Letters to his brother Quintus/2.13

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Letters to his brother Quintus by Marcus Tullius Cicero
2.13 (CXL)
Translated by Evelyn Shuckburgh

To Q. Tullius Cicero in Gaul[edit]

Rome, 3 June 54 BC[edit]

On the 2nd of June, the day of my return to Rome, I received your letter dated Placentia: then next day another dated Blandeno, along with a letter from Caesar filled full of courteous, earnest, and pleasant expressions. These expressions are indeed valuable, or rather most valuable, as tending very powerfully to secure our reputation and exalted position in the state. But believe me—for you know my heart—that what I value most in all this I already possess, that is, first of all, your active contribution to our common position; and, secondly, all that warm affection of Caesar for me, which I prefer to all the honours which he desires me to expect at his hands. His letter too, despatched at the same time as your own—which begins by saying what pleasure your arrival and the renewed memory of our old affection had given him, and goes on to say that he will take care that, in the midst of my sorrow and regret at losing you, I shall have reason to be glad that you are with him of all people—gave me extraordinary delight. Wherefore you, of course, are acting in a truly brotherly spirit when you exhort me, though, by heaven, I am now indeed forward enough to do so, to concentrate all my attentions upon him alone. Yes, I will do so, indeed, with a burning zeal: and perhaps I shall manage to accomplish what is frequently the fortune of travellers when they make great haste, who, if they have got up later than they intended, have, by increasing their speed, arrived at their destination sooner than if they had waked up before daylight. Thus I, since I have long overslept myself in cultivating that great man, though you, by heaven, often tried to wake me up, will make up for my slowness with horses and (as you say he likes my poem) a poet's chariots. Only let me have Britain to paint in colours supplied by yourself, but with my own brush. But what am I saying? What prospect of leisure have I, especially as I remain at Rome in accordance with his request? But I will see. For perhaps, as usual, my love for you will overcome all difficulties. For my having sent Trebatius to him he even thanks me in very witty and polite terms, remarking that there was no one in the whole number of his staff who knew how to draw up a recognizance. I have asked him for a tribuneship for M. Curtius—since Domitius (the consul) would have thought that he was being laughed at, if my petition had been addressed to him, for his daily assertion is that he hasn't the appointment of so much as a military tribune: he even jested in the senate at his colleague Appius as having gone to visit Caesar,[1] that he might get from him at least one tribuneship. But my request was for next year, for that was what Curtius wished. Whatever line you think I ought to take in politics and in treating my opponents, be sure I shall take, and shall be "gentler than any ear-lap". Affairs at Rome stand thus: there is some hope of the elections taking place, but it is an uncertain one. There is some latent idea of a dictatorship,[2] but neither is that confirmed. There is profound calm in the forum, but it is rather the calm of decrepitude than content. The opinions I express in the senate are of a kind to win the assent of others rather than my own:

Such the effects of miserable war.[3]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. At Luca in the year 56 BC.
  2. Comitia habendi causa. No such had been appointed since 202 BC, and the irregular dictatorship of Sulla in 82 BC made the idea distasteful. Pompey was understood to wish for the appointment, now and later on.
  3. toiaut' ho tlêmôn polemos exergazetai (Euripides, The Suppliants 119).