Letters to Atticus/2.15

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Letters to Atticus by Marcus Tullius Cicero
2.15 (XLI)
Translated by Evelyn Shuckburgh

To Atticus at Rome[edit]

Formiae, April 59 BC[edit]

As you say, things are as shifting (I see) in public affairs as in your letter; still, that very variety of talk and opinion has a charm for me. For I seem to be at Rome when I am reading your letter, and, as is the regular thing in questions of such importance, to hear something first on one side and then on the other. But what I can't make out is this—what he can possibly hit upon to settle the land question without encountering opposition. Again, as to Bibulus's firmness in putting off the comitia, it only conveys the expression of his own views, without really offering any remedy for the state of the Republic. Upon my word, my only hope is in Publius! Let him become, let him become a tribune by all means, if for no other reason, yet that you may be brought back from Epirus! For I don't see how you can possibly afford to miss him, especially if he shall elect to have a wrangle with me! But, seriously, if anything of the sort occurs, you would, I am certain, hurry back. But even supposing this not to be the case, yet whether he runs amuck or helps to raise the state, I promise myself a fine spectacle, if only I may enjoy it with you sitting by my side.[1] Just as I was writing these words, enter Sebosus! I had scarcely got out a sigh when "Good day," says Arrius. This is what you call going out of town! I shall really be off to

My native mountains and my childhood's haunts.[2]

In fine, if I can't be alone I would rather be with downright countryfolk than with such ultra-cockneys. However, I shall, since you don't say anything for certain, wait for you up to the 5th of May. Terentia is much pleased with the attention and care you have bestowed on her controversy with Mulvius. She is not aware that you are supporting the common cause of all holders of public land. Yet, after all, you do pay something to the publicani; she declines to pay even that,[3] and, accordingly, she and Cicero—most conservative of boys—send their kind regards.

Footnotes[edit]

  1. The spectacle Cicero hopes for is Clodius's contests with the triumvirs.
  2. To Arpinum (see last letter). The verse is not known, and may be a quotation from his own poem on Marius. He often quotes himself.
  3. This is not mentioned elsewhere. The explanation seems to be that for the ager publicus allotted under the Sempronian laws a small rent had been exacted, which was abolished by a law of B.C. 111 (the name of the law being uncertain). But some ager publicus still paid rent, and the publicanus Mulvius seems to have claimed it from some land held by Terentia, perhaps on the ground that it was land (such as the ager Campanus) not affected by the law of Gracchus, and therefore not by the subsequent law abolishing rent.