36.  I am therefore compelled to say that which I would not say if I were not compelled. (For I have never said anything at all in the way of extolling myself for the sake of gaining praise, but only with a view to repel an accusation.) I say, therefore, and I say it with the loudest voice I can command, when the inflamed violence of all the profligate citizens and conspirators, a tribune of the people being the leader, the consuls being their instigators, the senate being beaten down, the Roman knights being terrified, the whole city being in suspense and anxiety, was making an attack, not so much on me as, through me, on all good men—I say that I then saw that if I conquered, there would be but little of the republic left, and if I were conquered, none at all. And when I had decided that this would be the case, I lamented indeed my separation from my unhappy wife, the desolate state of my most beloved children, the distress of my most affectionate and excellent brother, who was away, and the sudden ruin of a family which had seemed so thoroughly established; but still I preferred to all these considerations the safety of my fellow-citizens, and I preferred that the republic should rather fall, if fall it must through the departure of one man, than through the slaughter of every one. I hoped (as indeed happened) that I, though overthrown, might be raised again by gallant men who were still alive; but I expected that if I perished, involving all virtuous men in my fall, I could not by any possibility be recovered.  I felt indeed, O priests, a great and incredible pain; I do not deny it; nor do I pretend to that wisdom which some expected of me, who said that I was too much dispirited and cast down. Could I, when I was torn from such a number and variety of enjoyments, (which I pass over, because even now I cannot speak of them without tears,) deny that I was a human being, and repudiate the common feelings of our nature? But in that case I should neither call that action of mine praise-worthy, nor should I say that any service had been done to the republic by me, if I had only given up, for the sake of the republic, those things which I could bear the loss of with calmness; and that firmness of the mind, resembling that hardness of body, which, even when it is burnt, does not feel it, I should consider insensibility rather than virtue.
This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
THE SPEECH OF M. T. CICERO FOR HIS HOUSE. ADDRESSED TO THE PRIESTS
THE SPEECH OF M. T. CICERO AGAINST PUBLIUS VATINIUS; CALLED ALSO, THE EXAMINATION OF PUBLIUS VATINIUS.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.
An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.