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 As these facts became known at Utica some three days later, and as Cæsar was marching right against that place, a general flight began. Cato did not detain anybody. He gave ships to all the nobility who asked for them, but himself adhered firmly to his post. When the inhabitants of Utica promised to intercede for him before doing so for themselves, he answered with a smile that he did not need any intercessors with Cæsar, and that Cæsar knew it very well. Then he placed his seal on all the public property and gave the accounts of each kind to the magistrates of Utica. Toward evening he bathed and dined. He ate in a sitting posture, as had been his custom since Pompey's death.1 He changed his habits in no respect. He partook of the dinner, neither more nor less than usual. He conversed with the others present concerning those who had sailed away and inquired whether the wind was favorable and whether they would make sufficient distance before Cæsar should arrive the next morning. Nor did he change any of his habits when he retired to rest, except that he embraced his son rather more affectionately than usual. As he did not find his sword in its accustomed place by his couch, he exclaimed that he had been betrayed by his servants to the enemy. "What weapon shall I use if I am attacked in the night ?" he said.2 When they besought him to do no violence to himself but to go to sleep without his sword, he replied still more plausibly, "Could I not strangle myself with my clothing if I wished to, or knock my brains out against the wall, or throw myself headlong to the ground, or destroy myself by holding my breath?" Much more he said to the same purport until he persuaded them to bring back his sword. When it had been put in its place he called for Plato's treatise on the soul and began to read.
1 That is, instead of reclining, as was the fashion of the Romans at dinner. Combes-Dounous seems not to have been aware of this custom. He says that " the makers of the Latin version seem not to have known the meaning of the verb ἐγεύετο. They have made Appian say that Cato sat down to take his repast, as he had been accustomed to do since Pompey's death. Do they mean to say that before Pompey's death Cato took his meals standing? " He thinks that Cato suspected his cook. He feared poison. The passage, he thinks should be translated: " Being seated he caused the food to be tasted according to the custom he had adopted since the death of Pompey."
2 The text is dubious here.
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