previous next


SINCE from my extreme goodwill to you it is a matter of much concern to me that you should enjoy the most splendid political position possible, I was much vexed that you did not thank the senate, though you had been complimented by that body with its highest honours. 1 I am rejoiced that you are desirous of promoting peace between fellow citizens; but if you keep it free from servitude you will be acting in the interests both of the state and of your own position. But if the peace of which you speak is to put an unprincipled person once more in possession of unrestricted tyranny, let me assure you that all sound-feeling men are resolved to prefer death to slavery. So in my opinion you will be acting with more wisdom if you do not commit yourself to promoting a pacification, which has the approval of neither senate, nor people, nor any loyalist. But you will be told this by others or will be informed of it by letter. Your own good sense will shew you what is best to be done. DCCCXXIV A (13 PHIL. §§ 22-46) M. ANTONIUS TO HIRTIUS AND CAESAR 2 THE CAMP AT MUTINA (MARCH) THE news of the death of Gaius Trebonius caused me as much regret as joy. One cannot help being glad that a wicked wretch has given satisfaction to the ashes and bones of a most illustrious man, and that Divine Providence has manifested its power before the end of one revolving year in the punishment, or immediate prospect of the punishment, of parricide. On the other hand, one cannot repress a sigh that Dolabella at such a time as this should be adjudged a public enemy for having killed a murderer; and that the Roman people should care more for the son of a mere man-about-town than for Gaius Caesar. But the most painful thing of all, Aulus Hirtius, is that you who were ennobled by the favours of Caesar and left by him in a position which surprises yourself—and that you, young sir, who owe everything to his name—are acting in a way to sanction Dolabella's condemnation and to release this pestilent fellow from his state of siege. In order, I suppose, that Brutus and Cassius may be all-powerful! The fact is, you regard the present situation as you did the former, when you used to speak of Pompey's camp as "the senate." You have taken Cicero as your leader, who was beaten then; you are strengthening Macedonia with troops; you have intrusted Africa to Varus, who had been twice made a prisoner; you have sent Cassius to Syria; you have allowed Casca to be tribune; you have withdrawn the revenue given by Iulius to the Luperci; 3 you have by decree of the senate abolished colonies of veterans which were established by law; you are promising the Massilians to refund what was taken from them by the right of war; 4 you give out that no living Pompeian comes under the lex Hirtia; 5 you have supplied M. Brutus with money sent by Appuleius; 6 you have commended the executions of Petrus had a copy of it which he read in the senate on the 20th of March, when there was a proposal made to send a second embassy to Antony. Cicero accompanied it with a running comment of abuse, meant to shew that it was hopeless to deal with Antony. It puts forcibly Antony's case, and therefore I have thought it well to insert it here. It is extracted from the thirteenth Philippic. and Menedemus, 7 who were presented with the citizenship and were beloved by Caesar. You have taken no notice of the expulsion of Theopompus by Trebonius and of his flying stripped of everything to Alexandria; you have Servius Galba in your camp armed with the self-same dagger. 8 You have got together an army of soldiers who are either legally mine, or who have served their time, on the pretext of destroying the murderers of Caesar, and yet have forced them contrary to their expectations to assist in endangering the lives of their own quaestor or commander or fellow soldiers. In fact what have you not consented to or done which Gnaeus Pompeius would do, if he could come to life again, or his son if he could regain his home? Lastly, you say that there can be no peace, unless I either allow Decimus Brutus to march out or supply him with corn. Do you mean to tell me that this is the opinion of the veterans who have not yet committed themselves, even though you have been corrupted by flattery and insidious gifts to come here? But, you will say, it is besieged soldiers that you are attempting to relieve. Them I have no objection to spare and to allow to go wherever you order them, on the one condition that they give him 9 up to the death he has so richly deserved. You say in your letter that mention has been made in the senate of a pacification, and that five consulars have been appointed as legates. It is difficult to believe that the men who violently repelled me, though I offered the most equitable terms, and was thinking nevertheless of mitigating even them, should be entertaining any thoughts of moderation or be likely to act with common charity. It is scarcely likely even that men who have declared Dolabella a public enemy for a most righteous act should be capable of sparing us who are at one with him in heart.

Wherefore I would have you consider which of the two courses is in the better taste and the more advantageous to your party—to punish the death of Trebonius or that of Caesar: and whether it is more right that we should meet as foes and so allow the Pompeian cause so often defeated to revive, or that we should come to terms and so avoid being a laughing-stock to our enemies, who will be the gainers whichever of us perishes? Such a spectacle as this Fortune herself as yet has shunned. She has not seen, that is, two armies of the same body politic fighting like gladiators with Cicero for a trainer, who has been so far successful as to deceive you both by the same formal honours by which he has boasted of having deceived Caesar. 10 For my part I am resolved not to submit to the degradation of myself or my friends, nor to desert the party which Pompey hated, nor to allow the veterans to be turned out of their homes, nor to be dragged off one by one to punishment, nor to break the faith which I pledged to Dolabella, nor to violate my compact with that devoted patriot Lepidus, nor to betray Plancus who is a sharer in my policy.

If the immortal gods, as I hope they will, aid me in my plain and honest course, I shall survive with satisfaction to myself; but if a different fate awaits me, I feel an anticipatory pleasure in the punishment which will befall you. For if the Pompeians are so arrogant in defeat, I would rather you than I should experience what they will be in victory. In fact the upshot of my decision is this: I am ready to put up with the injuries done to my party, if they will either consent to forget that they are Caesar's assassins, or are prepared to join us in avenging his death. I cannot believe in legates approaching a place which is being at the same time menaced by war. When they have arrived I shall learn their demands.

1 A supplicatio in November (Phil. 3.23); a triumph and gilded chair on the 1st of January (Phil. 5.41; Phil. 13.9). For his wish for peace, see p.187.

2 This letter is not included in the Cicero correspondence; yet he

3 The Lupercalia had been falling into disrepute, but were revived by Iulius and the Luperci endowed. See vol. iii., p.89.

4 See p.30.

5 A law, perhaps passed when Hirtius was praetor or praefectus in B.C. 46, to exclude Pompeians from office. But it is not certain.

6 Appuleius was quaestor in Asia (App. B.C. 3.63; Plut. Brut. 24, 25).

7 See pp.51, 57. Cicero declares that the senate knew nothing about the case.

8 That is, with which he killed Caesar.

9 Decimus Brutus.

10 An allusion to the ornandum, laudandum, tollendum epigram, for which see Letter DCCCLXXIV.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Latin (L. C. Purser)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: