previous next


I have no letter as yet from you—not so much as a rumour—to shew that you are aware of the resolution of the senate and are bringing your army into Italy. That you should do so, and with all speed, the Republic urgently requires: for the internal mischief daily grows more serious, and we are in difficulties from enemies at home no less than from those abroad. The former have, it is true, always existed from the beginning of the war, but they were then more easily crushed. The senate was then in a more resolute frame of mind, roused to action not only by the motions which I brought forward, but also by my earnest exhortations. Pansa was then in the senate very strenuous and bold in his attacks upon all men of that sort, and especially his father-in-law. 1 As consul his courage never failed him from the beginning, nor his loyalty at the end. The conduct of the war at Mutina left nothing to complain of in Caesar, though some few points in Hirtius. The fortune of this war is “For happy though but ill, for ill not worst.” 2 The Republic was victorious: Antony's forces were cut to pieces, and he himself driven out of the country. Then came so many mistakes on the part of Decimus Brutus, that in a certain sense the victory slipped through our fingers. 3 Our generals did not pursue the demoralized, unarmed, wounded enemy, and time was granted to Lepidus to give us a taste of that fickleness, which we had had many occasions to know before, in a more disastrous field. The armies of Brutus and Plancus are good but raw; their auxiliary forces of Gauls are very numerous and very loyal. But certain persons by most unprincipled letters and misleading agents and messages induced Caesar—up to that time wholly governed by my advice, and personally possessed of brilliant ability and admirable firmness of character—to entertain a very confident hope of the consulship. As soon as I discovered that, I never ceased offering him advice by letter in his absence, and remonstrating with his connexions who were in town, and who seemed to be supporting his ambition; nor in the senate did I hesitate to lay bare the sources of a most criminal plot. Nor indeed do I remember a better disposition on the part of senate or magistrates. For in the case of voting an extra-constitutional office to a man of power, or rather of super-eminent power—since power now depends on force and arms—it never yet happened that no tribune, no one in any other office, no private senator was found to support it. But in spite of this firmness and manly spirit, the city was after all in a state of anxiety. For we are flouted, Brutus, both by the airs assumed by the soldiers and the arrogance of their commander. Each man claims to be powerful in the Republic in proportion to his physical force. Reason, moderation, law, custom, duty—all go for nothing: as do the judgment and opinion of their fellow citizens, and their respect for the verdict of posterity. It was because I foresaw all this long ago that I was on the point of flying from Italy at the time when the report of the edicts issued by you and Cassius recalled me. You also roused my spirits, Brutus, at Velia. For though it vexed me to be going to a city from which you who freed it were an exile—which had also happened to me formerly in a similar danger, though with more melancholy result-yet I continued my journey and reached Rome, and without any guard to protect me I shook the power of Antony, and encouraged by my influence and advice the protecting force offered by Caesar against his treasonable arms. And if Caesar keeps his word and follows my counsel, I think we shall have protection enough. But if the counsels of the disloyal have greater weight than mine, or if the weakness of his time of life proves unequal to the strain of the business, our whole hope is in you. Wherefore fly hither, I beseech you, and put the last touch to the freedom of a state, which you liberated by courage and high spirit rather than by any fortunate coincidence. Men of all sorts will crowd round you. Write and urge Cassius to do the same. Hope of liberty is nowhere to be found except in the headquarters of your two camps. We have, it is true, generals and armies in the west on which we Can rely. The protecting force of the young Caesar, for instance, I regard at present as trustworthy: but so many are trying to shake his loyalty that at times I am mortally afraid of his giving way.

That is a complete view of the political situation, as it exists at the moment at which I write. I could wish that it might improve as we go on: but if otherwise—which God forbid! I shall grieve for the sake of the Republic, which ought to have been immortal: but for myself—what a brief span of life is left!

1 Fufius Calenus, who desired terms made with Antony (Phil. 8.11).

2 Twice quoted before. See vol. i., p.189.

3 Very different froni the language which Cicero employs to Decimus himself. The fact is that Decimus could not possibly pursue Antony effectively. His garrison had suffered greatly from want of food in Mutina, and from natural excess after the siege was raised. He had no transport. Octavius refused ahsolutely to assist him, or to have anything to do with him. And the fourth and Martian legions stuck to Octavius, as did most of the veterans with Hirtius and Pansa. Antony had two days' start at least, and was not—as Cicero fondly imagined-leading away a demoralized army. His cavalry was intact, and the splendid march by Acqui to Vado, and then by the Riviera to Frejus, shews that the rest of his forces was in no desperate case.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Latin (L. C. Purser)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: