Letters to Atticus/2.12

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Translated by Evelyn Shuckburgh

To Atticus at Rome[edit]

Tres Tabernae, 19 April 59 BC[edit]

Are they going to deny that Publius has been made a plebeian? This is indeed playing the king, and is utterly intolerable. Let Publius send some men to witness and seal my affidavit: I will take an oath that my friend Gnaeus, the colleague of Balbus, told me at Antium that he had been present as augur to take the auspices. Two delightful letters from you delivered at the same time! For which I do not know what I am to pay you by way of reward for good news. That I owe you for them I candidly confess. But observe the coincidence. I had just made my way from Antium on to the via Appia at Three Taverns,[1] on the very day of the Cerealia (19th April), when my friend Curio meets me on his way from Rome. At the same piace and the same moment comes a slave from you with letters. The former asked me whether I hadn't heard the news? I said, "No." "Publius," says he, "is a candidate for the tribuneship." "You don't mean it?" "Yes, I do," says he, "and at daggers drawn with Caesar. His object is to rescind his acts." "What says Caesar?" said I. "He denies having proposed any lex for his adoption." Then he poured forth about his own hatred, and that of Memmius and Metellus Nepos. I embraced the youth and said good-bye to him, hastening to your letters. A fig for those who talk about a "living voice"! What a much clearer view I got of what was going on from your letters than from his talk! About the current rumours of the day, about the designs of Publius, about "Iuno's" trumpet calls, about Athenio who leads his roughs, about his letter to Gnaeus, about the conversation of Theophanes and Memmius. Besides, how eager you have made me to hear about the "fast" dinner party which you mention! I am greedy in curiosity, yet I do not feel at all hurt at your not writing me a description of the symposium: I would rather hear it by word of mouth. As to your urging me to write something, my material indeed is growing, as you say, but the whole is still in a state of fermentation—"new wine in the autumn." when the liquor has settled down and become clarified, I shall know better what to write. And even if you cannot get it from me at once, you shall be the first to have it: only for some time you must keep it to yourself. You are quite right to like Dicaearchus; he is an excellent writer, and a much better citizen than these rulers of ours who reverse his name.[2] I write this letter at four o'clock in the afternoon of the Cerealia (12th April), immediately after reading yours, but I shall despatch it, I think, tomorrow, by anyone I may chance to meet on the road. Terentia is delighted with your letter, et Ciceron le philosophe salue Titus l'homme d'état."


  1. Where the road from Antium joins the Appia. Cicero seems to be on his way to Formiae, where he had intended to arrive on the 21st. He must be going very leisurely.
  2. Δικαίαρχος and ἀδικαίαρχοι, a pun on a name not reproducible in English : "just-rulers " and "unjust-rulers."