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The speech in summary, or: what a Roman citizen may have heard in the forum

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6 Leave a comment on paragraph 6 0 Gnaeus Pompey.

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  • Let’s start with the cause: Mithridates and Tigranes, and the war in Asia.
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8 Leave a comment on paragraph 8 0 Guess who?

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  • Let’s run through, in order, the nature of the war; its seriousness;

9 Leave a comment on paragraph 9 0 the choice of a commander.

  • It’s a very patriotic war! Lots of glory to be had!
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  • And since Romans have ever been glory-seekers, you should damn well go glory-seeking against Mithridates, which frankly has been a rather embarrassing mess so far.
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  • I mean, two triumphs have come out of this (for Sulla and Murena), but Mithridates remained on his throne. Shocking! (Not that Sulla and Murena didn’t deserve their triumphs; both of them got called back early, after all: Sulla by domestic crisis, Murena by Sulla.)
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  • But Pompey’s sorted out Sertorius and out in the East, well… let me damn Lucullus with faint praise for a bit. Good qualities, right, but really: his luck’s so awful, isn’t it?
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  • Let me appeal to the ancestors (maiores)! They used to go to war to avenge the slightest insult against our citizens, not to mention envoys – surely we’re not going to let pass the murder of thousands of citizens by Mithridates? and the horribly torturous death of a Roman consular envoy (Manius Aquilius)?

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18 Leave a comment on paragraph 18 0 12     • What about your allies, eh? We want to protect Ariobarzanes,

19 Leave a comment on paragraph 19 0 who’s been driven into exile, and all the Greek and Asian states.

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22 Leave a comment on paragraph 22 0 13     • … but they totally would if they thought they could get away with it. Because he’s so awesome!

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24 Leave a comment on paragraph 24 0 14     • You are going to defend your allies, right, just like our ancestors did?

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27 Leave a comment on paragraph 27 0 15     • And I mean seriously screwed.

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29 Leave a comment on paragraph 29 0 16     • Genuinely and horribly so.

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31 Leave a comment on paragraph 31 0 17     • And we need to protect the interests of our citizens whose property is affected by this war.

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33 Leave a comment on paragraph 33 0 18     • Not least since our economic recovery will be problematic if they can’t e.g. bid for contracts to collect taxes. Etc.

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35 Leave a comment on paragraph 35 0 19     • And we want to avoid a collapse of credit, such as happened with the first Mithridatic war.

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37 Leave a comment on paragraph 37 0 20     • Let’s talk about the magnitude of the war now.

39 Leave a comment on paragraph 39 0 Cyzicus…

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41 Leave a comment on paragraph 41 0 21     • … and sunk the massive fleet that was heading for Italy under

42 Leave a comment on paragraph 42 0 Sertorian leadership…

44 Leave a comment on paragraph 44 0 Pontus and Cappadocia…

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47 Leave a comment on paragraph 47 0 22     • But the war is still very big!

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  • Analogy of Mithridates’ flight with that of Medea, scattering her brother’s limbs. Mithridates leaves scattered only his vast wealth, thereby escaping our soldiers.

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50 Leave a comment on paragraph 50 0 23     • … and is picked up by Tigranes of Armenia.

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56 Leave a comment on paragraph 56 0 24     • I’ll just leave it at that, shall I?

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58 Leave a comment on paragraph 58 0 25     • Result: Mithridates looks better placed than ever. And also goes home merrily and attacks our army again. I’ll pass over the disaster (it was awful).

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60 Leave a comment on paragraph 60 0 26     • And at this terrible moment, Lucullus was obliged to disband some troops and hand over others to Manius Glabrio, all because you insisted on customary practice!

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62 Leave a comment on paragraph 62 0 27     • Let’s talk about the choice of general now.

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  • Pompey is pretty much head and shoulders above everybody else in the world.
  • He possesses the four necessary qualities of a perfect general:

64 Leave a comment on paragraph 64 0 knowledge of warfare, ability, prestige, luck.

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66 Leave a comment on paragraph 66 0 28     • Wow, he does have a great knowledge of warfare! Think of all the

67 Leave a comment on paragraph 67 0 (civil) wars he’s been involved in! What a range!

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69 Leave a comment on paragraph 69 0 29     • And what amazing abilities!

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71 Leave a comment on paragraph 71 0 30     • All these countries in which he’s done battle are my witness!

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73 Leave a comment on paragraph 73 0 31     • Plus every sea.

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75 Leave a comment on paragraph 75 0 32     • Let me lament the days of yore, for… some reason involving pirates…

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77 Leave a comment on paragraph 77 0 33     • Awful pirates, they are.

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80 Leave a comment on paragraph 80 0 34     • And he did it very fast!

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83 Leave a comment on paragraph 83 0 35     • So very, very many places.

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86 Leave a comment on paragraph 86 0 36     • And he has so many other awesome qualities!

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88 Leave a comment on paragraph 88 0 37     • Truly glorious ones. He isn’t avaricious at all, unlike some people, naming no names.

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90 Leave a comment on paragraph 90 0 38     • I mean, some of our generals have been pretty destructive in touring with their armies.

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94 Leave a comment on paragraph 94 0 39     • Whereas Pompey is pretty awesome!

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96 Leave a comment on paragraph 96 0 40     • In, like, just about every way.

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98 Leave a comment on paragraph 98 0 41     • People out in the provinces are starting to think of him as a god from heaven! They begin to believe in the existence of Ye Olde Roman!

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100 Leave a comment on paragraph 100 0 42     • He’s such a wonderful person, I just can’t tell you.

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103 Leave a comment on paragraph 103 0 43     • Prestige matters too. Guess who has lots of it?

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105 Leave a comment on paragraph 105 0 44     • And I mean lots.

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108 Leave a comment on paragraph 108 0 45     • And look how just his providential presence in Asia back after that disaster at Pontus restrained Mithridates and checked Tigranes!

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110 Leave a comment on paragraph 110 0 46     • And how all Rome’s enemies surrendered to him very suddenly!

111 Leave a comment on paragraph 111 0 Even when there were closer Roman generals to whom they might have surrendered!

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113 Leave a comment on paragraph 113 0 47     • Now let’s talk about good luck.

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116 Leave a comment on paragraph 116 0 48     • Basically, Pompey has it as well. Lots of it.

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118 Leave a comment on paragraph 118 0 49     • So why would you hesitate to put Pompey in charge of the war?

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120 Leave a comment on paragraph 120 0 50     • You’d do it even if he was here (but as it is, he’s there already) and a private citizen (he isn’t)! So seriously, just give him all the other armies in the vicinity and let him get on with it.

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122 Leave a comment on paragraph 122 0 51     • Catulus and Hortensius disagree with me.

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125 Leave a comment on paragraph 125 0 52     • Hortensius says we shouldn’t give supreme command to one man

126 Leave a comment on paragraph 126 0 (although if we were going to, the right man would be Pompey).

128 Leave a comment on paragraph 128 0 law re: pirates…

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132 Leave a comment on paragraph 132 0 53     • … well, Pompey got the pirate command, thanks to the Roman

133 Leave a comment on paragraph 133 0 people. They didn’t agree with Hortensius then, quite rightly too.

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135 Leave a comment on paragraph 135 0 54     • Those pirates were very mean people!

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137 Leave a comment on paragraph 137 0 55     • Very, very mean!

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139 Leave a comment on paragraph 139 0 56     • So the Roman people ignored Hortensius’ well-intentioned advice and gave supreme command against the pirates to Pompey, with the result that those very mean pirates were sorted out within the year.

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141 Leave a comment on paragraph 141 0 57     • The opposition to Gabinius (who proposed this law) serving as legate to Pompey as per Pompey’s request is therefore terribly ungracious.

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143 Leave a comment on paragraph 143 0 58     • There are other precedents that back me up!

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146 Leave a comment on paragraph 146 0 59     • About Catulus – wasn’t that amusing, when he said ‘Who will you put in command if something happens to Supreme Commander Pompey?’ and you all said ‘You!’

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  • I mean, he is a pretty decent guy really, but I have to disagree with him here. Human life is very uncertain – that just means we should take advantage of the abilities of a great man while he’s around for everyone else to exploit.

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149 Leave a comment on paragraph 149 0 60     • Okay, so some people say we should just go along with what the maiores always did; but I shall ostentatiously refrain from pointing out a long list of precedents in which the maiores totally put all their trust in the hands of one man and thereby won the day.

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151 Leave a comment on paragraph 151 0 61     • Think how many such precedents for Pompey himself have already been approved by Catulus among others!

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154 Leave a comment on paragraph 154 0 62     • Seriously, his early career was very novel. As L. Philippus is said to have remarked, non se illum sua sententia pro consule sed pro consulibus mittere (‘I give my vote to send him not in place of a consul but in place of both consuls!’). That’s really helpful!

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156 Leave a comment on paragraph 156 0 63     • So let everyone who agreed to those novelties understand that it would be terribly unjust for them not to agree now that the people want him to have full command, just as they did re: pirates.

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160 Leave a comment on paragraph 160 0 64     • Since you made a perfectly sensible decision when you gave

161 Leave a comment on paragraph 161 0 Pompey command against the pirates, you’re obviously making a perfectly sensible one now.

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164 Leave a comment on paragraph 164 0 65     • We are very, very unpopular abroad right now, thanks to the bad behaviour of our governors.

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166 Leave a comment on paragraph 166 0 66     • As Catulus and Hortensius know.

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169 Leave a comment on paragraph 169 0 67     • As Pompey is! How convenient.

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172 Leave a comment on paragraph 172 0 68     • So let’s not hesitate to give him full command.

174 Leave a comment on paragraph 174 0 Gaius Curio? What about Gnaeus Lentulus? And Gaius Cassius!

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176 Leave a comment on paragraph 176 0 69    • I therefore applaud and commend Gaius Manilius’s law. It’s a very good one. I’m behind you all the way.

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178 Leave a comment on paragraph 178 0 70     • I call on the gods to witness that I’m acting in the interests of the state and definitely not e.g. in the hopes of winning Pompey’s favour. Oh no. Definitely not!

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180 Leave a comment on paragraph 180 0 71     • That’s because it’s my duty to place your wishes, the honour of the state and the well-being of the provinces and allies above my own advantages and interests.

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