But, nevertheless, you compare yourself with Plancius, in the first place as to your race and family, in which he is beaten by you. For why should not I confess what cannot he denied? But he is not more inferior to you in this respect than I was to my competitors, both on other occasions, and when I was a candidate for the consulship. But beware lest these very particulars for which you look down upon him may have told in his favour. For let us make the comparison in this way—You are descended from a consular family on both sides. Have you any doubt then that all those who favour the nobility of birth, who think that the finest of all things, who are influenced by the images and great names of your ancestors, all voted for you as aedile. I myself have not a doubt of it. But if the number of those who are thus devoted to high birth is not very large, is that our fault? In truth, let us go back to the head and origin of each of your families.
You are of that most ancient municipal town of Tusculum, from which many of our consular families are derived, among which is also the Juventian family; there have not so many families of that rank proceeded from all the other municipal towns put together. Plancius comes from the prefecture of Atina; certainly a less ancient and distinguished abode, and not so near to the city. How much difference do you think this ought to make in standing for an office? In the first place, which people do you suppose are most eager to support their own fellow-citizens; the people of Atina, or those of Tusculum? The one, (for this is a matter with which I may easily be well acquainted, on account of my neighbourhood to them,) when they saw the
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father of this most accomplished and excellent man, Cnaeus Saturninus, elected aedile, and afterwards, when they saw him elected praetor, were delighted in a most extraordinary manner, because he was the first man who had ever brought a curule honour, not only into that family, but even into that prefecture. But I never understood that the others (I suppose because that municipality is crammed full of consuls, for I know to a certainty that they are not an ill-natured people) were particularly delighted at any honour obtained by their fellow-citizens. This is our feeling, and it is the feeling of our municipal towns.
20 Why should I speak of myself; or of my brother? The very fields—I might almost say, the very hills themselves,—supported us in the pursuit of our honours. Do you ever see any man of Tusculum boast of that great man, Marcus Cato, the first man in every sort of virtue, or of Tiberius Coruncanius, though a citizen of their own municipal town, or of all the Fulvii? No one ever mentions them. But if ever you fall in with a citizen of Arpinum, you are forced, whether you will or no, perhaps, to hear something about us, but at all events something about Caius Marius. In the first place, then, Plancius had the ardent zeal of his fellow-citizens in his favour; you had no more than was likely to exist among men who are by this time surfeited with honours.
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.