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35. [93]

And since you find fault with me for this, that you assert that I am accustomed to speak too boastfully of myself; I ask, who ever heard me speak in this way, or speak of myself at all, except when I was compelled, and was doing so of necessity? For if, when robberies, and bribery, and lust are imputed to me, I am accustomed to reply that the country was saved by my prudence, and labour, and personal danger, I ought not to be considered as boasting of my own exploits, so much as refusing to confess what is imputed to me. But if, before these most miserable periods of the republic, nothing else was ever imputed to me, except the cruelty of my conduct at that time when I warded off destruction from the republic, what will you say? Ought I when accused in this manner, not to have replied at all, or to have replied in an abject tone? [94] But I have always thought it for the interest of even the republic itself, that I should uphold by my language the propriety and glory of that most noble exploit which I performed by the authority of the senate, with the consent of all virtuous men, for the safety of my country; especially when I am the only person in this republic who have been able to say on oath, in the hearing of the Roman people, that this city and this republic had been saved by my exertions. That accusation of cruelty has long since been extinguished, because men see that I was regretted, and demanded and sent for back by the wishes of all the citizens, not as a cruel tyrant, but as a most merciful parent. Another charge has risen up. [95] That departure of mine from the city is attacked, which accusation I cannot reply to without the greatest credit to myself. For what, O priests, ought I to say? That I lied from a consciousness of guilt? But that which was imputed to me as a crime, not only was not a crime, but was the most glorious action ever performed since the birth of man. That I feared the sentence of the people? But not only was there no trial at any time before the people, but if there had been, I should have departed with redoubled glory. That the protection of the good was wanting to me? It is false. That I was afraid of death? That is an assertion disgraceful to those who make it.

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