Cicero, Epistulae ad Atticum (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Cic. Att.].
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5.21

CCXLIX (A V, 21)

TO ATTICUS (IN EPIRUS) LAODICEA, 13 FEBRUARY

I am very glad to hear of your safe arrival in Epirus, and that, as you say, you had a pleasant voyage. I am a little annoyed at your not being in Rome at a crisis of great importance to me, but I console myself with the one reflexion, that you are having a pleasant winter there and are enjoying your rest. [Note] Gaius Cassius, brother of your friend Quintus Cassius, had sent a despatch—of which you ask me the meaning—written in a more modest strain than the later one in which he says that he had made an end of the Parthian war. It is true that the Parthians had retired from Antioch before the arrival of Bibulus, but it was from no success of our arms. At this present moment they are, as a matter of fact, wintering in Cyrrhestica, [Note] and a most serious war is impending. For the son of the Parthian king Orodes is within the Roman province, and Deiotarus, to whose son the daughter of Ariovasdes is betrothed—so he ought to know—has no doubt of the king himself intending to cross the Euphrates in full force at the beginning of summer. Besides, on the day on which Cassius's victorious despatch was read in the senate (dated the 7th of October) one was read from me also, announcing an alarm of war. My friend Axius says that my despatch made a great impression, that his was not credited. That of Bibulus had not yet been received, which I am quite sure will be thoroughly alarmist. The result of this, I fear, will be that, as Pompey is not allowed to be sent anywhere for fear of a revolution, and no attention is paid by the senate

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to Caesar's demands, while this knot remains to be untied, the senate will not think that I ought to quit my province till a successor has arrived, and that in such troublous times legates should not be left in charge of two such important provinces. In view of this I tremble lest my tenure should be prolonged, without even a tribune being able to stop it, and all the more so that you are not in town to interpose, as you might have done in many cases by your advice, your personal influence and activity. But you will say I am piling up anxiety for myself with my own hands. I can't help it: I wish that it may be so. But everything causes me alarm. Though your letter that you wrote at Buthrotum in your sickness had a charming finale. "As I see and hope, there will be nothing to delay your departure from your province." I should have preferred that you had confined yourself to "as I see": there was no need to add "and hope."

Again, I have received a letter written just after the triumph of Lentulus, which came with great celerity by the hands of the postmen of the publicani. In this you reiterate the same "bitter-sweet," first saying that there will be no delay of my return, and then adding, "If anything goes wrong you will come to me." Your doubts torture me: at the same time you may see which of your letters I have received. For the one which you say yourself that you delivered to the centurion Hermon's servant I have not received. You have often mentioned having given a letter to Laenius's servants. That one Laenius did deliver to me at last, on my arrival at Laodicea, the 11th of February, dated the 21st of September. I will, at once by what I say to him, and by deeds hereafter, give Laenius reason to be satisfied with your recommendation. That letter had much news that was stale, one thing that was new—about the panthers from Cibyra. I am much obliged to you for telling M. Octavius that you didn't think I would do it. But pray henceforth, in any case of doubt, give a direct negative. The fact is that, supported by a spontaneous resolution of my own, and also, by Hercules, from the inspiration of your influence, I have surpassed everybody (and you will find this to be the case) in preserving clean hands, no less than in justice, courtesy, and mildness. Don't. imagine that anything has ever surprised

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people more than the fact that not a farthing of expense has been caused to the province during my governorship, either for my public establishment or for any individual on my staff, except L Tullius. He,' who in other respects is clean-handed enough, did take something on the road in virtue of the Julian law not as others do at every hamlet, but once only and for the day's journey. [Note] He is the only one who has done so: and he forces me to make an exception when I say that not a farthing of expense has been caused. No one except him has taken anything. This blot I owe to our friend Q. Titinius. [Note]

At the end of the summer campaign I put my brother Quintus in charge of the winter quarters and of Cilicia. I have sent your friend Tiberius's son-in-law Quintus Volusius —not only a safe man, but also wonderfully disinterested—to Cyprus, with orders to stay some few days there, to prevent the few Roman citizens who are in business there from saying that they have no means of legal redress: for it is illegal for Cyprians to be cited in courts out of the island. [Note] I myself started for Asia from Tarsus on the 5th of January, accompanied by an admiration, which, by heaven, it is difficult to describe, from the cities in Cilicia, and specially from the people of Tarsus. As soon, however, as I had crossed the Taurus I found our dioceses in Asia on the tiptoe of expectation: for in the six months of my administration Asia had not received a single letter of injunction from me, nor had had a single official to entertain. Now before my time that particular period had been each year a source of gain, by. the richer states paying large sums of money to be exempted from furnishing the soldiers with winter quarters. The Cyprians used to pay 200 Attic talents, from which island—I am not speaking in hyperbole, but the simple truth—not a single farthing is exacted under my administration. For these benefits, which they regard with speechless astonishment, I allow no honours, except verbal ones, to be decreed to me: statues, temples, marble chariots I forbid; nor am I a

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nuisance to the states in any other respect—though I may be to you by thus blowing my own trumpet. But, an you love me, put up with it! It was you who wished me to act thus. My progress through Asia was of such a nature that even the famine, which prevailed in my part of Asia at the time—the most distressing thing there is—has been in a manner a welcome event. Wherever I went, without using force, legal compulsion, or strong language, I induced both the Greeks and Roman citizens, who had cornered the wheat, to promise large quantities to the communities. On the 13th of February—the day I am despatching this letter—I have arranged to hold a court at Laodicea for the district of Cibyra and Apamea: from the 15th of March at the same place for the districts of Synnada, Pamphylia (when I will look out for a horn for Phemius), Lycaonia, Isauria. After the 15th of May I start for Cilicia, with the view of spending June there—I hope without trouble from the Parthians. July, if all goes as I wish, will be needed for my return journey through the province. I entered the province at Laodicea in the consulship of Sulpicius and Marcellus on the 31st of July. I am due to leave it on the 30th of July. I shall first of all press my brother Quintus to allow himself to be left in charge, which will be very much against the wishes of us both. But that is the only respectable arrangement possible, especially as I cannot even now keep the excellent Pomptinus: for Postumius hurries him back to Rome, and perhaps Postumia [Note] also.

Now you know my plans. Next, let me enlighten you about Brutus. Your friend Brutus has among his intimates certain creditors of the people of Salamis in Cyprus, M. Scaptius and P. Matinius, whom he has recommended to me with more than common earnestness. I have not made the acquaintance of Matinius: Scaptius came to the camp to see me. I promised for the sake of Brutus to see that the Salaminians paid him the money. He thanked me, and asked for a

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prefecture. I said that I never granted one to a man engaged in business, a rule of which I have already informed you. When Cn. Pompeius asked me he accepted the propriety of this rule—I need not mention Torquatus when he asked for your friend M. Laenius, and many others. But (I said) if he wanted to be a praefectus on account of the bond, I would see to his recovering the money. He thanked me and went away. Our friend Appius had granted certain squadrons of cavalry to this Scaptius to coerce the Salaminians, and had also given him rank as praefectus. He was harrying the Salaminians. I ordered the cavalry squadrons to quit Cyprus. Scaptius felt aggrieved. In short, to keep faith with him I commanded the Salaminians, when they came to see me at Tarsus and Scaptius with them, to pay the money. They had a great deal to say about the bond, a great deal about the wrongs inflicted upon them by Scaptius. I declined to hear it. I urged them, I even asked them as a favour, in consideration of my good services to their state, to settle the business: finally I said that I would use compulsion. The men not only did not refuse, but even said that they would be paying out of my pocket: for that, since I had declined the money they had been accustomed to pay the praetor, they would in a sense be paying out of my pocket, and indeed the debt to Scaptius amounted to considerably less than the praetorian contribution. I warmly commended them: "All right," said Scaptius, "but let us reckon the total." Then there arose this question: One of the clauses in my customary edict was a declaration that I would not recognize more than twelve per cent. interest, besides the yearly addition to the capital of interest accrued, [Note] whereas he demanded in virtue of the deed forty-eight per cent. "What do you mean?" said I. "Can I go against my own edict?" He then produced a decree of the senate made in the consulship of Lentulus and Philippus. "The governor of Cilicia shall recognize that bond in giving judgment." [Note] I was at

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first horrified, for it meant the ruin of the town. I find there are two decrees of the senate in the same year about this bond. When the Salaminians wished to raise money at Rome to pay off a debt, they were prevented from doing so by the Gabinian law. [Note] Then it was that Brutus's friends, relying on his influence, offered to advance the money if they were secured by a senatorial decree. A decree is passed by Brutus's influence "That the Salaminians and those who lent the money should be indemnified." They paid the money. Afterwards it occurred to the lenders that this senatorial decree would not secure them, because the Gabinian law forbade a legal decision being based on the bond. So the other senatorial decree ("that this bond be recognized in giving judgment") is passed: not giving that particular bond more legal validity than others, but the same. [Note] When I had expounded this view, Scaptius took me aside and said that he had nothing to say against it, but that those men were under the impression that their debt was 200 talents, and he was willing to accept that sum, whereas it really amounted to somewhat less; he begs me to induce them to agree on the 200. "Very well," said I. I summon them without the presence of Scaptius. "What do you say," said I, "how much is your debt?" They answered, "One hundred and six." I refer back to Scaptius. He exclaimed loudly. "What is the use of this?" said I. "Check each other's additions." They sit down, they make their calculations: they agree to a penny. They declare themselves willing to pay: and beg him to accept the money. Scaptius again takes me aside: asks me to leave the matter as it is, undecided. I gave in to the fellow's shameless request. When the Greeks grumbled, and demanded that they might deposit

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the money in a temple, [Note] I did not assent. Everybody in court, exclaimed that Scaptius was the greatest knave in the world for mot being content with twelve per cent. plus the compound interest: others said that he was the greatest fool. In my opinion he was more knave than fool. For either he was content with twelve per cent. on a good security, or he hoped for forty-eight per cent. with a bad one. [Note] That is my case; and if Brutus is not satisfied with it, I cannot see why I should regard him as a friend: I am sure that his uncle at any rate will accept it, especially as a senatorial decree has just been passed—I think since you left town—in the matter of money-lenders, that twelve per cent. simple interest was to be the rate. What a wide difference this implies you will certainly be able to reckon, if I know your fingers. And in this regard, by the way, L. Lucceius, son of Marcus, writes me a ,grumbling letter asserting that—thanks to the senate—there is the utmost danger of these decrees leading to a general repudiation. He recalls what mischief C. Iulius [Note] once did by slightly enlarging the time for payment: "public credit never received such a blow."—But to return to the matter in hand: turn over my case in your mind as against Brutus, if it may be called a case, against which nothing can be decently urged: especially as I have left it and its merits undecided.

Now for family matters. As to our "home secret," I am of your opinion—Postumia's son : [Note] since Pontidia is playing fast and loose. But I could have wished you had been there. Don't expect anything from my brother Quintus for some months; for Taurus is impassable before June, owing to the snow. I am backing up Thermus, as you ask me to do, by a great number of letters. As for P. Valerius, Deiotarus says that he has nothing, and is being supported by himself.

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As soon as you know whether there is to be an intercalation at Rome or not, please write me word definitely on what day the mysteries are to take place. [Note] I am a little less eager for your letters than if you were at Rome; but yet, after all, I am eager for them.



Cicero, Epistulae ad Atticum (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Cic. Att.].
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