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CDLXIII (F VI, 22)

TO CN. DOMITIUS AHENOBARBUS (IN ITALY)
ROME (MAY)
It 1 was not the fact of your never having written to me since your arrival in Italy that deterred me from writing to you. The reason was that I could not think of any promise to make you in my present state of complete destitution, or of any advice to give you, being quite at a loss myself as to what policy to pursue, or of any consolation to offer in the midst of such grave disasters. Although things here are in no way improved, and, in fact, are continually becoming more and more desperate, yet I preferred sending you a colourless letter to not sending you one at all. For myself, if I had perceived that you had undertaken a task in the cause of the Republic greater than you were able to make good, I should yet to the best of my ability have counselled you to accept life on such terms as were offered you and were actually available. But since you have decided that to your policy, righteously and courageously adopted, there should be the same limit as fortune herself had laid down as the finishing point of our struggles, I beg and implore you, in the name of our old union and friendship, and in the name of my extreme affection for you and your no less strong one for me, to preserve yourself alive for us, for your mother, your wife, and all near and dear to you, to whom you have ever been the object of the deepest affection. Consult for the safety of yourself and of those who hang upon you. The lessons gathered from the wisest of philosophers, and grasped and remembered by you from your youth up with such brilliant success—all these put in practice at this crisis. Sorrow for those you have lost 2 —so closely connected with you by the warmest affection and the most constant kindness-bear, if not without pain, yet at least with courage. What I can do I know not, or rather I feel how helpless I am; but this, nevertheless, I do promise: whatever I shall conceive to conduce to your safety and honour, I will do with the same zeal, as you have ever shewn and practically employed in what concerned my fortunes. I have conveyed this expression of my warm feelings for you to your mother, 3 the noblest of women and the most devoted of mothers. Whatever you write to me I will do, as far as I shall understand your wishes. But even if you fail to write, I shall yet with the utmost zeal and care do what I shall think to be for your interest. Good-bye.


1 There is no certain means of dating this letter; but as the death of Cato is perhaps referred to, it must be not earlier than May. The pression as to the finis of the duty of those engaged in the Civil War seems to put it near in time to the preceding letter to Marius, as Cicero often uses the same phrase in letters written nearly at the same time. The general point of view (which so often shifts with Cicero) is about the same.

2 His father, L. Domitius Ahenobarbus, killed in the cavalry pursuit after Pharsalia (2 Phil. §§ 27, 71; Caes. B.C. 3.99), and his uncle Cato, who had committed suicide at Utica, rather than fall into Caesar's hands after Thapsus.

3 Porcia, sister of Cato.

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