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18. [44]

Nor am I now finding fault with your prudence in not giving him those tribes to which he was best known, but I am proving that the intention of the senate was disregarded by you. In truth which of all these men would listen to you? Or what could you say? Could you say that Plancius was guilty of the depository of the money to be used in bribery? Men's ears would reject the assertion. No one would endure it. All would turn away from it. That he was a very acceptable man to the tribes? They would hear that willingly. We ourselves should not be afraid to allow that. For do not think, O Laterensis, that the effect of those laws which the senate has thought fit to establish concerning bribery has been to put an end to the recommendation of candidates to attentions being paid to electors, or to personal influence. There have always been virtuous men who have been anxious to have influence among the men of their own tribe. [45] Nor, indeed, has our order ever been so harsh towards the common people, as to be unwilling to have it courted by moderate liberality on our part. Nor are our children to be forbidden to pay attention to the men of their own tribe or to show regard for them or to canvass them on behalf of their friends, or to expect a similar service from them when they are themselves candidates for any office. For all these things are only acts of mutual kindness and politeness, and are sanctioned by ancient customs and precedent. That was on our conduct when the occasions of our ambition required it; and such we have seen to be the course of most illustrious men; and even at the present day we see many men alive to the necessity of keeping up their interests. It was the dividing the men of a tribe into decuries, the classification of the whole people, and the attempt to bind men's votes by bribes, that provoked the severity of the senate, and the energetic indignation of all good men. Allege this, prove this, direct your attention to this point, O Laterensis, that Plancius divided the tribes into decuries, that he classified the people, that he was an agent with whom money was deposited, that he promised money, that he distributed it; and then I shall wonder at your not having chosen to use the weapons which the law has armed you with. For with judges taken from the men of our own tribe, I need not say we could not if those things were true, bear their severity, but we could not even look them in the face. [46] But, after having avoided this line of conduct, and declined having those men for judges, who, as they must have had the most certain knowledge of such conduct, were bound to feel the greatest indignation at it what will you say before those men who silently ask of you why you have imposed this burden upon them; why you have chosen them above all men; why you prefer having them to proceed by guesswork, rather than those men to decide who had means of knowing the truth?


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