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CDXCII (F IV, 3)

TO SERVIUS SULPICIUS RUFUS (IN ACHAIA)
ROME (OCTOBER OR NOVEMBER)
Many 1 daily report to me that you are in a state of great anxiety, and in the midst of miseries affecting all alike are suffering, as it were, a special personal sorrow. Though not surprised at this, and to a certain extent sharing in it myself, yet I am sorry that a man of your all but unequalled wisdom does not rather feel pleasure in his own blessings, than vexation at other people's misfortunes. For myself; though I do not yield to anyone in sorrow experienced from the ruin and destruction of the constitution, yet I now find many Sources of consolation, and above all in the consciousness of the policy which I pursued. For far in advance I foresaw the coming storm, as it were from a watchtower, and that not altogether spontaneously, but much more owing to your warnings and denunciations. For, though I was absent during the greater part of your consulship, yet in spite of that absence I was well informed of your sentiments in taking precautions against and predicting this disastrous war, and I was myself present in the first period of your consulship, 2 when, after passing in review all the civil wars, you warned the senate in the most impressive terms, both to fear those they remembered, and to feel assured, since the last generation had been so cruel—to an extent up to that time unprecedented in the Republic—that whoever thenceforth overpowered the Republic by arms would be much more difficult to endure. For what is done on a precedent, they Consider as even legally justifiable: but they add and Contribute something, or rather a great deal, of their own to it. Wherefore you must remember that those who have not followed your authority and advice have fallen by their own folly, when they might have been saved by prudence like yours. You will say: "What consolation is that to me in the midst of such gloom and what I may call the ruins of the Republic?" Certainly it is a sorrow scarce admitting of consolation: so complete is the loss and the hopelessness of recovery. But, after all, both in Caesar's judgment and the people's estimate your righteousness, wisdom, and lofty character shine out like some torch when all the rest have gone out. This ought to go a long way towards alleviating your unhappiness. As to absence from your family, that should be the less distressing to you from the fact that you are at the same time absent from many severe annoyances. All of these I would have now mentioned in detail, had I not scrupled to enlighten you on certain particulars, from not seeing which you appear to me to be in a happier position than we who see them. I think that any consolation from me is properly confined to your being informed by a very affectionate friend of those facts by which your uneasiness could be relieved. Other sources of consolation, not unknown to me nor the least significant-indeed, as I think, by far the greatest—are centred in yourself: and by daily testing them I so completely recognize their soundness that they seem to me to be positively life-giving.

Again, I recall the fact that from the earliest dawn of manhood you have been most absolutely devoted to all kinds of philosophical study, and have with the utmost zeal and care learnt all the maxims of the wisest men which concern a right conduct of life. These indeed are useful as well as delightful, even in the highest state of prosperity: but in such times as these we have nothing else to give us peace of mind. I will not be in any way presumptuous, nor exhort a man so richly endowed with professional knowledge 3 and natural ability, to return to those arts to which, from the earliest period of your life, you have devoted your industry. I will only say, what I hope you think to be right, that for myself, seeing that for the art to which I had devoted myself there was now no place either in forum or senate-house, I have bestowed my every thought and every effort on philosophy. For your professional knowledge - eminent and unrivalled as it is—no sphere much better has been left than for mine. Wherefore, though I do not presume to advise you, I have persuaded myself that you also were engaged in pursuits which, even if they were not exactly profitable yet served to withdraw the mind from anxiety. Your son Servius indeed is engaged in all liberal studies, and especially in those in which I have mentioned that I find peace of mind, with conspicuous success. In my affection for him in fact I yield to no one in the world but yourself, and he repays me with gratitude. In this matter he thinks, as one may easily see, that in shewing me attention and regard, he is at the same time doing what will give you the greatest pleasure.


1 Mueller gives a date, November 26th; but it does not appear to rest on anything certain.

2 The year B C. 51, in May of which year Cicero started for his province.

3 That is, jurisprudence.

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