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43. [93]

O ye immortal gods! what an end do you show to us? what hope of the republic do you hold out to us? How few men will be found of such virtue and courage as to embrace the cause of the republic when it is the justest of causes? and to consult the interests of the virtuous part of the community? and to seek no glory but that which is solid and genuine? when he knows that of those two monsters so nearly fatal to the republic, Gabinius and Piso, one is every day amassing a countless sum of gold from the peaceful and opulent treasuries of Syria; and is waging war on quiet tribes, in order to pour into the deep and bottomless gulf of his lusts their ancient and hitherto untasted and undiminished riches; and is building in a most conspicuous place a villa of such a size, that that villa, of which that very man, when tribune of the people, once unfolded a picture in the assembly of the people, in order (virtuous man and free from all taint of covetousness that he was) to excite odium against a most virtuous and brave citizen, appears now little more than a hut by the side of it. [94] The other man first of all sold peace for an enormous sum to the Thracians and Dardani. Then, in order that they might be able to make up the money which they were to pay him, he gave up Macedonia to them to ravage and plunder. Moreover, he distributed the property of their creditors, Roman citizens, among their Greek debtors; he exacted immense sums from the people of Dyrrachium, he plundered the Thessalians, he exacted a fixed sum of money from the Achaeans every year; and, above all, in no public or consecrated place has he left one statue, or picture, or ornament. Who, I say, will embrace the cause of the republic when he knows all this, and when he sees that these men are so triumphant who deserve most richly, according to every law in existence, every sort of penalty, and every extremity of punishment? and that these two men whom you see here are brought to trial? I say nothing of Numerius, and Serranus, and Aelius, the mere dregs of the sedition of Clodius; but still, even these go triumphantly about as you behold; nor, as long as ever you are in a state of apprehension for yourselves, will they ever be alarmed for themselves.

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