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24. [53]

But to return to that point which is the one which I have particularly proposed to myself to establish in this speech; namely, that the republic was afflicted and oppressed by every sort of calamity that year owing to the wickedness of the consuls. First of all, on that very day which was fatal to me and grievous to all good men, when I had torn myself from the embrace of my country and from your sight, O fellow-citizens, and when from fear of danger to you, not to myself, I had yielded to the frenzy, and wickedness, and treachery, and arms, and threats of one man, and had abandoned my country, which was the dearest of all things to me, out of affection for my country herself; when not only men but the very houses and temples of the city were lamenting that misfortune which befell me,—so horrible, so lamentable, and so sudden; when no one of you could bear the sight of the forum, or of the senate house, or of the light of day; on that very day, do I say? at that very hour, at that very same moment, at that very instant of ruin to me and to the republic, their provinces were decreed to Gabinius and to Piso. O ye immortal gods, guardians and preservers of this city and empire, what monsters of wickedness, what crimes have you beheld in the republic! That citizen was expelled who, in compliance with the authority of the senate, had defended the republic with the cooperation of all good men and he was expelled, not because of any other charge being brought against him, but expressly because he had done so. And he was expelled without any trial, by violence, by stones, by arms, by bodies of slaves excited to sedition. A law was passed after the forum had been desolated and abandoned, and given over to assassins and to slaves; a law to prevent the passing of which the senate had changed its dress and gone into mourning. [54] The city being in this state of confusion, the consuls did not allow even one night to elapse between my misfortune and their acquisition of plunder. Instantly, the moment that I was struck down, they flew to drink my blood, and, while the republic was still breathing, to carry off and divide my spoils. I say nothing of their mutual congratulations, of their banquets, of their division of the treasury, of their liberality, of their hopes, of their promises, of their booty of the joy of a few amid the universal mourning. My wife was attacked, my children sought for in order to be murdered, my son-in-law,—yes, my son-in-law, Piso, was rejected as a suppliant by Piso the consul after he had thrown himself at his feet; my property was plundered and carried off to the houses of the consuls; my house was burnt on the Palatine Hill; the consuls passed the time in revels and joy. But even if they were rejoiced at my distress, they ought to have been moved at the dangers of the city.

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