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CCXCII (A VII, 2)

TO ATTICUS (AT ROME)
BRUNDISIUM, 25 NOVEMBER
I arrived at Brundisium on the 24th of November, after a sea passage of your fortunate kind: so delightfully “Blew from Epirus the softest of breezes-Onchesmites.” 1 There 's a spondaic hexameter for you! You may pass it off as your own before any of our young poets you choose. The state of your health gives me much uneasiness. For your letter indicates that you are really suffering. I, however, knowing your courage, strongly suspect that there is something which absolutely compels you to give in and almost exhausts your strength, although your Pamphilus informed me that one fit of quartan ague had departed, and that another less serious one was approaching. Terentia, indeed, who entered the gate at the same time as I entered the port of Brundisium, told me that L. Pontius had informed her at Trebulanum 2 that that too had left you. If this is the case, it answers, by heaven, to my highest wishes, and I expect that you have obtained it by your prudence and temperate habits.

I now come to your Ietters, great budgets of which have reached me at the same time, one more delightful than the other, at any rate those that were in your own handwriting. For while I like the handwriting of Alexis, for its excellent imitation of your own, yet I don't like it for its indication that you are not well. And talking of him, 3 I have left Tiro in at Patrae, a young man, as you know, and add, if you please, of excellent character. I have never seen a better. Accordingly, I miss him very much. Though he did not think himself seriously il, I am yet anxious, and rest my greatest hopes in the assiduous attention of Manius Curius, of which Tiro has spoken in his letters and many have told me by word of mouth. Moreover, Curius himself felt how much you wished tbat I should like him. And, in fact, I took great delight in his society: there is a natural vein of humour in the man that is very attractive. I am carrying home his will sealed up with the signets of two Ciceros 4 and of the praetorian staff. In their presence he declared you heir to one-tenth, and me to one-fortieth. At Actium in Corcyra Alexis made me a splendid present. Nothing could prevent Quintus Cicero from going to see the river Thyamis. I am glad you find such delight in your little daughter, and are convinced of the doctrine as to "the natural instinct for procreation." For in the absence of this instinct there can be no natural tie uniting man and man, and, without that, social life is impossible. "Heaven prosper what we do," quoth Carneades, somewhat indecently, 5 and yet with more modesty than our countryman Lucius and Patro—who in referring everything to a selfish motive, and denying that anything is ever done for another's sake, and teaching that a man's only motive for being virtuous is to avoid evil consequences to himself, not because right is right, do not perceive that they are describing a crafty man, not a good one. But all this, I think, is discussed in those books which you encourage me by praising. 6

To return to business. How anxious I was for the letter, which you said that you gave to Philoxenus! For you had told me that it contained an account of Pompey's conversation at Naples. Patro delivered it to me at Brundisium, having received it, I presume, at Corcyra. Notbing could bave been more delightful. For it contained information about politics, about the great man's opinion as to my uprightness, about the kind feeling towards me which he manifested in what he said about the triumph. But what pleased me more than anything else was to learn that you had visited him to ascertain what his disposition was towards me. This, I say, gave me the greatest pleasure of all. As to the triumph, I never felt any great desire for it till Bibulus's utterly bare faced despatch, which was followed by a supplicatio voted in the most complimentary terms. If he had really done what he stated in his despatch, I should have rejoiced and been in favour of bestowing honour upon him. But as it is—that he, who never set foot outside the city gate as long as the enemy was west of the Euphrates, 7 should be specially honoured, and that I, on whose army he depended entirely, should not be able to obtain a similar honour, is an insult to us: I say "us," because I include you. Accordingly, I will leave no stone unturned, and, as I hope, shall succeed. But if you had been in good health, I should already have got rid of certain difficulties. But, I hope, you will soon recover. About the debt to Numerius I am much obliged to you. I am longing to know what Hortensius has done, and what Cato is doing: the latter, it is true, has been disgracefully spiteful to me. He gave his testimony to my integrity, equity, clemency, good faith, which I did not ask for: what I did ask for he withheld. Accordingly, in his letter of congratulation, containing also every kind of promise, how Caesar exults over the slight put upon me by Cato's signal ingratitude! Cato, too, who votes twenty days' supplicatio to Bibulus! Pardon me, I cannot and will not put up with this. I am itching to answer all your letters, but it is unnecessary: for I shall see you directly. However, I must just telI you about Chrysippus—for about the other fellow (a mere mechanic) I am less surprised. Yet there could not be a more rascally trick than his either. But Chrysippus—that he, whom I liked seeing and held in honour for his tincture of letters, should abandon my boy without my knowledge! I say nothing about many other things of which I am told; I say nothing of his embezzlements; but I cannot put up with his absconding. It seemed to me the most unprincipled thing in the world. Accordingly, I have availed myself of that ancient expedient of Drusus 8 when praetor, as it is said, in the case of a man who on being manumitted declined to take the same oaths. I denied having manumitted those men, especially as there was no one present at the time by whom their manumission could legally be maintained. Tell me what you think of that: I will abide by your opinion. 9 The most eloquent by far of all your letters I have not answered, that in which you speak of the dangers of the Republic. What was I to write back? I was much upset. But the Parthians prevent my being much afraid, who suddenly retreated, leaving Bibulus half dead with fright.


1 From Onchesmus in Epirus, and south-east as regards Brundisium. It is therefore, it seems, a local name used by sailors between the two coasts, of which there are many other instances, both ancient and modern.

2 The villa near Trebula in the Sabine district. See p. 5.

3 Letter CCXXVII, p. 89.

4 Quintus Cicero and his son. The object of the seals affixed was to shew that the document was the one which the testator acknowledged in the presence of witnesses to be his will. The execution of the will was the testator's acknowledgment, not the sealing.

5 τύχῃ ἀγαθῇ, sc. παιδοποιοῦμεν, as Casaubon explains. The connexion of the whole of this passage with the context is obscure. It seems to be this. Atticus, who married late in life, had been wont to argue against the duty or pleasure of parentage. Cicero says, "Now you find so much delight in your little daughter you will recant your denial of the doctrine (of the Peripatetics and Academies), which makes the instinct of procreation the first law of nature and the origin of social morality" (see Polybius, 6.6, who there points out that society begins thus: πάντων πρὸς τὰς συνουσίας ὁρμώντων κατὰ φύσιν, ἐκ δὲ τούτων ποιδοποιίας ἀποτελουμένης, κ.τ.λ.). Cicero then goes on to say that Carneades's remark as to procreation may be indecent, but is not so bad as the Epicurean doctrine which would attribute this act, like all others, to mere self-gratification, not to the natural duty ot producing children. With φυσικήν in the text understand ὁρμήν. Patro is an Epicurean philosopher, of whom we have heard before (p. 32). Lucius is L. Manlius Torquatus, the Epicurean speaker in the first book of the de Finibus.

6 The de Republica.

7 See pp. 184-185.

8 M. Livius Drusus, consul B.C. 113.

9 It was customary for a slave before manumission, in some cases, to promise that on manumission he would take an oath to perform certain duties to his patronus. It was at present an unsettled question whether, if he afterwards declined to do so, he could be brought back to slavery. In any case, his position, if manumitted privately (inter amicos), was less secure than if he had been brought before the praetor and touched by his rod (vindicta). This difference was later on recognized by law. See Tac. Ann. 13.27.

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