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1. Many things, O priests, have been devised and established with divine wisdom by our ancestors; but no action of theirs was ever more wise than their determination that the same men should superintend both what relates to the religious worship due to the immortal gods, and also what concerns the highest interests of the state, so that they might preserve the republic as the most honourable and eminent of the citizens, by governing it well, and as priests by wisely interpreting the requirements of religion. But if there has ever been a time when an important cause has depended on the decision and power of the priests of the Roman people, this indeed is that cause; being such that the dignity of the whole republic, the safety of all the citizens, their lives, their liberties, their altars, their hearths, their household gods, their properties and condition as citizens, and their homes, all appear to be committed and entrusted to your wisdom integrity, and power. [2] You have got to decide this day whether you prefer for the future to deprive frantic and profligate magistrates of the protection of wicked and unprincipled citizens, or even to arm them with the cloak of religion and of the respect due to the immortal gods. For if that pest and conflagration of the republic succeeds in defending his own mischievous and fatal tribunate by appeals to divine religion, when he cannot maintain it by any considerations of human equity, then we must seek for other ceremonies, for other ministers of the immortal gods, for other interpreters of the requirements of religion. But if those things which were done by the madness of wicked men in the republic at a time when it was oppressed by one party, deserted by another, and betrayed by a third, are annulled by your authority and your wisdom, O priests, then we shall have cause rightly and deservedly to praise the wisdom of our ancestors in selecting the most honourable men of the state for the priesthood.

[3] But since that madman has thought that he should find a ready road to your attention by blaming the sentiments that I in the last few days have expressed in the senate concerning the republic, I will deviate from the natural arrangement of my speech, and I will make a reply to what I will not call the speech of that furious fellow, (for that is more than he is capable of,) but to his abuse, that being an employment which he has fortified himself in the practice of by his own intolerable bad temper, and by the length of time that he has been allowed to indulge it with impunity.


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