DCCXV (A XIV, 13)
TO ATTICUS (AT ROME)YOUR letter of the 19th did not reach me till the seventh day. In it you ask me (and even seem to think I can't answer) which of the two I like best-hills and a fine view or a walk along a flat coast. Well, it is quite true that, as you say, the charm of both spots is so great, that I can't make up my mind which is to be preferred. “ But 'tis no time to think of dainty fare,
PUTEOLI, 26 APRIL
PUTEOLI, 26 APRIL
When heaven upon us rolls this cloud of woe:
We look and shudder—is it life or death ?
” 1 For though you have sent me important and welcome news about Decimus Brutus having joined his legions, 2 in which I see the promise of very great things. Nevertheless, if there is to be a civil war, as there is sure to be, if Sextus Pompeius is going to remain in arms—as I know for certain he will—what I am to do I am at loss to conceive. For it will not be allowable now, as it was in Caesar's war, to go neither to the one nor to the other. For anyone that this party shall believe to have rejoiced at Caesar's death—and we all of us shewed our joy in the most open way—they will consider in the light of a public enemy: and that means a formidable massacre. The only resource is to go to the camp of Sextus Pompeius or perhaps to that of Brutus. It is a tiresome step and quite unsuitable to our time of life, Considering the uncertainty of war, and somehow or another I can say to you and you to me: “ "My son, the deeds of war are not for you:
Seek rather thou the witching works of"—speech.
” 3 But I will leave all this to chance, which in such matters is more powerful than design. For ourselves let us only take care—a thing which is within our power—that we bear whatever happens with courage and philosophy, remember that we are but mortal, and allow literature to console us much, but the Ides of March most of all. Now join me in the deliberation which is distracting my mind, owing to the many conflicting arguments which occur to me on either side. Shall I start for Greece, as I had determined, with a libera legatio? Thereby I seem to avoid a considerable risk of impending massacre, but to be likely to expose myself to some reproach for having deserted the state at such a grave crisis. If on the other hand I remain, I perceive that I shall be in danger indeed, but I suspect that an opportunity may occur of my being able to benefit the republic. There is also a consideration of a private nature, namely, that I think it of great importance for confirming my son in his good resolutions that I should go to Athens, and I had no other motive for my journey at the time when I contemplated accepting a libera legatio from Caesar. Therefore pray take under your consideration the whole question, as you always do in anything which you think touches my interests. Now I return to your letter. You say that there are rumours that I am about to sell my property on the Lake; 4 while I am going to convey my bijou villa—and that at a fancy price—to my brother Quintus, for him to bring home, as young Quintus has told you, the rich heiress Aquilia. The real truth is that I have no thoughts of selling unless I find something that pleases me better; while Quintus has no idea of purchasing at this time. He is quite bothered enough by his obligation to repay the dowry. To marriage, moreover, he has such a distaste that he assures me that nothing can be pleasanter than a bed to oneself. 5 But enough of that. I return to the downcast or rather to the non-existent republic. Marcus Antonius has written to me about the recall of Sextus Clodius—in what a complimentary manner, as far as I am concerned, you may see from his letter, for I am sending you a copy. But you will at the same time have no difficulty in recognizing the unprincipled and improper nature of his proposal,—so mischievous in fact that it sometimes makes one wish Caesar back again. For measures which Caesar would never have taken or sanctioned are now produced from his forged minutes. However, I made no difficulty about it to Antony: for of course, having once made up his mind that he may do what he chooses, he would have done it all the same if I had refused. So I inclose a copy of my letter also.