"To Whose Profit?"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: On very few occasions was Cicero a prosecutor. Usually he was a defense lawyer, which role he declared the more honorable. The gangster Titus Annius Papinianus (95–47 B.C.) got the nickname "Milo" from the athlete Milo of Crotona. He entered politics and by tough tactics won his offices. While tribune of the people, in 57 B.C., Milo obtained the recall of Cicero from an exile that had grown out of his prosecution of Catiline's group of conspirators. In the anarchy in Rome that followed the clash between Pompey and Caesar, Milo's political gang fought with that of a political rival, Clodius, on the Appian Way, and Milo killed his enemy. Brought to trial, he asked Cicero, in return for previous favors, to defend him. According to Roman criminal practices, five days were devoted to the trial. One day was given to the torture of the slave witnesses, and three more to hear their testimony. On the final day, the prosecutor had two hours to present his case, followed by three hours for the speech of the defense. At the beginning of the trial, eighty-one judges of peers were selected, reduced on the final day to the jury of fifty-one, who voted on the verdict. There is one account that Pompey, who had been appointed sole consul of Rome, so intimidated Cicero that he did not appear in person to make his speech. At any rate, Milo was found guilty by a vote of thirty-eight to thirteen, and was sent into exile. Cicero's speech of defense, later published, is a skillful blending of proof, paradox, and pathos. At the beginning, he asserts that Clodius plotted against Milo. The test question is attributed to Cassius. (Not the "lean and hungry" conspirator against Caesar, but a much earlier consul who asked Cui bono fuerit, variously translated as, "Who stood to gain?" "For whose gain," or "To whose profit?" when seeking the perpetrator of a crime.) Today the expression is frequently misapplied. Having previously asserted that Clodius plotted against Milo, who was a candidate for the consulship, Cicero questions how the removal of a rival would profit him.

How then can I prove to your satisfaction that it was Clodius who laid a plot against Milo? Dealing as we are with a monster of such reckless impiety, it is enough to demonstrate that he had a great inducement to kill Milo, and great expectations and great advantages held out to him in the event of his death. Accordingly let Cassius' famous test, "To whose profit," be applied to the characters before us; only let us remember that no self interest will ever drive a good man to crime, while the bad man is often impelled thereto by one that is but trivial. . . .