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[68]

But now see the force of this agrarian law. Even those men who are in occupation of the public domains will not quit possession, unless they are tempted by favourable conditions and by a large sum of money. Matters are changed. Formerly when mention of an agrarian law was made by a tribune of the people, immediately every one who was in occupation of any public lands, or who had any possessions the tenure of which was in the least unpopular, began to be alarmed. But this law enriches those men with fortunes, and relieves them from unpopularity. For how many men, O Romans, do you suppose there are, who are unable to stand under the extent of their possessions, who are unable to bear the unpopularity incurred by the ownership of lands granted by Sulla? who wish to sell them, but cannot find a purchaser? who, in fact, would be glad to get rid of those lands by any means whatever? They who, a little while ago, were in constant dread, day and night, of the name of a tribune; who feared your power, dreaded every mention of an agrarian law; they now will be begged and entreated to he so good as to give up to the decemvirs those lands which are partly public property, the possession of which is full of unpopularity and danger, at their own price. And this song this tribune of the people is singing now, not to yell, but in his own heart to himself.


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