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CXCVII (A V, 10)

I ARRIVED at Athens on the 24th of June, and have now waited there three days for Pomptinus and have heard nothing as yet of his arrival. I am, believe me, wholly with you: and though I should have done so without them, yet I am thinking of you all the more vividly from being reminded by the traces of you in this place. In short, I assure you we talk of nothing else but you. But you, perhaps, would prefer to be told something about myself. Here you are then: up to now neither I nor any of my staff have been any expense to any town or individual. We receive nothing under the Julian law, 1 nothing from any public host: my whole staff are impressed with the belief that they must have a regard for reputation. So far, well. This has been noticed with praise on the part of the Greeks and is being much talked of. For the rest, I am taking great pains, as I have perceived that you wished. But on this subject let us reserve our applause till the last act has been reached. Other circumstances are such that I frequently blame my folly for not having found some means of getting out of this business. How entirely unsuited to my character and habits! How true the proverb is, "Let the shoemaker stick to his last !" 2 You will say, "What, already? Why, you are not actually in the business !" I know that very well, and I expect greater trouble remains: even as far as it has gone, though I bear it with cheerful brow, I think, and expression, in my inmost heart I am enduring agonies: so many instances are occurring every day of ill-temper or insolence, of foolish and senseless behaviour of every kind, both by speech and by refusal to speak. I don't give you details of these things, not because I wish to conceal them from you, but because they are difficult to explain. So you shall admire my self-restraint when I return safe and sound: I am bestowing such pains on the practice of this virtue. Well, enough of this. Though I had nothing in my mind that I intended to write about, because I haven't even the smallest idea as to what you are doing, and in what part of the world you are: nor, by Hercules, have I ever been so completely in the dark about my own affairs, as to what has been done about the debt to Caesar or Milo's liabilities; and no one has come, I don't say from my house, but even from Rome, to enlighten me as to what is going on in politics. Wherefore, if there is anything that you know on the subjects which you may suppose that I should wish to know, I shall be very much obliged if you take the trouble to have it transmitted to me. What else is there to say? Why, nothing except this: Athens has pleased me immensely, at any rate as far as the city itself and all that adorns it are concerned, and the affection of the inhabitants towards you, and what I may call a prepossession in favour of myself: but as to its philosophy—that is very topsy-turvey, if Aristus is supposed to represent it, in whose house I am staying. For your and my friend Xeno I preferred giving up to Quintus, and yet, owing to his proximity, we spend whole days together. 3 Pray, as soon as you possibly can, write me word of your plans, and let me know what you are doing, where you are from time to time, especially when you intend being in Rome.

1 The law passed by Iulius Caesar in his consulship, B.C. 59, limiting (among other things) the amount which provincial governors could demand in passing to and from their provinces. Cicero's boast is that he has not taken even what that law allowed.

2 Cicero, as often, merely gives a word or two of the Greek proverb (ἔρδοι τις), which he knows Atticus can fill up, ἔρδοι τις ἥν ἕκαστος εἰδείη τέχηνην (Aristoph. Vesp. 1431), "Let each practise the art that he knows."

3 Aristus, an Academician; Xeno, an Epicurean

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