“But he did not countenance him by his presence at the other trial, when the rest did.” If he himself had afterwards learnt something, of which he had been ignorant when consul, still we must pardon those men who had heard nothing since that time. But if the first accusation had weight, it ought not to have had more weight when it was old than when it was fresh. But if your parent, even when he was not without suspicion of danger to himself, was still induced by pity to do honour to the defence of a most worthless man by his curule chair, by his own private dignity, and by that of his office as consul, then what reason is there for reproaching the men of consular rank who gave Catiline the countenance of their presence? “But the same men did not countenance those who were tried for their accession to this conspiracy before Sulla.” Certainly not; they resolved that no aid, no assistance, no support ought to be given by them to men implicated in such wickedness. And that I may speak for a moment of their constancy and attachment to the republic, whose silent virtue and loyalty bears witness in behalf of every one of them, and needs no ornaments of language from any one,—can any one say that any time there were men of consular rank more virtuous, more fearless, or more firm, than those who lived in these critical and perilous times, in which the republic was nearly overwhelmed? Who of them did not, with the greatest openness, and bravery, and earnestness, give his whole thoughts to the common safety? Nor need I confine what I say to the men of consular rank. For this credit is due to all those accomplished men who have been praetors, and indeed to the whole senate in common; so that it is plain that never, in the memory of man, was there more virtue in that order, greater attachment to the republic, or more consummate wisdom, But because the men of consular rank were especially mentioned, I thought I ought to say thus much in their behalf; and that that would be enough, as the recollection of all men would join me in bearing witness, that there was not one man of that rank who did not labour with all his virtue, and energy, and influence, to preserve the republic.
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THE ORATION OF M. T. CICERO IN DEFENCE OF PUBLIUS SULLA.
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