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21 In the next place, your fellow-citizens are indeed most admirable men, but still they are very few in number if they are compared with the people of Atina. The prefecture to which Plancius belongs is so full of the bravest men, that no city in all Italy can be pronounced more populous. And that multitude you now behold, O judges, in mourning attire and in distress addressing its supplications to you. All these Roman knights whom you see here, all these aerarian tribunes, (for we have sent the common people away from this court, though they were all present at the comitia,)—how much strength, how much dignity did they not add to my client's demand of the aedileship? They did not give him only the aid of the Terentian tribe, of which I will speak hereafter, but they added dignity to him, they kept their eyes fixed upon him, they attended him with a solid, and vigorous, and unceasing escort; and even now my own municipal town is greatly interested in his cause, from the sort of connection which the fact of their being neighbours to him engenders.
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Everything which I am saying about Plancius, I say having experienced the truth of it in my own case. For we of Arpinum are near neighbours of the people of Atina. It is a neighbourhood to be praised, and even to be loved, retaining the old-fashioned habits of kindness for one another: one not tainted with ill-nature, nor accustomed to falsehood, not insincere, nor treacherous, nor learned in the suburban, or shall I say, the city artifices of dissimulation. There was not one citizen of Arpinum who was not anxious for Plancius, not one citizen of Sora, or of Casinum, or of Aquinum. The whole of that most celebrated district, the territory of Venafrum, and Allifae, in short, the whole of that rugged mountainous faithful simple district, a district cherishing its own native citizens, thought that it was honoured itself in his honour, that its own consequence was increased by his dignity. And from those same municipalities Roman knights are now present here, having been sent by the public authority, commissioned to bear evidence in his favour; nor is their anxiety in his behalf now inferior to the zeal which they displayed then. For, in truth, it is a more terrible thing to be stripped of one's goods than not to attain a dignity.
23 Therefore, although the other qualifications, O Laterensis, those which your ancestors bequeathed to you, were more conspicuous in you than in him; yet, on the other hand, Plancius had an advantage over you not only in the zeal of his municipality, but in that of his whole neighbourhood. Unless, indeed, the neighbourhood of Tusculum to Lavicum, or Gabii, or Bovillae was any use to you; municipal towns in which you can now hardly find a single citizen to bear a part in the Latin holidays. I will add, if you like, that which you consider is even an objection to him, that his father is a farmer of the revenues. And who is there who does not know what a great assistance that body of men is to any one in seeking for any honour? For the flower of the Roman knights, the ornament of the state, the great bulwark of the republic is all comprehended in that body.
24 Who is there, then, who can deny that that body showed extraordinary zeal in aiding Plancius in his contest for honour? And it was very natural that they should, because his father is a man who has for a long time been the head of the company of farmers; and because he was exceedingly beloved by his fellows of that
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company; and because he canvassed them with the greatest diligence; and because he was entreating them in favour of his son; and because it was notorious that Plancius himself had both in his quaestorship and tribuneship done many kindnesses to that body; and because in promoting him they thought that they were promoting themselves, and consulting the welfare and dignity of their children.
Something, moreover, (I say it timidly, but still I must say it)—something we ourselves contributed to his success; not, indeed, by our riches, not by any invidious exertion of influence, not by any scarcely endurable stretch of power, but by the mention of his kindness to ourselves, by our pity for him, and by our prayers in his behalf. I appealed to the people; I went round the tribes, and besought them; I entreated even those who, of their own accord, offered themselves to me, who volunteered their promises. He prevailed, owing to the motive which I had for soliciting them, not owing to my interest.
25 Nor, if a most honourable man, to whom there is nothing which may not deservedly be granted at his entreaty, failed, as you say, in obtaining something which he desired, am I arrogant if I say that I did prevail? For, to say nothing of the fact that I was exerting myself in behalf of a man who had great influence himself, that solicitation is always the most agreeable which is the most closely connected with previous obligations and friendship. Nor, indeed, did I ask for him in such a manner as to seem to request it because he was my intimate friend, because he was my neighbour, because I had always been on terms of the greatest intimacy with his father; but I asked as if I were soliciting on behalf of one who was as it were my parent, and the guardian of my safety. It was not my interest but the cause which prompted my requests, which was so influential. No one rejoiced at my restoration, no one grieved at my injury, to whom the pity shown me by this man was not acceptable.