Thursday, April 14, 2011


Clodius' Death as Punishment for Arboricide

In 52 B.C. Milo was charged with murdering Clodius and with other crimes. Cicero, in his speech In Defence of Milo, among other arguments, claimed that Clodius' murder was justified, that it actually benefited the state, and that in committing the murder Milo was merely the human agent of divine vengeance. Clodius' offenses against the gods included cutting down sacred groves to make room for his Alban villa (85, tr. C.D. Yonge):
That result was brought about, O judges, not by human wisdom, nor even by any moderate degree of care on the part of the immortal gods. In truth, those very holy places themselves which beheld that monster fall, appear to have been moved themselves, and to have asserted their rights over him.

I implore you, I call you to witness—you, I say, O you Alban hills and groves, and you, O you altars of the Albans, now overthrown, but nevertheless partners of and equals in honour with the sacred rites of the Roman people,—you, whom that man with headlong insanity, having cut down and destroyed the most holy groves, had overwhelmed with his insane masses of buildings; it was your power then that prevailed, it was the divinity of your altars, the religious reverence due to you, and which he had profaned by every sort of wickedness, that prevailed; and you, too, O sacred Jupiter of Latium, whose lakes and groves and boundaries he had constantly polluted with every sort of abominable wickedness and debauchery, you at last from your high and holy mountain, opened your eyes for the purpose of punishing him; it is to you, to all of you, that those punishments, late indeed, but still just and well deserved, have been made an atonement for his wickedness.
Cicero's Latin:
non est humano consilio, ne mediocri quidem, iudices, deorum immortalium cura res illa perfecta. regiones mehercule ipsae, quae illam beluam cadere viderunt, commosse se videntur et ius in illo suum retinuisse.

vos enim iam, Albani tumuli atque luci, vos, inquam, imploro atque testor, vosque, Albanorum obrutae arae, sacrorum populi Romani sociae et aequales, quas ille praeceps amentia caesis prostratisque sanctissimis lucis substructionum insanis molibus oppresserat; vestrae tum religiones viguerunt, vestra vis valuit, quam ille omni scelere polluerat; tuque ex tuo edito monte Latiari, sancte Iuppiter, cuius ille lacus, nemora finesque saepe omni nefario stupro et scelere macularat, aliquando ad eum puniendum oculos aperuisti; vobis illae, vobis vestro in conspectu serae, sed iustae tamen et debitae poenae solutae sunt.


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