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Although any feeling of repose is for me confined to the time I spend in writing to you or reading a letter from you, yet I am myself at a loss for a subject for my letters, and I feel certain that the same is the case with you. For the topics usually filling familiar letters, written with an easy mind, are excluded by the critical nature of these times; while those connected with the crisis we have already worn threadbare. Nevertheless, not to surrender myself wholly to sorrowful reflexions, I have selected certain theses, so to speak, which have at once a general bearing on a citizen's duty, and a particular relation to the present crisis: “

Ought one to remain in one's country when under a tyrant? If one's country is under a tyrant ought one to labour at all hazards for the abolition of the tyranny, even at the risk of the total destruction of the city? Or ought we to be on our guard against the man attempting the abolition, lest he should rise too high himself?

Ought one to assist one's country when under a tyrant by seizing opportunities and by argument rather than by war?

Is it acting like a good citizen to quit one's country when under a tyrant for any other land, and there to remain quiet, or ought one to face any and every danger for liberty's sake?

Ought one to wage war upon and besiege one's native town, if it is under a tyrant?

Even if one does not approve an abolition of a tyranny by war, ought one still to enroll oneself in the ranks of the loyalists?

Ought one in politics to share the dangers of one's benefactors and friends, even though one does not think their general policy to be wise?

Should a man who has done conspicuous services to his country, and on that very accounnt has been shamefully treated and exposed to envy, voluntarily place himself in danger for his country, or may he be permitted at length to take thought for himself and those nearest and dearest to him, giving up all political struggles against the stronger party? 1

By keeping myself at work on questions such as these, and discussing both sides both in Greek and Latin, I at once distract my mind for a time from its anxieties, and at the same time attempt the solution of a problem now very much to the point. But I fear you may find me unseasonable; for if the bearer of this keeps up the proper pace, it will reach you exactly on your ague day.

1 These Greek theses are merely the doubts entertained by Cicero as to his own particular position, and have been already expressed again and again in every variety of language. Like most people, he imagines that what affects himself has a general application.

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