Letters to Atticus/4.15

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To Atticus in Epirus, from Rome, 27 July 54 BC

I am glad about Eutychides, who, using your old praenomen and your new nomen, will be called Titus Caecilius, just as Dionysius, from a combination of your names and mine, is Marcus Pomponius. I am, by Hercules, exceedingly gratified that Eutychides has had cause to know your kindness to me, and that the sympathy he shewed me in the time of my sorrow was neither unnoticed at the time nor afterwards forgotten by me. I suppose you were obliged to undertake your journey to Asia. For you never would have been willing, without the most urgent cause, to be so far from so many persons and things which you love so much, and which give you so much delight. But the speed of your return will shew your kindness and love for your friends. Yet I fear lest the rhetorician Clodius, by his charms, and Pituanius, that excellent scholar, as he is said to be, and now, indeed, so wholly devoted to Greek letters, may detain you. But if you would shew the feelings of a man, come back to us at the time you promised. You will, after all, be able to enjoy their society at Rome, when they get there safe. You say you desire something in the way of a letter from me: I have written, and, indeed, on many subjects—everything detailed like a journal—but, as I conjecture from your not having, as it seems, remained long in Epirus, I suppose it has not reached you. Moreover, my letters to you are generally of such a kind, that I don't like to put them in anyone's hands, unless I can feel certain that he will deliver them to you.

Now for affairs at Rome. On the 4th of July Sufenas and Cato were acquitted, Procilius condemned. From which we have learnt that our treble-distilled Areopagites care not a rush for bribery, elections, Interregnum, lèse majesté, or, in fact, for the state generally; but that they would rather that a father of a family were not murdered on his own hearthstone--and even that preference not very decided. There were twenty-two votes for acquittal, twenty-nine for condemnation![1] Publius, no doubt by an eloquent peroration in his speech for the prosecution, had quickened the feelings of the jurors! Herbalus[2] was in the case. and behaved as usual. I said never a word. For my little girl, who is unwell, was afraid of offending Publius's feelings. After this was over the people of Reate conducted me to their Tempe, to plead their cause against the people of Interamna before the consul and ten commissioners, because the Veline Lake, which had been drained by Manius Curius by cutting away the mountain, flowed into the Nar, by which means the famous Rosia has been reclaimed from the swamp, though still fairly moist.[3] I lived with Axius, who took me also to visit Seven Waters. I returned to Rome on the 9th of July for the sake of Fonteius. I entered the theatre. At first I was greeted with loud and general applause—but don't take any notice of that, I was a fool to mention it—then I turned my attention to Antiphon. He had been manumitted before being brought on to the stage. Not to keep you in suspense, he bore away the palm. But there never was anything so dwarfish, so destitute of voice, so---- But keep this to yourself. However, in the Andromache he was just taller than Astyanax: among the rest he had not one of his own height. You next ask about Arbuscula: she had a great success. The games were splendid and much liked. The wild-beast hunt was put off to a future occasion. Next follow me into the campus. Bribery is raging. "and I a sign to you will tell".[4] The rate of interest from being four per cent on the 15th of July has gone up to eight per cent. You will say, "Well, I don't mind that".[5] What a man! What a citizen! Memmius is supported by all Caesar's influence. The consuls have formed a coalition between him and Domitius (Calvinus) on terms which I dare not commit to paper. Pompey rages, remonstrates, backs Scaurus, but whether only ostensibly or from the heart people don't feel sure. No one takes the lead: money reduces all to the same level. Messalla's chance is at a low ebb: not because he is wanting in spirit or friends, but because this coalition of the consuls, as well as Pompey's opposition, stands in his way. I think the result will be a postponement of the elections. The tribunician candidates have taken an oath to conduct their canvass according to the direction of Cato. They have deposited with him 500 sestertia apiece, on condition that whoever Cato condemns should forfeit it, and that it should be paid over to his competitors. I write this the day before the elections are to take place. But on the 28th of July, if they have taken place, and if the letter-carrier has not started, I will write you an account of the whole comitia: and, if they are conducted without corruption, Cato by himself will have been more efficacious than all laws and jurors put together. I have undertaken to defend Messius, who has been recalled from his legation: for Appius had named him legatus to Caesar. Servilius ordered his attendance in an edict. His jurors are to be from the tribes Pomptina, Velina, and Maecia. It is a sharp fight: however, it is going fairly well. After that I have to prepare myself for Drusus, then for Scaurus. Very high-sounding title-slips are being prepared for my speeches! Perhaps even the consuls-designate will be added to the list of my clients: and if Scaurus is not one of them, he will find himself in serious difficulties in this trial. Judging from my brother Quintus's letter, I suspect that by this time he is in Britain. I await news of him with anxiety. We have certainly gained one advantage—many unmistakable indications enable us to feel sure that we are in the highest degree liked and valued by Caesar. Please give my compliments to Dionysius, and beg and exhort him to come as soon as possible, that he may continue the instruction of my son and of myself as well.

Footnotes[edit]

  1. M. Nonius Sufenas and C. Cato were charged with bribery and other illegal proceedings during their tribuneship: Procilius for riot (de vi) when some citizen was killed.
  2. Q Hortensius, the great orator
  3. This refers to the famous waterfall of Terni. An artificial cutting drained the River Velinus (which otherwise covered the high valley as a lake) into the Nar, which is in the valley below. What was good for the people of Reate was, of course, dangerous for the people of Interamna living below. M. Curius Dentatus was consul 290 BC.
  4. sêma de toi ereô (Hom. 51.23.326).
  5. Because Atticus lent money.