaven it were possible without serious damage to my case to pass by what I have now to relate. I freely forgave Pontianus when he begged for pardon, and I have no wish to seem to reproach him now for the fickleness of his conduct. I acknowledge the truth of a circumstance brought against me by my accusers, I admit that Pontianus, after taking to himself a wife, broke his pledged word and suddenly changed his mind; that he tried to prevent the fulfilment of this project with no less obstinacy than he had shown zeal in forwarding it. He was ready to make any sacrifice, to go any lengths, to prevent our marriage taking place. Nevertheless this discreditable change of attitude, this deliberate quarrel with his mother, must not be laid to his charge, but to that of his father-in-law, Herennius Rufinus, whom you see before you, a man than whom no more worthless, wicked, and crime-stained soul lives upon this earth. I will -- since I cannot avoid it -- give a brief description of this man's character, using such moderation as I may, lest, if I pass him by in silence, the energy which he has shown in engineering this accusation against me should have been spent all in vain.
This is the man who poisoned that worthless boy against me, who is the prime mover in this accusation, who has hired advocates and bought witnesses. This is the furnace in which all this calumny has been forged, this the firebrand, this the scourge that has driven Aemilianus here to his task. He makes it his boast before all men in the most extravagant language that it is through his machinations that my indictment has been procured. In truth he has some reason for self-congratulation. For he is the organizer of every lawsuit, the deviser of every perjury, the architect of every lie, the seed-ground of every wickedness, the habitation of lust and gluttony, a brothel and a house of whores; the mark of every scandal since his earliest years; in boyhood, ere he became so hideously bald, the ready servant of his pederasts in the vilest vices; in youth a stage dancer limp and nerveless enough in all conscience, but, they tell me, clumsy and inartistic in his very effeminacy. He is said not to have possessed a single quality that should distinguish an actor, except for his indecency.
He is older now -- God's curse upon him! I crave your pardon for my warmth of language. But his house is the dwelling-place of panders, his whole household foul with sin, himself a man of infamous character, his wife a harlot, his sons like their parents. His door night and day is battered with the kicks of wanton gallants, his windows loud with the sound of loose serenades, his dining-room wild with revel, his bedchambers the haunt of adulterers. For no one need fear to enter it save he who has no gift for the husband. Thus does he make an income from the shame of his own bed. Once he had been good at making money everywhere with his own body, now with that of wife. With none but him -- it is not a lie! -- with none but him most make the arrangements for a night with his wife. So here we have this well known collusion of husband and wife: whoever have brought a large sum to the woman are not checked by anyone and can leave as they wish. Whoever has come with less, are caught as adulterers, after a sign has been given; and as if they had come to school, they are not allowed to leave before they have `written something.'
What else should the wretch do? He has lost a considerable fortune, though I admit that he only got that fortune unexpectedly through a fraudulent transaction on the part of his father. The latter, having borrowed money from a number of persons, preferred to keep their money at the cost of his own good name. Bills poured in on every side with demands for payment. Every one that met him laid hands on him as though he were a madman. `Steady, now!' he says, stating that he cannot pay. So he resigned his golden rings and all the badges of his position in society and thus came to terms with his creditors. But he had by a most ingenious fraud transferred the greater part of his property to his wife, and so, although he himself was needy, ill-clad and protected by the very depth of his fall, managed to leave this same Rufinus -- I am telling you the truth and nothing but the truth -- no less than 3,000,000 sesterces to be squandered on riotous living. This was the sum that came to him unencumbered from his mother's property, over and above the daily dowry brought him by his wife. Yet all this money has been ravenously devoured by this glutton in a few short years, all this fortune has been destroyed by the infinite variety of his gormandizing; so that you might really think him to be afraid of seeming in any way to be the gainer by his father's dishonesty. This honourable fellow actually took care that what had been ill-gained should be ill-spent, nor was anything left him from his too ample fortune, save his depraved ambition and his boundless appetite.