Sections of Pro Caelio in Translation
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And, O judges, this beginning of my defence appears to me to suit most especially with the youth of Marcus Caelius so that I should reply first to those things which the accusers have advanced with the general view of disparaging him and for the sake of detracting from his honour and despoiling him of his dignity. His father was cast in his teeth on various accounts,—at one time as having been a man of no great respectability himself; at another, he was said to have been treated with but little respect by his son. On the score of dignity (dignitas) , Marcus Caelius (Caelius, the defendant’s father), to those who know him and to the older men among us, is of himself, without speaking, himself able easily to make a very sufficient reply, and without my having any occasion to make any statement for him; but as for those to whom he is not equally well known, on account of his great age, which has now for some time hindered his mixing much with us in the forum, let them think this: that whatever dignity can exist in a Roman knight,—and certainly the very greatest may be found in that body,—has always been considered, and is to this day considered, to shine out in great lustre in the case of Marcus Caelius; and moreover it is so considered, not only by his own relations and friends, but by every one to whom he can possibly be known on any account whatever.
And to be the son of a Roman knight (eques) ought neither to be attributed to any one as a crime, either by the present prosecutor, or before those men who are the judges, or while I am the counsel for the defence. For as to what you have said about his filial affection, or the want of it, that can only be a vague opinion of ours, but the decision as to the truth of it must certainly rest with his parent. What our opinion is, you shall hear from witnesses on their oath: what his parents feel to be the truth, the tears of his mother and her incredible sorrow, the mourning appearance of his father and his distress which you now behold, and his agony, sufficiently declare.
For as to the attack made upon him, that as a young man he was not well thought of by his fellow-citizens of the same municipal town, I say that the people of Puteoli never paid greater honours to any one when he was among them than they did to Marcus Caelius while he was absent; for though he was absent they elected him a member of their most honourable body; and they conferred those distinctions on him without his asking for them, which they have refused to numbers when they solicited them; and they have, moreover, now sent their most chosen men, and men of our order, and Roman knights (equites), with a deputation to attend this trial, and to bear most honourable and authoritative testimony in his favour.
I seem to myself now to have laid the foundations of my defence; and they are the firmest possible, if they rest on the judgment of his own relations and fellow-citizens. For his life could not be sufficiently recommended to you to meet with your approbation, if it displeased not only his parent, who is so excellent a man, but also so illustrious and dignified a municipality.