Quintus Cicero, Letter to His Brother Marcus Cicero, 64
Almost every day as you go down to the Forum you must say
to yourself, "I am a novus homo [i.e. without noble ancestry]. "I am a
candidate for the consulship." "This is Rome." For the "newness"
of your name you will best compensate by the brilliance of your oratory. This has ever
carried with it great political distinction. A man who is held worthy of defending
ex-consuls, cannot be deemed unworthy of the constitution itself. Therefore approach each
individual case with the persuasion that on it depends as a whole your entire reputation.
For you have, as few novi homines have had---all the tax-syndicate promoters,
nearly the whole equestrian ordo, and many municipal towns, especially devoted to
you, many people who have been defended by you, many trade guilds, and besides these a
large number of the rising generation, who have become attached to you in their enthusiasm
for public speaking, and who visit you daily in swarms, and with such constant regularity!
See that you retain these advantages by reminding these persons, by
appealing to them, and by using every means to make them understand that this, and this
only, is the time for those who are in your debt now, to show their gratitude, and for
those who wish for your services in the future, to place you under an obligation. It also
seems possible that a novus homo may be much aided by the fact that he has the good
wishes of men of high rank, and especially of ex-consuls. It is a point in your favor that
you should be thought worthy of this position and rank by the very men to whose position
you are wishing to attain.
All these men must be canvassed with care, agents must be sent to them,
and they must be convinced that we have always been at one with the Optimates, that
we have never been dangerous demagogues in the very least. Also take pains to get on your
side the young men of high rank, and keep the friendship of those whom you already have.
They will contribute much to your political position. Whosoever gives any sign of
inclination to you, or regularly visits your house, you must put down in the category of
friends. But yet the most advantageous thing is to be beloved and pleasant in the eyes of
those who are friends on the more regular grounds of relationship by blood or marriage,
the membership in the same club, or some close tie or other. You must take great pains
that these men should love you and desire your highest honor.
In a word, you must secure friends of every class, magistrates, consuls
and their tribunes to win you the vote of the centuries: men of wide popular influence.
Those who either have gained or hope to gain the vote of a tribe or a century, or any
other advantage, through your influence, take all pains to collect and to secure. So you
see that you will have the votes of all the centuries secured for you by the number and
variety of your friends. The first and obvious thing is that you embrace the Roman
senators and equites, and the active and popular men of all the other orders. There
are many city men of good business habits, there are many freedmen engaged in the Forum
who are popular and energetic: these men try with all your might, both personally and by
common friends, to make eager in your behalf. Seek them out, send agents to them, show
them that they are putting you under the greatest possible obligation. After that, review
the entire city, all guilds, districts, neighborhoods. If you can attach to yourself the
leading men in these, you will by their means easily keep a hold upon the multitude. When
you have done that, take care to have in your mind a chart of all Italy laid out according
to the tribes in each town, and learn it by heart, so that you may not allow any chartered
town, colony, prefecture---in a word, any spot in Italy to exist, in which you have not a
Trace out also individuals in every region, inform yourself about them,
seek them out, secure that in their own districts they shall canvas for you, and be, as it
were, candidates in your interest.
After having thus worked for the "rural vote", the centuries
of the equites too seem capable of being won over if you are careful. And you
should be strenuous in seeing as many people as possible every day of every possible class
and order, for from the mere numbers of these you can make a guess of the amount of
support you will get on the balloting. Your visitors are of three kinds: one consists of
morning callers who come to your house, a second of those who escort you to the Forum, the
third of those who attend you on your canvass. In the case of the mere morning callers,
who are less select, and according to present-day fashion, are decidedly numerous, you
must contrive to think that you value even this slight attention very highly. It often
happens that people when they visit a number of candidates, and observe the one that pays
special heed to their attentions, leave off visiting the others, and little by little
become real supporters of this man.
Secondly, to those who escort you to the Forum: since this is a much
greater attention than a mere morning call, indicate clearly that they are still more
gratifying to you; and with them, as far as it shall lie in your power, go down to the
Forum at fixed times, for the daily escort by its numbers produces a great impression and
confers great personal distinction.
The third class is that of people who continually attend you upon your
canvass. See that those who do so spontaneously understand that you regard yourself as
forever obliged by their extreme kindness; from these on the other hand. who owe you the attention for services rendered frankly demand that so far as their age and
business allow they should be constantly in attendance, and that those who are unable to
accompany you in person, should find relatives to substitute in performing this duty. I am
very anxious and think it most important that you should always be surrounded with
numbers. Besides, it confers a great reputation, and great distinction to be accompanied
by those whom you have defended and saved in the law courts. Put this demand fairly before
them---that since by your means, and without any fee---some have retained property, others
their honor, or their civil rights, or their entire fortunes---and since there will never
be any other time when they can show their gratitude, they now should reward you by this
Marcus Cicero, Letter to His Brother Quintus,
There is a fearful recrudescence of bribery. Never was
there anything like it. On the 15th of July the rate of interest rose from four to eight
per cent, owing to the compact made by Memmius with the consul Domitius. I am not
exaggerating. They offer as much as 10,000,000 sesterces for the vote of the first
century. The matter is a burning scandal. The candidates for the tribuneship have made a
mutual compact; having deposited 500,000 sesterces apiece with Cato, they agree to conduct
their canvass according to his directions, with the understanding that any one offending
against it will be condemned to forfeit by him.