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CMIV (BRUT. I, 12)

Though I am immediately about to give a letter to Messalla Corvinus, 1 yet I could not let our friend Vetus reach you without a letter from me. The Republic, Brutus, is in the most imminent peril, and though victorious we are forced to begin the struggle once more. This is the result of the crime and infatuation of M. Lepidus. At such a time, while many things afflict me owing to the anxiety I feel for the Republic, yet nothing has given me greater vexation than to be unable to grant the petitions of your mother and sister: for as to yourself—which is of the greatest importance in my eyes—I think that I shall have no difficulty in satisfying you. The fact is that the position of Lepidus cannot on any consideration be separated from that of Antony, and in the judgment of all is even a worse one, both because he had been complimented by the senate with the most splendid honours, and had even sent an excellent despatch to the senate a few days before. Suddenly he not only receives the remnants of the enemy, but begins a war by land and sea with the greatest ferocity, the result of which is still in the balance. Therefore, while we are asked to shew consideration to his children, no guarantee is offered that we shall not undergo the most extreme penalties, if their father— which God forbid—is victorious. Not indeed that I fail to consider how cruel it is that the crimes of parents should be expiated by the punishment of sons. But it is an excellent doctrine in law that affection for children should make parents more loyal to the Republic: therefore it is Lepidus that is Cruel to his children, not he who declares Lepidus a public enemy. Nay, even if he laid down his arms and was condemned for vis—a prosecution in which he would have no defence to offer-his sons would have met with the same disaster by the confiscation of his property. However, what your mother and sister deprecate in the case of his children, that very thing and measures more cruel still are what Lepidus, Antony, and the rest denounce against us. Therefore our chief hope at this time is in you and your army. It is of very great importance both to the highest interests of the Republic and to your own glory and political position that—as I wrote to say before-you should come to Italy at the earliest possible Opportunity: for the Republic stands sorely in need both of your material forces and of your counsel. I have gladly, in pursuance of what you said in your letter, opened my arms to Vetus as his affection and his extreme loyalty to you deserved, and I have found him most zealous and devoted both to yourself and the Republic. My son I hope shortly to see: for I feel confident that he will promptly come to Italy in your train.

1 The celebrated M. Valerius Messalla Corvinus, the protector of Tibullus. See p.76. For Vetus see p.308.

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