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DCLXIX (F XIII, 4)

TO Q. VALERIUS ORCA (IN ETRURIA)
ROME (AUTUMN)
Marcus Cicero1 greets Quintus Valerius, son of Quintus, legatus pro praetore. 2 I have very close ties with the townsmen of Volaterrae. In fact, having received great kindness from me, they repaid me to the full: for they never failed me either in my prosperity or my adversity. And even if there were no special reason for our union, yet, having a very warm affection for you, and feeling that you have a high value for me, I should have warned and urged you to have a regard for their fortunes, especially as their case for the retention of civil rights is unusually strong: first, because by the blessing of heaven they contrived to elude the vindictive measures of the Sullan epoch; and secondly, because my defence of them in my consulship received the hearty approval of the Roman people. 3 For the tribunes having promulgated an exceedingly unfair law about their lands, I easily persuaded the senate and people of Rome to allow citizens, whom fortune had spared, to retain their rights. This policy of mine was confirmed by the agrarian law of Gaius Caesar in his first consulship, which freed the territory and town of Volaterrae from all danger for ever. This makes me feel sure that a man who seeks the support of new adherents will wish that old benefits conferred by him should be maintained. It is only therefore what your prudence would dictate, either to keep to the precedent set by the man to whose party and authority you have with so much personal honour adhered, or at least to reserve the whole case for his decision. There is one thing about which you can have no hesitation: you would wish to have a town of such sound and well-established credit and of so honourable a character for ever bound to you by a service of the highest utility on your part.

Thus far the purpose of my words is to exhort and persuade you. What remains will be of the nature of a personal request. For I don't wish you to think that I offer you advice for your own sake only, but that I am also preferring a request to you and asking for what is of consequence to myself. Well then, you will oblige me in the highest degree, if you decide that the Volaterrani are to be left intact in every respect and in full possession of their rights. Their homes and houses, their property and fortunes—which have already been preserved by the immortal gods, as well as by the most eminent citizens of our Republic with the warmest approval of the Roman people—I commend to your honour, justice, and liberality. If circumstances had granted me the power, proportionate to my old influence, of defending the Volaterrani in the same way as I was accustomed to protect my friends, there is no service, no struggle in fact calculated to be of use to them, that I would have omitted. But since I feel sure that with you I have no less influence than I ever had with all the world, I beg you in the name of close ties and of the mutual and equal goodwill existing between us, to serve the people of Volaterrae in such a way as to make them think that you have been set over that business by a special interposition of providence, as the one man with whom I, their undeviating supporter, was able to exert the greatest influence.


1 There is really nothing to decide the exact date of these two letters to Orca. The land commission referred to was established in the previous year (B.C. 46), and the letters may possibly belong to that year.

2 This was Orca's title as head of the land commission; he was "legate (i.e., of Caesar) with rank of praetor." For Caesar's use of public land for his veterans at this time, see Suet. Iul. 38.

3 The circumstances were these. Volaterrae had taken the side of Marius against Sulla, and offered a refuge to many of the defeated party. Owing to the advantages of its position, it had held out against a two years' siege by Sulla (B.C. 81-80, Strabo, 5, 2, 6; Livy, Ep. 89; Cic. pro Sext. Am. § 20). Sulla therefore carried a law disfranchising it and declaring its lands forfeited (pro Caec. § 18, 104); but for some reason the lands thus made "public" were never divided among new owners (vol. i., p.54; Att. 1.19). Attempts were, however, made by various land reformers to deal with the territory as public land. Cicero here says that he successfully resisted one of these in B.C. 63, and that in Caesar's lex agraria of B.C. 59 it was specially exempted, and the full citizenship of the Volaterrani acknowledged.

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