Page:Roman History of Ammianus Marcellinus.djvu/474

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promoting the interests of his friends, though often also a formidable intriguer, and cruel and mischievous in the gratification of his enmities. As long as he lived he had great power, owing to the magnificence of his gifts and to his frequent possession of office, and yet he was at times timid towards the bold, though domineering over the timid; so that when full of self-confidence he appeared to be spouting in the tragic buskin, and when he was afraid he seemed more abased than the most abject character in comedy.

3. And as fishes, when removed from their natural element, cannot live long on the land, so he began to pine when not in some post of authority which he was driven to be solicitous for by the squabbles of his troops of clients, whose boundless cupidity prevented their ever being innocent, and who thrust their patron forward into affairs of state in order to be able to perpetrate all sorts of crimes with impunity.

4. For it must be confessed that though he was a man of such magnanimity that he never desired any dependent or servant of his to do an unlawful thing, yet if he found that any one of them had committed a crime, he laid aside all consideration of justice, would not allow the case to be inquired into, but defended the man without the slightest regard for right or wrong. Now this is a fault expressly condemned by Cicero, who thus speaks: "For what difference is there between one who has advised an action, and one who approves of it after it is performed? or what difference does it make whether I wished it be done, or am glad that it is done?"

5. He was a man of a suspicious temper, self-relying, often wearing a bitter smile, and sometimes caressing a man the more effectually to injure him.

6. This vice is a very conspicuous one in dispositions of that kind, and mostly so when it is thought possible to conceal it. He was also so implacable and obstinate in his enmities, that if he ever resolved to injure any one he would never be diverted from his purpose by any entreaties, nor be led to pardon any faults, so that his ears seemed to be stopped not with wax but with lead.

7. Even when at the very summit of wealth and dignity he