previous next


Hilarus the copyist had just left me on the 28th, to whom I had delivered a letter for you, when your letter-carrier arrived with yours dated the day before: in which the sentence that pleased me most was, "Our dear Attica begs you not to be cast down," and that in which you say that all danger is over. To my speech for Ligarius I see that your authority has served as an excellent advertisement. For Balbus and Oppius have written to say that they like it extremely, and have therefore sent that poor little speech to Caesar. So this is what you meant by what you wrote to me before. As to Varro, I should not be influenced by the motive you mention, that is, to avoid being thought fond of great men—for my principle has always been not to include any living person among the interlocutors of my dialogues. But as you say that it is desired by Varro and that he will value it highly, I have composed the books and finished a complete review of the whole Academic philosophy in four books—how well I can't say, but with a minute care which nothing could surpass. In them the arguments so brilliantly deduced by Antiochus against the doctrine of ἀκαταληψία (impossibility of attaining certainty) I have assigned to Varro. To them I answer in person. You are the third personage in our conversation. If I had represented Cotta and Varro as keeping up the argument, according to the suggestion contained in your last letter, I should have been myself a persona muta. This is often the case with graceful effect in ancient dramatis personae—for instance, Heraclides did it in many of his dialogues, and so did I in the six books of the de Republica. So again in my three books de Oratore with which I am fully satisfied. In these too the persons represented are of such a character that silence on my part was natural. For the speakers are Antonius, the veteran Catulus, Gaius Iulius, the brother of Catulus, Cotta, and Sulpicius. The conversation is represented as taking place when I was a mere boy, so that I could have no part in it. On the other hand, my writings in the present period follow the Aristotelian fashion—the conversation of the other characters is so represented as to leave him the leading part. My five books de Finibus were so arranged as to give L. Torquatus the Epicurean arguments, Marcus Cato the Stoic, Marcus Piso the Peripatetic. I thought that could rouse no jealousy, as all those persons were dead. This new work Academica, as you know, I had divided between Catulus, Lucullus, and Hortensius. It was quite inappropriate to their characters: for it was more learned than anything they would appear likely to have ever dreamed of. Accordingly, I no sooner read your letter about Varro than I caught at the idea as a godsend. For there could be nothing more appropriate than Varro to that school of philosophy, in which he appears to me to take the greatest pleasure, and that my part should be such as to avoid the appearance of having arranged to give my side of the argument the superiority. For in fact the arguments of Antiochus are very convincing. As carefully translated by me they retain all the acuteness of Antiochus, with the polish peculiar to the language of our countrymen—if there is indeed any such to be found in me. But pray consider carefully whether I ought to present these books to Varro. Certain objections occur to me—but of those when we meet.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Latin (L. C. Purser)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: