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I think, indeed, that there never was a time when the people were assembled in greater crowds, than that time of those gladiatorial games; neither at any assembly, nor even at any comitia. What then did this innumerable multitude of men, this extraordinary indication of the will of the entire Roman people, without the slightest disagreement on those very days when it was thought that my cause was going to be decided, declare, except that the safety and dignity of the best citizens was dear to the entire Roman people? [126] But that tribune of the people, who was accustomed to put questions to the assembly, not according to the usual custom of his father, or his grandfather, or his great grandfather, or of any of his ancestors, but like a Greek schoolmaster, “Did they wish me to return?” and when an outcry was raised against it by the faint voices of his hirelings, he said that the Roman people affirmed that they had no such wish,—he, though he used to go and see the gladiators every day, was never seen when he did come. He used to emerge on a sudden after he had crept along under the benches, so that he seemed as if he were going to say, “Mother, I call you.”1 And so that dark way by which he used to come to see the games was called the Appian Road. But still, the moment the people got sight of him, not only the gladiators, but the very horses of the gladiators, were frightened at the sudden hisses that ensued. [127] Do you not see, then, what a great difference there is between the Roman people and an assembly? Do you not see that the masters of the assemblies are the object of the hatred of the Roman people? and that those who are not permitted to appear without insult in the assembly of artisans, are honoured by every possible mark of respect by the Roman people?

Do you speak to me of Marcus Atilius Regulus, who of his own accord preferred returning to Carthage to execution, to remaining at Rome without those prisoners by whom he had been sent to the Senate, and then do you deny that I ought to be anxious for a recall procured by means of trained households of slaves and bands of armed men?

1 These words, quoted also by Horace, are from Pacuvius's play of Ilione, the mother of Polydorus, and are put into the mouth of the shade of the murdered Polydorus.

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