CCXCVII (A VII, 7)
TO ATTICUS (AT ROME)"Dionysius, a most excellent fellow — as I, too, have reason to know—and also a very good scholar and warmly devoted to you, arrived in Rome on the 16th of January and delivered me a letter from you." Those are your exact words about Dionysius in your letter. You don't add, "and he expressed his gratitude to you." And yet he certainly ought to have done so, and, if he had, you are always so good-natured that you would have added it to your sentence. However, any palinode in regard to him is made impossible for me, owing to the character I gave him in my last letter. Let him, then, pass for an excellent man. I am obliged to him for one thing at least—he has given me this opportunity also of knowing him thoroughly. Philogenes was quite correct in what he wrote to you: for he has paid the money due. I wished him to have the use of the money as long as he legally could; accordingly, he has kept it fourteen months. I hope Pomptinus is recovering and as to having entered the city, as you say in your letter, I feel somewhat anxious as to what he means by it. For he would not have done so except for some weighty reason. As the 2nd of January is the Compitalia, 1 I don't want to arrive at Pompey's Alban villa on that day, for fear of inconveniencing his servants. I shall do so, therefore, on the 3rd, and go thence to the city on the 4th. I don't know on what day your quartan fit is due; but I am very unwilling that you should be disturbed to the detriment of your health. As to my triumph, unless Caesar has been secretly intriguing by means of the tribunes who are in his interest, everything else appears to be going smoothly. My mind however is supremely calm, and regards the whole thing with utter indifference: the more so that I am told by many that Pompey and his council have determined to send me to Sicily on the ground of my having imperium. That is worthy of Abdera! 2 For neither has the senate decreed nor the people ordered me to have imperium in Sicily. But if the state delegates this to Pompey why should he send me rather than some unofficial person? So, if the possession of this imperium is going to be a nuisance to me, I shall avail myself of the first city gate I came to. 3 For as to what you say, that my coming is awaited with astonishing interest, and that none of the loyalists, or even the semi loyalists, have any doubt about what I am likely to do—I don't understand whom you mean by the "loyalists"—I know of none—that is to say no class of such men: for of course, there are individuals who are loyalists; but when it is a case of politic divisions what we have to look for is classes and sets of loyalists. Do you regard the senate as loyalist when it is owing to it that the provinces have no governors' with imperium? For Curio would never have held out if negotiations with him had been set on foot—a measure which the senate refused to adopt with the result that no successor was named to Caesar. Or the publicani who, having never been staunch, are now warmly in favour of Caesar? Or the financiers or the farmers, whose chief interest is peace? Unless you can suppose such men to dread being under royal rule, who have never declined it, so long only as they were left in peace and quiet. Well then! Do I approve of votes being taken for a man who is retaining an army beyond the legal day? For my part, I say no; nor in his absence either. But when the former was granted him, so was the latter. 4 "Why, do you approve of the ten years' grant, and of the way in which the law was carried?" If I do, then I approve of my own banishment, and the loss of the Campanian land, and of the adoption of a patrician by a plebeian, of a Gaditanian by a Mytilenean; 5 I approve of the wealth of Labienus and Mamurra, of the pleasure-grounds and Tusculan villa of Balbus. But the fountain-head of all these things is the same. We should have resisted him when he was weak, and that would have been easy. Now we are confronted by eleven legions, cavalry at his desire, the Transpadani, 6 the city rabble, all these tribunes, a rising generation corrupted as we see, a leader of such influence and audacity. With such a man we must either fight a pitched battle, or admit his candidature in virtue of the law. "Fight," say you, "rather than be a slave." To what end? To be proscribed, if beaten: to be a slave after all, if victorious? "What do you mean to do, then ?" say you. Just what animals do, who when scattered follow the flocks of their own kind. As an ox follows a herd, so shall I follow the loyalists or whoever are said to be loyalists, even if they take a disastrous course. What the best course is in this unfortunate dilemma I see clearly. For no one can be certain of the result when once we come to fighting: but everyone is certain that, if the loyalists are beaten, this man will not be more merciful than Cinna in the massacre of the nobility, nor less rapacious than Sulla in confiscating the property of the rich. I have been talking politics with you all this time, and I would have gone on doing so, had not my lamp failed me. The upshot is this : " Your vote, M. Tullius!" "I vote with Gnaeus Pompeius: that is, with Titus Pomponius." Pray give my regards to Alexis, that very accomplished boy, unless perchance he has become a man during my absence, for he seemed on the point of doing so.