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CXCVIII (F XIII, I)

TO GAIUS MEMMIUS (IN EXILE AT MITYLENE)
ATHENS, JULY
THOUGH I had not quite made up my mind whether the prospect of seeing you at Athens was painful or pleasant-because your undeserved calamity 1 would have caused me sorrow, yet the philosophic spirit with which you bear it delight—nevertheless, I should have preferred to have seen you. For I do not feel the pain much less when you are out of sight, while such pleasure as is possible would at any rate have been greater had I seen you. Therefore I shall not hesitate to endeavour to see you whenever I shall be conveniently able to do so. Meanwhile, such business as can be put before you by letter, and, as I think, can be brought to a conclusion, I will put before you now at once I will preface my request by asking you not to do anything for my sake against your own inclination; but if the matter is one which is important to me, and in no way of much importance to yourself, still only grant it in case of having first made up your mind to do so cheerfully. I am in thorough sympathy with Patron the Epicurean, except that I differ from him widely in philosophy. But not only at the very beginning in Rome, when he was paying attention to you as well as all your friends, did he also cultivate my acquaintance with special care, but recently also, after having gained all that he wanted in the way of personal profit and reward, he has continued to regard me as almost the first of his supporters and friends. Besides this, he was introduced and recommended to me by Phaedrus, 2 who, when I was a boy and before I knew Philo, was highly valued by me as a philosopher, and afterwards as, at any rate, a good, agreeable, and kindly man. This Patron, therefore, having written to me at Rome, begging me to reconcile you to him, and to ask you to grant him some ruined house or other once belonging to Epicurus, I did not write to you on the subject, because I did not want any plan of building which you might have to be hampered by a recommendation of mine. On my arrival at Athens, however, having been asked by the same person to write to you on the subject, I have granted his request, because all your friends agreed in saying that you had given up that building idea. If this is so, and if it is now of no importance to you, I would ask you, if some little offence has been caused you by the wrong-headedness of certain persons—and I know the class of men—to take a lenient view of the matter, either from your own great natural kindness or, if you like, out of compliment to me. For my part, if you ask me what I think about it myself, I neither see why he is so anxious for it, nor why you make difficulties; I only feel that it is much less natural for you to trouble yourself without reason, than for him to do so. However, I am sure that Patron's line of argument and the merits of his case are known to you. He says that he has to maintain his own honour and duty, the sanctity of a will, the prestige of Epicurus, the solemn injunction of Phaedrus, the home, the dwelling-place, the footprints of famous men. We may ridicule the man's entire life and the system which he follows in philosophy, if we take upon ourselves to find fault with what he is now contending for. But, by Hercules, since I am not very unfriendly to him or to others who find pleasure in such things, I think we must be indulgent to him for being so very keen about it. For even if he is wrong in this, it is a fault of the head, not the heart. But to come to the point—for I must mention this sooner or later—I love Pomponius Atticus as a second brother. Nothing can be dearer or more delightful than he is to me. Atticus, then-not that he is of their sect (for he is cultivated to the highest degree in all liberal learning 3 ), but he is very fond of Patron, and was much attached to Phaedrus—presses this upon me as he has never done anything else, though he is the very reverse of self-seeking, the last person in the world to be troublesome in making requests; and he feels no doubt of my being able to obtain this favour from you on the slightest hint, even if you still had the intention of building. In the present circumstances, however, if he hears that you have laid aside your plan of building and that yet I have not obtained this favour from you, he will think, not, indeed, that you have been ungenerous towards me, but that I have been careless in what concerned himself. Wherefore I beg you to write word to your agents that the decree of the Areopagites, which they call a "minute," 4 may be canceled with your free consent. But I return to what I said at first. Before making up your mind to do this, I would have you be sure that you do it for my sake with a willing heart. At any rate have no doubt of this: if you do what I ask, I shall take it as a very great favour. Farewell.


1 Gaius Memmius Gemellus (to whom Lucretius dedicated his poem) was praetor in B.C. 58. Of his conduct when curule aedile we have heard before (vol. i., p. 51). He was condemned for ambitus in B.C. 54 (see vol. i., p. 304). He selected Athens as his place of exile, being deeply versed in Greek literature (Brut. 247), but spent part of his time at Mitylene.

2 An Epicurean who taught at Athens and at Rome. Philo was an Academician, to which sect Cicero was in later years more drawn. Phaedrus came to Rome in B.C. 88, and immediately won the devotion of the young Cicero (Brut. 306).

3 Epicurus was noted for his barbarous style, and his followers, Greek and Latin, according to Cicero, generally had the same defect. See Brut. 131; Tuscul. 2.7: Epicurii Latini ipsi profitentur neque distincte, neque distribute, neque eleganter, neque ornate scribere.

4 ὑπομνηματισμόν, "record," "memorial." This it appears from inscriptions was the technical word for a decree of the Areopagus, though other words are also found, such as δόγμα, επερώτημα (consultum), ἔδοξε, etc. A series of inscriptions also shews that in the Roman period the Areopagus was an important executive body: thus we find it superintending the prosecutions of users of false weights and measures, and constantly joined with the council of 600 (or 500 later) in voting honours to benefactors. In one inscription (Add. 4315, n. C. I. G.) it is joined with the "Epicureans at Athens" and the theatrical guild in paying honour to a physician. The minute or record here to be canceled appears to be a grant or sale to Memmius of a building site in Athens, on which were the ruins of the house of Epicurus, which the Epicurean Patron wished to preserve.

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