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1. [2] It is in accordance with the customs and established usages of our ancestors, O Romans, that those who, by your kindness, have overtaken the images of their family,1 should, the first time that they hold an assembly of the people, take an opportunity of uniting thanks to you for your kindness with a panegyric on their ancestors, and in the speech then made, some men are, on some occasions, found worthy of the rank of their ancestors. But most men only accomplish this,—namely, to make it seem that so vast a debt is due to their ancestors, that there is something still left to be paid to their posterity. [3] I, indeed, have no opportunity of speaking before you of my ancestors, not because they were not such men as you see me also to be, who am born of their blood, and educated in their principles, but because they had never any share of popular praise, or of the light of honours conferred by you. And of myself I fear lest it may look like arrogance to speak, and yet like ingratitude to be silent. [2] For it is a very troublesome thing for me myself to enumerate to you the pursuits by which I have earned this dignity; and, on the other hand, I cannot possibly be silent about your great kindnesses to me. Wherefore I will employ a reasonable moderation in speaking, so as to mention the kindness which I have received from you. I will speak slightly of the reasons why I am thought to have deserved the greatest honour you can confer, and your singularly favourable judgment of me.

[3] After a very long interval, almost beyond the memory of our times, you have for the first time made me, a new man, consul; and you have opened that rank which the nobles have held strengthened by guards, and fenced round in every possible manner, in my instance first, and have resolved that it should in future be open to virtue. Nor have you only made me consul, though that is of itself a most honourable thing, but you have made me so in such a way as very few nobles in this city have ever been made consuls before in, and no new man whatever before me.

1 “Those Romans who had passed through one of the high offices of aediles, praetor, or consul were allowed to have their likenesses handed down to posterity. These likenesses were, according to Casaubon, busts; but according to Schweighauser, masks; they were kept in the hall of the house, in niches appropriated for their reception, and were brought forth on occasions of funerals, together with their robes of office, to impersonate the dead. Whoever had such images in his possession was nobilis.”—Riddle, Lat. Dict. v. Imago.

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