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DCCCXXIII (F X, 6)

TO L. MUNATIUS PLANCUS (IN GAUL)
ROME, 20 MARCH
WHAT our friend Furnius reported as to your disposition towards the Republic was highly pleasing to the senate and most cordially approved of by the Roman people. But your despatch, which was read in the senate, did not seem at all to harmonize with the verbal report of Furnius. For you are for peace, though that illustrious man your colleague 1 is being actually besieged by the most abandoned outlaws, who ought to beg for peace after laying down their arms; or if they demand it with arms in their hands, we must attain that peace by victory, not by making terms. But how your despatch about peace, or that of Lepidus, has been received you will be able to learn from that honourable man your brother, 2 and from Gaius Furnius. However, my affection for you has made me anxious that, although you are not yourself wanting in sagacity, and although you have the goodwill and loyal wisdom of your brother and Furnius ever at your side, yet, Considering the many ties between us, some injunction should reach you with the cachet of my authority also. Well then believe me, my dear Plancus, that all the steps in official promotion which you have hitherto attained—and they are of the most honourable nature-will convey nothing but the empty titles of office without the true marks of dignity, unless you throw in your lot with the liberty of the Roman people and the authority of the senate. Separate yourself, I beseech you, at length from those to whom you have been bound, not by your own deliberate judgment, but by the chains of circumstance. Many in the confusion of public affairs have received the title of consulars, not one of whom is regarded as really a consular, unless he has shewn the true spirit of a consular towards the state. This is the sort of man that you are bound to be, first in withdrawing yourself from association with disloyal citizens extremely unlike yourself; next in giving your services as supporter, champion, leader to the senate and the whole loyalist party; and lastly in making up your mind that peace does not consist in merely laying aside arms, but in dispelling the fear of arms and slavery. If this is your policy and these your sentiments, you will not only be a consul and a consular, but also a great consul and a great consular. If not, in these splendid titles of office there will not only be no dignity, there will be the extremity of dishonour. Under the influence of my warm feeling for you I write these words with somewhat unusual gravity. But you will find them to be true, if you put them to the test of practice—the only method worthy of you.

20 March.


1 Decimus Brutus with Plancus was consul-designate for B.C. 42.

2 Gnaeus Munatius Plancus, who was a praetor this year. Hence Cicero mentions him with the complimentary viro optimo, almost "his excellency."

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