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DCCXXXIV (A XV, 5)

TO ATTICUS (AT ROME)
TUSCULUM, 27 MAY
MY letter-carrier has come back from Brutus, and has brought me a letter both from him and from Cassius. They are very earnest to have my advice-Brutus, indeed, wants to know which of the two courses I recommend. What a miserable state of things! I am quite uncertain what to say to them. So I think I shall try silence, unless you think I had better not. But if anything occurs to you, pray write and tell me. Cassius, however, begs and entreats me earnestly to bring Hirtius over to the right side as much as possible. Do you think he is in his right senses? “ Ashes and dust
Is all our trust.
1 I inclose his letter. Balbus also writes to the same effect as you do as to the province of Brutus and Cassius to be assigned by decree of the senate. And Hirtius, too, says that he shall absent himself. 2 For he is now in his Tusculan villa, and is earnestly advising me to keep away. He does so because of the danger which he asserts to have threatened even him: I, however-even supposing there to be no danger—am so far from caring to avoid Antony's suspicion and his thinking me displeased at his success, that the very cause of my unwillingness to come to Rome is to avoid seeing him. Our friend Varro, however, has sent me a letter—I don't know from whom, for he had erased the name—in which it was asserted that the veterans whose claims are postponed—for a certain number had been disbanded—are using most mutinous language, declaring that those who are thought to be against their party will find themselves in great danger at Rome. What then will be "our coming and going, our look and our gait," among such fellows? Nay, if Lucius Antonius—as you tell me—is attacking Decimus Brutus, and the rest our heroes, what am I to do? How am I to bear myself? In short, I have made up my mind—at any rate, if things don't alter—to absent myself from a city in which I once not only flourished in the highest position, but even when a subject enjoyed one of some sort. However, I have not so much resolved to quit Italy—about which I will consult you—as not to come to Rome.


1 The MSS. have the apparently unmeaning words ὅτε ναῦς ἄνθρακες. I venture to propose a proverb which makes sense, and which is no violent change in the MSS., considering the hopeless confusion with which they generally present Greek words. It is θησαυρός, "the treasure turns out to be dust and ashes," a proverb for disappointed hopes (see Lucian, Zeuxis, § 2; Timon, § 41). Cicero says in the next letter that Hirtius, though annoyed with Antony, is devoted to the Caesarian party (as also to the memory of Caesar, see pp.44, 47, 49). If, therefore, they trust in his support, they will find themselves deceived—they will be reckoning without their host, and will find only disappointment.

2 That is, from the meeting of the senate on the 1st of June. At this meeting Antony was to report on the acta of Caesar, which he in conjunction with a small committee had been directed to investigate. Cicero, however, declares that the committee never met, that Antony decided as to Caesar's memoranda and acta as he chose, and when the senate met surrounded it with armed guards (2 Phil. §§ 100, 108).

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