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30. [64]

It is the consuls who ought to complain of these numerous and enormous injuries done to our allies, and to kings, and to free states. Kings and foreign nations have always been under the protection of that magistracy. But have any words of the consuls been heard on the subject? Although, indeed, who would listen to them if they wanted to complain ever so much? Could they make any complaint about the king of Cyprus, who not only did not defend me while I was still standing,—me, a fellow-citizen, who had no charge brought against me, who was attacked only as a screen to conceal the attacks intended for my country,—but who did not even protect me after I had fallen? I had yielded, if you assert that the common people was alienated from me, (which it was not) to unpopularity; if you think that everything was thrown into confusion, to the times; if violence was at the bottom of it, to arms; if there was a confederacy against me, to a bargain made by the magistrates; if there was danger to all the citizens, then I had yielded to the one great consideration, the safety of the republic. [65] Why, when a motion was brought forward concerning the status of a citizen, (I do not say what sort of citizen,) and the confiscation of his property; when it was enacted by the sacred laws and by the laws of the Twelve Tables that it was not lawful to decree a privilegium against any one nor to make any motion affecting a man's rights as a citizen;—why, I say, was the voice of the consuls never heard? Why was the rule established that year,—as far as those two pests of this empire could effect its establishment,—that any citizen might lawfully be driven out of the city by name by the mob of artisans in a state of excitement, and by the contrivance of a tribune of the people? [66] But what measures were proposed that year? what promises were made to many? what engagements were committed to writing? what hopes were entertained? what designs formed?—What shall I say? what spot on the whole surface of the globe was not allotted to some one or other? what whole business was there, which could be thought of or wished for or imagined of which the management was not already given and assigned to somebody? what description of command, what province, what contrivance for finding out or amassing money was overlooked? what district or territory in the whole earth was there of any tolerable extent in which some kingdom or other was not marked out for somebody? and what king was there who did not think that year either that he could buy what he had not, or else that he must ransom what he had? Who was there who asked for any province or for any money or for any appointment as lieutenant or as ambassador from the senate? If men had been condemned for acts of violence, restitution of their fines was made to them; by every means the way to the consulship was smoothed for that priest who was so devoted to the people. The good groaned at these things; the wicked cherished hopes; the tribune of the people was active; the consuls were assisting him.

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