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36. [75]

Do not, then, O Cato, blame with too great severity of language the principles of our ancestors, which facts, and the length of time that our power has flourished under them, justify. There was, in the time of our ancestors, a learned man of the same sect an honourable citizen, and one of high rank, Quintus Tubero. He, when Quintus Maximus was giving a feast to the Roman people, in the name of his uncle Africanus, was asked by Maximus to prepare a couch for the banquet as Tubero was a son of the sister of the same Africanus. And he, a most learned man and a Stoic, covered for that occasion some couches made in the Carthaginian fashion, with skins of kids, and exhibited some Samian 1 vessels, as if Diogenes the Cynic had been dead, and not as if he were paying respect to the obsequies of that godlike Africanus; a man with respect to whom Maximus, when he was pronouncing his funeral panegyric on the day of his death, expressed his gratitude to the immortal gods for having caused that man to be born in this republic above all others, for that it was quite inevitable that the sovereignty of the world must belong to that state of which be was a citizen. At the celebration of the obsequies of such a man the Roman people was very indignant at the perverse wisdom of Tubero, [76] and therefore he, a most upright man, a most virtuous citizen, though he was the grandson of Lucius Paullus, the sister's son, as I have said before, of Publius Africanus, lost the praetorship by his kid skins.

The Roman people disapproves of private luxury, but admires public magnificence. It does not love profuse banquets, still less does it love sordid and uncivilized behaviour. It makes a proper distinction between different duties and different seasons; and allows of vicissitudes of labour and pleasure. For as to what you say, that it is not right for men's minds to be influenced, in appointing magistrates, by any other consideration than that of the worth of the candidates, this principle even you yourself—you, a man of the greatest worth—do not in every case adhere to. For why do you ark any one to take pains for you, to assist you? You ask me to make you governor over myself to entrust myself to you. What is the meaning of this? Ought I to be asked this by you, or should not you rather be asked by me to undertake labour and danger for the sake of my safety? [77] Nay more, why is it that you have a nomenclator 2 with you? for in so doing, you are practicing a trick and a deceit. For if it be an honourable thing for your fellow-citizens to be addressed by name by you, it is a shameful thing for them to be better known to your servant than to yourself. If though you know them yourself it seems better to use a prompter, why do you sometimes address them before he has whispered their names in your ear? Why, again, when he has reminded you of them, do you salute them as if you knew them yourself? And why, after you are once elected, are you more careless about saluting them at all? If you regulate all these things by the usages of the city, it is all right; but if you choose to weigh them by the precepts of your sect they will be found to be entirely wrong. Those enjoyments, then, of games, and gladiators, and banquets, all which things our ancestors desired, are not to be taken away from the Roman people, nor ought candidates to be forbidden the exercise of that kindness which is liberality rather than bribery.

1 Samian vessels were made of an inferior earthenware; Carthaginian couches were very low and narrow.

2 The nomenclator was a slave who accompanied the candidate in going his rounds, and told him the name of every one he met, so that he might be able to accost them as if they were personally known to himself.

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