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AM I to receive," quoth you, "a letter from you every single day?" Yes! if I find anyone to give it to, every day. "But you are all but here in person." Well, when I have arrived, I will stop writing. I see that one of your letters has not reached me. While my friend L. Quintius was conveying it, he was wounded and robbed near the tomb of Basilus. 1 Please consider, therefore, whether there was anything in it which I ought to know, and at the same time "solve this strictly political problem." Seeing that it is necessary, EITHER that Caesar should be allowed to stand for the consulship while he still holds his army (whether by the favour of senate or tribunes); OR that Caesar should be persuaded to hand over his province and army, and so become consul; OR, if he cannot be persuaded to do so, that the election should be held without admitting his name as candidate; OR, if he employs tribunes to prevent that, and yet makes no warlike move, that there must be an interregnum; OR, if on the ground of his legal candidateship having been ignored he moves up his army, that we must fight him with arms, while he must begin hostilities either at once before we are prepared, or as soon as his friends have their demand for having him recognized as a candidate at the election refused: but that he will either have the one excuse for an appeal to arms (that his candidature is ignored), or will have an additional one, if it chances that some tribune, when vetoing the senate or stirring up the people, is censured, or hampered by a senatorial decree, or forcibly removed, or driven out of the city, or flies to him, alleging that he has been so driven out: SEEING finally, that, if war is once begun, we must either defend the city, or abandon it and try to cut him off from supplies and other resources: consider, I say, which of these evils, some one of which we must confront, you think the least.

You will no doubt say "to persuade him to hand over his army, and so become consul." Well, certainly against this proposal, supposing him to submit so far, nothing can be said: and, since he doesn't succeed in getting his candidature acknowledged while he still retains his army, I wonder he does not do so. For us, however, as certain persons think, nothing is more to be dreaded than his becoming consul. "But I would prefer his being consul on these terms to his being so with an army," you will say. Certainly. But even on "these terms," I tell you, there is one who thinks it a grave evil. Nor is there any remedy against it: we must submit if he insists upon it. Imagine him consul a second time after our experience of his former consulship! "Why, comparatively weak as he was then," you say, "he was more powerful than the whole state." What, then, do you think will be the case now? Moreover, if he is consul, Pompey is resolved to be in Spain. What a sad state of things, when the very worst alternative is just the one which cannot be rejected, and the one which, if he adopts it, would at once secure him the highest favour with all the loyalists!

Let us, then, put this out of the question. They say that he cannot be induced to accept it. Which is the worst of the other alternatives? Why, to concede to him what, according to the same authority, is his most impudent demand. For could anything be more impudent? "You have held a province for ten years, a time not granted you by the senate, but assumed by yourself with the help of violence and sedition: this period—not assigned by the law, but by your own caprice—has passed. Let us, however, grant that it was by the law: a decree is made for naming your successor: you cry halt and say, "Take my candidature into consideration." Rather, do you take us into consideration. 2 Are you to have an army longer than the vote of the people gave it you? "You must fight unless you grant it." Certainly—to quote Pompey again—and with a fair prospect either of conquering or of dying free men. Moreover, if fight we must, the time depends on chance, the plan on circumstances. Therefore I do not worry you on that point. In regard to what I have said, pray make any suggestion that occurs to you: for my part, I am on the rack day and night.

1 On the via Appia. Though close to the city, it was a place notorious for highway robberies, according to Asconius, § 50.

2 Habere rationem is here used in a double sense: (1) to allow votes being taken for (technical); (2) to have consideration for, "to take into account" (common).

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