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33. [71]

In the meantime Publius Sestius, O judges, the tribune elect, undertook a journey to Caius Caesar, for the sake of my safety. What he effected, how much real good he did, has nothing to do with the matter. I think indeed if Caesar was, as I believe him to have been, well-inclined towards us, that Sestius did me no good at all; if Caesar was a little angry with me, he did not do much good; but still you see the unwearied activity and loyalty of the man.

I now come to the tribuneship of Sestius; for he undertook this journey for the sake of the republic when he was only tribune elect. He thought that it concerned the unanimity of the citizens, and the facility of accomplishing what he had at heart, to show that Caesar's mind was not averse to the business.

That year passed away. Men seemed to breathe, not from having actually attained their wishes, but from their hopes of recovering the republic. Two vultures in the robe of war1 went forth with evil omens and the execrations of the citizens. I only wish that everything had happened to them which men then prayed might happen; and then we should not have lost the province of Macedonia, nor our cavalry, and those gallant cohorts in Syria. [72] The tribunes of the people enter on their office, who had all pledged themselves to bring forward a motion concerning me. The chief of them is bought over by my enemies, whom men, laughing at him amid their indignation, were used to call Gracchus; since it was the fate of the city, that even that weasel escaped out of the brambles should attempt to gnaw a hole in the republic. But the other fellow, Serranus,—not the Serranus2 from the plough, but the one from the deserted granary of Gavius Olelus, where you might count3 the grains,—being inserted among the Atilii Calatini, on a sudden, after the names had been entered on the tablets, withdrew his name from the list.

The first of January arrives; you are better acquainted with what ensued than I am; however, I say what I have heard. You know what a numerous attendance of the senate there was, what expectation of the people, what a concourse of deputies from all Italy; how great too was the virtue and activity and authority of Publius Lentulus, the consul; and also how very moderate towards me was the behaviour of his colleague, who, though he said that he had taken a dislike to me on account of a disagreement between us on the affairs of the republic, still said that he would give it up to the conscript fathers and to the critical times of the republic.

1 The Latin word is paludati. “The paludamentum always denotes the cloak worn by a Roman general commanding an army, and by his principal officers, in contradistinction to the sagum of the common soldiers, and to the toga or robe of peace.”—Smith, Dict. Ant. p. 713, v. Paludamentum.

2 A name of Cincinnatus, given to him also by Virgil:—“ Velte sulco Serrane serentem.
”—Aen. vi. 845.

3 There is probably some corruption here in the text. “Calata comitia, a kind of comitia for the consecration of a priest; hence calatis granis for comitiis, facete. Cic.”—Riddle, Lat. Dict. in voc. Calo. There seems a sort of pun on Calatus and Calatinus.

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