28.  But they even designed to stain the character of Marcus Cato by that transaction; ignorant of the extent of such a man's wisdom, and integrity, and magnanimity, and virtue; which is tranquil during a terrible tempest, and shines amid the darkness, and, though driven from its proper position,1 still remains, and clings to his country, and shines at all times by its own unassisted light, and is never tarnished by the dirt or disgrace of others. Their object was, not to do honour to Marcus Cato, but to banish him. They did not think that they were entrusting that commission to him, but imposing it on him; and said openly in the assembly, that they had cut Marcus Cato's tongue out, which had always spoken so freely against all extraordinary commissions. They will feel, I trust, in a short time, that that freedom of his still continues; and even if that be possible that it exists in a still greater degree from this circumstance, that Marcus Cato, even when he despaired of being any longer able to do any good by his authority, still with his voice and with every expression of indignation struggled against those consuls and, after my departure, weeping for my misfortune and for that of the republic, attacked Piso in such language, that he made that most abandoned and most shameless man almost repent of his bargain about the province  Why, then, did he obey the law?”as if he had not already sworn to obey other laws also which he considered to have been unjustly passed. He does not give in to such rash counsels, as to think himself at liberty to deprive the republic of his services as a citizen, when he can do no good to the republic. While I was consul and when he was tribune of the people elect he voluntarily exposed his own life to danger he delivered that opinion, the unpopularity of which be saw would be so great as to imperil his life. He spoke with vehemence; he acted with energy, what he felt he stated in the most open manner. He was the lender and the adviser and main advocate of those measures,—not that he did not see his own danger, but in such a storm as that which was threatening to overwhelm the republic, he thought that he ought not to think of anything but the dangers of his country.
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THE SPEECH OF M. T. CICERO IN DEFENCE OF PUBLIUS SESTIUS.
THE SPEECH OF M. T. CICERO AGAINST PUBLIUS VATINIUS; CALLED ALSO, THE EXAMINATION OF PUBLIUS VATINIUS.
1 Clodius had an old grudge against Ptolemaeus king of Cyprus for refusing to ransom him once when be was taken prisoner by pirates; and now, having proposed a law to reduce his kingdom to the state of a province, and to confiscate all his property, he got the execution of the decree given to Cato, partly to throw discredit on Cato, and partly to oblige him to acknowledge the validity of his acts by submitting to bear a part in them: and Cato was much pleased at the commission. Ptolemaeus, as soon as he had heard of the law and of Cato's approach, poisoned himself in despair.
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