14“Oh, but we have sent ambassadors to him.” Alas, wretched that I am! why am I compelled to find fault with the senate whom I have always praised? Why? Do you think, O conscript fathers, that you have induced the Roman people to approve of the sending ambassadors? Do you not perceive, do you not hear, that the adoption of my opinion is demanded by them? that opinion which you, in a full house, agreed to the day before, though the day after you allowed yourselves to be brought down to a groundless hope of peace. Moreover, how shameful it is for the legions to send out ambassadors to the senate, and the senate to Antonius! Although that is not an embassy; it is a denunciation that destruction is prepared for him if he do not submit to this order. What is the difference? At all events, men’s opinions are unfavourable to the measure; for all men see that ambassadors have been sent, but it is not all who are acquainted with the terms of your decree.
V. You must, therefore, preserve your consistency, your wisdom, your firmness, your perseverance. You must go back to the old-fashioned severity, if at least the authority of the senate is anxious to establish its credit, its honour, its renown, and its dignity, things which this order has been too long deprived of. But there was some time ago some excuse for it, as being oppressed; a miserable excuse indeed, but still a fair one; now there is none. We appeared to have been delivered from kingly tyranny; and afterwards we were oppressed much more severely by domestic enemies. We did indeed turn their arms aside; we must now wrest them from their hands. And if we cannot do so, (I will say what it becomes one who is both a senator and a Roman to say,) let us die.