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11. [22]

What games, then, are they which the soothsayers say have not been performed with due diligence, and have been polluted? Those of which the immortal gods themselves and the blessed mother Cybele chose you—you, O Cnaeus Lentulus, by the hands of whose ancestor she was originally received—to be a spectator. And unless you had chosen to be a spectator of the Megalesia on that day, I do not know whether we should have been allowed to be give and to complain of these things. For an enormous multitude of slaves in a state of great excitement, collected out of all the streets by this religious aedile, burst in on a sudden upon the stage from all the arch-ways and doors at a given signal. Your virtue,—yours, I say, O Cnaeus Lentulus,—was at that crisis shown to be equal to that formerly displayed by your ancestor as a private individual. The senate standing up, and the Roman knights and all virtuous men, followed you, and your name and your command, and your voice, aspect, and authority, when he had handed over the senate and people of Rome, hampered by the dense body in which they were sitting, chained as it were to the spectacle, and hindered by the crowd and narrow space, to a multitude of slaves and buffoons.

[23] Shall we say that, if a sacred dancer stops, or a flute-player has on a sudden ceased to play, or if a boy1 with both father and mother alive has ceased to touch the ground, or has lost his hold of the sacred car, or of the reins, or if an aedile has used a wrong word or made the slightest mistake, then the games have not been duly celebrated, and those mistakes are forced to be expiated and the minds of the immortal gods are appeased by their repetition; and yet if the games are suddenly changed from a scene of joy to one of terror,—if they have been, not interrupted, but broken up and put an end to,—if those days of festival turned out nearly fatal to the through the wickedness of that man who wished to turn the games into a time of grief,—shall we doubt what games that noise warns us have been polluted? [24] And if we wish to recollect those things which have been handed down to us traditionally about each of the gods, we have heard that this mighty Mother; whose games were thus violated and polluted, and turned almost to a massacre and to the destruction of the city, does roam over the fields and through the groves with a certain degree of noise and roaring.

1 It is inferred from this passage that the boys assisting at these games might not be orphans.

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