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53.

[153] And if you also undertake that cause; if you offer your aid in that business; if you sit there in order that the children of those men whose goods have been sold may be brought before you; beware, in God's name, O judges, lest a new and much more cruel proscription shall seem to have been commenced by you. Though the former one was directed against those who could take arms, yet the Senate would not adopt it lest anything should appear to be done by the public authority more severe than had been established by the usages of our ancestors. And unless you by your sentence reject and spurn from yourselves this one which concerns their children and the cradles of their infant babes, consider, in God's name, O judges, to what a state you think the republic will arrive. [154]

It behoves wise men, and men endowed with the authority and power with which you are endowed, to remedy especially those evils by which the republic is especially injured. There is not one of you who does not understand that the Roman people, who used formerly to be thought extremely merciful towards its enemies, is at present suffering from cruelty exercised towards its fellow-citizens. Remove this disease out of the state, O judges! Do not allow it to remain any longer in the republic; having not only this evil in itself, that it has destroyed so many citizens in a most atrocious manner, but that through habituating them to sights of distress, it has even taken away clemency from the hearts of most merciful men. For when every hour we see or hear of something very cruel being done, even we who are by nature most merciful, through the constant repetition of miseries, lose from our minds every feeling of humanity.


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load focus Notes (J. B. Greenough, G. L. Kittredge)
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