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Aper having finished speaking, Maternus said, You recognise, do you not, our friend Aper's force and passion? With what a torrent, what a rush of eloquence has he been defending our age? How full and varied was his tirade against the ancients! What ability and spirit, what learning and skill too did he show in borrowing from the very men themselves the weapons with which he forthwith proceeded to attack them! Still, as to your promise, Messala, there must for all this be no change. We neither want a defence of the ancients, nor do we compare any of ourselves, though we have just heard our own praises, with those whom Aper has denounced. Aper himself thinks otherwise; he merely followed an old practice much in vogue with your philosophical school of assuming the part of an opponent. Give us then not a panegyric on the ancients (their own fame is a sufficient panegyric) but tell us plainly the reasons why with us there has been such a falling off from their eloquence, the more marked as dates have proved that from the death of Cicero to this present day is but a hundred and twenty years.