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26. [62]

O thou darkness, thou filth, thou disgrace! O thou forgetful of your father's family, scarcely mindful of your mother's,—there is actually something so broken-down, so mean, so base, so sordid, even too low to be considered worthy of the Milanese crier, your grandfather.

Lucius Crassus, the wisest man of our state, searched almost the whole Alps with javelins to find out some pretext for a triumph where there was no enemy. A man of the highest genius, Caius Cotta, burnt with the same desire, though he could find no regular enemy. Neither of them had a triumph, because his colleague deprived one of that honour, and death prevented the other from enjoying it. A little while ago, you derided Marcus Piso's desire for a triumph, from which you said that you yourself were far removed; for he, even if it was not a very important war which he had conducted, as you say that it was not, still did not think that an honour to be slighted. But you are more learned than Piso, more wise than Cotta. Richer in prudence, and genius, and wisdom than Crassus, you despise those things which those idiots, as you term them, have considered glorious: [63] and if you blame them for having been covetous of glory, though they had conducted wars which were insignificant, or no wars at all; surely, you who have subdued such mighty nations, and performed such great achievements, were not bound to despise the fruit of your labours, the reward of your dangers, the tokens of your valour. And the truth is that you did not despise them, even though you may be wiser than Themista;1 but you shrank from exposing even your iron countenance to be chastised by the reproaches of the senate.

You see now, since I have been so much an enemy to myself as to compare myself to you, that my departure, and my absence, and my return, were all so far superior to yours, that all these circumstances have shed immortal glory on me, and have inflicted everlasting infamy on you. [64] To come even to our present daily regular manner of life in this city will you venture to prefer your respectability, your influence, your reputation at home, your energy in the forum, your counsel, your assistance your authority and your opinion as a senator, to that which belongs to us or I would rather say to even the lowest and most desperate of men?

1 Themista is the name of a woman who devoted herself to the study of philosophy, to whom Epicurus wrote many of his letters.

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