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CDLXVIII (F IX, 6)

TO M. TERENTIUS VARRO (AT TUSCULUM)
ROME (JUNE)
Our friend Caninius has brought a message from you bidding me write and tell you whatever I thought you ought to know. Well then, Caesar's arrival of course is occupying men's minds, and of that you are yourself not unaware. However, he having written, I presume, to say that he intended to come to his villa at Alsium, 1 his friends wrote to him not to do so: that many people would annoy him, and he himself annoy many: they thought it would be more convenient for him to land at Ostia. I do not myself understand what difference it makes; but yet Hirtius told me that both he and Balbus and Oppius had written to him to do so-men, as I have reason to know, who are attached to you. I wanted you to learn this, that you might know where to prepare yourself a lodging, or rather that you might do so in both places : 2 for what he is going to do is uncertain. At the same time I have shewn you that I am intimate with these men and admitted to their counsels And I don't see any reason for avoiding that. It is one thing to bear what one must bear, another to approve what one ought not to approve. Though for my part I do not know why I should not approve, with the exception of the first steps in the movement: for they were within the control of men's wills. I saw of course (you were abroad) that our friends desired war, whereas Caesar did not so much desire it as not fear it (wherefore the first steps were deliberate, the rest merely consequential), and that it must needs be that either this party or that should win. I know that you always lamented with me, when we saw, first, that frightful alternative—the destruction of one or the other army and leader; and, secondly, that the most dreadful evil of all was victory in a civil war, which indeed I dreaded even if it declared on the side of those whom I had joined. For the veriest do-nothings 3 were uttering bloodthirsty threats, and they were offended both by your feelings and my words. At this moment, indeed, if our men had prevailed, they would have been exceedingly violent; for there were some who were very angry with us, as though forsooth we had adopted any resolution as to our own preservation which we had not decided to be good for them also; or as though it were more for the advantage of the state that they should fly to the protection of the beasts, 4 than either die out of hand, or continue to live, if not with the best prospect, yet at least with some. But, it may be said, we are living in a distracted republic. Who denies it? But this is their look-out, who secured no resources for the various phases of life.

Well, it was to arrive at this point that my preface has extended to a greater length than I intended. For as I have ever regarded you as a great man, because in the face of these storms you are nearly the only one safely in port, and are reaping the best fruits of philosophy-namely, to fix your mind upon and handle themes, the study and delight of which are to be preferred to all their employments and pleasures: so I consider these days you are spending at Tusculum to be a specimen of true life, and I would with pleasure resign all the wealth in the world to anybody on condition of being allowed, without the interruption of violence, to live a life like yours. And this, indeed, I imitate to the best of my ability, and with the utmost delight find repose in the studies which we both pursue. For who will grudge us this privilege, that, when our country either cannot or will not employ our services, we should return to that way of life, which many learned men have, perhaps wrongly, but still have thought was to be preferred even to public business? These studies, in the opinion of some eminent men, involve a kind of furlough from public duties: why then, when the state allows it, should we not enjoy them to the full? But I have more than fulfilled Caninius's demand; for he quite legitimately 5 asked me for anything I knew which you didn't: but I am telling you what you know better than I myself who tell it. I will accordingly do what I was asked, that is, prevent your being ignorant of anything that is in your way connected with this crisis which I may hear. 6


1 On the coast of Etruria, about eighteen miles north of the mouth of the Tiber. Caesar had a villa there, but so had many Roman nobles, and I suppose that he would be among enemies.

2 At Alsium and Ostia, that he might be ready to meet Caesar in, either.

3 Reading otiosissimi minabantur.

4 The elephants of King Juba.

5 Iure, the MS. reading. I am not satisfied that it is rightly rejected, as it is by all editors; ut scriberem is easily understood after rogarat. He elsewhere (vol. i., p.354) says that the proper purpose of a letter is to inform the recipient of what he does not but ought to know, and the writer does. So in asking that, Caninius asked iure, in accordance with the law of letter writing.

6 The reading is doubtful.

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