Cicero, Epistulae ad Atticum (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Cic. Att.].
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9.9

CCCLXIII (A IX, 9)

TO ATTICUS (AT ROME) FORMIAE, 17 MARCH

I RECEIVED three letters from you on the 16th of March. They were dated on the 12th, 13th, and 14th. So I will answer each in its order of time. I quite agree with you in thinking Formiae the best of all places for me to stay. I also agree with you about the Upper Sea, and I am very desirous, as I told you in a previous letter, to discover how I may without annoying Caesar avoid taking any part whatever in the conduct of public affairs. You praise me for saying that I put away the memory of my friend's past and his shortcomings. I really do so: nay, I even forget those very injuries inflicted by him upon myself which you mention. So much more influence do I choose gratitude for kindness to have with me, than resentment for injury. Let me act, then, according to your opinion, and summon up all my energies. The fact is, I am philosophizing all the time I am riding about the country, and in the course of my expeditions I never cease meditating on my theses. But some of them are very difficult of solution. As to the Optiinates, be it as you will: but you know the proverb,

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"Dionysius at Corinth." [Note] The son of Titinius is with Caesar. [Note] You seem to have a kind of fear that I do not like your counsels: the fact, however, is that nothing else gives me any pleasure except your advice and your letters. Pray, therefore, keep to your word: do not cease writing to me whatever occurs to you: you can do me no greater favour.

I now come to your second. You are quite right to be incredulous about the number of Pompey's men. Clodia just doubled them in her letter. [Note] It was all a lie also about disabling the ships. You praise the consuls: so do I as far as their spirit is concerned, but I blame their policy. For by their departure the negotiation for peace was rendered impossible, which I for one was meditating. Accordingly, after this I sent you back Demetrius's book "On Concord," and gave it to Philotimus. Nor have I any doubt left of a murderous war impending, which will begin with a famine. And yet I am vexed that I am not taking part in such a war! A war in which wickedness is certain to attain such dimensions, that, whereas it is a crime not to support one's parents, our leaders will think themselves entitled to starve to death the supreme and holiest of parents-their country! And this fear is not with me a matter of conjecture: I have heard their actual words. The whole object of collecting this fleet from Alexandria, Colchis, Tyre, Sidon, Aradus, Cyprus, Pamphylia, Lycia, Rhodes, Chios, Byzantium,

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Lesbos, Zmyrna, Miletus, Cos, [Note] is to intercept the supplies of Italy and blockade the Corn—growing provinces. Then, again, in what a state of anger will Pompey come! and especially with the very men most anxious for his safety, as though he had been abandoned by those whom he, in fact, abandoned himself. Accordingly, in my state of doubt as to what it is right for me to do, my feeling of obligation to Pompey becomes a very weighty motive: if that feeling were away, it were better in my eyes to perish in my country, than to ruin it in the attempt to save it. About the north wind it is clearly as you say: I am afraid Epirus may be harassed. But what part of Greece do you suppose will not be plundered? For Pompey gives out openly, and demonstrates to his soldiers, that he will outdo Caesar even in his liberality. It is an excellent suggestion of yours that, when I do see Caesar, I should not speak with too much tolerance, but rather with a grave severity. I clearly ought to do so. I am thinking of Arpinum, but not till I have had my meeting with him; thus avoiding being absent when he arrives, or having to hurry backwards and forwards along a detestably bad road. I am told, as you say in your letter, that Bibulus has arrived and started back again on the I4th. [Note] You were expecting Philotimus, you say in your third letter. But he only left me on the 15th. That was why you got my letter in reply to yours rather late, though I wrote the answer at once. I agree with what you say about Domitius—he is at Cosa, and no one knows what his design is. Yes, that basest, meanest fellow in the world, who says that a consular election can be held by a praetor, is the same as he always was in constitutional matters. [Note] So of course that was

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what Caesar meant by saying in the letter, of which I sent you a copy, [Note] "that he wished to avail himself of my advice , (well, well! that is a mere generality), "of my popularity" (that's empty flattery— but I suppose he adopts that tone with a view to my influencing certain senatorial votes), "of my position" (perhaps he means my vote as a consular). He finishes up by saying "of my help in every particular." I had already begun to suspect from your letter that this was the real meaning of it, or something very like it. For it is of great importance to him that there should not be an interregnum: and that he secures, if the consuls are "created" by the praetor. However, it is on record in our augural books that, so far from consuls being legally capable of being created by a praetor, the praetors themselves cannot be so created, and that there is no precedent for it: that it is illegal in case of the consuls, because it is not legal for the greater imperium to be proposed to the people by the less; in case of the praetors, because their names are submitted to the people as colleagues of the consuls, to whom belongs the greater imperium. Before long he will be demanding that my vote in the college should be given, and he won't be content with Galba, Scaevola, Cassius, and Antonius: Then let the wide earth gape and swallow me [Note] But you see what a storm is impending. Which of the senators have crossed the sea I will tell you when I know for certain. About the corn-supply you are quite right, it cannot possibly be managed without a revenue: and you have good reason for fearing the clamorous demands of Pompey's entourage, and an unnatural war. I should much like to see my friend Trebatius, though, as you say, he is in despair about everything. Pray urge him to make haste and come: for it will be a great convenience to see him before

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Caesar's arrival. [Note] As to the property at Lanuvium, as soon as I heard of Phamea's death, I conceived the wish-provided the constitution was to survive—that some one of my friends should buy it, yet I never thought of you, the greatest of my friends. For I knew that you usually wanted to know how many years' purchase it was worth, and what was the value of the fixtures, and I had seen your digamma [Note] not only at Rome, but also at Delos. After all, however, I value it, pretty as it is, at less price than it was valued in the consulship of Marcellinus, [Note] when I thought-owing to the house I possessed at that time at Antium—that those little pleasure-grounds would suit me better, and be less expensive, than repairing my Tusculan house. I was then willing to give 500 sestertia (about £4,000) for them. I made an offer through a third person, which he refused, when he was putting it up for sale at Antium. But in these days I presume all such properties are gone down in value, owing to the dearness of money. It will suit me exactly, or rather us, if you buy it. But don't be put off by the late owner's follies: it is really a lovely place. However, all such properties appear to me to be now doomed to desolation. I have answered your three letters, but am expecting others. For up to this time it is letters from you that have kept me going.

The Liberalia (17th March).

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Cicero, Epistulae ad Atticum (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Cic. Att.].
<<Cic. Att. 9.8 Cic. Att. 9.9 (Latin) >>Cic. Att. 9.10

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