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DCCCXLVIII (BRUT. 1,5)

TO M. IUNIUS BRUTUS (AT DYRRACHIUM)
ROME (5 MAY)
ON the 27th of April, when the speeches were being delivered in the senate as to the proceedings to be taken against the men who had been adjudged public enemies, Servilius referred among others to the case of Ventidius, 1 and also advised that Cassius should conduct the war against Dolabella. I spoke in support of this, and added to the motion that you, if you thought it expedient and to the public advantage, should direct your attack upon Dolabella: and that if you could not do so with advantage to the public service, or if you thought that it was to the interests of the state, you should keep your army in the district in which it now is. The senate could not have paid you a greater compliment than leaving you to decide what you thought to be for the benefit of the state. For my own part my feeling is that, if Dolabella has a body of troops, if he has a camp, if he has any footing anywhere, it concerns your honour and position that you should go against him. As to the forces in the hands of our friend Cassius we know nothing, for we have had no despatch from him personally, nor has any news reached us upon which we can rely. But how important it is that Dolabella should be crushed you certainly fully appreciate, both that he may be punished for his crime, and that there may be no place of refuge for the ringleaders of the outlaws after their rout at Mutina. And indeed that this has all along been my opinion you may recollect from my previous letter—though at that time our only harbour of refuge was in your camp, and we were looking to your army to save us from destruction. Much more, now that we have been freed as I hope from absolute danger, ought we to devote ourselves to crushing Dolabella. 2 But think the matter over carefully, decide it wisely, and—if you deem it right-let me know what you have resolved and what you are actually doing. I wish my son Cicero to be co-opted into your college. 3 I think in the circumstances that in the election of sacerdotes candidates might be voted for in their absence : for it has been done even before this. For instance, Gaius Marius, though he was in Cappadocia, was created an augur under the lex Domitia; 4 nor has any law since made that illegal. There is even a clause in the lex Julia—the most recent legislation on the subject of the priesthoods—in these words: "the candidate and anyone for whom votes shall be taken." This clearly indicates that votes can be taken for one who does not act as a candidate. I have written to my son on this subject telling him to follow your advice, as in all other things. It is for you again to decide about Domitius and our friend Cato. 5 But however legal it may be for votes to be taken for a man in his absence, yet it is easier in every way for those who are on the spot. While if you have resolved that you must go to Asia, we shall have no means of summoning our friends to the comitia. Certainly I think that everything would have been more expeditiously done if Pansa were alive: for he would have at once held the election of his colleague, and then the comitia of the sacerdotes would have been held before those of the praetors. As it is, I foresee a long delay on account of the auspicia; for as long as there is a single patrician magistrate left the auspicia cannot revert to the senate. It is certainly a serious complication. 6 Pray write and tell me your views on the whole question.

5 May.


1 Ventidius Bassus, the praetor, who had marched from Ariminum and joined Antony at Vada Sabata. See pp.218, 221, 230.

2 Cicero means that he had thought Brutus ought to pursue Dolabella, though before the success at Mutina it was important for the Optimates at Rome to have Brutus near at hand in case of danger. Now that the battle of Mutina had relieved them of that fear, there can be no reason why Brutus should not go to Asia, or anywhere else that was necessary.

3 The college of the pontifices. Two vacancies had occurred by the death of Iulius Caesar and P. Servilius Isauricus. They were filled up later in the year by Ventidius Bassus and Cornelius Balbus.

4 Marius went to Cappadocia in B.C. 99-98 on a votiva legatio to the mother of the gods, really with a view to see the state of things in regard to the encroachments of Mithradates, against whom he wished to be appointed to command. The lex Domitia, B.C. 104, left the right of co-optatio in a modified form to the sacred colleges. Two of the existing members nominated a man, who was next elected by seventeen of the tribes in the sacerdotum comitia, and was then—as though by a congé d' élire-co-opted by the whole college. This had since that time been again modified by Sulla, the intermediate process of election by the seventeen tribes being omitted or in some way reduced to a mere form; but after Sulla the old practice was resumed.

5 That is, whether you wish them to be candidates. L. Domitius Ahenobarbus (who fell at Pharsalia) married Porcia, a sister of Cato Uticensis, and Brutus was married to Porcia, a daughter of the same Cato. Therefore the son of Domitius—Cn. Domitius Ahenobarbus and young Cato, the son of Cato Uticensis, were connexions of Brutus, and he might wish to back them.

6 The same difficulty had occurred in B.C. 49, when both consuls were abroad (see vol. ii., pp.331, 349). The lesser magistrate cannot "create," i.e., hold the election for, the greater. In old times, when the consuls were the only curule magistrates, in case of their disappearance by death or otherwise, the auspicia—the right of taking the auspices, without which there could be no valid election-were said to revert to the patres of the senate. The senate then nominated interreges, who held the election. But the question is now complicated by the fact that there are other curule magistrates who possess the auspicia, which therefore cannot revert to the patres unless they abdicate. In B.C. 52 the question did not arise, for the elections having been all prevented till after the 1st of January, all curule magistrates had vacated their offices, and therefore the auspicia had reverted to the patres. By a "patrician magistrate," Cicero practically means a curule magistrate, originally confined to the patricians: the term is still used, though the old "patrician" monopoly of the auspicia had long disappeared.

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