Afterwards, O conscript fathers, not because the matter was doubtful, but in order to cut off every argument from this furious man, if he chose to remain any longer in this city which he was anxious to destroy, you passed a decree that a reference should be made to the college of pontiffs as to the religious liability of my house. What obligation can there possibly be from our greatest doubts and most serious religious apprehensions, as to which we may not be relieved by the answer and dictum of Publius Servilius or Marcus Lucullus alone? In all matters concerning the public sacrifices, or the great games, or the ceremonies of the household gods, and of Vesta, the mother of the city, or even concerning that great sacrifice itself which is performed for the safety of the Roman people, and which since the first foundation of Rome has never been profaned except by the wickedness of this single holy guardian of religion, whatever three pontiffs have decided, has at all times appeared to the Roman people, and to the senate, and to the immortal gods themselves, sufficiently holy, sufficiently august, sufficiently religious. But Publius Lentulus being both consul and pontiff, and Publius Servilius, and Marcus Lucullus, and Quintus Metellus, and Marcus Glabrio, and Marcus Messala, and Lucius Lentulus, the priest of Mars, and Publius Galba, and Quintus Metellus Scipio, and Caius Fannius, and Marcus Lepidus, and Lucius Claudius, the king of the sacrifices, and Marcus Scaurus, and Marcus Crassus, and Caius Curio, and Sextus Caesar, the priest of Jupiter, and Quintus Cornelius, and Publius Albinovanus, and Quintus Terentius, the lesser1 pontiffs, having investigated the case after it had been argued before them on two separate occasions, in the presence of a great number of the noblest and wisest of the citizens, all unanimously pronounced my house free from all religious obligation.
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THE SPEECH OF M. T. CICERO RESPECTING THE ANSWERS OF THE SOOTHSAYERS. ADDRESSED TO THE SENATE.
THE SPEECH OF M. T. CICERO AGAINST PUBLIUS VATINIUS; CALLED ALSO, THE EXAMINATION OF PUBLIUS VATINIUS.
1 Originally the number of pontiffs was four, or, including the Pontifex Maximus, five. In the year B.C. 300 the Ogulnian law raised the number from four to eight; in the year B.C. 81 Sulla increased the number to fifteen, including the Pontifex Maximus; and after him Julius Caesar increased the number to sixteen. Besides these there were other pontiffs distinguished as minores, of whom three are mentioned here; the nature of whose office seems rather uncertain; but it appears probable that it was a name of late introduction, and applied to the secretaries of the pontiffs when the real pontiffs had begun to neglect their duties, and to leave the greater part of them to be performed by their secretaries. Vide Smith, Dict Ant. v. Pontifex.
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