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WHAT is to become of me? Who is there, I don't say more unfortunate, but in a more degraded position? Antony says that he has received express orders about me, and, nevertheless, he has as yet not been to see me, but told Trebatius this fact. What am I to do now? Nothing succeeds with me, and the plans which I form with the greatest care are just those which fail in the most shocking manner. Why, I thought when I had got Curio' s consent, that I had succeeded entirely. He had written about me to Hortensius. Reginus was wholly in my interests. 1 I never imagined that Antony would have anything to do with the western sea. Which way am I to turn now? I am watched on every side. But enough of tears! Well, then, I must steal away and creep stealthily into some merchant vessel: I must not expose myself to the suspicion of having connived at my being prevented from going. I must make for Sicily. If I once get there, I shall then have a greater step in my power. If things would only go as they should in Spain! However, I only hope the news about Sicily may prove true: but as yet we have had no luck. The Sicilians are said to have rallied round Cato, to have begged him to hold out, making all manner of promises. Affected by this, he is said to have begun holding a levy. 2 I don't believe it, however distinguished the authority! I am aware that this province was at least capable of being held. However, we shall presently have news from Spain. We have C. Marcellus here, who is entertaining the same thoughts as myself, either sincerely, or making a good pretence of doing so. I have not, however, seen him personally, but have been told this by one of his most intimate friends. Pray send me any news you have: if I take any active step, I will at once let you know. I will treat young Quintus with more strictness. Would that I could do any good! However, pray some time or other tear up the letters in which I have written about him in a tone of severity, for fear of anything getting out at any time. I will do the same with yours.

I am still waiting for Servius, 3 nor do I hear anything satisfactory from him. You shall know whatever does occur. Without doubt I must confess to having made a mistake. For the first time? Or on one subject? Nay, the more deeply I have reflected on a thing, the more unwisely has its execution invariably been. But “The past is past: though grieved, I'll let it be.” 4 Let us only take care not to come to grief in the future. Well, you bid me make provision for my journey. What am I to provide? The possible accidents cover so wide a field, that, if I shrink from them, I must remain stationary with dishonour and sorrow; if I pay no heed to them, there is danger of my falling into the hands of unprincipled men. Only see in what a miserable position I am! At times I think that I should absolutely desire to receive some injury, however mortifying, from the Caesarians, to convince people that I have become an object of hatred to the tyrant. But if the voyage, on which I set my hopes, had been open to me, I would have certainly effected something, as you wish and advise, to justify my delay. But the closeness of the watch set upon me is surprising, and even Curio himself is an object of suspicion. So the two alternatives are to take the high hand, or to act secretly. If the former, I must have favourable weather. The latter means concealment from those men: 5 and if any contretemps occurs in doing that, you must see in what an undignified position I shall be. I am at the mercy of circumstances, and must not shrink from a somewhat bold course. I often think of Caelius, 6 and, if ever I have the like opportunity, I will not let it slip. I hope Spain is safe. The action of the Massilians is at once glorious in itself, and a proof to me that things are going well in Spain. They would not have been so bold, if it had been otherwise: and they would be sure to know, for they are close at hand as well as careful. 7 Again, I am glad of your remark as to the popular dislike expressed in the theatre. Even these legions, which he took over in Italy, I can see are very much disaffected to him. However, he has no worse enemy than himself. I quite agree with your dread that he may run amuck. If he once feels desperate, he certainly will do so. All the more reason for effecting something in the spirit (and, I hope, with better fortune) of Caelius. But one thing at a time: whatever it may be, you shall at once know all about it. I will furnish young Quintus with supplies, as you request, and will undertake the Arcadian task, or the whole Peloponnesus, if you like. 8 Yes: he has ability, if he had but character. 9 . .. And if he hasn't any as yet, he may acquire it, or virtue is not teachable, 10 which I cannot be persuaded to believe.

1 Reginus had command of ships in the Tuscan Sea, and Cicero hoped would allow of his voyage to Sicily, where Curio was.

2 Cato as a matter of fact abandoned Sicily to Curio without a blow. A specimen of the idle rumours afloat at such a time.

3 Servius Sulpicius (see Letter CCCLXXXVIII). Tyrrell makes this a separate letter. It may be so. But it is possible also that he is answering a letter from Atticus which arrived while he was writing.

4 Hom. Il. 17.112.

5 The text here is very corrupt. The translation is only conjectural. I think the words must somehow refer to his voyage, not to his general policy. See p. 398.

6 It is quite uncertain to whom this refers. It is suggested that it has reference to one of the three leaders of armies against Sulla mentioned by Plutarch (Pomp. vii.); but most texts there have Cloelius (Κλοίλιος). Cicero recurs again several times in other letters of this period to him, and he must, therefore, whoever he was, have shewn some intention of resisting usurpation in arms. We shall, however, find Cicero declining to avail himself of armed assistance offered him at Pompeii.

7 Marseilles received the senatorial governor of Gallia, Ahenobarbus, and closed its gates to Caesar (see p. 389). Cicero seems not to know the facts accurately as yet, but to imagine that the prolonged resistance of Marseilles was in consequence of some failure of Caesar's in Spain.

8 Explained by Letter CCCLXXXIII, p. 369, where Cicero says that Atticus's request to him to manage young Quintus was as unreasonable as the Spartan's asking for Arcadia.

9 Some Greek letters here are not intelligible.

10 ἀρετή non est διδακτόν. See the discussion in Plato's Protagoras.

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