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CCXXI (F III, 8)

TO APPIUS CLAUDIUS PULCHER (AT ROME)
CILICIA, 8 OCTOBER
ALTHOUGH, as far as I have been able to gather from your letter, I see that you won't read this till you are at the gates of Rome, 1 when the extremely reckless gossip of provincials will have become quite stale, yet, as you have written to me at such length about what unprincipled men are saying, I thought I ought to be careful to give your letter a brief answer. Two clauses of your epistle, however, must in a manner be passed over in silence: for they contain nothing that is definite or precise, beyond saying that alike by my looks and my silence I had shown that I was no friend to you: and that this had been made unmistakable both on my judicial seat, when business was going on, and at certain social parties. I can well understand that there is nothing in all this; yet, though there is nothing in it, I fail to understand even what the allegation is. I know thus much, indeed—that many observations of a very marked character, made by me both from the high official seat and on the level of private intercourse, which were exceedingly complimentary to you, and indicated an anxious desire to acknowledge the close ties between us, might have with strict truth been reported to you. For as to the legates, 2 what could I have done in better taste or with greater regard to equity, than to diminish the expenses of states that were in great financial distress, and yet at the same time to detract nothing from your honour, especially as it was in answer to the petition of the states themselves? For I had not been aware of the scale on which deputations were being sent on your account. When I was at Apamea, the head men of many states informed me that large sums were being voted for legates, though the states were insolvent At this, many thoughts occurred to me at once. First, I did not think that you—a man of wisdom, and, to use the jargon of the day, a man of "culture "—took any pleasure in deputations of that sort: and I believe I argued to that effect at some length in court at Synnada. In the first place (I said) Appius Claudius was commended to the senate and people of Rome, not by the evidence of the people of Midaeium (for it was in that state that the subject was started), but in the natural course of things: and, in the second place, I had seen many cases in which deputations 3 had come to Rome to commend certain persons, but I never remembered any instance of a hearing being granted them, to deliver their panegyric at any particular time or place I was pleased (I said) with their display of feeling in being grateful to you for your services; but their whole idea appeared to me quite superfluous. If, however, they wished by that measure to show their zeal, I should commend any man who did it at his own expense; should allow of it if the expense to the state did not exceed the law; should refuse permission if it were unlimited. Well, what fault can be found with that? The only possible one is what you go on to say—that certain persons considered my edict to have been expressly framed with a view to hinder these deputations of yours. Really, I think it is not so much those who argue thus who do me a wrong, as he who opens his ears to such a proposition. I drew up my edict at Rome: I never added a word to it except a clause which the publicani in their interview with me at Samos, asked me to transfer word for word from your edict to my own. The clause referring to the diminishing the expenses of the states was very carefully worded; and in that clause there are some new provisions advantageous to the states, with which I am greatly pleased: but this clause, which has given birth to the suspicion of my elaborating something meant to be offensive to you, is taken from former edicts. For I was not so foolish as to hold that men were being deputed on their own private affairs, who were being sent, in the first place, in your interests while you were still in possession of imperium; and, in the second place, were being sent to deliver a vote of thanks, not in any private assembly, but in the council chamber of the whole world, the senate. Nor when I ordered that no one was to go without my leave, did I exclude those from doing so who might be unable to follow me to the camp and across the Taurus. That, in fact, is the most ridiculous thing in your letter: for what need was there for their following me to the camp or crossing the Taurus, when I arranged my journey from Laodicea as far as Iconium, with the express object of the magistrates and legates of all the dioceses north of Taurus, 4 and of all the states there, meeting me? Unless you suppose that no deputations were arranged till I had crossed the Taurus! That is certainly not so. For when I was at Laodicea, at Apamea, at Synnada, at Philomelium, at Iconium, in all of which towns I made some stay, there were ready waiting for me all the deputations of that kind. And yet I would have you know this, that I made no decree about diminishing or wholly remitting the expense of embassies, except such as the head men of the states asked for—that quite unnecessary expenses should not be added to the selling of the contract for the tribute, 5 and the very galling exaction (as you know) of the poll-tax and door-tax. Now, when at the instigation not only of justice but of pity, I undertook to relieve from their distress the states that had been ruined, and ruined, too, chiefly through their own magistrates, I could not be indifferent to that source of unnecessary expense. For your part, if observations of that nature were reported to you in regard to me, you ought not to have believed them. But if you like this way of attributing to others whatever occurs to your own mind, you are introducing a style of conversation between friends which is not very courteous. Whereas if I had ever had any thought of casting a slur on your reputation in the province, I should not have referred to your son-in-law, nor to your freedman at Brundisium, nor to your prefect of engineers at Corcyra, as to where you wished me to come. 6 Wherefore, on the advice of the greatest philosophers, who have written most brilliantly on the conduct of friendship, you may banish all expressions such as "they argued," "I maintained in opposition," "they said so," "I denied it." Do you suppose that I have never been told anything about you? Not even this—that, after having desired me to come to Laodicea, you yourself crossed the Taurus? That on the same days as I was holding assizes at Apamea, Synnada, and Philomelium you were doing so at Tarsus? I will say no more, lest I should seem to be doing exactly what I blame in you. I will only say this, and I feel it: if you feel in your own heart what you say that others are remarking, you are much to blame: but if others say these things to you, you are not entirely without fault in listening to them. My conduct in every particular of our friendship will be found to be consistent and sincere. But if anyone tries to make out that I had some ulterior object in view, could there be a better example of my supposed cunning than that, having always defended you while abroad—and that though I had no idea of ever requiring your defence while abroad myself—I should now give you the best possible excuse for abandoning me in my absence from town? I except from this denial one species of conversation, in which on very many occasions something is said, such as I presume you would prefer not being said—I mean when any abusive remark is made about any of your legates, prefects, or military tribunes. But even in regard to this nothing, by Hercules, has occurred in my hearing of a graver character, or reflecting on more persons, than what Clodius mentioned to me at Corcyra, when under that head he made a very loud complaint that you had been unfortunate in the dishonesty of others. Such observations as these, seeing that they are frequently made, and do not reflect, in my opinion, on your personal honour, I have never provoked, but neither have I exerted myself to repress them. If there is anyone who thinks that no man is ever sincerely reconciled with another, he does not prove our want of sincerity, but betrays his own, and at the same time shows that he thinks no worse of me than he does of you. But if, again, there is anyone who dislikes my administration in the province, and considers himself injured by a certain dissimilarity between my arrangements and yours—the fact being that we have both acted conscientiously, though we took different lines—such a man I do not care to have for a friend. Your liberality, as became a great noble, was on a larger scale in the province; if mine is somewhat more restricted—though your second year, owing to the hardness of the times, somewhat clipped the wings of your generous and bountiful nature—men ought not to be surprised, since I have always been naturally disinclined to be lavish at the expense of others, and am influenced by the same hard times as others are, “That I am sour to them to keep my conscience sweet.” Your giving me information about affairs in the city was pleasant to me, both for its own sake, and because you showed your intention of keeping all my commissions in mind. Among them there is one that I beg you to regard as supreme—see that to the business in which I am now engaged there should be no addition made either of responsibility or time; and to ask Hortensius, our fellow augur and friend, if ever he has thought or done anything for my sake, to give up this two-year proposal of his also, than which nothing could be more unfriendly to me. To give you the information you want about my proceedings, I left Tarsus on the 7th of October for Amanus. I write this on the day after that in camp, in the territory of Mopsuhestia. Whatever I do I will write and tell you, nor will I ever send a letter home to my family without adding one directed to be delivered to you. As to your question about the Parthians, I think they were not Parthians at all. The Arabs who were there with a semi-Parthian equipment, are said to have all gone back. People say that there is no enemy in Syria. 7 Pray write to me as often as possible about both your own and my affairs, and on the state of the Republic generally. About the last I am the more anxious, because I gather from your letter that our friend Pompey is about to go to Spain. 8


1 Appius remained outside the gates (ad urbem, not in urbe) because he claimed a triumph, of which, however, Dolabella baulked him. See Letter CCXLI.

2 Legates sent, as was often the case, to commend Appius at Rome and support his claim to a triumph. They were sent at the expense of their own cities, and the system was often much abused and became a heavy burden on the states.

3 These complimentary legationes, he means, were not heard in the senate. Their number created a certain effect, just as petitions are not noticed in the House of Commons, though if numerous they may form some ground for action.

4 He means the three dioceses—properly belonging to the province of Asia, and afterwards reunited to it-Cibyra, Apamea, and Synnad. See p. 45.

5 The tributum in Cilicia, unlike the taxes in Asia, was not sold to publicani, but left to each state to collect. If; however the states fell into arrears, a contract for its collection was sold to publicani, who put the screw on more tightly than the local tax-gatherers.

6 See Letters CCIV, CCXII. The only explanation of the reference to Appius's son-in-law must be that Cicero saw Gnaeus Pompeius at his father's villa at Tarentum But most editors would omit ad generum.

7 Of course this information is subsequent to the public despatch preceding; hut neither that nor this appears to be accurate. The Parthians had crossed the Euphrates and had been repulsed by Cassius, as we shall see; but Cicero is always unwilling to give credit either to Cassius or Bibulus in this matter.

8 To his province, to which, however, he never went.

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