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CCCLIX (A IX, 6)

TO ATTICUS (AT ROME)
FORMIAE, 11 MARCH
NOTHING as yet from Brundisium. Balbus has written from Rome that he thinks that the consul Lentulus has by this time crossed, and that the younger Balbus did not succeed in getting an interview with him; because the young man heard this news at Canusium, and had written to him from that town. He says, too, that the six cohorts which were at Alba had joined Curius by the Minucian road : 1 that Caesar had written to tell him that, and he would himself be shortly at the city. Therefore I shall follow your advice, and shall not go into hiding at Arpinum at the present time, although, as I wished to give my son his toga virilis 2 at Arpinum, I contemplated leaving this excuse for Caesar. But perhaps that very thing would offend him—"Why not at Rome rather?" And after all, if meet him I must, I would rather it were here than anywhere. Then I shall consider the rest, that is, whither and by what road and when I am to go. Domitius, I hear, is at Cosa, ready, too, I am told, to set sail: if to Spain I don't approve, if to join Gnaeus I commend him: he had better go anywhere than have to see Curtius, 3 of whom, though his patron, I cannot stand the sight. What, then, am I to say of the rest? But, I suppose, we had better keep quiet, lest we prove our own error, who, while loving the city, that is, our country, and while thinking that the matter would be patched up, have so managed matters as to be completely intercepted and made prisoners.

I had written thus far when a letter arrived from Capua, as follows: “Pompey has crossed the sea with all the men he had with him. The total is 30,000; besides the consuls, two tribunes of the plebs, and the senators who were with him, all with wives and children. He is said to have embarked on the 4th of March. Since that day the north wind has prevailed. They say that he disabled or burnt all such ships as he did not use.”

On this subject a letter has been received at Capua by L. Metellus, the tribune, from his mother-in-law Clodia, who has herself crossed. I was anxious and full of pain before, as, of course, the bare facts of the case compelled, when I found myself unable to unravel the mystery by any consideration; but now, when Pompey and the consuls have left Italy, I am not merely pained, I am burning with indignation: “ Reason deserts her throne,
And I am torn with grief.
4

Believe me, I really am beside myself to think of the dishonour I have brought upon myself. That I, in the first place, should not be with Pompey, whatever plan he has followed, nor, in the second place, with the loyalists, however imprudently managed their cause! Especially, too, when those very persons, for whose sake I was somewhat timid in trusting myself to fortune-wife, daughter, son, and nephew-prefered that I should follow that design, and thought that my present plan was discreditable and unworthy of me. For, as to my brother Quintus, whatever I determined upon he said that he considered right, and he accepted it with the most absolute acquiescence.

I am reading over your letters from the beginning of the business. They somewhat relieve me. The earliest ones warn and entreat me not to be precipitate. The next indicate that you are glad that I stayed. Whilst reading themI feel less base, but only while I read them. Presently grief and the "vision of shame" rises again. Wherefore, my dear Titus, pray pluck out this sorrow from my mind, or at least mitigate it by consoling words or advice, or by anything you can. But what could you or any human being do? It is now almost beyond the power of God.

For my part, my object now, as you advise and think possible, is to obtain leave from Caesar to absent myself when any motion is being made against Pompey in the senate. But I fear I may not obtain the concession. Furnius has arrived from Caesar. To shew you the sort of men we are following, he tells me that the son of Q. Titinius is with Caesar, but that the latter thanks me even more than I could wish. What, however, it is that he asks of me, expressed indeed, for his part, in few words, but still en grand seigneur, you may learn from his own letter. How distressed I am at your ill-health: if we had only been together, you would at least not have wanted advice. For "two heads," you know. 5 But don't let us cry over spilt milk : 6 let us do better for the future. Up to this time I have been mistaken in two particulars: at the beginning I hoped for peace, and, if that were once gained, was prepared to be content with the life of a private citizen, and an old age freed from anxiety: and later, I found that a bloody and destructive war was being undertaken by Pompey. Upon my honour, I thought it shewed a better man and a better citizen to suffer any punishment whatever rather than, I don't say to lead, but even to take part in such bloody work. I think it would have been better even to die than to be with such men. I shall bear any result with greater courage than such a pain.


1 The via Minucia is spoken of by Horace (Ep. 1.18, 20) as an alternative route to the Appia leading to Brundisium. It seems to have been by this road that the Martia and fourth legion came to Alba Fucentia in 44 B.C., instead of proceeding up the coast road from Brundisium to Gaul, as Antony had directed them. According to Caesar, B.C. 1.24, the six cohorts from Alba Fucentia joined Vibius Curius on the march to Brundisium.

2 Usually given at the Liberalia (17th March).

3 M. Curtius Postumus (see p. 316). Cicero had formerly promoted his interests with Caesar (vol. i., p. 277). He may refer to that in calling himself his patronus, or he may have defended him in some lawsuit.

4 Hom. Il. 10.91.

5 “ Two comrades on the road: two beads in council:
Each sees for each and finds the better way
But he whose council is his single breast
Is scant of skill and slower to divine.
”—Hom. 51.10.224-226.

6 Acta ne agamus, "let us not do what has been done," a proverb answering to "shutting the stable door when the horse is stolen," or "whipping a dead horse," or as in the text. See de Am. 85, where Cicero calls it an ancient proverb.

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