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22. [51]

But since we have begun to institute a comparison between our fortunes we will say no more of the return of Gabinius, whom, though he has cut the ground from under his own feet, I still wish to see to admire the impudence of the man. Let us, if you please, compare your return with mine. Mine was such that the whole way from Brundusium to Rome I was beholding one unbroken line of the inhabitants of all Italy. For there was no district nor municipal town, nor prefecture, nor colony, from which a deputation was not sent by the public authority to congratulate me. Why should I speak of my arrival in the different towns? why of the crowds of men who thronged out to meet me? why of the way in which the fathers of families with their wives and children gathered together to greet me? why of those days which were celebrated by every one on my arrival and return, as if they had been solemn festival days of the immortal gods? [52] That one day was to me like an immortality, on which I returned to my country, and saw the senate which had come forth to meet me, and the whole Roman people; while Rome itself, torn, if I may so say, from its foundations, seemed to come forward to embrace her saviour. Rome, which received me in such a manner that not only all men and all women of all classes, and ages, and orders of society, of every fortune and every rank, but that even the walls and houses of the city and temples appeared to be exulting. And on the succeeding days, the pontiffs, the consuls, the conscript fathers, placed me in that very house from which you had driven me, which you had pillaged, and which you had burnt and voted that my house was to be built up for me again at the public expense, an honour which they had never paid to any one before.

[53] Now you know the circumstances of my return. Now compare yours with it, since, having lost your army, you have brought nothing safe back with you except that pristine countenance and impudence of yours. And who is there who knows where you first came to with those laurelled lictors of yours? What meanders, what turnings and windings did you thread, while seeking for the most solitary possible places? What municipal town saw you? What friend invited you? What entertainer beheld you? Did you not make night take the place of day? solitude of society? a cookshop of the town? so that you did not appear to be returning from Macedonia as a noble commander, but to be being brought back as a disgraced corpse? and even Rome itself was polluted by your arrival.

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