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40. [95]

Now I come to your last assertion, when you said that, while I was extolling so highly the services which Plancius had done me, I was making a castle out of a sewer, and worshipping a stone taken from a sepulchre as a god; and that I had never been in the least danger of any one forming plots against me, or of death. And therefore I will in a few words, and not reluctantly, explain the circumstances of that time. For there is nothing that has happened during my lifetime which has got abroad less, or which has been seldomer talked about by me, or which has been less heard of and which is less commonly known by men in general. For I, O Laterensis,—on departing from that general conflagration of laws and justice, and the senate, and all good men, at a time when my house threatened while burning itself to set fire to the city and to all Italy, if I did not remain perfectly quiescent,—I, I say, intended to proceed to Sicily, which was all united like one family in my favour, and which was at that time governed by Caius Virgilius, with whom I was most intimately connected both by the long duration of our acquaintance, and by friendship, and by his belonging to some of the same guilds as my brother, and by our common attachment to the republic. [96] See, now, the blackness of those times. When the very island itself—I may almost say—wished to come forward to meet me, that praetor, repeatedly harassed as he was by the harangues and attacks of that same tribune of the people, on account of his attachment to the republic, would not consent (I will not use a stronger term) to my coming to Sicily. What shall I say? Shall I say that Caius Virgilius, that that excellent citizen and man had forgotten his regard for me, the recollection of the days of our companionship, and all regard for piety, humanity, and good faith? Nothing of the sort, O judges, was the case; he was only afraid that he might not be able by his own unassisted strength to make a stand against that tempest which we even, when supported by you, had been unable to encounter. Then, my plans being thus suddenly changed, I determined to proceed by land from Vibo to Brundusium, for the severity of the weather prevented any attempt at proceeding by sea.

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