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53. [113]

Let us now consider the comitia held for the election of magistrates. There was lately a college of tribunes, among whom three were considered not at all attached to the party of the people; but three were supposed to be most violently so. Of those who were not considered friends of the people and who were unable to stand before a packed and bribed assembly of that sort, I see that two have been made praetors by the Roman people and as far as I have been able to understand, by the conversation of the common people and by their votes, the Roman people openly alleged that the consistent and illustrious courage exhibited by Cnaeus Domitius in his tribuneship and the good faith and fortitude of Quintus Ancharius, would have been pleasing to them for the mere good-will which it proved even if they had not been able to effect anything. We see, now, what is the opinion which is entertained of Caius Fannius; and what the opinion of the Roman people is likely to be when he seeks for honours, ought to be doubtful to no one. [114] What more shall I say? How did those two friends of the people fare? One, who however had put some restraint on himself, had proposed no law; he had merely entertained very different sentiments respecting the republic from those which men expected of him as he had been a virtuous and innocent man, and one at all times esteemed by virtuous men; but as in his tribuneship he had shown himself very little able to comprehend what was approved by the genuine body of the people, and because he imagined that that was the Roman people which attended those assemblies, he did not attain that honour at which he would easily have arrived, if he had not hunted so much after popularity.

The other, who was so frantic in his desire for popularity, that he thought neither the auspices, nor the Aelian law, nor the authority of the senate, nor the consul, nor his colleagues, nor the estimation of good men, of any importance at all, stood for the aedileship along with some virtuous men of the highest character, but still not men in the first rank for riches and personal influence; and did not get the vote of even his own tribe. He lost also the vote of the Palatine tribe, by the assistance of which it used to be said that all those pests were able to annoy the Roman people; and, indeed, (as was very acceptable to all good men,) he got nothing but repulses at that comitia. You see, therefore, that the very people itself—if I may use such an expression—is not for a seeker after popularity, since it so vehemently rejects those men who are accounted popular characters, and considers those men the most worthy of honour who are the most opposed to that class of men.

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