After this discourse to the three hundred, he withdrew; and on learning that Caesar with all his army was already on the march,
‘Aha!’ he said,
‘he thinks we are men!’ Then turning to the senators he bade them not delay, but save themselves while the horsemen were still there. He also closed the other gates of the city, and stationing himself at the one leading to the sea, he assigned transports to those under his command, and tried to keep things in order, stopping deeds of wrong, quelling tumults, and supplying stores to those who were destitute.
And when Marcus Octavius with two legions encamped near by and sent to Cato demanding that he come to terms with him about the command in the province, Cato would make no reply to him, but said to his friends:
‘Can we then wonder that our cause is lost, when we see that the love of command abides with us though we are standing on the brink of destruction?’
At this juncture, hearing that the horsemen, as they went away, were already plundering the people of Utica as though their property was booty, he ran to them as fast as he could; from the first whom he met he took away their plunder, but the rest, every man of them, made haste to lay down or throw away what they had, and all felt so ashamed that they went off in silence and with downcast looks. Then Cato, after calling the people of Utica together into the city, begged them not to embitter Caesar against the three hundred, but to unite with one another in securing safety for all.
Next, he betook himself again to the sea and superintended the embarcation there, embracing and escorting on their way all the friends and acquaintances whom he could persuade to go. His son, however, he could not persuade to take ship, nor did he think it his duty to try to turn the young man from his purpose of clinging to his father. But there was one Statyllius, a man who was young in years, but minded to be strong in purpose and to imitate Cato's calmness.
This man Cato insisted should take ship; for he was a notorious hater of Caesar. But when Statyllius would not consent, Cato turned his eyes upon Apollonides the Stoic and Demetrius the Peripatetic, saying:
‘It is your task to reduce this man's swollen pride and restore him to conformity with his best interests.’ He himself, however, continued to assist the rest in getting off, and to supply the needy with ways and means, and was thus engaged all through the night and the greater part of the following day.