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CCCLI (A VIII, 16)

TO ATTICUS (AT ROME)
FORMIAE, 4 MARCH
I have provided for everything except a secret and safe journey to the Upper Sea. For I cannot venture upon this (Lower) Sea at this season of the year. But by what route am I to get to the place, on which my thoughts are set, and to which the circumstances of the case call me? I must not delay my departure, lest anything should hinder it and tie me here. It is not, in truth, that man who attracts me, as is thought to be the case: I long ago knew him to be the most incapable of politicians, I now know him also to be the least capable of generals. 1 It is not he, therefore, that attracts me, but it is the common talk reported to me by Philotimus. He says I am being torn to pieces by the Optimates. Ye Gods! Optimates indeed! See how they are rushing to meet Caesar, and parading their loyalty to him! Why, the country towns are offering him prayers as though he were a god, and not sham ones, as those offered on behalf of the other when he was ill. 2 But the simple fact is that whatever mischief this Pisistratus abstains from doing is as much a subject for gratitude, as if he had prevented some one else from doing it. They hope the one will be lenient, they believe the other to be enraged. What complimentary processions from the towns! What honours voted! Pure fright, you will say. Yes, I daresay; but they are still more afraid of the other. The artful clemency of the one delights, the angry temper of the other alarms, them. Those on the roll of the 360 jurors, 3 who used to be particularly fond of our friend Gnaeus, and one or other of whom I see every day, are horrified at some of his Lucerian doings. 4 So I want to know what sort of Optimates these are to force me abroad, while they remain at home themselves. However, be they who they may, "I fear the Trojans." 5 Yet I see clearly with what a prospect I am starting; and I am joining myself with a man better prepared to devastate Italy than to win a victory, and have only a master to expect. And, indeed, at the moment of writing this (4th March) I am in momentary expectation of some news from Brundisium. But why do I say some news? It is news of his shameful flight thence that I expect, and of the route which the victor is taking on his return and of his destination. When I have got that news, if Caesar come by the Appia, I think of retiring to Arpinum.


1 απολιτικώτατον, ἀστρατηγικώτατον.

2 For Pompey's illness see p. 168

3 This is the number mentioned in Plutarch (Pomp. 55) on the special roll of judices drawn up by Pompey for the trial of Milo in B.C. 52, the album iudicum which Asconius, § 39, says consisted of men of the highest rank and character.

4 This is explained by Letter CCCXLI, p. 294, where Cicero says that Pompey's followers were some of them openly threatening a proscription.

5 I.e., public opinion, his favourite quotation from Hom. Il. 6.442; see vol. i., p. 90, etc.

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