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19. [49]

Therefore, when you, flourishing and powerful, were triumphing in the middle of your mob, those friends of yours, safe and happy in having you for their only friend, who had entrusted their fate to the people, were repelled1 in such a way that they lost the support of even that Palatine2 tribe of yours. They who came before a court of justice, whether as prosecutors or as defendants, were condemned, though you endeavoured to beg them off. Lastly, even that new recruit, Ligur, your venal backer and seconder, when he had been disgraced by being passed over in the will of Marcus Papirius his brother, who expressed his opinion of him by that action, said that he desired to have a legal investigation into the circumstances of his death, and accused Sextus Propertius as accessory to it. He did not venture to accuse his partners of a crime in which they had no concern, and to endeavour to procure their condemnation, lest he himself should have been convicted of bringing false accusations. [50]

We are speaking, then, of this law which appears to have been legally brought forward, while yet every one that has had anything to do with any part of it, either by hand, voice, vote, or by sharing in the plunder, wherever he has been, has come off rejected and convicted.

What shall we say if the proscription is framed in such terms that it repels itself? For it is, “Because Marcus Tullius has forged a decree of the senate.” If, then, he did forge a decree of the senate, the law was proposed; but if he did not forge one, no proposition has been made at all. Does it or does it not appear sufficiently decided by the senate that I did not falsely allege the authority of that order, but that I, of all the men that have ever lived since the foundation of the city, have been the most diligent in my obedience to the senate? In how many ways do I not prove that that which you call a law is no law at all? What shall we say if you brought many different matters before the people at one and the same time? Do you still think that what Marcus Drusus, that admirable man, could not obtain in most of his laws,—that what Marcus Scaurus and Lucius Crassus, men of consular rank, could not obtain, you can obtain through the agency of the Decurii and Clodii, the ministers of all your debaucheries and crimes? [51] You carried a proposition respecting me, that I should not be received anywhere,—not that I should depart, when you yourself were not able to say that it was unlawful for me to remain in Rome.

1 He refers here to Vatinius, who had lately been an unsuccessful candidate for the aedileship.

2 The Palatine tribe was composed of artisans and needy citizens, of whose aid Clodius availed himself largely in creating disturbances.

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