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48.

In truth, they who are inclined to find fault with this complain that Chrysogonus has so much influence; they who praise it, declare that he has not so much allowed him. And now it is impossible for any one to be either so foolish or so worthless as to say: “I wish it were allowed me, I would have said...” You may say... “I would have done...” You may do... No one hinders you. “I would have decreed...” “Decree, only decree rightly, every one will approve.” “I should have judged...” All will praise you if you judge rightly and properly. [139] While it was necessary and while the ease made it inevitable, one man had all the power, and after he created magistrates and established laws, his own proper office and authority was restored to every one. And if those who recovered it wish to retain it, they will be able to retain it for ever. But if they either participate in or approve of these acts of murder and rapine, these enormous and prodigal expenses—I do not wish to say anything too severe against them; not even as an omen; but this one thing I do say; unless those nobles of ours are vigilant, and virtuous, and brave, and merciful, they must abandon their honours to those men in whom these qualities do exist. [140] Let them, therefore, cease at least to say that a man speaks badly, if he speaks truly and with freedom; let them cease to make common cause with Chrysogonus; let them cease to think, if he be injured, that any injury has been done to them; let them see how shameful and miserable a thing it is that they, who could not tolerate the splendour of the knights, should be able to endure the domination of a most worthless slave—a domination, which, O judges, was formerly exerted in other matters, but now you see what a road it is making for itself, what a course it is aiming at, against your good faith, against your oaths, against your decisions, against almost the only thing which remains uncorrupted and holy in the state. [141] Does Chrysogonus think that in this particular too he has some influence? Does her even wish to be powerful in this? O miserable and bitter circumstance! Nor, in truth, am I indignant at this, because I am afraid that he may have some influence; but I complain of the mere fact of his having dared this, of his having hoped that with such men as these he could have any influence to the injury of an innocent man.


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