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CDLVIII (F IX, 3)

TO M. TERENTIUS VARRO (AT TUSCULUM)
ROME (ABOUT THE 18TH OF APRIL)
Though I have nothing to say to you, yet I could not let Caninius go to you without taking anything from me. What, then, shall I say for choice? What I think you wish, that I am coming to you very soon. Yet pray consider whether it is quite right for us to be in a place like that 1 when public affairs are in such a blaze. We shall be giving those persons an excuse for talking, who don't know that, wherever we are, we keep the same style and the same manner of life. But what does it matter? Anyhow, we shall give rise to gossip. We ought, forsooth, to take great pains, at a time when society at large is wallowing in every kind of immorality and abomination, to prevent our abstention from active life, whether indulged in alone or together, from being unfavourably remarked upon! For my part, I shall join you, and snap my fingers at the ignorance of these Philistines. For, however miserable the present state of affairs—and nothing can be more so-yet, after all, our studies seem in a way to produce a richer harvest now than of old, whether it is because we can now find relief in nothing else, or because the severity of the disease makes the need of medicine felt, and its virtue is now manifested, which we used not to feel while we were in good health. 'But why these words of wisdom to you now, who have them at hand home-grown—"an owl to Athens? " 2 Only, of course, to get you to write me an answer, and wait for my coming. Pray do so therefore.


1 That is, Baiae, a holiday resort full of amusement and gay company. Varro had apparently suggested going there.

2 Our "coals to Newcastle." See vol. i., p.290.

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