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DCCCLVII (F X, 21, §§ 1-6)

I should have been ashamed of the contradictory nature of my despatches, had not this depended on the caprices of another. I had adopted every possible precaution for enabling me, by combining with Lepidus for the defence of the Republic, to resist these ruffians with less anxiety to you all at Rome. I conceded everything he demanded and volunteered much besides, and two days ago I wrote to tell you that I felt sure of finding Lepidus loyal, and that I should conduct the war in consultation with him. I trusted to his own handwriting, and to the personal assurances of Laterensis, who was then in my camp and was entreating me to be reconciled to Lepidus and to trust him. I was not long allowed to entertain good hopes of him. At least I have taken precautions, and will continue to do so, that the fortune of the Republic does not suffer from any credulity on my part. When after constructing a bridge in a single day I had got my army across the Isara, using all the rapidity which the gravity of the situation demanded, because he had written to me with his own hand asking me to hasten my arrival, I was met by his orderly bringing a despatch in which he warned me not to come, saying that lie could finish the affair independently, and that I should meanwhile wait for him on the Isara. I will tell you what my idea on the spur of the moment was. I had resolved to go all the same, thinking that what he was trying to avoid was having anyone to share in his glory. I thought that I could avoid trenching at all upon the reputation of a poor-spirited man, and yet could be at hand on some convenient ground, so as to be able to render prompt aid in case of any reverse. This was my idea in the innocence of my heart. But Laterensis, who is a thoroughly honourable man, sent me a letter in his own handwriting, expressing excessive despair of himself; of the army, of the good faith of Lepidus, and complaining that he had been thrown over. In this letter also he openly warned me to be on my guard against being taken in: said that he had been true to his word: and begged me not to abandon the Republic. I have sent a copy of his original letter to Titius. 1 The original documents themselves, both those in which I believed, and those in which I thought no confidence was to be placed, I will give to Laevus Cispius—who was cognizant of all these transactions—to take home.

An additional complication is that when Lepidus harangued his men, the soldiers who are disaffected in themselves and have been also tampered with by their officers-your Canidii, Rufreni, and all that lot, whose names you shall know when needful-joined in shouting, excellent fellows! "that they desired peace and would not fight with anybody, after two distinguished consuls had been lost, so many citizens killed in defence of their country, and when finally all had been declared public enemies, and had their property confiscated." As this outbreak was neither punished nor allayed by Lepidus, I saw that I had been infatuated and rash to come here, and expose my thoroughly loyal army, my very numerous auxiliaries, the leading men of Gaul, and my whole province to those two combined armies. 2 I saw, too, that had I been overpowered in these circumstances, and dragged down the Republic with me into ruin, my death would not only have been without honour, but without even pity. Therefore I am about to return, and will not allow the possibility of such great advantages being presented to such scoundrels. I will take care to keep my army on advantageous ground, to protect my province, even though Lepidus's army has joined in the defection, not to commit myself to anything, until you send reinforcements from home, and to defend the constitution here with the same good fortune as has been done elsewhere. 3 At the same time, no one was ever more ready to fight a pitched battle, if occasion presents itself; or to stand a siege, if it turns out to be necessary; or to die, if so it happens, in your defence. Wherefore I urge upon you, my dear Cicero, to see to an army being sent across to this district as soon as possible, and to hasten that measure before the enemy consolidates his strength and our men begin to be shaken in their allegiance. If that is done promptly, traitors will be destroyed, and the victory will remain with the Republic. Take care of your health and love me.

1 A tribune (see p.207). Plancus wants to justify himself in the eyes of his opponents at Rome.

2 That is, of Antony and Lepidus.

3 That is, as at Mutina.

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