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However, to such a resolution and deliberate policy on your part the great obstacle are the publicani: for, if we oppose them, we shall alienate from ourselves and from the Republic an order which has done us most excellent service, and which has been brought into sympathy with the Republic by our means; if, on the other hand, we comply with them in every case, we shall allow the complete ruin of those whose interests, to say nothing of their preservation, we are bound to consult. This is the one difficulty, if we look the thing fairly in the face, in your whole government. For disinterested conduct on one's own part, the suppression of all inordinate desires, the keeping a check upon one's staff, courtesy in hearing causes, in listening to and admitting suitor—all this is rather a question of credit than of difficulty: for it does not depend on any special exertion, but rather on a mental resolve and inclination. But how much bitterness of feeling is caused to allies by that question of the publicani we have had reason to know in the case of citizens who, when recently urging the removal of the port-dues in Italy, did not complain so much of the dues themselves, as of certain extortionate conduct on the part of the collectors. Wherefore, after hearing the grievances of citizens in Italy, I can comprehend what happens to allies in distant lands. To conduct oneself in this matter in such a way as to satisfy the publicani especially when contracts have been undertaken at a loss, and yet to preserve the allies from ruin, seems to demand a virtue with something divine in it, I mean a virtue like yours. To begin with, that they are subject to tax at all, which is their greatest grievance, ought not to be thought so by the Greeks, because they were so subject by their own laws without the Roman government. Again, they cannot despise the word publicanus, for they have been unable to pay the assessment according to Sulla's poll-tax without the aid of the publican. But that Greek publicani are not more considerate in exacting the payment of taxes than our own may be gathered from the fact that the Caunii, and all the islands assigned to the Rhodians by Sulla, recently appealed to the protection of the senate, and petitioned to be allowed to pay their tax to us rather than to the Rhodians. Wherefore neither ought those to revolt at the name of a publicanus who have always been subject to tax, nor those to despise it who have been unable to make up the tribute by themselves, nor those to refuse his services who have asked for them. At the same time let Asia reflect on this, that if she were not under our government, there is no calamity of foreign war or internal strife from which she would be free. And since that government cannot possibly be maintained without taxes, she should be content to purchase perpetual peace and tranquillity at the price of a certain proportion of her products.

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