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Antony to Hirtius and Octavius

“WHEN I heard of the death of Trebonius I was both glad and sorry. It rejoiced me to know-that a wretch had paid the penalty due to the ashes and bones of the most illustrious of men, and that the vengeance of the gods had overtaken him within the term of the revolving year, and that punishment for the parricidal act is either accomplished or impending. I mourn that Dolabella was voted an enemy as soon as he had put the assassin to death, and that the son of a buffoon should seem dearer to the Roman people than Gaius Cæsar, the father of his country. Most grievous is it that you, Aulus Hirtius, loaded as you are with Cæsar's benefactions, and left by him in a condition that must be a surprise to yourself, and you, O boy, who owe everything to his name, should so conduct yourselves that Dolabella should be condemned by law, and this pest [Decimus Brutus] delivered from siege, and Brutus and Cassius strengthened as much as possible. You look upon the present state of things too much as you have viewed the past. You call Pompey's camp the Senate. You have taken the vanquished Cicero for a leader. You are strengthening Macedonia with armies. You have placed Africa in charge of Varus, who was twice taken prisoner. You have sent Cassius into Syria. You have allowed Casca to hold the tribuneship. You have taken away the revenues of the Luperci assigned to them by Cæsar. You have abolished the colonies of veterans established by law and senatus consultum. You promise to restore to the Massilians what was taken from them by the law of war. Do you forget that under the law of Hirtius no Pompeian who lives can hold office? You have supplied Brutus with the money of Apuleius. You applauded the execution of Pætus and Menedemus, Cæsar's hosts, who had been given the citizenship by him. You took no notice of Theopompus when he was stripped and driven out by Trebonius and fled to Alexandria. You tolerate Servius Galba in your camp girded with the same dagger [with which he stabbed Cæsar]. You have enlisted my soldiers and the veterans under pretence of exterminating those who killed Cæsar, and have hurled them, in ignorance of what they were doing, against their quæstor, their general, their comrades. In short, what have you not approved of, what have you not done, that Pompey himself would do if he could come to life, or his son if he were at home? Finally, you say that peace is not possible unless I let Brutus go free or supply him with corn. What? Is this the opinion of those veterans who can still choose their own course? Since you have sold yourselves for adulation and poisoned gifts, . . . But you say you are bringing aid to beleaguered soldiers. I will not hinder them from escaping and going where they please if they will let that man perish who has deserved to perish. You write me that mention has been made of peace in the Senate, and of five ambassadors of consular rank. It is hard to believe that those who drove me headlong when I offered the fairest conditions, and was even thinking of abating some part of them, can contemplate any moderate or humane act. It is hardly probable that those who voted Dolabella an enemy for his most righteous deed could spare me, who hold the same sentiments with him. Wherefore you ought rather to reflect whether it is more fitting, and more useful to our party, to avenge the death of Trebonius or that of Cæsar, and whether it is more equitable for us to compete with each other in bringing to life the cause of Pompey that has so often had its throat cut, or to combine, so that we be not a laughing-stock to our enemies, who will be the gainers whichever of us shall fall. Fortune itself has thus far shunned that spectacle, that it might not behold two armies belonging to one body fighting each other, with Cicero for trainer, who is a happy man in so far as he can deceive you with the same compliments with which he boasted that he deceived Cæsar. I am resolved to endure no affront either to myself or to my friends, nor to desert the party that Pompey hated, nor to allow the veterans to be moved from their settlements or be put to the torture one by one; nor shall I come short of the faith I pledged to Dolabella, nor violate my alliance with Lepidus, that most conscientious man, nor betray Plancus, the partner of my counsels. If the immortal gods aid me, as I hope, in my righteous course, I shall be glad to live; but if another fate awaits me I shall enjoy your punishment in advance, for if the Pompeians are so insolent when vanquished, what they will be when victorious you will learn by experience rather than myself. Finally, the sum and substance of my decision is this, I can bear the injuries that my friends have done me if they are willing to forget that they have done them, or if they are ready to join me in avenging Cæsar's death. I do not believe that ambassadors are coming to the theatre of war. When they do come I shall know what they demand.” Cicero, Phil. xiii 1

1 Cicero said that the only answer made by Hirtius and Octavius to this letter was to move nearer to Antony's works. (Phil. xiii, 20.)

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