CCXLIII (F III, 7)
TO APPIUS CLAUDIUS PULCHER (AT ROME)I will write to you at greater length when I have got more leisure. I write this in haste, Brutus's messengers having come to me at Laodicea and told me that they are hurrying off to Rome. Accordingly, I am giving them no letters except for you and Brutus. Commissioners from Appia have handed me in a roll from you full of most ill-founded complaints of my having hindered their building by a rescript. Moreover, in the same letter you ask me to grant them permission to go on building as soon as possible, lest they should be stopped by winter; and at the same time you complain of my forbidding them to raise a tax till I granted them leave to do so after investigation: for you say that it was tantamount to stopping the work, seeing that I could not hold such investigation till after my return from Cilicia at winter time. 1 Hear my answer to all these charges, and see how much fairness there is in your expostulation. In the first place, on my being approached by persons professing that unbearable exactions were being made upon them, what unfairness was there in my writing to forbid their proceeding till I had investigated the facts and the merits of the case? In my not being able to do so till winter? For that is what you say in your letter. As though for purposes of investigation I must go to them, and not they come to me! "Such a long way off;" you say. What! at the time you delivered that letter to them, in which you remonstrated with me against preventing them from finishing their building before winter, did you suppose that they would not come to me? However, on that point, at least, they made a ridiculous blunder: for the letter they brought with them asking to be allowed to carry on the work in the summer, they delivered to me after midwinter. But let me tell you, first, that the number of those appealing against the tax is far in excess of those who wish it levied; and, second, that I will, nevertheless, do what I may suppose you to wish. So much for the Appiani. I have been informed by Pausanias, Lentulus's freedman and my marshal, that you had complained to him of my not having gone to meet you. I treated you with contempt, you think,' and my conduct was the height of arrogance! Your servant having come to me nearly at midnight and announced that you intended coming to meet me at Iconium before daybreak, and it being uncertain by which of the two roads (for there were two), I sent your most intimate friend Varro to meet you by one, and Q. Lepta, my captain of engineers, by the other. I charged them both to hasten back to me first, in order that I might start to meet you. Lepta came hurrying back and told me that you had already passed my camp. I came in all haste to Iconium. The rest you already know. Was I likely not to try and meet you? You— an Appius Claudius—an imperator—in spite of immemorial custom— lastly (and this is the strongest point of all) a friend t Considering, too, that in such matters of etiquette I am usually even too precise for my official rank and position. But enough of this. Pausanias also told me that you said, "What an Appius went to meet a Lentulus, a Lentulus an Ampius, and a Cicero refuse to meet an Appius?" Heavens! do even you—a man, in my opinion, of supreme good sense, of great learning, of the widest knowledge of affairs, and I may add a man of politeness (which the Stoics are quite right in counting among the virtues)—do you, I say, suppose that any Appiusism or Lentulusism has more influence with me than the distinctions bestowed by virtue? Before I had earned what are held by mankind to be the most splendid honours, I yet was never dazzled by those high-sounding names of yours: it was the men who had bequeathed them to you that I regarded as great. But when I had so obtained and so administered the highest offices of state, as to make me think that there was nothing left for me to acquire in furtherance of my honour or glory, I hoped that I had become, never indeed the superior, but at least the equal of you nobles. Nor, by Hercules, did I perceive that Pompey, whom I put above anybody who has ever lived, nor P. Lentulus, whom I put above myself, take any other view. If you think otherwise, you will not go wrong if, in order to understand what high birth and nobility are, you would study somewhat more carefully what Athenodorus, 2 son of Sardon, says on this subject. But to return to the point—I would have you believe that I am not only your friend, but your very warm friend. I will assuredly by every act of kindness in my power make it possible for you to judge that to be unmistakably the case. As for yourself, however, if your object is to be thought, in my absence, to be under a less heavy obligation to me, I free you from that anxiety: “ For by my side are those
To honour me, and, chief, right-counselling Zeus.
” 3 If, however, you are by nature prone to spy out faults, you will not, indeed, succeed in making me less zealous for you; but you will succeed in making me rather more indifferent as to how you take my goodwill. I write this to you with some candour, relying on the consciousness of my services and my friendly feeling, which, as it was deliberately adopted, I shall preserve as long as you are willing that I should do so.