Letters to Atticus/5.20

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Letters to Atticus by Marcus Tullius Cicero
5.20

To Atticus in Epirus, in camp in Pindenissus, 19 December 51 BC

On the morning of the Saturnalia (17th December) the Pindenissetae surrendered to me, on the fifty-seventh day from the beginning of our investment of them. "Who the mischief are your Pindenissetae? who are they?" you will say: "I never heard their name." Well, what am I to do? Could I turn Cilicia into an Aetolia or a Macedonia? Let me tell you this, that with an army such as mine, and in a place like this, such a big business was impossible. You shall have it all en abrégé; as you agreed in your last letter to take it. You know about my arrival at Ephesus, for you have congratulated me on my enthusiastic reception on that day, which gave me as much pleasure as anything ever did in my life. Thence, after a surprising reception in such towns as lay on my road, I arrived at Laodicea on the 31st of July. I remained there two days in the midst of great enthusiasm, and by my conciliatory language removed the rankling injuries of the last four years. I did the same afterwards during my five days stay at Apamea and three days at Synnada, five at Philomelium, ten at Iconium. Nothing could be more impartial, mild, or dignified, than my administration of justice there. Thence I came to the camp on the 24th of August; on the 28th I inspected the army at Iconium. From this camp, on receipt of serious news as to the Parthians, I started for Cilicia by way of that part of Cappadocia which borders on Cilicia, with the design of impressing upon the Armenian Artavasdes and the Parthians themselves that they were precluded from entering Cappadocia. After having been encamped for five days at Cybistra in Cappadocia, I got intelligence that the Parthians were at a long distance from that entrance into Cappadocia, and were rather threatening Cilicia. I therefore marched rapidly into Cilicia by the "Gates" of Taurus. I arrived at Tarsus on the 5th of October. Thence I pressed on to Mount Amanus, which divides Syria from Cilicia by the line of its watershed—a mountain full of immemorial enemies. Here, on the 13th of October, we cut a large number of the enemy to pieces. We took some very strongly fortified posts by a night attack of Pomptinus's, and by one led by myself in the morning, and burnt them. I was greeted as imperator by the soldiers. For a few days we were encamped on the very spot which Alexander had occupied against Darius at Issus, a commander not a little superior to either you or me! Having stayed there five days, and having ravaged and devastated Amanus, we evacuated that place. For you know that there are things called "panics," called also "war's idle rumours."[1] From the report of our arrival encouragement was at once given to Cassius, then confined to Antioch, and alarm inspired in the Parthians. Accordingly, as they were retiring from that town, Cassius pursued them and gained a hand-some victory. In the course of this retreat the Parthian leader, Osaces, a man in high authority, received a wound of which a few days afterwards he died. My name became very popular in Syria. Meanwhile Bibulus arrived. I suppose he wanted to be on an equality with me in the matter of this vain acclamation of imperator. In this same Mount Amanus he begins "looking for a bay-leaf in a wedding cake."[2] But he lost the whole of his first cohort and the centurion of the first line, a man of high rank in his own class, Asinius Dento, and the other centurions of the same cohort, as well as a military tribune, Sext. Lucilius, son of T. Gavius Caepio, a man of wealth, and high position. It was really a very galling blow both in itself and in the time of its reception. I was at Pindenissus, the most strongly fortified town of Eleutherocilicia,[3] never peaceful within living memory. The people were fierce and brave, and furnished with everything necessary for standing a siege. We surrounded it with stockade and ditch, with a huge earthwork, pent-houses, an exceedingly lofty tower, a great supply of artillery, a large body of archers. After great labour and preparation I finished the business without loss to my army, though with a large number of wounded. I am spending a merry Saturnalia, and so are my soldiers, to whom I have given up all spoil except captives: the captives were sold on the third day of the Saturnalia (19th December), the day on which I write this. The sum realized at the tribunal is 12,000 sestertia (about £ 96,000). I intend to hand over the army to my brother Quintus to lead hence into winter quarters in the disturbed districts. I am myself going back to Laodicea.

So much for this. But to return to points omitted. As to what you urge upon me most warmly, and which in fact is more important than anything else, namely, your anxiety that I should satisfy my carping Ligurian critic,[4] may I die if anything could be more fastidious than my conduct. And I do not now speak of it as "self-restraint," which is a virtue considered capable of resisting pleasure: while the fact is that I never in all my life felt such pleasure as I do at my own integrity. And it is not so much the reputation I get by it—though that is of the highest—as the thing itself that delights me. In short, it was worth the trouble: I never appreciated myself or knew fully of what I was capable in this direction. I have good reason for being puffed up. Nothing could be more splendid. Meanwhile, here is a score for me! Ariobarzanes is alive and a king all owing to me. By my prudence and prestige, and by refusing to receive even the visits, to say nothing of the bribes, of the conspirators against his life, I have, merely en Passant, saved a king and a kingdom. In the meantime from Cappadocia not the value of a hair! I have recovered Brutus from his dejection, whom I love no less than you do, I had almost said, than I do you. And I almost hope that throughout my year of office not a farthing's expense will be caused to my province. There is the whole story for you.

I am now composing an official despatch to send to Rome. It will be somewhat fuller of matter than if I had sent it from Amanus. But to think that you won't be at Rome! And yet everything depends on the 1st of March. For I am afraid, if; on the question of the province coming up, Caesar shall refuse compliance, I may be kept here. If you were there when this was going on, I should not have been at all afraid. I return to the city news, which, after a long interval of ignorance, I have at length learnt from your most delightful letter received on the 16th of December. This was conveyed by your freedman Philogenes after a very long and far from safe journey. For the letter you say that you delivered to the slaves of Laenius I have not received. I am delighted about Caesar, and the decrees of the senate, and at what you expect to happen. If he gives way to these we are safe. That Seius got scorched in Plaetorius's fire does not grieve me much.[5] I long to know why Lucceius has been so hot about Q. Cassius, and what has been done about it. For myself, as soon as I arrive at Laodicea I am bidden to invest Quintus, your sister's son, with the toga virilis, and I will keep a more than usually careful eye upon him. Deiotarus, who has been of great assistance to me, is, according to a letter received from him, about to come to Laodicea with our two boys.[6] I am expecting another letter from you from Epirus, that I may get a notion not only of your business life, but of your holiday also. Nicanor serves me well and receives liberal treatment at my hands. I think I shall send him to Rome with my official despatch, to secure its being conveyed with more than common promptitude, and that he may also bring me trustworthy intelligence about you and from you. That your Alexis so often puts in a greeting to me is gratifying. But why does he not treat me to a letter of his own, as my Alexis does you.[7] I am looking out for a horn for Phaemius. But enough of this. Take care of your health, and let me know when you think of going to Rome. Good-bye! good-bye!

I have recommended your interests and your agents in very warm terms to Thermus, both in a personal interview at Ephesus and now by letter, and I gathered that he was himself very anxious to serve you. Pray, as I have often mentioned before, see about the house of Pammenes,[8] and take care that the boy is not deprived, by any means, of what he now possesses through our joint support. I not only think that this concerns the honour of us both, but it will also gratify me personally very much.

Notes[edit]

  1. τα πανικά, τὰ κενὰ τοῦ πολέμου. See Polyb. xxix. 6, πολλὰ κενὰ τοῦ πολέμου.
  2. An easy feat. Wedding cakes were baked on bay-leaves.
  3. The Eleutherocilices were the mountain tribes that had not been completely subjected to the Roman province.
  4. Supposed to refer to P. Aelius Ligur, tribune in B.C. 57, and a bitter opponent.
  5. M. Plaetorius Cestianus, condemned for extortion; M. Seius (aedile B.C. 75) had in some way been involved.
  6. His son Marcus and nephew Quintus, who had been on a visit to the younger Deiotarus See Letters CCVIII, CCXVII.
  7. "My Alexis" means Cicero's secretary Tiro. Tiro writes letters to Atticus: Alexis only adds a complimentary postscript in those of Atticus to Cicero.
  8. Pammenes, an Athenian rhetorician, of about the same age as Cicero, mentioned in Orator105, as a great admirer of Demosthenes. It does not seem certain that this is the same man. At any rate, whoever he was, he seems to have died, and his son to have had some difficulty in maintaining his right to his house, in which Cicero and Atticus had helped him.