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rogatae sunt: the magistrate who proposed a law formally asked the people whether they would accept it; hence rogo was the word regularly used for this act, and the proposition itself was called rogatio. The leges in question, Valeria, Porcia, and Sempronia (of Caius Gracchus), were enacted to protect — like our laws securing the habeas corpus and trial by jury — the life and liberty of citizens against the arbitrary power of magistrates, which in this case would apparently be used by Cicero.

at numquam, etc.: as a fact, however, the precedents here referred to had been really violations of the constitution.

praeclaram. . . gratiam, you show a noble gratitude (cf. habere gratiam and agere gratias).

nulla commendatione majorum: though by the Roman constitution the higher offices were open to all citizens, yet it was rare that a man whose ancestors had not held these offices could succeed in attaining them himself. If, like Cicero, he did so, he was called a novus homo, and his descendants belonged to the nobility.

tam mature: Cicero attained the quaestorship, the praetorship, and the consulship (honorum gradiis) at the earliest age possible in each case. This was a mark of public confidence which had never happened to a novus homo before.

invidiae, i.e. the odium which might attach to the consuls apparently exceeding his constitutional authority. In fact Cicero was later brought to trial and exiled on this very charge.

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