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CCCLXI (A IX, 7)

TO ATTICUS (AT ROME)
FORMIAE, 13 MARCH
I wrote you a letter on the 12th of March, but the messenger to whom I intended to give it did not start on that day. But there did arrive that very day that "swiftfoot" mentioned by Salvius. He brought me your full and very interesting letter, which did, so to speak, put just a drop of life into me: for wholly restored I can't say that I am. But you have clearly done the main thing. Yes, believe me, a prosperous issue for me is not now my aim at all: for I see plainly that we can never have our constitution, either while these two men are both alive, or with this one remaining. Accordingly, I no longer entertain any hope of repose for myself, nor refuse to contemplate any amount of sorrow. The one thing I do positively dread is doing, or, I should say, having done anything dishonourable. So be assured that your letter was wholesome for me, and I don't only mean this longer one-the most explicit and complete possible—but also the shorter one, in which what gave me the most intense pleasure was the statement that my policy and action had the approval of Sextus. I am exceedingly obliged to you, of whose affection to myself and keen sense of what is right I am well aware. 1

Your longer letter, indeed, relieved not only myself, but all my party from painful feelings. So I will follow your advice and remain at Formiae: I shall thus avoid the scandal of a meeting with him outside the city, or, if I see him neither here nor there, giving him the impression of his having been intentionally avoided by me. As to your advice to ask him to allow me to shew the same consideration for Pompey, as I have shewn to himself—that you will see from the letters of Balbus and Oppius, of which I sent you copies, I have been doing all the time. I send you also Caesar's letter to them, written in quite a sane frame of mind, considering the insanity of the whole business. If, on the other hand, Caesar will not make this concession to me, I see your opinion is that my rôle should be that of the peacemaker. In this it is not the danger that I fear—for with so many hanging over my head, why not settle the matter by choosing the most honourable ?-but what I do fear is embarrassing Pompey; and that he should turn upon me “The monster Gorgon's petrifying glare.” 2 For our friend Pompey has set his heart to a surprising degree on imitating Sulla's reign. I am not speaking without book, I assure you. He never made less of a secret of anything. "With such a man," you will say, "do you wish to be associated?" I follow personal obligation, not the cause: as I did in the case of Milo, and in—but there is no need to go into that. "Is not the cause, then, a good one?" Nay, the best: but it will be conducted, remember, in the most criminal way. The first plan is to choke off the city and Italy by starving them; the next, to devastate the country with sword and fire, and not to keep their hands off the money of the wealthy. But seeing that I fear the same from Caesar's side, without any good to be got on Pompey's, I think my better course is to stay at home, and there await whatever comes. Yet I hold myself to be under so great an obligation to him, that I do not venture to incur the charge of ingratitude. However, you have yourself fully stated what is to he said in defence of that course.

As to the triumph, I quite agree with you: it will not cost me a moment's hesitation or a pang to throw it utterly aside. I much like your idea that, while I am moving about the country, "the moment for sailing " 3 may suddenly present itself. " If only," say you, "Pompey shews a resolute front enough." He is even more resolute than I thought. You may pin your faith on him. I promise you that, if he wins, he will not leave a tile on any roof in Italy! "You his ally, then?" Yes, by Hercules, against my own judgment, and against the warnings of all history; and—not so much to help his side, as to avoid seeing what is going on here—I am anxious to quit the country. For pray don't imagine that the mad proceedings of the party in Italy will be endurable or all of one kind. I need hardly, however, point out to you, that when laws, jurors, law courts, and senate are abolished, neither the fortunes of individuals nor the revenues of the state will suffice for the licentious desires, the shameless demands, the extravagances, and the necessities of so many men in the lowest depths of poverty. Let me depart, therefore, never mind by what kind of voyage-that, indeed, shall be as you please—but anyhow let me depart. For I, at least, shall be able to satisfy your curiosity on one point, as to what has been done at Brundisium. I am very glad-if one can be glad of anything now—to hear that my conduct up to this has the approval of the loyalists, and that they are aware of my not having started. As to Lentulus, I will make more careful inquiry: I have given orders about it to Philotimus, a man of courage and even too strong an Optimate. The last thing I have to say is this: supposing you are now at a loss for something to write about—for any other subject is out of the question, and what more can be found to say on this ?-yet, as there is no lack of ability (I mean it, by Heaven!) or affection on your part, which latter also adds a spur to my own intellect, pray maintain your practice of writing all you possibly can. I am a little vexed at your not inviting me to Epirus; I shouldn't give much trouble as a guest! But good-bye; for as you must have your walk and anointing, so I must have some sleep. In fact, your letter has made sleep possible for me.


1 These words, as the text stands, must apply to Atticus. It seems, however, much more natural that they should refer to Sext. Peducaeus. Accordingly, editors have endeavoured to fill up the lacuna in various ways.

2 Hom. Od. 11.633.

3 πλόος ὡραῖος. See Letter CCCLXXV, p. 354.

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