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DCCXVI (A XIV, 14)

TO ATTICUS (AT ROME)
PUTEOLI, 27 APRIL
"Oh tell me o'er your tale again." 1 Our nephew Quintus at the Parilia wearing a garland ? 2 Was he alone? You certainly mention Lamia also, which does utterly astonish me, but I am eager to know who the others were: although I am quite sure that there was no one that wasn't a traitor. Please therefore make this clearer. For myself, it chanced that I had just despatched a fairly long letter to you on the 26th, when about three hours later I received yours, which was also very bulky. So I needn't write to tell you that I had a hearty laugh over your witty and amusing remarks about Vestorius's "sect" and the Puteolian custom of the Pheriones. 3

Now about things more "political." You defend the two Brutuses and Cassius as though I were finding fault with them: whereas the fact is I cannot praise them enough. lt was the weak points in the situation, not in the individuals, that I reviewed. For though the tyrant has been removed, I see that the tyranny remains. For instance, things which Caesar never intended to do are being done: as in the case of Clodius—in regard to which I have full assurance not only that Caesar was not likely to have done it himself, but that he would have actually forbidden it. The next will be Vestorius's old foe Rufio, 4 Victor whose name was never in Caesar's minutes, and so on with the rest—who shall we not see restored? We could not endure being his slaves; we are the humble servants of his memorandum books.

As to the senate of the 17th of March 5 —who was strong enough to refuse to attend? Suppose that could somehow have been done: when I did attend, could I possibly speak with freedom? Wasn't it on every ground necessary, seeing that I had nothing to protect me, to speak up for the veterans who were there with arms in their hands? You can bear me witness that I never approved of that lingering on the Capitol. Well, was that the fault of the Brutuses? Not at all, but of those other dull brutes, who think themselves cautious and wise, who thought it enough in some cases to rejoice, in others to congratulate, in none to persevere. But let us leave the past: let us bestow all our care and power of protection on our heroes, and, as you advise, let us be content with the Ides of March. Yet though they gave our friends-those inspired heroes—an entrance to heaven, they have not given the Roman people liberty. Recall your own words. Don't you remember exclaiming that all was lost if Caesar had a public funeral? 6 Wisely said! Accordingly, you see what has been the issue of it.

So you say that on the 1st of June Antony means to bring the allotment of provinces before the senate, and to propose taking the Gauls himself. Well, will the senate be free to pass a decree? If it is, then I shall rejoice that liberty has been recovered. If not, what will that change of masters have brought me except the joy with which I feasted my eyes on the just execution of a tyrant? You mention plundering going on at the temple of Ops. 7 I, too, was a witness to that at the time. Yes in truth, we have been freed by heroic champions with the result that we are not free after all! So theirs is the glory, ours the fault. And do you advise me to write history? To record the outrageous crimes of the men by whom we are still held down? Shall I be able to refrain from complimenting those very persons, who have asked you to act as their witness? 8 And it isn't, by heaven, the petty gain that moves me; but it is painful to attack with invectives men who have shewn me personal goodwill, whatever their character.

However, as you say, I shall be able to determine my whole line of conduct with greater clearness by the 1st of June. I shall attend on that day and shall strive by every means and exertion in my power-with the assistance of your influence and popularity and the essential justice of the cause—to get a decree through the senate about the Buthrotians in the sense of your letter. The plan of which you bid me think I will of course think over, though I had already in my previous letter Commended it to your consideration. But here are you seeking-just as though the Constitution were already recovered—to give back their just rights to your neighbours of Marseilles. These rights may possibly be restored to them by arms—though I do not know how far we can rely on them—they cannot be so by anybody's influence. 9

P.S. The short letter written by you afterwards was very agreeable to me—that about Brutus's letter to Antony, and also his to you. It seems possible that things may be better than they have been hitherto. But I must take measures as to my present position and as to where to go immediately.


1 This quotation, expressing horrified incredulity, is from the Iliona of Pacuvius (Ribbeck, 202). Cicero twice elsewhere employs it, Acad. prior. 2.88; Tusc. 2.44.

2 See DCCXXII. The Parilia were on the 21st of April.

3 Cicero (p. 22) had jocosely referred to the banker Vestorius as "no philosopher but good at accounts," and Atticus seems to have replied by a punning reference to the αἵρεσις, "sect," with perhaps an allusion to the meaning "taking," as the characteristic of a banker. We can never explain the joke as to the local habits of the "Pheriones," because we don't know who they were or what Atticus said about them. May it be a similar pun on pherein "to carry off"—"convey the wise it call"? Puteoli was the mart of the corn trade from Egypt, and its merchants and bankers may have had a name for sharp practice.

4 Apparently C. Sempronius Rufus, who had a controversy with Vestorius (vol. ii., p. 6).

5 See p. 17

6 The scene at the reading of Caesar's will, the funeral oration of Antony, and the burning of the body in the forum —so faithfully dramatized by Shakespeare—is given most fully by Appian (B.C. 3.143-148). The revulsion of feeling caused by it made Antony all-powerful for some weeks.

7 Cicero elsewhere insinuates that Antony took forcible possession of 700,000 sestertia (about £5,600,000) deposited in Caesar's lifetime in the public treasury at the temple of Ops (Phil. 2.93). See infra, p.41.

8 Of wills, in which legacies were left to Cicero. See p. 8.

9 Massilia (as we have seen, vol. ii., p.394) had held out against Caesar in B.C. 49, and had been obliged to surrender after a long siege, and had given up its arms and ships. But it does not appear to have lost its position as a libera civitas, or if it did, it soon regained it. A figure of Massilia was carried in Caesar's triumph (Off. 2.28: see also Phil. 2.94; Phil. 8.18), and this perhaps implies a loss of libertas for the time. Why Cicero calls the people of Massilia "neighbours" to Atticus is not clear. One suggestion is tbat their ambassadors were living near him at Rome.

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