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CCVII (A V, 16)

Though the letter-carriers of the publicani are starting while I am actually travelling and on the road, and though I am still engaged on my progress, yet I thought I must snatch a moment to prevent your thinking me forgetful of your charge. So I have sat down actually on the road to write you in brief what follows, which really calls for a somewhat lengthy essay. Let me tell you, then, that with the highest possible reputation I entered, on the 31st of July, into a province in a state of desolation and lasting ruin ; that I stayed three days at Laodicea, three at Apamea, the same at Synnada. 1 It was the same tale everywhere: they could not pay the poll-tax: everybody's securities were sold: groans, lamentations, from the towns: acts of savagery worthy of some wild beast, rather than of a man. In short, they are absolutely weary of their life. 2 However, the wretched towns are somewhat relieved by my costing them nothing, nor my legates, nor quaestor, nor anyone. Let me tell you that I not only refuse to accept hay, which is customarily furnished under the Julian law, but that no one of us accepts even firewood, or anything else, except four beds and a roof to cover us ; in many districts we do not accept even a roof, but remain, as a rule, under canvas. Accordingly, we are greeted by extraordinary throngs from farms, villages, houses, every sort of place. By Hercules, on my mere arrival, the justice, purity, and merciful heart of your Cicero seems to give them new life: so far has he surpassed everyone's hopes. Appius, as soon as he heard of my arrival, hurried to the most distant part of the province, right up to Tarsus: there he is holding sessions. About the Parthian not a word: but, nevertheless, some who come from those parts announce that some cavalry of ours have been cut to pieces. Bibulus even now is not so much as thinking of approaching his province. People say that he is acting thus because he wishes to leave it somewhat later. 3 We are making all haste to the camp, which is two days' journey away.

1 The three Asiatic diaceses, joined to the province of Cilicia.

2 In this brief summing—up of the state of things following the ad. ministration of Appius, Cicero perhaps may plead that he is only retailing what he has heard in an ex parte statement, but he seems to confirm it in subsequent letters, and it makes one sorry for the fulsome tone of his letters to Appius himself.

3 Bibulus did not return till B.C. 49., some months after Cicero. See Letter CCXCIII.

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