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[139] But if it were proved that all these things had been done in a manner equal to the knowledge of Coruncanius, who is said to have been the most experienced of priests; or if that great man Marcus Horatius Pulvillus, who when many men out of envy endeavoured to hinder his dedication by false pretences about religion, resisted them, and with the greatest firmness dedicated the Capitol, had himself presided at such a dedication as this, still I say that accuracy of religious observance would not hallow a wicked act; much less can that act have any validity which an unskillful young man, a new priest, influenced by the prayers of his sister and the threats of his mother, ignorant and unwilling, without colleagues, without books, without any adviser or assistant,1 is said to have performed by stealth, with trembling heart and faltering tongue; especially when that impure and impious enemy of all religion, who in defiance of all that is right or holy had often been as a woman among men, and a man among women, completed the business in so hurried and disorderly a manner, that neither his senses, nor his voice, nor his language, had any consistency in them.

1 “The Latin word fictor, and the fictores were among the regular attendants of the priests their office appears to have been when there was a scarcity of victims or when the worshippers could not afford living animals, to make sham figures in flour and paste, or wax: they also made the cakes which were offered.”—Graevius.

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