Letters to friends/14.3

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Letters to Friends by Marcus Tullius Cicero
14.3 (LXXXIII)
Translated by Evelyn Shuckburgh

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

Dyrrachium, 29 November 58 BC[edit]

Greetings to his Terentia, Tulliola, and Cicero. I have received three letters from the hands of Aristocritus, which I almost obliterated with tears. For I am thoroughly weakened with sorrow, my dear Terentia, and it is not my own miseries that torture me more than yours--and yours, my children! Moreover, I am more miserable than you in this, that whereas the disaster is shared by us both, yet the fault is all my own. It was my duty to have avoided the danger by accepting a legation,[1] or to resist it by careful management and the resources at my command, or to fall like a brave man. Nothing was more pitiful, more base, or more unworthy of myself than the line I actually took. Accordingly, it is with shame as well as grief that I am overpowered. For I am ashamed of not having exhibited courage and care to a most excellent wife and most darling children. I have, day and night, before my eyes the mourning dresses, the tears of you all, and the weakness of your own health, while the hope of recall presented to me is slender indeed. Many are hostile, nearly all jealous. To expel me had been difficult, to keep me out is easy. However, as long as you entertain any hope, I will not give way, lest all should seem lost by my fault. As to your anxiety for my personal safety, that is now the easiest thing in the world for me, for even my enemies desire me to go on living in this utter wretchedness. I will, however, do as you bid me. I have thanked the friends you desired me to thank, and I have delivered the letters to Dexippus, and have mentioned that you had informed me of their kindness. That our Piso has shewn surprising zeal and kindness to us I can see for myself, but everybody also tells me of it. God grant that I may be allowed, along with you and our children, to enjoy the actual society of such a son-in-law! For the present our one remaining hope is in the new tribunes, and that, too, in the first days of their office; if the matter is allowed to get stale, it is all over with us. It is for that reason that I have sent Aristocritus back to you at once, in order that you may be able to write to me on the spot as to the first official steps taken, and the progress of the whole business; although I have also given Dexippus orders to hurry back here at once, and I have sent a message to my brother to despatch letter-carriers frequently. For the professed object of my being at Dyrrachium at the present juncture is that I may hear as speedily as possible what is being done; and I am in no personal danger, for this town has always been defended by me. When I am told that enemies are on their way here I shall retire into Epirus. As to your coming to me, as you say you will if I wish it--for my part, knowing that a large part of this burden is supported by you, I should like you to remain where you are. If you succeed in your attempt I must come to you: but if, on the other hand--but I needn't write the rest. From your first, or at most, your second letter, I shall be able to decide what I must do. Only be sure you tell me everything with the greatest minuteness, although I ought now to be looking out for some practical step rather than a letter. Take care of your health, and assure yourself that nothing is or has ever been dearer to me than you are. Good-bye, my dear Terentia, whom I seem to see before my eyes, and so am dissolved in tears. Good-bye!

29 November.

Footnotes[edit]

  1. Either the libera legatio or the acting legatio in Gaul, both of which Caesar offered him.