Letters to Atticus/2.20

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Letters to Atticus by Marcus Tullius Cicero
2.20 (XLVI)
Translated by Evelyn Shuckburgh

To Atticus in Epirus[edit]

Rome, July 59 BC[edit]

I have done everything I could for Anicatus, as I understood was your wish. Numestius, in accordance with your earnestly expressed letter, I have adopted as a friend. Caecilius I look after diligently in all ways possible. Varro[1] does all I could expect for me. Pompey loves me and regards me as a dear friend. "Do you believe that?" you will say. I do: he quite convinces me. But seeing that men of the world in all histories, precepts, and even verses, are for ever bidding one be on one's guard and forbidding belief, I carry out the former—"to be on my guard"—the latter—"to disbelieve"[2]—I cannot carry out. Clodius is still threatening me with danger. Pompey asserts that there is no danger. He swears it. He even adds that he will himself be murdered by him sooner than I injured. The negotiation is going on. As soon as anything is settled I will write you word. If I have to fight, I will summon you to share in the work. If I am let alone, I won't rout you out of your "Amaltheia." About politics I will write briefly: for I am now afraid lest the very paper should betray me. Accordingly, in future, if I have anything more to write to you, I shall clothe it in covert language. For the present the state is dying of a novel disorder for although everybody disapproves of what has been done, complains, and is indignant about it, and though there is absolutely no difference of opinion on the subject, and people now speak openly and groan aloud, yet no remedy is applied: for we do not think resistance possible without a general slaughter, nor see what the end of concession is to be except ruin. Bibulus is exalted to the skies as far as admiration and affection go. His edicts and speeches are copied out and read. He has reached the summit of glory in a novel way. There is now nothing so popular as the dislike of the popular party. I have my fears as to how this will end. But if I ever see my way clearly in anything, I will write to you more explicitly. For yourself, if you love me as much as I am sure you do, take care to be ready to come in all haste as soon as I call for you. But I do my best, and shall do so, to make it unnecessary. I said I would call you Furius in my letters, but it is not necessary to change your name. I'll call myself Laelius and you Atticus, but I will use neither my own hand-writing nor seal, if the letter happens to be such as I should not wish to fall into the hands of a stranger. Diodotus is dead; he has left me perhaps 1,000 sestertia. Bibulus has postponed the elections to the 18th of October, in an edict expressed in the vein of Archilochus.[3] I have received the books from Vibius: he is a miserable poet,[4] but yet he is not without some knowledge nor wholly useless. I am going to copy the book out and send it back.

Footnotes[edit]

  1. M. Terentius Varro, "the most learned of the Romans," and author of very large numbers of books. He was afterwards one of Pompey's legati in Spain. He survived most of the men of the revolutionary era.
  2. See Letter XXIV.
  3. I.e., in biting language. Archilochum proprio rabies armavit iambo (Hor. A. P. 79).
  4. The Cosmographia of Alexander of Ephesus. See Letter XLVIII.