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30. [62]

All these opinions that most acute man, Marcus Cato, having been induced by learned advocates of them has embraced; and that, not for the sake of arguing about them as is the case with most men, but of living by them. Do the Publicans ask for anything? “Take care that their influence has no weight.” Do any suppliants, miserable and unhappy men, come to us? “You will be a wicked and infamous man if you do anything from being influenced by mercy.” Does any one confess that he has done wrong, and beg pardon for his wrong doing? “To pardon is a crime of the deepest dye.”—“But it is a trifling offence.” “All offences are equal.” You say something. “That is a fixed and unalterable principle.” “You are influenced not by the facts, but by your opinion.” “A wise man never forms mere opinions.” “You have made a mistake in some point.” He thinks that you are abusing him.—And in accordance with these principles of his are the following assertions: “I said in the senate, that I would prosecute one of the candidates for the consulship.” “You said that when you were angry.” “A wise man never is angry.” “But you said it for some temporary purpose.” “It is the act,” says he, “of a worthless man to deceive by a lie; it is a disgraceful act to alter one's opinion; to be moved by entreaties is wickedness; to pity any one is an enormity.” [63] But our philosophers, (for I confess, O Cato, that I too, in my youth, distrusting my own abilities, sought assistance from learning,) our philosophers, I say, men of the school of Plato and Aristotle, men of soberness and moderation, say that private interest does sometimes have weight even with a wise man. They say that it does become a virtuous man to feel pity; that there are different gradations of offences, and different degrees of punishment appropriate to each; that a man with every proper regard for firmness may pardon offences; that even the wise man himself has sometimes nothing more than opinion to go upon, without absolute certainty, that he is sometimes angry, that he is sometimes influenced and pacified by entreaty that he sometimes does change an opinion which he may have expressed when it is better to do so, that he sometimes abandons his previous opinions altogether, and that all his virtues are tempered by a certain moderation

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