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1 XV. Æmilius Scaurus] He was “princeps senatûs” (see c. 25), and seems to be pretty faithfully characterized by Sallust as a man of eminent abilities, but too avaricious to be strictly honest. Cicero, who alludes to him in many passages with commendation (Off., i. 20, 30; Brut., 29; Pro Muræn., 7; Pro Fonteio, 7), mentions an anecdote respecting him (De Orat. ii. 70), which shows that he had a general character for covetousness. See Pliny, H. N. xxxvi. 14. Valerius Maximus (iii. 7, 8) tells another anecdote of him, which shows that he must have been held in much esteem, for whatever qualities, by the public. Being accused before the people of having taken a bribe from Mithridates, he made a few remarks on his own general conduct; and added, "Varius of Sucro says that Marcus Scaurus, being bribed with the king's money, has betrayed the interests of the Roman people. Marcus Scaurus denies that he is guilty of what is laid to his charge. Which of the two do you believe?" The people dismissed the accusation; but the words of Scaurus may be regarded as those of a man rather seeking to convey a notion of his innocence, than capable of proving it. The circumstance which Cicero relates is this: Scaurus had incurred some obloquy for having, as it was said, taken possession of the property of a certain rich man, named Phyrgio Pompeius, without being entitled to it by any will; and being engaged as an advocate in some cause, Memmius, who was pleading on the opposite side, seeing a funeral pass by at the time, said, "Scaurus, yonder is a dead man, on his way to the grave; if you can but get possession of his property!" I mention these matters, because it has been thought that Sallust, from some ill-feeling, represents Scaurus as more avaricious than he really was.
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