previous next


WHILE employed in my province in doing everything for the honour of Appius, I suddenly became his accuser's father-in-law. "Heaven prosper it," you say. So say I, and I am sure you wish it. But believe me, it was the last thing I expected: in fact, I had even sent confidential messengers to my wife and daughter in regard to Tiberius Nero, who had made proposals to me; but they arrived at Rome after the betrothal had taken place. However, I hope this will be better. I understand that the ladies are much pleased with the young man's accommodating temper and courtesy. As for the rest, pick no holes!

But you now! Corn doles to Athens? Do you approve of this? However, my treatise 1 at any rate did not forbid it: for that was not a largess to citizens, but a gift to hosts. Yet do you bid me think about the "propylon" for the Academy, though Appius has abandoned his idea about Eleusis? 2 I am sure you grieve for Hortensius. 3 I am heart-broken myself: for I had resolved to live on very intimate terms with him. I have put Caelius in command of the province: a mere boy, you will say, and perhaps empty-headed, with neither solidity nor self-control. I agree: but nothing else was possible. The letter, indeed, which I received from you a good while ago, in which you said that you "hesitated" as to what I ought to do about leaving a substitute, gave me a twinge, for I saw your reasons for your "hesitation," 4 and I had the very same. Hand over my province to a mere boy? Well, to my brother, then? The latter was against my interest: for there was no one except my brother whom I could prefer to my quaestor without casting a slur on him, especially as he was of noble birth. Nevertheless, as long as the Parthians appeared to be threatening, I had resolved to leave my brother, or even to remain myself, contrary to the decree of the senate, for the sake of the Republic. But when by incredible good fortune they had dispersed, all my hesitation was at an end. I saw what people would say: "What, leave his brother! is this what he calls not holding his province more than a year? Did not the senate, again, intend that the governors of provinces should be those who had not had them before? Yet this man has held one for three years!" So here are my reasons for the public ear. What am I to give you privately? I should never have been without anxiety as to something happening from ill-temper, violent language, or carelessness, 5 as will happen in this world. Again, if his son did anything—a mere lad and a lad full of self-confidence? What a distress it would have been! His father was resolved not to part with him, and was annoyed with you for expressing an opinion that he should do so. But as to Caelius, as things are, I don't say that I don't care about his antecedents, but at any rate I care much less. Then there is this consideration: Pompey— so strong a man and in so secure a position—selected Q. Cassius without regard to the lot; Caesar did the same in the case of Antony: was I to put such a slight on one regularly assigned me by lot, as to make him act as a spy on any man I left in command? No, the course I adopted was the better one, and for it there are many precedents, and certainly it is more suited to my advanced time of life. But, good heavens! what credit I have given you in his eyes! I read him the letter written, not by you, but by your amanuensis. My friends' letters summon me to a triumph—a thing which, in view of the resuscitation of my reputation, I do not think I ought to neglect. Wherefore, my dear Atticus, do begin to wish it too, that I may look somewhat less foolish.

1 De Republica. Atticus's present of corn to Athens did not stand on the same ground as the regular distribution of cheap corn at Rome, which Cicero had denounced in his book.

2 See p. 146. Cicero never carried out his idea of erecting a propylon for the Academy, and indeed he never had money to spare for such things, being one of those men who handle large sums and yet are perpetually in difficulties. Appius appears to have built his.

3 See Letter CLXXI. Hortensius died in June.

4 ἐπέχειν, ἐποχή, "suspense of judgment," technical terms of the academic Agnostics.

5 The sharp temper of Quintus is often referred to. See vol. i, pp. 183-185.

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: