previous next


DXXXVI (F IX, 10)

TO P. CORNELIUS DOLABELLA (IN SPAIN)
ROME (JANUARY)
I DID not venture to allow our friend Salvius to go without a letter to you; yet, by Hercules, I have nothing to say except that I love you dearly : 1 of which I feel certain that you do not doubt without my writing a word. In any case I ought rather to expect a letter from you, than you one from me. For there is nothing going on at Rome such as you would care to know: unless it would interest you to know that I am acting as arbitrator between our friend Nicias and Vidius! The latter puts forward in two lines, I think, a claim for money advanced to Nicias: the former, like a second Aristarchus, obelizes them. I am to be in the position of a critic of old days, and to judge whether they really are the poet's or are interpolations. I imagine you putting in here: "Have you forgotten, then, those mushrooms which you had at Nicias's dinner, and the big dishes joined to Septima's learned talk?" 2 What! do you think my old preciseness so entirely knocked out of me, that there is no trace of my former regard for appearances to be seen even in the forum? However, I will see our delightful boon companion through his little trouble, nor will I, by securing his condemnation, give you the opportunity of re storing him, that Plancus Bursa 3 may have some one to teach him his rudiments.

But what am I doing? Though I have no means of knowing whether you are in a quiet state of mind, or, as generally happens in war, are involved in some more important anxiety or occupation, yet I drift on farther and farther. So when I shall have ascertained for certain that you are in the vein for a laugh, I will write at greater length. However, I want you to know this, that the people have been very anxious about the death of Publius Sulla before they knew it for certain. Since then they have ceased to inquire how he perished: they think in knowing that they know enough. For the rest I bear it with equanimity: the only thing I fear is lest Caesar's auctions should have received a blow. 4


1 An astonishing remark to a man whom Cicero's daughter had just divorced for gross misconduct. But the letter is forced and cold.

2 The text is corrupt, and we know nothing of Septima, if, indeed, that is the name. We may suppose a reference to a dinner party at a rich freedman's table, with a learned lady who rather bored the guests. For fercularum (MS. cularum) iocatiuncularum, bons mots, has been suggested.

3 For Bursa, see vol. i., p. 365. Cicero seems to be jesting at his illiterate character, but rather clumsily. We may suppose that his recall had been brought about by Dolabella.

4 The auctions of confiscated property, at which P. Sulla was a constant bidder or sector, which was always considered discreditable. He had begun the business early in the time of the confiscations of his uncle, the dictator Sulla, see de Off. ii. § 29, where Cicero speaks of his conduct now as even worse than in the previous matter. In his defence of him in B.C. 60 he put a very different complexion on his character; but his conduct as Caesar's legatus seems to have alienated him thoroughly. See pp. 51, 53.

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: