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[33] What was there in that enactment which was passed concerning Pompeius by Gellius and Lentulus in their consulship in which any exception appears to have been made of treaties which had been ratified by an oath? For first of all, nothing can be ratified in such a manner except what the burgesses or the common people have so ratified. In the second place, such ratifications are to be accounted sacred, either because of the form of ratification itself, or because the invocation of the gods and dedication of the law,
* * * or else, because of some punishment to which the life of that man is devoted who acts in contravention of it. What argument, then, of this sort can you allege with respect to our treaty with the city of Gades?1 Do you assert that that treaty was solemnly ratified by the devotion of the life of any offender against it, or by any invocation of the gods to uphold the law? I assert that nothing was ever submitted to the burgesses or to the common people with respect to that treaty [I assert that no law was enacted, and no punishment appointed.]

When, therefore even if it had been enacted that we were not to receive any man as a citizen, still that would have been ratified which the people enacted subsequently, nor would any exception have appeared to have been made by that expression, “If anything had been formally ratified by an oath,” do you venture to say that anything is formally ratified in this way, with respect to which the Roman people has never come to any decision at all?

1 There is a good deal of corruption and conjecture in the text here and whatever reading may be adopted, the sense is far from plain.

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