But what is that third decury? The
decury of centurions, says he. What? was not the judicature open to that order
by the Julian
law, and even before that
by the Pompeius and Aurelian laws? The income of the men, says he, was exactly
defined. Certainly, not only in the case of a centurion, but in the case, too,
of a Roman knight. Therefore, men of the highest honour and of the greatest
bravery, who have acted as centurions, are and have been judges. I am not asking
about those men, says he. Whoever has acted as centurion, let him be a judge.
But if you were to propose a law, that whoever had served in the cavalry, which
is a higher post, should be a judge, you would not be able to induce any one to
approve of that; for a man's fortune and worth ought to be regarded in a judge.
I am not asking about those points, says he; I am going to add as judges, common
soldiers of the legion of Alaudae;1
our friends say that that is the only measure by which they can be saved. Oh
what an insulting compliment it is to those men whom you summon to act as judges
though they never expected it! For the effect of the law is, to make those men
judges in the third decury who do not dare to judge with freedom. And in that
how great, O ye immortal gods! is the error of those men who have desired that
law. For the meaner the condition of each judge is, the greater will be the
severity of judgment with which he will seek to efface the idea of his meanness;
and he will strive rather to appear worthy of being classed in the honourable
decuries, than to have deservedly ranked in a disreputable one.