This opinion seemed so humane, and the speech in support of it was made with such power,1
that not only those who rose to speak after Caesar sided with him, but many also of those who had preceded him took back the opinions which they had expressed and went over to his, until the question came round to Cato and Catulus. These warmly opposed Caesar's proposal, and Cato even helped to raise suspicion against Caesar by what he said.2
As a result, the men were handed over to the executioner,
and many of the young men who at that time formed a body-guard for Cicero ran together with drawn swords and threatened Caesar as he was leaving the senate. But Curio, as we are told, threw his toga round Caesar and got him away, while Cicero himself, when the young men looked to him for a sign, shook his head, either through fear of the people, or because he thought the murder would be wholly contrary to law and justice.
Now, if this is true, I do not see why Cicero did not mention it in the treatise on his consulship;3
however, he was afterwards blamed for not having improved that best of all opportunities for removing Caesar. Instead, he showed a cowardly fear of the people, who were extravagantly attached to Caesar; in fact, a few days afterward, when Caesar came into the senate and tried to defend himself in the matters wherein suspicion had been fixed upon him, and met with a tumult of disapproval, the people, seeing that the session of the senate was lasting a longer time than usual, came up with loud cries and surrounded the senate-house, demanding Caesar, and ordering the senate to let him go.
It was for this reason, too, that Cato, fearing above all things a revolutionary movement set on foot by the poorer classes, who were setting the whole multitude on fire with the hopes which they fixed upon Caesar, persuaded the senate to assign them a monthly allowance of grain, in consequence of which an annual outlay of seven million five hundred thousand drachmas was added to the other expenditures of the state.4
However, the great fear which prevailed at the time was manifestly quenched by this measure, and the greatest part of Caesar's power was broken down and dissipated in the nick of time, since he was praetor elect,5
and would be more formidable on account of his office.