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DCCCLXXVIII (F XII, 14)

P. CORNELIUS LENTULUS SPINTHER TO CICERO (AT ROME)
PERGA, 29 MAY
Having1 been to see our friend Brutus 2 and discovered that he was not coming to Asia for some time, I returned to Asia to finish off the arrears of my business and to transmit the money 3 to Rome as soon as possible. Meanwhile I was informed that Dolabella's fleet was in Lycia, and more than a hundred ships of burden, on board which his army might be embarked; and that Dolabella's plan was that, if he was disappointed of his hopes of getting possession of Syria, he should take ship and make for Italy, and there join the Antonies and the other outlaws. That so alarmed me that, throwing all other business aside, I endeavoured to reach these ships with a fleet of fewer and smaller vessels. And had I not been hindered by the Rhodians, that force would have perhaps been entirely destroyed. After all, it was to a great extent put out of action; for the fleet itself was scattered in all directions by the terror of our approach, the soldiers and officers took flight, the ships of burden, to the last vessel, fell into our hands. At least, I think I have secured—what was causing the greatest alarm—that Dolabella cannot reach Italy, nor make your difficulties greater by reinforcing his allies. How completely the Rhodians thought that it was all over with us and the Republic you will learn from my public despatch. And indeed I have written much more mildly about their delusion than I found it in real fact to be. But do not be surprised at my having mentioned them in my despatch at all, for their infatuation is really surprising. I was not moved by any private wrong received from them at any time; it was their ill-will in a matter involving our lives, their violent adherence to the other side, the persistent disrespect shewn by them to all the best loyalists, that were intolerable to me. Yet after all I don't think that they were all bad men: but that same party of them who in old times refused to receive my father in his flight, 4 L. Lentulus, 5 Pompey, 6 and other men of the greatest distinction, these same men, I say, as though by some fatality are now either actual magistrates or have those who are in office in their power. And so they shew the same proud obstinacy in their malice. That the evil propensities of these men should sooner or later be checked, and that we should not allow them to increase by impunity, is not only to the advantage of the Republic, but absolutely necessary. I hope you will continue as before to defend my position whenever you get an opportunity, and in the senate and elsewhere give your Support to my reputation. Since Asia has been assigned by decree to the consuls, 7 and they have been allowed until their arrival to commit the administration to the magistrates now in possession, I beg you to ask them to select me before anyone else for this position, and to commit the administration of Asia to me till one or the other of them arrives. For there is no reason for their hurrying hither during their year of office or sending an army. For Dolabella is in Syria, and, as you have foreseen in your prophetic soul and have foretold, Cassius will crush him while they are on their way. For Dolabella has had the gates of Antioch shut in his face and got a good beating in trying to storm it. Not trusting in any other city, he has betaken himself to Laodicea, on the sea-coast of Syria. There I hope he will speedily pay the penalty of his crime: for he has no place of refuge, nor will he much longer be able there to stand out against an army as large as that of Cassius. I even hope that Dolabella has by this time been overpowered and crushed. Wherefore I don't suppose that Pansa and Hirtius will hurry themselves to go to their provinces whilst they are consuls, but will conduct the consulship at Rome. Therefore, if you will ask them to give me the administration of Asia in the meantime, I hope you may be able to get it for me. Besides, Pansa and Hirtius promised me personally, and wrote to me when I was away, and Pansa faithfully promised our friend Verrius that he would see to no successor being appointed for me during their consulship. It is not, upon my honour, from any special desire of a province that I wish my period of office prolonged; for this province has been to me the source of much labour, danger, and loss. And I am very anxious that I may not have undergone all these in vain, nor be forced to leave it before I wind up what, in spite of my diligence, there still remains to be done. For if I had been able to send the whole sum which I have levied, I should have asked to be relieved. As it is, I want to get in and make up what I have advanced to Cassius, what I have lost by the death of Trebonius, or by the cruelty of Dolabella, or the perfidy of those who have not kept their word with me and the Republic. And this cannot be done unless I have time. Pray take care—as is your habit—that I get my wish through you. I think my services to the state have been sufficient to give me a right to expect not only the reward of this province, but as much as Cassius and the two Bruti got, not only because I shared in that glorious deed and the danger of it, but also from the zeal and integrity of my conduct now. For I was the first to defy the laws passed by Antony; I was the first to bring over Dolabella's cavalry to the Republic and hand them on to Cassius; I was the first to hold a levy to protect the common safety against a most criminal Conspiracy. I was the sole cause of Syria and the armies in it being put under the authority of Cassius and the Republic. For unless I had handed to Cassius such a large sum of money and such strong forces, and with such promptitude, he would not have even had the courage to enter Syria, and at this moment no less dangers would have been threatening the Republic from Dolabella than from Antony. And then, too, I did all this though I was a club-fellow and most intimate friend of Dolabella, most closely allied in blood to the Antonies, and, moreover, in possession of a province by their favour; yet, "loving my country more," 8 I was the first to proclaim war against men who were all my friends. Though I am aware that these things have as yet not brought me much profit, nevertheless I do not despair, nor shall I be prevented by fatigue from abiding not merely in my passion for freedom, but also in labour and dangers. Still, after all, if I am encouraged by some just and well-deserved credit through the good offices of the senate and aristocracy, I shall enjoy a greater prestige with others, and be able to be so much the more serviceable to the Republic. I could not see your son when I visited Brutus, because he had already started with the cavalry into winter quarters, but upon my honour I am rejoiced at the reputation he enjoys, both for your sake and his, and especially for mine. For he is like a brother to me, as being your son and worthy of you. Good-bye.

29 May, Perga.


1 P. Cornelius Lentulus Spinther, son ofthe consul of B.C. 57, of whom, as well as of his father, we have heard much before, was one of those who, according to Plutarch (Caes. 67), though not actually engaged in Caesar's assassination, joined the assassins on the Capitol and professed to have been in the plot. He was now in Asia, whither he had gone as quaestor with Trebonius. His year of quaestorship being over at the end of B.C. 44, he is now proquaestor, as having had no successor appointed.

2 After the murder of Trebonius, Lentulus went into Macedonia to ask the advice of Brutus (see p.276). Brutus and Cassius had received special authority over all provinces east of the Adriatic from the senate (App. B.C. 3.63).

3 Of the taxes, which he would receive as quaestor.

4 From Pharsalia. See vol. iii., p 31.

5 Consul B.C. 49.

6 The refusal of the Rhodians to receive Pompey is not mentioned by any other authority. Appian (B.C. 3.83) says that he was accompanied to Egypt by some triremes from Rhodes. Caesar (B.C. 3.102) tells the story of the exclusion of the two Lentuli. It was at Cyprus and Antioch apparently that Pompey met with rebuffs.

7 That is, Hirtius and Pansa, of whose death Lentulus is still ignorant. They would in the ordinary course of things draw lots for it. Meanwhile the senate had given Brutus and Cassius a general superintendence of all the provinces between the Adriatic and Syria (App. B.C. 4.58).

8 φιλῶ τέκν᾽ ἀλλὰ πατρίδ᾽ ἐμὴν μᾶλλον φιλῶν, said to be from the Erechtheus of Euripides.

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