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[27] And in respect of that, I, who as consul brought forward the motion, first, for decreeing a supplication of ten days to Cnaeus Pompeius after Mithridates had been slain and the Mithridatic war been terminated,—I, in compliance with whose opinion it was that the ordinary number of days that a supplication in honour of a consul lasted was doubled (for you all agreed with me when, having had the letters of that same Pompeius read, and knowing that all wars both by sea and land were happily terminated, you decided a supplication of twelve days)—I, I say, admired the virtue and greatness of mind of Pompeius in that, when he himself had hitherto been preferred to all other men in every sort of honour, he now was giving a more ample honour to another than he himself had received. Therefore, in that supplication which I proposed, the honour was paid to the immortal gods, and to the established usages of our ancestors, and to the welfare of the republic. But the dignity of the language in which the decree was couched, and the honour and the novelty of the attendant circumstances, and the number of the days,1 was meant as a compliment to the renown and glory of Caesar himself.


1 A supplicatio was a solemn thanksgiving or supplication to the gods, decreed by the senate, when all the temples were opened, and the statues of the gods were frequently placed in public upon couches. (pulvinaria,) to which the people offered up their thanksgivings and prayers. (See Cic. in Cat. 3.10.)

It was decreed after great victories, and also in times of public danger and distress, and on account of prodigies, to avert the anger of the gods.

When decreed for a victory, the number of days during which it was to last was proportioned to the importance of the victory. Sometimes it was decreed for only one day, but more commonly for three or five days. After the supplication mentioned here of fifteen days, one of twenty days was decreed to Caesar in honour of his victory over Vercingetorix; and from this time forward the senate appears to have increased the number of days out of compliment to the general, so that we find mention of supplications for forty and fifty days, (see Cic. Phil. 14.14,) and even sixty days. It was generally regarded as a prelude to a triumph, but was not always followed by one; as in the case of Cicero himself, to whom a supplication was decreed for his suppression of Catiline's conspiracy, which was no subject for a triumph, being a civil transaction. Vide Smith, Dict. Ant. v. Supplicatio.

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