B.C. 52. from V Kal. Mart., Coss. Cn. Pompeius Magnus (alone); from 1st August, with Q. Metellus Scipio
CLXXVIII (F V, 17)
TO P. SITTIUS (IN EXILE)It was not because1 I had forgotten our friendship, or had any intention of breaking off my correspondence, that I have not written to you of late years. The reason is that the earlier part of them was a period of depression owing to the disaster which had befallen the Republic and myself, while the later period, with your own most distressing and undeserved misfortune, has made me reluctant to write. Since, however, a sufficiently long period has now elapsed, and I have recalled with greater distinctness your high character and lofty courage, I thought it not inconsistent with my purposes to write this to you. For my part, my dear P. Sittius, I defended you originally, when an attempt was made in your absence to bring you into odium and under a criminal charge; and when a charge against you was involved in the accusation and trial of your most intimate friend, 2 I took the very greatest care to safeguard your position and justify you. And, again also, on this last occasion, soon after my return to Rome, though I found that your case had been put on a footing far different from what I should have advised, if I had been there, still I omitted nothing that could contribute to your security. And though on that occasion the ill-feeling arising from the price of corn, the hostility of certain persons, not only to yourself, but to all your friends as well, the unfairness of the whole trial, and many other abuses in the state, had greater influence than the merits of your case or than truth itself, I yet did not fail to serve your son Publius with active assistance, advice, personal influence, and direct testimony. Wherefore, as I have carefully and religiously fulfilled all the other offices of friendship, I thought I ought not to omit that of urging upon you and beseeching you to remember that you are a human being and a gallant man—that is, that you should bear philosophically accidents which are common to all and incalculable, which none of us mortals can shun or forestall by any means whatever: should confront with courage such grief as fortune brings: and should reflect that not in our state alone, but in all others that have acquired an empire, such disasters have in many Instances befallen the bravest and best from unjust verdicts. Oh that I were writing untruly when I say, that you are exiled from a state in which no man of foresight can find anything to give him pleasure! As for your son, again, I fear that, if I write nothing to you, I may seem not to have borne testimony to his high qualities as they deserve; while on the other hand, if I write fully all I feel, I fear that my letter may irritate the smart of your regret. But, after all, your wisest course will be to regard his loyalty, virtue, and steady conduct as being in your possession, and as accompanying you wherever you may be: for, in truth, what we embrace in imagination is no less ours than what we see before our eyes. Wherefore not only ought his brilliant qualities and extreme affection for you to afford you great consolation, but so also ought I and others of your friends who value you, and always will do so, not for your position, but your worth; and so, above all else, ought your own conscience, when you reflect that you have not deserved anything that has befallen you, and when you consider besides that the wise are distressed by guilt, not by mischance—by their own ill-doing, not by the misconduct of others. For my part, I shall omit no opportunity either of consoling or alleviating your present position ; for the recollection of our old friendship, and the high character and respectful attentions of your son, will keep me in mind of that duty. If you, on your part, will mention by letter anything you want, I will take care that you shall not think that you have written in vain.