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DXXXIII (F VI, 18)

TO QUINTUS LEPTA
ROME (JANUARY)
Immediately on the receipt of the letter from your servant Seleucus I sent a note to Balbus asking him what the provision of the law was. He answered that auctioneers in actual business were excluded from being municipal counsellors, retired auctioneers were not excluded. 1 Wherefore certain friends of yours and mine need not be alarmed, for it would have been intolerable, while those who were now acting as haruspices were put on the roll of the senate at Rome, all who had ever been auctioneers should be excluded from becoming counsellors in the municipal towns.

There is no news from Spain. However, it is ascertained to be true that Pompey has a great army: for Caesar has himself sent me a copy of a despatch from Paciaecus, in which the number was reckoned as eleven legions. Messalla has also written to Quintus Salassus to say that his brother Publius Curtius has been put to death by Pompey's order in the presence of the army, for having, as he alleged, made a compact with certain Spaniards, that if Pompey entered a particular town to get corn, they should arrest him and take him to Caesar. As to your business in regard to your being a guarantee for Pompey, when your fellow guarantor Galba 2 —a man generally very careful in money matters-comes back to town, I will at once consult with him to see whether anything can be done, as he seems inclined to have confidence in me.

I am much delighted that you approve so highly of my Orator. 3 My own view of it is that I have put into that book all the critical power I possessed in the art of speaking. If the book is such as you say that you think it to be, then I too am somewhat. If not, then I do not decline to allow the same deduction to be made from my reputation for critical judgment as is to be made from the book. I am desirous that our dear Lepta 4 should take pleasure in such writings. Though his age is not yet ripe for them, yet it is not unprofitable that his ears should ring with the sound of such language.

I am kept at Rome in any case by Tullia's confinement; but when she gets as well again as I can wish, I am still detained till I can get the first instalment of the dowry 5 out of Dolabella's agents. Besides, by Hercules, I am not so much of a traveller as I used to be. My building and my leisure satisfy me entirely. My town house is now equal to any one of my villas: my leisure is more complete than the loneliest spot in the world could supply. So I am not hindered even in my literary employments, in which I am plunged without interruption. Wherefore I think that I shall see you here before you see me there. Let our dearest Lepta learn his Hesiod by heart, and have ever on his lips: “On virtue's threshold god sets sweat and toil.” 6


1 In the lex Iulia Municipalis, passed this year, qui praeconium designationem libitinamve faciet, i.e., "auctioneers and undertakers," are excluded from any magistracy, or from being senator or decurio in a colonia, municipium, or praeftctura (Bruns, Fontes Juris Romani, p. 106). Cicero's question seems to imply that the law was not actually passed, as he would have been able to see for himself that qui faciet would not exclude those who had followed these occupations in the past. He has to apply to Caesar's agent for information about it. Auctioneers were disliked—as brokers—because they had to do with confiscated property, as with ruined estates generally. See 2 Phil. 64, vox acerbissima praeconis.

2 Servius Sulpicius Galba, of whom we shall hear again. He was great-grandfather of the Emperor Galba, who, it is interesting to note, maintained his ancestor's "carefulness" in money.

3 Written the previous year.

4 Son of the recipient of this letter.

5 To be repaid by Dolabella after his divorce from Tullia.

6 Hesiod, WD 289: τῆς δ᾽ ἀρετῆς ἱδρῶτα θεοὶ προπάροιθεν ἔθηκαν.

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