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30. [73]

But since we are to consider you not as Aristarchus, but as a sort of grammatical Phalaris, a man who does not put a mark to a bad verse but who pursues the poet with arms, I wish to know what fault you find with this verse “Arms to the gown must yield.” “You say,” says he “that the greatest generals must yield to the gown.”Why now, you ass, am I to teach you letters? I do not want words for such a purpose but a stick. I did not say this gown, in which I am clothed, nor, when I said “arms,” did I mean the sword and shield of any one particular general. But as the gown is the emblem of peace and tranquillity, and arms on the contrary are a token of disturbance and war, speaking after the manner of poets, I wished this to be understood that war and tumult were to yield to peace and tranquillity. [74] Ask your own intimate friend, that Greek poet; he will recognise and approve of such a figure of speech, and he will not wonder that you have no taste. “But” says he, “I cannot digest that other sentence either: “ The soldier's bays shall yield to true renown.
”” Indeed, I am much obliged to you; for I, too, should stick at that, if you had not released me. For when you, frightened and trembling, threw down at the Esquiline gate the bays which with your own most thievish hands you had stripped off from your blood-stained fasces, you showed that those bays were granted not only to the highest but even to the very paltriest degree of glory.

And yet, by this argument you try, O you wretch, to make out that Pompeius was made an enemy to me by that verse; so that, if my verse has injured me, the injury may appear to have been sought for me by that man whom that verse offended. [75] I say nothing of the fact, that that verse had no reference to him that it was not at all my object to insult with one single verse the man whom I had repeatedly extolled in many speeches and writings. But grant that he was offended. In the first place, will he not put in the scale against this one verse, the many volumes full of his praises which have proceeded from me? And if he has been moved by such a consideration, could he have countenanced so cruel an injury (I will not say to his own dearest friend, to one who did not deserve such treatment at his hands by the anxiety which he has shown for his glory, nor at the hands of the republic; to a man of consular rank, to a senator, to a citizen, or to a freeman, but) to any human being, on account of a verse?

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