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In the presence and sight of these same consuls, a law was passed that the auspices were to have no validity; that no one was to interrupt any proceeding by declaring that he was taking them; that no one was to have the power of arresting a law by his veto; that it should be lawful to pass a law on all days of festival; that the Aelian1 and Fufian laws should have no validity. And who is there who can fail to see that by that one motion, the entire constitution was destroyed? [34] In the presence and sight of these same consuls, a levy of slaves was held before the tribunal of Aurelius, under pretence of filling up the guilds, when men were enrolled according to their streets, and divided into decuries, and stirred up to violence, and battle, and slaughter, and plunder. It was while these same men were consuls, that arms were openly carried into the temple of Castor, and the steps of the temple were pulled up; armed men occupied the forum and the assemblies of the people; slaughters and stonings of people took place; there was no senate, no magistrates were left; one man by arms and piratical violence seized on all the power of all the magistrates not by any power of his own, but having bribed the two consuls to desert the republic by the treaty respecting the provinces, he insulted every one, domineered over every one, made promises to some held down many by terror and fear and gained over more by hope and promises.

[35] And when such was the state of all things, O judges,—when the senate had no leaders or traitors, or I should rather say open enemies, in the place of leaders,—when the equestrian order was being put on its trial by the consuls,—when the authority of all Italy was trampled on,—when some men were banished by name others frightened away by terror and danger,—when the temples were full of arms and the forum of armed men; and when those facts were not concealed by the silence of the consuls, but were openly approved of by them by their speeches and their formal decision,—when we all of us saw the city not yet perhaps razed and destroyed, but at all events already stormed and in the power of the enemy,—nevertheless relying on the exceeding zeal of the virtuous part of the citizens, we would have resisted, O judges, even these enormous evils.

1 “The Lex Aelia and Lex Fufia were passed about the end of the sixth century, and gave all magistrates the power of dissolving the comitia by obnuntiatio, i.e. by observing the omens, and declaring them unfavourable.”—Smith, Dict. Ant. p. 560.

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