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22. [56]

Why then did I depart, or what fear was there? I will not say in me. Allow that I am timid by nature; what are we to say of so many thousands of the bravest men? what did our Roman knights think? what did the senate? what, in short, did all good men think? If there was no violence, why did they escort me out of the city with tears, instead of reproving and detaining me, or being indignant with me and leaving me? Or was I afraid that I could not, while present, resist their accusations if they proceeded against me according to the usages and principles of our ancestors? [57] If a day had been appointed for my trial, must I have dreaded the investigation? or must I have feared a private bill being introduced against me without any trial? A trial in so shameful a cause I suppose I am a man who, if the cause were not understood, could not speak so as to explain it at all, or could I not make people approve of my cause, when its excellence is such that of its own merits it made people approve not only of itself while it was before them, but of me also though I was absent? Was the senate, were all ranks of the people, were those men who flew hither from all Italy to cooperate in my recall, likely to be more indifferent, while I was present, about retaining and preserving me, in that cause which even that parricide says was such, that he complains that I was sought out and recalled to my previous honours by the whole people? [58] Was there then no danger to me whatever in a court of justice; but was I to fear a private bill, and that if a penalty were sought to be recovered from me while I was present, no one would interpose a veto? Was I so destitute of friends, or was the republic so entirely without magistrates? What? supposing the tribes had been convoked, would they have approved of a proscription, I will not say against me who had deserved so well of them by my efforts for their safety, but would they have approved of it in the case of any citizen whatever? Or, if I had been present, would those veteran troops of conspirators, and those profligate and needy soldiers of yours, and that new force of two most impious consuls, have spared my person, when, after that I had, by departing, succumbed to their inhumanity and wickedness, I could not though absent satisfy their hostility to me by my misfortunes?

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