[Due to its full and complete treatment of the legal and political events surrounding this oration, the introduction has been reproduced from the Loeb Classical Library book of Cicero that contains these texts. This introduction is relatively new and thus still under the protection of copyright laws, its academic fair use here comes because there are no introductions in other texts that possess the quality of this one. -- Webmaster]
"The chronology both of the delivery of this speech
and of the circumstances with which it deals is doubtful.
Fonteius' father, served as legatus in the Social War, and was killed at Asculum. His son was successively triumvir (perhaps a supertindent of the Mint) and quaestor. His quaestorship fell after the Lex Valeria and before his service as legatus in Spain, which we can definitely place in 83. He afterwards served as legatus in Thrace. While Pompey was operating against Sertorius in Spain he was praetor in Gaul, for two years at least, as Pompey's army wintered in Gaul during his command. Niebuhr places Fonteius' tour of duty in Gaul in the years 75-73. It was against a charge of corrupt practices during his tenure of the governorship that Cicero defends Fonteius in his speech.
The speech was delivered some time after the enactment of the Lex Aurelia, which deprived the Senate of their monopoly of the juries, enacting that they should be empanelled equally from Senate, equites, and tribuni aerarii. Pressure of business in the courts de repetundis (and an increase of business would be natural under their new constitution) and the time occupied in collecting provincial evidence may account for the delay in the proceedings.
Fonteius was tried under the Lex Cornelia de Repetundis, which increased the penalties against the ever-growing numbers of convicted provincial governors. His prosecutor was M. Plaetorius. For some reason, the case was adjourned for a second hearing, and it was at this second hearing that this speech was delivered. An interesting feature of Cicero's treatment is his endeavor to enlist the interest of the newly-empanelled equites who had large financial districts in the province. The evidence against Fonteius was furnished chiefly by Gauls, and Cicero devotes much of his speech to impugning the credibility of their statements upon the ground of traditional Gallic inveracity. Evidence on behalf of the accused was given by citizens of Massilia and Narbo and by Romans resident in the province.
In its earlier and more mutilated parts the speech refutes an attack made by Plaetorius upon Fonteius' conduct during his questorship several years earlier. This refutation is as irrevelant to the case as the attack had been, but such irrevelancy never troubled the Roman judicial conscience. This part of the speech, difficult owing to its highly technical subject matter, is made more difficult by its fragmentary character. The main body of the speech, appealing chiefly, like the Pro Scauro, to Roman prejudice, is more straightforward, and the peroration rises to real eloquence.
-- "Introduction to 'On Behalf of Fonteius", The Orations of Marcus Tullius Cicero, trans. C. D. Yonge; George Bell & Sons, London: 1902.
|Pro M. Fonteio M. Tulli Ciceronis Oratio||Latin Text|
|The English text source is The Orations of Marcus Tullius Cicero, vol. II, trans. C.D. Yonge; George Bell & Sons; London: 1902.|