Letters to his brother Quintus/3.1
|Letters to his brother Quintus by
|Translated by Evelyn Shuckburgh|
To Q. Tullius Cicero in Britain
After extraordinarily hot weather—I never remember greater heat—I have refreshed myself at Arpinum, and enjoyed the extreme loveliness of the river during the days of the games, having left my tribesmen under the charge of Philotimus. I was at Arcanum on the 10th of September. There I found Mescidius and Philoxenus, and saw the water, for which they were making a course not far from your villa, running quite nicely, especially considering the extreme drought, and they said that they were going to collect it in much greater abundance. Everything is right with Herus. In your Manilian property I came across Diphilus outdoing himself in dilatoriness. Still, he had nothing left to construct, except baths, and a promenade, and an aviary. I liked that villa very much, because its paved colonnade gives it an air of very great dignity. I never appreciated this till now that the colonnade itself has been all laid open, and the columns have been polished. It all depends—and this I will look to—upon the stuccoing being prettily done. The pavements seemed to be being well laid. Certain of the ceilings I did not like, and ordered them to be changed. As to the place in which they say that you write word that a small entrance hall is to be built—namely, in the colonnade—I liked it better as it is. For I did not think there was space sufficient for an entrance hall; nor is it usual to have one, except in those buildings which have a larger court; nor could it have bedrooms and apartments of that kind attached to it. As it is, from the very beauty of its arched roof, it will serve as an admirable summer room. However, if you think differently, write back word as soon as possible. In the bath I have moved the hot chamber to the other corner of the dressing-room, because it was so placed that its steam-pipe was immediately under the bedrooms. A fair-sized bedroom and a lofty winter one I admired very much, for they were both spacious and well-situated--on the side of the promenade nearest to the bath. Diphilus had placed the columns out of the perpendicular, and not opposite each other. These, of course, he shall take down; he will learn some day to use the plumb-line and measure. On the whole, I hope Diphilus's work will be completed in a few months: for Caesius, who was with me at the time, keeps a very sharp lookout upon him. Thence I started straight along the via Vitularia to your Fufidianum, the estate which we bought for you a few weeks ago at Arpinum for 100,000 sesterces. I never saw a shadier spot in summer-water springs in many parts of it, and abundant into the bargain. In short, Caesius thought that you would easily irrigate fifty jugera of the meadow land. For my part, I can assure you of this, which is more in my line, that you will have a villa marvellously pleasant, with the addition of a fish-pond, spouting fountains, a palaestra, and a shrubbery. I am told that you wish to keep this Bovillae estate. You will determine as you think good. Calvus said that, even if the control of the water were taken from you, and the right of drawing it off were established by the vendor, and thus an easement were imposed on that property, we could yet maintain the price in case we wished to sell. He said that he had agreed with you to do the work at three sesterces a foot, and that he had stepped it, and made it three miles. It seemed to me more. But I will guarantee that the money could nowhere be better laid out. I had sent for Cillo from Venafrum, but on that very day four of his fellow servants and apprentices had been crushed by the falling in of a tunnel at Venafrum. On the 13th of September I was at Laterium. I examined the road, which appeared to me to be so good as to seem almost like a high road, except a hundred and fifty paces--for I measured it myself from the little bridge at the temple of Furina, in the direction of Satricum. There they had put [p. 293] down dust, not gravel (this shall be changed), and that part of the road is a very steep incline. But I understood that it could not be taken in any other direction, particularly as you did not wish it to go through the property of Locusta or Varro. The latter alone had made the road very well where it skirted his own property. Locusta hadn't touched it but I will call on him at Rome, and think I shall be able to stir him up, and at the same time I shall ask M. Taurus, who is now at Rome, and whom I am told promised to allow you to do so, about making a watercourse through his property. I much approved of your steward Nicephorius, and I asked him what orders you had given about that small building at Laterium, about which you spoke to me. He told me in answer that he had himself contracted to do the work for sixteen sestertia, but that you had afterwards made many additions to the work, but nothing to the price, and that he had therefore given it up. I quite approve, by Hercules, of your making the additions you had determined upon; although the villa as it stands seems to have the air of a philosopher, meant to rebuke the extravagance of other villas. Yet, after all, that addition will be pleasing. I praised your landscape gardener: he has so covered everything with ivy, both the foundation-wall of the villa and the spaces between the columns of the walk, that, upon my word, those Greek statues seemed to be engaged in fancy gardening, and to be showing off the ivy. Finally, nothing can be cooler or more mossy than the dressing-room of the bath. That is about all I have to say about country matters. The gardener, indeed, as well as Philotimus and Cincius are pressing on the ornamentation of your town house; but I also often look in upon it myself, as I can do without difficulty. Wherefore don't be at all anxious about that.
As to your always asking me about your son, of course I "excuse you"; but I must ask you to "excuse" me also, for I don't allow that you love him more than I do. And oh that he had been with me these last few days at Arpinum, as he had himself set his heart on being, and as I had no less done! As to Pomponia, please write and say that, when I go out of town anywhere, she is to come with me and bring the boy. I'll do wonders with him, if I get him to myself when I am at leisure: for at Rome there is no time to breathe. You know I formerly promised to do so for nothing. What do you expect with such a reward as you promise me? I now come to your letters which I received in several packets when I was at Arpinum. For I received three from you in one day, and, indeed, as it seemed, despatched by you at the same time—one of considerable length, in which your first point was that my letter to you was dated earlier than that to Caesar. Oppius at times cannot help this: the reason is that, having settled to send letter-carriers, and having received a letter from me, he is hindered by something turning up, and obliged to despatch them later than he had intended; and I don't take the trouble to have the day altered on a letter which I have once handed to him. You write about Caesar's extreme affection for us. This affection you must on your part keep warm, and I for mine will endeavour to increase it by every means in my power. About Pompey, I am carefully acting, and shall continue to act, as you advise. That my permission to you to stay longer is a welcome one, though I grieve at your absence and miss you exceedingly, I am yet partly glad. What you can be thinking of in sending for such people as Hippodamus and some others, I do not understand. There is not one of those suburban estate. However, there is no reason for your fellows that won't expect a present from you equal to a classing my friend Trebatius with them. I sent him to Caesar, and Caesar has done all I expected. If he has not done quite what he expected himself, I am not bound to make it up to him, and I in like manner free and absolve you from all claims on his part. Your remark, that you are a greater favourite with Caesar every day, is a source of undying satisfaction to me. As to Balbus, who, as you say, promotes that state of things, he is the apple of my eye. I am indeed glad that you and my friend Trebonius like each other. As to what you say about the military tribuneship, I, indeed, asked for it definitely for Curtius, and Caesar wrote back definitely to say that there was one at Curtius's service, and chided me for my modesty in making the request. If I have asked one for anyone else—as I told Oppius to write and tell Caesar—I shall not be at all annoyed by a refusal, since those who pester me for letters are annoyed at a refusal from me. I like Curtius, as I have told him, not only because you asked me to do so, but from the character you gave of him; for from your letter I have gathered the zeal he shewed for my restoration. As for the British expedition, I conclude from your letter that we have no occasion either for fear or exultation. As to public affairs, about which you wish Tiro to write to you, I have written to you hitherto somewhat more carelessly than usual, because I knew that all events, small or great, were reported to Caesar. I have now answered your longest letter.
Now hear what I have to say to your small one. The first point is about Clodius's letter to Caesar. In that matter I approve of Caesar's policy, in not having given way to your request so far as to write a single word to that Fury. The next thing is about the speech of Calventius "Marius". I am surprised at your saying that you think I ought to answer it, particularly as, while no one is likely to read that speech, unless I write an answer to it, every schoolboy learns mine against him as an exercise. My books, all of which you are expecting, I have begun, but I cannot finish them for some days yet. The speeches for Scaurus and Plancius which you clamour for I have finished. The poem to Caesar, which I had begun, I have cut short. I will write what you ask me for, since your poetic springs are running dry, as soon as I have time.
Now for the third letter. It is very pleasant and welcome news to hear from you that Balbus is soon coming to Rome, and so well accompanied! and will stay with me continuously till the 15th of May. As to your exhorting me in the same letter, as in many previous ones, to ambition and labour, I shall, of course, do as you say: but when am I to enjoy any real life?
Your fourth letter reached me on the 13th of September, dated on the 10th of August from Britain. In it there was nothing new except about your Erigona, and if I get that from Oppius I will write and tell you what I think of it. I have no doubt I shall like it. Oh yes I had almost forgotten to remark as to the man who, you say in your letter, had written to Caesar about the applause given to Milo—I am not unwilling that Caesar should think that it was as warm as possible. And in point of fact it was so, and yet that applause, which is given to him, seems in a certain sense to be given to me.
I have also received a very old letter, but which was late in coming into my hands, in which you remind me about the temple of Tellus and the colonnade of Catulus. Both of these matters are being actively carried out. At the temple of Tellus I have even got your statue placed. So, again, as to your reminder about a suburban villa and gardens, I was never very keen for one, and now my town house has all the charm of such a pleasure-ground. On my arrival in Rome on the 18th of September I found the roof on your house finished: the part over the sitting-rooms, which you did not wish to have many gables, now slopes gracefully towards the roof of the lower colonnade. Our boy, in my absence, did not cease working with his rhetoric master. You have no reason for being anxious about his education, for you know his ability, and I see his application. Everything else I take it upon myself to guarantee, with full consciousness that I am bound to make it good.
As yet there are three parties prosecuting Gabinius: first, L. Lentulus, son of the flamen, who has entered a prosecution for lèse majesté; secondly, Tib. Nero, with good names at the back of his indictment; thirdly, C. Memmius the tribune in conjunction with L. Capito. He came to the walls of the city on the 19th of September, undignified and neglected to the last degree. But in the present state of the law courts I do not venture to be confident of anything. As [[w:Cato the Younger|Cato] is unwell, he has not yet been formally indicted for extortion. Pompey is trying hard to persuade me to be reconciled to him, but as yet he has not succeeded at all, nor, if I retain a shred of liberty, will he succeed. I am very anxious for a letter from you. You say that you have been told that I was a party to the Coalition of the consular candidates—it is a lie. The compacts made in that coalition, afterwards made public by Memmius, were of such a nature that no loyal man ought to have been a party to them; nor at the same time was it possible for me to be a party to a coalition from which Messalla was excluded, who is thoroughly satisfied with my conduct in every particular, as also, I think, is Memmius. To Domitius himself I have rendered many services, which he desired and asked of me. I have put Scaurus under a heavy obligation by my defence of him. It is as yet very uncertain both when the elections will be and who will be consuls.
Just as I was folding up this epistle letter-carriers arrived from you and Caesar (20th September) after a journey of twenty days. How anxious I was! How painfully I was affected by Caesar's most kind letter! But the kinder it was, the more sorrow did his loss occasion me. But to turn to your letter. To begin with, I reiterate my approval of your staying on, especially as, according to your account, you have consulted Caesar on the subject. I wonder that Oppius has anything to do with Publius, for I advised against it. Farther on in your letter you say that I am going to be made legatus to Pompey on the 13th of September: I have heard nothing about it, and I wrote to Caesar to tell him that neither Vibullius nor Oppius had delivered his message to Pompey about my remaining at home. Why, I know not. However, it was I who restrained Oppius from doing so, because it was Vibullius who should take the leading part in that matter: for with him Caesar had communicated personally, with Oppius only by letter. I indeed can have no "second thoughts" in matters connected with Caesar. He comes next after you and our children in my regard, and not much after. I think I act in this with deliberate judgment, for I have by this time good cause for it, yet warm personal feeling no doubt does influence me also.
Just as I had written these last words—which are by my own hand—your boy came in to dine with me, as Pomponia was dining out. He gave me your letter to read, which he had received shortly before—a truly Aristophanic mixture of jest and earnest, with which I was greatly charmed. He gave me also your second letter, in which you bid him cling to my side as a mentor. How delighted he was with those letters! And so was I. Nothing could be more attractive than that boy, nothing more affectionate to me!—This, to explain its being in another handwriting, I dictated to Tiro while at dinner.
Your letter gratified Annalis very much, as showing that you took an active interest in his concerns, and yet assisted him with exceedingly candid advice. Publius Servilius the elder, from a letter which he said he had received from Caesar, declares himself highly obliged to you for having spoken with the greatest kindness and earnestness of his devotion to Caesar. After my return to Rome from Arpinum I was told that Hippodamus had started to join you. I cannot say that I was surprised at his having acted so discourteously as to start to join you without a letter from me: I only say this, that I was annoyed. For I had long resolved, from an expression in your letter, that if I had anything I wished conveyed to you with more than usual care, I should give it to him: for, in truth, into a letter like this, which I send you in an ordinary way, I usually put nothing that, if it fell into certain hands, might be a source of annoyance. I reserve myself for Minucius and Salvius and Labeo. Labeo will either be starting late or will stay here altogether. Hippodamus did not even ask me whether he could do anything for me. T. Penarius sends me a kind letter about you: says that he is exceedingly charmed with your literary pursuits, conversation, and above all by your dinners. He was always a favourite of mine, and I see a good deal of his brother. Wherefore continue, as you have begun, to admit the young man to your intimacy. From the fact of this letter having been in hand during many days, owing to the delay of the letter-carriers, I have jotted down in it many various things at odd times, as, for instance, the following. Titus Anicius has mentioned to me more than once that he would not hesitate to buy a suburban property for you, if he found one. In these remarks of his I find two things surprising: first, that when you write to him about buying a suburban property, you not only don't write to me to that effect, but write even in a contrary sense; and, secondly, that in writing to him you totally forget his letters which you showed me at Tusculum, and as totally the rule of Epicharmus, "Notice how he has treated another": in fact, that you have quite forgotten, as I think, the lesson conveyed by the expression of his face, his conversation, and his spirit. But this is your concern. As to a suburban property, be sure to let me know your wishes, and at the same time take care that that fellow doesn't get you into trouble. What else have I to say? Anything? Yes, there is this: Gabinius entered the city by night on the 27th of September, and today, at two o'clock, when he ought to have appeared on his trial for lèse majesté, in accordance with the edict of C. Alfius, he was all but crushed to the earth by a great and unanimous demonstration of the popular hatred. Nothing could exceed his humiliating position. However, Piso comes next to him. So I think of introducing a marvellous episode into my second book—Apollo declaring in the council of the gods what sort of return that of the two commanders was to be, one of whom had lost, and the other sold his army. From Britain I have a letter of Caesar's dated the 1st of September, which reached me on the 27th, satisfactory enough as far as the British expedition is concerned, in which, to prevent my wondering at not getting one from you, he tells me that you were not with him when he reached the coast. To that letter I made no reply, not even a formal congratulation, on account of his mourning. Many, many wishes, dear brother, for your health.
- That is, to get them seats at the games. See Letter A 2.1.
- The porticus is a kind of cloister round the peristylium or atrium.
- Calventius is said to stand for L. Calpurnius Piso Caesoninus, the consul of 58 BC, against whom Cicero's speech was spoken in 55 BC in the senate. He calls him Calventius from his maternal grandfather, and Marius because—as he had said, in the speech, 20—he had himself gone into exile rather than come to open fight with him; just as Q. Metellus had done in 100 BC, when, declining to take the oath to the agrarian law of Saturninus, rather than fight Marius, who had taken the oath, he went into exile. This seems rather a roundabout explanation; but no better has been proposed, and, of course, Quintus, who had lately read the speech, would be able better to understand the allusion.
- i.e., with money.
- This tragedy of Quintus's never reached Cicero. It was lost in transit. Perhaps no great loss.
- Milo was aedile and had just given some splendid games.
- Majestas. He would be liable to this charge, under a law of Sulla's, for having left his province to interfere in Egypt.
- See letter A 4/17.
- Apparently referring to the death of his daughter Iulia.
- deuteras phrontidas from Euripides, Hippolytus 436], hai deuterai pôs phrontides sophôterai.
- Or, "as kindly and critical at once as Aristophanes (of Byzantium)", as though Quintus had written a Caxtonian criticism of his son's style.
- gnôthi pôs allôi kechrêtai.
- Of his poem "On his own Times." Piso in Macedonia, where he had been unsuccessful with border tribes: Gabinius in going to Egypt to support Ptolemy. He left many of his soldiers there.