Cicero, Epistulae ad Atticum (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Cic. Att.].
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8.9

CCCXXXIX (A VIII, 9)

TO ATTICUS (AT ROME) FORMIAE, 25 FEBRUARY

YOU say my letter has been widely published: well, I don't care. Nay, I myself allowed several people to take a copy of it. For suchi s the nature of events that have already happened and are about to happen, that I wished my sentiments as to keeping the peace to be put on record. Now, while exhorting Caesar of all people to keep it, I could see no better way of influencing him than by saying that it was suitable to his wisdom. If I called that wisdom "admirable," seeing that I was urging him to the preservation of our country, I am not afraid of being thought guilty of flattery, when for such an object I would gladly have thrown myself at his feet. Where, again, my expression is "bestow some of your time"—that does not refer to peace, but it is a request to him to reflect in some degree on my own case and on my obligations. As to my protesting that I have taken no part in the war, though that has been proved by facts, yet I mentioned it that my persuasions might have the greater weight, and my expressing approval of his claim has the same object. But what is the use of discussing this now? I only wish it had done any good! Nay, I should not object to have the letter read in public meeting, since Pompey himself, when also writing to Caesar, put up for public perusal the despatch in which are the words "Considering the extraordinary brilliancy of your achievements." What! more brilliant than his own, or those of Africanus? "Circumstances made it necessary to say so." Well, since two men of your character are going to meet him at the fifth milestone, [Note] pray, to what does he pledge himself, what is he doing or going to do? With what

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greater confidence will he rely upon the merits of his case, when he sees you, and men like you, not only in crowds, but with smiles on your faces, and congratulations on your lips? "Are we, then, doing wrong?" Not at all, as far as you are concerned. Yet, nevertheless, there is an end of all distinguishing between the signs of genuine and pretended feeling. What decrees of the senate do I foresee !-But I have spoken more openly than I intended.

I mean to be at Arpinum on the 28th, then to go the round of my country houses, which I have no hope of ever seeing again. Your "frank" policy—which is yet not without a spice of caution to suit the times-has my warm approbation. Lepidus, for his part—for we spend almost every day together, much to his gratification-never liked the idea of leaving Italy, Tullus much less. For letters from him frequently pass from others to me. But it is not so much their opinions that move me: for they have given much fewer pledges to the Republic than I have: it is your influence, by Hercules, that has the greatest weight with me; for it suggests a means of retrieving the past and of securing the present. But I appeal to you: what could be more wretched than that the one gains applause in the worst possible cause, the other nothing but anger in the best? That the one is esteemed the preserver of his enemies, the other the betrayer of his friends? And, by heaven, however much I love our Gnaeus, as I do and am bound to do, yet I cannot commend him for failing to relieve such men. For if it was fear, what could be more cowardly? If, as some think, it was because he thought that his own position would be improved by their massacre, what could be more unfair? But a truce to these reflexions: I only increase my grief by recalling them.

On the evening of the 24th Balbus the younger called on me, hastening on a secret mission to the consul Lentulus from Caesar, with a letter, a message, and a promise of a province, to induce him to return to Rome. I don't think he will be persuaded except by a personal interview. Balbus also told me that Caesar wished, above all things, to catch up Pompey (I believe that much), and to be reconciled to him. This latter I do not believe, and I much fear that all this clemency is only an elaborate preparation for a

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Cinna-like massacre. The elder Balbus, indeed, writes me word that Caesar would wish nothing better than to live in safety, with Pompey as chief citizen. You believe that, I suppose!

But while I am writing these words (25th February), Pompey may have reached Brundisium; for he started in light marching order in advance of his legions on the 19th, from Luceria. But this portent is a man of frightful vigilance, rapidity, and energy. I haven't an idea what will happen.



Cicero, Epistulae ad Atticum (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Cic. Att.].
<<Cic. Att. 8.8 Cic. Att. 8.9 (Latin) >>Cic. Att. 8.10

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