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20. [42]

But as for this man, about whom I am now saying so much, O ye immortal gods! what is he? what is his influence? what is there about him to give so great a city, if it does fall, (may the gods avert the omen!) the comfort of at least seeming to have been overthrown by a man? a fellow who, from the moment of his father's death, made his tender age subservient to the lusts of wealthy buffoons; when he had satiated their licentiousness, then he turned to the domestic seduction of his own sister; then, when he had become a man, he devoted himself to the concerns of a province, and to military affairs, and suffered insults from the pirates; he satisfied the lusts even of Cilicians and barbarians: afterwards, having in a most wicked manner tampered with the army of Lucius Lucullus, he fled from thence, and at Rome, the moment of his arrival there, he began to compound with his own relations not to prosecute them, and received money from Catiline to prevaricate in the most shameless manner. From thence he went into Gaul with Murena; in which province he forged wills of dead people, murdered wards, and made bargains and partnerships or wickedness with many. When he returned from Gaul, he appropriated to himself all that most fruitful and abundant source of gain which is derived from the Campus Martius, in such a manner that he (a man wholly devoted to the people!) cheated the people in a most scandalous manner, and also (merciful man that he is!) put the canvassers of the different tribes to death at his own house in the most cruel manner. Then came his quaestorship, so fatal to the republic, to our sacrifices, to our religions observances, to your authority, and to the public courts of justice; in which he insulted gods and men, virtue, modesty, the authority of the senate, every right both human and divine, and the laws and the tribunals of the country. [43] And this was his first step; this (alas for the miserable times and for our senseless discords!) was the first step of Publius Clodius towards the conduct of the affairs of the republic; this was the path by which he first began to approach and mount up to his present boast of being a friend of the people. For the unpopularity arising from the treaty at Numantia, at the making of which he had been present as quaestor to Caius Mancinus the consul, and the severity displayed by the senate in repudiating that treaty, were a constant source of grief and fear to Tiberius Gracchus; and that circumstance alienated him, a brave and illustrious man, from the wisdom of the senators. And Caius Gracchus was excited by the death of his brother, by affection for him, by indignation, and by the greatness of his own mind, to seek to exact vengeance for the slaughter of a member of his family. We know that Saturninus was led to confess himself a friend of the people out of indignation, because at a time of great dearness of provisions, the senate removed him while he was quaestor from the superintendence of the corn market which belonged to him by virtue of his office, and appointed Marcus Scaurus to manage that business. And it was the breeze of popularity which carried Sulpicius further than he intended, after he had set out in a good cause, and had resisted Caius Julius when seeking to obtain the consulship contrary to the laws.

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