previous next

L (A II, 24)

In the letter which I delivered to Numestius I begged you to come back, in the most urgent and vehement terms it was possible to use. To the speed which I then enjoined even add something if you possibly can. And yet do not be agitated, for I know you well, and am not ignorant of "how love is all compact of thought and fear." But the matter, I hope, is going to be less formidable in the end than it was at its beginning. That fellow Vettius, our old informer, promised Caesar, as far as I can make out, that he would secure young Curio being brought under some suspicion of guilt. Accordingly, he wormed his way into intimacy with the young man, and having, as is proved, often met him, at last went the length of telling him that he had resolved by the help of his slaves to make an attack upon Pompey and assassinate him. Curio reported this to his father, the latter to Pompey. The matter was reported to the senate. Vettius, on being brought in, at first denied that he had ever had any appointment with Curio. However, he did not long stick to that, but immediately Claimed the protection of the state as giving information. There was a shout of "no" to this 1 but he went on to state that there had been a confederacy of young men under the leadership of Curio, to which Paullus had at first belonged, and Q. Caepio (I mean Brutus 2 ) and Lentulus, son of the flamen, with the privity of his father: that afterwards C. Septimius, secretary to Bibulus, had brought him a dagger from Bibulus. That made the whole thing ridiculous, as though Vettius would have been at a loss for a dagger unless the consul had given him one; and it was all the more scouted because on the 5th of May Bibulus had told Pompey to be on his guard against plots; on which occasion Pompey had thanked him. Young Curio, being brought into the senate, spoke in answer to the allegations of Vettius; and on this particular occasion the strongest thing against Vettius was his having said that the plan of the young men was to attack Pompey in the forum, with the help of Gabinius's gladiators, 3 and that in this the ring-leader was Paullus, who was ascertained to have been in Macedonia at that time. A decree of the senate is passed that " Vettius, having confessed to having 'worn a dagger,' 4 should be cast into prison; that anyone releasing him would be guilty of treason to the state." The opinion generally held is that the whole affair had been arranged. Vettius was to be caught in the forum with a dagger, and his slaves also with weapons, and he was then to offer to lay an information; and this would have been carried out, had not the Curios given Pompey previous information. Presently the decree of the senate was read in public assembly. Next day, however, Caesar—the man who formerly as praetor had bidden Q. Catulus 5 speak on the ground below—now brought Vettius on to the rostra, and placed him on an elevation to which Bibulus, though consul, was prevented from aspiring. Here that fellow said exactly what he chose about public affairs, and, having come there primed and instructed, first struck Caepio's name out of his speech, though he had named him most emphatically in the senate, so that it was easy to see that a night and a nocturnal intercession 6 had intervened: next he named certain men on whom he had not cast even the slightest suspicion in the senate: L. Lucullus, by whom he said that C. Fannius was usually sent to him—the man who on a former occasion had backed a prosecution of Clodius; L. Domitius, whose house had been agreed on as the headquarters of the Conspirators. Me he did not name, but he said that "an eloquent consular, who lived near the consul, had said to him that there was need of some Servilius Ahala or Brutus being found." 7 He added at the very end, on being recalled by Vatinius after the assembly had been dismissed, that he had been told by Curio that my son-in-law Piso was privy to these proceedings, as M. Laterensis also. At present Vettius is on trial for "violence" before Crassus Dives, 8 and when condemned he intends to claim the impunity of an informer; and if he obtains that, there seem likely to be some prosecutions. I don't despise the danger, for I never despise any danger, but neither do I much fear it. People indeed show very great affection for me, but I am quite tired of life: such a scene of misery is it all. It was only the other day that we were fearing a massacre, which the speech of that gallant old man Q. Considius prevented : 9 now this one, which we might have feared any day, has suddenly turned up. In short, nothing can be more unfortunate than I, or more fortunate than Catulus, both in the splendour of his life and in the time of his death. However, in the midst of these miseries I keep my spirit erect and undismayed, and maintain my position in a most dignified manner and with great caution. Pompey bids me have no anxiety about Clodius, and shows the most cordial goodwill to me in everything he says. I desire to have you to suggest my policy, to be the partner in my anxieties, and to share my every thought. Therefore I have commissioned Numestius to urge you, and I now entreat you with the same or, if possible, greater earnestness, to literally fly to us. I shall breathe again when I once see you.

1 reclamatum est. The MSS. have haud reclamatum est, "it was not refused."

2 Marcus Iunius Brutus, the future assassin of Caesar, adopted by his uncle, Q. Servilius Caepio. The father of Lentulus was flamen Martialis (L. Lentulus), in Vat. § 25. Paullus is L. Aemilius Paullus, consul B.C. 50.

3 Cum gladiatoribus. Others omit cum, in which case the meaning will be "at the gladiatorial shows of Gabinius." As some date is wanted, this is probably right.

4 Under the lex de sicariis of Sulla carrying a weapon with felonious intent was a capital crime, for which a man was tried inter sicarios. See 2 Phil. §§ 8, 74.

5 Q. Lutatius Catulus, who died in the previous year, B.C. 60, had been a keen opponent of Caesar, who tried to deprive him of the honour of dedicating the restored Capitoline temple, and beat him in the election of Pontifex Maximus.

6 Servilia, mother of Brutus, was reported to be Caesar's mistress. As Cicero is insinuating that the whole affair was got up by Caesar to irritate Pompey with the boni, this allusion will be understood.

7 If Vettius did say this, he at any rate successfully imitated Cicero's manner. These names are always in his mouth. See 2 Phil. §§ 26, 87 ; pro Mil. §§ 8, 82, etc. For a farther discussion of Vettius, see Appendix B.

8 Probably a praetor, not the triumvir.

9 Q Considius Gallus, who, according to Plutarch (Plut. Caes. 13), said in the senate that the attendance of senators was small because they feared a massacre. "What made you come, then?" said Caesar. "My age," he replied ; " I have little left to lose."

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: