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39. [84] “You brought,” says he, “you levied, you got together a band of men.” What was he going to do with them? To besiege the senate? to expel citizens who had not been condemned? to plunder men's property? to set fire to buildings? to plunder private houses? to him the temples of the immortal gods? to expel the tribunes of the people from the rostra by force of arms? to sell whatever provinces he pleased to whomsoever he pleased? to give men the title of king? to restore to free cities, by means of our lieutenants and ambassadors, men who had been condemned for capital offences? to blockade the chief man of the state in his house with armed bands? It was to effect all these objects, I suppose, which could never possibly be attained unless the republic were overwhelmed by armed men, that Publius Sestius got together his multitude of men, and his troops, as you call them. But the pear was not yet ripe. The circumstances of the case did not as yet invite good men to have recourse to such means for their protection. We were defeated not indeed by that body alone, but still not entirely without its agency. You were all mourning in silence. [85]

The forum had been taken in the preceding year; the temple of Castor having been occupied by runaway slaves, as if it had been a fortress! not a word was said against such conduct. Everything was done by the clamour and impetuosity, and violence, and assaults of men desperate through indigence and through their natural audacity. And you endured that it should be so. The magistrates were driven from the temples; others were altogether cut off from all approach to them or to the forum. No one offered any resistance. Gladiators were taken out of the praetor's train and introduced into the senate and confessed that they had been thrown into prison by Milo, that they had been released by Serranus. Yet no mention was made of these things. The forum was strewed with the corpses of Roman citizens murdered in a nocturnal massacre. There not only was no new sort of investigation into such events instituted, but even the old courts of justice were abolished. You saw a tribune of the people lying down stricken to the ground with more than twenty wounds and almost dead; the house of another tribune of the people, a man of godlike virtue (for I will say what I think myself, and what all men agree with me in thinking,) a man of most eminent, unheard-of, unprecedented greatness of mind, and wisdom, and integrity, was attacked with fire and sword by the army of Clodius.

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