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20.

I feed on these facts, I am delighted, I am in ecstasies at them. I am delighted that this order thinks of you both as it does of its bitterest enemies; that the Roman knights, the other orders and the whole state detests you both; that there is no good man, no, and no citizen who remembers that he is a citizen, who does not shun you both with his eyes, reject you with his ears, scorn you in his mind, and shudder at the bare recollection of your consulship. [46] This is what I have always wished respecting you, this is what I have desired, this is what I have prayed for. Even more has happened than I could have desired. For, in truth, I never formed a wish that you should lose your armies. That has happened quite beyond my wish, though I cannot say that it has grieved me; but it never could have occurred to me to wish you the insanity and frenzy into which you have both fallen. Still it might well have been wished. But I had forgotten that that was the most invariable of all the punishments which were appointed by the immortal gods for wicked and impious men.

For think not, O conscript fathers, that, as you see on the stage, wicked men are, by the instigation of the gods, terrified by the blazing torches of the Furies. It is his own dishonesty, his own crime, his own wickedness, his own audacity that deprives each individual of sense and discernment. These are the Furies, these the flames, these the firebrands which distress the impious. [47] Must I not think you senseless and frantic, and out of your mind,—must I not think you madder than that Orestes in the tragedy, or than Athamas, when you dared first of all to act so, (for this is the head and front of your offending,) and again, a short time afterwards, when Torquatus, a most influential and conscientious man, pressed you openly to confess that you left Macedonia, that province into which you had carried so vast an army, without one single soldier? I say nothing of your having lost the greater part of your army; that might be owing to your ill fortune. But what reason can you allege for having disbanded any part of your army? What power had you to do so? What law, what resolution of the senate authorized such a step? Where was your right to do so? What precedent was there for it? What is this but madness, but ignorance of men, ignorance of the laws, and of the senate, and of the constitution?

To wound one's body is a trifle; to wound one's life, one's character, one's safety, like this, is a more serious business. [48] If you had discharged your household, a matter which would have concerned no one but yourself, your friends would have thought that you required to be put under restraint; could you have disbanded the protection of the republic, the garrison of the province, without the orders of the Roman senate or people, if you had been in your sound senses?


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