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18. [46]

As these things then are so where is the accusation, where is the prosecutor? where are the witnesses? What is more scandalous, than when a man has neither been ordered to appear, nor summoned, nor accused, for hired men, assassins, needy and profligate citizens, to give a vote touching his status as a citizen, his children and all his fortune, and then to think that vote a law? But, if he was able to do this in my case, I being a man protected by the honours which I had attained, by the justice of my cause, and by the republic; and being not so rich as to make my money an object to my enemies, and he had nothing which could be injurious to me, except the great chances which were taking place in the affairs of the state, and the critical condition of the times; what is likely to happen to those men whose way of life is removed from popular honours and from all that renown which gives influence, and whose riches are so great that too many men, needy, extravagant, and even of noble birth, covet them? [47] Grant this licence to a tribune of the people, and then for a moment contemplate in your minds the youth of the city, and especially those men who seem now to be anxiously coveting the tribunitian power. There will be found, by Jove! whole colleges of tribunes of the people, if this law is once established, and they will all conspire against the property of all the richest men, when a booty so especially popular and the hope of great acquisitions is thus held out to them.

But what vote is it that this skillful and experienced law-giver has carried? “May you be willing and may you command that Marcus Tullius be interdicted from water and fire.” A cruel vote, a nefarious vote, one not to be endured even in the case of the very wickedest citizen, without a trial. He did not propose a vote, “That he be interdicted.” What then? “That he has been interdicted.” O horrible, O prodigious, O what wickedness! Did Clodius frame this law, more infamous than even his own tongue?—that it has been interdicted to a person to whom it has not been interdicted? My good friend Sextus, by your leave, tell me now, since you are a logician and are devoted to this science, is it possible for a proposition to be made to the people, or to be established by any form of words, or to be confirmed by any votes, making that to have been done which has not been done? [48] And have you ruined the public, with the man who drew this law for your adviser, and counselor, and minister, a fellow more impure, not only than any biped, but even than any quadruped? And you were not so foolish or so mad as to be ignorant that this man who violated the laws was Clodius; but that there were other men who were accustomed to frame laws: but you had not the least power over any one of them, or over any one else who had any character to lose; nor could you employ the same framers of laws, or the same architect for your works, as the others; nor could you obtain the aid of any priest you chose. Lastly, you were not able to discover, not even when you were dividing your plunder, any purchaser, or any one to share your plunder with you, out of your own band of gladiators, nor any one to support that proscription of yours with his vote except some thief or assassin.

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