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54. [115]

Let us now come to the games. For the way in which I see your attention given to me, and your eyes directed towards me makes me think that I may be allowed now to speak in a lighter tone. At times the intimations of opinion which take place in assemblies and comitia are to be depended on; at times they are worthless and corrupt. The crowd of spectators in the theatre and at the gladiatorial games, are said at all times to pour forth their purchased applauses in small and scanty proportion at the caprice of a few directors. But it is easy, when that is the case, to see how it is done, and by whom, and what the entire people are doing. Why need I tell you now what men, or what description of citizens, receive the greatest applause? There is not one of you who is ignorant of this. However, let this be a matter of slight consequence, not that it really is, since it is given to every virtuous man; but, if it be a matter of slight consequence, it is so only to a wise man. But to him who depends on the most trivial circumstances, who (as these men say themselves) is fettered and guided by popular rumour and popular favour, it is inevitable that applause must appear immortality and hissing death.

[116] I, then, ask you, above all men, O Scaurus, you who have exhibited the most splendid and magnificent games of all men,—whether any one of those popular characters was ever a spectator of your games? whether any one of them ever trusted himself to the theatre and to the Roman people? That very chief buffoon of all that man who was not only spectator, but it the same time actor and spouter,—that man who filled up all his sister's interludes who is introduced into companies of women as a singing-girl,—neither ventured to go to see your games in that furious tribuneship of his, nor any other games either except those from which he had some difficulty in escaping with his life. Once altogether, I say, did that popular man venture to trust himself among the spectators of the games when in the temple of Honour and Virtue honour was paid to virtue and when the monument of Caius Marius, the preserver of this empire had afforded a place in which the citizens could provide for the safety of a man who was a fellow citizen of his own municipal town, and defender of the republic.

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