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CDXCI (F XII, 17)

TO Q. CORNIFICIUS (IN THE EAST)
ROME (SEPTEMBER)
Cicero's compliments to his colleague 1 Cornificius. I am exceedingly gratified by your remembrance of me as indicated by your letter. I beg you to retain it, not because I have any doubt of your constancy, but because such is the customary request. We have had news of some disturbances in Syria; 2 and as they are nearer you than me, I am more concerned at them for your sake than for my own. At Rome, though there is the most profound tranquillity, you would prefer to have some salutary business of the right sort on foot. And I hope it will be so, for I see that Caesar is anxious for it. 3 Allow me to inform you that, seizing upon what I venture to call the opportunity of your absence and the greater freedom that it gives me, 4 I am writing with more than usual boldness: and the rest, indeed, are perhaps such as even you would allow to pass; but the last thing I wrote was "On the best Style of Speech," 5 on which subject I have often suspected that your taste differed somewhat from mine, though not more than a learned man might differ somewhat from another who was also not without some learning. To this book I should like you to give the support of your approval, if possible from a sincere feeling, but if not at least out of friendship. I will tell your people that, if they choose, they may copy it out and send it to you. For I think that, even if you don't quite agree with its contents, yet, in the lonely spot in which you now are, 6 whatever is produced by me will give you some pleasure.

You recommend your reputation and political position to my care. You follow the general fashion in so doing; but I would have you believe both that I consider the affection between us, which I understand to be mutual, to have a supreme claim upon me; and that my opinion as to your supreme ability, your devotion to the highest learning, and your prospect of the most exalted rank is such that I class no one above you and put very few on an equality with you.


1 That is, in the college of augurs. There was a vacancy this year by the death of Faustus Cornelius Sulla, and though we don't know it positively, Cornificius may have been nominated to it by Caesar, in reward for his services in Illyricum in B.C. 48-47.

2 Cornificius was governor of Africa next year (B.C. 45), but it is supposed from this passage that he was on some service in the East at the present time. The disturbance in Syria was caused by Q. Caecilius Bassus, who, escaping from Pharsalia, got the governor of Syria murdered, and, assuming the title of praetor, held out till B.C. 43.

3 Some of the best of Caesar's laws were passed this year (Dio, 43, 25), but perhaps Cicero means some more or less complete restoration of the Republic.

4 A polite hint that Cicero has a great fear of, or regard for, the criticism of Cornificius.

5 Orator, ad Brutum. The objection he expects to be taken to this work is the high place assigned to the orator as compared with men of action. The other works of this year are the Cato (lost), Paradoxa, Brutus (de claris Oratoribus).

6 Schütz assigns this letter to the next year, in which case the reference might be to Africa.

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