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3.

But I, O Laterensis, will confess that I should be conducting this cause in the most blind and headlong manner, if I were to say that you could be surpassed in worth by either Plancius, or any one else. Therefore I will discard that comparison to which you invite me and will proceed to those arguments to which the cause itself naturally conducts me. [7] What? Do you think that the people is judge of a man's worth? Perhaps it is sometimes. I wish indeed it were so always. But it is very seldom the case, and if it ever is, it is so when the question is concerning the election of those magistrates to whom it considers that its own safety is entrusted. At the less important comitia, honours are gained by the diligence and influence of the candidates, and not by those high qualities which we see exist in you. For, as to what concerns the people, that man must always be an incompetent judge of worth who either envies any one or favours any one, although you cannot, O Laterensis, point to any good quality in yourself, as peculiarly entitled to praise, which Plancius has not in common with you.

[8] But all this shall be discussed presently. At present I am only arguing about the right of the people, which both can and sometimes does pass over worthy men; and it does not follow because a man has been passed over by the people who ought not to have been, that he who has not been passed over is to be condemned by the judges. For if that were the case, the judges would have that power which the senate itself could not maintain in the times of our ancestors,—namely, that of being correctors of the comitia: or a power which is even more intolerable than that; for at that time a man who had been elected did not enter upon the duties of his office if the senators had not approved of his election; but now it is required of you to correct the judgment of the Roman people by the banishment of the man who has been elected by them. Therefore, although I have entered upon the cause by a door which I did not wish to open, still I seem to hope, O Laterensis, that my speech will be so far removed from all suspicion of being intended to give you offence, that I may rather reprove you for bringing your own dignity into an unreasonable contest, than attempt myself to disparage it by any injurious expressions on my part.


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