XXXV (A II, 9)
TO ATTICUS (AT ROME)Caecilius 1 the quaestor having suddenly informed me that he was sending a slave to Rome, I write these hurried lines in order to get out of you the wonderful conversations with Publius, both those of which you write, and that one which you keep dark, and assert that it would be too long to write your answer to him; and, still farther, the one that has not yet been held, which that Iuno of a woman 2 is to report to you when she gets back from Solonium. I wish you to believe that there can be nothing I should like more. If, however, the compact made about me is not kept, I am in a seventh heaven to think that our friend the Jerusalemitish plebeian-maker 3 will learn what a fine return he has made to my brilliant speeches, of which you may expect a splendid recantation. For, as well as I can guess, if that profligate is in favour with our tyrants, he will be able to crow not only over the "cynic consular," 4 but over your Tritons of the fish-ponds also. 5 For I shall not possibly be an object of anybody's jealousy when robbed of power and of my influence in the senate. If, on the other hand, he should quarrel with them, it will not suit his purpose to attack me. However, let him attack. Charmingly, believe me, and with less noise than I had thought, has the wheel of the Republic revolved more rapidly, anyhow, than it should have done owing to Cato's error, but still more owing to the unconstitutional conduct of those who have neglected the auspices, the Aelian law, the Iunian, the Licinian, the Caecilian and Didian, 6 who have squandered all the safeguards of the constitution, who have handed over kingdoms as though they were private estates to tetrachs, 7 and immense sums of money to a small coterie. I see plainly now the direction popular jealousy is taking, and where it will finally settle. Believe that I have learnt nothing from experience, nothing from Theophrastus, 8 if you don't shortly see the time of our government an object of regret. For if the power of the senate was disliked, what do you think will be the case when it has passed, not to the people, but to three unscrupulous men? So let them then make whom they choose consuls, tribunes, and even finally clothe Vatinius's men with the double-dyed purple 9 of the priesthood, you will see before long that the great men will be not only those who have made no false step, 10 but even he who did make a mistake, Cato. For, as to myself, if your comrade Publius will let me, I think of playing the sophist: if he forces me, I shall at least defend myself, and, as is the trick of my trade, I publicly promise to “ Strike back at him who first is wroth with me.
” 11 May the country only be on my side: it has had from me, if not more than its due, at least more than it ever demanded. I would rather have a bad passage with another pilot than be a successful pilot to such ungrateful passengers. But this will do better when we meet. For the present take an answer to your questions. I think of returning to Antium from Formiae on the 3rd of May. From Antium I intend to start for Tuscuium on the 7th of May. But as soon as I have retumed from Formiae (I intend to be there till the 29th of April) I will at once inform you. Terentia sends compliments, and "Cicero the little greets Titus the Athenian." 12