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53. [136]

But to return to the question of the vindication of the public rights, which the priests themselves have always adapted not only to their own ceremonies, but also to the commands of the people. You have a statement in your records, that Caius Cassius the censor consulted the pontifical college about dedicating the statue of Concord, and that Marcus Aemilius, the Pontifex Maximus, answered him on behalf of the college, that unless the Roman people had appointed him by name to superintend that business, it did not appear to them that the statue could properly be consecrated. What more? When Licinia,—a vestal virgin, a woman of the highest rank, and invested with the most holy of all priesthoods,—in the consulship of Titus Flamininus and Quintus Metellus, had dedicated an altar, and a little chapel, and a cushion at the foot of the sacred rock; did not Sextus Julius the praetor refer that matter to this college, in obedience to the authority of the senate? when Publius Scaevola, the Pontifex Maximus, answered on behalf of the college, “that what Licinia, the daughter of Caius, had dedicated in a public place without the authority of the people, did not appear to be holy.” And with what impartiality and with what diligence the senate annulled that act, you will easily see from the words of the resolution of the senate. Read the resolution of the senate. [The resolution of the senate is read.] [137] Do not you see that a commission is given to the praetor of the city, to take care that that which she had consecrated should not be accounted holy? and that, if any letters had been engraved or inscribed upon it, they should be removed? Shame on the times, and on their principles! Then the priests forbade the censor, a most holy man, to dedicate it statue to Concord in a temple which had not been duly consecrated. And after that the senate voted that that altar, which had been consecrated on a most venerable spot, should be taken down in obedience to the authority of the priests, and did not permit any memorial of writing to exist as a relic of that dedication. You, O storm ravaging your country,—you whirlwind and tempest dispelling peace and tranquillity,—did you hope that the republic would endure what you (in the shipwreck of the state, when darkness was spread over the republic, when the Roman people was overwhelmed, when the senate was overturned and expelled,) pulled down and built up? what you, after having violated every feeling of religion, still polluted under the name of religion? that it would endure the monument of the destruction of the republic which you erected in the house of this citizen who is now speaking, and in the city which he had preserved by his own exertions and dangers, to the disgrace of the knights and the grief of all virtuous men; that it would endure the inscription which you had placed there after having erased the name of Quintus Catulus, one moment longer than the time that it was absent from these walls, from which it had been driven at the same time that I myself was?

But if, O priests, you decide that no man who had a right to do so by law performed this dedication, and that nothing was dedicated which lawfully might be; then why need I prove that third point which I originally proposed to establish; namely, that he did not dedicate it with those forms and words which such ceremonies require?

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