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CDLXXVIII (F IX, 17)

TO L. PAPIRIUS PAETUS (AT NAPLES)
ROME (AUGUST)
Aren't you a ridiculous fellow for asking me what I think will be done about those municipal towns and lands, when our friend Balbus 1 has been staying with you? As though I were likely to know what he doesn't, and as though, when I do know anything, it is not from him that I always learn it. Nay rather, if you love me, tell me what is going to be done about us: for you have had in your power one from whom you could have learnt it either sober or at any rate drunk. But for myself, I do not ask you for such information: in the first place, because I put it down as so much gain that I have been left alive for the last four years, if gain it is to be called, and if it is life to survive the Republic; and, in the second place, because I think that I myself know what is going to happen. For whatever the stronger chooses will be done, and the stronger will always be the sword. We ought, accordingly, to be content with any concession made to us, whatever it is; the man who was unable to endure this ought to have died.

They are measuring the territory of Veii and Capena. 2 This is not far from my Tusculan property. However, I don't at all alarm myself. I enjoy while I may: I only wish it may last. If that does not turn out to be the case, yet, since I in my courage and philosophy thought that nothing was better than to remain alive, I cannot but love the man by whose kindness I gained that object. But even if he should desire the continuance of a republic, such as perhaps he wishes and we ought all to pray for, he yet does not know how to do it: so completely has he entangled himself with many other people.

But I am going too far. I forgot that I am writing to you. However, let me assure you of this, that not only I, who am not in his confidence, but even the leader himself is unable to say what is going to happen. For, while we are his slaves, he is a slave to circumstances: and so neither can he possibly be sure of what circumstances will demand, nor we of what he is designing. The reason that I did not send you this answer before was not because I am usually idle, especially in the matter of writing, but because, as I had no certainty about anything, I did not choose to cause you either anxiety from the hesitation, or hope from the confidence of my words. However, I will add this, which is the most absolute truth, that during the present crisis I have not heard a word about the danger you mention. 3 In any case you will be bound, like the man of sense that you are, to hope for the best, prepare yourself for the worst, and bear whatever happens.


1 Who, as Caesar's friend and agent, would know his intentions.

2 That is, for allotments of land to veterans.

3 That is, of confiscations in Campania.

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load focus Notes (Frank Frost Abbott, 1909)
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