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For my part, said Secundus, before Aper refuses me as a judge, I will do as is usually done by upright and sensible judges, who excuse themselves in cases in which it is evident that one side has an undue influence with them. Who knows not that no one is nearer my heart from long friendship and uninterrupted intercourse than Saleius Bassus, an excellent man, as well as a most accomplished poet? Besides, if poetry is to be put on her defence, I know not a more influential defendant.

He may rest secure, said Aper, both Saleius Bassus himself, and anyone else who is devoted to the pursuit of poetry and the glory of song, if he has not the gift of pleading causes. But assuredly, as I have found an arbiter for this dispute, I will not allow Maternus to shelter himself behind a number of associates. I single him out for accusation before you on the ground that, though naturally fittest for that manly eloquence of the orator by which he might create and retain friendships, acquire connections, and attach the provinces, he is throwing away a pursuit than which it is impossible to imagine one in our state richer in advantages, more splendid in its prospects, more attractive in fame at home, more illustrious in celebrity throughout our whole empire and all the world. If, indeed, what is useful in life should be the aim of all our plans and actions, what can be safer than to practise an art armed with which a man can always bring aid to friends, succour to strangers, deliverance to the imperilled, while to malignant foes he is an actual fear and terror, himself the while secure and intrenched, so to say, within a power and a position of lasting strength? When we have a flow of prosperity, the efficacy and use of this art are seen in the help and protection of others; if, however, we hear the sound of danger to ourselves, the breast-plate and the sword are not, I am well assured, a stronger defence on the battle-field than eloquence is to a man amid the perils of a prosecution. It is both a shield and a weapon; you can use it alike for defence and attack, either before a judge, before the senate, or before the emperor. What but his eloquence did Eprius Marcellus oppose the other day to the senators in their fury? Armed with this, and consequently terrible, he baffled the sagacious but untrained wisdom of Helvidius Priscus, which knew nothing of such encounters. Of its usefulness I say no more. It is a point which I think my friend Maternus will be the last to dispute.

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