Letters to Atticus/13.10

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Letters to Atticus by Marcus Tullius Cicero
13.10 (DCXXI)
Translated by Evelyn Shuckburgh

To Atticus at Rome[edit]

Tusculum, June 20[edit]

I am not at all surprised either at your sorrow in regard to Marcellus or at your misgiving as to increased sources of danger. For who would have feared such a thing as this --a thing that had never happened before and which nature seemed to forbid the possibility of happening? Therefore there is nothing that may not be feared.

But this is an historical slip of yours--the last person I should have expected to make it--that "I am the sole remaining consular." Why, what do you think of Servius?1 However, this survival has of course no value of any sort-especially to me, who think that their fate is no less happy than my own. For what am I, and what influence do I possess? Is it at home or abroad? Well, if it had not occurred to me to write my poor books, I shouldn't have known what to do with myself. Yes, as you say, I think I must dedicate to Dolabella some treatise of a more general kind and more political in tone. Something certainly I must compose for him; for he is very desirous that I should do so. If Brutus takes any step,2 pray be careful to let me know. I think he ought to do it as soon as possible, especially if he has made up his mind. He will thereby either entirely stop, or at any rate mitigate, any little talk there may be about it. For there are people who talk even to me. But he will settle these things best himself, especially if he also consults you. I intend starting on the 21st: for I have nothing to do here, nor, by Hercules! there either, or anywhere: yet there, after all, there is something. Today I am expecting Spinther; for Brutus has sent him to me. He writes to clear Caesar in regard to the death of Marcellus--on whom no suspicion would have fallen, even if his assassination had been the consequence of a plot. As it is, as there is no doubt whatever about Magius. Does not his madness account for the whole thing? I don't clearly understand what he means. Please explain therefore. However, for myself my only doubt is as to the cause of Magius's mad fury. Marcellus had even gone security for him. No doubt that is the true explanation--he was insolvent. I suppose he had asked some indulgence from Marcellus, who--as was his way--had answered him somewhat decidedly.


1: Servius Sulpicius Rufus, consul B.C. 51. Atticus must have meant that Cicero was the sole surviving consular of the militant Pompeian party. For several ex-consuls were still surviving. See a list of such consulars dead by B.C. 44 in Phil. 2.12. But perhaps, after all, he used the expression with that kind of careless exaggeration apt to rise to the lips at a sudden shock, such as the news of the assassination of Marcellus, and Cicero takes it too literally.
2: About his marriage with Porcia.