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DCCCLXII (BRUT. I, 4, §§ 3-6)

M. IUNIUS BRUTUS TO CICERO (AT ROME)
CAMP IN EPIRUS, 15 MAY
... 1 Now, Cicero, now is the time for action, lest we turn out to have rejoiced in vain at the defeat of Antony, and lest it is always to be a case of cutting out one mischief for another to grow worse than the former. No reverse can now find us unprepared or otiose, in which everyone will not be to blame, and especially yourself, whose influence the senate and Roman people not only allow to be so great, but even desire to be the very greatest that one man's can be in a free state. And this influence you ought to maintain not only by good intentions but also by prudent conduct. Now the prudence, with which you are richly endowed, does not fail you in any respect except as to moderation in bestowing honours. 2 All other endowments you possess in such profusion, that your excellences will stand comparison with any of the heroes of old. The only outcome of your grateful and generous heart that people feel to be wanting is a more cautious and better regulated liberality. For the senate ought to grant nothing to anybody which may serve as a precedent or justification to the ill-disposed. For instance, I am afraid in regard to the consulship that your friend Caesar will think that he has mounted to a higher position by means of your decrees than he will be willing to descend from, if he is once made consul. 3 But if Antony regarded the working machinery of kingly power left by another as an opportunity for seizing kingly power for himself, what do you suppose a man's feelings will be who shall conceive himself justified in aspiring to any kind of office, not on the authority of a slain tyrant, but on that of the senate itself? Wherefore I shall reserve my compliments to your good nature and foresight till I begin to have proof that Caesar will be content with the extra-constitutional honours that he has already received. 4 "Do you mean, then," you will say, "to make me liable for another man's misconduct?" Yes, certainly for another's, if its occurrence might have been prevented by foresight. And oh that you may clearly see the depth of my alarm in regard to him!

P.S.-After writing the above I have been informed that you have been elected consul. 5 I shall indeed begin to imagine that I have before my eyes a complete and self-sustained Republic, when I see that. Your son is well, and has been sent in advance into Macedonia with the cavalry.

15 May, in camp.


1 This letter-forming in the MSS. the latter part of DCCCLIII-is imperfect. The first part of it appears to have been lost.

2 The honours proposed to Octavian after the battles at Mutina.

3 We have already heard of the constitutional difficulty as to the election of consuls in the places of Pansa and Hirtius (p. 228). Octavian sent to Rome soon after the battles of Mutina, demanding to be allowed to stand for the consulship, and Cicero had already on the 1st of January proposed that, whenever he was a candidate for it, he should be assumed to have held the quaestorship (Phil. 5.47). According to Appian (B.C. 3.82; cp. Dio, 46; 42; Plutarch, Cic. 46), Octavian proposed to Cicero to be his colleague, promising to leave the administration to him, and Cicero agreed to the proposal, and tried to induce the senate therefore to admit his candidature—as it had to do afterwards under compulsion of his army. This story is rejected by Cicero's admirers as a Caesarian invention, I don't quite know why. It seems not highly improbable in itself; and this letter of Brutus—especially the last sentence—seems to shew that there were at any rate rumours afloat at the time to that effect.

4 He had by two separate senatus consulta been invested first with the rank of propraeter and the consularia ornamenta (the honorary rank of consul), and with imperium. This last was on the 5th of January.

5 See note p.233. This rumour of course was false; but it may have been connected with the belief that Cicero had listened to Octavian's suggestion.

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