Ego qualem Kalendis Ianuariis acceperim rem publicam, Quirites, intellego, plenam sollicitudinis, plenam timoris; in qua nihil erat mali, nihil adversi quod non boni metuerent, improbi exspectarent; omnia turbulenta consilia contra hunc rei publicae statum et contra vestrum otium partim iniri, partim nobis consulibus designatis inita esse dicebantur; sublata erat de foro fides non ictu aliquo novae calamitatis, sed suspicione ac perturbatione iudiciorum, infirmatione rerum iudicatarum; novae dominationes, extraordinaria non imperia, sed regna quaeri putabantur. quae cum ego non solum suspicarer, sed plane cernerem (neque enim obscure gerebantur) dixi in senatu in hoc magistratu me popularem consulem futurum. quid enim est tam populare quam pax? qua non modo ei quibus natura sensum dedit sed etiam tecta atque agri mihi laetari videntur. quid tam populare quam libertas? quam non solum ab hominibus verum etiam a bestiis expeti atque omnibus rebus anteponi videtis. quid tam populare quam otium? quod ita iucundum est ut et vos et maiores vestri et fortissimus quisque vir maximos labores suscipiendos putet, ut aliquando in otio possit esse, praesertim in imperio ac dignitate. quin idcirco etiam maioribus nostris praecipuam laudem gratiamque debemus, quod eorum labore est factum uti impune in otio esse possemus. qua re qui possum non esse popularis, cum videam haec omnia, Quirites, pacem externam, libertatem propriam generis ac nominis vestri, otium domesticum, denique omnia quae vobis cara atque ampla sunt in fidem et quodam modo in patrocinium mei consulatus esse conlata?
(Cicero, Leg. Agr. 2.8-9)
I am aware, Romans, what the condition of the republic was when it was handed over to me on the 1st of January; it was full of anxiety, full of fear; in it there was no evil, no calamity which good citizens did not dread, which the bad were not hoping for. All kinds of seditious plots against the present form of government and against your quiet were reported, some to be already in progress, some to have been entered on the moment we were elected consuls. All confidence was banished from the forum, not by the stroke of some fresh calamity, but owing to suspicion and the disorganization of the law-courts, the invalidation of decisions already made; new tyrannies, extraordinarypowers, not merely military, but regal powers, were, it was supposed, being aimed at. Since I not only suspected what was going on, but saw it plainly (for everything was done quite openly) I declared in the senate that, as long as I held this office, I would be the people’s consul. For what is so welcome to the people as peace, the delights of which not only those animals whom nature has endowed with sense, but even the houses and fields appear to me to enjoy? What is so welcome to the people as liberty, which you see is longed for and preferred to everything else not only by men but also by beasts? What is so welcome to the people as repose, which is so pleasant that both you and your ancestors and the bravest of men think that the greatest labours ought to be undertaken in order to enjoy repose some day, especially when accompagnied by authority and dignity? Surely the very reason we owe especial praise and heartiest thanks to our ancestors is because it is thanks to their labours that we are able to enjoy repose free from danger. How then can I help being on the side of the people, Romans, when I see that all these things—peace outside, liberty the characteristic of your name and race, tranquillity at home, in short, everything that is nearest and dearest to you, were entrusted to my keeping and, in a way, to the protection of my consulship? (tr. John Henry Freese)