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8. [18]

The one reeking with perfume, with curled hair looking with disdain on the agents of his debaucheries and the old plagues of his youthful age, formerly when tossed and driven about by the troops1 of usurers lest in that Scyllaean state of debt he should be dashed up against the Maenian2 column, fled into the harbour of the tribuneship. He despised the Roman knights, he threatened the senate, he sold himself to the artisans, and proclaimed openly that they had saved him from being prosecuted for bribery; and he was used to say, moreover, that he hoped to obtain a province from them, even though it were against the will of the senate; and if he did not get a province, he did not think it possible for him to remain in safety. [19] The other, O ye good gods! how horrible was his approach, how savage, how terrible was he to look at! You would say that you were beholding some one of those bearded men,—an example of the old empire, an image of antiquity, a prop of the republic. His garments were rough, made of this purple worn by the common people you see around us, nearly brown; his hair so rough that at Capua, in which he, for the sake of becoming entitled to have an image of himself, was exercising the authority of a decemvir, it seemed as if he would require the whole Seplasia3 to make it decent. Why need I speak of his eyebrow? which at that time did not seem to men to be an ordinary brow, but a pledge of the safety of the republic. For such great gravity was in his eye, such a contraction was there of his forehead, that the whole republic appeared to be resting on that brow, as the heavens do on Atlas. [20] This was the common conversation of every one: “He is, however, a great and firm support to the republic; we have some one to oppose to that pollution, to that mud; I declare solemnly by his mere look he will check the licentiousness and levity of his colleague; the senate will have some one this year whom it can follow; good men will not be in want of an adviser and a leader this year.” And men congratulated me most especially, because I was likely to have not only a friend and connection, but also a fearless and dignified consul as an ally against a frantic and audacious tribune of the people.


1 The text here is very corrupt. The Latin is “puteali et foeneratorum gregibus inflatus atque perculsus”. The puteal was the puteal Libonis, mentioned in Horace, the enclosure surrounding a well erected by Scribonius Libo to preserve the memory of a chapel which had been struck by lightning, and it was a common place of meeting for usurers.

2 See vol. i. p. 123, note.

3 “Seplasia was the name of the forum at Capua, where the perfumers carried on their trade.”—Nizol.

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    • Cicero, Divinatio against Q. Caecilius, 50
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