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There are two occupations which can place men in the highest rank of dignity; one, that of a general the other, that of an accomplished orator. For by the latter the ornaments of peace are preserved, by the former the dangers of war are repelled. But the other virtues are of great importance from their own intrinsic excellence, such as justice, good faith, modesty, temperance; and in these, O Servius, all men know that you are very eminent. But at present I am speaking of those pursuits calculated to aid men in the attainment of honours, and not about the intrinsic excellency of each pursuit. For all those occupations are dashed out of our hands at once, the moment the slightest new commotion begins to have a warlike sound. In truth, as an ingenious poet and a very admirable author says, the moment there is a mention of battle, “away is driven” not only your grandiloquent pretences to prudence, but even that mistress of all things, “wisdom. Everything is done by violence. The orator,” not only he who is troublesome in speaking, and garrulous, but even “the good orator is despised; the horrid soldier is loved.” But as for your profession, that is trampled under foot; “men seek their rights not by law, but hand to hand by the sword,” says he.

And if that be the case, then I think, O Sulpicius, the forum must yield to the camp; peace must yield to war, the pen to the sword, and the shade to the sun. That in fact must be the first thing in the city, by means of which the city itself is the first of all cities.

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load focus Latin (Albert Clark, Albert Curtis Clark, 1908)
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