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After this the tribunes of the plebs who had announced their intention of vetoing the repeal spoke briefly to the same effect. Then L. Valerius made the following speech in defence of his proposal: "If it had been only private citizens who came forward to argue in favour of, or against, the measure we have brought in, I should have awaited your votes in silence as I should have considered that enough had been said on either side.  But now, when a man of such weight of character as M. Porcius, our consul, is opposing our bill, not simply by exerting his personal authority which, even had he remained silent, would have had very great influence, but also in a long and carefully thought out speech, it is necessary to make a brief reply.  He spent, it is true, more time in castigating the matrons than in arguing against the bill, and he even left it doubtful whether the action of the matrons which he censured was due to their own initiative or to our instigation.  I shall defend the measure and not ourselves, for that was thrown out as a suggestion rather than as an actual charge.  Because we are now enjoying the blessings of peace and the commonwealth is flourishing and happy, the matrons are making a public request to you that you will repeal a law which was passed against them under the pressure of a time of war. He denounces this action of theirs as a plot, a seditious movement, and he sometimes calls it a female secession.  I know how these and other strong expressions are selected to bolster up a case, and we all know that, though naturally of a gentle disposition, Cato is a powerful speaker and sometimes almost menacing. What innovation have the matrons been guilty of by publicly assembling in such numbers for a cause which touches them so closely?  Have they never appeared in public before? I will quote your own 'Origines' against you. Hear how often they have done this and always to the benefit of the State.  "At the very beginning, during the reign of Romulus, after the capture of the Capitol by the Sabines, when a pitched battle had begun in the Forum, was not the conflict stopped by the matrons rushing between the lines? And when after the expulsion of the kings the Volscian legions under their leader Caius Marcius had fixed their camp at the fifth milestone from the City, was it not the matrons who warded off that enemy by whom otherwise this City would have been laid in ruins?  When it had been captured by the Gauls, how was it ransomed? By the matrons, of course, who by general agreement brought their contributions to the treasury. And without searching for ancient precedents, was it not the case that in the late war when money was needed the treasury was assisted by the money of the widows?  Even when new deities were invited to help us in the hour of our distress did not the matrons go in a body down to the shore to receive Mater Idaea? You say that they were actuated by different motives then.  It is not my purpose to establish the identity of motives, it is sufficient to clear them from the charge of strange unheard-of conduct.  And yet, in matters which concern men and women alike, their action occasioned surprise to no one; why then should we be surprised at their taking the same action in a cause which especially interests them? But what have they done?  We must, believe me, have the ears of tyrants if, whilst masters condescend to listen to the prayers of their slaves we deem it an indignity to be asked a favour by honourable women.
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