Letters to Atticus/4.1
To Atticus in Epirus
Rome, September 57 BC
Directly I arrived at Rome, and there was anyone to whom I could safely intrust a letter for you, I thought the very first thing I ought to do was to congratulate you in your absence on my return. For I knew, to speak candidly, that though in giving me advice you had not been more courageous or far-seeing than myself, nor-considering my devotion to you in the past-too careful in protecting me from disaster, yet that you—though sharing in the first instance in my mistake, or rather madness, and in my groundless terror—had nevertheless been deeply grieved at our separation, and had bestowed immense pains, zeal, care, and labour in securing my return. Accordingly, I can truly assure you of this, that in the midst of supreme joy and the most gratifying congratulations, the one thing wanting to fill my cup of happiness to the brim is the sight of you, or rather your embrace; and if I ever forfeit that again, when I have once got possession of it, and if, too, I do not exact the full delights of your charming society that have fallen into arrear in the past, I shall certainly consider myself unworthy of this renewal of my good fortune. In regard to my political position, I have resumed what I thought there would be the utmost difficulty in recovering—my brilliant standing at the bar, my influence in the senate, and a popularity with the loyalists even greater than I desired. In regard, however, to my private property—as to which you are well aware to what an extent it has been crippled, scattered, and plundered--I am in great difficulties, and stand in need, not so much of your means (which I look upon as my own), as of your advice for collecting and restoring to a sound state the fragments that remain. For the present, though I believe everything finds its way to you in the letters of your friends, or even by messengers and rumour, yet I will write briefly what I think you would like to learn from my letters above all others. On the 4th of August I started from Dyrrachium, the very day on which the law about me was carried. I arrived at Brundisium on the 5th of August. There my dear Tulliola met me on what was her own birthday, which happened also to be the name-day of the colony of Brundisium and of the temple of Safety, near your house. This coincidence was noticed and celebrated with warm congratulations by the citizens of Brundisium. On the 8th of August, while still at Brundisium, I learnt by a letter from Quintus that the law had been passed at the comilta centuriata with a surprising enthusiasm on the part of all ages and ranks, and with an incredible influx of voters from Italy. I then commenced my journey, amidst the compliments of the men of highest consideration at Brundisium, and was met at every point by legates bearing congratulations. My arrival in the neighbourhood of the city was the signal for every soul of every order known to my nomenclator coming out to meet me, except those enemies who could not either dissemble or deny the fact of their being such. On my arrival at the Porta Capena, the steps of the temples were already thronged from top to bottom by the populace; and while their congratulations were displayed by the loudest possible applause, a similar throng and similar applause accompanied me right up to the Capitol, and in the forum and on the Capitol itself there was again a wonderful crowd. Next day, in the senate, that is, the 5th of September, I spoke my thanks to the senators. Two days after that-there having been a very heavy rise in the price of corn, and great crowds having flocked first to the theatre and then to the senate-house, shouting out, at the instigation of Clodius, that the scarcity of corn was my doing—meetings of the senate being held on those days to discuss the corn question, and Pompey being called upon to undertake the management of its supply in the common talk not only of the plebs, but of the aristocrats also, and being himself desirous of the commission, when the people at large called upon me by name to support a decree to that effect, I did so, and gave my vote in a carefully-worded speech. The other consulars, except Messalla and Afranius, having absented themselves on the ground that they could not vote with safety to themselves, a decree of the senate was passed in the sense of my motion, namely, that Pompey should be appealed to to undertake the business, and that a law should be proposed to that effect. This decree of the senate having been publicly read, and the people having, after the senseless and new-fangled custom that now prevails, applauded the mention of my name,  I delivered a speech. All the magistrates present, except one praetor and two tribunes, called on me to speak. Next day a full senate, including all the consulars, granted everything that Pompey asked for. Having demanded fifteen legates, he named me first in the list, and said that he should regard me in all things as a second self. The consuls drew up a law by which complete control over the corn-supply for five years throughout the whole world was given to Pompey. A second law is drawn up by Messius, granting him power over all money, and adding a fleet and army, and an imperium in the provinces superior to that of their governors. After that our consular law seems moderate indeed: that of Messius is quite intolerable. Pompey professes to prefer the former; his friends the latter. The consulars led by Favonius murmur: I hold my tongue, the more so that the pontifices have as yet given no answer in regard to my house. If they annul the consecration I shall have a splendid site. The consuls, in accordance with a decree of the senate, will value the cost of the building that stood upon it; but if the pontifices decide otherwise, they will pull down the Clodian building, give out a contract in their own name (for a temple), and value to me the cost of a site and house. So our affairs are For happy though but ill, for ill not worst. In regard to money matters I am, as you know, much embarrassed. Besides, there are certain domestic troubles, which I do not intrust to writing. My brother Quintus I love as he deserves for his eminent qualities of loyalty, virtue, and good faith. I am longing to see you, and beg you to hasten your return, resolved not to allow me to be without the benefit of your advice. I am on the threshold, as it were, of a second life. Already certain persons who defended me in my absence begin to nurse a secret grudge at me now that I am here, and to make no secret of their jealousy. I want you very much.
- ↑ Reading ab infimo.
- ↑ As backing the decree. The phrase was aderat scribendi M. Tullius Cicero, etc.
- ↑ Dederunt, i.e., contionem; lit. gave me a meeting, i.e., the right of addressing the meeting, which only magistrates or those introduced by magistrates could do.
- ↑ C. Messius, a tribune of the year.
- ↑ Clodius had consecrated the site of Cicero's house for a temple of Liberty. The pontifices had to decide whether that consecration held good, or whether the site might be restored to Cicero. Hence his speech de Domo sua ad Pontifices.
- ↑ The origin of the Latin line is not known. The English is Milton's, P. L. 2.224.