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What can you do with this man? or for what punishment can you reserve this profligate citizen,—I should rather say this impious enemy? who, to pass over other particulars of his character, and other actions which belong to him in common with his infamous and savage colleague, has this one thing to boast of peculiar to himself, that he expelled from the city and banished (I will not say a Roman knight, I will not say a most accomplished and virtuous man, I will not say a citizen deeply attached to the republic, I will not say a man who was only joining his own lamentations for the calamity of his friend and of the republic to those of the senate and of all good men; it is enough to say that)—he, the consul, banished a Roman citizen without any trial, by his own simple edict. [30] The Latin allies had never anything worse to submit to than (and it was a case of very rare occurrence) the being ordered by the consul to depart from the city. And they had the power then of returning to their own cities, to their own household gods; and in that general disaster no peculiar ignominy was attached by name to any single individual. But what is the case here? Is the consul to banish, by his edict, Roman citizens from their household gods? is he to expel them from their country? is he to select whom he pleases? to condemn and banish men by name? If he had supposed that you, who are now sitting here, would continue to exist in the republic,—if he had supposed that any image of the courts of justice would remain or that there would be the least vestige of the old constitution left in the state would he even have dared to wipe the senate out of the republic in this way? to reject the prayers of the Roman knights? in short, to overturn the rights and liberties of all the citizens by new and unheard of edicts? [31]

Although you are listening to me, O judges, with the greatest attention, and with exceeding kindness, still I fear that some of you may, perchance, marvel why I am so prolix, and what is my object in tracing things back so far, or what connection the offences of those men who harassed the republic before the tribuneship of Publius Sestius have with his cause now. But my desire is to show that all the counsels of Publius Sestius, and the whole object of his tribuneship, was to remedy the misfortunes of the afflicted and ruined republic as far as was in his power. And pardon me, if in laying open those wounds, I appear to say rather too much about myself; for you and all good men decided that that disaster which befell me was the heaviest possible blow to the republic. And Publius Sestius is now on his trial, not on his own account, but on mine —for as he devoted all the powers of his tribuneship to the promotion of my safety it is inevitable that I should look upon my own cause in past time as united with the defence which I am now making for him.

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