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55. [140]

It was then reported to you, O priests, and after that it became a common topic of conversation, how he, with preposterous language with ill-omened auspices, at times interrupting himself, doubting, fearing, hesitating, pronounced and did everything in a manner wholly different from that which you have recorded as proper in your books. It is, indeed, not very strange that in doing an act of such wickedness and such insanity, even his audacity could not wholly repress his fear. In truth, if no robber was ever so savage and inhuman, as, when he had plundered temples, and then, having been excited by dreams or some superstitious feelings, consecrated some altar on a desert shore, not to shudder in his mind when compelled to propitiate with his prayers the deity whom he has insulted by his wickedness; what do you suppose must have been the agitation of mind of that plunderer of every temple, and of every house, and of the whole city, when he was consecrating one single altar to avert the vengeance due to his numberless acts of wickedness? [141] He could not possibly (although the insolence of power had elated his mind, and although he was armed by nature with incredible audacity) fail to blunder in his proceedings, or to keep constantly making mistakes, especially when he had a priest and teacher who was compelled to teach before he had learnt himself. There is great power, not only in the divinity of the immortal gods, but also in the republic itself. When the immortal gods saw the guardian and protector of their temples driven away in a most wicked manner, they were unwilling to quit their temples and to remove into his house. Therefore they alarmed the mind of that most insensible man with fear and anxiety. But the republic, although that was banished at the same time with myself, was still constantly present to the eyes of its destroyer, and from his excited and kindled frenzy was constantly demanding my restoration and its own. What marvel then is it, if he, urged on by the insanity of fear and drawn on headlong by wickedness, was neither able properly to perform the ceremonies which he had begun, nor to utter one single word in due order with proper solemnity?

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