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CDI (A X, 17)

ON the 14th Hortensius came to call on me after I had written my letter. I only wish the rest of his conduct had been the same. You could hardly conceive such épanouissement! I mean, I can tell you, to make use of it. 1 Then came Serapion with your letter, before opening which I remarked to him that you had written to me about him before, as you had done. Then, after opening the letter, I told him the rest of your compliment to the last syllable: and, by Hercules, I esteem him to be a good, learned, and honest man. And, what is more, I think of using his ship and taking him with me on my voyage. The inflammation in my eyes frequently recurs, not, indeed, to a very painful extent, but enough to prevent my writing. I am glad that your health is re-established, both from your old complaint and your more recent troubles. I could wish I had Ocella with me. For I think the weather here is going to be slightly calmer. At present the equinox is delaying us, which has been very stormy. After that, if there is a brisk wind, 2 I can only hope that Hortensius may remain in the same mind: since up to this time nothing could exceed his courtesy. You wonder at what I said about a "passport," as though I had insinuated some grave charge or other against you. For you say you "can't make out how it ever came into my mind." Well, since you had mentioned in your letter that you were thinking of leaving the country, and since I had been told that no one could do so without one, I thought, of course, that you had one, and also because you had taken out a passport for the boys. That was the ground of my belief, and, nevertheless, I wish you would write and tell me what you are thinking of doing, and above all what news is now stirring.

16 May.

1 Hortensius, son of the great orator, was in command of the mare inferum in Caesar's interest. He might, therefore, if he chose to be disagreeable, prevent Cicero's voyage. His wild conduct and character were described in Letter CCLXIII, which accounts for Cicero's relief at finding him a little more decent in conduct than Antony, as referred to in the last letter.

2 Si ἀκραὲς erit The Greek word is used by Homer as an epithet for a wind (ἀκρὸς ... ἄημι). Some translate: "if there is fair weather." The mention of the equinox at this date shews how far the calendar was wrong.

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