Cicero, Epistulae ad Atticum (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Cic. Att.].
<<Cic. Att. 8.10 Cic. Att. 8.11 (Latin) >>Cic. Att. 8.11A

8.11

CCCXLI (A VIII, 11)

TO ATTICUS (AT ROME) FORMIAE, 27 FEBRUARY

You think me thoroughly upset by a violent mental struggle. I am so, indeed, but not by one so violent as you perhaps imagine. For all my anxiety is lightened as soon as I have

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either made up my mind, or found on reflexion that a solution is impossible. However, one may express regret. Well, I do so, after all, from one day's end to another. But considering the uselessness of this, I dread being an absolute discredit to my philosophy and my writings: I therefore spend all my time in considering what the virtue of that ideal character is, which, according to you, I have delineated in my books [Note] with considerable care. Do you remember, then, that ideal "director of the commonwealth" to whom we would refer all questions? In the fifth book, I think it is, Scipio thus speaks: For as the object of a pilot is a successful voyage, of a physician bodily health, of a commander victory, so the object of such a director of the commonwealth is the happiness of the citizens, that it should be secure in means of defence, opulent in material resources, splendid in reputation, untarnished in its virtue. For my idea of him is that he should carry to perfection the work which is the greatest and best among men.

Such a conception never occurred to our friend Gnaeus in former times, and least of all in this controversy. Supremacy has been the object of both; there has been no idea of securing the happiness and virtue of the citizens. Nor, indeed, did he abandon the city because he was unable to protect it, nor Italy because he was driven from it; but his idea from the first was to stir up every land and sea, to rouse foreign princes, to bring barbarous tribes in arms into Italy, to collect the most formidable armies possible. For some time past a kind of royalty like Sulla's has been the object in view, and this is the eager desire of many who are with him. Do you suppose that some understanding between the two, some bargain has been impossible? Today it is still possible. But the object of neither is our happiness: both want to be kings. This brief exposition of the situation I have made in response to your invitation: for you wished me to explain to you my sentiments as to these unhappy circumstances. I speak "prophetically," then, my dear Atticus, not in vague denunciation like hers, whom no one believed, but foreseeing in imagination:

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E'en now upon the mighty deep, etc. [Note] What I can prophesy, I repeat, is much the same: such an Iliad of miseries is there hanging over our heads. Besides, my position is worse than that of those who have crossed the sea with Pompey in this, that they fear one or the other; I fear both. "Why have I stayed, then?" you will say. From obedience to you, if you like, or from failing to meet him in person, or because it was a juster course. You will see, I tell you, our poor Italy trodden under foot next summer, or in the hands of the slaves [Note] of both leaders gathered from the four corners of the earth. It is not a proscription (which is said to have been frequently threatened in the talk at Luceria) that is so much to be feared, as a general destruction: so vast are the forces which I see will take part in the conflict on both sides. That is my conjecture of what is to happen. But you perhaps looked for something consoling from me. I can find nothing of the sort. Nothing can exceed the misery, ruin, and disgrace. You ask me what Caesar said in his letter to me. The usual thing: he was much obliged by my having remained neutral, and begged me to continue to do so. The younger Balbus brought me a message to the same effect. The latter was

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on his way to visit the consul Lentulus with a letter from Caesar, and promises of rewards if he would return to Rome. But, when I calculate the days, I think he will have crossed over before he could be met by Balbus. I wished you to appreciate the slovenly style of Pompey's two letters sent to me, and my great care in writing my answer. I am sending you copies of them. I am anxious to see what this dash of Caesar's upon Brundisium through Apulia accomplishes. Oh that it might turn out something like the Parthian affair! [Note] As soon as I hear anything I will let you know: on your part, pray let me know what the loyalists are saying; I hear there are crowds of them at Rome. I know, of course, that you don't go abroad; [Note] still you must hear a great deal. I remember a book being brought you by Demetrius of Magnesia, dedicated to you, "On Concord." [Note] Please send it to me. You see in what direction my thoughts are turning.



Cicero, Epistulae ad Atticum (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Cic. Att.].
<<Cic. Att. 8.10 Cic. Att. 8.11 (Latin) >>Cic. Att. 8.11A

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