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Aper having said this with his usual spirit and with vehemence of utterance, Maternus replied good-humouredly with something of a smile. I was preparing to attack the orators at as great length as Aper had praised them, for I thought that he would leave his praises of them and go on to demolish poets and the pursuit of poetry, but he appeased me by a sort of stratagem, granting permission to those who cannot plead causes, to make verses. For myself, though I am perhaps able to accomplish and effect something in pleading causes, yet it was by the public reading of tragedies that I first began to enter the path of fame, when in Nero's time I broke the wicked power of Vatinius by which even the sanctities of culture were profaned, and if at this moment I possess any celebrity and distinction I maintain that it has been acquired more by the renown of my poems than of my speeches. And so now I have resolved to throw off the yoke of my labours at the bar, and for trains of followers on my way to and from the court and for crowded receptions I crave no more than for the bronzes and busts which have invaded my house even against my will. For hitherto I have upheld my position and my safety better by integrity than by eloquence, and I am not afraid of having ever to say a word in the senate except to avert peril from another.

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