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CCCLXVII (A IX, 12)

TO ATTICUS (AT ROME)
FORMIAE, 20 MARCH
I HAD just read your letter on the 20th, when a packet was brought me from Lepta saying that Pompey had been completely invested, that even the channels of the harbour were blocked up with vessels. Upon my honour, tears prevent my thinking of or writing the rest. I send you a copy. What wretches we have been! Why did we not follow his fortunes to the end? Oh, here's the same news from Matius and Trebatius,who have been met by Caesar's letter-bearers at Minturnae. I feel so wracked with misery that I long for an end like that of Mucius. 1 Yet how honourable, how clear is your advice, how thoroughly thought out, in regard to my journey by land as well as by sea, and my meeting and conversation with Caesar! There is honour and caution alike in every word. Your invitation to Epirus, too, how kindly, how courteous, how brotherly it is! I am surprised at Dionysius, who has been treated with greater honour in my family than Panaetius was in Scipio's: yet my unfortunate position has been regarded by him with the foulest contempt. I detest the fellow, and always shall. I only wish I could be even with him! But his own character will be his punishment. Yes, pray, now of all times turn over in your mind what I ought to do. An army of the Roman people is actually surrounding Gnaeus Pompeius: it has inclosed him with foss and palisade; it is preventing his escape. Are we alive? Is our city still intact? Are the praetors presiding in the courts, the aediles making preparations for their games, the Optimates entering their investments, I myself sitting quietly looking on? Am I to make an effort to reach Pompey like a madman? Am I to appeal to the loyalty of the municipal towns? The loyalists won't follow me, the careless will laugh me to scorn, the revolutionists-especially now that they are successful and fully armed-will use main force to me. What is your opinion, then? Have you any advice to give as to how to put an end to this most wretched state of existence? It is now that I feel the pang, the torture—now that some one is found to think me either wise or lucky for not having gone. My feeling is the reverse. For while I was never willing to be the partner of his victory, I should have preferred having been associated with his disaster. Why, then, should I now appeal to your letter, to your wisdom, or your kindness? It is all over. Nothing can help me now: for I have now nothing even to wish for, except to be set free by some merciful stroke of the enemy.


1 Q Mucius Scaevola, murdered in B.C. 82 by the order of the younger Marius. bee p. 282

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