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39.

But I do not call Cnaeus Pompeius the author, and prime cause, and defender of my safety, (for these things demand perhaps a recollection of the kindness and gratitude for it from a man in his private capacity,) but I say this, which has reference to the common welfare of the republic; should not I defend that man whom every one admits to be the first man in the republic? should I be wanting to the praises of Caius Caesar, when I see them celebrated first of all by numerous and most honourable decisions of the Roman people, and now too by those of the senate, to which body I have always devoted myself? In that case, in truth, I should confess that I had never formed any opinion with reference to the welfare of the republic, but that I was guided solely by my friendship for or enmity towards particular persons. [94]

When I see a ship holding on its course with favourable winds, if it does not proceed towards that port which I at one time thought best, but to some other no less safe and tranquil than that, shall I rather strive with the tempest even at the risk of danger, instead of yielding to it and being guided by it, especially when there is a hope of safety in such a line of conduct? But I have learnt these principles, I have seen and read them in books, written records have handed down to us these memorials of wise and most illustrious men, both in this republic and in other cities, and show that the same opinions have not at all times been upheld by the same men, but that they have adopted whatever sentiments the constitution of the republic, the state of affairs at the time, and the considerations of peace and concord pointed out as desirable. And this is what I am doing, O Laterensis, and what I always shall do; and the independence which you profess to look for in me, and which I have never lost, I never will lose, and yet on the other hand I will not believe it to consist in obstinacy, but in moderation.


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