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45. [117]

Will you, O priests, sanction this universal and unprecedented tyranny of every sort, this impudence and audacity and covetousness? “Oh,” says he, “a priest was present.” Are you not ashamed, when the matter is being discussed before the priests, to say that a priest was present, not the college of priests? especially when, as tribune of the people, you had power to summon them and even to compel their attendance. Be it so. You did not call in the whole college. Well. Which of the college was it who was present? For he had vested that authority in one individual which belongs to all of them; however, the age and rank of the man invest him with additional dignity. There was need also of knowledge and although they were all of them learned men, still no doubt age gives them still more experience. [118] Who then was it who was present? “The brother,” says he, “of my wife.” If we ask what was his authority, although he is of such an age that he cannot as yet have much, still even such authority as a young man can have is to be considered as diminished in his case, by reason of his near connection with and relationship to you. But if we ask what knowledge he has, who could have less than he who had only come into the college a few days before? And he was the more bound to you by your recent kindness to him, inasmuch as he had seen himself, the brother of your wife, preferred by you to your own brother. Although in that matter you took care that your brother should not be able to accuse you.

Do you then call that a dedication, to which you were not able to invite the college of pontiffs, or any single priest distinguished by honours conferred on him by the Roman people nor even any other young man, though you had some most intimate friends in the college? He only was present, if indeed he was present, whom you yourself instigated, whom his sister entreated, and whom his mother compelled to be so. [119]

Take care now, O priests, what decision you give in this cause of mine, concerning the fortunes of all the citizens. Do you think that the house of every single citizen can be consecrated by the word of a priest, if he takes hold of a door-post and says something or other? But those dedications, and those religious ceremonies respecting temples and shrines, were instituted by our ancestors to do honour to the immortal gods, without inflicting any misfortune on their fellow-citizens. A tribune of the people has been found, who, assisted by the forces of the consuls, has rushed with all the violence of insanity on that citizen, whom, after he had been beaten down, the republic itself raised up again with its own hands.


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