Letters to Atticus/2.22

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Translated by Evelyn Shuckburgh

To Atticus in Epirus[edit]

Rome, July 59 BC[edit]

How I wished you had stayed at Rome! I am sure you would have stayed if you had foreseen what was going to happen. For then we should have had no difficulty in keeping "Pulchellus" in order, or at least should have known what he was going to do. As things are, he darts about, talks like a madman, never sticks to anything: threatens now this one and now that: seems likely, in reality, to do whatever turns up. When he sees how unpopular the present state of things is, he seems to intend an attack upon the authors of it; but when he again recalls their power and armies, he transfers his hostility to the loyalists. Me personally he threatens at one time with violence, at another with impeachment. With him Pompey has remonstrated, and, as he tells me himself—for I have no other evidence—has urgently remonstrated, pointing out that he would himself lie under the extreme imputation of perfidy and unprincipled conduct, if any danger to me were created by the man whom he had himself armed by acquiescing in his becoming a plebeian: that both he and Appius[1] had pledged themselves in regard to me: if Clodius did not respect that, he should show such annoyance that everyone would understand that he valued my friendship above everything. Having said this and much else to the same effect, he told me that the fellow at first argued against it at great length and for a long time, but eventually gave way and declared that he would do nothing against his wishes. Nevertheless, he has not ceased since then speaking of me with the greatest bitterness. But even if be had not done so, I should have felt no confidence in him, but should have been making every preparation, as in fact I am doing. As it is, I am so conducting myself that every day the affections of people towards me and the strength of my position are enhanced. I don't touch politics in any shape or way; I employ myself with the greatest assiduity in pleading causes and in my regular forensic business.[2] And this I feel is extremely gratifying, not only to those who enjoy my services, but also to the people generally. My house is crowded; I am met by processions; the memory of my consulship is renewed; men's feelings are clearly shown: my hopes are so raised, that the struggle hanging over me seems at times one from which I need not shrink. Now is the time that I need your advice, your love and fidelity. Wherefore come post haste! Everything will be easy for me if I have you. I can carry on many negotiations through our friend Varro, which will be on firmer ground with you to back them up; a great deal can be elicited from Publius himself, and be brought to my knowledge, which cannot possibly be kept concealed from you; a great deal also--but it is absurd to enumerate particulars, when I want you for everything. I would like you to be convinced of this above all, that everything will be simplified for me if I see you: but it all turns on this coming to pass before he enters on his office. I think that if you are here while Crassus is egging on Pompey—as you can get out of Clodius himself, by the agency of "Iuno,"[3] how far they are acting in good faith—we shall escape molestation, or at any rate not be left under a delusion. You don't stand in need of entreaties or urgency from me. You understand what my wish is, and what the hour and the importance of the business demand. As to politics, I can tell you nothing except that everybody [p. 120] entertains the greatest detestation for those who are masters of everything. There is, however, no hope of a change. But, as you easily understand, Pompey himself is discontented and extremely dissatisfied with himself. I don't see Clearly what issue to expect: but Certainly such a state of affairs seems likely to lead to an outbreak of some sort. Alexander's books[4]—a careless writer and a poor poet, and yet not without some useful information—I have sent back to you. I have had pleasure in admitting Numerius Numestius to my friendship, and I find him a man of character and good sense, worthy of your recommendation.


  1. Appius Claudius Pulcher, elder brother of P. Clodius.
  2. The speeches known to us of this year are those for his colleague, C. Antonius, A. Thermus, and L. Flaccus. The two former are lost, but we know from his own account that he had not avoided touching on politics in the speech for Antonius, but had so offended Pompey and Caesar that they at once carried out the adoption of Clodius (de Domo, § 41).
  3. Boôpis, Clodia. See Letters XXXV, XL. Crasso urgente is difficult. Cicero must mean that while Crassus (whom he always regards as hostile to himself) is influencing Pompey, he cannot trust what Pompey says, and must look for real information elsewhere.
  4. Alexander of Ephesus. See Letter XLVI.