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CDLXXI (F IX, 18)

TO L. PAPIRIUS PAETUS (AT NAPLES)
TUSCULUM (JULY)
Being quite at leisure in my Tusculan villa, because I had sent my pupils 1 to meet him, 2 that they might at the same time present me in as favourable a light as possible to their friend, I received your most delightful letter, from which I learnt that you approved my idea of having begun—now that legal proceedings are abolished and my old supremacy in the forum is lost—to keep a kind of school, just as Dionysius, when expelled from Syracuse, is said to have opened a school at Corinth. 3 In short, I too am delighted with the idea, for I secure many advantages. First and foremost, I am strengthening my position in view of the present crisis, and that is of primary importance at this time. How much that amounts to I don't know: I only see that as at present advised I prefer no one's policy to this, unless, of course, it had been better to have died. In one's own bed, I confess it might have been, but that did not occur: and as to the field of battle, I was not there. The rest indeed-Pompey, your friend Lentulus, Afranius—perished ingloriously. 4 But, it may be said, Cato died a noble death. Well, that at any rate is in our power when we will: let us only do our best to prevent its being as necessary to us as it was to him. That is what I am doing. So that is the first thing I had to say. The next is this: I am improving, in the first place in health, which I had lost from giving up all exercise of my lungs. In the second place, my oratorical faculty, such as it was, would have completely dried up, had I not gone back to these exercises. The last thing I have to say, which I rather think you will consider most important of all, is this: I have now demolished more peacocks than you have young pigeons) You there revel in Haterian 5 law-sauce, I here in Hirtian hot-sauce. 6 Come then, if you are half a man, and learn from me the maxims which you seek : yet it is a case of" a pig teaching Minerva." 7 But it will be my business to see to that: as for you, if you can't find purchasers for your foreclosures 8 and so fill your pot with denarii back you must come to Rome. It is better to die of indigestion here, than of starvation there. I see you have lost money: I hope these friends of yours 9 have done the same. You are a ruined man if you don't look out. You may possibly get to Rome on the only mule that you say you have left, since you have eaten up your pack horse. 10 Your seat in the school, as second master, will be next to mine: the honour of a cushion will come by-and-by.


1 Dolabella and Hirtius.

2 Caesar, on his return from his victory in Africa.

3 Cicero tells the story again in Tusc. iii. § 27, but the proverb, "Dionysius in Corinth," in Att. 9.9(vol. ii., p.329) is not, I think, connected with it.

4 Pompey was assassinated in Egypt; Metellus Pius Scipio (Pompey's father-in-law), attempting after Thapsus to escape to Spain, threw himself into the sea to avoid capture; Afranius fell into the hands of Sittius after Thapsus and perished in a military riot. Cicero did not accompany Pompey's army to Pharsalia.

5 Haterius, probably a lawyer with whom Paetus was in some way engaged. There is doubtless a play on the double meaning of jus, "sauce" and "law." A similar metaphor was used on a celebrated occasion in recent years, when certain politicians were recommended to "stew in their Parnellite juice."

6 Of Hirtius, Cicero's instructor in the art of dining, pp.93, 98.

7 From a Greek proverb, ὗς Ἀθηνᾶν. See Theocr. 5.53; Acad. 1, § 18.

8 aestimationes, properties taken over for debts at a valuation under Caesar's law. See p.93.

9 The other Caesarians at Naples.

10 I.e., sold it to buy necessaries. We don't know what grumbling about money losses from Paetus drew out all this chaff. For the mule to ride and the horse to carry luggage, see vol. ii., p.213.

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