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CCCLXXVII (A X, I)

TO ATTICUS (AT ROME)
LATERIUM, 3 APRIL
Having arrived at my brother's house at Laterium on the 3rd of April, I received your letter and felt a moment of relief—a thing that hadn't happened to me since these disasters. For I value very highly your approval of my firmness of mind and my course of action. As your announcement that our friend Sextus also approves, the joy that that gives me is as though I imagined myself to be receiving the approbation of his father, for whom I always had a peculiar and special regard. It was he, as I am often accustomed to recall, who, in old times, on the famous 5th of December, when I said, "What to do then, Sextus?" answered me by quoting: “ Ah, not a coward's death, nor shorn of fame,
But after some high deed to live for aye.
1

His influence, therefore, is still living for me, and his son, who is extremely like him, has the same importance in my eyes as he once had. Pray give him my very kindest regards.

You certainly defer giving advice, though not to a very distant date; for I imagine by this time that that suborned peacemaker 2 has had his say, and that some decision has been arrived at in the convention of senators—for I don't consider it a senate-nevertheless, you do keep one in suspense as to what it is to be, yet the less so because I feel no hesitation as to what we ought to do. For when you write word that a legion and Sicily are being offered to Flavius, and that that business is already being carried out, what crimes must you think are partly being actually proposed and meditated, partly will crop up in the future? I, for my part, shall disregard the law of Solon—your countryman, and presently, I think, to be mine—who punished by disfranchisement the man who, in a case of civil disturbance, took neither side. Unless you think otherwise, I shall hold aloof both from the one and the other. But one of the two courses is more decidedly resolved upon in my mind, and yet I will not anticipate. I shall await your advice and the letter (unless you have by this time sent another) which I asked you to deliver to Cephalio. You say, not because you have heard it from anyone else, but because it is your personal belief, that I shall be drawn into any negotiation there may be about peace. I have no idea at all of any negotiation for peace being possible, since it is Caesar's most fixed determination, if he can, to strip Pompey of his army and province, 3 unless, perchance, that well-paid friend of yours can persuade him to keep quiet long enough to allow commissioners to go and return. I see nothing to hope for or to think of as possible. Nevertheless, this is itself a point for an honest man to consider: it is important and among the problems of l'haute politique 4 —whether one ought to appear at the council-board of a tyrant, if he is going to discuss some subject good in itself. Wherefore, if anything should turn up of a sort to lead to my being summoned—which for my part does not give me any anxiety, for I have said what I intended saying about peace, and Caesar himself emphatically repudiated it—but if anything should turn up, write and tell me in any case what you think I ought to do. For nothing has as yet occurred to me requiring more deliberation. I rejoice that you are pleased with the words of Trebatius, a good man and a good citizen; and your own frequent exclamation of "excellent" has been the one thing up to now that has given me pleasure. I am looking eagerly for a letter from you which, indeed, I feel sure is already on its way. You, along with Sextus, have maintained the same dignified resolve as youenjoin upon me. Your friend Celer is rather a man of learning than of good sense. What Tullia has told you about our young men is true. What you mention 5 in your letter does not appear to me to be so formidable in fact as in sound. It is this state of distraction in which we now are that is a kind of death. I had two alternatives before me—either to continue active political life among the disloyal with freedom of action, or to side with the loyalists at whatever risk. Let me either follow the fool-hardy counsels of the loyalists, or attack the reckless measures of the disloyal. Either is dangerous: but what I am now doing is discreditable and yet not safe. I think that your friend who sent his son to Brundisium 6 to negotiate a peace (I am quite of your opinion as to peace, that it is a palpable pretence, and that war is being prepared with the utmost energy) will be commissioned, not myself; of which as yet no word, to my great relief, has been said. I therefore think it the less necessary to write, or even to consider what I should do, if I should happen to be commissioned.


1 Homer, Il. 22.304. Cicero omits the word ἀπολοίμην, which he expects Atticus, as usual, to supply, but not from such design (I think) as Prof. Tyrrell suggests. The speaker is Sextus Peducaeus, the circumstance the question of how to deal with the Catilinarian conspirators. Peducaeus means, "Strike hard, whatever the consequences to yourself." Quotations seldom exactly represent a man's meaning. They only suggest it.

2 Probably Curio is meant, whose support Caesar, as we have heard, had purchased in the previous year. Others suggest Lepidus.

3 Spain, which was being governed for Pompey by three legates, forced by Caesar in the following summer to surrender.

4 Tyrrell and Purser give a different complexion to this sentence by introducing ut non before magnum, and sit after it, " Even supposing it not to be a problem of haute politique," etc.

5 A word here is tn the MSS. maconi, of which nothing can be made. Various emendations have been suggested, but none are satisfactory. Perhaps νάρκωδες or νάρκωμα, "numbness."

6 Servius Sulpicius Rufus (see p. 397).

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