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35. [73]

*** that the prefect of the carpenters 1 once gave a place to the men of his own tribe. What will they decide with respect to the eminent men who have erected regular stalls in the circus for the sake of their own tribesmen? All these charges of escort of spectacles of dinners, are brought forward by the multitude, O Servius, as proofs of your over-scrupulous diligence but still as to those counts of the indictment Murena is defended by the authority of the senate. And why not? Does the senate think it a crime to go to meet a man? No but it does, if it be done for a bribe. Prove that it was so. Does the senate think it a crime for many men to follow him? No, but it does, if they were hired. Prove it. Or to give a man a place to see the spectacles? or to ask a man to dinner? Not by any means; but to give every one a seat to ask everyone one meets to dinner. “What is every one?” Why, the whole body of citizens. It then, Lucius Natta, a young man of the highest rank, as to whom we see already of what sort of disposition he is, and what sort of man he is likely to turn out wished to be popular among the centuries of the knights, both because of his natural connection with them, and because of his intentions as to the future, that will not be a crime in, or matter of accusation against his stepfather; nor, if a vestal virgin, my client's near relation, gave up her place to see the spectacle in his favour, was that any other than a pious action nor is he liable to any charge on that ground. All these are the kind offices of intimate friends the services done to the poorer classes, the regular privileges of candidates. [74]

But I must change my tone for Cato argues with me on rigid and stoic principles. He says that it is not true that good-will is conciliated by food. He says that men's judgments, in the important business of electing to magistracies, ought not to be corrupted by pleasures. Therefore, if any one, to promote his canvass, invites another to supper, he must be condemned. “Shall you,” says he, “seek to obtain supreme power, supreme authority, and the helm of the republic, by encouraging men's sensual appetites, by soothing their minds, by tendering luxuries to them? Are you asking employment as a pimp from a band of luxurious youths, or the sovereignty of the world from the Roman people?” An extraordinary sort of speech! but our usages, our way of living, our manners, and the constitution itself rejects it. For the Lacedaemonians, the original authors of that way of living and of that sort of language, men who lie at their daily meals on hard oak benches, and the Cretans, of whom no one ever lies down to eat at all, have neither of them preserved their political constitutions or their power better than the Romans, who set apart times for pleasure as well as times for labour; for one of those nations was destroyed by a single invasion of our army, the other only preserves its discipline and its laws by means of the protection afforded to it by our supremacy.

1 Besides the classes into which the centuries were divided and the four supernumerary centuries of accensi, velati, proletarii, and capite censi, there were three centuries classed according to their occupation. The fabri, or carpenters, who were attached to the centuries of the first class; the cornicines, or hornblowers, and liticines, or trumpeters, who were reckoned with the fourth class.

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