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38. [109]

Capito came as a deputy to the camp, as one of the ten chief men of Ameria. Learn from his behaviour on this deputation the whole life and nature and manners of the man. Unless you are of opinion, O judges, that there is no duty and no right so holy and solemn that his wickedness and perfidy has not tampered with and violated it, then judge him to be a very excellent man. [110] He is the hindrance to Sulla's being informed of this affair; he betrays the plans and intentions of the other deputies to Chrysogonus; he gives him warning to take care that the affair be not conducted openly; he points out to him, that if the sale of the property be prevented, he will lose a large sum of money, and that he himself will be in danger of his life. He proceeds to spur him on, to deceive those who were joined in the commission with him; to warn him continually to take care; to hold out treacherously false hopes to the others; in concert with him to devise plans against them, to betray their counsels to him; with him to bargain for his share in the plunder, and, relying constantly on some delay or other, to cut off from his colleagues all access to Sulla. Lastly, owing to his being the prompter, the adviser, the go-between, the deputies did not see Sulla; deceived by his faith, or rather by his perfidy, as you may know from themselves, if the accuser is willing to produce them 1 as witnesses, they brought back home with a false hope instead of a reality. [111] In private affairs if any one had managed a business entrusted to him, I will not say maliciously for the sake of his own gain and advantage, but even carelessly, our ancestors thought that he had incurred the greatest disgrace. Therefore, legal proceedings for betrayal of a commission are established, involving penalties no less disgraceful than those for theft. I suppose because, in cases where we ourselves cannot be present, the vicarious faith of friends is substituted; and he who impairs that confidence, attacks the common bulwark of all men, and as far as depends on him, disturbs the bonds of society. For we cannot do everything ourselves; different people are more capable in different matters. On that account friendships are formed, that the common advantage of all may be secured by mutual good offices. [112] Why do you undertake a commission, if you are either going to neglect it or to turn it to your own advantage? Why do you offer yourself to me, and by feigned service hinder and prevent my advantage? Get out of the way, I will do my business by means of some one else. You undertake the burden of a duty which you think you are able to support; a duty which does not appear very heavy to those who are not very worthless themselves.


1 In a question of fact the accuser alone was permitted to submit witnesses; the defendant could not do so.

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