DCCCLXI (BRUT. I, 17)
M. IUNIUS BRUTUS TO ATTICUS (AT ROME)YOU say in your letter that Cicero wonders at my never making any remark about his political actions. Since you ask me, under compulsion from you I will set down my sentiments. I know that Cicero does everything with the best intentions—for what could be clearer to me than his devotion to the Republic? But he, the acutest of men, appears to me in certain things to have acted with a want of—shall I call it tact or disinterestedness ?-in spite of the fact that he has not scrupled to incur the enmity of Antony at the height of his power on behalf of the Republic. I don't know what to set down on paper for you except the one thing: that the boy's ambition and unscrupulousness have been rather provoked than repressed by Cicero: and that he carries this indulgence to such a pitch that he does not abstain from abusive remarks-remarks which recoil upon himself with double force, because he put more than a single person to death, and ought rather to confess himself a murderer than to taunt Casca as he does, and because he imitates in Casca's case the conduct of Bestia. 1 Pray, because we are not always bragging of the Ides of March, as he always has his Nones of December on his lips, is Cicero in any better position for vilifying a most glorious deed than Bestia and Clodius were for their habitual attacks upon his consulship? Our friend Cicero boasts to me that he has, though a civilian, successfully faced the war of Antony. What good is that to me, if as a price for crushing Antony succession into Antony's position is demanded, and if the avenger of that evil comes forward as the supporter of another destined to have a deeper foundation and to strike deeper roots, unless we prevent it? Granted that his present policy proceeds from fear-shall we say of tyranny, or of a tyrant, or of Antony? Well, but I feel no gratitude to one who, to avoid being the slave of a bad-tempered master, does not deprecate slavery itself-nay, rather proposes to give him a triumph and pay for his men, and by all manner of decrees instigates him not to shrink from coveting the high position of the man whose name he has adopted. Is this worthy of a consular or of a Cicero? Since I have not been allowed to be silent, you will have to read what must necessarily give you annoyance, for I am conscious myself of the pain with which I have written this to you; nor am I ignorant what your sentiments as to the situation are, and how desperate also you think the possibility of its cure. 2 Nor, by heaven, do I blame you, Atticus. For your age, your habits, and your children 3 make you unenterprising—a fact which I gathered also from our friend Flavius. But I return to Cicero. What is the difference between Salvidienus 4 and him? What greater honour could he have proposed in the senate? Cicero is afraid," you will say, "even now of the remnant of the civil war." Does anyone then, while fearing a war nearly concluded, think that neither the tyrannical power of 'the victorious army's commander nor the rashness of the boy is at all alarming? Or is his motive for this very action the idea that now, owing to the greatness of his power, every kind of honour must be spontaneously offered to him? How strange is the blindness of fear! While taking precautions against what you dread, actually to invite danger and to bring it upon you, though you might perhaps have avoided it altogether! We are over-fearful of death, exile, and poverty: I think that these things are the worst of evils in Cicero's eyes, and that while he has people from whom to get what he wants, and by whom to be made much of and flattered, he has no aversion to servitude, if it be but tempered by a show of respect—if there can be any respect in what is the last and most wretched degradation. Therefore, though Octavius call Cicero "father," consult him in everything, praise and thank him, nevertheless the truth will come out that words do not agree with deeds. For what can be more contrary to common sense than to regard a man as a father, who is not even reckoned as free? For my part, I set no store by those accomplishments with which I know Cicero to be better furnished than anyone else: for what good to him are the speeches on behalf of his country's liberty, the essays on dignity, death, exile, poverty, which he has composed with the utmost wealth of language? What a much truer view Philippus seems to have of those things, when he refused all compliments to his own stepson, 5 than Cicero has, who pays them to one who has no connexion with him! Let him cease then from absolutely insulting our misfortunes by his boastful language; for what does it profit us that Antony has been conquered, if the only result of his defeat is to leave his place open to another? However, even now there is a note of uncertainty in your letter. Long live Cicero—as he may well do—to cringe and serve! if he is not ashamed to think of his age nor his honour, nor his great past. For myself, at any rate, there is no condition of servitude, however favourable, which will deter me from waging war on the principle: that is, on royalty, unconstitutional magistracies, absolutism, and power that aims at being above the laws. Though Antony may be a good man, as you say in your letter-which, however, has never been my opinion—yet the law of our ancestors was that no one, not even a father, should be an absolute master. Unless I had been as deeply attached to you as Cicero believes that Octavius is devoted to him, I should not have written this to you. I am grieved to think that as you read this you are getting angry—for you are most affectionate to all your friends, and especially to Cicero: but assure yourself of this, that my personal goodwill to Cicero is in no way modified, though my opinion is largely so, for you cannot ask a man to judge except from what seems to him to be truth in each case. I could have wished that you had mentioned in your letter what arrangements were being made for the betrothal of our dear Attica: I might have said something to you of what I felt about the matter. I am not surprised that you are anxious about Porcia's health. 6 Lastly, I will gladly do what you ask, for my sisters 7 ask me the same, and I know the man and his views.