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64. [133]

But afterwards he in a most wicked manner contrived all sorts of plots against me, for no provocation which I had given him, except inasmuch as I was anxious to please all virtuous men. He was every day mentioning some fault of mine to those men whom he could get to listen to him; he warned the man who was of all others the most friendly to me, Cnaeus Pompeius, to beware of entering my house, and to be on his guard against me; he united himself with my chief enemy, in such a manner that he said, with respect to that proscription of mine which Sextus Clodius, a fellow thoroughly worthy of his associates, promoted, that he was the tablet on which it was written, and that he himself was the writer. And he alone of our whole order openly exulted at my departure and at your grief. And I, for my part, O judges, though he was every day attacking me, never said one word against him; nor did I think, while I was being attacked by every sort of engine and weapon of violence, and an army, and a mob, that it was suited to my dignity to complain of one archer more.

He says that my acts displease him. Who doubts that? when he despises that law which expressly forbids any one to exhibit shows of gladiators within two years of his having stood, or being about to stand, for any office. [134] And in that, O judges, I cannot sufficiently marvel at his rashness. He acts most openly against the law; and he does so, who is a man who is neither able to slip out of the consequences of a trial by his pleasant manner, nor to struggle out of them by his popularity, nor to break down the laws and courts of justice by his wealth and influence. What can induce the fellow to be so intemperate? I imagine it is out of his excessive covetousness of popularity, that he bought that troop of gladiators, so beautiful, noble, and magnificent. He knew the inclination of the people, he saw that great clamours and gatherings of the people would ensue. And elated with this expectation, and burning with a desire of glory, he could not restrain himself from bringing forward those gladiators, of whom he himself was the finest specimen. If that were the motive for his violation of the law, and if he were prompted by zeal to please the people on account of the recent kindness of the Roman people to himself, still no one would pardon him; but as the fact is that this band did not consist of men picked out of those who were for sale, but of men bought out of jails, and adorned with gladiatorial names, while he drew lots to see whom he would call Samnites, and whom Challengers, who could avoid having fears as to what might be the end of such licentiousness and such undisguised contempt for the laws?

[135] But he brings forward two arguments in his defence. First of all, “I exhibit,” says he, “men fighting with beasts, and the law only speaks of gladiators.” A very clever idea! Listen now to a statement which is still more ingenious. He says that he has not exhibited gladiators, but one single gladiator; and that he has limited the whole of his aedileship to this one exhibition. A true aedileship truly. One lion, two hundred men who fight with beasts. However, let him urge this defence. I wish him to feel confidence in his case; for he is in the habit of appealing to the tribunes of the people, and to use violent means to upset those tribunals in which be has not confidence. And I do not so much wonder that he despises my law, as having been framed by a man whom he considers his enemy, as at his having made up his mind to regard no law whatever which has been passed by a consul. He despises the Caecilian Didian law and the Licinian Junian law. Does he also deny that the law of Caius Caesar—who he is in the habit of boasting has been adorned and strengthened and armed by his law and by his kindness, respecting extortion and corruption,—is a law? And do they complain that there are other men, too, who wish to rescind the acts of Caesar, while this most excellent law is neglected by his brother-in-law and by this slave?

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