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32. [84]

But just remark what the difference is between that most iniquitous misfortune inflicted on your father and between my fortune and condition which I am now discussing Lucius Philippus the censor, in reading the roll of the senate, passed over his own uncle, your father, a most excellent citizen; the son of a most illustrious man, himself a man of such severity of character that if he were alive you would not have been suffered to live. For he had no reason to allege why those acts should not be ratified which had been done in that republic in which, at that very time, he had been willing to take upon himself the office of censor. But as for me, Lucius Cotta, a man of censorian rank, said in the senate, on his oath, that if he had been censor at the time that I left the city, he should have retained me on the list as a senator in my proper place. [85] Who appointed any judge in my place? who of my friends made a will at the time that I was absent, and did not give me the same that he would have given me if I had been in the city? who was there, I will not say only among the citizens, but even among the allies, who hesitated to receive and assist me in defiance of your law? Lastly, the whole senate, long before the law was passed respecting me, “Voted, that thanks should be given to all those cities by which Marcus Tullius...” Was that all? No—it went, “a citizen who had done the greatest services to the republic, had been received:” and do you, one single pernicious citizen, deny that that citizen has been legally restored, whom the whole senate, even while he was absent, considered not only a citizen, but has at all times considered a most illustrious one? [86] But as the annals of the Roman people and the records of antiquity relate, that great man Caeso Quintius, and Marcus Furius Camillus, and Marcus Servilius Ahala, though they had deserved exceedingly well of the republic, still had to endure the violence and passion of an excited people; and after they had been condemned by the comitia centuriata and had gone into banishment, were again restored to their former dignity by the same people in a more placable humour. But if, in the case of those men who were thus condemned, their calamity not only did not diminish the glory of their most illustrious names, but even added fresh lustre to it; (for, although it is more desirable to finish the course of one's life without pain and without injury, still it contributes more to the immortality of a man's glory to have been universally regretted by his fellow-citizens: than never to have been injured;) shall a similar misfortune have in my case the force of a reproach or of an accusation, when I left the city without any sentence of the people, and have been restored by most honourable resolutions of every order of society? [87] Publius Popillius was always a brave and wise citizen in every point of view; yet in the whole of his life there is nothing which sheds a greater lustre on his character than this very calamity. For who would have recollected now that he conferred great benefits on the republic, if he had not been expelled by the wicked and restored by the good? The conduct of Quintus Metellus as a military commander was admirable, his censorship was splendid, his whole life was full of wisdom and dignity; and yet it is his calamity which has handed down his praises to everlasting recollection.

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