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16. [36]

But there were other grounds for fear, and other reasons for anxiety and suspicion, O judges, which influenced me at that time. For I will explain to you this day, O judges, all the principles of my conduct and of my designs; and I will not be wanting to your great desire of hearing the truth, nor to this multitude, the greatest which within my recollection, has ever appeared in any court of justice. For if I, in so good a cause, when supported so zealously by the senate, and by such an inconceivable unanimity on the part of all virtuous men, ready to act in my behalf, and when all Italy was stirred up and braced for the contest,—yielded to the fury of a tribune of the people, one of the most despicable of men; if I was afraid of the trifling but audacious characters of those most contemptible consuls, then I should be forced to confess that I was too timid, that I was a man of no courage, of no decision, and of no wisdom. [37] For what was there in the case of Quintus Metellus similar to mine? Although all good men considered that he had right on his side, yet the senate did not espouse his cause by any public resolution, nor did any separate body of men by any private vote, nor had all Italy undertaken the advocacy of his cause by their decrees. For he had shown greater regard for some sort of private credit of his own, than for the manifest welfare of the republic, when he alone had refused to swear to a law which had been passed by means of violence; and lastly, his great bravery appeared to be exercised with this qualification, that his own credit for consistency was not to be sacrificed to his affection for his country. But he had to contend against the invincible army of Caius Marius; he had for an enemy Caius Marius, the preserver of his country, now for the sixth time administering the affairs of the republic as consul. He had to contend against Lucius Saturninus, now for a second time tribune of the people; a vigilant man, and one who in a popular cause conducted himself, if not with moderation, at all events with due regard to the prejudices of the people, and in a very disinterested spirit. He yielded, lest, being conquered by brave men, he should fall disgracefully, or lest, if conqueror himself, he should deprive the republic of many gallant citizens.

[38] But my cause was embraced openly by the senate, with the greatest energy by the equestrian order, by all Italy by means of public resolutions, and by all good men with the greatest earnestness, as if it were their own personal quarrel. I had performed achievements with regard to which I had not been the sole originator of them, but the leader of the universal inclination of all the citizens; and which were designed to promote not my own single glory, but the common safety of all the citizens—I may almost say of all nations. And I had performed them in such a manner that all men were bound at all times to uphold and defend my conduct.


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