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18. [37]

But yet if an account of them must be given, two qualities were particularly missed in the praetorship, the existence of which in Murena now was of the greatest use to him in standing for the consulship: one was the expectation of a largess, which had got abroad through some rumour, and owing to the zeal and conversation of some of his competitors; the other, that those men who had been witnesses of all his liberality and virtue in the province and in the discharge of his office as lieutenant, had not yet left Rome. Fortune reserved each of these advantages for him, to aid him in his application for the consulship. For the army of Lucius Lucullus, which had come hither for his triumph, was also present at the comitia in aid of Lucius Murena, and his praetorship afforded a most splendid proof of his liberality, of which there was no mention when he was standing for the praetorship. [38] Do these things appear to you trifling supports and aids towards obtaining the consulship? Is the good-will of the soldiery a trifle? who are both intrinsically powerful through their own numbers, and also by their influence among their connections, and who in declaring a consul have great weight among the entire Roman people. Are the votes of the army a trifle? No; for it is generals, and not interpreters of words, who are elected at the consular comitia. Most influential, then, is such a speech as this—“He refreshed me when I was wounded. He gave me a share of the plunder. He was the general when we took that camp—when we fought that battle. He never imposed harder work on the soldier than he underwent himself. He was as fortunate as he is brave.” What weight do you not suppose this must have to gaining a reputation and good-will among men? Indeed, if there is a sort of superstition in the comitia, that up to this time the omen to be drawn from the vote of the prerogative 1 tribe has always proved true, what wonder is there that in such a meeting the reputation of good fortune and such discourse as this has had the greatest weight?

1 In the comitia centuriata the people voted in their centuries; the order in which the centuries voted was decided by lot, and that which gave it a vote first was called the centuria praerogativa. The question of a tribus praerogativa is a more disputed point; but on this see Smith, Dict. Ant. p. 997, v. Tribus, (Roman.)

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