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[37] As to Tiberius Gracchus, when he began to stir up revolution against the [p. 149] republic,1 we saw him utterly deserted by Quintus Tubero and by the friends of his own age. And yet Gaius Blossius of Cumae, a protégé of your family,2 Scaevola, came to me to plead for leniency, because I was present as adviser to the consuls, Laenas and Rupilius,3 and offered, as a reason for my pardoning him, the fact that his esteem for Tiberius Gracchus was so great he thought it was his duty to do anything that Tiberius requested him to do. Thereupon I inquired,“Even if he requested you to set fire to the Capitol?” “He never would have requested me to do that, of course,” said he, “but if he had I should have obeyed.” You see what an impious remark that was! And, by heavens! he did all that he said he would do, or rather even more; for he did not follow, but he directed, the infatuation of Tiberius Gracchus, and he did not offer himself as the comrade in the latter's fury, but as the leader. And so, as a result of his madness, being in fear of the special court of inquiry, he fled into Asia, joined our enemies, and paid a heavy and righteous penalty4 for his crimes against the Republic.

Therefore it is no justification whatever of your sin to have sinned in behalf of a friend; for, since his belief in your virtue induced the friendship, it is hard for that friendship to remain if you have forsaken virtue.

1 i.e. in 133 B.C.

2 Cumae did not then possess the Roman franchise.

3 Consuls in 132 B.C. when the inquiry into the acts of Tiberius Gracchus were made.

4 i.e. by his suicide after the defeat by the Romans of Aristonicus whom he had joined.

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load focus Introduction (William Armistead Falconer, 1923)
load focus Latin (William Armistead Falconer, 1923)
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    • E. T. Merrill, Commentary on Catullus, 68a
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