previous next


As I promised you1 on the eve of your departure 2 to write a full and careful account of all that went on in the city, I have taken pains to secure a man to describe everything so fully, that I fear his industry in this respect may appear to you somewhat overdone. Although you know your own curiosity, and how men abroad delight in being informed of even the most insignificant things that are going on at home, still in this point I must ask you for a favourable construction—that you should not hold me guilty of giving myself airs in thus performing the duty, because I have delegated this task to another. Not at all because it was not the most delightful thing possible to me—busy as I am and, as you know, the laziest man in the world at writing letters—to keep my memory of you fresh : but the size of the packet itself, which I am sending you, will, in my opinion, easily plead my excuse. It would have required considerable leisure not only to copy out all these details, but even to take notice of them : for the packet Contains all the decrees of the senate, edicts, gossip, and reports. If this specimen does not meet your wishes, let me know, that I may not spend money only to bore you. If anything of unusual importance occurs in public business, which these clerks cannot easily get at, I will myself carefully write you an account of how it was done, what was thought of it, and what is expected to be its result. For the present there is nothing which causes much anticipation. For those rumours as to the admission of the Transpadani to the comitia died out after reaching Cumae : 3 when I got to Rome I didn't find that there was the slightest whisper about it. Besides, Marcellus has not as yet brought before the senate the subject of a successor to the Gallic provinces, 4 and has (as he told me himself) postponed that motion to the 1st of June. He has gone far to bring up again the talk about him which was prevalent when we were in Rome. 5 But pray if; as you wished to do, you have found Pompey at home, 6 write me a full account of what you thought of him, what he said to you, and what wishes he professed to entertain—for he is accustomed to think one thing and say another, and yet is not clever enough to conceal his real aims. As to Caesar, there are frequent and rather ugly reports—at any rate, people keep arriving with mysterious whispers : one says that he has lost his cavalry, which, in my opinion, is without doubt an invention : another says that the seventh legion has had a drubbing, that he himself is besieged among the Bellovaci, 7 and cut off from his main army. But neither is there anything known for certain as yet, nor are even these uncertain rumours publicly bruited abroad after all—they are mentioned as open secrets among the small clique with which you are acquainted; but Domitius, with his finger on his lips, hints at them. On the 24th of May, the quidnuncs of the rostra, Confound them! spread a loud report that you had been assassinated on your journey by Q. Pompeius. 8 Since I happened to know that Q. Pompeius was dieting himself 9 at Bauli, and was fasting to such an extent that I was sorry for him, I was not agitated, and I only wished that we might compound by this lie for all dangers that might be threatening you. Your friend Plancus, for his part, is at Ravenna, and though he has been presented with a large douceur by Caesar, he is neither wealthy nor well set up. Your books on the Republic are in universal vogue. 10

1 Cicero's correspondent while in Cilicia, M. Caelius Rufus, was a young man still, and had been rendered notorious by his long intrigue with Clodia, who, when she quarrelled with him, accused him of attempting to poison her. He was brought to trial de vi, in B.C. 56, by L. Sempronius Atratinus, whose father he had himself accused of bribery; and among the counts against him was his connexion with Clodia and his attempt on her life. An interesting essay on this brilliant, though dissolute person, will be found in Boissier's Cicéron et ses Amis. He ended his life disastrously : adhering to Caesar in the Civil War, he was praetor in B.C. 48, but in Caesar's absence in Egypt he attempted to secure popularity by opposing his law for relieving financial distress, and after many conflicts with Antony, fled from Rome to join Milo, who was attempting to force his own recall, and was killed. Cicero's defence of him on the accusation of Atratinus is extant.

2 Not " on leaving town," for Caelius evidently accompanied Cicero to Campania or met him there.

3 See Letter CLXXXIV, p. 6.

4 Caesar's ten years' government of this province would be over in March, B.C. 48; but if he was to stand for the consulship for that year in the usual way, he must come home in July, B.C. 49. Caesar maintained that by the clause in Pompey's law he was authorized to stay in his province and be elected in his absence, and so would only return to Rome at the end of B.C. 49 to take up his consulship. Thus he complains that a resolution of the senate compelling him to come home in July, B.C. 49, would deprive him " of a six months' imperium bestowed on him by the people,' (Caes. B.C. 1.9).

5 That Marcellus was weak and irresolute. Expressit is not the word Cicero would have used. It is a slang use of the word which means (I) to squeeze out, (2) to describe, to exhibit.

6 See Letters CLXXXVIII, CLXXXIX, pp. 12, 13.

7 Caesar's serious struggle with the Bellovaci (round Beauvais, in Normandy) is described in Hirtius's continuation of Caesar's commentaries, B. G. viii. 6-22. A slight cavalry disaster, which may have given rise to the reported loss of the cavalry, is described in ch. 12. Caesar invaded the Bellovaci with the 7th, 8th, and 9th legions, but at one time he was at any rate in a sufficiently difficult position to make it necessary for him to send for another legion, the 13th (B. G. viii. 8-11.)

8 Q. Pompeius Rufus, tribune in B.C. 52, afterwards condemned for his promotion of the riots connected with the burning of Clodius's body and the destruction of the Curia.

9 Reading πεινητικὴν facere.

10 The de Republica was begun in B.C. 54, and probably published before Cicero left Rome in B.C. 51.

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 Notes (Frank Frost Abbott, 1909)
load focus Latin (L. C. Purser)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: