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B.C. 51. COSS., M. Claudius Marcellus, Servius Sulpicius Rufus.
From May in this year Cicero was absent from Italy till November, B.C. 50, as proconsul of Cilicia—which, to his chagrin, he was obliged to undertake owing to the regulation in Pompey's law (de provinciis) of the previous year enforcing a five years' interval between consulship or praetorship and a province, and providing for the interim by drawing on the ex-consuls and ex-praetors of previous years who had not had provinces. He is informed by letters of what is going on in Rome, where the burning question was, should Caesar stay in Gaul till consul-designate for B.C. 48, or come home to stand for the consul ship as a private citizen? From the necessity of making his professio in person Caesar had been by name exempted in Pompey's law, but the senate nevertheless (or a party in it) hoped to make him do so by its authority, and Pompey played fast and loose with the question, though gradually coming round to the side of the senate. Caesar believed that he could not safely come home as a privatus, as his enemies would ruin him by a prosecution. There are no speeches or writings during this year.


Though, contrary to my own wishes, and to my surprise, it has turned Out that I am obliged to go to a province with imperium, in the midst of many various anxieties and reflexions one consolation occurs to me, that you could have no more friendly successor than I am to you, nor I take over a province from anyone more inclined to hand it over in good order and free from difficulties. And if you, too, entertain the same expectation as to my goodwill towards you, you will certainly never find yourself mistaken. In the name of our intimate union and of your own extraordinary kindness, I again and again beg and beseech you most earnestly, in whatever particulars shall lie in your power—and there are very many in which you will be able to do so—to provide and take measures for my interests. You see that by the decree of the senate I am forced to take a province. If you will, as far as you have the power, hand it over to me as free as possible from difficulties, you will greatly facilitate what I may call the running of my official course. What it may be in your power to do in that direction I leave to you: I confine myself to earnestly begging you to do what occurs to you as being in my interest, I would have written at greater length to you, had either such kindness as yours looked for a longer address, or the friendship between us admitted of it, or had it not been that the matter spoke for itself and required no words. I would have you convinced of this—that if I shall be made aware that my interests have been consulted by you, you will yourself receive from that circumstance a great and abiding satisfaction. [Farewell.]

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