CCLXIII (A VI, 3)
TO ATTICUS (IN EPIRUS)THOUGH I know of nothing new having happened since I gave a letter for you to your freedman Philogenes, yet as I am sending Philotimus back to Rome, I felt obliged to write you something. And first on the subject which causes me most anxiety—not that you can help me at all, for the matter is actually in hand, and you are far away in another part of the world: “ And in the gulf between
Full many a wide sea's wave the south wind rolls.
” 1 The time is creeping on, as you see—for I am bound to leave the province on the 3oth of July—and no successor is named. Whom shall I leave in command of the province? Sound policy and public opinion demand my brother. First, because it is regarded as an honour: next, because no one is fitter: thirdly, because he is the only ex-praetor I have. For Pomptinus, in accordance with an agreement and bargain— for he accompanied me on that condition—has already left me. No one thinks my quaestor fit for the post. 2 For he is unsteady, loose, and has an itching palm. However, in regard to my brother, the first point is, that I do not think I could persuade him to do it: for he dislikes a province. And, by heaven, nothing can be more disagreeable and tiresome. Then again, suppose him not to like to say no to me, what about my own duty to him? Seeing that a serious war is believed to be actually going on in Syria, and is thought likely to spread into this province, while there is here no adequate protection, and the ordinary supplies for the year only have been voted, would it seem consistent with natural affection to leave my brother, or with proper prudence to leave some fainéant? You see, therefore, that I am in great anxiety, and much at a loss as to the course to take. In short, I never ought to have undertaken the business at all. What a much better "province" is yours! You will leave it whenever you choose, if indeed you have not already done so, and you can put anyone you choose in charge of Thesprotia and Chaonia! 3 However, I have not yet seen Quintus, so as to be quite sure, if I made up my mind to it, whether he could be induced; nor, if he could, am I certain what my real wishes are. That is how this matter stands. The rest is as yet all praise and thanks—worthy of the books you praise so highly. Communities have been put on a sound footing, the publicani have been thoroughly satisfied, no one has been insulted, some few have suffered by a judicial edict, at once just and strict, yet in no case does anyone venture to complain; there has been a campaign deserving of a triumph, but in this matter too I shall do nothing in a spirit of self-seeking, nothing at all indeed without your advice. The last word of the play—the handing over of my province—is the difficulty. But this some god will direct. About events in the city you, of course, know more than I: your news are more frequent and more authentic. I am myself vexed not to get information by a letter from you. For reports of an unpleasant nature reach me here about Curio and about Paullus 4 —not that I see anything to fear as long as Pompey can stand or even sit: if he only recover his health ! 5 But, by heaven! I am vexed for Curio and Paullus, my own familiar friends! Please, therefore, send me, if you are in Rome or when you get there, a sketch-plan of the whole position of public affairs to meet me on my way, by which I may mould my conduct, and consider beforehand in what spirit to approach the city. For it is something that a man on his arrival should not be a foreigner and stranger. And then—what I had almost forgotten to mention—about your friend Brutus. I have done everything I could for him, as I often mentioned to you in my letters. The Cyprians were ready to pay the money. But Scaptius was not content with twelve per cent. and compound interest reckoned yearly. Ariobarzanes was not more inclined to accommodate Pompey for his own sake, than Brutus for mine. But I cannot pledge myself for him, for he is a very poor sovereign, and I am at so great a distance from him, that my only weapons are letters, and with these I have not ceased to ply him. The upshot is this: Brutus, in proportion to the amount of the debt, has been treated more liberally than Pompey. For Brutus this year there has been secured about a hundred talents; Pompey has had two hundred promised in six months. Again, in the business of Appius I can scarcely express the extent of my concessions to Brutus. 6 Why should I trouble myself, then? His friends are men of straw—Matinius and Scaptius—the latter of whom, because he did not get some squadrons of cavalry from me wherewith to bully Cyprus, as he had done before my governorship, is perhaps angry with me; or because he is not a praefectus, an office which I bestowed on no one engaged in business, not even on C. Vennonius, who was my intimate friend, or on M. Laenius, who was yours. To this principle, which I communicated to you at Rome, I have stuck. But of what has a man to complain, who, when he might have taken the money, refused to do so? The other Scaptius (who is in Cappadocia) I think I have fully satisfied. Having received the office of military tribune from me, which I had offered him in consequence of a letter from Brutus, he afterwards wrote me word that he did not wish to avail himself of it. There is a certain Gavius, who, after my offering him a praefectura on the request of Brutus, said and did a good deal meant to reflect upon me—one of Publius Clodius's sleuthhounds! He neither paid me the compliment of joining my escort when I was quitting Apamea, nor on his subsequently visiting the camp and being about to leave it did he ask me "whether I had any commands," and made no secret of being, I don't know why, no friend to me. If I had regarded such a fellow as one of my praefecti, what would you have thought of me? Was I, who, as you know, never would put up with insolence from the most powerful of men, to endure it from this led-captain? Yet it is more than "putting up with" a man to bestow on him a place of profit and honour. So, then, this Gavius, when he saw me at Apamea, as he was starting for Rome, addressed me in a tone I should scarcely have ventured to adopt to Culleolus: "Will you be good enough to tell me," said he, "where I am to look for the allowances of a praefectus?" I answered more mildly than those present thought I should have done, that it was not my practice to give allowances to those whom I had not actually employed. He went off in a rage. If Brutus can be affected by the talk of such a windbag as this, you may love him all to yourself, you will have no rival in me. But I think he will behave as he ought. However, I wished you to be acquainted with the facts of the case, and I have told Brutus the story with the greatest minuteness. Generally speaking (between ourselves), Brutus has never written me a letter, not even the last one about Appius, in which there was not something haughty and distant. But you often have on your lips (from Lucilius): "Then Granius 7 too Thinks highly of himself and loathes proud kings." However, in that matter he usually stirs my laughter rather than my bile; but he evidently doesn't sufficiently consider what he is writing, and to whom. The young Quintus, I think, and indeed I am sure, read your letter addressed to his father. For he is accustomed, and that by my advice, to open his father's letters, in case there is anything that ought to be known. Now in that letter there was the same remark about your sister as in your letter to me. Imagine the boy's distress! He told me of his sorrow with tears in his eyes. In short, he shewed me clearly how dutiful, sweet-tempered, and kind he was, which makes me the more hope that nothing unbecoming will occur. So I wished you to know it. I will not omit the following either. Young Hortensius, at the time of the gladiatorial exhibition at Apamea, behaved in a scandalous and disgraceful manner. For his father's sake I asked him to dinner the day he arrived, and for his father's sake also went no farther. He remarked that he would wait for me at Athens, that we might leave the country together. "All right," said I: for what could I say? After all, I don't think he meant what he said. I hope not, indeed, lest I should offend his father, of whom, by heaven, I am exceedingly fond. But if he is to be in my suite, I will so manage him as to avoid giving offence where I least wish to do so. That is all: no, there is this— please send me the speech of Quintus Celer against M. Servilius. Send me a letter as soon as possible. If there is no news, let me know there is none at least by a letter-carrier of yours. Love to Pilia and your daughter. Take care of your health.