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IN publishing an edition of a speech of Cicero where the text bears so small a proportion to the whole work as is here the case, I feel bound to explain my reasons for producing it in such a state.
I was driven to choose between two courses, either to issue merely a text with explanatory notes, or to attempt to grapple with all the many difficulties that environ the subject. The former of these would be useless, and no middle course seemed profitable. I have therefore made the ambitious attempt to find some sound solution of all the difficulties: but I am well aware that in so doing I have undertaken an enterprise beyond my powers.
The speech is unique, and involves constitutional and legal questions of the first importance to students of Roman history, which have for the most part to be answered by painful examination of meagre and sometimes conflicting evidence. In the collection of this, and in the consultation of the lengthy and often ill-arranged treatises of modern writers on the subject, I have found the volume of matter increase upon me daily and have at last been compelled to leave off with the knowledge that some parts of my work are in a painfully crude state. And this probably applies far more widely than I am aware.
The study of this speech and of the interesting questions connected therewith will be especially useful to students concerned with the history of the iudicia publica, to understand which some knowledge of the earlier iudicia populi is required. And addressing myself as I do to elder students I have throughout assumed that nobody will read the book who has not a fair acquaintance with the outlines of Roman history and constitutional antiquities. I have therefore made free use of technical language, which is necessary if one is to discuss intricate and obscure questions within a reasonable compass.
The merits of the speech are plain to any that will consider the position of affairs at the time of its delivery. Party hatred, fostered by desperate men, was ready to break out into violence at any moment; and the impeachment and defence of Rabirius were ominous of the coming storm. I have in my notes on the speech striven to call attention to the clever audacity of the speaker, of which there are many notable instances.
In the endeavour to make my meaning clearer I have used an elaborate system of grouping, by which I hope the questions treated in the Introduction and appendices may be kept from mutually obscuring and interfering with one another. I have made a practice of giving either by way of reference or in full quotation the authorities for the statements upon which my conclusions are based. This is a very tedious business; and many a time have I wished that I could afford to say with Madvig überhaupt habe ich alles weggelassen, was nur zum Prunk der Gelehrsamkeit gehört'. But of course I could not do this, and can only hope that I have not overloaded the book with irrelevant matter.
To Mr JS Reid of Gonville and Caius College I owe and hereby render my heartiest thanks. He read the whole book through in proof and sent me most valuable notes
and suggestions, of which I have made free use. To him I owe many improvements in the notes and in the readings and orthography of the text, which I have in some instances acknowledged by name. Several portions of the Introduction have been recast or amended in accordance with his suggestions. I cannot enter into further details where the debt is so great.
The text is in the main that of Baiter and Kayser's edition (Leipsic 1862), but I have not accepted all the emendations admitted by Kayser. In all cases of importance I have given my reasons in a note.
From the numerous works consulted I select a few for particular mention
Lange, Römische Alterthümer, vol 1 ed 3 (1876), vol II ed 2 (1867), vol 111 ed 2 (1876).
Zumpt, das Criminalrecht der Römischen Republik, vol I
Rein, das Criminalrecht der Römer von Romulus bis auf
Mommsen, Römisches Staatsrecht ed 2, vol 1 (1876) vol II
Huschke, die Multa und das Sacramentum (1874), chiefly appendix II on the trial of Rabirius.
Becker [and Marquardt], Handbuch der Römischen Alter-
Madvig, die Verfassung und Verwaltung des Römischen
Clark, Early Roman Law (1872).
Wordsworth, Fragments and Specimens of Early Latin (1874).
The above are generally cited by name only in the Introduction and appendix. In the notes to the speech 'Madvig'