Letters to his brother Quintus/3.9

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Letters to his brother Quintus by Marcus Tullius Cicero
3.9 (CLIX)
Translated by Evelyn Shuckburgh

To Q. Tullius Cicero in Gaul[edit]

Rome, November or December 54 BC[edit]

In regard to Gabinius, I had not to carry out any of the measures which you suggested with such affectionate solicitude. "May the earth swallow me" rather, etc.![1] I acted with very great dignity and also with the greatest consideration. I neither bore hardly on him nor helped him. I gave strong evidence, in other respects I did not stir. The disgraceful and mischievous result of the trial I bore with the utmost serenity. And this is the advantage which, after all that has happened, has accrued to me—that I am not even affected in the least by those evils in the state and the licentious conduct of the shameless, which used formerly to make me burst with indignation: for anything more abandoned than the men and the times in which we are living there cannot be. Accordingly, as no pleasure can possibly be got from politics, I don't know why I should lose my temper. Literature and my favourite studies, along with the retirement of my country houses, and above all our two boys, furnish my enjoyments. The one man who vexes me is Milo. But I hope an end will be put to my anxieties by his getting the consulship: and to obtain this for him I shall struggle as hard as I did for my own, and you, I am sure, will continue to give assistance from over there. In his case other things are all secure, unless it is snatched from his grasp by downright violence: it is about his means that I am frightened:

For he is now beyond all bearing mad,[2]

to spend 1,000,000 sesterce on his games. His want of prudence in this one particular I shall put up with as well as I can, and you should be strong-minded enough to do the same. In mentioning the changes to be expected next year, I didn't mean you to understand me to refer to domestic alarms: the reference was wholly to the state of the Republic, in which, though not charged with any actual duty, I can scarcely discharge myself from all anxiety. Yet how cautious I would have you be in writing you may guess from the fact that I do not mention in my letters to you even open acts of disorder in the state, lest my letter should be intercepted and give offence to the feelings of anyone. Wherefore, as far as domestic affairs are concerned, I would have you be quite easy: in politics I know how anxious you always are. I can see that our friend Messalla will be consul, if by means of an interrex, without any prosecution, if by that of a dictator, without danger of conviction. He is not disliked by anyone. Hortensius's warm support will stand him in good stead. Gabinius's acquittal is looked upon as a general act of indemnity. En passant: nothing has, after all, been done as yet about a dictatorship. Pompey is out of town; Appius is intriguing darkly; Hirrus is paving the way: there are many tribunes calculated on to veto it: the people are indifferent: the leading men disinclined to it: I don't stir a finger. I am exceedingly obliged for your promises as to slaves, and I am indeed, as you say, shorthanded both at Rome and on my estates. But pray do nothing for my convenience unless it entirely suits your own, and your means. About the letter of Vatinius I laughed heartily. But though I know I am being watched by him, I can swallow his hatred and digest it too. You urge me to "finish": well, I have finished what, in my own opinion at least, is a very pretty "epic" on Caesar, but I am in search of a trustworthy letter-carrier, lest it should share the fate of your Erigona[3]—the only personage who has missed a safe journey from Gaul during Caesar's governorship.

What? because I had no good stone was I to pull down the whole building?—a building which I like better every day of my life: the lower court especially and the chambers attached to it are admirable. As to Arcanum, it is a building worthy of Caesar, or, by heaven, of some one even more tasteful still. For your statues, palaestra, fish-pond, and conduit are worthy of many Philotimuses, and quite above your Diphiluses. But I will visit them personally, as well as sending men to look after them and giving orders about them. As to the will of Felix, you will complain more when you know all. For the document which he believed himself to have sealed, in which your name was most certainly entered as heir to a twelfth, this, by a mistake of his own and of his slave Sicura, he did not seal: while the one which he did not intend to seal he did seal. But let it go hang, so long as we keep well! I am as devoted to your son Cicero as you can wish, and as he deserves, and as I am bound to be. However, I am letting him leave me, both to avoid keeping him from his teachers, and because his mother is leaving, without whom I am very much alarmed as to the boy's large appetite. Yet, after all, we see a great deal of each other. I have now answered all your letters. Dearest and best of brothers, good-bye.

Footnotes[edit]

  1. I.e., rather than defend him. tote moi chanoi (eureia chthôn), Hom. Il. 4.182.
  2. ho de mainetai ouk et' anektôs (Hom. 51.8.355). The numerals seem doubtful. According to some MSS. the amount would be 10,000,000.
  3. The tragedy written by Quintus and lost in transit.