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18. [50]

In truth, O Erucius, you would have been a ridiculous accuser, if you had been born in those times when men were sent for from the plough to be made consuls. Certainly you, who think it a crime to have superintended the cultivation of a farm, would consider that Atilius, whom those who were sent to him found sowing seed with his own hand, a most base and dishonourable man. But, forsooth, our ancestors judged very differently both of him and of all other such men. And therefore from a very small and powerless state they left us one very great and very prosperous. For they diligently cultivated their own lands, they did not graspingly desire those of others; by which conduct they enlarged the republic, and this dominion, and the name of the Roman people, with lands and conquered cities, and subjected nations. [51] Nor do I bring forward these instances in order to compare them with these matters which we are now investigating; but in order that that may be understood: that, as in the times of our ancestors, the highest and most illustrious men, who ought at all times to have been sitting at the helm of the republic, yet devoted much of their attention and time to the cultivation of their lands; that man ought to be pardoned, who avows himself a rustic, for having lived constantly in the country, especially when be could do nothing which was either more pleasing to his father, or more delightful to himself, or in reality more honourable. [52] The bitter dislike of the father to the son, then, is proved by this, O Erucius, that he allowed him to remain in the country. Is there anything else? Certainly, says he, there is. For he was thinking of disinheriting him. I hear you. Now you are saying something which may have a bearing on the business, for you will grant, I think, that those other arguments are trifling and childish. He never went to any feasts with his father. Of course not, as he very seldom came to town at all. People very seldom asked him to their houses. No wonder, for a man who did not live in the city, and was not likely to ask them in return.


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