Letters to Atticus/1.1

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Translated by Evelyn Shuckburgh (1900)

56505Letters to Atticus — 1.1 (X)Marcus Tullius Cicero

To Atticus at Athens


Rome, July 65 BC


The state of things in regard to my candidature, in which I know that you are supremely interested, is this, as far as can be as yet conjectured. The only person actually canvassing is P. Sulpicius Galba.[1] He meets with a good old-fashioned refusal without reserve or disguise. In the general opinion this premature canvass of his is not unfavourable to my interests; for the voters generally give as a reason for their refusal that they are under obligations to me. So I hope my prospects are to a certain degree improved by the report getting about that my friends are found to be numerous. My intention was to begin my own canvass just at the very time that Cincius[2] tells me that your servant starts with this letter, namely, in the campus at the time of the tribunician elections on the 17th of July. My fellow candidates, to mention only those who seem certain, are Galba and Antonius and Q. Cornificius.[3] At this I imagine you smiling or sighing. Well, to make you positively smite your forehead, there are people who actually think that Caesonius[4] will stand. I don't think Aquilius will, for he openly disclaims it and has alleged as an excuse his health and his leading position at the bar. Catiline will certainly be a candidate, if you can imagine a jury finding that the sun does not shine at noon. As for Aufidius and Palicanus,[5] I don't think you will expect to hear from me about them. Of the candidates for this year's election Caesar is considered certain. Thermus is looked upon as the rival of Silanus.[6] These latter are so weak both in friends and reputation that it seems pas impossible to bring in Curius over their heads. But no one else thinks so. What seems most to my interests is that Thermus should get in with Caesar. For there is none of those at present canvassing who, if left over to my year, seems likely to be a stronger candidate, from the fact that he is Commissioner of the via Flaminia, and when that has been finished, I shall be greatly relieved to have seen him elected consul this election.[7] Such in outline is the position of affairs in regard to candidates up to date. For myself I shall take the greatest pains to carry out all the duties of a candidate, and perhaps, as Gaul seems to have a considerable voting power, as soon as business at Rome has come to a standstill I shall obtain a libera legatio and make an excursion in the courseof September to visit Piso,[8] but so as not to be back later than January. When I have ascertained the feelings of the nobility I will write you word. Everything else I hope will go smoothly, at any rate while my competitors are such as are now in town. You must undertake to secure for me the entourage of our friend Pompey, since you are nearer than I. Tell him I shall not be annoyed if he doesn't come to my election.[9] So much for that business. But there is a matter for which I am very anxious that you should forgive me. Your uncle Caecilius having been defrauded of a large sum of money by P. Varius, began an action against his cousin A. Caninius Satyrus for the property which (as he alleged) the latter had received from Varius by a collusive sale. He was joined in this action by the other creditors, among whom were Lucullus and P. Scipio, and the man whom they thought would be official receiver if the property was put up for sale, Lucius Pontius; though it is ridiculous to be talking about a receiver at this stage in the proceedings. Caecilius asked me to appear for him against satyrus. Now, scarcely a day passes that Satyrus does not call at my house. The chief object of his attentions is L Domitius,[10] but I am next in his regard. He has been of great service both to myself and to my brother Quintus in our elections. I was very much embarrassed by my intimacy with Satyrus as well as that with Domitius, on whom the success of my election depends more than on anyone else. I pointed out these facts to Caecilius; at the same time I assured him that if the case had been one exclusively between himself and Satyrus, I would have done what he wished. As the matter actually stood, all the creditors being concerned--and that too men of the highest rank, who without the aid of anyone specially retained by Caecilius, would have no difficulty in maintaining their common cause--it was only fair that he should have consideration both for my private friendship and my present situation. He seemed to take this somewhat less courteously than I could have wished or than is usual among gentlemen; and from that time forth 'he has entirely withdrawn from the intimacy with me, which was only of a few day's standing.[11] Pray forgive me, and believe that I was prevented by nothing but natural kindness from assailing the reputation of a friend in so vital a point at a time of such very great distress, considering that he had shown me every sort of kindness and attention. But if you incline to the harsher view of my conduct, take it that the interests of my canvass prevented me. Yet, even granting that to be so, I think you should pardon me, "since not for sacred beast or oxhide shield."[12] You see in fact the position I am in and how necessary I regard it, not only to retain but even 'to acquire all possible sources of popularity. I hope I have justified myself in your eyes, I am at any rate anxious to have done so. The Hermathena you sent I am delighted with: it has been placed with such Charming effect that the whole gymnasium seems arranged specially for it.[13] I am exceedingly obliged to you.


  1. One of the judices rejected by Verres on his trial, a pontifex and augur.
  2. Agent of Atticus
  3. C. Antonius (uncle of M. Antonius) was elected with Cicero. Q. Cornificius had been tr. pl. in B.C. 69. See Letter A 1.13.
  4. M. Caesonius, Cicero's colleague in the aedileship. He had lost credit as one of the Iunianum concilium in the trial of Oppianicus.
  5. Aufidius Lurco, tr. pl. B.C. 61. M. Lollius Palicanus, tr. pl. some years previously.
  6. L. Iulius Caesar, actually consul in B.C. 64, brother-in-law of Lentulus the Catilinarian conspirator, was afterwards legatus to his distant kinsman, Iulius Caesar in Gaul. A. Minucius Thermus, defended by Cicero in B.C. 59, but the identification is not certain. D. Iunius Silanus got the consulship in the year after Cicero (B.C. 62), and as consul-designate spoke in favour of executing the Catilinarian conspirators.
  7. The text is corrupt in all MSS. I have assumed a reading, something of this sort, quae cum erit absoluta, sane facile ac libenter eum nunc fieri consulem viderim. This at any rate gives nearly the required sense, which is that Cicero regards the influence which Thermus will gain by managing the repair of the Flaminia as likely to make him a formidable Candidate, and therefore he would be glad to see him elected in the present year 65 (nunc) rather than wait for the next, his own year.
  8. C. Calpurnius Piso, consul in B.C. 67, then proconsul of Gallia Transalpina (Narbonensis). He was charged with embezzlement in his province and defended by Cicero in B.C. 63. There were no votes in Transalpine Gaul, but Cicero means in going and coining to canvass the Cispadane cities.
  9. Pompey was this year on his way to take over the Mithridatic War. But Cicero may have thought it likely that he or some of his staff would pass through Athens and meet Atticus.
  10. L. Domitius Ahenobarbus, praetor in B.C. 58, and consul B.C. 54, fell at Pharsalia, fighting against Caesar.
  11. Q Caecilius, a rich uncle of Atticus so cross-grained that no one but Atticus could get on with him, to whom he accordingly left his large fortune (Nep. Att. 5).
  12. Hom. 51.22.159, Achilles pursuing Hector:
        Since not for sacred beast or oxhide shield
        They strove,--man's guerdon for the fleet of foot:
        Their stake was Hector's soul, the swift steed's lord.
  13. Reading eius anathêma, and taking the latter word in the common sense of "ornament": the Hermathena is so placed that the whole gymnasium is as it were an ornament to it, designed to set it off, instead of its being a mere ornament to the gymnasium. Professor Tyrrell, however, will not admit that the words can have this or any meaning, and reads, hêliou anamma, "sun light"--"the whole gymnasium seems as bright as the sun"--a curious effect, after all, for one statue to have.