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CDLIX (F IX, 2)

TO M. TERENTIUS VARRO (AT TUSCULUM)
ROME (APRIL, AFTER THE 20TH OF APRIL)
Caninius, our common friend, having called upon me very late in the evening, and having told me that he was starting to join you in the morning, I told him that I would have something for him to take, and begged him to Call for it in the morning. I finished my letter in the night, but he never Came: I supposed that he had forgotten. Nevertheless, I should have sent you the letter itself by my own letter-carriers, had I not heard from the same friend next day that you were starting from your Tusculan villa in the morning. But now look at, this! All on a sudden a few days later, when I wasn't in the least expecting it, Caninius Called on me in the morning, and said that he was starting to join you at once. Though that letter was now stale, especially considering the importance of the news that have since arrived, 1 yet I was unwilling that my night's work should be thrown away, and gave it as it was to Caninius: but I spoke to him as to a man of learning and one warmly attached to you, and I presume that he has conveyed my words to you.

However, I give you the same counsel that I give myself —to avoid men's eyes, if we find it difficult to avoid their tongues. For those who give themselves airs about the victory regard us in the light of defeated enemies: while those who are vexed at our friends' defeat regret that we remain alive. You will ask perhaps why, this being the state of things in the city, I have not left town like yourself? You, I presume, you, who surpass both me and others in the clearness of your perceptions, divined it all! Nothing of course escaped you! Why, who is so much of a Lynceus as, in such pitchy darkness, never to stumble on anything, never to blunder against anything anywhere? For my part, it long ago occurred to my mind how pleasant a thing it would be to go out of town somewhere, so as to avoid seeing and hearing what is being done and said here. But I had certain misgivings: my idea was that everyone who met me on the road would, as it suited his particular point of view, suspect, or, even if he did not suspect it, would say: "This fellow is either frightened, and therefore is running away, or he is meditating some move and has a ship ready prepared." In fact, even the man whose suspicion was the least malicious, and who perhaps knew me best, would have thought my motive for going was that my eyes could not endure the sight of certain persons. From some such misgivings as these I am as yet staying on at Rome, and after all, long habit has insensibly covered over the wound and deadened my indignation.

That is the explanation of my policy. For yourself, then, what I think you should do is this: remain in retirement where you are until such time as this exultation is past boiling point, and at the same time till we hear particulars of the decisive struggle: for decisive I think it was. But it will make all the difference what the feeling of the conqueror is, and how the campaign has ended. Though I am able to make a shrewd guess, still I wait, after all, for information. Nor, indeed, would I have you starting for Baiae until rumour has shouted itself hoarse. For it will be more to our credit, even when we do quit the city, to be thought to have come to that neighbourhood rather to weep than to swim. But you know all this better than I. Only let us abide by our resolve to live together in pursuit of those studies of ours, from which we formerly sought only pleasure, but now seek also the preservation of our lives. And if anyone wishes for our services-not merely as architects, but also as workmen to build up the constitution-let us not refuse to assist, but rather hasten with enthusiasm to the task. And if, on the other hand, no one will employ us, let us compose and read "Republics." And if we cannot do so in the senate-house and forum, yet at least (after the example of the most learned of the ancients) on paper and in books let us govern the state, and investigate its customs and laws. These are my views. You will very much oblige me if you will write and tell me what you mean to do and what your opinion is.


1 The battle of Thapsus was fought on the 6th of April, according to the unrevised calendar. The news reached Rome on the evening of the 20th (Dio, 43, 42).

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