Letters to friends/1.4

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Translated by Evelyn Shuckburgh

To P. Lentulus Spinther in Cilicia[edit]

Rome, January 56 BC[edit]

Though in the senate of the 15th of January we made a most glorious stand, seeing that on the previous day we had defeated the proposal of Bibulus about the three legates, and the only contest left was with the proposal of Volcatius, yet the business was spun out by our opponents by various obstructive tactics. For we were carrying our view in a full senate, in spite of the multifarious devices and inveterate jealousy of those who were for transferring the cause of the king from you to some one else. That day we found Curio very bitterly opposed, Bibulus much more fair, almost friendly even. Caninius and Cato declared that they would not propose any law before the elections. By the lex Pupia, as you know, no senate could be held before the 1st of February, nor in fact during the whole of February,[1] unless the business of the legations were finished or adjourned. However, the Roman people are generally of opinion that the pretext of a trumped—up religious scruple has been introduced by your jealous detractors, not so much to hinder you, as to prevent anyone from wishing to go to Alexandria with a view of getting the command of an army. However, everyone thinks that the senate has had a regard for your position. For there is no one that is ignorant of the fact that it was all the doing of your opponents that no division took place: and if they, under the pretext of a regard for the people, but really from the most unprincipled villainy, attempt to carry anything, I have taken very good care that they shall not be able to do so without violating the auspices or the laws, or, in fact, without absolute violence. I don't think I need write a word either about my own zeal or the injurious proceedings of certain persons. For why should I make any display myself-since, if I were even to shed my blood in defence of your position, I should think that I had not covered a tithe of your services to me? Or why complain of the injurious conduct of others, which I cannot do without the deepest pain? I cannot at all pledge myself to you as to the effect of open violence, especially with such feeble magistrates but, open violence out of the question, I can assure you that you will retain your high position, if the warmest affections both of the senate and the Roman people can secure it to you.


  1. I.e., no meeting of the senate for ordinary business. During the month of February the senate usually devoted all its time to hearing and answering deputations from the provinces or foreign states. The lex Pupia forbade the meeting of the senate on dies comitiales, and after the 14th the days in January were all comitiales: but another law (lex Vatinia) ordered it to meet every day in February for the business of the legations. If this business was concluded or deferred it remained a moot point whether a magistrate was not still bound or, at least, allowed to summon it for other business (ad Q. Fr. 2.13).