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5. [12]

I proceed now to take on myself the part of the people, so as to argue with you in their language rather than in my own. If the people then could meet you, and speak with one voice, it would say this-—“I, O Laterensis, have not preferred Plancius to you; but, as you were both equally virtuous men, I have conferred my favours on him who entreated me for them, rather than on him who had not solicited me with any great humility.” You will reply, I suppose, that you relied on your high character, and the antiquity of your family, and did not think it necessary to canvass very laboriously. But the people will remind you of its own established principles, and of the precedents of its ancestors. It will say that it has always chosen to be asked for these honours, and to be solicited eagerly. It will tell you that it preferred Marcus Seius, a man who was unable to keep even his dignity as a knight undamaged by an adverse decision in a court of justice, to a man of the highest rank, most unimpeachable, and most eloquent Marcus Piso. It will tell you that it preferred to Quintus Catulus, a man of the most illustrious family, a most wise and admirable man, I will not say Caius Seranus a most foolish man, for nevertheless he was a noble; nor Caius Fimbria, a new man, for he was a magnanimous man and a wise counselor; but Cnaeus Mallius, a man not only of no rank or family at all, but utterly destitute of virtue and ability, and of contemptible and sordid habits of life. — [13] “My eyes,” says the people, “looked in vain for you when you were at Cyrene; for I should have preferred reaping the benefit of your virtue myself to letting your companions have it all to themselves; and the more it was an object to me to do so, the more did you keep aloof from me. At all events, I did not see you. Then you deserted and abandoned me, though thirsting for your virtue; for you had begun to offer yourself as a candidate for the tribuneship of the people at a time which was especially in need of your eloquence and virtue; and when you abandoned your canvass for that office, if you intimated by so doing that in such a stormy time you could not take the helm, I had reason to doubt your courage; but if you did so because you did not then choose to assume so much responsibility, then I had grounds for questioning your attachment to me. But if the truth was, as I rather believe, that you reserved yourself for other times, I too,” the Roman people will say, “have now recalled you to the time for which you had of your own accord reserved yourself. Offer yourself, then, now for that magistracy in which you can be of great use to me. Whoever the aediles are, I shall have the same games prepared for me; but it is of the greatest consequence who are the tribunes of the people. Either, then, give me those exertions of yours which you encouraged me to hope for, or, if your heart is most set on what is of the least consequence to me, how can you expect that I will give you the aedileship, especially when you ask for it with such indifference? But if you wish to gain the most distinguished honours, as most suited to your worth, then learn, I pray you, to solicit them of me with a little more earnestness.”

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