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29. [79]

Now, Erucius, I come to you. You must inevitably agree with me, if he is really implicated in this crime, that he either committed it with his own hand, which you deny, or by means of some other men, either freemen or slaves. Were they freemen? You can neither show that he had any opportunity of meeting them, nor by what means he could persuade them, nor where he saw them, nor by what agency he trafficked with them, nor by what hope, or what bribe he persuaded them. I show, on the other hand, not only that Sextus Roscius did nothing of all this, but that he was not even able to do anything, because he had neither been at Rome for many years, nor did he ever leave his farm without some object. The name of slaves appeared to remain to you, to which, when driven from your other suspicions, you might fly as to a harbour, when you strike upon such a rock that you not only see the accusation rebound back from it, but perceive that every suspicion falls upon you yourselves. [80] What is it, then? Whither has the accuser betaken himself in his dearth of arguments? The time, says he, was such that men were constantly being killed with impunity; so that you, from the great number of assassins, could effect this without any trouble. Meantime you seem to me, O Erucius, to be wishing to obtain two articles for one payment; to blacken our characters in this trial, and to accuse those very men from whom you have received payment. What do you say? Men were constantly being killed? By whose agency? and by whom? Do you not perceive that you have been brought here by brokers? What next? Are we ignorant that in these times the same men were brokers of men's lives as well as of their possessions? [81] Shall those men then, who at that time used to run about armed night and day, who spent all their time in rapine and murder, object to Sextus Roscius the bitterness and iniquity of that time? and will they think that troops of assassins, among whom they themselves were leaders and chiefs, can be made a ground of accusation against him? who not only was not at Rome, but who was utterly ignorant of everything that was being done at Rome, because he was continually in the country, as you yourself admit. [82] I fear that I may be wearisome to you, O judges, or that I may seem to distrust your capacity, if I dwell longer on matters which are so evident. The whole accusation of Erucius, as I think, is at an end; unless perhaps you expect me to refute the charges which he has brought against us of peculation and of other imaginary crimes of that sort; charges unheard of by us before this time, and quite novel; which he appeared to me to be spouting out of some other speech which he was composing against some other criminal; so wholly were they unconnected with either the crime of parricide, or the man who is now on his trial. But as he accuses us of these things with his bare word, it is sufficient to deny them with our bare word. If there is any point which he is keeping back to prove by witnesses, there also, as in this cause, he shall find us more ready than he expected.


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