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DCXII (F IV, 12)

Servius sends many good wishes to Cicero. Though I know that I shall be giving you no very pleasant news, yet since chance and nature bear the sway among us men, I thought it incumbent on me to give you information of whatever kind it might be. On the 23rd of May, on sailing into the Piraeus, I met my colleague M. Marcellus, 1 and spent the day there in order to enjoy his society. Next day, when I parted from him with the design of going from Athens to Boeotia, and finishing what remained of my legal business, 2 he told me that he intended to sail round Cape Malea and make for Italy. On the third day after that, just as I was intending to start from Athens, at the tenth hour of the night my friend Publius Postumius called on me with the information that my colleague M. Marcellus just after dinner had been stabbed with a dagger by his friend P. Magius Cilo, and had received two wounds, one in the stomach, a second in the head behind the ear; but that hopes were entertained that he might survive; and that Magius had killed himself afterwards. He added that he had been sent by Marcellus to tell me this, and to ask me to send some physicians. Accordingly, I summoned some physicians, and immediately started just as day was breaking. When I was not far from Piraeus, a slave of Acidinus met me bearing a note containing the information that Marcellus had expired a little before daybreak. So there is a man of most illustrious character cut off in a most distressing manner by the vilest of men. His personal enemies had spared him in consideration of his character; but one of his own friends was found to inflict death upon him. However, I continued my journey to his tent. There I found two freedmen and a few slaves: they said the rest had run away in terror, because their master had been killed in front of the tent. 3 I was obliged to carry him back to the city in the same litter in which I had ridden down and to use my own bearers: and there, considering the means at my disposal at Athens, I saw to his having an honourable funeral. I could not induce the Athenians to grant him a place of burial within the city, 4 as they alleged that they were prevented by religious scruples from doing so; and it is a fact that they had never granted that privilege to anyone. But they allowed us, which was the next best thing, to bury him in any gymnasium we chose. 5 We chose a place in the most famous gymnasium in the world—that of the Academy—and there we burnt the body, and afterwards saw to these same Athenians giving out a contract for the construction of a marble monument over him. So I think I have done all for him alive and dead required by our colleagueship and close connexion. Goodbye.

31 May, Athens.

1 This is the M. Marcellus, whose restoration by Caesar called out Cicero's senatorial speech pro Marcello. He had been consul with Sulpicius in B.C. 51. His assassination appears to have arisen from jealousy on the part of Cilo, who had not been recalled.

2 The conventus or assizes. Sulpicius had been appointed by Caesar to govern Greece. See p. 136.

3 Slaves of a murdered master were liable to be put to death.

4 Athens was a libera civitas, and had complete management of internal affairs. The Athenians had been rather Pompeian in sympathy, and were perhaps afraid to shew special favour now to a prominent member of the beaten party.

5 That is, in the grounds about a gymnasium.

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