Книга Imperium. Содержание - Roll XV

“Well,” replied Cicero, “this is handsome of you, Catilina.” And it was indeed exquisitely engraved, certainly no mere trinket: when Cicero held it to the light I saw all manner of exotic wild animals chasing one another, linked by a motif of curling serpents. For one last moment he toyed with it and weighed it in his palm, but then he replaced it in its box and handed it back to Catilina. “I am afraid I cannot accept it.”

“Why?” asked Catilina, with a puzzled smile. “Because you are my advocate, and advocates cannot be paid? Such integrity! But this is only a trifle for a baby!”

“Actually,” said Cicero, drawing in his breath, “I have come to tell you I am not going to be your advocate.”

I was in the act of unpacking all the legal documents onto a small table which stood between the two men. I had been watching them in a sideways fashion, but now I put my head down and carried on. After what seemed to me a long silence, I heard Catilina say, in a quiet voice, “And why is that?”

“To speak frankly: because you are so obviously guilty.”

Another silence, and then Catilina’s voice, when it came, was once again very calm. “But Fonteius was guilty of extortion against the Gauls, and you represented him.”

“Yes. But there are degrees of guilt. Fonteius was corrupt but harmless. You are corrupt and something else entirely.”

“That is for the court to decide.”

“Normally I would agree. But you have purchased the verdict in advance, and that is not a charade I wish to be a part of. You have made it impossible for me to convince myself that I am acting honorably. And if I cannot convince myself, then I cannot convince anyone else-my wife, my brother, and now, perhaps more important, my son, when he is old enough to understand.”

At this point I risked a look at Catilina. He was standing completely motionless, his arms hanging loosely by his sides, and I was reminded of an animal that has suddenly come across a rival-it was a type of predatory stillness: watchful and ready to fight. He said lightly, but it seemed to me the lightness was now more strained, “You realize this is of no consequence to me, but only to yourself? It does not matter who is my advocate; nothing changes for me. I shall be acquitted. But for you now-instead of my friendship, you will have my enmity.”

Cicero shrugged. “I prefer not to have the enmity of any man, but when it is unavoidable, I shall endure it.”

“You will never have endured an enmity such as mine, I promise you that. Ask the Africans.” He grinned. “Ask Gratidianus.”

“You removed his tongue, Catilina. Conversation would be difficult.”

Catilina swayed forward slightly, and I thought he might do to Cicero what he had only half done to Clodius the previous evening, but that would have been an act of madness, and Catilina was never wholly mad: things would have been far easier if he had been. Instead he checked himself and said, “Well then, I suppose I must let you go.”

Cicero nodded. “You must. Leave the papers, Tiro. We have no need of them now.”

I cannot remember if there was any further conversation; I do not believe there was. Catilina and Cicero simply turned their backs on each other, which was the traditional means of signaling enmity, and so we left that ancient, empty, creaking mansion and went out into the heat of the Roman summer.

Roll XV

NOW BEGAN A MOST DIFFICULT and anxious period in Cicero’s life, during which I am sure he often regretted that he had made such an enemy of Catilina and had not found some innocuous excuse to wriggle out of his commitment to defend him. For there were, as he often observed, only three possible outcomes to the coming election, and none was pleasant. Either he would be consul and Catilina would not-in which case who could tell what lengths his resentful and defeated rival might be willing to go to? Or Catilina would be consul and he would not, and all the resources of the office would be turned against him. Or-and this, I think, alarmed him most of all-he and Catilina might be consuls together, in which case his dream of supreme imperium would degenerate into a yearlong running battle, and the business of the republic would be paralyzed by their acrimony.

The first shock came when the trial of Catilina opened a couple of days later, because who should step forward to act as chief defense advocate but the senior consul himself, Lucius Manlius Torquatus, head of one of the oldest and most respected patrician families in Rome. Catilina was escorted into court by all the traditional old guard of the aristocracy-Catulus, of course, but also Hortensius, Lepidus, and the elder Curio. The only consolation for Cicero was that Catilina’s guilt was utterly manifest, and Clodius, who had his own reputation to consider, actually made quite a decent job of drawing out the evidence. Although Torquatus was an urbane and precise attorney, he could only (to use the crude phrase of the time) apply so much perfume to this particular turd. The jury had been bribed, but the record of Catilina’s behavior in Africa was sufficiently shocking that they very nearly found him guilty, and he was only acquitted per infamiam-that is, he was dishonorably discharged from the court. Clodius, fearful of retaliation from Catilina and his supporters, departed the city soon afterwards, to serve on the staff of Lucius Murena, the new governor of Further Gaul. “If only I had prosecuted Catilina myself!” groaned Cicero. “He would be with Verres in Massilia by now, watching the waves coming in!” But at least he had avoided the dishonor of serving as Catilina’s defender-for which, incidentally, he gave much credit to Terentia, and thereafter he was always more willing to listen to her advice.

Cicero’s campaign strategy now called for him to leave Rome for four months and travel north to canvass, all the way up to the borders of Italy in Nearer Gaul. No consular candidate, as far as I am aware, had ever done such a thing before, but though he loathed to leave the city for so long, Cicero was convinced it was worth it. When he stood for aedile, the number of registered electors was some four hundred thousand; but now those rolls had been revised by the censors, and with the extension of the franchise as far north as the River Po, the electorate had increased to almost one million. Very few of these citizens would ever bother to travel all the way to Rome to cast their votes in person. But Cicero reckoned that if he could persuade just one in ten of those he met to make the effort, it could give him a decisive edge on the Field of Mars.

He fixed his departure for after the Roman Games, which began that year as usual on the fifth day of September. And now came Cicero’s second-I will not call it a shock exactly, but it was certainly more troubling than a mere surprise. The Roman Games were always given by the curule aediles, one of whom was Caesar. As with Antonius Hybrida, nothing much was expected of him, for he was known to be hard up. But Caesar took the whole production over, and in his lordly way he declared that the games were in honor not only of Jupiter but also of his dead father. For days beforehand he had workmen in the Forum building colonnades, so that people could stroll around and see the wild beasts he had imported, and the gladiators he had bought-no fewer than three hundred and twenty pairs, clad in silver armor, the greatest number ever produced for a public spectacle. He laid on banquets, held processions, and staged plays. On the morning of the games themselves the citizens of Rome woke to discover that he had, overnight, erected a statue of the populist hero Marius-the aristocrats’ great hate figure-within the precincts of the Capitol. Catulus immediately insisted that a session of the Senate be called, and tabled a motion demanding that the statue be removed at once. But Caesar responded with contempt, and such was his popularity in Rome that the Senate did not dare to press the matter further.

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