Obmutuit

the-death-of-cicero

Oraque magnanimum spirantia paene virorum
in rostris iacuere suis, sed enim abstulit omnis,
tamquam sola foret, rapti Ciceronis imago.
tunc redeunt animis ingentia consulis acta
iurataeque manus deprensaque foedera noxae
patriciumque nefas exstinctum; poena Cethegi
deiectusque redit votis Catilina nefandis.
quid favor aut coetus, pleni quid honoribus anni
profuerant, sacris exculta quid artibus aetas?
abstulit una dies aevi decus, ictaque luctu
conticuit Latiae tristis facundia linguae.
unica sollicitis quondam tutela salusque,
egregium semper patriae caput, ille senatus
vindex, ille fori, legum ritusque togaeque
publica vox saevis aeternum obmutuit armis.
informes vultus sparsamque cruore nefando
canitiem sacrasque manus operumque ministras
tantorum pedibus civis proiecta superbis
proculcavit ovans nec lubrica fata deosque
respexit. nullo luet hoc Antonius aevo.
hoc nec in Emathio mitis victoria Perse
nec te, dire Syphax, non fecit in hoste Philippo,
inque triumphato ludibria cuncta Iugurtha
afuerunt, nostraeque cadens ferus Hannibal irae
membra tamen Stygias tulit inviolata sub umbras.
(Cornelius Severus, fr. 13)

The heads of great-hearted men, still almost breathing, lay on the rostra which had been theirs, but the sight of ravaged Cicero, as if he were the only one, drew away the attention of all. Then the mighty deeds which he performed as consul come back to their minds: the bands of conspirators, the detection of criminal compacts and the blotting out of aristocratic wickedness; they remember too Cethegus’ punishment and Catiline cast down from his abominable ambitions. What good had the people’s support and his public meetings done to him, or the sacred arts with which he adorned his life? A single day snatched away the glory of the age, and, struck by grief, the eloquence of the Latin tongue sadly fell silent. He who was previously the supreme protector and saviour of the distressed, always the outstanding head of his country, he the champion of the Senate, the public mouthpiece of the laws, religion, and civil life, for ever grew dumb through cruel arms. A fellow citizen cast down and joyfully trampled with arrogant feet the disfigured face, the white hair foully spattered with blood, those sacred hands which had helped to produce such great works, taking no thought for the slippery fates or the gods. No amount of time will suffice for Antony to expiate this deed. Our gentle victory did not behave thus in the case of Macedonian Perseus or in yours, dread Syphax, nor in dealing with our enemy Philip; when we triumphed over Jugurtha no humiliation occurred, and when cruel Hannibal succumbed to our wrath, nonetheless he took down his limbs unmutilated to the Stygian shades. (tr. Adrian S. Hollis)

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