After this, they secretly tested the sentiments of well known men in whom they had confidence, selecting not only from their intimates, but all whom they knew to be bold, brave, and contemptuous of death.
For this reason, too, they kept their plans a secret from Cicero, although he was foremost among them, not only for the confidence, but also for the good will which he inspired. They feared that the caution which time and old age had brought him, combined with his natural timidity, and further, his habit of calculating all the details of every enterprise so as to ensure the utmost safety, would blunt the edge of their ardour at a crisis which demanded speed.
Besides, Brutus also passed by, among his other friends, Statilius the Epicurean and Favonius the devoted follower of Cato. The reason was that some time before he had put them to a very similar test by the round-about method of a philosophical discussion, when Favonius had answered that civil war was worse than illegal monarchy; and Statilius had declared that it did not become a wise and sensible man to be thrown into turmoil and peril for the sake of feeble and foolish folk. Labeo, however, who was present, argued against them both.
At that time, on the ground that the question was rather difficult and hard to decide, Brutus held his peace, but afterwards imparted his purpose to Labeo, who readily concurred in it. Then it was decided to bring over to their cause the other Brutus, surnamed Albinus;1
in other ways he was not an enterprising nor even a courageous man, but the large number of gladiators whom he was maintaining for the Roman spectacles made him powerful, and he had Caesar's confidence.
When Cassius and Labeo discussed the matter with him, he would make no answer; but he had a private interview by himself with Brutus, and on learning that he was leader of the enterprise, readily agreed to co-operate. The most and best of the rest also were won over by the reputation in which Brutus stood.
And although they exchanged neither oaths nor sacred pledges, they all kept the undertaking so much to themselves and were so secret in carrying it out together that, although it was foretold by the gods in prophecies and oracles and sacrificial omens,2
no one would believe in it.