Letters to friends/14.2

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Letters to Friends by Marcus Tullius Cicero
14.2 (LXXVIII)
Translated by Evelyn Shuckburgh

To Terentia, Tullia and young Cicero at Rome[edit]

Thessalonica, 5 October 58 BC[edit]

Greetings to Terentia, and Tulliola, and Cicero. Don't suppose that I write longer letters to anyone else, unless some one has written at unusual length to me, whom I think myself bound to answer. For I have nothing to write about, and there is nothing at such a time as this that I find it more difficult to do. Moreover, to you and my dear Tulliola I cannot write without many tears. For I see you reduced to the greatest misery--the very people whom I desired to be ever enjoying the most complete happiness, a happiness which it was my bounden duty to secure, and which I should have secured if I had not been such a coward. Our dear Piso I love exceedingly for his noble conduct. I have to the best of my ability encouraged him by letter to proceed, and thanked him, as I was bound to do. I gather that you entertain hopes in the new tribunes. We shall have reason to depend on that, if we may depend on Pompey's goodwill, but yet I am nervous about Crassus. I gather that you have behaved in every respect with the greatest courage and most loyal affection, nor am I surprised at it; but I grieve that the position should be such that my miseries are relieved by such heavy ones on your part. For a kind friend of ours, Publius Valerius, has told me in a letter which I could not read without violent weeping, how you had been dragged from the temple of Vesta to the Valerian bank.[1] To think of it, my dear, my love! You from whom everybody used to look for help![2] That you, my Terentia, should now be thus harassed, thus prostrate in tears and humiliating distress ! And that this should be brought about by my fault, who have preserved the rest of the citizens only to perish myself! As to what you say about our town house, or rather its site, I shall not consider myself fully restored, until it has also been restored for me.

However, these things are not yet within our grasp. I am only sorry that you, impoverished and plundered as you are, should be called upon to bear any part of the present expenses. Of course, if the business is successfully accomplished we shall get everything back: but if the same evil fortune keeps us down, will you be so foolish as to throw away even the poor remains of your fortune?[3] I beseech you, my life, as far as expense goes, allow others to bear it, who are well able if they are only willing to do so; and do not, as you love me, try your delicate constitution. For I have you day and night before my eyes : I see you eagerly undertaking labours of every kind: I fear you cannot endure them. Yet I see that everything depends on you! Wherefore, to enable us to attain what you hope and are striving for, attend carefully to your health. I don't know to whom to write except to those who write to me, or to those about whom you say something in your letters. I will not go farther off, since that is your wish, but pray send me a letter as often as possible, especially if there is anything on which we may safely build our hope. Good-bye, my loves, good-bye!

Thessalonica, 5 October.

Footnotes[edit]

  1. Terentia, whose half-sister was a Vestal, seems to have taken sanctuary with the Vestals, as did the mother and sister of Augustus in B.C. 43. The special indignity of which Cicero complains is that she had been forced to leave the sanctuary and appear at the bank of Valerius, but for what purpose we cannot now tell. It is suggested that it was to make some solemn declaration as to her husband's property, some of which she may be supposed to have tried to conceal. The term ducta esses is that applied to prisoners led through the streets, but we may regard it as used ad invidiam.
  2. In securing her husband's advocacy.
  3. 52 Mention is made of Terentia's separate estate in Letters XXX and LXXXI.