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25. [59]

But since we cannot change what is already past, why does this mannikin, this Epicurus of mud and clay, delay to instill these admirable precepts of wisdom into that most illustrious and consummate general, his son-in-law? That man, believe me, is influenced by glory. He burns, he is on fire with the desire of a well-deserved and great triumph. He has not learnt the same lessons that you have. Send him a book. Or rather, at once, if you yourself can contrive to meet him in person, think over what language you can find to check and extinguish that violent passion of his, and as a man of moderation and consistency you will have great influence over one who is quite giddy with his desire for glory; as a learned man, you will easily convince an ignorant man like him, as his father-in-law no doubt you will prevail with your son-in-law. For you will say to him like a man formed to persuade as you are neat, accomplished, a polished specimen of the schools. “How is it possible, O Caesar, for these supplications, which have now been decreed so often and for so many days, to delight you so excessively? Men are greatly mistaken about these things,—things which the gods disregard as that godlike Epicurus of ours has said, nor are they in the habit of being propitious to, or angry with, any one on account of such trifles.”

I am afraid you will hardly get him to agree with you when you argue in this manner. For he will see that they both are, and have been, angry with you. [60]

Turn to another school, and then speak thus of a triumph: “What is the meaning of that chariot? What is the use of those generals bound in front of the chariot? and of the images of towns? and of the gold? and of the silver? and of the lieutenants on horseback? and of the tribunes? What avail all the shouts of the soldiery? and all that procession? To hunt for applause, to be carried through the city, to wish to he gazed upon, are all mere trifles, believe me, things to please children. There is nothing in all those things which you can grasp as solid, nothing which you can refer to as causing pleasure to the body. [61] You see me who have returned from the same province on returning from which Titus Flamininus, and Lucius Paullus, and Quintus Metellus, and Titus Didius, and multitudes of others, inflamed with empty desires, have celebrated triumphs; you see me, I say, returning in such a spirit, that I trampled my Macedonian laurels under foot at the Esquiline gate,—that I arrived with fifteen ill-dressed men thirsting at the Coelimontane gate, where my freedman had a couple of days before hired me a house suited to so great a general; and if that house had not been to be let, I should have pitched myself a tent in the Campus Martius. Meanwhile, O Caesar, in consequence of my neglect of all that triumphal pomp, my money remains safe at home, and will remain there. Immediately on my return, I gave in my accounts to the treasury, as your law required; but in no other particular have I complied with your law. And if you examine those accounts, you will see that no one has ever gained greater advantage from his learning than I have. For they are drawn up so learnedly and so cleverly, that the clerk who made the return to the treasury, when he had written them all out, scratching his head with his left hand, murmured out, ‘Indeed, the accounts are wonderfully clear, the money οἴχεται.’”1 If you make him this speech, I have no doubt that you will be able to recall him to his senses even when actually stepping into his chariot.

1 A Greek word signifying “is gone, perished.”

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