previous next


CDLXXXIV (F IV, 7)

TO M. CLAUDIUS MARCELLUS (AT MITYLENE)
ROME (SEPTEMBER)
Though I am aware that as yet you have maintained a policy of a nature that I do not venture to rebuke-not that I do not myself disagree with it, but because I judge you to be so wise a man, that I do not presume to prefer my view to yours-nevertheless, both the antiquity of our friendship and your eminent affection for me, which I have known from your childhood, have urged me to write to you what I believed would make for your personal security, and thought was not inconsistent with your honour. I have a vivid recollection that you were wise enough to discern the first signs of these disasters long before they occurred, and that you administered the consulship with the utmost splendour and in the most loyal spirit. But I also was conscious of this—that you were not satisfied with the policy of the civil war, nor with Pompey's forces, 1 nor the nature of his army, 2 and were always deeply distrustful of it: in which sentiment I think you remember that I also shared. Accordingly, you did not take much part in active service, and I always strove not to do so. For we were not fighting with the weapons with which we might have prevailed-deliberation, weight of character, and the righteousness of our cause, in all of which we had the superiority—but with muscles and brute force, in which we were not his equals. Accordingly, we were beaten, or, if worth cannot really be beaten, at least we were crushed and rendered powerless. And in this no one can do otherwise than highly praise your resolution, in that with all hope of victory you cast aside all desire of keeping up the contest also; and shewed that a wise man and a good citizen takes the first steps in a civil war with reluctance, but with pleasure declines taking the last. Those who did not adopt the same course as yourself I perceive to have split up into two classes. Either they endeavoured to renew the war—and these have betaken themselves to Africa: or, like myself, they trusted themselves to the victor. Your course was a kind of compromise between the two, since you perhaps regarded the second as cowardice, the first as blind obstinacy. I confess that by most people, or I should say by everybody, your plan has been judged to be wise, by many even magnanimous and courageous. But your policy, as it seems to me at least, has a certain limit, especially as in my opinion nothing is wanting to your being able to keep your entire fortune, except your own willingness to do so. For I have gathered that there is nothing else which causes him who is now all-powerful to feel any hesitation, except the fear that you would not regard it as a favour at all. 3 As to which there is no occasion for me to say what I think, since my conduct speaks for itself. However, even if you had already made up your mind, that you preferred being absent from Rome to seeing what was repugnant to your feelings, yet you ought to have reflected that, wherever you were, you would be in the power of the man from whom you were fleeing. And even if he were likely to make no difficulty about allowing you to live in peace and freedom while deprived of property and country, you ought yet to have reflected whether you preferred living at Rome and in your own house, whatever the state of affairs, to living at Mitylene or Rhodes. But seeing that the power of the man whom we fear is so widely extended, that it has embraced the whole world, do you not prefer being in your own house without danger to being in another man's with danger? For my part, if I must face death, I would rather do so at home and in my native country, than in a foreign and alien land. This is the sentiment of all who love you, of whom the number is as great as your eminent and shining virtues deserve. We have also regard for your property, which we are unwilling to see scattered. For, though it can receive no injury destined to be lasting, because neither the present master of the Republic, nor the Republic itself, will allow it, yet I don't want to see an attack made by certain banditti upon your possessions : 4 and who these are I would have ventured to write, had I not felt sure that you understand. Here the anxieties, nay, the copious and perpetual tears of one man, your excellent brother Gaius Marcellus, plead for your pardon: I come next him both in anxiety and sorrow, but in actual prayers am somewhat slow, because I have not the right of entree to Caesar, being myself in need of intercession. We have only the influence which the conquered have, yet in counsel and zeal we are not wanting to Marcellus. By your other relations my help is not asked. I am prepared for anything.


1 That is, with the amount of forces Pompey had to depend upon at the beginning of B.C. 49 (see Caes. B.C. 1.1), whence Marcellus is said to have proposed that Caesar's demand should not be brought before the senate until the levies had been held and an army enrolled. See also vol. ii., p.247.

2 That is, of the heterogeneous character of the army in Epirus, made up of all nations, Asiatic as well as European. See vol. ii., p.329.

3 As a matter of fact, when Marcellus, shortly after this letter, had his permission to return home, he shewed by no means any haste to avail himself of it. He did not leave Mitylene till the next spring, when he was murdered in the Piraeus on his way home, as we shall hear.

4 He is referring to various irregular and unauthorized seizures of properties of the Pompeians by some of the Caesarians, who, however, were in certain cases made to disgorge. See the case of Antony seizing the villa of Varro at Casinum (2 Phil. §§ 103-104).

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: