DCCLXXXII (F XI, 28)
C. MATIUS TO CICERO (AT TUSCULUM)Your letter gave me great pleasure by convincing me that your opinion of me was what I had hoped and wished that it should be. And although I had no doubt about that, yet, as I valued it very highly, I was anxious that it should remain intact. I was, moreover, conscious in my own mind of having done nothing calculated to wound the feelings of any good man. Therefore I was all the less inclined to believe that a man of your many splendid qualities could be induced to adopt any opinion inconsiderately, especially as my good feeling towards you had always been, and still was, heartfelt and uninterrupted. As then I know this to be as I wished it to be, I will now answer the charges, which—as was natural from your unparalleled kindness and our friendship-you have often rebutted in my behalf. Now I am well acquainted with the allegations made against me since Caesar's death. People blame me for shewing grief at the death of a dear friend, and expressing my indignation that the man whom I loved had been killed. For they say that country should be preferred to friendship, as though they had actually proved that his death has been beneficial to the Republic. Well, I will speak frankly. I confess that I have not attained to that height of philosophy. For in the political controversy it was not Caesar that I followed, but it was a friend whom—though disapproving of what was being done—I yet refused to desert. Nor did I ever approve of a civil war, nor of the motive of the quarrel, which in fact I strove my utmost to have nipped in the bud. Accordingly, when my friend was victorious I was not fascinated by the charm either of promotion or of money-rewards upon which others, though less influential with him than I was, seized with such intemperate avidity. In fact, even my own personal property was curtailed by the law of Caesar, 1 thanks to which most of those who now exult in Caesar's death maintained their position in the state. I was as anxious that conquered citizens should be spared as I was for my own safety. Wishing therefore the preservation of all, could I fail to be indignant that the man by whose means that preservation had been secured had perished? Especially when the very same men had caused both the feeling against him. and the death which befell him. "Well then," say they, "you are assailed for venturing to shew your disapprobation of our deed." What unheard—of tyranny! One party are to boast of a crime, others are not to be allowed even to grieve at it with impunity! Why, even slaves have always been free to fear, to rejoice, and to grieve at their own will rather than at the behest of another-emotions of which, to judge from the frequent remarks of your champions of liberty, they are now endeavouring to deprive us by force. But they are throwing away their labour. I shall never be deterred from duty and humanity by the threats of any danger. For I have convinced myself that an honourable death is never to be shunned, is often even to be sought. But why are they angry with me for wishing them to repent of what they have do e? For I desire Caesar's death to be regretted by all. 'But," say they, "I ought as a citizen to desire the safety of the Republic." If my past life and future hopes do not prove me—without my saying a word—to desire that, I do not expect to convince them by anything I can say. Therefore I ask you with more than usual earnestness to regard facts as more convincing than words; and if you think it good for the world that right should prevail, to believe that I can have nothing in common with criminals. The principles which I maintained as a young man, when I might have had some excuse for going wrong, am I now that my life is drawing to its close entirely to change and with my own lips to give the lie to my whole career? I will not do so! Yet I will not act in a way to cause offence farther than by avowing my grief at the hard fate of one so deeply loved, and a man of such extraordinary distinction. But if I were otherwise disposed I would never deny what I was doing, lest I should get the reputation of being at once unscrupulous in committing crime, and timid and false in disavowing it. "But," say they, "I superintended the games given by the young Caesar in honour of Caesar's victory." That is a matter of private obligation with no constitutional significance. Yet, after all, a service which I was bound to render to the memory of a dear friend even after his death, I could not refuse to the request of a young man of very great promise and in the highest degree worthy of Caesar. I have also frequently been to the house of the consul Antonius to pay my respects. Yes, and those who now regard me as unpatriotic you will find going there in crowds to prefer some petition or to pocket some bounty. But what insolence is this that, whereas Caesar never interfered with my being intimate with whom I chose, even with those whom he personally disliked, these men who have torn my friend from me should now endeavour by their captious remarks to prevent my loving whom I choose? But I have no fear either of the regularity of my life not being sufficient to protect me hereafter, or of those very men who hate me for my constancy to Caesar not preferring to have friends like me rather than like themselves. For myself, if I get what I like, I shall spend the remainder of my life in retirement at Rhodes: but if some accident intervenes, though I am at Rome I shall always desire the right to prevail. I am very much obliged to our friend Trebatius, for having shewn me your true-hearted and affectionate feeling towards myself, and for having given me additional reasons for being still more bound to cultivate and respect a man for whom I have always felt a spontaneous affection. Good-bye, and do not cease to love me.