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47.

The republic is attacked by greater forces and more numerous bodies than those by which it is defended because audacious and abandoned men are impelled on by a nod, and are even of their own accord excited by nature to be enemies to the republic. And somehow or other good men are slower in action, and overlooking the first beginnings of things, are at last aroused by necessity itself so that some times through their very delays and tardiness of movement while they wish to retain their ease even without dignity, they, of their own accord, lose both. [101] But those who are desirous to be defenders of the republic, if they be fickle men, soon give up the task; if they be at all timid men, they abandon it; and those alone remain and endure everything for the sake of the republic, who are such men as your father was, O Marcus Scaurus, who resisted all seditious men, from the time of Caius Gracchus to that of Quintus Varius, whom no violence, no threats, and no unpopularity ever shook; or such as Quintus Metellus, the uncle of your mother; who, when as censor he had branded a man most flourishing in the popular esteem, Lucius Saturninus, and when he had expunged a pretended Gracchus from the list of the citizens, in spite of the violence of an excited mob, and when he alone had refused to swear obedience to a law which he considered had not been legally enacted, preferred to abandon the city rather than his opinion; or, (to leave off quoting ancient examples, of which there is an abundance worthy of the glory of this empire, while yet I avoid naming any one who is now alive,) such as Quintus Catulus lately was, whom neither the tempest of danger nor the breeze of honour could ever move from his straight course, either by hope or fear.


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