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DCCCXC (F X, 23)

1 6 JUNE NEVER by heaven! my dear Cicero, shall I repent of encountering the greatest dangers for my country, provided that, if anything happen to me, I escape the reproach of rashness. I confess that I should have made a slip from imprudence, if I had ever believed at the bottom of my heart in Lepidus. For credulity is an error rather than a crime, and indeed the honester the man the more easily does it find its way into his mind. But it was not by this defect that I was all but taken in: for I knew Lepidus thoroughly. What was it, then? It was over-scrupulousness—the most dangerous thing in war—that compelled me to incur this risk. For, if I had stopped there, I was afraid of being thought by some of my detractors both to have been too obstinate in my quarrel with Lentulus, and to be actually fostering the war by my waiting policy. Accordingly, I brought up my forces almost to within sight of Lepidus and Antony, and leaving a space between us of forty miles I took up a position with the design of being able either to approach them with speed or to retire in safety. In selecting my ground I secured two advantages, a river in my front, which would delay an enemy in crossing it, and the Vocontii close at hand, through whose territory my road would be kept open without fear of treachery. Lepidus, having given up hope of my arrival, which he was very anxious to secure, effected a junction with Antony on the 29th of May, and on the same day they advanced against me. When they were twenty miles off I got news of this. By the blessing of heaven I managed to retire with speed without this movement having any appearance of a flight: without a single soldier or horseman or particle of baggage being lost or being intercepted by those hot-headed outlaws. Accordingly, on the 4th of June I got my whole force across the Isara and broke the bridge which I had constructed, that my men might have time to pull themselves together, and that I might meanwhile effect a junction with my colleague, whom I am expecting in three days from the date of this letter. I will always acknowledge the fidelity and eminent loyalty to the Republic of my friend Laterensis. But certainly his excessive consideration for Lepidus made him somewhat less acute in his view of these dangers. It is true that when he saw that he had been duped, he tried to lay the hands upon himself which he would have done better to have armed against Lepidus. In this attempt, however, he was interrupted, and is still alive, and is said to be likely to live: but of this after all I have no certain information. It was a great chagrin to those parricides that I escaped from their clutches: for they were coming inspired by the same madness against me as against their country. Their temper also had been embittered by recent events-because I had not ceased lashing Lepidus, urging him to put an end to the war; because I rejected the idea of conferences; because I had forbidden legates sent to me under the guarantee of Lepidus to come into my presence; because I had captured Gaius Catius Vestinus, a military tribune, sent by Antony to him with, a despatch, and had treated him as an enemy. 2 And in all this I have at least this satisfaction, that at any rate the more eager they were to get me the more annoyance has their failure caused them. It is your part, my dear Cicero, to, continue as before using all your vigilance and energy in reinforcing us who are at the actual seat of war. Let Caesar come with the best troops he has, or, if any circumstance prevents him from coming himself, let his army be sent. 3 For it is a question of considerable peril for himself. All the ruffian element that was at any time likely to join the camp against their country has now combined. In defence, then, of the city's bare existence, why should we not employ all the resources at our disposal? But if you at Rome don't fail me, certainly, as far as I am concerned, I shall in all respects do my whole duty and something more to the Republic. For you, my dear Cicero, I love you more every day of my life, and every day your services sharpen my anxiety not to forfeit any of your affection or good opinion. I pray that I may be permitted by a personal display of my devotion and duty to make your kindnesses a subject of greater gratification to yourself.

6 June, Cularo, in the country of the Allobroges.

1 Grenoble, where Plancus was presently joined by Decimus Brutus.

2 He may mean that he kept him as a prisoner of war, but I fear the phrase in Caesar usually means "put to the sword" (in numero hostis habere).

3 Plancus has evidently no idea, or poses as having no idea, of the real relation between the senate and Octavian.

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