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6. [13]

Who was ever more acceptable at one time to most illustrious men? who was more intimate with the very basest? What citizen was there at times who took a better part than he did? who was there at other times a fouler enemy to this state? Who was more debased in his pleasures? who was more patient in undergoing labours? who was more covetous as regards his rapacity? who more prodigal in squandering? And besides all this, there were, O judges, these marvellous qualities in that man, that he was able to embrace many men in his friendship, to preserve their regard by attention, to share with every one what he had, to assist all his friends in their necessities with money, with influence, with his personal toil, even with his own crimes and audacity, if need were; to keep his nature under restraint and to guide it according to the requirements of the time, and to turn and twist it hither and thither; to live strictly when in company with the morose, merrily with the cheerful, seriously with the old, courteously with the young, audaciously with the criminal, and luxuriously with the profligate. [14] When—by giving full swing to this various and multiform natural disposition of his—he had collected together every wicked and audacious man from every country, so also he retained the friendship of many gallant and virtuous men, by a certain appearance of pretended virtue. Nor would that infamous attempt to destroy this empire have ever proceeded from him, if the ferocity of so many vices had not been based on the deep-rooted foundations of affability and patience.

Let that allegation then, O judges, be disregarded by you, and let not the charge of intimacy with Catiline make any impression upon you. For it is one which only applies to him in common with many other men, and even with some very good men. Even me myself—yes, even me, I say—he once almost deceived, as he seemed to me a virtuous citizen, and desirous of the regard of every good man, and a firm and trustworthy friend; so that in truth, I detected his wickedness with my eyes, before I did so by my opinion; I was aroused to the necessity of acting against him by force, before my suspicions were awakened. So that if Caelius also was one of the great number of friends whom he had to boast of, there is more reason for his being vexed at having fallen into such a mistake, just as sometimes I myself repent also of having been deceived by the same person, than for his having any reason to fear the accusation of having been a friend of his.


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