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CDXVIII (A XI, 7)

TO ATTICUS (AT ROME)
BRUNDISIUM, 17 DECEMBER
I am much obliged for your letter, in which you have set forth with great care all that you thought had any bearing on my position. Is it the case then, as you say in your letter, that your friends think that I should retain my lictors on the ground that Sestius has been allowed to do so? 1 But in his case I don't consider that his own lictors have been allowed him, but that lictors have been given him by Caesar himself. 2 For I am told that he refuses to acknowledge any decrees of the Senate passed after the withdrawal of the tribunes. 3 Wherefore he will be able without forfeiting his consistency to acknowledge my lictors. However, why should I talk about lictors, who am all but ordered to quit Italy? For Antony has sent me a copy of Caesar's letter to him, in which he says that "he has been told that Cato and L. Metellus had come to Italy, with the intention of living openly at Rome: that he disapproved of that, for fear of its being the cause of disturbances: and that all are forbidden to come to Italy except those whose case he had himself investigated." And on this point the language of the despatch is very strong. Accordingly, Antony in his letter to me begged me to excuse him: "he could not but obey that letter." Then I sent L. Lamia to him, to point out that Caesar had told Dolabella to write and bid me come to Italy at the first opportunity: that I had come in consequence of his letter. 4 Thereupon he made a special exception in his edict of myself and Laelius by name. I had much rather he had not done that; for the exception itself could have been made without mentioning names. 5 Oh, what endless, what formidable dangers! However, you are doing your best to mitigate them: and not without success,—the very fact that you take such pains to lessen my distress lessens it. Pray do not get tired of doing so as frequently as possible. Now, you will best succeed in your object, if you can persuade me to think that I have not entirely forfeited the good opinion of the loyalists. And yet what can you do in that regard? Nothing, of course. But if circumstances do give you any opportunity, that is what will best be able to console me. I see that at present this is impossible, but if any thing should turn up in the course of events, as in the present instance! It used to be said that I ought to have left the country with Pompey. His death has disarmed criticism on that sin of omission. But of all things the one most found wanting in me is that I have not gone to Africa. Now my view of the question was this,—I did not think that the constitution ought to be defended by foreign auxiliaries drawn from the most treacherous race, especially against an army that had been frequently victorious. They perhaps disapprove that view. For I hear that many loyalists have arrived in Africa, and I know that there were many there before. On this point I am much pressed. Here again I must trust to luck,—that Some of them, or, if possible, all should be found to prefer their personal safety. For if they stick to their colours and prevail, you perceive what my position will be. You will say, "What about them, if they are beaten?" Such a blow is more creditable to them. These are the thoughts that torture me. You did not explain in your letter why you do not prefer Sulpicius's 6 policy to mine. Though it is not so reputable that of Cato, yet it is free from danger and vexation. The last case is that of those who remain in Achaia. Even they are in a better position than I am, in two respects: there are many together in one place; and, when they do come to Italy, they will come straight back to Rome. Pray continue your present efforts to soften these difficulties and to secure the approbation of as many as possible. You apologize for not coming to me: I however am well acquainted with your reasons, and I also think it to my advantage that you should be where you are, if only to make to the proper people—as you are actually doing—the representations that have to be made in my behalf. Above all pray observe this. I believe that there are a number of people who have reported or will report to Caesar either that I repent of the course I have adopted, or do not approve of what is now going on: and, though both statements are true, yet they are made by them from an unfriendly feeling to me, not because they have perceived them to be so. In regard to this everything depends on Balbus and Oppius supporting my cause, and on Caesar's kind disposition towards me being confirmed by frequent letters from them. Pray do your utmost to secure that. A second reason for my not wishing you to leave Rome is that you mention in your letter that Tullia implores your help. What a misfortune I What am I to say? What can I wish? I will be brief: for a sudden flood of tears stops me. I leave it to you. Do as you think right. Only be careful that at such a crisis as this there may be no danger to her safety. Pardon me, I beseech you: I cannot dwell on this topic any longer for tears and grief. I will only say that nothing is more soothing to my feelings than your affection for her.

I am obliged to you for seeing to letters being sent to those to whom you think it necessary. 7 I have seen a man who says that he saw young Quintus at Samos, and his father at Sicyon. They will easily obtain their pardons. I only hope that, as they will have seen Caesar first, they may choose to aid me with him as much as I should have wished to aid them, if I had had the power! You ask me not to be annoyed if there are any expressions in your letter likely to give me pain. Annoyed! Nay, I implore you to write everything to me with complete candour, as you do, and to do so as often as possible. Good-bye.

15 December.


1 The text is corrupt. I venture to read: arbitratus es. Itane est igitur, ut scribis, istis placere eisdem lictoribus me uti, quod concessum Sestio sit? Itane may without much violence be extracted from t ea, and factum be an inserted explanation of est.

2 To P. Sestius had been allotted the province of Cilicia in succession to Cicero, but this allotment had taken place after the expulsion of the Tribunes in January, B.C. 49; for we know that Curio had up to 10th December, B.C. 50, prevented any decree as to the provinces (vol. ii., p.182). Therefore, Cicero argues, Caesar, who would not acknowledge any Senatus Consultum after the expulsion of the Tribunes, if he allows of Sestius having imperium, must do so as an act of his own. But in Cicero's own case his imperium dated long before, and Caesar could consistently acknowledge it.

3 M. Antonius and Q. Cassius, vol. ii., p.234.

4 Cicero repeats this assertion of Caesar's invitation afterwards, in answer to Antony's remark that he spared him at Brundisium when he might have killed him. (Phil. 2.5.)

5 Cicero did not wish his name to be mentioned as specially favoured by Caesar, for fear of being discredited with the Pompeians, should they eventually prevail. For Laelius, see p.33.

6 Servius Sulpicius Rufus (see vol. ii., pp.354, 361) retired to Samos after Pharsalia, and was soon afterwards employed by Caesar to govern Greece. His son had been in Caesar's army.

7 I. e., written in Cicero's name (see pp. 4, 9, 22).

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