previous next


I ACCEPT your excuse for having frequently sent me a letter in duplicate, but I accept it only so far as you attribute to the carelessness or untrustworthiness of those who take them from you that they do not reach me: that part of your excuse in which you say that you frequently send me letters containing the same words from "poverty of language"—that is your expression—I neither understand nor acknowledge. And I myself, whom you declare in joke (as I take it) to possess a rich store of language, admit that I am not very badly off for words: for there is no occasion for "mock-modesty": yet I too—and that without "mock-modestly"—easily yield to the refinement and dainty simplicity of your style. As to your policy, mentioned in your letter, in not de clining this command of Achaia, 1 as I always had approved of it, much more did I do so after reading your last letter. For all the reasons which you mention are thoroughly sound, and in the highest degree worthy of your character and wisdom. As to your thinking that the matter has turned out otherwise than you expected, in that I do not at all agree with you. The fact is this: the disorganization and confusion are so great, the general dilemma and collapse caused by a most shocking war are so complete, that each man thinks the place where he happens to be the most wretched in the world. That is why you feel dissatisfied with your policy, and why only we who are still at home appear to you to be happy: while on the contrary to us you seem, not indeed entirely free from distress, but happy in comparison with ourselves. And in fact your lot is better than ours in this: you venture to say in your letter what is giving you pain; we cannot do even that much safely. Nor is this the fault of the victor, whose moderation cannot be surpassed, but of the victory itself, which in the case of civil wars is always offensive. In one point I have had the better of you—that I knew of the recall of your colleague Marcellus 2 a little before you did; and also, by Hercules, that I saw how that matter was actually managed. For be assured that since these unhappy events, that is, since the appeal to arms was begun, nothing else has been transacted with any proper dignity. For, in the first place, Caesar himself, after inveighing against the "bitter spirit" shewn by Marcellus—for that was the term he used—and having commended in the most complimentary terms your fairness as well as your wisdom, all on a sudden unexpectedly concluded by saying that "he would not refuse a request of the senate for Marceflus, even in view of tbe character of the individual." In the next place, the senate had arranged, as soon as the case of Marcellus had been mentioned by L. Piso, and Gaius Marcellus 3 had thrown himself at Caesar's feet, that it should rise en masse and approach Caesar in a suppliant attitude. Ask no questions: -this day appeared to me to be so fair that I seemed to be seeing some shadow of a reviving Republic. Accordingly, when all who were called up before had moved a vote of thanks to Caesar, except Volcatius—for he said that if he had been in Caesar's place he would not have done it-I, when called on, abandoned my resolution. For I had determined, not, by Hercules, from lack of interest, but because I missed my old position in the house, to maintain unbroken silence. This resolution of mine gave way before Caesar's magnanimity and the senate's display of devotion. I therefore delivered a speech of thanks to Caesar at some length, and I am afraid that I have robbed myself of an honourable abstention from business in other cases as well, which was my one consolation in misfortune. However, since I have avoided offending him, who perhaps would have thought, if I never opened my mouth, that I regarded the constitution as in abeyance, I will do this without transgressing the bounds of moderation; or rather I shall keep some way this side of them, so as to satisfy his wishes without infringing upon my literary employments. For, though from my earliest youth every branch of study and liberal learning, and above all philosophy has been a delight to me, yet this taste grows stronger daily: partly, I presume, because my time of life is , now at its full maturity for wisdom, and partly owing to the .corruption of the times, which makes everything else incapable of relieving my mind of its sorrows. From a similar pursuit I gather from your letter that you are being distracted by business. But, after all, by this time the night hours will help you somewhat. Your, or rather our, Servius is exceedingly attentive to me; and I am charmed not only with his universal integrity and the remarkable excellence of his character, but also by his devotion to study and learning. He often discusses with me whether you should stay where you are or quit your province. At present my opinion is that we should do nothing except Just what Caesar appears to wish. Things are in such a state that, supposing you to be at Rome, nothing could possibly give you any pleasure except your own family. As for the rest, the best feature in the situation is Caesar himself: all else is of such a kind, that, if you must do one or the other, you would prefer hearing to seeing them. This advice of mine is not at all consonant with my feelings, for I long to see you, but I am consulting for your own interests.

1 Achaia was not an organized province at this time; its communities were free (liberi populi, Caes. B.C. 3.3), though in a certain sense it was a province, as owing some allegiance to Rome, and is so classed by Cicero in, B.C. 59, along with Marseilles, Rhodes, Sparta, Athens, Thessaly, and Boeotia (pro Flacc. § 100). But Caesar had been in military occupation of it since B.C. 48, having sent Q. Fufius Calenus there with a legion (Caes. B.C. 3.56), and though after Pharsalia the legion was withdrawn (ib. 106), Fufius seems to have remained there with some forces during part of B.C. 47 (see p.37; Caes. B. Alex. 44). Fufius returned to Rome with Caesar in the course of B.C. 47, and it was then, it appears, that Sulpicius was asked by Caesar to accept charge of Achaia, with authority in other parts of Greece also.

2 M. Marcellus, consul with Sulpicius B.C. 51 (see p.113). It was on Caesar's consenting to his recall that Cicero now explains why he made the speech in the senate.

3 C. Claudius Marcellus, consul B.C. 50, who was married to Caesar's great-niece Octavia. Though he had handed over the two legions sent by Caesar on pretext of the Parthian war to Pompey, he seems yet to have no part in the war of B.C. 49-48 (Caes. B. G. 8.48, 55). He was cousin (not brother) of M. Marcellus.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Latin (L. C. Purser)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: