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TO M. TARENTIUS VARRO (With a copy of the Academica)
To demand a gift, even if a man has promised it, 1 is more than even a nation will generally do, unless under great provocation: nevertheless I have so much looked forward to your present that I venture to remind you of it, though not to press for it. So I have sent you four reminders who are not afflicted with excessive modesty: for you know how brazen-faced the New Academy is. Accordingly, I am sending ambassadors enlisted from its ranks, who I fear may by chance lodge a demand, though I have only commissioned them to ask a favour. I have been waiting in fact for a long time now, and have been holding back, so as not to address any work to you before I had received something from you, in order that I might repay you as nearly as possible in your own coin. But as you were somewhat slow in doing it—that is, as I construe it, somewhat unusually careful—I could not refrain from making manifest by such literary composition as I was capable of producing the union of our tastes and affections. I have therefore composed a dialogue purposing to be held between us in my villa at Cumae, Pomponius being there also. I have assigned to you the doctrines of Antiochus, which I thought I understood to have your approval; I have taken those of Philo for myself. I imagine that when you read it you will be surprised at our holding a conversation, which we never did hold; but you know the usual method of dialogues. At some future time, my dear Varro, we shall—if such is your pleasure-have many a long conversation of our own also. It may perhaps be some time hence: but let the fortune of the state excuse the past; it is our business to secure this ourselves. And oh that we might pursue these studies together in a time of tranquillity and with the constitution established on some basis, which if not good may be at any rate definitely fixed! Though in that case there would be other calls upon us-honourable responsibilities and political activities. As things are now, however, what is there to induce us to live without these studies? In my eyes indeed, even with them, it is barely worth while: when they are withdrawn, not even so much as that. But of this when we meet, and often hereafter. I hope your change of houses and new purchase may turn out everything you can desire. I think you were quite right to make them. Be careful of your health.

1 Varro had promised to dedicate some work to Cicero. See p.289.

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