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[10] Then arose the blessed Augustus, when his turn came, and spoke with much eloquence.1 “I call you to witness, my lords and gentlemen,” said he, " that since the day I was made a god I have never uttered one word. I always mind my own business. But now I can keep on the mask no longer, nor conceal the sorrow which shame makes all the greater. Is it for this I have made peace by land and sea? For this have I calmed intestine wars? For this, laid a firm foundation of law for Rome, adorned it with buildings, and all that—gentlemen, words fail me; there are none can rise to the height of my indignation. I must borrow that saying of the eloquent Messala Corvinus, I am ashamed of my authority.2 This man, my lords, who looks as though he could not worry a fly, used to chop off heads as easily as a dog sits down. But why should I speak of all those men, and such men? There is no time to lament for public disasters, when one has so many private sorrows to think of. I leave that, therefore, and say only this; for even if my sister knows no Greek, I do: The knee is nearer than the shin.3 This man you see, who for so many[p. 395] years has been masquerading under my name, has done me the favour of murdering two Julias, greatgranddaughters of mine, one by cold steel and one by starvation; and one great-grandson, L. Silanus. See, Jupiter, whether in a bad cause (at least it is your own) you will be fair. Come tell me, blessed Claudius, why of all those you killed, both men and women, without a hearing, why you did not hear their side of the case first, before putting them to death? Where do we find that custom? It is not done in heaven. Look at Jupiter: all these years he has been king,

1 The speech seems to contain a parody of Augustus's style and sayings.

2 M. Valerius Messalas Corvinus, appointed praefectus urbi, resigned within a week.

3 A proverb, like “Charity begins at home.” The reading of the passage is uncertain; sister" is only a conjecture, and it is hard to see why his sister should be mentioned.

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load focus Introduction (W.H.D. Rouse, W.H.D. Rouse, M.A. Litt. D., 1913)
load focus Latin (W.H.D. Rouse, W.H.D. Rouse, M.A. Litt. D., 1913)
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