Comitia

Roman_Election

Sequere nunc me in Campum. ardet ambitus. “σῆμα δὲ τοι ἐρέω”: faenus ex triente Idibus Quintilibus factum erat bessibus. dices “istuc quidem non moleste fero.” o virum! o civem! Memmium Caesaris omnes opes confirmant. Cum eo Domitium consules iunxerunt, qua pactione epistulae committere non audeo. Pompeius fremit, queritur, Scauro studet; sed utrum fronte an mente dubitatur. ἐξοχὴ in nullo est; pecunia omnium dignitatem exaequat. Messalla languet, non quo aut animus desit aut amici, sed coitio consulum et Pompeius obsunt. ea comitia puto fore ut ducantur. tribunicii candidati iurarunt se arbitrio Catonis petituros. apud eum HS quingena deposuerunt ut, qui a Catone damnatus esset, id perderet et competitoribus tribueretur. haec ego pridie scribebam quam comitia fore putabantur. sed ad te, quinto Kalendis Sextilibus, si facta erunt et tabellarius non erit profectus, tota comitia perscribam. quae si, ut putantur, gratuita fuerint, plus unus Cato potuerit quam omnes leges omnesque iudices.
(Cicero, Ep. ad Att. 90(=4.15).7-8)

Now follow me to the Campus. Bribery is running riot. ‘A token I shall tell’: interest went up on the Ides of July from 1/3 to 2/3%. ‘That I can bear’, you’ll say—you model of morality and public spirit! Caesar is backing Memmius for all he’s worth. The Consuls have paired him with Domitius in an arrangement which I dare not commit to writing. Pompey is fuming and growling. Ostensibly Scaurus is his man, but does he mean it? We have our doubts. None of the four has any special prominence. Money levels standing all round. Messalla is lagging, not for lack of spirit or friends, but the Consuls’ pact and Pompey are against him. I think these elections are likely to drag on. The tribunician candidates have taken an oath to conduct their campaign with Cato as umpire. Each of them has deposited HS 500,000 with him on the understanding that anyone found guilty of impropriety by Cato shall forfeit his deposit, which will be distributed among his rivals. I write this the day before the elections are expected to take place. If they do, and if the courier has not left, I shall write you the whole story of the elections on 28 July. If they go through without bribery, as it is believed they will, Cato will have done more single-handed than all the laws and all the jurymen. (tr. David Roy Shackleton Bailey)

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