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DCCCXVII (F Ix, 24)

TO LUCIUS PAPIRIUS PAETUS (AT NAPLES)
ROME (FEBRUARY)
Your friend Rufus, on whose behalf you have now twice written to me, I would have assisted to the best of my power, even if he had done me an injury, when I saw that you were so anxious in his favour. Since, however, both from your letter and from one which he has himself written to me, I perceive and am convinced that my safety has been a matter of much anxiety to him, I cannot fail to be his friend: and that not solely from your recommendation which has deservedly the greatest weight with me—but also from my own feeling and deliberate judgment For I wish you to know, my dear Paetus, that your own letter was the -origin of suspicion, caution, and careful inquiry on my part; and I afterwards received other letters from many quarters which were of like tone to yours. For both at Aquinum and Fabrateria plots were laid against me, of which I perceive that you have had some information; and as though these men divined how much trouble I was likely to give them, their design was nothing short of my complete ruin. Being then totally unsuspicious of this, I should have been more off my guard, had I not received this hint from you. Therefore that friend of yours requires no recommendation with me. Heaven send that the future of the Republic be such as to make it possible for him to appreciate my extreme gratitude! But enough of this.

I am sorry to hear that you have given up going out to dinner: for you have deprived yourself of a great source of amusement and pleasure. Again, I am even afraid-you'll allow me to speak frankly—that you will unlearn and partly forget that habit of yours—the giving of little dinners! For if even when you had models on which to form yourself, you made so little progress in the art, what am I to expect of you now? 1 Spurinna, indeed, when I told him about it and described your former way of living, pointed out the serious danger to the state if you did not recur to your old habits with the first breath of Spring. It might, he said, be endured at this time of year, if you could not stand the cold! But, by Hercules, my dear Paetus, without joking I advise you to cultivate the society of good, agreeable, and affectionate friends, for that is the secret of happiness. Nothing, I say, is more satisfying or contributes more to a happy life. And I do not found this on mere pleasure, but on the social intercourse and companionship, and that unbending of the mind which is best secured by familiar conversation, nowhere found in a more captivating form than at dinner-parties. This is more wisely indicated by us Latins than by the Greeks. The latter talk ofσυμπόσια and σύνδειπνα, that is, "drinkings together" and "suppings together," we of "living together" (convivium), because in no other circumstance is life more truly lived than in company. 2 Do you see I am using philosophy to try and lure you back to dinners? Take care of your health: that you will secure with least difficulty by dining out. But pray, as you love me, don't suppose that because I write jestingly I have cast off all care for the state. Be assured, my dear Paetus, that I work for nothing, care for nothing all day and night except the safety and freedom of my fellow citizens. I omit no occasion of warning, pleading, adopting precautions. In fact, my feeling is that, if I have to give my very life to this task and to pushing these measures, I shall think myself supremely fortunate. Goodbye! Good-bye!


1 Playful irony, for Paetus gave good though not extravagant dinners (vol. iii., p.98).

2 Cicero is quoting ftom his own essay on Old Age. See de Sen. § 45. For his liking for dinner-parties, see vol. iii., p.103.

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