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Cicero's voyage to Greece begun and abandoned (July-August).

But, as usual with Cicero, this step caused him much searching of heart and many weeks of hesitation and irresolution. As usual also, all his doubts and difficulties are imparted to Atticus, whose advice is constantly asked, and somewhat querulously criticised when given. Cicero was torn different ways by the refiexion that a departure from Italy at this time might be regarded as a desertion of his party and his country: that in his absence some blow might be struck for liberty, the credit of which he should be sorry not to share. On the other hand, as long as Antony was consul things would most likely remain as they were, and he would be personally safer out of the country, and would be doing his duty in visiting his son. But he was a wretched sailor, the long voyage was odious to him, and especially one that would have to be taken late in the year, if he was to be back in Rome before the beginning of the new consulate. Again, he would have liked to sail with Brutus; but Brutus was delaying indefinitely, and besides, did not receive the suggestion very warmly. After one abortive start (1st August), on which he got as far as Syracuse, he again set sail from Leucopetra on the 6th of August. But the south wind was too strong and the ship put back to Rhegium.1 There Cicero stayed in a friend's villa for the night and heard next day what he thought was good news.2 There was to be a full meeting of the senate on the 1st of September, for Brutus and Cassius—still in Italy—had issued an edict urging the attendance of their partisans, and it was believed that they had come to some understanding with Antony, whereby they would be able to resume their position at Rome and take up their provinces at the end of their year's praetorship. The men who gave Cicero his intelligence also told him that he was wanted, and that his absence was being unfavourably criticised.3

This was precisely what Cicero wished to hear, and we may be sure that he did not make very curious inquiries as to the authenticity of the report, or the means of knowing the truth possessed by his informants. He regarded himself as "recalled by the voice of the Republic," and blessed the south winds for having saved him from deserting his country in its need. He visited Brutus at Velia on his way to Rome, and no doubt heard from him what somewhat cooled his ardour. He determined, however, to continue his return to Tusculum, though with no definite intention of taking as yet any leading part in politics, or indeed of attending the senate at all. But the state of affairs which he found existing at Rome on his arrival on the 31st of August soon dispelled any ideas of repose, and drew him into the final storm and stress of political contest, from which he was not free when the correspondence ceases, and which brought him finally to the grave.


1 1 Phil. §7.

2 P.119.

3 See pp. 119-120, 131. He says that he also had a copy of a contio of Antony's, as well as the edict of Brutus and Cassius, which he mentions in the letter.

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