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CCXVIII (F XV, 2)

TO THE MAGISTRATES AND SENATE
CYBISTRA (SEPTEMBER)
M. Tullius Cicero, son of Marcus, greets the consuls, praetors, tribunes, and senate. If you are well, I am glad. I and the army are well.

Having entered the province on the last day of July, not having been able to arrive earlier owing to the difficulty of the journey both by land and sea, I thought the thing most suitable to my office, and most conducive to the public welfare, was to provide everything affecting the army and its active service. These arrangements having been made by me with more care and energy than means or sufficient supplies, and messages and letters reaching me nearly every day concerning an invasion of the province of Syria by the Parthians, I thought that I ought to direct my march through Lycaonia, the Isaurians, and Cappadocia. For there was very strong reason to conjecture that, should the Parthians endeavour to quit Syria and invade my province, they would march through Cappadocia, as being most completely open to them. Accordingly, I marched with the army through that part of Cappadocia which borders on Cilicia, and pitched my camp at Cybistra, which is a town at the foot of Mount Taurus, in order that Artavasdes, the Armenian king, whatever his disposition, might know that an army of the Roman people was not far from his frontier ; and that I might have in as close contact as possible king Deiotarus, a sovereign who is most loyal and devoted to our Republic, since his advice and material support might be of assistance to the public interests. Having my camp in this place, and having sent the cavalry into Cilicia—in order that my arrival, having been notified to the communities in that region, might confirm the loyal dispositions of all, and at the same time that I might get early information of what was going on in Syria— I thought I ought to give the three days of my stay in that camp to a high and necessary duty. For, seeing that a formal resolution of yours had imposed upon me the duty of protecting king Ariobarzanes (surnamed Eusebes and Philorhomaeus), of defending the personal safety of that sovereign and the integrity of his dominions, and of being the guardian of king and kingdom alike: and seeing that you had appended a declaration that the safety of that sovereign was a matter of great concern to the people and senate—a decree such as had never been passed by our house concerning any king before—I thought myself bound to report the expression of your opinion to the king, and to promise him my protection and a faithful and energetic support, in order that, as his personal safety and the integrity of his dominions had been commended to my care, he might communicate to me anything he wished to be done. Having, in the presence of my council, communicated these things to the king, he began his reply by the proper expression of his warmest thanks to you: and then went on to thank me also, saying that he looked upon it as a very great and honourable distinction that his personal safety should be a matter of concern to the senate and people of Rome, and that I should exhibit such energy as to put beyond doubt my own good faith and the weight of your recommendation. And, indeed, at this first interview, he also assured me of what I was very delighted to hear, that he neither knew nor had a suspicion of any plots either against his own life or against his kingdom. After I had congratulated him and said that I rejoiced to hear it, and yet had advised him as a young man to remember the disaster of his father's death, to protect himself with vigilance, and, in accordance with the injunction of the senate, to take measures for his safety, he then left me and returned to the town of Cybistra. However, next day he came to visit me in the camp, accompanied by his brother Ariarathes and some elder men, who had been his father's friends. In a state of agitation and with tears in his eyes—his brother and friends showing the same signs of distress—he began appealing to my good faith and the charge imposed on me by you. On my asking with surprise what had occurred, he said that "information of an undoubted conspiracy had been communicated to him, which had been withheld from him before my arrival, because those who might have denounced it to him had kept silence through fear, but that now, relying upon my protection several persons had boldly informed him of what they knew: that among these his most devoted brother had told him" (a story which the latter repeated in my hearing) "that he had been solicited to aim at becoming king: that so long as his brother was alive he could not accept that suggestion ; but that from fear of the danger he had never revealed the circumstance." After this speech I advised the king that he should take every precaution to preserve his life ; and I exhorted the friends, who had enjoyed the confidence of his father and grandfather, to guard the life of their sovereign with all care and vigilance, warned by his father's most lamentable murder. Upon the king asking me for some cavalry and cohorts from my army, though I was fully aware that in view of your senatorial decree I was not only authorized, but even bound to comply, yet, since the public interests demanded, owing to the news daily arriving from Syria, that I should lead the army as soon as possible to the frontiers of Cilicia—and since the king, now that the plot had been denounced, seemed not to be in need of an army of the Roman people, but to be capable of defending himself by his own resources, I urged him to learn his first lesson in the art of ruling by taking measures to preserve his life: that upon those by whom he had discovered that a plot was being laid against him he should exercise his sovereign rights: punish those who must be punished, relieve the rest from fear: use the protection of my army rather to inspire fear in the guilty than to keep up a state of civil war: the result would be no doubt that all, having been made acquainted with the decree of the senate, would understand that in accordance with your resolution I should protect the king if necessary.

Having thus encouraged him, I broke up my camp there, and began my march into Cilicia, leaving behind me on my departure from Cappadocia an impression that by your policy my arrival, owing to a strange and almost providential accident, had relieved from an actual plot a sovereign to whom you had given unsolicited that title in most complimentary terms, whom you had entrusted to my honour, and whose safety you had declared in a decree to be a matter of great concern to you. I thought it was not improper that my despatch should inform you of this circumstance, in order that you might learn from what almost happened that you had long before taken the precautions necessary to prevent it: and I have been all the more ready to give you the information, because in king Ariobarzanes I think I have detected such signs of virtue and ability, as well as of good faith and loyalty to you, that you appear to have had good reason for all the care and energy you have devoted to his protection.


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