VIII[8arg] What Marcus Cato thought and said of Albinus, who, though a Roman, wrote a history of Rome in the Greek language, having first asked indulgence for his lack of skill in that tongue.
MARCUS CATO is said to have rebuked Aulus Albinus with great justice and neatness. Albinus, who had been consul with Lucius Lucullus, 1 composed a Roman History in the Greek language. In the introduction to his work he wrote to this effect: 2 that no one ought to blame him if he had written anything then in those books that was incorrect or inelegant; “for” he continues, “I am a Roman, born in Latium, and the Greek language is quite foreign to me”; and accordingly he asked indulgence and freedom from adverse criticism in case he had made any errors. When Marcus Cato had read this, “Surely, Aulus,” said he, “you are a great trifler in preferring to apologize for a fault rather than avoid it. For we usually ask pardon either when we have erred through inadvertence or done wrong under compulsion. But tell me, I pray you,” said he, “who compelled you to do that for which you ask pardon before doing it.” This is told in the thirteenth book of Cornelius Nepos' work On Famous Men. 3