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CCCXVIII (A VII, 21)

TO ATTICUS (AT ROME)
CALES, 8 FEBRUARY
ABOUT our misfortunes you hear sooner than I: for they flow from Rome. As for anything good, there is none to be expected from this quarter. I arrived at Capua for the 5th of February, in accordance with the order of the consuls. Late on that day Lentulus arrived; the other consul had absolutely not come on the 7th. For I left Capua on that day and stayed at Cales. From that town I am sending this letter, before daybreak, on the 8th. What I ascertained while at Capua was that the consuls are no good: that no levy is being held anywhere. For the recruiting officers do not venture to shew their faces, with Caesar close at hand, and our leader, on the contrary, nowhere and doing nothing; nor do recruits give in their names. It is not goodwill to the cause, but hope that is wanting. As to our leader Gnaeus—what an inconceivably miserable spectacle! What a complete breakdown! No courage, no plan, no forces, no energy! I will pass over his most discreditable flight from the city, his abject speeches in the towns, his ignorance not only of his opponent's, but even of his own resources—but what do you think of this? On the 7th of February the tribune C. Cassius came with an order from him to the consuls that they should go to Rome, remove the money from the reserve treasury, 1 and immediately quit the town. After leaving the City they are to return! Under what guard? They are to Come out of the City! Who is to give them leave to do so? The Consul (Lentulus) wrote back to say that Pompey must himself first make his way into Picenum. But the fact is, that district has already been entirely lost. No one knows that except myself, who have learnt it from a letter of Dolabella's. I have no manner of doubt but that Caesar is all but actually in Apulia, and our friend Gnaeus already on board ship. What I am to do is a great "problem," though it would have been no problem to me, had not everything been most disgracefully mismanaged, and without consulting me in any way; problem, however, it is, as to what it is my duty to do. Caesar himself urges me to promote peace. But his letter is dated before he began his violent proceedings. Dolabella and Caelius both say that he is well satisfied with my conduct. I am on the rack of perplexity. Assist me by your advice if you can, but all the same look after your own interests to the utmost of your power. In such a total upset I have nothing to say to you. I am looking for a letter from you.


1 Sanctius aerarium. A reserve fund, said originally to have been made in case of a Gallic invasion, was replenished by the tax of five per cent. on the selling value of manumitted slaves. This was first levied in B.C. 357 (Livy, vii. i6), and remained in force till a late period of the empire. The reserve fund was drawn upon in B.C. 212, during the second Punic war (Livy, 27.11). According to Caesar (B.C. 1.4), the consuls were just about to open it before they left Rome, but, teirrified by a false report of Caesar's immediate approach, fled without doing so. Pompey now wishes them to go back for it.

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