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1. When in the greatest perils of this city and empire, in the most important and terrible disasters of the republic, I was repelling slaughter from you, your wives, and your children, devastation from your temples, your altars, from the city and from Italy, with Lucius Flaccus, the companion and assistant of my counsels and my dangers, I used to hope, O judges, that I should some time or other be an assistant of Lucius Flaccus towards obtaining honour, rather than an advocate to defend him from calamity. For what reward of dignity could there be which the Roman people would deny to him, when it had always given them to his ancestors; when Lucius Flaccus had imitated the ancient glory of the Valerian family in delivering his country, nearly five hundred years after the existence of the republic? [2]

But if by chance there had existed at any time any detractor from this service, any enemy of this virtue, and envier of this renown, still I thought that Lucius Flaccus would have to encounter the judgment of an ignorant mob, (with no real danger, indeed,) rather than that of most wise and carefully chosen men. I never, indeed, imagined that any one would bring danger upon, or devise plots against, his fortunes, by means of those very men, by whose influence, and under whose protection, the safety, not only of all the citizens, but even of all nations, was at that time defended and preserved. And if it was fated ever to happen that any one should devise mischief to Lucius Flaccus, still I never thought, O judges, that Decimus Laelius, the son of a most virtuous man, himself a man of the fairest expectations and of the highest dignity, would adopt an accusation which is more suitable to the hatred and madness of wicked citizens than to his virtue and to the training of his early years. Indeed, as I had often seen well-founded enmities with citizens who had deserved well of their country, laid aside by the most illustrious men, I did not think that any friend of the republic, after the affection of Lucius Flaccus had been thoroughly tried, would take up a fresh quarrel against him without having received any injury.

[3] But since, O judges, many things have deceived us, both in our own affairs and in those of the republic, those things which must be borne, we bear. This only we ask of you,—that you will consider that the whole strength of the republic,—the whole constitution of the state,—all the memory of past, and the safety of present and the hope of future time, hangs and depends upon your power, upon your votes, upon this single trial. If ever the republic has had need to implore the wisdom, the gravity, the prudence and the foresight of her judges, she implores it now,—she implores it, I say, at this present time.


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