Letters to Atticus/1.5

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Letters to Atticus by Marcus Tullius Cicero
1.5 (I)
Translated by Evelyn Shuckburgh (1900)

To Atticus at Athens[edit]

Rome, 68 BC[edit]

We are such intimate friends that more than almost anyone else you can appreciate the grief as well as the actual public and private loss that the death of my cousin Lucius is to me. There is absolutely no gratification which any human being can receive from the kindly character of another that I have not been accustomed to receive from him. I am sure, therefore, that you will share my grief. For, in the first place, whatever affects me affects you; and in the second place, you have yourself lost in him a friend and connexion of the highest character and most obliging disposition, who was attached to you from personal inclination, as well as from my conversation.

As to what you say in your letter about your sister,[1] she will herself bear me witness what pains I have taken that my brother Quintus should show her proper affection. Thinking him somewhat inclined to be angry with her, I wrote to him in such a way as I thought would not hurt his feelings as a brother, while giving him some good advice as my junior, and remonstrating with him as being in the wrong. The result is that, from frequent letters since received from him, I feel confident that everything is as it ought and as we should wish it to be.

As to the frequency of my letters you have no ground for your complaint. The fact is our good sister Pomponia never informed me of there being a courier ready to take a letter. Farthermore, I never chanced to know of anyone going to Epirus,[2] and I was not till recently informed of your being at Athens.

Again, as to the business of Acutilius which you had left in my hands. I had settled it on my first visit to Rome after your departure. But it turned out that, in the first place, there was no urgency in the matter, and, in the second place, as I felt confidence in your judgment, I preferred that Peducaeus[3] rather than myself should advise you by letter on the subject. For having submitted my ears to Acutilius for several days (and I think you know his style), I should scarcely have regarded it as a hardship to write you a letter describing his grumblings after patiently enduring the bore (and it was rather a bore, I can tell you) of hearing them. Moreover, though you find fault with me, allow me to observe that I have had only one letter from you, though you had greater leisure for writing, and more opportunity of sending letters.

As to what you say in your letter, "Even if anyone is inclined to be offended with you, I ought to bring him to a better mind"—I understand to what you allude, and I have not neglected the matter. But the truth is that the extent of his displeasure is something surprising. However, I have not omitted to say anything there was to say in your behalf: but on what points I am to hold out your wishes, I consider, ought to be my guide. If you will write me word distinctly what they are, you will find that I have had no desire to be more exacting, and in the future shall be no more yielding, than you wish.[4]

As to the business of Tadius. He tells me that you have written him word that there was no need of farther trouble, since the property is secured by prescription. I am surprised that you do not know that in the case of a statutory wardship of an unmarried girl prescription cannot be pleaded.[5]

I am glad you like your purchase in Epirus. What I commissioned you to get for me, and anything you see suitable to my Tusculan villa, I should be glad if you will, as you say in your letter, procure for me, only don't put yourself to any inconvenience. The truth is, there is no other place that gives me complete rest after all my worries and hard work.

I am expecting my brother Quintus every day. Terentia has a severe attack of rheumatism. She is devoted to you, to your sister, and your mother, and adds her kindest regards in a postscript. So does my pet Tulliola. Love me, and be assured that I love you as a brother.

Footnotes[edit]

  1. Pomponia, married to Cicero's younger brother Quintus. We shall frequently hear of this unfortunate marriage. Quintus was four years younger than his brother, who had apparently arranged the match, and felt therefore perhaps somewhat responsible for the result (Nep. Att. 5).
  2. Atticus had estates and a villa near Buthrotum in Epirus,--Butrinto in Albania, opposite Corfu.
  3. This is probably Sextus Peducaeus the younger, an intimate friend of Atticus (Nep. Att. 21); his father had been praetor in Sicily when Cicero was quaestor (B.C. 76-B.C. 75), the son was afterwards a partisan of Caesar in the Civil War, governor of Sardinia, B.C. 48, and propraetor in Spain, B.C. 39.
  4. The person alluded to is L. Lucceius, of whom we shall hear again. See Letters A 1.8, A 1.11, A 1.3, F 5.12. What his quarrel with Atticus was about, we do not know.
  5. Prescriptive right to property was acquired by possession (usus) of two years. But no such right could be acquired to the property of a girl under guardianship (pro Flacco, § 84).