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CCCXXXI (A VIII, 2)

TO ATTICUS (AT ROME)
FORMIAE, 17 FEBRUARY
THANK you all round-both for writing to tell me the remarks you had heard, and for not believing what reflected upon my energy, and, lastly, for letting me know your opinion. I wrote only one letter to Caesar from Capua in answer to the remonstrance he addressed to me on the subject of his gladiators. 1 My letter was short but expressed in friendly terms. So far from containing any attack upon Pompey, it mentioned him in the most complimentary terms. This exactly corresponded with my sentiment in favour of his making terms with Pompey. If he has sent that letter anywhere, let him placard it for everyone to read with all my heart. I am writing a second letter to him on the same day as I write this to you. I cannot do otherwise than write, since he has written to me both by his own hand and by that of Balbus. I am sending you a copy of it. I don't think there is anything for you to find fault with. If there is, suggest how I am to escape criticism. "Don't write at all," you will say; "how better elude those who want to make up a story?" Well, I will follow your advice as long as it is possible. You exhort me to remember my deeds, words, and even my writings: it is truly friendly on your part, and I thank you warmly for it; but you appear to me to take a different view from mine as to what is right and suitable to my character in this controversy. For in my opinion nothing more discreditable was ever done in any nation by anyone professing to be a statesman and leader, than the course taken by our friend. I am sorry for him. He abandoned the city, that is, his country, for which, and in which, it would have been a glorious thing to die. You don't seem to me to appreciate the magnitude of this disaster: for you are at this moment in your own town house. Yes, but you cannot remain there any longer except by the consent of the vilest of men. Can anything be more humiliating, more shameful than that? We are wandering about in distress with wives and children. All our hopes are dependent on the life of one man, who has a dangerous illness every year. We are not expelled, but summoned from our country, which we have left not to be safe-guarded till our return, but to be plundered and fired. There are not so very many with me, 2 nor in suburban houses, nor suburban parks, nor in the city itself—and if they are there now, they soon will not be. I meanwhile shall not stay even at Capua, but at Luceria, and shall, of course, abandon the care of the sea-coast at once. I shall wait to see what Afranius and Petreius do : 3 for Labienus lacks distinction. Here you will hint that that is just what you find lacking in me. I say nothing about myself. I will leave that to others. In these circumstances, indeed, where is it to be found? All you loyalists are sticking to your houses, and will do so. In the old times didn't every loyalist come forward to support me? Who does so now in this war, for so it must now be called? As yet Vibullius has covered himself with glory. You will learn all about that from Pompey's letter: in which please notice the passage at which you will find a mark of attention ( <

). You will see what Vibullius himself thinks about our friend Gnaeus. What, then, is the point of all this talk? Why, I am capable of dying cheerfully for Pompey: I value him more than anyone in the world. But, for all that, I do not think that all hope for the Republic is centred in him. You express an opinion also considerably different from your usual one, that I must even quit Italy if he does so: a step which, in my judgment, is of advantage neither to the Republic nor to my children, and, what is more, neither right nor morally justifiable. But why do you say, "Will you be able to endure the sight of a tyrant?" As though it mattered whether I heard of him or saw him; or as though I needed to look for any better precedent than that of Socrates, who at the time of the Thirty never set foot out of the city gate. I have personally also a special motive for remaining, concerning which I wish to heaven I might some time have a talk with you. After writing this on the 17th, by the same lamp as that in which I burnt your letter, I am leaving Formiae to join Pompey, with some prospect of being of use if there is any question of peace, but if it is to be war—what good shall I be?


1 See p. 251.

2 I have ventured to emend this difficult passage by writing non ita multi for ita multi. Cicero says the leading Pompeians, who ought to have defended the city, are all gone far away; there are not many left even near him at Formiae, or in suburban residences, much less in the city. I do not feel the difficulty as to the contradiction to Letter CCCXXVII, p. 273, where he says the boni will soon crowd into Rome. He is thinking of different things. In the other letter he was imagining the action of the lukewarm boni, who would soon be making submission to Caesar: here he is thinking of the leading and sincere boni, who have yet shewn (as he thinks) the white feather by seeking distant places of retirement. Non ita multi makes the sentence much easier, and is a favourite phrase of Cicero's.

3 Two of Pompey's legates in Spain, whose resistance and submission to Caesar this summer are described in the first book of Caesar's Civil War.

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