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4. [9]

Do you think your temperance, your industry, your attachment to the republic, your virtue, your innocence, your integrity, and your exertions disregarded and despised and trampled on, just because you have not been made aedile? See, O Laterensis, how greatly I differ from you in opinion. If, I declare to God, there were only ten virtuous, and wise, and just, and worthy men in this state who had pronounced you unworthy of the aedileship, I should think that decision a much more unfavourable one to you than this has been, on account of which you fear that this may seem to be the opinion of the people. For in the comitia the people does not invariably act in obedience to its judgment; but it is usually influenced by interest, or it yields to entreaties and it elects those by whom it has been canvassed with the greatest assiduity. And lastly if it does proceed according to its judgment, still it is not led to form that judgment by any careful selection, or by wisdom, but more frequently by impulse and what I may even call a sort of precipitation. For there is no wisdom in the common people, no method, no discrimination, no diligence, and wise men have at all times considered the things which the people may have done necessary to be endured, but not at all invariably necessary to be praised. So that when you say that you ought to have been elected aedile, it is the people you are finding fault with, and not your competitor. [10] Allow that you were more worthy than Plancius (though that point I will contest with you presently, though without at all disparaging your pretensions or character,) still allow that you were more worthy, yet it is not your competitor by whom you have been defeated, but the people by whom you have been passed over, that is in fault.

And in this affair you ought to recollect that at all comitia, and especially at those held for the election of aediles, it is the party spirit of the people, and not their deliberate judgment which bears sway, that their votes are coaxed out of them not extorted by merit, that the voters are more apt to consider what obligations they themselves are under to each individual, than what benefits the republic has received at his hands. But if you insist on it that it is their deliberate judgment, then you must not annul it but bear it. [11] The people has decided wrongly. Still it has decided. It ought not to have decided so. Still it had the power. I will not bear it. But many most illustrious and wise citizens have borne it. For this is the inalienable privilege of a free people, and especially of this the chief people of the world, the lord and conqueror of all nations, to be able by their votes to give or to take away what they please to or from any one. And it is our duty,—ours, I say, who are driven about by the winds and waves of this people, to hear the whims of the people with moderation, to strive to win over their affections when alienated from us, to retain them when we have won them, to tranquilize them when in a state of agitation. If we do not think honours of any great consequence, we are not bound to be subservient to the people; if we do strive for them, then we must be unwearied in soliciting them.


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