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CCCXCV (A X, II)

TO ATTICUS (AT ROME)
CUMAE, 4 MAY
AFTER I had sealed my previous packet, I changed my mind about intrusting it to the man to whom I had intended doing so, because he was a stranger. Accordingly, it was not despatched the same day. Meanwhile Philotimus arrived and delivered me a letter from you. What you say in it about my brother does not, indeed, shew as much firmness on his part as one could wish, yet it does not imply any arrière pensée, any treachery, or any obstinate aversion from good, nothing that you cannot turn in any direction you please in one conversation. In short, he holds all his family in great affection-even those with whom he is too often angry—me he loves more dearly than himself. His having written about his boy in one tone to you, and in another to the boy's mother, I see no reason to blame. I am vexed at what you say about the journey and your sister, and the more so that the state of my affairs is such that I can apply no remedy to those things. For I certainly would have done so. But you see my unfortunate position and the desperate state of my affairs. His financial position is not of such a nature—for I hear frequently from him personally—as to prevent his being eager to repay you, and being really anxious on that point. But if such a man as Q. Axius, because I am thus in exile, does not pay me thirteen sestertia, which I lent his son, and pleads the hardness of the times, if Lepta and everybody else do the same, it is wont to make me feel some surprise when he tells me that he is being pressed for an insignificant sum of twenty sestertia. For you, of course, see what his difficulties are. However, he is directing the money to be paid in any case to your order. Do you think him slow or close in business of that kind? No one is less so. Enough about my brother. As for his son: his father has always spoilt him, but his indulgence is not responsible for his being untruthful, or grasping, or wanting in affection for his family, though it perhaps does make him headstrong and self-willed, as well as aggressive. Accordingly, these latter also are traits in his character, which are the results of over-indulgence, but they are pardonable—we must admit-considering what young men are nowadays. Those traits, however, which to me, at least, who love him, are more distressing than the very evils surrounding us, do not arise from excessive compliance on my part: for they have roots of their own, which, however, I would assuredly have torn up, had I been allowed to do so. But my circumstances are such that I must put up with anything. My own son I keep under control without difficulty. He is the most tractable boy possible; but my remorseful pity for him makes me less determined in politics, and the more he desires me to be staunch, the more I fear turning out a cruel father to him.

However, Antony arrived yesterday in the evening. Presently perhaps he will call on me, or, maybe, will not take even that trouble, since he has written to say what it is his pleasure should be done. But you shall know the result at once. Secrecy is my only course now. What can I do about the boys? Shall I trust them to a small vessel? What sort of courage do you think I shall have in the voyage? Why, I remember while sailing in that open Rhodian vessel in the summer how anxious I was: what do you think will be the case in a small despatch boat in the dangerous season of the year? Misery on every side! Trebatius is with me, a right good man and good citizen. What frightful news he brings me, good heavens! Is even Balbus thinking, then, of an entrée into the senate? But I will give him a letter himself for you tomorrow. Yes, I believe Vettienus is, as you say, friendly to me. I answered him with rather a peppery jest, because he wrote to me somewhat abruptly about providing for payment of the money. Pray smooth him down, if he took it less good-temperedly than one could wish. I addressed him as monetalis, 1 because he addressed me as proconsul. But as he is a good fellow and attached to me, let me keep my affection for him too. Farewell.


1 Cicero, in jest, gives him the title of triumvir monetalis, "a commissioner of the mint," as though he "coined money" out of his debtors. Or perhaps he was really in that office, the title of which it was not usual to append to letters. Cicero was apparently annoyed at not being addressed as imperator, as was usual for a man who had received that title from his soldiers, while still retaining his provincial imperium This Caesar is always careful to add. Or it may have been unusual, and therefore rather discourteous, to use such titles at all in a business letter. Is there, perhaps, a pun on moneo, as the dunning letter "reminded" Cicero of his obligations? For the transaction see Letter CCCLXXXIII.

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