No sooner was this election stopped by the prudence and firmness of the senate, than another ensued, in which the contest was still greater; since it was concerning a more important subject, and between competitors more numerous and more powerful.
The censorship was the object of contention [p. 1837]
of the following candidates, Lucius Valerius Flaccus, Publius Scipio, Lucius Scipio, Cneius Manlius Vulso, and Lucius Furius Purpureo, patricians; Marcus Porcius Cato, Marcus Fulvius Nobilior, Tiberius Sempronius Longus, Marcus Sempronius Tuditanus, plebeians.
But Marcus Porcius far surpassed all of them, both plebeians and patricians of the highest ranks.
So great powers of mind and energy of intellect were in this man, that, no matter how lowly the position in which he was born, he appeared capable of attaining to the highest rank. No one qualification for the management of business, either public or private, was wanting to him. He was equally skilled in affairs relating to town and country.
Some have been advanced to the highest honours by their knowledge of the law, others by their eloquence, some by military renown; but this man's genius was so versatile, and so well adapted to all things, that in whatever way engaged, it might be said, that nature formed him for that alone.
In war, he was most courageous, distinguishing himself highly in many remarkable battles; and, when he arrived at the highest posts, was likewise a most consummate commander. Then, in peace, if consulted on a point of law, he was the wisest counsellor; if a cause was to be pleaded, the most eloquent advocate.
Nor was he one of those whose oratory was striking only during their own lives, without leaving after them any monument of it. On the contrary, his eloquence still lives, and will long live, consecrated to memory by writings of every kind.
His orations are many, spoken for himself, for others, and against others; for he harassed his enemies, not only by supporting prosecutions against them, but by maintaining causes in opposition to them.
Enmities in abundance gave him plenty of employment, and he never permitted them to lie dormant; nor was it easy to tell whether the nobility laboured harder to keep him down, or he to oppress the nobility.
His temper, no doubt, was austere, his language bitter and unboundedly free, but his mind was never conquered by his passions, his integrity was inflexible, and he looked with contempt on popularity and riches.
In spare diet, in enduring toil and danger, his body and mind were like iron; so that even old age, which brings all things to dissolution, did not break his vigour.
In his eighty-sixth year he stood a trial, pleaded his own cause, [p. 1838]
and published his speech; and in his ninetieth year, he brought Servius Galba to trial, before the people.