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23. [55]

But as for that charge about the money which you say was seized in the Flaminian Circus, it made a great noise while the matter was recent, but now it has got quite cold. For you have never explained what money that was, nor what were the tribes which were to receive it, nor who was to distribute it to them. And he, indeed, who was then impeached on this account, being brought before the consuls complained that he had been shamefully treated by your partisans. For if he acted as the distributor of the money particularly for that man whom you were prosecuting, why was he also not prosecuted by you? Why did you get some appearance of a decision having been already come to in this cause by his conviction? But the fact is that you have no proofs to advance, nor do you place the slightest reliance on any. It is quite another motive and another consideration which has induced you to cherish the hope of crushing this man. You have great resources; very extensive influence many friends; many eager partisans; many favourers of your credit: many are envious of my client, to many too his father a most excellent man, appears to be too great a stickler for the freedom and privileges of the equestrian order. Many too are the common enemies of every defendant, men who always give their evidence on trials for bribery and corruption in such a way as if they could influence the minds of the judges by their evidence, or as if it were pleasing to the Roman people, and as if, on that account, they would the more easily attain that dignity which they are desirous of. [56] But you shall not see me, O judges, contending with those men in my former fashion; not because it is right for me to shirk anything which the safety of Plancius requires, but because it is neither necessary, that I should follow up that argument with my voice, which you already see with your mind; and because those very men whom I see already as witnesses, have deserved so well of me, that you ought to take upon your own prudence the task of reproving them, and to excuse my modesty from that task.

This one thing I beg and entreat of you, O judges, both for the sake of this man whom I am defending, and out of regard to the common danger; not to think that the fortunes of innocent men are to be placed at the mercy of reports which people falsely pretend that they have heard, or of vague and uncertain conversation. [57] Many friends of the prosecutor, some men, too, who are personal enemies of ours, many general and universal calumniators, and men who envy everybody, have invented heaps of things. But there is nothing which travels so fast as slander; nothing is more easily sent abroad, nothing is received more rapidly, nothing is spread more extensively. Nor will I, if you can ever trace the origin of a calumny, ever require you to disregard it or conceal it. But if anything gets abroad without a head, or if there be any report of such a nature that no author of it can be found; if he who has heard it appears to you either so careless as to have forgotten where he heard it; or if he knows his authority to be so insignificant that he is ashamed to confess that he recollects who he is,—then I do beg of you not to let that common expression, “I heard that
* * * *,” injure an innocent man upon his trial.

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