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- Letters of Cicero - 1/20 -


The period covered by the letters of Cicero is one of the most interesting and momentous in the history of the world, and these letters afford a picture of the chief personages and most important events of that age from the pen of a man who was not only himself in the midst of the conflict, but who was a consummate literary artist.

LETTERS

MARCUS TULLIUS CICERO

I

To ATTICUS (AT ATHENS)

ROME, JULY

THE state of things in regard to my candidature, in which I know that you are supremely interested, is this, as far as can be as yet conjectured. The only person actually canvassing is P. Sulpicius Galba. He meets with a good old-fashioned refusal without reserve or disguise. In the general opinion this premature canvass of his is not unfavourable to my interests; for the voters generally give as a reason for their refusal that they are under obligations to me. So I hope my prospects are to a certain degree improved by the report getting about that my friends are found to be numerous. My intention was to begin my own canvass just at the very time that Cincius tells me that your servant starts with this letter, namely, in the campus at the time of the tribunician elections on the 17th of July. My fellow candidates, to mention only those who seem certain, are Galba and Antonius and Q. Cornificius. At this I imagine you smiling or sighing. Well, to make you positively smite your forehead, there are people who actually think that Caesonius will stand. I don't think Aquilius will, for he openly disclaims it and has alleged as an excuse his health and his leading position at the bar. Catiline will certainly be a candidate, if you can imagine a jury finding that the sun does not shine at noon. As for Aufidius and Palicanus, I don't think you will expect to hear from me about them. Of the candidates for this year's election Caesar is considered certain. Thermus is looked upon as the rival of Silanus. These latter are so weak both in friends and reputation that it seems pas impossible to bring in Curius over their heads. But no one else thinks so. What seems most to my interests is that Thermus should get in with Caesar. For there is none of those at present canvassing who, if left over to my year, seems likely to be a stronger candidate, from the fact that he is commissioner of the via Flaininia, and when that has been finished, I shall be greatly relieved to have seen him elected consul this election. Such in outline is the position of affairs in regard to candidates up to date. For myself I shall take the greatest pains to carry out all the duties of a candidate, and perhaps, as Gaul seems to have a considerable voting power, as soon as business at Rome has come to a standstill I shall obtain a libera legatio and make an excursion in the course of September to visit Piso, but so as not to be back later than January. When I have ascertained the feelings of the nobility I will write you word. Everything else I hope will go smoothly, at any rate while my competitors are such as are now in town. You must undertake to secure for me the entourage of our friend Pompey, since you are nearer than I. Tell him I shall not be annoyed if he doesn't come to my election. So much for that business. But there is a matter for which I am very anxious that you should forgive me. Your uncle Caecilius having been defrauded of a large sum of money by P. Varius, began an action against his cousin A. Caninius Satyrus for the property which (as he alleged) the latter had received from Varius by a collusive sale. He was joined in this action by the other creditors, among whom were Lucullus and P. Scipio, and the man whom they thought would be official receiver if the property was put up for sale, Lucius Pontius; though it is ridiculous to be talking about a receiver at this stage in the proceedings. Caecilius asked me to appear for him against Satyrus. Now, scarcely a day passes that Satyrus does not call at my house. The chief object of his attentions is L. Domitius, but I am next in his regard. He has been of great service both to myself and to my brother Quintus in our elections. I was very much embarrassed by my intimacy with Satyrus as well as that with Domitius, on whom the success of my election depends more than on anyone else. I pointed out these facts to Caecilius; at the same time I assured him that if the case had been one exclusively between himself and Satyrus, I would have done what he wished. As the matter actually stood, all the creditors being concerned--and that two men of the highest rank, who, without the aid of anyone specially retained by Caecilius, would have no difficulty in maintaining their common cause--it was only fair that he should have consideration both for my private friendship and my present situation. He seemed to take this somewhat less courteously than I could have wished, or than is usual among gentlemen; and from that time forth he has entirely withdrawn from the intimacy with me which was only of a few days standing. Pray forgive me, and believe that I was prevented by nothing but natural kindness from assailing the reputation of a friend in so vital a point at a time of such very great distress, considering that he had shewn me every sort of kindness and attention, But if you incline to the harsher view of my conduct, take it that the interests of my canvass prevented me. Yet, even granting that to be so, I think you should pardon me, "since not for sacred beast or oxhide shield." You see in fact the position I am in, and how necessary I regard it, not only to retain but even to acquire all possible sources of popularity. I hope I have justified myself in your eyes, I am at any rate anxious to have done so. The Hermathena you sent I am delighted with: it has been placed with such charming effect that the whole gymnasium seems arranged specially for it. I am exceedingly obliged to you.

II

To ATTICUS (AT ATHENS)

ROME, JULY

I HAVE to inform you that on the day of the election of L. lulius Caesar and C. Marcius Figulus to the consulship, I had an addition to my family in the shape of a baby boy. Terentia doing well.

Why such a time without a letter from you? I have already written to you fully about my circumstances. At this present time I am considering whether to undertake the defence of my fellow candidate, Catiline. We have a jury to our minds with full consent of the prosecutor. I hope that if he is acquitted he will be more closely united with me in the conduct of our canvass; but if the result he otherwise I shall bear it with resignation. Your early return is of great importance to me, for there is a very strong idea prevailing that some intimate friends of yours, persons of high rank, will be opposed to my election. To win me their favour I see that I shall want you very much. Wherefore be sure to be in Rome in January, as you have agreed to be.

III

To CN. POMPESUS MAGNUS

ROME

M. Tullius Cicero, son of Marcus, greets Ca. Pompeius, son of Cneius, Imperator.

IF you and the army are well I shall be glad. From your official despatch I have, in common with everyone else, received the liveliest satisfaction; for you have given us that strong hope of peace, of which, in sole reliance on you, I was assuring everyone. But I must inform you that your old enemies--now posing as your friends--have received a stunning blow by this despatch, and, being disappointed in the high hopes they were entertaining, are thoroughly depressed. Though your private letter to me contained a somewhat slight expression of your affection, yet I can assure you it gave me pleasure: for there is nothing in which I habitually find greater satisfaction than in the consciousness of serving my friend; and if on any occasion I do not meet with an adequate return, I am not at all sorry to have the balance of kindness in my favour. Of this I feel no doubt--even if my extraordinary zeal in your behalf has failed to unite you to me--that the interests of the state will certainly effect a mutual attachment and coalition between us. To let you know, however, what I missed in your letter I will write with the candour which my own disposition and our common friendship demand. I did expect some congratulation in your letter on my achievements, for the sake at once of the ties between us and of the Republic. This I presume to have been omitted by you from a fear of hurting anyone's feelings. But let me tell you that what I did for the salvation of the country is approved by the judgment and testimony of the whole world. You are a much greater man that Africanus, but I am not much inferior to Laelius either; and when you come home you will recognize that I have acted with such prudence and spirit, that you will not now be ashamed of being coupled with me in politics as well as in private friendship.

IV (A I, 17)

To ATTICUS (IN ERIAUS)

ROME, 5 DECEMBER

Your letter, in which you inclose copies of his letters, has made me realize that my brother Quintus's feelings have undergone many alternations, and that his opinions and judgments have varied widely from time to time. This has not only caused me all the pain which my extreme affection for both of you was bound to bring, but it has also made me wonder what can have happened to cause my brother Quintus such deep offence, or such an extraordinary change of feeling. And yet I was already aware, as I saw that you also, when you took leave of me, were beginning to suspect, that there was some lurking dissatisfaction, that his feelings were wounded, and that certain unfriendly suspicions had sunk deep into his heart. On trying on several previous occasions, but more eagerly than ever after the allotment of his province, to assuage these feelings, I failed to discover on the one hand that the extent of his offence was so great as your letter indicates; but on the other I did not make as much progress in allaying it as I wished. However, I consoled myself with thinking that there would be no doubt of his seeing you at Dyrrachium, or somewhere in your part of the country: and, if that happened, I felt sure and fully persuaded that everything would be made smooth between you, not only by conversation and mutual explanation, but by the very sight of each other in such an interview. For I need not say in writing to you, who knows it quite well, how kind and sweet-tempered my brother is, as ready to forgive as he is sensitive in taking offence. But it most unfortunately happened that you did not see him anywhere. For the impression he had received from the artifices of others had more weight with him than duty or relationship, or the old affection so long existing between you, which ought to have been the strongest influence of all. And yet, as to where the blame for this misunderstanding resides, I can more


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