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50. [106]

Now, unless I am mistaken, the state is in such a condition, that if you take away the artisans who are hired to support the party of these wicked men, everybody in the republic appears to be of the same opinion. In truth, there are three places in which the opinion and inclination of the Roman people may be ascertained in the greatest degree; the assembly, the comitia, and the meetings at the games and at exhibitions of gladiators. What assembly has there been of late years, which has not been a packed and bribed one, but a genuine one, in which the unanimity of the Roman people has not been very perceivable? Many assemblies were held concerning me by that most wicked gladiator, to which no one ever went who was unbribed, no one who was an honest man; no good man could endure to behold that ill-omened countenance, or to listen to that frantic voice. Those assemblies were, I admit that those assemblies of abandoned men were necessarily turbulent. [107] Publius Lentulus, too, held an assembly, also about my affairs. There was a vast flocking to it of the whole Roman people; all ranks of society, all Italy stood side by side in that assembly. He argued my cause with the greatest authority, and the greatest fluency of language amid such silent attention and such visible approbation from every one, that nothing so pleasing appeared ever to have fallen on the ears of the Roman people. Cnaeus Pompeius was brought forward by him, who displayed himself then not only as the main author of my safety, but even as a suppliant to the Roman people. His oration also was one of great weight and was pleasing to the assembly. And I assert that no opinion of his ever carried more authority with it; and that no eloquence of his was ever more agreeable. With what silent attention were the other chief men of the city listened to while speaking in my behalf; [108] whom I do not mention in this place, only lest my speech, if I say too little of any one, should seem ungrateful and if I were to say enough of each individual, interminable.

Turn now to the harangue of that same enemy of mine concerning me the same person of whom those great men had been speaking, delivered in the Campus Martins, to a genuine assembly of the people. Who was there who (I will not say approved of it but who) did not think it a most scandalous thing that he should be allowed to live and breathe at all, much less to speak? Who was there who did not think that the republic was polluted by his voice and that he himself, if he only listened to him was implicated in his wickedness?

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