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The Second Philippic


. . . The name of peace is sweet, the thing itself is most salutary. But between peace and slavery there is a wide difference. Peace is liberty in tranquillity; slavery is the worst of all evils — to be repelled, if need be, not only by war, but even by death. But if those deliverers of ours have taken themselves away out of our sight, still they have left behind the example of their conduct. They have done what no one else has done. Brutus pursued Tarquinius,1 who was a king when it was lawful for a king to exist in Rome. Spurius Cassius,2 Spurius Mælius,3 and Marcus Manlius4 were all slain because they were suspected of aiming at regal power. These are the first men who have ever ventured to attack, sword in hand, a man who was not aiming at regal power, but actually reigning. And their action is not only of itself a glorious and godlike exploit, but it is also one put forth for our imitation; especially since by it they have acquired such glory as appears hardly to be bounded by heaven itself. . . .

Recollect then, O Marcus Antonius, that day on which you abolished the dictatorship. Set before you the joy of the Senate and people of Rome. Compare it with this infamous market held by you and by your friends; and then you will understand how great is the difference between praise and profit. But, in truth, just as some people, through some disease which has blunted the senses, have no conception of the niceness of food, so men who are lustful, avaricious, and criminal, have no taste for true glory. But if praise can not allure you to act rightly, still can not even fear turn you away from the most shameful actions? . . .

But if you are not afraid of brave men and illustrious citizens, because they are prevented from attacking you by your armed retinue, still, believe me, your own fellows will not long endure you. And what a life it is, day and night to be fearing danger from one’s own people! Unless, indeed, you have men who are bound to you by greater kindnesses than some of those men by whom he was slain were bound to Cæsar; or unless there are points in which you can be compared with him.

In that man were combined genius, method, memory, literature, prudence, deliberation, and industry. He had performed exploits in war which, though calamitous for the republic, were nevertheless mighty deeds. Having for many years aimed at being king, he had, with great labor and much personal danger, accomplished what he intended. He had conciliated the ignorant multitude by presents, by monuments, by gifts of food, and by banquets. He had bound his own party to him by rewards, and his adversaries by the appearance of clemency. Why need I say much on such a subject? He had already brought a free city, partly by fear, partly by patience, into a habit of slavery. With him I can, indeed, compare you as to your desire to reign; but in all other respects you are in no degree to be compared with him. . . .

Consider, I beg you, Marcus Antonius, do some time or other consider the republic. Think of the family of which you are born, not of the men with whom you are living. Be reconciled to the republic. However, do you decide on your conduct. As for mine, I myself will declare what that shall be. I defended the republic as a young man; I will not abandon it now that I am old. I scorned the sword of Catiline; I will not quail before yours. No, I will rather cheerfully expose my own person, if the liberty of the city can be restored by my death.

May the indignation of the Roman people at last bring forth what it has been so long laboring with. In truth, if twenty years ago in this very temple I asserted that death could not come prematurely upon a man of consular rank, with how much more truth must I now say the same of an old man? To me, indeed, O conscript fathers, death is now even desirable, after all the honors which I have gained and the deeds which I have done. I only pray for these two things: one, that dying, I may leave the Roman people free. No greater boon than this can be granted me by the immortal gods. The other, that every one may meet with a fate suitable to his deserts and conduct toward the republic.

1 Cicero, , ii, 44–46.

2 See page 129.

1 See pages 160–161.

2 Spurius Cassius, the leading statesman of the early republic, was put to death in 485 B. C. on the charge of treason to the state.

3 Mælius was a rich plebeian accused of conspiring to overthrow the republic (439 B. C.).

4 See pages 171–172.

1 Octavius, afterwards Cæsar Augustus.

2 Plutarch, Cicero, 48–49.

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Chicago: Philippics in Readings in Early European History, ed. Webster, Hutton (Boston: Ginn and Company, 1926), 200–202. Original Sources, accessed July 22, 2024,

MLA: . Philippics, Vol. ii, in Readings in Early European History, edited by Webster, Hutton, Boston, Ginn and Company, 1926, pp. 200–202. Original Sources. 22 Jul. 2024.

Harvard: , Philippics. cited in 1926, Readings in Early European History, ed. , Ginn and Company, Boston, pp.200–202. Original Sources, retrieved 22 July 2024, from