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"I come now to the matter of debate. Here the consul adopted a twofold line of argument, for he protested against any law being repealed and in particular against the repeal of this law which had been passed to restrain female extravagance.  His defence of the laws as a whole seemed to me such as a consul ought to make and his strictures on luxury were quite in keeping with his strict and severe moral code.  Unless, therefore, we show the weakness of both lines of argument there is some risk of your being led into error.  As to laws which have been made not for a temporary emergency, but for all time as being of permanent utility, I admit that none of them ought to be repealed except where experience has shown it to be hurtful or political changes have rendered it useless.  But I see that the laws which have been necessitated by particular crises are, if I may say so, mortal and subject to change with the changing times.  Laws made in times of peace war generally repeals, those made during war peace rescinds, just as in the management of a ship some things are useful in fair weather and others in foul. As these two classes of laws are distinct in their nature, to which class would the law which we are repealing appear to belong?  Is it an ancient law of the kings, coeval with the City, or, which is the next thing to it, did the decemviri who were appointed to [8??] codify the laws inscribe it on the Twelve Tables as an enactment without which our forefathers thought that the honour and dignity of our matrons could not be preserved, and if we repeal it shall we have reason to fear that we shall destroy with it the self-respect and purity of our women? Who does not know that this is quite a recent law passed twenty years ago in the consulship of Q. Fabius and Tiberius Sempronius?  If the matrons led exemplary lives without it, what danger can there possibly be of their plunging into luxury if it is repealed? If that law had been passed with the sole motive of limiting female excesses there might be some ground for apprehension that the repeal might encourage them, but the circumstances under which it was passed will reveal its object.  Hannibal was in Italy; he had won the victory of Cannae; he was now master of Tarentum, Arpi and Capua; there was every likelihood that he would bring his army up to Rome.  Our allies had fallen away from us, we had no reserves from which to make good our losses, no seamen to render our navy effective, and no money in the treasury.  We had to arm the slaves and they were bought from their owners on condition that the purchase money should be paid at the end of the war; the contractors undertook to supply corn and everything else required for the war, to be paid for at the same date.  We gave up our slaves to act as rowers in numbers proportionate to our assessment and placed all our gold and silver at the service of the State, the senators setting the example.  Widows and minors invested their money in the public funds and a law was passed fixing the maximum of gold and silver coinage which we were to keep in our houses. Was it at such a crisis as this that the matrons were so given to luxury that the Oppian Law was needed to restrain them, when, owing to their being in mourning, the sacrificial rites of Ceres had been intermitted and the senate in consequence ordered the mourning to be terminated in thirty days?  Who does not see that the poverty and wretched condition of the citizens, every one of whom had to devote his money to the needs of the commonwealth, were the real enactors of that law which was to remain in force as long as the reason for its enactment remained in force?  If every decree made by the senate and every order made by the people to meet the emergency is to remain in force for all time, why are we repaying to private citizens the sums they advanced?  Why are we making public contracts on the basis of immediate payment? Why are slaves not being purchased to serve as soldiers, and each of us giving up our slaves to serve [18??] as rowers as we did then?
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