DCCCXXII (F XII, 25, §§1-5)
TO QUINTUS CORNIFICIUS (IN AFRICA)ON the 17th of March I received your letter, which your son handed to me on the 21st day—as he said-from its despatch. Neither on that nor the following day was there any meeting of the senate. On the Quinquatrus Minervae (19th of March) before a full house I pleaded your cause-not unfavoured by Minerva herself.For in fact on that very day the senate decreed that my statue of Minerva, which a storm had thrown down, should be restored. 1 Pansa read your despatch. It was followed by strong expression of approval from the senate, to my great joy and the great chagrin of the "Minotaur "-I mean Calvisius and Taurus; 2 and a decree was passed about you in complimentary terms. A demand was even made that these men should have some stigma inflicted upon them, but Pansa was for milder measures. For myself, my dear Cornificius, on the day (the 20th of December) on which I first conceived a hope of freedom and, while everybody else shrank from beginning, laid the foundations of a recovered constitution—on that very day, I say, I made careful provision and calculation for the maintenance of your position. For it was for my motion as to the retention of the provinces 3 that the senate voted. Nor indeed did I subsequently cease from discrediting the man, who to your great injury and to the discredit of the Republic was retaining the province, though he had himself left it. 4 Accordingly, he was unable to stand out against my frequent, or rather daily attacks upon him, and unwillingly returned to Rome: and was driven not from a mere hope, but from what was now a certainty and an actual possession, by my most righteous and dignified invective. That you have employed your eminent courage in successfully retaining your position, and have been complimented by the greatest honours a province can bestow, is a subject of lively satisfaction to me. As to your defence of yourself in regard to Sempronius, 5 I accept your explanation; for that was a dark period of servitude. I, the supporter of your policy and champion of your position, enraged at the position of affairs and despairing of freedom, was on the point of hurrying off to Greece, when the Etesian winds, like loyal citizens, refused to further me in my desertion of the Republic, and a south wind blowing in my teeth carried me back by his strongest blast to your fellow tribesmen of Rhegium. And so from thence I hurried at full speed-sail and oar together—to my country; and the day after my arrival was the one free man in a nation of slaves. 6 I delivered such an invective against Antony 7 that he could not bear it, and vented all his vinous madness on my devoted head, 8 and endeavoured at one time to entice me to give him an excuse for bloodshed, at another tried to entrap me. But I hunted him belching and vomiting into the toils of Caesar Octavianus. For that illustrious youth collected for himself a protecting force—at first in favour of our party, and subsequently in that of the supreme state. And if it hadn't been for him, Antony's return from Brundisium 9 would have sealed the fate of Rome. The events which followed I think you know. But to return to the point from which I have strayed. I accept your explanation as to Sempronius: for you could have no fixed principle of procedure in the midst of such complete disorganization. “ But time has passed and taught a different way;
ROME (ABOUT THE 20TH OF MARCH)
ROME (ABOUT THE 20TH OF MARCH)
And nobler manners asks our nobler day,
” as Terence says. 10 Wherefore, my dear Quintus, embark with us, and even approach the helm. All loyalists are now in the same boat, which we are doing our best to keep in the straight course. Pray heaven for a prosperous voyage! But whatever the winds may be, skill on my part at least shall not be wanting: for to what beyond that can virtue pledge itself? For your part keep a good heart and lofty spirit, and reflect that your whole position must needs stand and fall with the Republic.