We have, indeed, undertaken our present course of action with a great and almost
certain hope of liberty. But even if I allow that the events of war are
uncertain, and that the chances of Mars
are common to both sides, still it is worth while to fight for freedom at the
peril of one's life. For life does not consist wholly in breathing; there is
literally no life at all for one who is a slave. All nations can endure slavery.
Our state can not. Nor is there any other reason for this, except that those
nations shrink from toil and pain, and are willing to endure any thing so long
as they may be free from those evils; but we have been trained and bred up by
our forefathers in such a manner, as to measure all our designs and all our
actions by the standard of dignity and virtue. The recovery of freedom is so
splendid a thing that we must not shun even death when seeking to recover it.
But if immortality were to be the result of our avoidance of present danger,
still slavery would appear still more worthy of being avoided, in proportion as
it is of longer duration. But as all sorts of death surround us on all sides
night and day, it does not become a man, and least of all a Roman, to hesitate
to give up to his country that breath which he owes to nature.