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DCIII (A XIII, 28, 29.1)

As you are going to inspect the pleasure-grounds today, I shall hear of course tomorrow what you think of them. About Faberius again you will write when he has arrived. As to the letter to Caesar, believe my solemn assertion, -I cannot! Nor is it the dishonour of the thing that deters me, though it ought to do so most of all. For where is the disgrace of flattery, in view of the disgrace of living at all? But as I began by saying, it is not the dishonour that deters me: and, indeed, I only wish it could—for then I should have been the man I ought to be—but I cannot think of anything to say. For those exhortations addressed to Alexander by men of eloquence and learning-think of the circumstances in which they were delivered! Here was a young man fired with ambition for the purest glory, desiring to have some suggestions made to him as to how to win undying fame, and they exhort him to follow honour. There is no lack of something to say in such a case. But what can I say? Nevertheless, I had roughhewn what seemed to me a kind of model. Because there were some things in it which were slightly coloured beyond the actual facts-present and past-adverse criticism is provoked, and I am not sorry for it. For if that letter had reached its destination, believe me, I should have repented it. Why, don't you see that even that famous pupil of Aristotle, distinguished for the very best ability and the most perfect conduct, no sooner got the title of king than he became haughty, cruel, and ungovernable? Well now, do you think that this god of the procession, this messmate of Quirinus, 1 is likely to be gratified by temperate letters such as I should write? In truth, I would rather that he felt annoyed at not receiving what I had not written, than disapprove of what I had. In fine, let it be as he pleases. What was goading me on to action, at the time I put the "Archimedian problem" 2 before you, is now all gone. By Heaven, I am now actually desirous—and much more earnestly—of that same misfortune of which I was then afraid, 3 or any other he chooses. Unless anything else prevents you, pray come to me: you will be very welcome. Nicias having been urgently summoned by Dolabella—for I read the letter-has gone against my will, yet at the same time on my advice. What follows I have written with my own hand.

While I was by way of questioning Nicias about other matters in regard to men of learning, we fell upon the subject of Thalna. He did not speak highly of his genius, but said that he was steady and of good character. But what follows did not seem to me to be satisfactory. He said that he knew him to have lately tried to marry Cornificia, daughter of Quintus, who was quite an old woman and had often been married before: that the ladies did not accept his proposal because they found that his property did not amount to more than 800 sestertia. I thought you ought to know this. 4

1 Alluding to Caesar's statue in the temple of Quirinus (see p.255), and to his bust being carried with those of the gods in the procession with which the ludi Circenses were opened (Suet. Iul. 76). See p. 310.

2 See p.85.

3 Of losing a hold upon Caesar's favour. This shews a decided change in the tone of Cicero's references to Caesar. The extraordinary honours voted to him after the news of Munda—among which was the life dictatorship—may account for this, as destroying all hope of a constitutional government.

4 Iuventius Thalna was perhaps a candidate for the hand of Atticus's daughter Attica (properly Caecilia), who eventually married Agrippa.

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