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24. [58]

But I come now to Lucius Cassius, my own intimate friend, and I have not as yet made any complaint about that Juventius whom that young man, accomplished in every virtue and in every branch of polite learning, mentions in his speech, and says that he was the first man of the common people who was ever made a curule aedile. And with reference to that case, if, O Cassius, I were to reply to you that the Roman people knew nothing of that fact and that there is no one who can tell us anything about him, especially now that Longinus is dead, you would not wonder, I imagine, when I myself, who am not at all inclined to neglect the study of antiquity, confess that I first heard of this fact in this place, from your mouth. And since your oration was very elegant and very ingenious; worthy both of the learning and modesty of a Roman knight, and since you were listened to by these men with such attention as did great honour both to your abilities and to your character as a gentleman and a scholar, I will reply now to what you said, of which the greater part concerned me myself, and in which the very stings, if you did put out any in your reproof of me, were still not disagreeable to me. [59]

You asked me whether I thought that the road to the attainment of honours had been easier to me the son of a Roman knight, than it would be to my son, who was now of a consular family. But although I would rather that all good fortune fell to his lot than to my own, still I have never wished for him that the road to honour might be more easy to him than I have found it myself. Moreover, lest he should by chance think that I have procured him honours myself rather than pointed out to him the path by which he might arrive at them, I am accustomed to read him this lesson (although his age is not exactly the age to attend to instruction,) which the great son of Jupiter is represented teaching his children,—“ “Men must always be vigilant; there are many snares in the path of virtuous men.”
” You know the rest do you not? “ “That which many men envy
* * * *”
1 Which that wise and ingenious poet wrote not in order to excite those boys who were no longer in existence to toil and the desire of glory but to encourage us and our children in such pursuits. [60] You ask what more Plancius could have got if he had been the son of Cnaeus Scipio. He could not have been made an aedile more than he is; but he would have gained this, that he would not be so much envied. In truth the degrees of honour are equal in the case of the highest and the lowest citizens, but the glory of arriving at them is unequal.

1 This is a fragment of Attius from his play of Philoctetes, see also the oration for Sestius, chap. xlviii.

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    • Cicero, For Sestius, 48
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