|“Utinam, Quirites, virorum fortium, atque innocentium copiam tantam haberetis, ut hæc vobis deliberatio difficilis esset, quemnam potissimum tantis rebus ac tanto bello præficiendum putaretis! Nunc vero cum sit unus Cn. Pompeius, qui non modo eorum hominum, qui nunc sunt, gloriam, sed etiam antiquitatis memoriam virtute superarit; quæ res est, quæ cujusquam animum in hac causa dubium facere posset? Ego enim sic existimo, in summo imperatore quatuor has res inesse oportere, scientiam rei militaris, virtutem, auctoritatem, felicitatem. Quis igitur hoc homine scientior umquam aut fuit, aut esse debuit? qui e ludo, atque pueritiæ disciplina, bello maximo atque acerrimis hostibus, ad patris exercitum atque in militiæ disciplinam profectus est? qui extrema pueritia miles fuit summi imperatoris? ineunte adolescentia maximi ipse exercitus imperator? qui sæpius cum hoste conflixit, quam quisquam cum inimico concertavit? plura bella gessit, quam cæteri legerunt? plures provincias confecit, quam alii concupiverunt? cujus adolescentia ad scientiam rei militaris non alienis præceptis, sed suis imperiis; non offensionibus belli, sed victoriis; non stipendiis, sed triumphis est erudita? Quod denique genus belli esse potest, in quo illum non exercuerit fortuna reipublicæ? Civile; Africanum; Transalpinum; Hispaniense; mistum ex civitatibus atque ex bellicosissimis nationibus servile; navale bellum, varia et diversa genera, et bellorum et hostium, non solum gesta ab hoc uno, sed etiam confecta, nullam rem esse declarant, in usu militari positam, quæ hojus viri scientiam fugere posset.||“I could wish, Quirites, that there was open to you so large a choice of men capable at the same time, and honest, that you might find a difficulty in deciding who might best be selected for command in a war so momentous as this. But now when Pompey alone has surpassed in achievements not only those who live, but all of whom we have read in history, what is there to make any one hesitate in the matter? In my opinion there are four qualities to be desired in a general — military knowledge, valor, authority, and fortune. But whoever was or was ever wanted to be more skilled than this man, who, taken fresh from school and from the lessons of his boyhood, was subjected to the discipline of his father’s army during one of our severest wars, when our enemies were strong against us? In his earliest youth he served under our greatest general. As years went on he was himself in command over a large army. He has been more frequent in fighting than others in quarrelling. Few have read of so many battles as he has fought. He has conquered more provinces than others have desired to pillage. He learned the art of war not from written precepts, but by his own practice; not from reverses, but from victories. He does not count his campaigns, but the triumphs which he has won. What nature of warfare is there in which the Republic has not used his services? Think of our Civil war1— of our African war2— of our war on the other side of the Alps3— of our Spanish wars4— of our Servile war5— which was carried on by the energies of so many mighty people — and this Maritime war.6 How many enemies had we, how various were our contests! They were all not only carried through by this one man, but brought to an end so gloriously as to show that there is nothing in the practice of warfare which has escaped his knowledge.|
|“Quare cum et bellum ita necessarium sit, ut negligi non possit; ita magnum, ut accuratissime sit administrandum; et cum ei imperatorem præficere possitis, in quo sit eximia belli scientia, singularis virtus, clarissima auctoritas, egregia fortuna; dubitabitis, Quirites, quin hoc tantum boni, quod vobis a diis immortalibus oblatum et datum est, in rempublicam conservandam atque amplificandam conferatis?”||“Seeing, therefore, that this war cannot be neglected; that its importance demands the utmost care in its administration; that it requires a general in whom should be found sure military science, manifest valor, conspicuous authority, and preeminent good fortune — do you doubt, Quirites, but that you should use the great blessing which the gods have given you for the preservation and glory of the Republic?”|
On reading, however, the piece over again, I almost doubt whether there be any passages in it which should be selected as superior to others.
1 “Civile;” when Sulla, with Pompey under him, was fighting with young Marius and Cinna.
2 “Africanum;” when he had fought with Domitius, the son-in-law of Cinna, and with Hiarbas.
3 “Transalpinum;” during his march through Gaul into Spain.
4 “Hispaniense;” in which he conquered Sertorius.
5 “Servile;” the war with Spartacus, with the slaves and gladiators.
6 “Navale Bellum;” the war with the pirates.
Last updated Monday, December 22, 2014 at 10:55