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28. [58]

I come now to Marcus Cato, who is the mainstay and prop of the whole prosecution; who is, however, so zealous and vehement a prosecutor, that I am much more afraid of the weight of his name, than of his accusation. And with respect to this accuser, O judges, first of all I will entreat you not to let Cato's dignity, nor your expectation of his tribuneship, nor the high reputation and virtue of his whole life, be any injury to Lucius Murena. Let not all the honours of Marcus Cato, which he has acquired in order to be able to assist many men, be an injury to my client alone. Publius Africanus had been twice consul, and had destroyed those two terrors of this empire, Carthage and Numantia, when he prosecuted Lucius Cotta. He was a man of the most splendid eloquence, of the greatest good faith, of the purest integrity; his authority was as great almost as that of the Roman people itself, in that empire which had been mainly saved by his means. I have often heard old men say that this very extraordinarily high character of the accuser was of the greatest service to Lucius Cotta. Those wise men who then were the judges in that cause, did not like any one to be defeated in a trial, if he was to appear overwhelmed only by the excessive influence of his adversary. [59] What more shall I say? Did not the Roman people deliver Sergius Galba (the fact is preserved in the recollection of every one) from your grandfather, that most intrepid and prosperous man, Marcus Cato, who was zealously seeking his ruin? At all times in this city the whole people, and also the judges, wise men, looking far into futurity, have resisted the overweening power of prosecutors. I do not like an accuser bringing his personal power, or any predominant influence, or his own eminent authority, or his own excessive popularity, into a court of justice. Let all these things have weight to ensure the safety of the innocent, to aid the weak, to succour the unfortunate. But in a case where the danger and ruin of citizens may ensue, let them be rejected. [60] For if perchance any one should say that Cato would not have come forward as an accuser if he had not previously made up his mind about the justice of the cause, he will then be laying down a most unjust law, O judges, and establishing a miserable condition for men in their danger, if he thinks that the opinion of an accuser is to have against a defendant the weight of a previous investigation legally conducted.


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