CCXCIII (A VII, 3)
TO ATTICUS (AT ROME)ON the 6th of December I reached Aeculanum, and there read the letter from you which Philotimus delivered to me. The first glance at it gave me pleasure from seeing that it was in your own handwriting, and presently I was extraordinarily delighted at its extreme minuteness and attention to detail. To begin with, you say you disagree with Dicaearchus: 1 but although I sought with the greatest eagerness, and with your approbation, not to remain more than a year in my province, this was not brought about by any exertions on my part. For let me tell you that no proposal was ever made in the senate about any of us governors of provinces, to the effect that we should remain in them beyond the term mentioned in the decree: so that I cannot now be blamed even for having been a shorter time in the province than was perhaps for the good of the public service. But the common expression "Perhaps it was all for the best" seems to come in pat, as though it were made for the case. For whether a peace can possibly be patched up, or the victory of the loyalists secured, I should wish in either case to lend a helping hand, or at any rate not to be wholly out of it. But if; on the contrary, the loyalists are beaten, I should have been beaten with them, wherever I was. Wherefore the rapidity of my return should be no cause for regret. If, again, the idea of a triumph had not been suggested to me— an idea which you also approve-you certainly would not have found me fall much short of the ideal statesman sketched in the sixth book of my Republic. Well, what would you have me do, you who have devoured those books? Indeed, even now, I shall not scruple to throw this hope aside, great as it is, if it turns out to be the better course. The two things indeed cannot be done at the same time-to canvass for a triumph, and to speak with independence on politics. But do not doubt for a moment that the more righteous course will have the preference in my eyes. For as to your opinion, that it is more advantageous, whether for my personal safety, or as enabling me to serve the state, to retain my imperium—that we will discuss when we meet. For it is a matter requiring serious consideration, though to a great extent I agree with you. About my loyalty to the Republic I thank you for feeling no doubt: and I also quite endorse your judgment that, considering my services to him, and considering what he has done for others, Caesar 2 has been by no means overliberal in his conduct to me. Your explanation of that fact also is the true one, and agrees strikingly with what you say has been done in the case of Fabius and Caninius. Even if things had been different, and he had been profuse in his liberality to me, yet that "Guardian goddess of the city," whom you mention in your letter, would have compelled me to remember the inscription upon her statue, 3 and would not have allowed me to imitate Volcatius and Servius, 4 who satisfy you, but would have compelled me to entertain sentiments and maintain some course worthy of myself: which, indeed, I would have done, if I could, in a different way from that in which I must now act. It is for their own supremacy that these men are now contending, but it is at the risk of the constitution. For if it is the constitution that is being now defended by Caesar, why was it not defended in his own consulship? Why was I, in whose cause the safety of the constitution was involved, not defended in the next year? Why was his imperium extended, or why in that particular way? Why was such a fight made that the ten tribunes should propose a law allowing him to be a candidate in his absence? 5 Owing to these measures he has become so strong, that there is only one citizen with sufficient force to resist him; and I wish that he had refused to grant him all this power, rather than resist him now when he is so strong. But since it has come to this pass, I will not ask, as you say: “Where is the hull that once the Atreidae owed?” 6 The one hull for me will be that which has Pompey for steersman. Yes, that is just as you say. "What is to happen when the consul says: "Your vote, Marcus Tullius?" I shall answer in a word: "I vote with Gnaeus Pompeius." Nevertheless, in private, I shall exhort Pompey to keep the peace. For my opinion is that there is the most imminent danger. Of course you are better informed as being in the city. But my view of the situation is this: we have to do with a man of the most consummate boldness, and in the highest state of preparation: all who have been condemned, or branded with infamy, or who deserve condemnation and infamy, are on his side; nearly all the young men; all the lowest city rabble; some influential tribunes, including Gaius Cassius; all who are overwhelmed with debt, who I find are more numerous than I thought. The only thing this cause lacks is merit: it has everything else in abundance. On our side everyone is doing everything he can to avert an appeal to arms, of which the result is in all cases uncertain, while on this particular occasion there is reason to fear its going the other way. Bibulus has quitted his province, and has left Veiento in charge of it. I hear he will be somewhat slow on his return journey. In complimenting him Cato remarked that the only people he did not envy were those whose political position admitted of no improvement, or at any rate little. Now for private affairs: for I have pretty well answered your letters on politics, both the one you wrote in your suburban villa, and that which you wrote subsequently. So now I am coming to private affairs. Still, there is one thing more-about Caelius. So far from his affecting my opinion, I am strongly of opinion that he must himself be sorry for having changed his views. 7 But how came it that those properties of Lucceius were conveyed to him? I wonder you passed that over. As to Philotimus, I will do as you advise. But I was not expecting to have the accounts from him, which he submitted to you, but the balance which he himself, at Tusculum, wished me to enter in my day-book with my own hand, and for which he also gave me a bill in Asia in his own handwriting. If he paid the sum which be declared to you to be the amount of my debt, he would still owe me as much again, and more. But in business of this kind, if only the state of public affairs permit, I shall not henceforth expose myself to blame; nor, by heaven, was I really careless about it in former times, but my time was swallowed up by a crowd of friends. Accordingly, I shall have the benefit, as you promise, of your assistance and advice, and yet shall not, I hope, be troublesome to you. You need not alarm yourself about the splints I made my staff wear. They have pulled themselves together of their own accord from admiration of my upright conduct. But no one had given me a greater surprise than the man of whom you think so meanly. He had been at the beginning, and at this day still is, excellent. But just at the moment of leaving the province he indicated to me that he had hoped for something. He did not, however, cling to the idea, upon which he had allowed his mind to dwell for a time, but quickly returned to his better self, and being much affected by the extremely high honours bestowed on him by me, he looked upon them as more valuable than any money. I have received his will from Curius, and am bringing it with me. I am informed of the legacies Hortensius has to pay. I am now eager to know the man's position, and what properties he is putting up to auction. For I don't know why, since Caelius has monopolized the Porta Flumentana, 8 I should not make myself owner of Puteoli. Now for the word Piraeea: in using it I exposed myself to severer criticism for writing Peiraeea instead of Piraeum—which is the form adopted by all our countrymen-than for adding an in. For I did not prefix the preposition to the word as the name of a town, but of a locality: and, after all, our friend Dionysius, and Nicias of Cos, who is with me, did not consider the Piraeus to be a town. But I will see to it. The fact is that, if I have made a mistake, it is in not speaking of it as a town, but as a place; and for having followed, I don't say Caecilius (mane ut ex portu in Piraeum), for he is a poor authority for Latinity, but Terence, whose plays, owing to the elegance of their language, were thought to be written by Laelius. He says, "Heri aliquot adulescentuli coimus in Piraeum"; and also, "Mercator hoc addebati...captam e Sunio." 9 Now if we choose to consider demes to be towns, Sunium is as much a town as Piraeus. But since you are by way of being a grammarian, you will relieve me of much vexation if you solve me this knotty point. He 10 sends me courteous letters. Balbus does the same for him. I am resolved not to swerve a finger's breadth from the most absolute loyalty in any direction. But you know the balance he has against me. Do you think, then, that some one will twit me with it, if I am lukewarm in opposition, or that he will demand repayment if I am overvigorous? What solution can you find to this? "Pay him," you say. Well, then, I will borrow from Caelius. However, pray turn this matter over in your mind. For I imagine, if I have at any time made a fine speech in defence of the constitution, that your Tartessian 11 friend will say to me as I am leaving the house, "Be so good as to direct the money to be paid." What else is there to say? Why, this. My son-in-law makes himself very agreeable to me, to Tullia, and to Terentia. He has any amount whether of ability or culture. We must be content. Other points in his character, with which you are acquainted, must be tolerated. For you know the men whom we bave [rejected 12 ], who all, except the one about whom we negotiated through you, 13 think that I am making money. For no one will advance them any on their own credit. But of this when we meet; for it is a subject for a long talk. My hope of Tiro's recovery is centred on Manius Curius, to whom I said in a letter that you will be very gratefui to him. Pontius's Villa at Trebula, 9 December.
TREBULANUM (VILLA OF PONTIUS), 9 DECEMBER
TREBULANUM (VILLA OF PONTIUS), 9 DECEMBER